Archive | marriage

parenting will make you nuts, but it’s not as bad as READING about parenting

…and when did “parenting” become a verb, anyway?  Time was, back in the day, a parent was a noun, and what you did was “raise” kids or “try not to drown” kids or “don’t lose the kids in the mall.”  But those were simpler times, I guess.

Probably–if you’re a parent–you have seen (but not yet had time to read because: parent) the spoof in The New Yorker that says “A recent study has shown that if American parents read one more long-form think piece about parenting they will go fucking ape shit.”

And baby, ain’t that the truth?  The only thing possibly worse than people (other than, perhaps, your own mother) telling you how to raise your kids are books telling you how to “be” a woman: lean in, lean out, dress up, don’t dress…. do the hokey-pokey and turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about.

Feh. Who has time.

The New Yorker spoof, which is satiric and hysterical (adult blinders, anyone?) got posted on my Facebook by lots of people. What I loved, however, is that in its infinite and non-ironic wisdom, FB linked those posts with a whole list of “related articles,” all of which were about. . . parenting. Just in case you hadn’t gone completely ape-shit, FB wants to finish the job:

 

Screenshot 2014-03-25 08.22.23

Speaking of ape-shit, can anyone explain to me why FB had to go and futz with its layout? I hate it.  Yes, oh snarky reader, I know that facebook is optional and I could turn it off, but we both know that’s just crazy talk and posturing on your part. Without facebook, whatever would I do? Write? Read? Exercise? Clean my damn house?  Feh, again.

So. Resolved: parent is a noun, not a verb; my children will be more or less successful adults, as are their parents and most of the other people in the world; facebook will continue to be my maddening addiction (which I guess is the nature of addictions. See: “Scandal,” “House of Cards,” “Game of Thrones,” marriage).

Onward.

Continue Reading · on March 25, 2014 in Books, family, Kids, marriage, Parenting, pop culture, ranting

Marriages and Safaris: Beauty. Dung. Sometimes Rainbows.

One of the gifts, for me, of being on safari, is all the time spent in the jeep staring out at the landscape as we drive around looking for animals, birds, whatever.  Of course, that’s also sort of the downside, too: you spend a lot of time looking for things and sometimes you’re lucky…and sometimes you’re not. It is the proverbial crap shoot, with a literal emphasis on crap (more about that in a minute).

As it happened, this safari of ours happened a week before Husband and I celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. Fifteen years starts to be a rather long time, don’t you think?  Which is fantastic and also means that we are getting freaking old.

The two things started to come together in my mind as we drove around (or actually, as we were driven by our guides–the marvelously named Jelly, in Samburu, and Daniel, in the Mara), and I started to think that maybe safaris and marriages aren’t really that different, when you get right down to it.

Consider: when you first get married, you’re all we’re married! There’s that whole happily ever after thing, which lasts for …maybe a week/month/year and then it starts to be weird toenail clippings, and undone laundry, and why do you have to straighten up when I’m napping on the couch, and whose turn is it to do the laundry, and why am I taking care of the kids, and for the love of god get off the computer, and no we’re too tired/poor/busy to go to a party/dinner/theater/movie, and who messed with my Netflix queue?  (At least, that’s what I hear from other married people. Husband and I have had fifteen years of uninterrupted bliss.)

Life starts to look a lot like this, except without the little birds:

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Consider: on your first day of safari, you’re all safari! And you take pictures of everything, thanking the lord that someone invented digital photography: you’ve got thousands of pictures of the jeep, your camp, the guide, each other, the hotel manager’s pet dog. It’s all vastly, amazingly exciting. You see A LION. You see AN ELEPHANT.  And it’s exhilarating and amazing, until it starts to be a little bit of  LOOK!  A BIG BIRD THAT MIGHT BE AN EAGLE OVER THERE. NO, OVER THERE. And you jounce and jolt along the trails, hour after hour, and it’s mostly amazing…and a lot of grass.  You bounce along, bumpety bumpety, and you get closer and closer to Maybe It’s Something and…it’s a rock. Or a tree. Or a bunch of rocks. Or a warthog. Which is like a rock but with tusks and a little tail.

See the analogy? Bouncing along, never quite knowing what you’re going to find? One day you’re incredibly lucky and fulfill every fantasy you ever had about being a photographer for National Geographic, and then it’s hours of driving along looking at the same trees you saw yesterday and the day before. And they’re very nice trees, you know, and you’re very happy to be on safari but…is this it? Driving around looking for stuff?

Here’s another thing: when you embark on marriage, or on a safari, no one tells you how much you’re going to learn about poo. Whether you’re married with children or without, other people’s poo will become your business. It should be written into all marriage contracts—anyone settling into a long-term partnership, gay or straight, married or just shacking up—that separate bathrooms are a prerequisite. Because really. Do any of us need to know our beloveds that intimately?

On our last safari, we learned a lot about poop, which surprised me and meant that I was a little bit more prepared for stuff that looks like this:

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Those of you with cats might have a sense of what we’re looking at: crap with fur in it. Which is to say, furry shit.  You might think, oh my cat who grooms herself and had a fur-ball left something like that in the litterbox (although actually fur-balls make cats puke, so front end and not back end).  Nope.

That there is lion poop. A lion what ate an antelope fairly recently.  Fur, it seems, isn’t digestible.

Aren’t you glad you know that? You’re welcome.

So yes, you get out of the jeep sometimes, look at poop, or at ants, because hey, that’s what the safari threw you that day. And so it is with marriage: roses one day, yelling about the laundry the next.

But sometimes, just as you’re getting completely fed up, there are rainbows in a cloudy sky.

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Continue Reading · on September 1, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, family, Kids, marriage, Travel

in which the godless heathens go to a wedding

wedding

image source

Old Longtime friends of my husband’s got remarried this past weekend. For those of you in blogland, yes, I know, can you imagine? They got married on Blogher weekend, thus forcing me to choose between…well, between blogging and my family.

My family won although frankly, it was a tough call. Not only would I miss actual face-to-face conversations with people I generally talk to only on the interwebs, I would also miss the amazing writers who were chosen as Voices of the Year.

But you know, marriage is all about compromise, or so they say, so I bid farewell to my Blogher dreams and off we went to Cape Cod for this wedding. Which was great and lovely and optimistic, as all weddings are and maybe even more so for being the second time around for both bride and groom. After all, in round two, you know what’s coming: stinky socks and weird sleep habits and fortheloveofgodputdownthetoiletseat. In other words, you know that “happily ever after” is more of a wish than a certainty.

My kids have never been to a wedding that they’re old enough to remember, so they had no idea what to expect from this one. Their most recent context for “marriage,” in fact, has to do more with the Supreme Court’s decision about DOMA than about two people plighting troth.  This wedding reminded me, once again, that while I grew up in a nominally Episcopalian household, my children are growing up without any religion, other than the rituals they witness because they live in a Muslim country.  Their lack of religious education meant that instead of spending the ceremony looking at what people were wearing and running my own little Tom and Lorenzo dialogue in my head, I was trying to field questions that should really only be tackled by a licensed theologian.

What’s a Eucharist? What’s a celebrant? What’s a communion?  Are the bride and groom Christian? Are we Christian? What’s an Episcopalian, anyway? Do I have to get married as an Episcopalian? What if I don’t want to get married? What are these books for? What’s a hymnal? Do people know all these prayers, like memorize them? Did you and Daddy get married like this, with a minister? Do you know these prayers?

I got through Eucharist and celebrant, but communion meant trying to explain the whole body-blood-bread-wine thing, and that’s where we went a bit off the rails: how to explain that something can be a literal truth to some, a symbolic truth to others, but not relevant at all in other religions. Caleb was adamant: I am not eating that! Not someone’s body, no way.  Needless to say, we stayed seated during the communion bit of the ceremony

As for the rest of it, what surprised me is that some of the basic prayers stuck with me–the Lord’s Prayer, the call-and-response recitations–although I haven’t said any of those words in decades.  I remembered that when I was a little girl, I had a nightgown with the “now I lay me down to sleep…” prayer embroidered around the collar. Because really, what could be more comforting to a small child about to go to sleep than the phrase “if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take?”

It’s as if along with that prayer, the others also stitched themselves into my subconscious, all because my mom thought she “should” take us all to church when we were young, even though she was not herself a particularly religious woman. I don’t know that my life has been significantly improved by my years in Sunday School or my stellar performance as a horse in the Noah’s Ark pageant, but I suppose it’s been useful to have what amounts at least to a cultural understanding of religion, if not an actual, you know, faith.

I know that cultural awareness and understanding have to be learned; they’re not innate. So my mom chose to teach us about, or at least expose us to, Christianity, while Husband and I are making a very different choice with our kids. Sitting there in the pew, as our friends pledged their troth (again) and my kids flipped through The Book of Common Prayer, I realized that my kids probably won’t ever have Christian (or Jewish or Muslim or Zoroastrian) prayers swimming in their subconscious; there is an entire body of ritual that they aren’t learning.

Most of the time I think that’s fine…although I think it’s too bad neither boy will get the opportunity to play an animal in the Noah’s Ark pageant. They’d make great ocelots, or maybe meerkats. Noah saved the meerkats, didn’t he?

 

Continue Reading · on August 1, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, Education, family, Kids, marriage, Parenting, religion

here we are…year two and year fourteen

The eagle has landed. Elvis is back in the building.We are back in Abu Dhabi.

We got back to Abu Dhabi last night: four people, eight suitcases, eight carryons, a duty-free bag o’booze, and assorted aches and pains from sleeping where god didn’t intend people to sleep: 37,000 feet above sea level.

Okay, it’s a lot of bags, but it’s nothing compared to the entrance we made last year, which I’m sure the luggage handlers are still talking about with horror. But yes, vows were made about packinglessnextyearforsure.

We spent today, the 29th, in a blur of jet-lagged exhaustion, exacerbated, in my case, by the fact that Caleb came into our bedroom about every thirty minutes, starting at 1:30 to loud-whisper MOMMY I DON’T WANT TO GET JET LAG. By 3:30, all vestiges of patience had worn off and I snapped: “you HAVE jet lag. THIS is jet lag and what do you want me to do about it?” Then, mommy remorse set in, I let him clamber into our bed and taught him how to count sheep in order to lull himself to sleep. Although in his case, he counted lego figures rather than livestock. I lay there and wondered at what age a person could responsibly give a child an Ambien. Or half an Ambien?

But of course, we don’t have any Ambien, so my musings were purely theoretical.  When I told a friend today about my drug dilemma, he said “did you try Bambien? That’s Ambien for kids.”

Bambien. Josh, you’re fucking brilliant. Call Big Pharma in the morning and pitch that sucker.

We tottered through the day and took the boys to dinner at Olivella’s, the pizza place that opened near our apartment, which the boys claim is almost as good as what they have in New York. And walking home, through the damp soft air of an Abu Dhabi summer night, we saw a lopsided moon rising between the buildings.

Husband pointed to the moon. “That’s a gibbous moon,” he said to the boys. And then we laughed.  A long time ago, on a New York evening, a similarly lopsided moon rose over a different set of buildings, on one of our first dates. “That’s a gibbous moon,” I said to him. Husband, being an English professor and general all-around smarty-pants, scoffed at the word “gibbous” having anything to do with moons. Reader, he didn’t believe me. But dear reader? Words are my thing – and love the word gibbous. When he realized that I was right, Husband says he had the first flash that maybe he’d met his match.

And match we did. Fourteen years ago, we got married. I don’t remember if it was a gibbous moon that night, but matching my words with his was one of the smartest choices I’ve ever made.  Happy anniversary, Husband: our second year of Abu Dhabi life, our fifteenth year of marriage, yet another gibbous moon. It’s going to be a good year.

Photo Credit: DAVID NUNUK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Continue Reading · on August 29, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, family, marriage, Travel

monday’s listicle: a list for husbands

Because of traveling and work and just general life, I’ve missed a few listicles, which I swear to god keeps me awake at night – will Stasha hate me, I wonder?  But now the semester is over, so I’m climbing back on the listicle bandwagon – and this week’s topic is a doozy: a list for husbands.  How to tackle such a topic, especially when one’s Husband is perfect, the very model of a modern man? (Cue Gilbert and Sullivan here).  I mean, a person might write a list itemizing all the ways in which her partner’s shortcomings make her realize that the only reasons swans can mate for life is because they neither speak nor wear socks – but humans are not so lucky.

My sweet husband, however, in our almost fifteen years of marriage (how in god’s name we’ve been married this long seems impossible, given that we’re both only 29), has perfected any number of important staying-married skills.  Here are a few high points for other husbands (or wives, whichever seems appropriate).

1. Husbands do not wake their wives up for sports.  Husband loves the New York Rangers with a deep and abiding passion. He is a Fan. I am not a Fan, or a fan, or even someone who particularly likes hockey. Nevertheless, I am aware that having the Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs is a Seriously Big Deal. I mean, the last time that happened was in the previous century, for god’s sake.  Stanley Cup Playoffs is the good news. The bad news? We live nine time zones away, which means that in order to watch the games, Husband gets up at ungodly hours of the morning: 3:30, 4:00, 2:00.  Here’s how much he loves me: the nights (or mornings) he’s going to watch the game, he sleeps on the couch in the TV room because his darling wife has become an insomniac and if he stirs out of bed at 3AM, she will wake up and never go back to sleep. This will make her grumpy. She has been known to bite when she is tired.

2. Husbands offer unconditional tech support with little or no explanations. Yes, I know, I know, I should learn how to do various techy things myself but really? I don’t want to and it gives you such pleasure…just download, install, sync, upgrade. There is no need to explain your decisions to me; you’re the one who reads Wired. I have nothing to offer in this conversation.  (And for all those times I haven’t said thank you? Thank you.)

3.  Husbands offer unsolicited compliments, foot rubs, and gifts. These things do not all have to happen at the same time – sequentially is fine, but unsolicited is key.

4. Husbands remind their partners that “hot” doesn’t always have to refer to feverish children, soup, or last night’s leftovers. Husbands should also be aware that sometimes “hot” really DOES mean children, soup, leftovers, and that maybe it’s a good night to watch reruns of last year’s Premier League games.

5. Husbands know these things: how to make a crisp G&T; how find joy playing with their offspring; and that the grosser elements of housekeeping (clogged drains, clogged toilets, dead bugs, live bugs) will be his domain. Continue Reading →

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Continue Reading · on May 22, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, family, marriage, Monday Listicle

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