Living Christmas in the Present

Nicholas X-Mas IAs a child, I never understood why adults were so stressed out about the holidays, and especially, Christmas. After all, it is a time of giving, joy, fun, food, presents and all-round merriment. Isn’t is?

I remember times when we didn’t see a family member or two, most likely, because of one misunderstanding or another. My own parents were frantically shopping, wrapping and having conversations about “don’t forget so and so, did you get them something?” Stressful conversations abounded about the food to be ordered and retrieved from the various shops.

Every year, without fail, my mom would say, “This is the last year I’m making these cookies!” as she tossed another pan in the trash that didn’t meet her criteria of taste and consistency. There were the occasional terse words exchanged. And, sometimes there were tears behind closed doors… or even across the table.

I didn’t understand: How did anything else matter? It was Christmas!! [Read More…]

Mr. Mom’s (Snippets of) Holiday Thoughts…..

Chanukah - ChristmasEarlier this evening, I was dumping old files from my computer and started pulling pictures of the kids out of computer memory. I smiled, but it was one of those half-hearted, oh-my-gosh I’m-getting-old smiles, because I barely even remember those little faces, anymore.

That’s probably one of the only reasons I put up with the holidays: I love my kids, unequivocally, totally and frighteningly so. I’m struggling to hold on to each stage of their growth, each milestone, every tear they shed. Sometimes I feel that I have no idea how to be a parent! Heck, I’m still having trouble being a grown-up.

But, here’s my biggest dilemma: I don’t really care about the gifts. I never know what to buy for the kids, the cousin’s kids, etc. [Read More…]

The Awful Task of Finding a Summer Camp…Now

summer camp IIWhen I first began writing for “Mothering in the Middle,” I compared the number and types of camps available for our kids today, versus what we had when we were children. This summer, I added a piece about all the school and camp forms needed to get through the year. But, here I am again: looking for a summer camp, for next year.

Just when I thought I conquered this task, my wife decided that it was time for my eldest, my son, to go to (far) away camp. His sister also decided that he wasn’t going to camp unless she was going to camp. (The truth is that since her camp experience has been limited to a handful of overnights and two nights at a school camp, I’m not convinced she’s ready for three or four weeks of this.)

So, here’s the upshot: unless you’re frantically researching for camp now, you may be left in the bitter cold of a long, hot summer with your children bleating about how lonely they are and that there’s nothing to do. The Summer Doldrums turn into daily shuttle runs to every single camp you can imagine for one week at a time after another. So, it’s worth it, searching for a summer camp in the middle of winter. [Read More…]

Sometimes I Feel Like Dunking my Kids’ Heads in Water (A Religious Ritual)

baptismI was born and raised Catholic. That is: Baptism-Communion-Confirmation.

With two Catholic parents, there was no other option for me when I entered the world. Like a brand on my arm, I respond to people with this information when asked me about my religion. I am not, however, Catholic.

When I came out in my late teens/early twenties, again in my mid-twenties and lastly in my early thirties, I had so much trouble trying to rectify who I was with “my birth religion.” Science only furthered my estrangement …and my disillusionment. At one point in my life, I believed it impossible for a truly intelligent person to believe in God or any organized religion, at all.

How was this not obvious to anyone with an I.Q. over 90? [Read More…]

By |November 8th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Fatherhood, Gay Fathers|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

I Need Movie Theatre Seating (A Commentary By the Mid-Life Mr. Mom)

movie theatre seatingAs parents, we’re spending all this time worrying about not keeping score at our kid’s games; being supportive, not yelling, having fun at sporting events, etc. – so much so that we have ignored our most basic needs—of us, the parents.

Why do we watch the games on television rather than go to the game? It’s not just because some of us need to be near the restroom. It’s more basic than that. We’re sitting on bleachers, wood, metal, itchy grass. We’re subject to searing cold and blazing hot days. Even the ides of any month would be bearable if we just had movie-theater seating at all the games.

At this point in my (mid) life, give me a cushy seat, a Dolby stereo surround sound speaker system, basic food stuffs, a little petit cru and some Brie, for example. I can watch any game, no matter how long, cold or wet it is. We could add a lightning rod, a wet bar and cheer our kids on until dark or the booze ran dry. (I’d prefer to keep it inside, I must admit, but it all works.) [Read More…]

Why Are Our Children’s Issues Held With Such Secrecy and Shame?

Nicholas son in winter

“I hate myself. I can’t do it. I’m no good at it. Everyone else can do it and I can’t.”

When I picked my son up from kindergarten many months ago, he uttered those first four sentences. I was driving, so I pulled over to try to understand what he was talking about and find out why he was so upset.

With tears streaming down his face and my heart sinking fast, he told me that the other kids in his class could write words and he could not. I told him we would work on it together and he would be able to write words, too. I took a piece of paper from my glovebox and wrote ‘I Love You’ on it and I brought it to him in the backseat. I went over each word with him. Over and over. And over. [Read More…]

We Love Vans (A Commentary by Mr. Mom)

minivanIt is not true that men don’t love mini-vans. Someone needs to straighten out the record.   We fear what mini-vans represent, toting kids hither and yon, the words, “Are we there yet,” and “I have to go to the bathroom.” (and our impending death).

Mini-vans save the backs of millions of men annually. Those cute little cherubs fit tightly, snuggly and comfy in SUV’s at the loss of our ability to move our torso or even sit upright, our current version of lifting a calf over our heads until it becomes a cow.

It is true that men approaching middle-age prefer not to be caught either riding or driving a van. This response makes good sense; not because of mid-life crises, but because our bodies require more vertebral support. We need the space and the view. [Read More…]

By |September 21st, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Fatherhood, Fathers over 40|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Two Parenting Short Stories – by Mr. Mom

kids sofaSofa So Good

My first mistake was putting my hands down between the pillows as I helped my wife rearrange the house for a dinner we were hosting.  I’m pretty sure something moved while I reconnoitered the nooks and crannies of our living room sofa.

There was enough dirt, dog hair (HOW?  Dog not allowed on sofa.) pencils, pens, crayons and raisins (G-d I hope that was a raisin.) to fill a garbage bag.  If you’re missing Lego pieces, I now direct you to your living room or downstairs sofa.

You’ll hit the jackpot, I’m sure.  I scored 49 cents myself, a good payday for a massage therapist. [Read More…]

By |September 1st, 2015|Categories: Fatherhood, Fathers over 50, Midlife Foibles!|Tags: , |0 Comments

Awash in Rainbows

rainbow flagsRecently, I read an article in the Washington Post by a 26-year old gay man who was upset about the some 26 million Facebook users who enveloped their profile photos in rainbows. He felt that there was much insincerity on the part of many who were doing nothing more than boosting their own personal PR portraits.

Gay marriage, or marriage, as I hope it will be referred to from here on out, isn’t one man’s struggle. It took a tremendous amount of support from a great number of people to make this change happen. It didn’t happen in 26 years. Some people fought for it and didn’t live to see it. [Read More…]

Camp Forms

summer camp IIIYes, my wife and I look forward to the kids returning to school. I’ m sure she thinks along the lines that we’re getting the kids back on a regular schedule and we don’t have to think about trips, traveling, and keeping the kids entertained.

While I’m looking forward to the return of school, my self-professed joy comes from simple self-survival: No more camp forms to fill out, fill in, copy, fax, mail, take to the doctor’s office or retrieve from the doctor’s office.

When I was a kid, back at the dawn of time, my parents kicked the door open and told me to go outside. I did my camps: YMCA Camp Letts and a couple of basketball camps, but we didn’t do anything or have the number of camps that our kids now have to choose from, which meant that we had fewer forms that needed to be filled out and to be filled in. [Read More…]

By |August 21st, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Fatherhood|Tags: , , |3 Comments
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