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Dad Double-Standard: Father of the Year or Just Doing His Job?

A couple weeks ago I took a photo of Serge as he pulled our kids in a wagon. Everyday event. He looked cool, yes. But folks, the props he was given were a little over the top. He promptly posted it to his various social media thingamajigs and, as expected, the comments started rolling in.





Don’t get me wrong, Serge is an amazing dad and his kids are lucky to have him. But he’s just pulling a freakin’ wagon. What’s with him doing next to nothing and getting praised to the high heavens like he just lifted a truck off a toddler? And it happens all the time. It happened all the time even before now. But this single dad thing? Every Band-Aid administered, every incident of baby-wearing, every act of parenting becomes EPIC.

Click here to read Dad Double-Standard over on Babble.

4 Months

Is it terrible to say you have a best baby? I don't mean I love him any more than the other two, obviously, it's just that compared to Violet and Henry at his age this kid is a whole different breed of baby. He sleeps through the night, he rarely cries during the day, dude is as good-natured as they come. You need only look at him out of the corner of your eye and he's grinning his little ass off and, joy of all joys, he's starting to hold his own bottle which, any parent can tell you a baby learning to hold his own bottle is a very special freedom.

Four months old and it's like he was never not with us. He slipped into our family so gracefully there was hardly a hiccup involved with incorporating him into the mix.

Now, I don't want to get all soap boxy on you but, I have to say, maybe there is something to all this chilled out home birth stuff because I was induced with Violet and Henry and I had Charlie quietly, well - mostly quiet if you don't count mooing like a sick cow/yelling at Serge to rub my back STOP TOUCHING ME - in our living room. Violet and Henry both screamed and cried when they were born and Charlie started nursing within five minutes with nary a sniffle. I was also really spazzy about routines and naps and sleep schedules that were all the rage in the parenting books I read when Violet and Henry were born and with Charlie I just kind of go with the flow and he returns the favor in spades. If he wants to nap I let him nap, if he wants a bottle I give him one and he just goes along for the ride, handing out grins all along the way.

Both Serge and I refer to him as Magic Baby because his presence in our family has been magical. I keep meaning to finish his birth story before he's having children of his own, and I will. I've just been busy with this whole separating, moving, starting a full-time job, beginning a new writing column on in addition to Babble, mom of three thing I've got going on over here. Bear with me and I'll be back to regular posting hopefully sometime in the coming week when I get a handle on all the new stuff going on.

I just wanted to share that Serge is all settled in his new place and the kids and I are all moved into our new house and we're really digging it and our new neighborhood. Here are a few shots from the past week as we get settled in the new place. I've been posting a lot more over on Instagram so come on over if you're into the whole photo thing. I'll try to keep shots of my dinner to a minimum but I can't make any promises about excessive Charlie/Henry/Violet photos.

Lots To Be Glad About/Lots To Be Sad About

The house. It was a character in the play of our family. An important one. The dream, the house fire, move out/move back in, a child born, slipping into the world in the living room in which we loved and hated and hoovered nachos and drank too much beer and watched Dexter/Louie/Breaking Bad and gave up on Mad Men... The house in which we made the eventual decision to separate and leave it all behind...

It is no longer home. I don't live there. But, like every other place I've lived for any significant period of time, I could close my eyes and negotiate every room with ease. Instinctively knowing were to place my hand to flip on a light, the way to sway my hip slightly to the right to avoid the sharp edges of the kitchen island, exactly where to place my left hand to open the cupboard and grab a water glass...

Sometimes it feels too sad to contemplate, the twists and turns life takes. That if I think too hard about it all I might crawl under my covers and cry myself hoarse, which has already happened more than once. I've spent much of the last while experiencing numbness interrupted by lightning bolts of rage. Not rage at Serge. Okay sometimes rage at Serge, but I challenge you to find a couple in the midst of this scenario and rage isn't involved, but mostly just rage against the fucking awfulness of life. A dead animal on the side of the road/a dying relationship/a news story detailing the death of a 1-year-old in the back of a hot car/Billie Holiday singing I'll Get By on scratchy vinyl/Violet's toothy smile grinning goodbye as we drop her off at pre-school down the street from Dad's place/Henry saying the word MAMA? in a way that breaks my heart a little each time because I know it won't last/hearing Charlie chuckle for the first time/seeing Serge set up house in a place not mine but with things that have been mine for ten years - it all makes me weep uncontrollably at the ferocious beauty of life.

If I think too hard about it all I wonder if I'll ever feel true happiness again or if I know too much about how shit can turn out. And yet, amidst all of it, I'm relieved too. The house was the stage for much unhappiness and a new place of my own feels good.

In the old house my kitchen was in the back, the window above the sink looking out into the backyard. I thought I liked that best but in my new house the kitchen window is like a large movie screen playing the world's latest offering. A doe and two fawns, baby rabbits, joggers, walkers, cars, trucks; all manner of life passing through the theater that is my kitchen. I like it. And I like the smallness of the house, mostly.

The largeness of my old house often overwhelmed me. Too much house to take care of. Me, responsible for all that. For heating all the nooks in the winter, cooling all the crannies in the summer, miles of floor to scrub/vacuum/Swiffer, many rooms that I had to keep not only organized but clean... I often ruled my kingdom like a crazed dictator, yelling about crayon on the walls and toys on the floor, shouting demands like Hitler announcing plans to invade Poland.

But my kingdom has been reduced, my dictatorship responsibilities seemingly halved and I am enjoying the freedom and simplicity of living in less with less. And the new job, I thought I'd dread working full-time again but it's been fantastic to have structure imposed upon me on the days the kids are with Serge. My God, what would I do with myself otherwise? Not having my kids with me feels like I imagine jonesing for a fix would to a junkie. I pace restlessly, itchy, pick up stuff/put it down decide to go for a walk/decide not to go for a walk/I need to smell Charlie's head/sing to Henry/touch Violet's face/this is awful/someone help me/I can't do this/I can't fucking do this/this is a nightmare/whose life is this?

But then, the blessed air-conditioned halls of AccuWeather, the thrum of people doing their thing...Surrounded by people but alone, something I very much need right now.

So. Babble is restructuring. Many changes over there but they've asked me to continue writing parenting-related news and, more interestingly, they've asked me and Serge to continue writing a relationship column together. We've agreed. We have nothing to hide and probably a lot to share when we're individually ready. Not about the reasons for separation but the aftermath and creating new, separate lives for ourselves. Hopefully you'll stick around.

Despite all the upheaval I feel very calm and present in my life. There is no more arguing, no more anger... Okay, some, but not much. I'm seeing a therapist weekly who I like very much. Although each time I get ready to go to an appointment I have this brief moment when I decide I don't want to go/I'm not going and then I just go anyway and end up glad for it.

There is lots to be glad about/lots to be sad about.

The New Normal

I was barreling down I-99 at 75 miles per hour when it occurred to me that I felt really tired. Inordinately tired. Crazy tired. It was eight-thirty in the morning and I'd just slept eight full hours in preparation for my second day at my new full-time job in State College, Pennsylvania, the city I'm getting ready to move to at the end of this week. The city in which I will live as a newly single mother.

I've spent the past week helping Serge move to his new house which is roughly twenty minutes from mine. It's strange seeing my things in his home. Technically they aren't my things, they're our things and now they're his things. I'm glad they're his things now, it's just strange that they're no longer mine as well.

The big kitchen island isn't mine to clean, the pillows on the couch not mine to position, the black and white canvas that hung in our old living room isn't mine to hang, the country quilt not mine to smooth into some semblance of bed made-ness.

The kids really dig his house, it's a big, old, roomy place a few paces from Main Street where a lot of action goes down. So that's good. Every time I'm there it seems like a herd of children, including Violet and Henry, are roaming around; playing freeze tag, running through sprinklers, happy faces sticky with popsicle.

Yawning my way down I-99 life abruptly dissolved into slow-motion. Turning the steering wheel seemed to take Herculean strength. I stopped to pump gas and it felt like an underwater ballet; turning from car to pump and back again.

What is wrong with me, I thought. How can I be this tired after a full night of sleep? And then it hit me. I had woken up with a splitting headache, stumbled into the bathroom and dry-swallowed an Aleve. As I was putting the pills back in the cabinet I noted they were just 200mg so I shook two more from the plastic container and swallowed those with the hope of obliterating my headache before arriving at work.

Now, as my limbs began to refuse to comply with my brain in a timely fashion it occurred to me that I had purchased that Aleve during the height of Panic Attack City during those first bleak child-free nights after separating from Serge - only having my babies half the time is, by far, the hardest part of the separation - and I had made that Aleve purchase so I could get a few hours of sleep. Aleve PM. Sleeping pills. I had just ingested triple the amount I had been taking at bedtime at eight in the morning on my way in for my second day of work.

Son of a bitch.

By the time I rolled in to the parking lot I was fighting that debilitating heaviness that washes over the body after taking an assload of sleeping pills. Well, shit, I thought. I'm just gonna have to go with this. It's either one of the most horrifying things to have happen on one's second day back in the working world, or the funniest.

I chose funniest. And holy shit, can you imagine meeting eleventy-five new people/learning a new workplace computer scene/attending a news meeting while laboring under the weight of three sleeping pills? So yeah. That was yesterday. Quite the introduction to the whole working world after nearly four years of freelancing from home. However, if I can retain info in that state, tomorrow's going to be a piece of cake, right?

I'm still writing for Babble, same as I always was, and here too... I just couldn't resist the lure of this particular position which is in the social media department. Social media, I thought. Like Facebook and Twitter? Well hell, I do that for free all day long, may as well get paid for it. And who can resist the holy trinity that is medical/dental/vision?

So life is slowly returning to some semblance of normalcy after the explosion of separating from Serge. Debris continues to rain down but it no longer forces me to my knees in pain, it's manageable debris that flutters around, occasionally singeing my skin and then it's gone.

My Boys

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