Love in the Time of Neck Hair

My husband, Garrett, is a strong man- physically, mentally, and emotionally solid. He’s stoic and steadfast. He’s not overly animated when telling a story or explaining whatever the hell.

Let our two-year-old find a rogue hair growing out of the back of his neck, twirl it around her bony little finger then yank it, though, and he drops to his knees like he’s just been bitten on the left nut by a rabid meth squirrel.

Me: “What happened?”

Garrett: “Your daughter just did some kind of Vulcan nerve pinch or some shit. What the hell? Is there a hair back there or something?”

Me: “There is! It’s a renegade old man hair… want me to pull it out?”

Garrett: “Yeah but get it out on the first try- it seems to be attached to my soul and every pain receptor in my body.”

And although the sadist in me toyed with the idea of not plucking it as aggressively as I would need to in order to free him of his follicular nemesis, I was efficient and relentless in my attack.

And that restraint I, friends, is how you know you truly love someone.

(Also, I made a mental note of the coordinates of the hair’s location. I mean, hair grows back, he’s bound to piss me off at some point, and I need a reliable, surprise weapon. I love the guy but shit happens and I’m a realist.)

Magic Man

It was only a matter of time….

Leo: “So you’ve got, like, a real baby in your belly?”

Me: “I do, yes.”

Leo: “How long ’til we meet it?”

Me: “Well, it takes 9 months to grow so you’ve got about 6 more months to wait.”

Leo: “How did you get it in there?”

Me: “Mmmmmmm… oh God. What?”

Leo: “The baby- how’d you, like, get it in there?”

Me: “Uhhhhhh….magic?.”

Leo: “That’s so cool. How did you learn magic?”

Me: “It’s your Dad. He has a magic wand but only his wife can see it.”

Leo: “And you’re his wife?”

Me: “That’s right.”

Leo: “Gotcha.”

You’d think that I’d have a better explanation for a 6-year-old but since they seem not to question magic or ninjas, I went the magic route. He’d never believe that his Dad’s a ninja- ninjas don’t nap.

Grown Up Games

Garrett and I had a couple of completely uneventful whine and tattle-free days away from our normal cyclone of crazy.

It was lovely and weird. Not cleaning messes, wiping asses and refereeing epic sibling battles felt foreign and, as odd as it may sound, bordered on uncomfortable. On more than one occasion, we looked at each other and asked “Should we be DOING something?”.

I was able to read almost an entire book in less than 2 years. I took my time making lunch and dinner. One night, I knowingly left dishes in the kitchen sink. I didn’t set an alarm to wake me either morning and I didn’t remind anyone to finish their eggs at breakfast. I took a long, hot bubble bath and no one knocked on the door- not once. I didn’t have to tune out a single cartoon or obnoxious app. I had only myself to dress. There were no arguments, negotiations or time outs. Garrett was very well-behaved.

All of it was awesome and, somehow, a little agitating. By the time I’d (nearly) convinced myself not to feel guilty or that I was being utterly lazy, it was time to head back home.

The kids were happy to see us but gave us no reprieve.

Within minutes of walking into our home, I was loading the dishwasher and cleaning an unknown substance from the carpet. There was laundry to tackle and crusts to cut off of sandwiches. Norah had a poop.

While tucking Leo into bed that night, he asked “Where did you and Daddy go?”

Me: “We went went out of town for a couple of days.”

Leo: “Why didn’t you take us?”

Me: “It was just a Mom and Dad trip this time, buddy.”

Leo: “Did you have fun?”

Me: “We did, yeah.”

Leo: “Did you go to a fair or something?”

Me: “No, we went to the lake.”

Leo: “What did you do there?”

Me: “Not much. We just hung out with each other.”

Leo: “That’s it? That sounds boring.”

Me: “It was- it was awesome. I missed you guys, though.”

Leo: “What do you mean it was ‘awesome’? You didn’t even DO anything.”

Me: “Exactly. We’re usually doing everything so it was nice to just do nothing for a couple of days.”

Leo: “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Your life makes me sad. I never want to grow up and not be able to play games and have fun and stuff.”

Me: “We had fun- it’s just a different kind of fun when you grow up.”

Leo: “Did you play games? Like, Twister or something?”

Me: “We totally played Twister! How did you know?”

Leo: “I just know stuff…and that’s the dumbest game in the world so I figured that’s what you played.”

Yeah, kid? It’s not so dumb when it’s Naked Twister, you don’t have to worry about locking a door behind you and then you can take a damn nap afterwards.

That’s not sad- that’s grown- up fun. It is badass, deserving of fireworks and a marching band and incredibly infrequent.

When Sleep Wins and the Baby Finds a Sharpie

Bedtime around here works like a well-oiled machine. The older girls get themselves off to bed, I’m charged with Norah and Garrett takes the boys upstairs.

Last night, Leo asked if we could switch things up- he wanted me to tuck in him and Ronan and read a couple of books.  That sounded great to me so I said to Garrett “Hey, tonight I’m going to take the boys up, okay? If you’ll just lie down with Norah- you guys can get your snuggle on and she should fall asleep pretty easily. I’ll be down after we read some books and say prayers.”

Garrett doesn’t love altering our system but he knows that I love reading to the kids and that Leo was clearly needing some time with me so he begrudgingly agreed. I kissed Norah good night, expecting her to be sleeping peacefully by the time I was downstairs again.

The boys and I snuggled and read books and said prayers. I tucked them in, kissed their cherished little heads and blew them kisses as I closed their door. My heart was full and I was thinking that Garrett and I should start trading off nights with the kids- allowing us to alternate spending those sweet few minutes before sleep with our littlest ones.

As I descended the stairs, however, I was surprised I heard Norah, through our closed bedroom door, giggling. “Awwww, that’s sweet”, I thought to myself “they must be still be playing”.

I opened the door expecting to see a Daddy and his toddler daughter playing ‘airplane’ or tickle monster or something else equally adorable.

Instead, I found Garrett- mouth agape and snoring.Two bedside lamps and the overhead light on. SpongeBob on the television and the volume sitting at about one thousand. My earrings were scattered on the floor and Norah was in her pajama top but no bottoms and was wearing her diaper on her head. She was holding a hot pink Sharpie marker and had lines and lines and lines of that color marker all up and down her legs and on the bottom of her feet.

I walked over to the side of the bed where he  lay domant, resembling a fit and very attractive hibernating bear. I poked him with a stick. “Hey- Sleeping Beauty- what happened? Did Norah overpower you with an ether rag?”

“Huh? What? What’s happening?” he asked all startled like.

“Well, I read to the boys and tucked them in. And you…failed miserably and now there’s a permanent marker covered 2-year-old wearing her diaper as a fedora and likely suffering permanent hearing loss from the volume of the television which is comparable to that of a jet engine all up in this room right now. Oh, and my earrings are, like, everywhere.”

He lifted up onto his elbows, looking thoroughly confused while turning down the volume. “I’m sorry- I guess I dozed off. What can I do?”

Me: “A diaper and getting that marker off her legs would be good.”

Garrett: “Yup- I’m on it.”

Me: “And there’s permanent marker on the comforter and I can’t find a few of my earrings so….”

Garrett: “Well, clearly we’ll need to replace the comforter and you’ll need new earrings.”

Me: “That’s right, honey, that’s exactly right.”

And that’s just one of the ways I’m confident I married the right man- even if he falls asleep as the wheel sometimes.

And You Don’t Have ‘Em

I’m not sure what prompts it or why they’re concerned but, from time to time, our children will ask Garrett and me if we will ever divorce. We rarely argue (truly!) and if we do, the kids never witness it. We are playful, affectionate and prone to fits of laughter in the company of one another. Still, though, the question “Will you and Dad ever break up?” will be occasionally asked.

Recently, Mia and Leo walked into the kitchen where I was cooking dinner.

Mia: “Mom- we were wondering if you and Dad are ever going to get divorced?”

Me: “I don’t think so, honey. We are very happy and we love being together and we work on our marriage everyday. Your Dad is my best friend and no one in the world makes me laugh the way he does. Sometimes we have disagreements but we talk about what’s bothering us and try to work through it quickly.”

Mia: “Then why do parents sometimes get divorced?”

Me: “Well, sometimes people fall out of love with each other but in love with someone else. Sometimes they don’t make their marriage a priority and time passes and they wake up one day and just aren’t happy anymore. Sometimes there are just problems that they can’t seem to overcome and they feel like they’d be happier not being married anymore. There are all kinds of reasons, really.”

Leo: “What if Dad finds someone that makes him laugh more that you?”

Me: “Well, then I’d try to be funnier.”

Mia: “Do you think Dad thinks you’re pretty? Maybe he’s gonna fall in love with someone else who’s prettier than you…”

Me: “Maybe, but he tells me everyday that he thinks I’m beautiful.”

Mia: “What about your boobs?”

Me: “What about my boobs?”

Mia: “I’m just saying you have really little boobs and there are ladies who are prettier than you and have bigger boobs and we might end up with a new Mom if you’re not careful.”

Me: “You think I need to buy bigger boobs, then?”

Mia: “I’ve just heard that guys like big boobs and you don’t have ’em.”

Me: “Uh oh- I hope Dad loves me for more than my boobs.”

Mia: “He probably does- it’s probably fine.”

Leo (bursting into tears): “Oh, God! Please get bigger boobs! I don’t want another Mom!”

Mia: “Oh hush, Leo. Dad couldn’t find another lady to take of all six of us…he’s stuck with our Mom and her tiny boobs.”

So, it seems, if a hilarious, beautiful, large-chested woman comes along looking to raise 6 kids that she didn’t give birth to, I’m screwed.

So Serious

Garrett and I had a fun little disagreement/discussion last night. There was something clogging the disposal side of our kitchen sink. When the dishwasher was running, murky water, broccoli florets, pieces of a flour tortilla and some other stuff that was too far gone to identify (steak bones, maybe?) bubbled out of the disposal hole.

Garrett: “What the hell is all this? What’s with all this food stuff?”

Me: “What? It’s just food. It’s supposed to be in there. It’s a garbage disposal. That’s food that wasn’t eaten which makes it ‘garbage’.”

Garrett: “No, no, no- you can’t put just anything in there. And when you do throw stuff in there, you have to actually turn it on- you can’t just scrape it in there and forget about it.”

Me: “Right…like when you say that I have to clean the sweater-thick lint off the dryer screen filter thingy- like that?”

Garrett: “Yes! You have to clean off the lint! We’ll end up with a dryer fire. And you can’t put just anything in the disposal even if you do turn it on- it can’t chop up everything.”

Me: “I think it can. It just has to believe! That’s why it’s called a disposALL. Otherwise, it would be called a disposeSOME.”

Garrett: “Are you serious?”

Me: “So serious.”

Garrett: “No. Use the garbage can more and the disposal less.”

Me: “I think you mean the disposALL. Emphasis on ALL.

Garrett: “Nope. That’s not what I mean at ALL.”

Me: “It’s clear to me that we are done here.”

And then he stuck his bare hand down into that slimy-ass, dark, disgusting, slimy-ass garbage disposeALL and showed me all of the stuff that was, in fact not disposed of. I looked but refused to see because I had checked out of that conversation long ago- once it became apparent that I need to use the garbage can more and the disposeSOME less. He’ll never know that, though, so shhhhhhh….my being proven wrong is just between you and me. Garrett thinks I’ve learned my lesson but I’ll never concede. Never!

How to Get What You Want for Your Birthday

Garrett: “Please don’t make me go shopping…tell me something specific you want for your birthday.”

Me: “A gift certificate for a massage and cash.”

Garrett: “Really? I don’t even have to go to a store?”

Me: “You’re welcome…tack on a facial to that massage and you don’t have to get me a card or flowers.”

Garrett: “Done.”

And that’s how to get what you want for your birthday