Nathan

My wife has one very particular concern about having a baby:  Europe.  She wants to go to Europe.  And not “Europe with kids” — grownup Europe, of staying out late, riding around on a Vespa, doing a bike-riding wine-drinking tour, and the like.  “Don’t worry,” I tell her all the time, “we can still go to Europe after the baby!”  She has pointedly asked me how, and I usually just point out that it’s not like we’re constantly jetting off to Europe as it is. After all, we already do have those three existing kids.  But she is right, that they spend 30-40% of their time with their father, and they are old enough to be left with Grandma sometimes, and they will be out of the house (sniffle, tear) much sooner than the new one.  So Europe-without-kids is much more likely if there is no baby in the picture.

Over the weekend, we were going to go to the grocery store, but decided to swing by Home Goods on the way, just to see if there was anything we couldn’t live without.  But it didn’t open until 11, and it was only 10:40, so to kill the time, we stopped by PetSmart to get some dog food and kitty litter for Meg the Dog and Bella the Cat.  There were, as always, baby kitties who needed adopting, and I wanted to hold one.  I am decidedly the “cat person” in our relationship, whereas my wife is firmly the “dog person.”  Nonetheless, it was my wife, not me, who fell in love with a fat orange cat with half his tail missing from a stint living on the streets.  “What if they kill him?” she whispered in my ear.  “He needs us.”

“We’re a no-kill charity, but we do get the cats from high-kill shelters. So adopting one of these guys makes room for us to foster more cats from the kill shelters.”  Apparently the cat-lady volunteer also had feline-like hearing.

We laughed at ourselves, put the fat orange cat down, and headed to Home Goods.  My wife stood over with the large, weird wooden chest we decided to purchase, while I waited in line.  And this happened:

photo 1

photo 2

 

I guess you know what happened next.  We went back and got the cat.  We brought him home, and we named him Nathan.  As we were walking to the car, my wife said, “What the fuck is wrong with us?  We can barely handle our life as it is.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But he’s going to be so happy.  And so are we.”

“Yes.  I am already happy, in fact.  I don’t know why I always worry about Europe.  We’ll probably just freaking go. Life’s too short to worry about how we’re going to fit it all in.  We just will.”

So, meet Nathan.  Sorry that every picture he is eating and/or blurry and is never looking at the camera.  If you have ever tried to take a picture of a cat with your iPhone while an 8-year old harasses him, you understand.

photo_4[1] photo_3[1] photo_2[1] photo_1[1]

And that, my dear friends, is why don’t have to worry about the things you’ll miss out on if you have a baby.  If they’re really important, you’ll just do them.  As my uncle once famously said to his 22 year old son, “If you’re constantly worrying about the consequences of your actions, you’re never going to have any fun.”

(PS for the more observant folks:  Yes, he is in a room with bright pink carpeting.  That is because the girls’ picked it out when the Big Thing and Boo were about 7 and 5, respectively.)

 

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day 1

Yesterday was day 1, marking the end of my month off of trying to conceive.  The month was great.  I abandoned all thoughts of getting pregnant, so much more gloriously than intended.  I did not temp.  I did not pee on any sticks.  I did not even take my prenatal vitamins.  I rode rollercoasters, ran 6 miles at a time, and drank as much wine as I wanted.  I lost 7 pounds, I gained 2 back.

And most importantly, when my period came yesterday, it was a surprise.  Like it used to be!  Not the culmination of 3 days of frantic TP-checking every time I go to the bathroom, but a complete and utter “Oh shit!” in the bathroom of a client’s office in the middle of a meeting.  And it was then that I realized how much good this break had done me, and really, all of us.  To just be able to forget about my womanly rhythms and just live my life normally was such a gift to myself.  Fertility Friend might be my fertility’s friend, but it is certainly not my friend.  And that app stayed firmly closed for all 28 days of my cycle.

Today, when I called my RE’s office to order more sperm, and talk about a trigger shot for this month, I was excited and hopeful again.  Not depressed, not even sad, but excited.  Which means that the month off accomplished exactly what it was supposed to.

pictures

I finally uploaded a Gravatar, for comments, etc.  I have been hesitant to do this because I used to have a blog, back in the day, and was annoyed when it turned out that people from work read it.  So I thought I would make this one anonymous, for now, at least. Then I kind of realized how much better I like reading blogs when I have a mental picture of what the person looks like, and if I’m not using names, it’s all still relatively anonymous, right?

The next step was to find a picture.  I didn’t want to include the kids, because I am all about keeping them off the internet to the extent possible. I also didn’t want to include my wife, because she is a rather private person, so I want to be respectful of that.  The thing is, the number of recent pictures of me that don’t include someone else are basically limited to like two selfies where my nose looks big.  Which I wouldn’t care about much, except that my nose is not actually big.  So I was scrolling through my phone pictures, and facebook, and my old email, rejecting photos where I looked “bad.”  Then I remembered what I think every time my 13-year old daughter claims to look “bad” in a picture.  I think, actually, that’s kind of what you look like.  Imperfect, yes, but aren’t we imperfect, anyway?

I found a picture my wife had taken of me on my phone, after we worked on fixing some things in her old apartment on the Upper West Side so that we could sell it.  It was May, a warm spring day, and we were having a sneaky afternoon beer together before we went home to let the babysitter go.  She was being ridiculous, as usual, and I was laughing.  So my nose is a little wrinkled up, my smile is too wide, my shirt is dirty, I’m not wearing makeup, and I had barely brushed my hair.  But you know what?  That’s kind of what I actually look like.  I almost never wear makeup,  and I am often working on something, so my shirt is often dirty.  And my wife is always, always making me laugh.  So here I am, circa 2011.  My hair is short now, with bangs, and I have more freckles and wrinkles than I did even three years ago, but still, I feel like this is what I look like.  Un-retouched, as it is.

Me

unaccompanied minor: why we’re letting our 11 year old fly to Denmark alone

Generous discounts for children with SAS

Our daughter (Boo, the middle one) has a friend who is half-American, half-Danish.  Every summer, the friend goes to Denmark for a month, they pick up their new au pair, and head back to the US.  Our girls are good friends.  Best friends, crazy-good friends, who do everything together.  The month of July, while her friend is gone, is kind of agony for Boo.  Every year, Boo’s friend’s mom tries to make up for this month away by planning camp or some other activity for the girls to do together, which really never works out for us.  They are gone for July, and August is kind of a family time for us.  We go on vacation, we get ready for back to school, we lie around and complain about how humid it is.  You know?  So not really the time we want to ship our daughter off to camp.

This year, Boo’s friend’s mom came up with a new idea — suggested, no doubt, by the girls.  Boo could come to Denmark too!  Maybe not for a month, but for a week!  Which would involve Boo flying to Denmark alone.  Of course, the friend’s mom said YES!  So it was up to us.  Now, let’s set aside the fact that the friend’s mom said yes before running it by us, thereby guaranteeing that we would be The Most Hated Parents if we were to say no, which, of course, made us want to say no.  Our Boo is, shall we say, not the most responsible of children.  She is our Pokey Puppy, the one who can’t get herself ready for school without reminders, who still, even with reminders, sometimes does not brush her hair.  She gets distracted playing with the dog, or her brother, or making faces at herself in the mirror while singing.  Often, when we leave the house, we say “Boo.  Got your backpack?  Your lunch?  Your head?” “Yes, yes yes!” she answers.  I drop them off at school, and she rushes out to meet her friend.  Then I get to the train station, and see the lunchbox sitting on the backseat.  Honestly, I am sometimes shocked I have not seen the head sitting back there.

She had raised this before, wanting to go to Denmark.  No, Boo, we had said.  You’re not ready.  You’re too young to fly, and go through customs, alone.  We like the idea, but you’re just not ready yet.  Plus, we have never been to Denmark.  We don’t know what it’s like, or what to expect.  And besides, you haven’t been invited.

Well, then she was invited.  The conversation was the same.  She was disappointed, but not surprised.  No, Boo.  You’re too young, you’re not ready.   And honestly?  She is.  It makes us totally uncomfortable to think of her leaving her passport or Deno (her beloved stuffed dog, pronounced like “Dino” the dog from the Flintstones, but not spelled the same, because Deno is a girl) or her head, for heaven’s sake, sitting on the airplane as she bops off, singing Let It Go to herself and waving at the pilot.

That day, I read the Atlantic article about the Overprotected Kid, and nodded along.  Of course, when I was a kid, our neighbors had a treehouse where no grownups were allowed, and where we once started a fire in an old kitchen pot.  We played Ghost in the Graveyard and Flashlight Tag in the backyard of one house while our parents all drank margaritas on the deck of another.  I walked to and from school alone from first grade on.  I had that childhood, the free, liberating, unsupervised one that no one now has.  I loved it.  And I chafe at the fact that our kids are not allowed to run during recess (this is real), and aren’t permitted by the school to walk home without an adult until they are in fifth grade.  My wife’s upbringing was similar, and involved mud-ball fights against neighborhood kids, spy clubs and long days at the community pool, where there were parents somewhere, just not anywhere nearby.  It also involved a trip to Minnesota and a trip cross-country, in middle school and early high school, without parents.  I mentioned the article at dinner, and showed the kids the pictures of the “dangerous” playground it featured.  They agreed it looked awesome.  Then we sent them off to change into their pajamas.

And my wife and I looked at each other, and knew in our gut that saying “No” was the wrong decision.  Maybe Boo and her best friend wouldn’t be best friends next year, and she wouldn’t be invited to Denmark when she was “ready.”  Maybe it wasn’t Boo that wasn’t ready at all — maybe it was us.  One of our principle rules of parenting comes from Dirty Dancing — when you’re wrong, you say you’re wrong.  So when Boo came back to the kitchen after changing into her pajamas, we said we were wrong.  It was the wrong decision to say No to Denmark.  We told her the reasons why we made the decision we had, and why we had reconsidered.  The way she said “Thank you!” and the hugs that followed, I will never forget.  She later told us she couldn’t sleep that night because she was shaking with happiness.

I’m still not totally comfortable with the thought of her flying off to a country we have never visited, without her parents, to spend a week doing things we can’t even imagine.  But it’s really not about what makes me comfortable.  It’s about what’s best for our daughter.  And what’s best for her is to fly, totally supervised by trained, competent airline personnel, to visit her friend.  To have a million experiences she will never get any other way, and will probably never have again.  To have the chance to grow into it.  To make mistakes, and learn from them.  To feel the fear and the freedom of doing something totally new, all on her own.

Maybe she will leave something important on the plane. Maybe she won’t.  But either way, that won’t be what she remembers.  She will remember visiting her friend, and she will remember that we trusted her.

And just when I have those doubts, that maybe she’s not ready, she comes in and tells me new Danish words that she learned from watching YouTube videos.  She can say “thank you,” and “please,” and “I like to read.”  It is already an unforgettable experience for her.

(The picture of the young Hermione Granger look-alike with her friend is from the SAS website – the airline that will be carrying our daughter off to foreign lands we have never visited)