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Showing posts from 2016

Raising Children: Marriage Inequality

When Andy and I moved in together, fourteen years ago, we never talked about the division of labor in the house. We never sat down and had a direct discussion about who would mow the lawn. He mowed the lawn. When it snowed, he shoveled (and, now, he snow blows). He didn't ask me if I was ok cleaning the toilets, I just cleaned them. I made the bed. When we got married, and opened a joint bank account, he started paying the bills. I sent the Christmas cards. Yes, it seems as though all of our household tasks fell in line within traditional male and female stereotypes. It seems like I took on tasks that women have always done and he was responsible for tasks usually completed by men. Yes, it's true, we didn't talk about who would do certain tasks. You see, I am not skilled at many of those particular tasks assigned to my gender. I tried, with much effort, to cook. After many an inedible meal and much wasted food, Andy took over and we became a mid-western casserole eating …

Rage Fest

Everyone loves a good festival. There's no better way to excessively celebrate a theme than bringing a group of like-minded individuals together in observance, over a period of time- be it a day, week or even a month. Most of us have been to some sort of festival or carnival of one type or another: religious, harvest, music, movies, food, beer, wine, dance, art, fairies, comic books, etc. If there's something to celebrate, there's likely a festival for it. I'd say my first festivals were musically focused and I recall being angry that I was a bit too young to go to the revival of the ultimate music festival, Woodstock. In my younger days there was nothing better than an all day and all night celebration of music accompanied by dancing and a massive hang over. Over time I have expanded my festival attendance which is now much broader in nature. As a family, we have enjoyed art festivals in a variety of settings- art by the lake, art in the hills, art in the city. We&#…

Go Ask Alice ... About Her Bathroom Time

I wrote one of my college entrance essays about the bathroom. The prompt was, "Where is your favorite place?" On lined paper, in blue ink (I know, I'm that old, and my parents didn't buy us one of those giant word processors that some of you had then.)I wrote about how the single bathroom at our house, shared at the time by two teens and two adults, was my sanctuary. After a long and arduous day carting a 20 pound back pack up and down the high school halls, studying for pig anatomy tests, preparing presentations on the aorta (which I pronounced ahhhh-orta?)and conjugating Spanish verbs, I returned home and made a bee line for the bathroom. There, I would shed the angstful worries of a teen's day, load the tub with hot water, sprinkle in some Calgon, light a candle and read until my fingers and toes wrinkled into prunes. My parents' bathroom, like all other parts of their house, is tiny. As an adult, the sink rises only to my upper thigh. You are really prac…

Faith and Prayer

I'm not a God person or a Jesus person. I don't go to church. I don't pray. I don't find solace in a higher power or through the act of prayer. I've never felt that good things come from "leaving it in God's hands" or by requesting prayer warriors join me in sending good thoughts into the universe. It's not for lack of trying. As a kid, I went to church every week with my mom. I baptized the kids. I've read Bible verses and listened to others share their opinion on faith. I've knelt on the ground and tried to ask God for forgiveness and for hope. Unlike others, whom I have envied, God has not spoken to me. I have found no value in prayer. It has brought me no comfort. I would prefer to meditate, write, or talk things through with a friend. Rather than ask others to pray, I prefer to ask for help, to ask someone to listen, or to bear witness. Like I said, this is not for lack of trying. I've wanted to find faith and I've wanted to…

The Cure for a Neurotic Person: Children

I have a rigid personality. This fact is not new to me. I like things to go as planned. I do not like change. I am steel. I am ceramic. It all started in fifth grade when family friends asked me to go away with them for a week's vacation. I missed school and returned to find that the desks had been reconfigured. When I walked in, my little flip top desk had been moved across the room from where I left it, positioned in a pod with three different classmates. While there were only about sixteen students in the class, and my previous podmates were scattered just feet away from me, I felt lonely and afraid. I'd come to trust seeing their faces each day and took comfort in the routine of working alongside these three particular students. I had butterflies in my stomach and choked back tears that morning until recess. I pulled my Juicy Juice pouch and butterscotch Fruit Roll Up from my lunch bag and I will never, ever forget how it tasted and how I threw it, limply and unwanted, in…

Our Teen Marriage

Tomorrow is our 12th anniversary but we have been together since September 2011. If you do the math, our relationship is 15 years old. That's right, our relationship is a teenager. We've passed the cute goo goo gah gah of infancy. Our baby marriage shit its pants over and over and we've had to clean up its explosive blow outs. Our infant relationship was needy and we were very dependent on the other. Back then we always had to be held and we co-slept. Our baby relationship needed the bottle as much as the breast and sucked its thumb for comfort. The first stage of our relationship was all about the basics and immediacy and survival. We fell and picked ourselves up as relationship toddlers. This couple has thrown themselves on the floor and tantrummed like preschoolers. We've had many growing pains. We've grown and stretched and grown some more. Somewhere around 2010, the relationship lost its chubby baby fat. We learned the A,B, C's and 1,2,3's of marriag…

To Have and To Hold and to Lose and To Find

I move stuff around our house all of the time. I like to organize and one of my mantras is, "There's a place for everything when everything is in its place." Often, that place, however, is not my place. I very much dislike clutter and being surrounded by stuff stresses me out. A fun Friday night for me is cleaning the house and, when I really need to decompress, I grab a trash bag and fill it to the brim. I am the only person in my house like this. Caroline is just plain messy while Charlotte and Andy are borderline hoarders. Anything that touches their fingertips never leaves their possession and they have a magician-esque manner of acquiring objects. "Oh, look what I just pulled out of this my black hat! (Charlotte owns a magician hat, by the way) Yes, it's 17 plastic toys from McDonald's Happy Meals!" "Oh, what's that behind your ear? A lead soldier! Fancy finding that here!" I'm not sure if I'm just that unobservant or if I am…

Kids in Tow

We have done a ton of traveling since the girls were born. Just four short weeks after Caroline's birth, we traveled to Puerto Rico to attend my best friend's wedding. I'm comfortable with being on the go- all of the time- and with kids in tow. Traveling, and being out in public, with kids, is a learned skill and, in my opinion, is a true art form. When the kiddos are itty bitty, you have to learn how to cart all of the crap with you and be able to distinguish between the crap you really need on the road and what crap should stay at home. Like car seats. Yes, it is worth sticking your body in the car, in the airport parking garage, in the dark at 5 am, and wrestling with the belts and buckles to extricate the ginormous car seat and then clunkily balance it on your luggage while you hussle to the check-in. (Yes, you have earned the right to pay the extra $3/day to park in the garage and not in long term.) Get this, nobody will tell your baby if you use disposable diapers fo…

Don't Be Mad at the Helping

I'm pretty sure Andy came out of the womb helping people. I can see him now, in the hospital nursery, crying as loudly as his little baby lungs could cry, in order to get the nurses attention. Not for himself, of course, but because the baby next to him needed his diaper changed. Service might as well be Andy's middle name and his desire to help others is one of his truest intrinsic motivators. Andy remembers being a kid and his mom instilling good deeds into all that he did- hold doors for others, shovel sidewalks, help carry heavy loads. He can't recall a time when it wasn't important to him to watch out for those around him and he can't tell you the moment when he decided that service mattered. As he tells me, "it's the right thing to do." In highschool, when most teens are spending their energy on figuring themselves out, hiding from adults, and feeling dark, gloomy and zitty, Andy was out in his community, building bird houses, cleaning parks, …

Decisions

Sometimes we make decisions and we never look back because we know we made the right choice, the best choice, the only choice. Other times, we don't look back because we can't, because we are afraid we made the wrong choice, or because it will hurt too much to think about what could have been, what would have been, and we wonder if it is what should have been. We make decisions every day. Some of them are small and inconsequential and others change our lives and the lives of those around us. Some decisions are bigger for others than they are for us and sometimes we make decisions that seem small to another but are our own giant hurdles. Nearly two winters ago, I made a choice. Six years before that, I made a choice. In 2008, less than a year after Caroline was born, I left my full-time job, in a field that I'd planned for, and trained for, and hoped to become a leader in, for a part-time, entry-level position in a new field that I was interested in but not trained in. A f…

Mrs Cooperstown

On a June return flight from California, I sat next to a woman on the connection from Chicago to Albany. Without sharing our names, we began chatting about the usual flight topics like how cold it was on the plane, racing to catch the flight after delays, and the dreaded drive home from Albany at 11 at night. After telling her my drive was an hour and 15 minutes from Albany, she asked exactly where I called home. When I told her Cooperstown, I should have known what she might ask. "Oh! Cooperstown! Do you know Andrew Marietta?"I couldn't help but roll my eyes when replying, "Yes! Yes, I know him!"She smiled, cautiously, and I continued, "He's my husband."I went on to tell her I can't help but react in this way because it happens so often. She continued to share with me, as most people do, that she's from our area, and has worked with Andy before. She told me how helpful Andy is and how friendly and informative she finds him. These are all …

The Power of a Kiss

This week, to wish her five-year old daughter happy birthday, Victoria Beckham kissed her on the lips. Mommy shamers united in hatred and blasted Posh Spice, calling her action disgusting and her a pedophile. In the photo, posted on her Instagram account, Victoria and Harper are in a pool (an AMAZING infinity pool with an ocean view BTW) and Victoria has her head slightly tilted while kissing her pig-tailed kid smack on the lips. With a few simple clicks you can be privy to the negative comments questioning the appropriateness of the kiss. You can also read tons and tons of positive comments in support of the kiss and see photo after photo of Mommy and Me smooches. There are many articles, and blogs, online discussing whether parents and children should kiss on the lips and as you can imagine, there are just as many supporters as there are those in opposition. The web has drawn upon experts, like a British etiquette expert who said it's not proper etiquette to kiss your child on …

Tiny Thought

A tiny thought has been knocking at my mind's door. It's been tap, tap, tapping; some days very loudly, so much so that it distracts me from anything else. Other days, it is subtle and soft, rhythmic, like my pulse; in sync with the rise and fall of my chest.The tiny thought blew in from a distant place, a far away land. I do not know exactly when it arrived, but I surmise it came in on the fierce gales of the mid-life late winter storm, which took place just as the ice began to recede on the lake, reminding us that winter had not yet let us go. Just as I realized that this stage of my life was not yet ready to let me go. I'd thought I was impervious to the tiny thought. The thought, though small in one's mind, proves powerful for many women. I've heard stories of the tiny thought and have been witness to the tiny thought's metamorphosis. It starts as a seed and grows to a longing, a home sickness, an unspoken knowing. You will know, friends say. You will kno…

With Caroline

A few weeks ago Andy and I attended the spring parent/teacher conference with Charlotte's Kindergarten teacher. We sat in little chairs and talked about Charlotte's progress throughout the course of her first year: the number of sight words she now knows, her math fluency, her ability to follow instructions, and her success at interacting with her peers. We learned that she is not a chatter box like she is at home. We learned that she likes to build things and prefers math to writing and reading. Actually we, as trained historians, reveled in that particular fact. The teacher encouraged us to keep reading and working on sight words throughout the summer, told us Charlotte was a pleasure to have in class, and that she wished her well moving into first grade. It was a Kindergarten spring parent/teacher conference like those had by millions of other parents and teachers. And we know not to take this for granted because, while millions of parents are told their child was a pleasu…

Keep a Hook Free for Me

Andy and I don't have the same taste in home decor. I would call his interior design style "College Dorm". His decorum includes the typical items like black cords, a variety of electronics and at least he frames his posters. Andy is a quirky college guy though. His eclectic taste mixes plastic Wal-Mart furniture with antique chairs, boxes of yet-to-be organized papers with a late 19th century breakfront. It's "frat house meets antique book collector."I've discussed Andy's lasagna organization technique which utilizes the piles and stacking methods. Most of his belongings look like a variation of a Jenga game. At any moment that one pair of pants, half sticking out mid-way through the pile, could easily topple over the stacks of slacks. I haven't seen the bottom of his trunk in...well, I was going to say years but he just got a new car so I haven't seen the trunks of his car since the keys passed into his possession.Speaking of keys, one of …