Mrs. Dad and Mr. Mom

Once upon a time, there was a stressed out family. What family isn’t stressed out? Among other titles, Not-Tom-Brady used to be a house painter. This came in very handy when he moved in with me into my broken down house built in 1928. He immediately started painting rooms and making it look livable. Ok the spelling of “livable” looks wrong but apparently its right. I’m sorry but it should be “liveable”.  Anyway, moving on…

I was working in a field position where I would drive anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours to a client, have a meeting, then drive back. This was usually 4 days a week. I created my own schedule but it was a lot of very long days. Back then Bub was in elementary school and was in an after school program. Gigi was pretty much a baby and was in a daycare that closed at 6pm. To say making it back to pick them up in time was difficult was an understatement. As a woman trying to be a leader at a corporation, you never want to say “Sorry Client X I have to leave because I have to pick up my kids”. I never said it, but not saying it took a LOT of work. Never mind getting them places on time. Two different schools, 6 years apart in age, and I had to meet A CLIENT ON TIME. Kids always act exactly as you want them too when you’re leaving to meet an important client.

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This work involved me asking friends to pick up my kids. Great! But they worked too, so in exchange I would need to watch their darling children, in my abundance of spare time. Nothing says “day off” like watching small children you didn’t give birth to destroy your daughter’s Barbie Dream House. And because: Children No: Jager. *sigh You start to hate other parents at the school who seem to have time. They are always there on time, put together and totally annoying… “Oh Marie Christine you’re late for Girl Scouts AGAIN you know they don’t stay young forever… family first.” Shut it cookie-whore. UGH.

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Not-Tom-Brady’s painting job was physically demanding. After you paint for years it takes a toll on your body. Wake up at 5am, get to the job by 6:30am, work until it’s too hot… or while it’s too hot… let shoulders slowly tear until they no longer work. It’s a fun gig. So by the time you get home from this day, the first thing you want do is make dinner, do laundry, help kids with homework, mow the lawn… right? No, you need SLEEP. But you don’t get it. You try to do all of those other things and slowly realize that life is a treadmill of short sleeps, early mornings, torn shoulders, laundry, kid bathing and mac & cheese making. In bed by 8pm was a survival necessity.

Both being so busy and tired, weekends were jammed with laundry, house maintenance, maybe a quick trip to the park. Who knows maybe we would have a minute to pet the dog? (RIP Oscar). But usually not so much. With stressed out parents come stressed out children, with stressed out children come stressed out parents, and so on.

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Then a magical thing happened… yadda yadda yadda, I got a job teaching at night. This job gave us enough money to live not quite poor but almost poor, but with Not-Tom-Brady quitting his job. We reached a point, which many families do, where the money is just not worth the quality of life that goes along with never being available or free. We said let’s do it… I started working at the college and he stopped painting houses. Gigi came home from daycare, and Mr-Mom-Not-Tom-Brady was born.

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At first it was really weird. Not-Tom-Brady would wake up at 5am ready to work, every… single… day. He actually still wakes up at 5am every day. I would still drive back from NY or Providence quickly in fear that I wouldn’t make it to the daycare by 6pm, even though we no longer used a daycare. It took me over a year to break that habit.

We would SEE each other while we were not doing chores. Imagine.. we saw each other, and spent time together, while we were NOT doing chores. That had only happened on occasion but now it was happening every single day. I would get home from work and the kids homework would be done. Everyone would be playing games or watching movies. They were smiling and laughing. It used to be me yelling orders and people scurrying to get things done with the very small window between work and kid bedtime. Gigi would now look over at me from her chair with her wet, slicked back hair because he had been given a bath BEFORE I GOT HOME. It was like some kind of bizzaro land that I wasn’t sure how to navigate. So, do I come in and just… sit down? I couldn’t remember a time I had actually done that. Even before kids there was work, and grad school and more work. What do people do when they… sit down??????

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GAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY (and also true) 

 

Now one might think that Not-Tom-Brady and I have sort of a role reversal thing going on, but it’s more than that. When you think of a typical stay-at-home mom you think of her typical day to day activities and the fact that the couple doesn’t have to share those anymore the mom is now responsible for all of them. Yay for the dad! Well I have a secret for you about a Mr. Mom instead of a Mrs. Mom…  When you have a Mrs. Mom the Mr. Dad comes home after work and doesn’t do *a lot* but he still may do things like take out the garbage, get rid of gross things Mrs. Mom doesn’t want to touch, mow the lawn etc. When you have a Mr. Mom… they do all of the mom stuff AND ALL OF THE DAD STUFF. This is like the fucking lottery of role reversals. Hey hon you do all the mom stuff, k? And in return… you do all the dad stuff too, k? I’ll be over here typing things and sipping my bloody mary.  

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Not-Tom-Brady’s Bitmoji face is eerily accurate. There is a jager on the rocks behind the words on that tray. 

 

It’s been quite some time now that we’ve been doing this. I’ve taken on much more work responsibility at both of my jobs, so my availability becomes less and less every year. I was still doing *some* things up until recently. For example, I was cleaning the cat’s litter box and feeding her. I came back from LA last January and the cat would not stop pouncing me when I was trying to sleep. It turned out it was because she was starving. I won’t get into the state of her litter box…. So that responsibility had to go too. Not-Tom-Brady is lucky enough to have litter box duty and Gigi is trying, somewhat successfully, not to starve the cat.

Technically I “vacuum” but this involves hitting the power button on “Deedee” our robot vacuum cleaner. I’m sure there are other things I do but I’m too tired to remember what they are so they don’t count. We moved into our house just about a year ago. I can honestly say that I went and picked out our washer and dryer that week and have not seen them since. For all I know Not-Tom-Brady could have sold them and started sending the laundry out to be done by a cleaning company. I have no idea. Nor do I plan to find out. I think the washer is white… that’s the extent of my possible knowledge of said dryer. I have done the dishes occasionally, but NTB prefers that I refrain since I’m apparently awful at it, or at least not as good at it. The things I mostly do now are work and then point at things that I would like to be done by someone else, usually NTB. That counts.

 

dad laundry

Occasionally NTB is unavailable and I need to step in and take on some additional responsibility for the short term or for one moment. The kids never let me forget that I’m doing every single thing completely wrong… Mrs. Dad sucks at being Mrs. Mom.

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An incomplete “Daddy doesn’t do it this way” list:

  • Make scalloped potatoes
  • Drop off at the right spot at school
  • Fold and Separate Laundry
  • Slice apples
  • Make Ramen noodles
  • Park at the right bus stop
  • Snack routines
  • Playing games
  • Having fun
  • TV Choices (South Park? Seriously?)
  • Pack Lunches
  • Let the dogs out
  • Pull into the garage
  • Hold the door open
  • Open water bottles
  • Decide when bed time is
  • Play with the dogs
  • Set the table
  • Knowing what grade you are in
  • Remembering music lesson money
  • Getting ready for swimming
  • Make breakfast
  • Wake them up in the morning
  • Piano practice
  • Preparing any food “correctly”

Live life however it works best for you. But no matter what, live life! Life is too short for screaming about laundry all weekend. Girls… be self-sufficient and the world is your oyster…

dad my life story

Every girl…

I have a daughter who is about to turn 16. Life was very different when I was 16. VERY different. That said, there are some constants. There are some things that every girl needs to know. I want to think I can wait to admit these things or to communicate these things, but I know that’s not true. There are facts that every girl needs to know, whether it’s 1984 or 2018… #LifeIsBullshit

  • Never have a drink that you haven’t poured yourself or watched someone pour.
  • Never let anyone take a picture of you naked.
  • If he hits you once, he WILL hit you again.
  • If he says no to a condom, he’s not the one for you.unnamed (3)
  • Trust your instincts. Being polite can kill you…

Women tend to be polite. We don’t like to make people feel bad or to upset the normal flow of things. This is often what hurts us most. About 7 years ago I was grocery shopping at Big Y in Worcester, MA. I wheeled my cart into the parking lot when a man offered to help me with my groceries. I politely declined. He then insisted that he had time. I opened my trunk and he took a bag out of my cart and put it in my trunk. My women’s instinct was to smile and try not to be offensive. Unfortunately for him, my Marie Christine instinct was not so much.  I saw a man and his girlfriend across the parking aisle get into their truck.

To set the scene a bit, Worcester is  “townie” town. Have you seen “Good Will Hunting”? I would like to say that’s Hollywood BS but it’s actually very accurate. Anywho, I immediately scan the parking lot to calculate my options. I realize that electrician-looking-townie and girlfriend in pick up truck are my best bet. I wave to the man to wave him over. He looks confused. His girlfriend looks pissed. Who TF is that old lady waving you over?! I wave again, he points at himself, I nod. The normal looking but over-the-line man keeps putting my bags in my trunk. I wave again. Townie-electrician, confused, starts to walk over. His girlfriend, pissed and ready to fight me, follows.

They arrive at my car. My favorite thing about townies (I’m a townie so I’m allowed to trash talk myself) is that they/we are entirely predictable in a fight or flight situation. We fight. ALWAYS. Even if it’s not a good idea.  I look at electrician-townie-guy and girlfriend and say: This guy followed me to my car. I told him to leave and he won’t leave. He’s trying to hurt me.

Townie girlfriend changes from who-is-this-bitch mode to this-guy-is-going-down mode. Maybe-Electrician-Guy gets in trunk-weirdo’s face. Both he and his girlfriend get into it. They tell me to get into my car and leave and they will stay with trunk-weirdo for 5 minutes until I’m long gone. Moral of the story… what would have happened if I was polite? He would have gone away? I would still be in his basement tied to a pole? Not thrilled considering those options. Don’t be polite. Trust you instincts. Thank you Maybe-Electrician and Pissed-Off-Confused-Girlfriend.

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  • Scream. As loud as you can.
  • Never go to a second location. If you are nervous AT ALL, never go to a second location. Ask around. Don’t.
  • Go for the eyes. Women have tendency to be maternal. Hurting someone’s eyes is permanent. Who cares. Go for the eyes. It’s you or him.

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  • Find a mom with kids.

I’ve always told my kids this. There is a really cool dvd for kids by John Walsh and I can’t remember the name of it right now and I’m too lazy right now to google it. Find a mom with kids. My kids got Sooooo sick of hearing me say this. One day, my youngest daughter was going to kindergarten for the first time. She was taking a school bus for the first time. She went to kindergarten a year early (because she insisted because she is so Gigi). They put her on the wrong bus and let her off at a random city bus stop. Her first thought “Find a mom with kids”. She ran to a mom with kids and told her she was lost. That mom called the school, and the school called me. I think this rule applies to anyone age 1 -101. If you’re in trouble, find a mom with kids. A mom with kids will take care of fucking business y’all. Trust me. This should probably be rule #1. MOM WITH KIDS.

  • Kindness is the most important thing. Everything else is a distant second.

It took me 40 years to figure this one out. You can seek out any other characteristic in a friend/lover/boss/peer/team member. But if they don’t ALSO have kindness, it’s never going to work out. Kindness is a baseline necessity. Democrat, Republican, Alien, Anarchist… if you start with kindness you’re more likely to succeed.

  • Too skinny is bad. Too fat is bad.
  • If your roommate/sister/mom/dog doesn’t like him… listen.
  • Pepper spray washes off, a cracked skull doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to use the tools you’ve been given. (see prior comment on trust your instincts/don’t be polite).

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This is probably my favorite GIF of all time. #BlondeMarieChristine

My oldest daughter recently asked me to teach her how to shoot a gun. I said “Fuck no!”. True story. I asked why? She said: “I don’t wan’t to be afraid of guns”. I said “If you aren’t afraid of guns, you shouldn’t be using them”. Granted, this is a tough one. I’ve recently inquired about reinstating my conceal carry permit that I let expire years ago. I’ve thought of having a rifle and just storing it in a location far from the actual bullets just in case Zombie Apocalypse (aka Trump Administration who the fuck knows).

Funny side story, my schedule didn’t sync up with the conceal carry class yet. In the meantime the teacher sent me an invitation to attend a “Ladies Conceal Carry Fashion Show”. I was like ahhhhh ok thanks but no. I’m not going to be a trendy 2nd amendment stomper… I’m going so I can blast douche bags like you if they try to get into my house… conceal and carry fashion show? What in the actual fuck? Will I even be able to attend this conceal carry class without getting stabby or just literally laughing in someone’s face? I honestly have no idea.

Anywho, I tried to explain to my daughter that you can’t teach people to be decisive or prepared. You either are or you aren’t. This goes back to my last blog a bit about whether I’m hurting my kids by not allowing them to suffer…  hmmmm.

I was thinking recently about the game “Perfection”. Have you ever played this game? You try to put plastic shapes into the corresponding spaces on a game board before a buzzer goes off. If you don’t make it in time, the board pops up and all of the pieces fly up into your face. I used to play this game with my daughter. Every time the pieces popped up she would scream and fall over. Even though she knew it was coming, she still couldn’t control her reaction. THIS is what I’m talking about. Either you scream when the pieces pop up, or you don’t. This is not something that can be learned once you’re past a certain age. I don’t scream… she does. My fault for not properly preparing her? Perhaps. But I digress… I do know what will happen if someone threatens me… it’s not a secret…

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I still might get the hidden rifle, but there’s no way she’s going near it. I did get her some pepper spray. The first time I handed it to her I showed her how to use it, and while holding it she aimed it at my face accidentally twice. So… yea… a gun is not happening for you kid.

Anyway.. off track. Summary: Fuck being polite it’s ok for a minute, until it’s not. Trust your instincts. Don’t let your guard down. People are generally good, except when they aren’t.

Condensed summary: #MeToo

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