Category Archives: Family

Day 13 – The Secondary Parent

I bring a lot of strengths to the table as a parent. I’m organized, I read all the books on the importance of sleep and behavioral changes and implement its teachings in our house. I register baseball and swim lessons and other things on time (mostly). I put things in the calendar and am usually good for the 1.5-2 hours I see my son a day (during the week at least).

I am not the primary parent. Even the most equitable of households typically have a primary parent. The parent that spends a bit more time with the kid, is generally a more patient person and isn’t overwhelmed at the thought of a day alone with an almost five year old. You’d think I’d have five years to that, and yet, here we are.

To be honest, The Hubs and I spend fairly equal amounts of time with our kid. He takes the mornings while I work out and leave for work (usually by 7:30). He drops him off at school by 8:30. He picks him up too, but when I get home, it’s my time to shine and he’s my responsibility until bedtime, while The Hubs either works out or naps (sometimes simultaneously!). Weekends are more of the same where we switch off Saturday/Sunday mornings for our designated activities, and the rest is family time. He’s usually good with us individually, and sweet as hell to me when it’s just the two of us. But when we’re all together, it’s no secret who he views as the primary parent. And this doesn’t bother me – usually – because he is the fun one.

The Hubs doesn’t blink an eye at a weekend alone with our kid. I’ve gone on a few girls trips, marched for women’s equality, and it’s literally no sweat. My husband left today for a wedding and comes back on Monday night. My usual reinforcements are unavailable (people either traveling or with lives that don’t revolve around my inability to entertain my child for 12 straight hours).

I don’t usually complain about not having enough time together. I’m adamant that quality time is more important than quantity time. Of course I welcome this opportunity for a good weekend together. In April, I’m taking a full week off work to hang out with him over spring break, which is something I haven’t done since I was on maternity leave. Even that isn’t completely accurate, since my husband was home with me for 85% of my maternity leave, so I was like REALLY spoiled. I am freaking out about this because… WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO WITH HIM FOR A WHOLE WEEK.

We have a 50-50 partnership that sometimes skews a bit in one direction or the other depending on the week. I love that The Hubs is such a natural parent. 99% of the time I do not harbor any insecurities or regret over the fact that I’m the type to take my kid to a movie, rather than create some sort of magical activity at home.

All this to say, there are many different kinds of parents and many different kinds of families. Oh, and if you want to hang out with me the week of April 10 or have any tips/ideas, I will do it. I will do it so hard.

Day 4 – Birthday Party Politics

This might be one of the days I phone this writing challenge in by just writing a paragraph or two. Between work travel, more work to do tonight and the impending weekend (which incidentally will likely include more work), I don’t have any huge inspirations to share with you this evening. (Editors Note: I wrote this before deciding to write about my son’s birthday party. Apparently, as you will see, I do have quite a lot to say about this topic.)

I will briefly share with you tCupcakes and candleshe complications of planning a 5-year-old’s birthday party. As I spend most of my working day managing clients and projects, the last thing I want to do in my personal life is organize shit. But a planner I am, so planning I will do. Here are the many elements that we have to consider for this lavish affair:

Date. You may dare to think this is a simple decision, but there are many factors at play, including, planning the party at least 6-weeks in advance due to the many possible conflicts and competing events. When there are nearly 50 kids in your son’s grade spanning three classes, people’s social calendars fill up faster than you can say LEGOLAND! I can barely plan what I’m doing this weekend, let alone something 6 weeks ahead of time (see the above mentioned work paradox).

Location, location, location. Do we want to throw an absurd amount of money at the situation and pay to outsource the party at one of those super fun, peppy, overpriced party locations? These places take care of the activities, food and cheap chotckie goodie bags, meaning all the parents have to do is agree on the date (complex in its own right) and send the invitation. In a perfect world yes, this option is ideal. But we are not high energy people – and these party places seem to pump air laced with cocaine to garner an appropriate amount excitement, glee and energy among the children. I just can’t hang. Plus, did I mention that these options are ridiculously overpriced?

That leaves us with the self-produced option, which is fine and certainly cheaper, but a shit load more work. We have to decide if we want it at home vs. a park vs. a school gym. Structured activites vs. letting the kids go apeshit on a playground. If I wasn’t married to a teacher/athletic director who is excellent at managing these parties, there’s a 99% change I’d pay for the overpriced option, and then hide in the corner while the apocalypse of 30 children rains down upon me.

The guest list. Do we want 10 kids or the whole class? Do we want only boys or co-ed? Do we want it to be a drop-off party or do we want the parents to stay? Do we want family at the kids party? Or do we want a separate get together for family? These are all actual things we need to decide. For a birthday party. For a five-year old.

Gifts? Goodie Bags? Do we need all this crap? This is the biggest thing the Hubs and I fight about. He wants a no gift policy, and my spoiled ass is all “give him all the presents!” He doesn’t want goodie bags, but I think we should give people a little something because it’s cute and Pinterest told me to.

Literally everything else. I haven’t even covered things like time of day, food options (pizza or just snacks), cake or cupcakes (or ice cream cake). Does he want a theme? Do I actually need to buy decorations for this thing?

I have planned events for work that involve waaaaaay more budget and has waaaaaay more on the line than a 5-year-old’s birthday party. Yet this is three times as stressful. I love my child, and I will do this for him because I want him to feel special, and therefore I will try to give him the best party “in the history of the world” (as he would say). But, dear god, please don’t ask me if there’s a theme.