Category Archives: Family

I’m wearing these yoga pants ironically

It’s no secret that when you become a mom, you go through a bit of an identity crisis. It can be hard to remember who you were when it feels like who you are now is someone who spends all of her time cleaning up mystery stains. Is that poop or chocolate? Apple juice or pee? I used to be on a first name basis with the mayor and win journalism awards. Cottage cheese or vomit?

Which is why these days I always dread the moment when someone asks me “so, what do you do?”

And they always ask it. Always. Because we are Americans and as Americans we need to immediately know what you do with your life so we can then determine how harshly to judge you.

God bless the U.S.A.

I didn’t always hate this quirk of American society. I proudly declared “journalist” for a long time. I worked hard to become a journalist. I loved being a journalist. It was a badge I wore with honor.

But the waters muddied a bit when my husband and I moved to Boston. Unable to get a full-time job in my field, I started working from home, writing a regular column for a handful of different newspapers and websites. I’d also occasionally take on a freelance writing project. So, I told people I was a “freelance writer.” But since that wasn’t as clear-cut as “journalist,” I’d have to describe what that entailed and watch as people’s eyes slowly glassed over because they were just being polite and oh, is that Susan over there? I should go say hello. Nice talking to you, Amy, was it?

And then we had kids and the waters got downright murky. Because now my main job was keeping those two suicidal lunatics alive while trying to squeeze in some writing time on the weekends.

“But I’m still a writer!” I’d practically scream at people, less they be confused as to my real identity. Sure, “technically” I stayed home and “raised” my children, but that didn’t make me, you know, a “mom.” It’s more like a hobby, really. I’m wearing these yoga pants ironically!

It took me awhile, but I finally realized why this stressed me out so much. The current language we have for women without a clear-cut “job” is awful. Take the word “housewife.” I hate that word. I didn’t marry my house. I mean, that thing is filthy. Even if it proposed, I’d politely decline and then hand it a broom and whisper “I think you know why.” (And “homemaker” is even worse. Especially if you have kids. Because when you have kids, you aren’t “making” a “home” so much as you are trying to prevent said kids from burning it down to the ground).

I also loathe the term “stay-at-home mom.” I don’t stay at home. No mom does. We’re constantly lugging those adorable damn kids everywhere. And yet, no one refers to us as Playground-Library-Gas Station-Coffeeshop-Liquor Store moms.

Alas, these are the terms we are stuck with if we are the ones primarily taking care of the domestic side of life (and fellas, I haven’t forgotten about you; “househusband” and “stay-at-home dad,” even when used tongue-in-cheek, is equally inaccurate and ridiculous).

Can you imagine if we referred to everyone by their most common location and their role in the family? Oh hey, let me introduce you to my other half, Ryan. He’s an office husband.

Or, hey, nice to see you, Sheryl, I’d like you to meet my bar grandpa.

This is Lila, my stay-at-the-yoga-studio sister-in-law.

My crackhouse cousin had a rough upbringing, what with being raised by my prison uncle and my motel aunt.

Why yes, I have two teenagers, a couch son and a Burger King parking lot daughter.

You get the picture.

Why do we still use these terms? Even “working mom” is a bit of a misnomer. No one calls my husband a “working dad.” He’s a graphic designer. Who happens to have kids.

And I wouldn’t even care about how inaccurate the current words are that we use to describe women who deal in the domestic arts, except for the fact that they have a faint whiff of negativity surrounding them. Housewives are considered vapid or desperate or gold diggers. Stay-at-home moms are boring or unambitious or lazy. Homemakers are busy wearing gingham dresses and churning butter in the corner of the kitchen.

So, it’s time we start changing these outdated and, quite frankly, unfair titles. I haven’t come up with the new terms just yet (what with spending all my time sniffing mystery stains and all) but maybe something like “I parent full-time” or “I’m a professional mom” or “I’m my toddler’s juice bitch.”

Or maybe all of us ladies can take a page from the Tyrion Lannister playbook and when people ask us what we do, we coolly respond “I drink, and I know things.”

Because that one is 100 percent accurate.

 

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Oh, the places you’ve been

My little brother is graduating high school.

And yes, if you’re doing the math in your head, let me just stop you right there. There is a 17 year gap in our ages. I joke that my mom needed that long to recover from my birth and let’s just leave it at that instead of getting into the whole “she was a single mom for a long time and then finally found love” story.

Besides, this is his story I want to tell. Because his story is extraordinary and one I never thought I’d tell with this happy of an ending.

And his story starts on a warm July day when suddenly my mom’s water broke in the middle of the living room. It was three months ahead of schedule. It was a ghastly shade of pale red. It was a real life nightmare.

My stepfather raced her to the hospital. I stayed behind. Just me and this awful giant red stain in an empty house. I have a distinct memory of sobbing while trying to clean it up. I then have an even more distinct memory of my grandma telling me to kindly suck it up, buttercup, and go to the hospital because my mom needed me.

So I did.

One pound, three ounces. That’s what he weighed. One pound, three ounces. He could fit into the palm of my hand if he wasn’t in an incubator, barely visible underneath all the medical equipment being used to keep him alive. He stayed in that incubator for months. You had to scrub your hands, and wear a hospital gown and medical mask, just to even stare down at him inside this tiny glass case that, in my opinion, looked much too similar to a tiny coffin.

And he did almost die. A lot. At one point, the doctors were so sure he was going to die that they let his parents hold his frail, tiny body because they may not have gotten another chance.

And yet, he defied the odds. He was our tiny Han Solo, declaring “never tell me the odds” with each breath he kept defiantly taking.

He wasn’t out of the woods, of course. And for a long time, it felt like we should all just build a log cabin and set up permanent residence in those woods because he was never getting out.

But he defied those odds too. No matter what long, impossible-to-pronounce, medical terminology they threw at him, he beat them all.

And before I could fully comprehend the miracle I had just witnessed, he was healthy enough to run around and annoy me just like any old little brother.

But even then those pesky damn odds wouldn’t leave him alone. He struggled to catch up with his peers. He struggled in school. Speech problems, lung problems, hormone issues. It was exhausting to watch. I can’t imagine the Herculean strength it took him and our parents to actually live it. Doctors, specialists, tutors. It was a never-ending revolving door.

It would be easy to turn bitter under circumstances like these. Or to give up. Or to feel the perpetual victim.

But not him.

He struggled with all his tiny willpower right from the beginning just to stay alive and he’s never stopped living since. He has traveled the world. He writes. He cooks. He takes beautiful photos.

And he loves.

That’s what always gets me the most. His capacity to love. Everything that he has been through and what does he do? He makes me feel like the most beloved person on the planet. He has shined a beacon of unconditional love directly onto my face for as long as I can remember. No matter what I did or how well I played the role of annoyed (much) older sister, he gave me affection and admiration that I’m still not sure I’ve earned.

And because of that, I have always, and will always, try to be the person my brother thinks I am.

I don’t know if I ever told him that. But what better time than upon this unbelievably beautiful day, when I get to see him in a cap and gown after watching him knock down every single last obstacle that stood in his way? Because while it’s tradition upon a graduation to tell the graduate about, oh, the places he’ll go, today, I felt it was important to remind him of all the places he’s been.

I love you, Brandon. You are an amazing human and your fight to get to this point illustrates the best parts of humanity.

Congratulations, little brother.

 

I called my kid a butthead in public

There have been times in my writing career that I have slightly exaggerated a story for comedic effect. Not much, mind you. Just a detail or two, here or there. For instance, when my kids are driving me insane, I don’t actually chug a whole bottle of whiskey.

It’s half a bottle, tops.

So, with that said, let me assure you that what follows below is not one of those times. It’s all true. Every single, last, horrifying detail.

It started out mundane enough. I took my kids to a children’s event hosted by the local library. A “multicultural concert for families featuring new and familiar songs played with a Brazilian beat,” to be exact. All that was missing were some organic vegan cookies and some one-legged, free range, orphan chickens and it would have been a skit straight out of “Portlandia.”

But it was either that or spend more time playing Batman vs. Little Bunny Foo Foo with my toddler, so I schlepped the whole crew over for some fancy music learnin.’

As we were sitting there waiting for the music to start, I noticed the not unhandsome guitarist staring at me. I’ll admit, it was a bit of a confidence booster. I mean, I had a baby only nine months ago. And when your days are filled with cleaning poop off a series of tiny tooshies (including the dog’s), it can be hard to feel attractive. I even sat up a little straighter. Started telling myself, “hey lady, you’re still keeping it tight, despite the oatmeal in your hair.”

Which is when I look down and notice that my shirt is unbuttoned almost down to my naval (thanks to the friction from wearing a baby carrier). A fact I had been oblivious about for 12 whole minutes, giving everyone in the band a good look at my boobs that were casually hanging out like they owned the place.

I discreetly try to button it back up when I made my second big mistake of the day. I was reaching into the diaper bag to pull out a toy for the baby when the toddler saw the chocolate-covered raisins I’d thrown in there as a treat to eat after the show. There are few things this kid loves more than raisins. But one of those things is chocolate. So, you can imagine his reaction.

“OOOOOOOHHHHHH…NOW WE EAT CHOCOLATE RAISINS! MOMMY! MOMMY! CHOCOLATE RAISINS! MOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYY!”

I quietly inform him he can have them after the concert. And so now I’m stuck with a kid that, after every song ends but before the polite applause begins, yells “NOW WE EAT CHOCOLATE RAISINS!”

After the fifth song and the fifth time being denied his CHOCOLATE RAISINS, he decides to have a meltdown.

Because of course.

I knew when I was beat. I tell him we are going home and start grabbing our 17 pounds of items scattered around my chair (coats, hats, baby shoes that had been kicked off, diaper bag, sippy cup, the kitchen sink, my deflated ego). And it’s as I stand up that I realize my son has untied my shoes when I wasn’t looking. This is quickly followed by the realization that I have an undone and bulky baby carrier hanging down to my knees because I never took it off when we got there. Meanwhile, the band is still playing. Which is relevant because as I’m making the world’s most awkward and disruptive exit in the world’s smallest library (all our stuff in one arm, baby who is hanging off me like a giant sack of flour because she never learned to cling like a normal baby on the other), my son decides he doesn’t want to leave and runs back in front of the playing musicians, hysterically crying and yelling “NOOOOOO!” at the top of his lungs.

As I go to get him, still holding everything, baby still a lifeless sack of flour, shoes still untied, still tripping over the baby carrier, another mom informs me my shirt had come undone. Again.

Because of course.

So, now I’m trying to drag my toddler, (gently, because we are in public) away from the musicians, while still holding everything, tripping over everything and also now trying to discreetly button up my slutty, slutty shirt.

As you can imagine, everyone is staring.

And yet no one will look me in the eye.

I finally get him in what I assume is an out of the way location to stuff him into his coat and get the hell out of this, my own personal hell, all while telling him to knock it off in my best Batman voice. I’m pretty sure I also said something along the line of “stop being a butthead.” Which I don’t feel bad about because no one can hear us. Which is when I realize we are blocking the way to the bathroom and a group of moms and kids is waiting for us to finish our ridiculous family drama so they can pee.

Somehow, by the grace of God and whatever deity is in charge of mortifying moments at child-centric events, we make it outside the library. He’s still crying, I’m practically throwing chocolate covered raisins at him, and the baby’s left hand is now stuck in my hair, which is making it hard for me to button up my shirt (BECAUSE MY BOOBS ARE STILL HANGING OUT) and tie my shoes because my head is at an awkward 90 degree angle.

Luckily, all this is in full few of everyone, who are now leaving and awkwardly filing past because the concert picked that moment to end.

Because of course.

And all this is one very long way of saying that alcohol should always, ALWAYS, be served at children’s events.

 

Honey, what’s for dinner? Negotiations.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened. I have a feeling it was something like when you go broke: gradually, then all at once. But somehow our nightly family dinners have turned into one big negotiation session (occasionally escalating into a full-blown hostage situation).

It doesn’t matter what I make. It doesn’t matter how many options I give. It doesn’t matter that it’s Friday and it’s been a long week and I’m so over it and mentally checked out around 3 p.m.

My kids never want to eat the dinner I make them.

Ever.

Well, I take back that last part. My toddler does have a very specific list of things he’ll eat.

Yogurt.

Raisins.

Mac and cheese (but only the boxed, chemically-loaded kind…so help you if you give him a homemade cheesy pasta containing anything that resembles a nutrient).

End of list.

He’s cut out apples and crackers and spaghetti and sausage and eggs and corn and the actual chicken part of chicken tenders. All things I used to be able to get him to eat. He’s worse than when you invite your high maintenance friend over for a dinner party and she’s always on some ridiculous diet and acts like it’s YOUR fault that she can’t eat anything because pretty much all the food in your kitchen contains sugar, flour, gluten, fat, soy, chemicals and everything that makes life worth living.

And my 9-month-old is almost as bad as my toddler. I made the mistake of letting her try fruit and now she realizes what a sham vegetables are and spits out anything that is not fruit.

But I did not ruin my body, and my sanity, and my freedom, and that part of my brain that can remember if I’ve seen this TV episode before or not, keeping them alive and healthy for three years only to watch them starve to death because I dared to give them a well-balanced meal.

So, every night, it goes like this:

Toddler: Mommy, I’m all done.

Me: You haven’t eaten anything.

Toddler: Yeah. Cause I’m all done.

Baby: *sound of mashed peas being spit out*

Me: You need to take three bites of mashed potatoes.

Toddler: One bites?

Me: Three.

Toddler: Then I get Girl Scout Cookies?

Me: No. Someone ate all those while hiding and crying in the bathroom last week.

Toddler: Who?

Me: Don’t worry about it.

Baby: *sound of spoon hitting the ground because she whacked it out of my hand*

Toddler: I can’t, Mommy.

Me: Then you’ll just have to sit there while the rest of us eat.

Baby: *emits tiny Viking warrior princess yell because I shoved more peas in her gaping maw*

Toddler: Can I have raisins?

Me: No…(semi-worried he may actually starve to death)…ok, fine, you can have some raisins IF you eat three bites of mashed potatoes and one bite of meatloaf.

Toddler: Nah. I’ll just sit here then.

Me: (don’t give in, don’t give in, don’t give in) …ok, fine, two bites of mashed potatoes (damn it).

Toddler: One bites.

Me: Two.

Toddler: ONE! *starts crying*

Baby: *grabs jar of mashed peas and dumps it on her head*

Me: Sigh…

Toddler: Where you going, Mommy?

Me: To get raisins. I give up. And to get Mommy some of her Mommy grapes.

Toddler: Do you mean wine?

Me: Shut up and eat your raisins.

Call me weak if you must but feeding your children is a primal NEED. I NEED to feed their whiny little faces. Need it unlike anything I’ve ever needed before. Eat! I internally scream in my head pretty much on a daily basis. Or I’ll die! Eat anything! I don’t care anymore! Just. Eat.

And trust me, I did the hard ass routine. I’d make that kid sit in his chair until he ate all (then, ok fine, three, then two, then one, then how about you just lick it to see if you like it?) carrots. And every time it ended the same way: Three hours later, both of us angry and crying, and exactly zero carrots licked.

So, for all our mental health, I backed off. They both respond better to honey than vinegar (just don’t try to give them actual honey…or vinegar…or food).

Which is how we got here. Sitting around the dinner table. Making complicated and ridiculous mediations like a family of rich people in the midst of a strained but somewhat amicable divorce.

Two green beans for a fourth a cup of yogurt. One BIG bite of rice for the rest of Mommy’s cake. More milk if you finish the chicken part of the chicken nugget. I’ll take the beach house and you can have the Benz.

I hope someday it gets better. And I cling to this hope like it’s the last life jacket on the Titanic.

But just like the Titanic, I know deep down I’m doomed. That dinner will always be some version of this.

At least until they go to college and almost drown in the lukewarm waters of Ramen noodles made in a coffee maker.

Who hates Mommy’s lasagna now, suckers?

Rollercoaster of Love (& Anger & Guilt & Exhaustion)

“So, how was your day?”

Has there ever been a more loaded question?

Yes. But for my purposes here, I need you to ignore that.

Because I get asked this on a daily basis. Sometimes multiple times during that daily basis. And it stumps me every single time.

How was my day? How was my whole, entire, day? Well, nothing is currently on fire. That’s how my day was.

Asking a parent how their day was is a futile exercise. Because no matter what they say— Good. Bad. Fantastic! I’m currently drinking rum mixed with Kool-Aid and expired Nyquil–the only true, honest answer is “I don’t know.”

Every day with children is one giant rollercoaster ride. All super highs and wicked lows. A roller coaster that is equal parts fun and horrifying. And is always breaking down. And needing to pee. Again. With bony elbows and knees coming out of nowhere to hit you when you least expect it.

rollercoaster1

It starts from the minute you hear those first rustlings coming from the baby monitor at some ungodly hour—click, click, click—and goes all day long—wheeeeeee! Oh god, I’m going to die!—until you put them down at night for the third, and final, and I MEAN IT, time that night.

He peed in the potty!

WHEEEEEEE!

rollercoaster2

He pooped in the corner!

AHHHHHHHH!

He’s napping in his bed!

YAAAAAAAAAY!

She finally fell asleep in her crib! …aaaaaaaand she’s screaming again.

NOOOOOOOO!

rollercoaster3

He actually ate his lunch!

YESSSSSSSSSS!

Oh. No, wait. That’s avocado on the ceiling, isn’t it?

God damn it

He listened to me when I calmly explained why we don’t bite people.

*smug smile*

He just bit me again.

SON OF A…

She’s feeding herself!

SQUEEEEEEAAAAAAL!

Oh god, she’s choking to death.

crap crap crap crap please don’t die crap crap crap

They’re both on my lap, peacefully listening to me read them a book!

Sigh! Life is perfect.

She just pulled his hair and he slapped her leg and everyone is crying and screaming and the dog is barking.

I’m in a hell of my own making.

They’re both quietly playing in the corner by themselves!

Pffft…and people say parenting is hard.

He pooped in the corner again? And got it on his shoes? And then dragged the poop all over the house? And his sister is now playing in it?

*sound of whiskey being poured*

Happiness. Frustration. Joy. Anger. Sadness. Bewilderment. Contentment. More anger. Guilt. More happiness but swiftly turning into anger because SO HELP ME, IF YOU DON’T PUT THAT DOWN, I WILL END YOU.

And those emotions were all felt in the past 30 seconds just while I was trying to type this sentence.

Is it any wonder we parents are braindead at the end of the day?

rollercoaster4

But there’s a reason people will stand in line for three hours at an amusement park for a single rollercoaster ride. It lets us know, in the most intense of terms, that we are alive.

Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I stop my son’s third bloody nose of the day because he won’t stop sticking his goddamn finger up there.

I’M ALIVE, BABY! WHEEEEEEEEEEEE!

The Life-Changing Magic of Giving Up

Oh, early spring. Isn’t it lovely? That magical time of year where you can kick the melting, dirty, gray snow out of your path with your new flip-flops while walking in an unrelenting downpour of freezing rain. Mmm…so life affirming.

Ugh. Oh, how I hate this time of year. So much. It’s dumb and the weather sucks and there are no good holidays unless you count St. Patrick’s Day, which I don’t anymore because I have small children who don’t understand the importance of day-drinking OR green beer OR making an idiot out of yourself.

For all these reasons, I should be hunkered down in a blanket fort binge-watching the world’s most depressing show, “The Killing,” on Netflix. Just biding my time during this bleak and desolate season until May when I can once again blind innocent bystanders with the glare coming off my pale calves.

But what am I doing instead? Making yet another half-hearted attempt at spring cleaning. Because I hate myself.

It never fails. Every year at this time I feel an overwhelming urge to get my house in order. To organize. To scale down. To have one of those minimalist living spaces where you don’t feel like if you fall you’ll be buried under a stack of Bust magazines from the early aughts and no one will ever find you and the last image you ever see is Margaret Cho smirking at you.

Or, barring all that, even just finally wiping off the blades of the ceiling fan that have literally started to bend under the weight of dust and dog hair and dead bug carcasses.

And yet, every year it ends the same way: My husband wrestling the matches out of my hand as I repeatedly scream “BURN IT! BURN IT ALL!”

CLEANING1

It always starts out great. I’m motivated. So motivated. Manic, almost. Because I will get everything done and I will do it all RIGHT NOW. So, I run around the house and [play the “Flight of the Bumblebee” in your head as you read this next part]…

Shove any and all clothes that no longer fit into trash bags for donation, regardless of whether anyone is still wearing them at the moment. That is until I get distracted and realize I need to…

Go through all the kitchen cabinets and finally throw out the canned goods lurking in the back that have been there since the Clinton administration, which I do until I remember I still need to…

Break down all the Amazon Prime boxes piled up in the attic that are leftover from Christmas, which I do until I realize I hate breaking down boxes so I move onto…

Finally cleaning out my gigantic make-up bag, where I will throw out exactly one red lipstick, which looks like the 27 other red lipsticks I own, before getting frustrated and…

Decide to organize my massive book collection, but actually I just sit on the floor and start reading each book I pull down but it doesn’t matter because…

The kids have by now woken up from their naps and so I go and retrieve the red lipstick I threw away from the trash can and put it back in my makeup bag because you never know when you need a 28th perfect red lipstick and…

I get the kids up and curse my messy, chaotic house.

Maybe I need a plan of attack. A tried-and-true cleaning and organizing method. I mean, I tried that crap where I held stuff to see if it brought me joy. Unfortunately I started in the kitchen by the wine rack. The good news is that every single bottle did indeed bring me joy. The bad news is that nothing else got done except an angry, error-and-typo-filled email sent to Amazon customer service about the canceling of the show “Good Girls Revolt.”

I’ve also thought about how I should probably start addressing this problem from a different front, stopping it before it gets to this point, maybe. Do one of those “don’t buy anything new for a year” crap that people always blog about.

Except there is the issue of my book hoarding. I have more books than I know what to do with and I can’t stop buying them and my husband is the worst kind of literary enabler.

Get a Kindle, you say? Well, I hope you die and burn in hell for all eternity, is my response to that.

Sorry. That was a bit harsh. I apologize. E-readers are a great invention. And who knows? Maybe I’ll break down and get a Kindle one day. The day they invent one that gives off that old book smell. And has actual turn-able pages. And is heavy. And is made of trees.

It’s not just me though. My husband loves collecting comic books and graphic novels. My toddler son has a fierce and unbreakable bond to every single toy he has ever gotten. Even that broken yellow crayon stub. DON’T YOU TOUCH THAT BROKEN YELLOW CRAYON STUB! Ever. It’s his most treasured possession. Well, that and the gigantic kitchen set he has never, ever used and takes up 35 percent of the real estate in his room.

Even the baby is a budding hoarder. No one, regardless of age, needs that many empty water bottles to chew on.

And it’s for all these reasons that I always give up pretty much before I even get started.

Which is why I’m just going to go out and buy one of those stupid decorative signs that says “Please excuse the mess, the children are making memories” and hang it prominently somewhere and call it a day.

Season three of “The Killing” ain’t gonna to watch itself.

When your village lives far away

My life would make for a horrible sitcom.

Not because I’m not funny. Pffft. Please. I’m super funny. Hilarious, even. And yet humble. Oh, so humble. I’m essentially the love child of David Sedaris and some really humble dude.

And not because my life isn’t absurd. It is. Oh, how it is. The other day I spent 45 minutes sitting on the floor of my bathroom having a deep conversation with a semi-nude toddler about how every Sesame Street character goes potty on the toilet. Yes, even Big Bird.

And not even because I value my privacy. I mean, I have nude stick figure drawings of myself splashed all over the Internet. Come on.

lunch_stick

So while all the elements are there, my life would still make for a horrible sitcom. All because I’m missing that essential element of the quirky side characters.

Not that they don’t exist. They do. And they can quirk with the best of them. It’s just that they live in Ohio or Kansas or Colorado or Texas or Oregon. And whenever we make friends here in Boston, they immediately get a great job offer in New York City or Washington D.C. or somewhere out in the wilds of Connecticut. Or, like us, they have kids and then promptly drop off the face of the planet, drowning in diapers and Double AA batteries somewhere out there in the ether.

Which is how my husband and I turned into Will and Grace but without Jack and Karen (or, to be more accurate, we’re more like heterosexual Jack and Karen without Will and Grace). We’re Monica and Chandler after Season 10. Marshall and Lily if that show reflected reality in the absolute slightest. April and Andy without a Leslie Knope to continually secure us a great local job. Liz Lemon and James Marsden, but really only because I want to be Tina Fey and my husband wants to be Cyclops.

We’re Raymond without his mother. We’re the Brady’s without Alice (and the dead spouses and, like, four of the children). We’re Cougartown with the same amount of wine but only the two of us here to drink it.

There is no Kramer. I’ve seen my downstairs neighbor a total of five times in six years. And four of those times involved a half wave as he drove away in his car. Or at least I think it was him in the car.

No Sheldon. No Schmidt. No Squiggy.

Now, normally this doesn’t really bother me. It’s just the way it is. We moved, we had kids, we turned into sleep-deprived hermits. We see our loved ones’ faces on Skype and stalk them on Facebook and like 32 pictures on their Instagram all in a row. We’re making it work. And luckily, my husband is my favorite person to hang out with and our kids aren’t awful monsters. In fact, depending on how much coffee I’ve had, they can even be close to adorable.

It’s just that recently we had back-to-back visits from both our moms.

And we got spoiled.

Oh god, so spoiled.

Someone else to answer my toddler’s incessant demands for more juice! Someone to make more coffee! Someone to witness and then agree that my screaming baby is being such a ridiculous drama queen today!

We were able to have date nights! We took naps! We had a date night where all we did was take a nap!

And then woke up to more coffee that someone else made!

We got to see how the other half lives. The half that has family and friends close by. The half that doesn’t have to hop on a plane to see their village.

And it was amazing. And it was bittersweet. And it made us realize how hard this whole parenting juggling act is out here on our own.

So, if you have family close by, that helps you and offers support and brings you coffee in the middle of the day, hug them a bit tighter today. Look them in the eye and tell them thank you from the bottom of your heart. And then hand them your kids and RUN.

RUN LIKE HELL.

FAR, FAR AWAY.

And drink a beer somewhere for me.