Sunday, January 19, 2014

The case for getting married when and if the time is right to get married.

Why do people feel like they need to prescribe to us the ideal age at which to reach some milestone or another?  I guess the marriage topic is hot these days because I've recently seen articles making "the case for" marrying "young," marrying after you are "established," and not marrying at all, each full of silent judgments about the choices not advocated within their margins. 

I did not and should not have married "young."  (Although, from the vantage point of 43, age 37, the age at which I did get married, seems dewy and fresh, like a blooming daisy on a sunny spring morn.)

Had I married "young," I would surely have also divorced young, and maybe multiple times.  I did not want a divorce.  None of my early boyfriends (and I think those of you guys with whom I am still friendly and who read this blog will agree with me) would have worked out as a lifelong commitment. There were personality problems or aspirational problems or timing problems or maturity problem -- or some combination of all of the above -- with both of us. So it's best I didn't marry young.  Life has worked out well because I waited until I was "established."

But, truthfully, it wasn't a conscious choice to wait to age 37. It just happened that way.  But I'm glad that it did. I'm glad of the fortuitous break ups of ill-fitting relationships before time and obligation turned them into ill-fitting marriages.  What actually happened is that I had more-or-less decided that life might not have marriage in my cards by about age 34.  And then The Working Dad started working in my office. And....a little under three years later, and the turning of several events in the meantime that are none of your beeswax, and, ta-da!, we were Mr. and Mrs.  There was no grand plan, but I'm glad the thing worked out the way it did.

And I will go out on a limb and say that I, at least, wonder whether The Working Dad and I would have clicked at all, and if we had clicked, whether we would have made it long term, if we had met a decade earlier. People change, and maybe we wouldn't have been right for each other in the 90s the way we were in the Aughts.

That being said, I know folks who married "young" who are doing just fine. It was the right thing for them to do. They shouldn't have waited 'til middle age like me. 

And I know people who have chosen to remain single who are living happy, fulfilling lives. That's the right thing for them. 

Why must we be so prescriptive?  Whatever your path to happiness, isn't that the right way?

So here is the last thing I'll say:  if something within you makes you read an article to justify your path, maybe it's your path that's gone awry, not those of the men and women who have chosen a different one. Maybe ask yourself why you need validation of your choice from a piece of fluffy trend journalism rather than by consulting your own heart. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pink is the New Blue.

I revise my opinion.

For several years, I've frowned on the pink and purple princess mania of modern girldom.  To me, it was a sign of early tracking of little girls to woman's weeds and "girl things."  It was so antifeminist.
I'd bristle. I'd roll my eyes. 

Why do they need special "girl" Mega Blocks?  What's wrong with the primary colored ones the boys play with.  What makes red, blue, yellow and green "boy," and pink and purple "girl"?

But I've change my mind.

I mean, sure, there is nothing wrong with girls playing with primary colored toys and I still think it's, I don't know, superfluous to make pink and purple blocks. But the fact that she's playing with pink blocks doesn't mean she is destined for a life of subservient, second-class citizenship.  That's going to require a lot more parenting mistakes than any frilly princess dress or box of pink blocks is going to impart.

I mean, let's remember that playing with any colored blocks is intellectually stimulating.  If pink gets her building towers, that's okay.  In fact, it's not just okay, it's great.  She's probably not going to demand a pink princess microscope when she gets to MIT.  The lessons she learned from her mom and dad about self-respect, personal fulfillment, education, and her fundamental rights as a human being are going to be the thing that determines whether she's mighty or a mouse.

Not that anecdotes are proof of anything, but I played with Barbies like mad and I turned out okay, with no illusions that I should only wear pink, have long blond hair, always wear heels, and have an impossibly tiny waist.

And, honestly, if I'm going to let my boy play with Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse, I really ought to chill out about girls doing it. Probably, those girls have a few Hot Wheels or other "boy" toys in their toy boxes too. I mean, I did, after all.  I remember my collection of Star Wars figurines quite fondly. 

So, as due, I'm chilling out. And today, without second thought or guilt, I will accompany my son to a little girl's birthday party with an unapologetic gift of princess Duplo blocks.  May she build skyscrapers one day.

Maybe I'll even wear a pink sweater. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I'll bet you think I'm going to write about The Personal Trainer, and how I'm on a New Year's Resolution to finally lose the 20 pounds of baby weight I've been hauling around for almost three years.

Just like I wrote last year . . . .  Same 20 pounds, by the way.  Still here.  2013 New Year's Resolution Fail, as the kids might say.

But you'd be wrong about that assumption.

Oh sure, like everyone else in the Western world, the new year has brought a renewed resolve to get back into shape, but honestly, what more can I say on the subject that I haven't said already on this blog.  Who wants to be boring and repetitive?

(By the way, The Personal Trainer has been texting me trying to set up training sessions for the new year. Trying to drum up some New Year's Resolution business, no doubt.  I've been diligently ignoring her.  But I need to at least respond to say, count me out.)

No, when I say, "trained," I mean trained.

Potty trained.

Without going into the specifics of all the, er, movements involved in this project, I am happy to report that our post-Christmas efforts at potty training with The Boy have met with great success and he is sporting undies 24-7, except for naps and bedtime (when we use pull-ups).

We've had a few accidents, which is to be expected, and some of those have been a result of his parents not being quick enough to get him to the potty when he has asked to go.  He's great at asking to go.  (Sometimes, he asks to go, I am convinced, just to get out of certain situations.  And, hey, I used to hang out in a toilet stall and read a book in the sorority house in order to get some alone-time, so he's just taking after his mom in that regard.)

So I have some advice to the un-potty-trained parents out there:

  • Do not start before age 2, unless your child is really potty-precocious.  In fact, don't start until at least age 2.5.  I know you're tired of changing diapers and that your hands have aged 10 years in the past two due to over-washing, but just wait a few more months.  I mean, don't even buy the training potty and put it in your bathroom.  They're just not ready yet, and you will save yourself many, many months of frustration.  I say this as a person who has been sitting her son on the potty chair for a year.  Honestly, it was pointless to even try until about a month ago.

  • When you do try to potty train your kid at around age 2.5, if the kid is just oblivious to his/her wetness or poop, put the training pants and the potty chair away and wait a few more months.  He or she is still not ready and unless you like being covered in urine and/or poop, you're just going to have a long-drawn-out mess.  You will find that if you allow your kid to mature just a little bit more -- both physically and emotionally -- it will go so much easier.

  • Keep in mind, too, that the average age for an American boy to be fully potty trained is 38 months.  For American girls, it's 36 months.  So if you're starting at age two -- 24 months -- you're expecting a lot from your little person.

  • Potty rewards work.  Find what works for your child.  The Boy has a friend who would do it for gummy bears.  Another for M&Ms.  Our guy:  Hot Wheels and Cars cars.  Maybe you might choose some special kind of undies (Disney Princess? Toy Story?) your kid would love to wear.

  • Be prepared for accidents when you go out and about.  Maybe, for the first few days/weeks, you want to use pull-ups when you go to the grocery store with the kid, just in case.

  • Carry two changes of clothes in the car with you.  Include socks.

  • Find a friend with older kids and do not be afraid to ask questions!  He/She has been there and will have ideas that work.

As I was discussing recently with a dear friend of mine, a mom of three (two adorable boys and a beautiful college freshman girl), no one graduates high school un-potty-trained and, well, they don't have a space for "age at toilet training" on any college entrance exam we've seen.  So this is really not something we need to stress about.  It will happen with the child is ready, not when you are ready.

So, saying bye-bye to diapers means, alas, saying good-bye to the last vestige of babyhood for my sweet little man.  He announced to friends today, "I"m a big boy!  I have undies!"  It was adorable, and bittersweet.  Not my baby anymore, my adorable, funny big boy.  (But, you know, my shoulder will be so happy not to have that diaper bag digging into it anymore.)  Congratulations, Little Man.