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As you can probably guess, as I’m typing this post I have a cold. I’m also wishing it were a “man cold” and not a “mom cold.” What’s the difference? Let me break it down for you.

What Is A “Man Cold?”

If I had a “man cold” I would be able to take off of work and take a nap. I could drink orange juice and hot soup and take some medicine that would make me sleep the afternoon away. I could focus on taking care of myself.  Instead, I have a “mom cold.”

Sickness Is Not On Our To-Do List

That means I’m up plugging away at the many things on my to-do list, despite my deep desire just to lie down and rest. I have laundry that needs to be done, a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded before dishes start piling up in the sink since I seem to be the only one capable of looking to see that it needs to be emptied, oh and my toddler decided to boycott her nap again today so I don’t even get a few hours to drag my butt through these tasks without chasing her around pulling her off the couch, which she has learned to body surf down this morning.

Hit By A Bus

If you’ve been following my posts for a while you know that I love my husband, like L O V E love him and I’m always bragging about him, but today I’m going to throw him under the bus, along with half the men in the US. And you know who’s sitting in this bus with me, all the other moms I know. We are so tired of getting stuck with the “mom cold,” while you men are allowed to wallow in your misery.

We Helped Create The Monster

But it’s not all your fault. No, we played a part in this. We take care of you when you’re not feeling well. We make you soup and dry toast and bring it to you in bed. We make sure the kids keep their voices down and don’t barge in the room a million times, interrupting the nap which is going to propel you back into good health.

We carry on with every task we normally do and exempt you from it all. Why? Because we’re moms. Caring for our family is what we do. And because thankfully you aren’t sick that often.

As a work at home Mom I know I have it easier than a lot of work outside the home moms. If I were really feeling horrible, I’d just focus on getting my blogging work done and let the housework go and deal with the avalanche of mess when I’m feeling better. Though the day you crawl out of your covers to find that nobody cleaned up the half a box of cereal that spilled on the floor is so NOT fun.

The Part Inequality In The Workplace Plays

Most working moms I know don’t even take a day off of work unless they feel like death. Why? Because they are saving their sick days for when their children are sick and need to take off to care for them. Why aren’t men taking off more time to care for their sick kids?

It may be attributed to the breakdown of differences for men and women in the workforce. Men typically get paid more than women. They take off less time when their children are born and less time when their kids are sick or off of school.

It’s less detrimental to a man’s career that he has a family than a woman’s if she has children. Why? Because we are the caregivers (primarily). Not, that it makes it right.

The “Mom Cold” Mentality

It’s really pretty sucky and it all contributes to the “mom cold” mentality that we have to power through even when we feel really awful. Moms can’t afford to be sick.

Even if this were more than a cold, like say the stomach bug, I know my kids need to eat even if the thought of lunch makes me lose mine. My husband will pick up medicine and take out for dinner if I’m really sick and that helps. I appreciate it. But you know what all moms need?

The Thing Moms NEED Most

Men, we need you to take off work and take over sometimes. We need the same rest and care we afford you during your “man colds.” We need you to put out the figurative fires, take care of the chores and keep the kids alive till morning.

We need you to put your career on the back burner. Not forever, but just for one day. Heck, we’ll settle for a half-day.

We don’t expect you to single-handedly close the wage gap. We don’t expect that you can change the perception of care-giving roles for men and women all by yourselves, but you can do us a solid.

The next time we feel sick, give us the gift of having a “man cold” instead of a “mom cold.” Pick up the slack and do what needs to be done. Why? Because we do it for you ALL…THE….TIME and we deserve it.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

They say it takes a village to raise kids, but nobody tells you how hard it is when you don’t have much of a village. As far as grandparents go, my kids have my step-father aka Poppy and that’s it. I miss the days when going out to dinner or a movie with my husband meant I simply had to call my mom. She was always happy to watch my kids. My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on May 27th and until about 4 pm that afternoon we had no idea how we would celebrate it.

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Will and I have never left our kids with anyone but family or very close friends before. Call it trust issues or my tendency to watch shows like Law & Order:SVU, but I just can’t leave my kids with a stranger or even an acquaintance. We got the crazy idea to see if Will’s sister would watch our kids. They invited us over for Memorial Day weekend during our last visit so we thought we’d take a chance and see if they’d watch them for a few hours while we went out to dinner.

We played a fun game of “You call. No, you call.” Neither of us are any good at asking people for favors. I hate to be a burden to others. So Will asked and when the second his sister said yes we were like, “Great! See you in two hours.”

How far would you go for a date night? We drove all the way to Pennsylvania. It was a crazy, rushed, thrown together affair complete with a speed packing session and a very cranky toddler.

The part we banked on to make it easier for my sister-in-law was Sydney’s amazing sleep record. We typically put her to bed at 7 pm and she sleeps until about 7:30 am, but the second we tried to put her down in her pack n’ play she flipped out. She was having none of it.

My sister-in-law told us to just go and even though I felt pretty guilty about leaving her with an upset toddler, I threw my shoes on and ran out the door like I stole something. That’s how it is without a village. You go months or even years with barely any alone time with your spouse. You almost have to steal those few hours together.

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I honestly forgot what it was like to go out to a nice restaurant with my husband where we didn’t have crayons, kids menus, and I didn’t have to cut my kids’ food up before I could take my first bite. I didn’t have to remind anyone to stay in their chair, eat their food, or not make a mess. I got to talk to a grown up, and not just any grown up, the man I married. It was amazing!

So I’ve learned that even if you don’t have a village, sometimes you gotta jump in the car and drive to the nearest one, even if it is hours away. It’s also important to make a village.

Even if your parents are gone or live hours away, you have to find people you love who also love your kids. Maybe that includes siblings, cousins, or friends. I have neighbors who are definitely part of the village we’ve created. If they hadn’t been out of town, I would have asked them to watch the kids on my anniversary and then Sydney could have slept peacefully in her own crib at home.

My husband and I don’t get nearly enough time alone together and that needs to change. Our marriage is the foundation of our family so I need to make it the priority. One day I may get to a point where I can find a sitter that I really trust, but until then I have to keep building this village of mine.

If you need some inspiration, check out these 10 local date night ideas.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary to one popular commercial, not every kiss begins with Kay. For some of us, every kiss begins with KFC or literally ANY meal we didn’t have to cook ourselves. If you’re lucky enough to be married to a low maintenance woman, then this post is for you so that you don’t waste your time at the jewelry store this Mother’s Day. You can skip the open hearts collection and give the low maintenance mom in your life something she ACTUALLY wants.

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1. Sleep – All a tired mom wants is to sleep in. That means not waking up to the sound of children fighting, a little finger poking her or the bright closet light jarring her awake like a search light looking for an escaped convict.

If she wants to take a nap, then give the lady what she wants. Heck, if she decides she doesn’t want to leave the comfort of her bed all day, move Heaven and Earth to make that happen. The last time she REALLY slept well was probably the night her first child was conceived and that’s too freaking long ago.

2. A Meal She Didn’t Cook – Unless you absolutely suck in the kitchen, cook her a meal. It doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast or a four course meal. All us low maintenance moms care about is that we didn’t have to slave away making a meal for once and if the kids hate it, someone else can take the fall. If you can’t/don’t want to cook, you can pick up her favorite take out or take her to the low maintenance dinning establishment of her choice.

But seriously, think again if you want to surprise her with breakfast in bed, because #1 (see above) we’d rather you just let us sleep and #2 we really don’t want to clean the sheets of crumbs later. If you really want to melt our hearts, have a full pot of coffee brewed for whenever we do decide to drag ourselves out of bed.

3. Give Her A Day Off – That means no childcare responsibilities whatsoever. But it’s Mother’s Day you say? EXACTLY. She works her tail off EVERY OTHER DAY of the year.

This should be the one day that it’s all on you; from making sure they brush their teeth in the morning all the way to tucking them in at night, no exceptions just because you think she does something better. Take them to the park, the zoo, the movies whatever you gotta do. Just give her one day all to herself.

4. Tell Her You Appreciate Her – You don’t need to buy a Hallmark card, though you can if you want, but all she really wants is to hear that you get that it sucks to have her job sometimes. It’s freaking exhausting, thankless work that NEVER ends.

Sometimes the only thing that gets her through the day is the thought that maybe, just maybe, her family appreciates all the work she does even though she might not hear it said out loud for days, weeks, or even months.

5. Tell Her She’s Beautiful – Yeah I know she only rocks three different hairstyles – the ponytail, down or the messy bun and has a collection of well-worn yoga pants and T-Shirts, but she still needs to hear how beautiful she is.

In her pre-children years, she might have put on makeup and perhaps a dress every now and again, but these days her priorities are different. Who really needs to wear eyeliner or worry about manicured nails when there’s a good chance you’re going to be scrubbing your hands surgeon-style of human feces or vomit at some point during the day?

6. Make Her Buy Something For Herself – There’s a good chance her bra drawer still contains nursing bras from her first baby or she hasn’t had a good haircut in more months than she can recall. Whenever a need comes up, she’s quick to fill it EXCEPT if it’s hers.

She needs some prodding. Even if she hates shopping like I do, throw some cash in her hands and tell her not to leave the mall without something she needs or wants. This saves you from buying her something she really doesn’t need and no she doesn’t need lingerie. That’s a gift for you and that’s probably how she got these kids to begin with.

So there you have it husbands and baby daddies of the world. Forget the expensive gifts or fancy dinners (though we sure could go for some Olive Garden) and give the low-maintenance mom in your life the things she really wants from you. We got your back on Father’s Day.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

NYE

 

The elves have all packed up and returned to the North Pole. Santa has retired to the Caribbean for a much deserved vacation. So, what’s left for the New Year holiday? As a parent with really little ones you may be wondering the same. Here are some really fun ways to usher in the New Year with your kiddos.

First let me note that if your little one cannot stay up until til midnight because they will turn into Gremlins, that’s OK. You can celebrate the countdown to bed time! (Which isn’t that how most of us get through each day)?

Annual Interview– I love this one! You can find an interview on Pinterest, by searching Google, or make up your own. I like to use the same questions each year to see how the answers change. Include things like who are your favorite friends, favorite foods, colors, activities, etc. Have them sign their names and pack away to read next year.

Family Game Night– put out the snacks, turn off the TV and pull out those board games. Play the hours away until bedtime! Wish each other a happy new year as you tuck in your little ones.

Scavenger Hunt– using index cards, number them 1-10. Hide the cards throughout the house and let the kids find them. Help them count backward from 10 and end the countdown with hugs and kisses.

Count Down with Kisses– when my girls were just babies, I’d give them a countdown of kisses on their chubby little cheeks as I tucked them in at night. They were too little to understand the whole concept of the year change. But, they could understand how much I love them and my affection is free.

Family Movie Night– pull out the videos you’ve taken through the years, or just in 2015. If you can, play them on the TV and relive the highlights of the year. Snuggle in with blankets and popcorn! Create your own list of best family moments in 2015.

Create a Memory Book– pull out your favorite photos from the year and create a fun scrap book. If all your photos are digital create a fun file of your favorites so you can upload to a site to print out, or create a year book using online sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc.

Write a Wish List– your kids have spent the whole year wishing for new things to arrive on Christmas. Why not have them write wishes for the New Year, not for themselves, but for each other? Everyone in the family can write out their wishes on paper and take turns reading them allowed. Seal them in an envelope and mark “Do Not Open Until December 31st 2016.” It will be fun to read everyone’s wishes at the end of the year.

Having little ones to celebrate the New Year holiday with has definitely changed the way we celebrate as a couple. We no longer go out to dinners, and parties, but I wouldn’t change that. Celebrating the count down before bed time and putting the kids to bed at their regular hour gives hubby and me time to be alone and ring in the New Year together. It’s a very low key (and cheap) way for us to spend time together and celebrate as a family.

How do you ring in the New Year with your little ones?

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

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When Your Love Tank Is Low

This morning started with a fight about money, but to be fair it started brewing yesterday. It’s probably the thing my husband and I fight most about, though to be perfectly honest we don’t fight all that often. I think there are resentments, fears and misunderstandings you need to voice in order to move forward. In a marriage, you have two people who have agreed to create a life together and it’s our individuality that sometimes gets in the way. When our love tank is nearing empty or completely dry, we get caught in the prison of our own feelings. “You made me feel this way.” “You are doing this wrong and I can’t tolerate it.” We tend to forget completely about the “we” created when you said, “I Do.” There are so many blessings that can quickly turn to pitfalls if you fail to put your marriage first. Marriage isn’t a sprint to get down the alter, it’s a Spartan race and you need to train every day or you won’t be prepared to go the distance.

It Could ALWAYS Be You

I’ll never forget talking to a woman whose husband was unfaithful and wanted to leave her and their family. It was heartbreaking. I told her, “If you still love him, you fight for him.” We’re taught that if someone hurts you, it’s the “right thing” to walk away and not to forgive and rebuild. Let’s face it, we live in a disposable world and some people view marriage the same way. I’m not judging anyone who is or has gone through a divorce, I’m simply suggesting that it should be the very last card you have to play. I prayed for her and her family for months and it bothered me so much more than it probably should have. It wasn’t my marriage after all, but I think it bothered me because I knew it could have been. No this is not a confession. My husband NEVER cheated on me, but every marriage goes through trials you think will break you and you come to the question of fighting for it or not. With my background, I knew trials were just part of life.

This Ain’t No Cake Walk

When my mother-in-law passed away just two months before our wedding, I just knew that marriage wasn’t going to be a cake walk, especially when you have to decide from the very beginning whether to go through with a celebration while still nursing your grief. I can say after going through the death of three parents together, a miscarriage, loss of a business and financial strain that I can see how easy it is to want to give up. The key is to use those times to pull you together instead of push you apart. Our natural tendency, at least mine, is to isolate. BUT the BEST part of marriage is that you are NEVER alone. I married my best friend and the WORST part about fighting with him is that I can’t talk to him about it. We do our best never to let it linger too long and we move forward together. If you want to go the distance avoid these are four common pitfalls.

1.Putting The Kids First – Ever since the day they were born it seems only natural to make sure they have every single thing they need. While your kids should be a priority, I’m saying they shouldn’t be your first one and I’ll tell you why. So many end up sending their kids out into the world at the age of 18 only to discover that they’ve spent all their energy on being parents and they don’t even know how to be married anymore. Your kids are always watching you and they are building their love map based on how they see you and your spouse treat each other. If you don’t make your marriage a priority they won’t have a clear understanding of how to work together with their spouse to overcome obstacles, and going the distance means they can expect many of them.

2. Not Having Sex – You might protest that you don’t have time, are too tired, too busy, don’t feel attractive right now and it’s just not that important anyway. Just imagine going months without hearing, “I love you.” I think that would be awful. You might laugh, but I think sex is marriage superglue. It forms an instant connection to your spouse. I can always tell if my husband and I are getting on each others nerves it’s time to do the deed ASAP. We get caught up in the utilitarian aspects of marriage; what the other person brings to the table. Did they take out the trash, pay the electric bill, or take the car in for repairs? Marriage isn’t a service industry though. It’s not about you each pulling your weight. It’s about making a choice to live life together. It’s also making sure your partner’s love tank isn’t empty. When it is, unfortunately that’s when people start looking for unpleasant ways to get a fill up.

 

3. Being A Fair Weather Fan – We all know someone who roots passionately for “their team” when they’re doing good, but the second they lose a game or they’re out of the playoffs it’s “that team sucks!” You need to be your spouse’s biggest fan at their WORST. I’m talking, “I wracked up some serious credit card debt, lost my job, kissed a co-worker” kind of WORST. People will let you down sometimes and you and your spouse are not immune. This is where choice comes in. You may not WANT to love them at their worst, but this is where you must CHOOSE to love them. Love is not this wishy washy hallmark card; it’s a Spartan race with hazard warnings. I will tell you this- there will come a day for all of us where you will find yourself thinking, “Should I stay or should I go?” If you dig deep, grit your teeth and get in the race, you will find your marriage stronger at the other end and more prepared to deal with anything life throws at you. Forgiveness is also a choice; not an easy one, but one necessary for a long and happy marriage. It should come with repentance though; trust needs to be restored in order to move forward.

4. Not Fighting Fair – I will admit that I don’t always fight fair. I get completely wrapped up in my own emotions and say things like, “Well, you don’t care about us because you did this.” I know I need to stop seeing my spouse’s choices as some grand if then statement. If you do this then you love me and if you don’t do that then you don’t. I forget that although I know him so well, that doesn’t mean I can speak for him in these one sided pre-arguments in my head. There is no completely right or completely wrong in any situation. You’ve gotta be willing to listen (really listen not just waiting for your turn to defend your point). The goal is not to WIN the battle only to LOSE the war. You should never use tactics like name calling or bringing up things that have previously been forgiven. If forgiving is hard, then the leaving the past in the past is even harder.

There are some days when the stress of life gets so bad and you vent on your spouse because they are your safe place. It happens. This is where sincere apology comes in. There will also be fights where you could repeat them verbatim from the last time. BUT here’s what I KNOW. I have loved my husband EVERY SINGLE SECOND from the moment we met 16 years ago. I have LOVED him EVEN WHEN I HATED HIM. When there is LOVE, true knock down and get back up, LOVE you fight for it. At the end of the day, there is no fairy tale just the story of your lives and you have to REMEMBER that you’re writing it together.

I know we’re living in a day and age where parents think they need to provide everything for their kids. Growing up, my parents couldn’t always afford to provide me with everything, but what I gained was a better appreciation for the things I worked for. Here are the top three things I’m thankful my parents didn’t pay for and why I won’t feel a lick of guilt if I don’t pay for them for my children.

 

1. Their First Car – I’m sure schlepping me back and forth to my first job was not so fun for my parents, but I worked and saved up for a few years to buy my first car. It was a beast of a vehicle that took on the likes of two deer and kept on going (with only minor repairs). Was it beautiful, shiny and new? Hell no. It was a tan Eagle Premier that I bought for $1,000 from an elderly couple in my Nana’s neighborhood. But that taste of freedom that a new car brings should come ONLY after you’ve worked hard and earned it in my opinion. I want my kids to have the satisfaction of something that is truly theirs, bought by their own sweat and hard work.

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2. A College Education – My husband and I both took out loans to pay for our educations. Let me tell you that nothing lights a fire under your butt like the repayment period of a student loan looming over your head. Sure, I know people think you should start saving for your child’s education the moment the pregnancy test comes back positive, but I think a college education is something that truly needs careful consideration more than mere financial preparation. I know adults whose parents foot the bill for their college degree only to have them not use it whatsoever.

While college was a great experience for my husband and I, I know it’s not the only option. I think trade and technical schools can be of great value, as well as community colleges, certificate programs and good old fashioned work experience. I want my kids to carefully consider what they want in life before shelling out thousands of dollars on a four year school to “figure it out.” I want them to desire a future for themselves, enough to spend hours filling out scholarship applications, or working in mail rooms, or taking an apprenticeship. While I owe it to my kids to provide the tools they need, I know they will be better people for having paid for college themselves if that is the path they choose.

Wedding Day

3. Their Wedding
– When my husband FINALLY proposed after 7 years of dating I knew neither of our families were in a position to pay for it. We saved and paid for things along and along. We decided what things we wanted to spend the money on – a nice venue and what things we could do without – a limo. It was a small ceremony and reception, but it was ours. We were under no obligations to invite friends of friends, acquaintances, or business associates. All decisions were ours alone and it was a day I’ll never forget.

I remember two weeks before the ceremony dissolving into tears and asking my future husband why on Earth we were going to all this trouble for other people. See, I wanted the marriage more than a big fancy ceremony. For most couples you fear it will rain on your wedding day, but the reality is that marriage is filled with storms and you better know without a shadow of a doubt who you want by your side to ride out life’s storms. That’s the happy ending, not a wedding, but a marriage that gets stronger despite life’s trials. I want for my kids a marriage like my own, one made the way they choose because they are choosing a life partner, not an amazing party.

It’s not always easy to know what to just flat out give your kids and what you want them to work for. For me, the greatest life lessons came from working for the things I wanted the most. Only then did I truly understand the responsibility and the gift it was. What things do you want your kids to work for?

When you're young you think the Wedding Day is the end of the story when it's really just the first chapter. Your story together before that day is the prologue.

When you’re young you think the Wedding Day is the end of the story when it’s really just the first chapter. Your story together before that day is the prologue.


Not Designed For Dating

Valentine’s Day is coming up and it got me wondering, “Do you date your mate?” My husband and I had a totally random conversation the other day in which we both agreed that it was for the best that we met each other young (we were 18/19 year-old freshmen in college) because in all likelihood neither of us would be any good at dating. Neither of us has the “game face” to be “our best selves” in front of new people. We pretty much take the approach of laying it all out there and seeing who’s left standing.

Boy Meets Girl

I can’t say that I ever really dated my spouse. It’s a lot simpler when you’re young. Boy meets girl, asks for her number, calls her that night, talking for hours, hanging out takes place for a few weeks till you have an awkward conversation where you declare that you are in fact together. My hats off to anyone having to date as an adult. There seems to be a lot more complexities to maneuver through like a landmine. There are so many articles out there about why it’s important to continue to date your spouse, but what if you never really “dated” to begin with?

Speak Your Spouse’s Love Language

I’ve said before that I have a heart for marriage and I’ve talked about how important it is to speak the love language of your spouse. A man could give his wife an expensive piece of jewelry for Valentine’s Day, but she might just want him to take her car in for new tires. I know what you’re thinking, I’m the anti-woman here right? I bet there are a lot more like me who’d gladly forsake “traditional ideas of romance.” After almost 9 years of marriage and 16 years together here’s what I believe matters more than flowers and chocolates.

1. Say “I Love You” With All Of Your Actions, Not Just Your Words – My husband is not one to spout love sonnets, far from it, but there is no doubt he loves me.  It’s in everything he does from cleaning snow off my car, working his butt off so I can stay home with our kids, to taking the car in for repairs. While it’s nice to see him profess his love in a card, it’s not really necessary because I already know.

2. Be Each Other’s TOP Priority – When my husband gets home from work the kids like to clamor for his attention, but we often tell them to wait while we talk first. After 15 years, the habit of sharing our day with each other as soon as we see each other is set in stone. It’s hard for some people to put a pause on their parental responsibilities, but I believe the best thing you can do for your kids is show them what a good relationship looks like.

3. Have Sex – Yes, I said it. Find some alone time away from the kids and have sex. It can be a quickie that’s ok, just don’t forget to lock your bedroom door. Without sex, you are roommates with your spouse. Sex reminds you why you are together. Stay hot for each other – stay together.

So when my husband asked me if we should do something for Valentine’s Day I told him, “nah.” Going out on a “date” is not really a priority. To me dating is the process of getting to know someone and we both know each other cold. I know his heart and he knows mine. Romance has it’s place, but to me it’s the icing on the cake. Now love, love is your bread and butter. Love ensures you never starve.

Watch how this couple describes their love for each other after 56 years of marriage. So sweet!

More than once recently I have found myself wondering if superheroes have families and if so what becomes of their spouses? Are they rocking themselves in a corner somewhere on the verge of a nervous breakdown or are they twirling their wedding bands, wondering how they got themselves into this? I wonder this because I sometimes picture myself as the Stay At Home Mom version of Lois Lane, toiling anonymously away wondering where in the hell my Clark Kent is because he’s late for dinner. It’s not easy being the primary caregiver to three young children while your husband is off saving the world. I’m sure Stay At Home Dads experience something similar. We often call moms superheroes, but in truth I feel like a sidekick at best most days.

Will hosted a Super Bowl party at our church while I stayed home with our kids.

Will hosted a Super Bowl party at our church while I stayed home with our kids.

My husband is a hard worker, always going above and beyond for his job, our church, our community, and while that’s great, sometimes I just want more time with him, more help with the kids, and more attention to the details of this life we’ve created together. I feel like a nonentity some days, like I traded the name on my birth certificate for the title of “Mom” which is both special and nondescript at the same time. It means I am supreme caregiver of my household, but also denotes I’m just one of many who bear the same title. While my husband has the time and freedom to do all these amazing things for which someone will praise him, someone may promote him, someone will at least notice, I will spend my days making sure he has that freedom. So what do I do with these feelings?

1. Guarantee Face Time – My husband and I will be hosting a small group together at church in the spring. It will be about marriage, because while it can be work, I truly believe marriage is a blessing. The bonus is that it guarantees some face time with the hubby.

I'm proud of my husband for pulling together a great event for Super Bowl at our church.

I’m proud of my husband for putting together a great event for Super Bowl at our church.

2. Give Yourself Credit – Primary caregivers usually get little to no props for the countless hours we give of ourselves. We often don’t get a break or a “thank you.” Our job is one we cannot retire from, take vacation or a sick day and will one day be a little sad when we have done our jobs so well that our children don’t need us. So while our voice may be the only one we hear saying it, make sure you say it often- “What I do is important.”

3. Do Something Just for You – This is the advice primary caregivers struggle with the most, especially me. We are used to putting our needs last. We are used to serving in the shadows. You have to make time to do what makes YOU happy. For me it’s writing this blog or reading a good book.

So this is my commiseration with all the primary caregivers out there whether you have the title of “Mom” or “Dad.” It’s not easy being the spouse of a superhero. I’m glad they are out there saving the world, while we quietly take care of our families. I know it needs to be done.

Despite my weariness, I try to remind myself that I don’t in fact like the spotlight. I didn’t become a parent to get accolades, money or fame. I may never be known outside the walls of my home, but here I AM the superhero and NOT the sidekick, even if I forget it sometimes. To quote the poet William Ross Wallace, “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.”

 

08-01-42H

A Black And White World

We’re living in a powder keg of racial tension right now and it often makes me wonder how my children fit into a world that is determined to see black and white without acknowledging shades of gray (or brown). When I first started dating my husband at the age of 18 I did feel the need to let my parents know before their first meeting that he was black. I think based on their reactions, they didn’t really understand why I was telling them at all. They could have cared less about his race and loved him immediately.

Bi-racial Babies Are Beautiful

As time marched on, we finished college, got married, and then got pregnant with our first daughter Hannah. I’m not going to lie, I did wonder what she would look like. When my daughter came out looking white, my husband feared that despite her looking exactly like him people might assume he was her step-father instead of her biological father. Being bi-racial himself he had grown up experiencing the polarization of race. In some circles he was considered black or at least “not white” and in others he was told he was “not really black” or “not black enough.”

What Is She?

It wasn’t until a mom in the daycare I ran asked my business partner while I was out of the room, “What is Hannah (racially speaking)” that I truly came to understand what being bi-racial would mean for my kids. It means that they will get quizzical looks as people try to figure out what they are. They were born into a world that sees color as static instead of fluid. Bi-racial children like mine don’t fit the check boxes. For my part I always check both the black and white boxes on medical or school forms. To say they are white because they look white is simply untrue. They are no more mine than my husband’s (though I do like to remind him that I did all the hard work bringing them into the world).

Seeking Out Diversity

I try to immerse my children in culturally diverse environments. Their school is very ethnically diverse. When choosing a church I wanted my children to see people of all colors represented there. When we became friends with our neighbors who shared the same family makeup of a black father, white mother and bi-racial children I said a silent prayer of gratitude. As a white woman, there will always be things about race I don’t know or feel, but I do know that when I look at my husband and children I don’t see what makes us different; I simply see the people I love.

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Seeing Relationships Instead Of Race

One day about two years ago Hannah referred to our family as white. I asked her if she thought we were all the same color to which she replied “yes.” I let her know that Daddy is black and white and she is both as well. But I realized later that she had it right. She doesn’t see in shades of color, but rather shades of love and in that way we are truly all the same.

In my effort to make sure she doesn’t neglect her bi-racial heritage, I made a huge error. Children are born ready and willing to be color blind because they see through the lens of love. The best thing we can do for our children is to stop pointing out the ways we are different. If we all saw the world as children, especially bi-racial children, we would see relationships instead of race because in our house there is no “black daddy” or “white mommy,” but simply mommy and daddy who love them more than anything in the world.

Friday I found myself staring at the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine on the shelf as I was being herded like cattle through the narrow aisle at ShopRite with Sydney strapped to my chest in her carrier blissfully snoozing away. I absolutely loved reading Cosmo in my 20s. Fast forward to my 30s and I haven’t so much as glanced at a copy in a good – oh seven years. That’s how old Hannah just turned, coincidence? Probably not.

 

The Uncomplicated 20s

The cover was plastered with headlines like “Best. Sex. Ever.” and “It’s Sex O’clock! The Time He Wants You The Most.” I almost laughed out loud. These are the articles I used to read back when I thought the answers were complicated. These are the equivalent of romanticizing the wedding day and then leaving out the fact that the “ending” is really just the “prologue” to life as a grown married adult with children. Yes children – those messy, loud, and amazing little people that are the product of all these articles. So I was thinking as I’m reading them, what would the real titles be like for someone with kids. How about, “It’s Sex O’clock: How To Get In The Mood Before The Kids Kill It.” It’s a little long, I admit, but it’s an article I’d probably read.

Men Decoded

Men aren’t the complicated ones; women are. It made me laugh to see full racks of magazines trying to decode men. Sex O’clock is every second a man is breathing and not eating, sleeping or watching sports – BOOM, pretty simple, but I guess decoding men is very lucrative business that would come crashing down if we actually told women that men are actually uncomplicated. Then you have parenting magazines, that leave the sex headlines to the 20 something mags like Cosmo. There are virtually no articles that tell you about navigating sex and marriage as a mom. The word mom seems to repel the word sex, despite the reality that we in fact became moms because of it.

Wall-Carty pic
(left to right) Mr. Persten, Hannah’s Kindergarten
teacher,
Sean, Allison and their daughter Jordyn.
I met them
while interviewing them for an article for
Hudson Valley
Parent.

The Post Children Booty Call

Now that I have sufficiently covered that rant, on to the “post children booty call.” Two years ago while writing an article for Hudson Valley Parent, I interviewed a mom at my daughter’s Kindergarten Open house. Little did I know that this mom, Allison, along with her husband Sean and two kids Jordyn and Avery would become our very closest friends. It turned out our kids were the same age and we lived in the same neighborhood. We started having “play dates” at each others houses pretty often. It’s very rare that a whole family gets along so well that we literally vow never to move out of the neighborhood without the other family. That’s about as close to a marriage vow as a family can make.

So one day Sean invites us over for a “booty call” as he began calling our regular Friday night get-togethers. It has been in every combination from just moms and kids, dads and kids, both whole families, just one couple and all the kids to one glorious night we hired a baby sitter to watch all of our kids together and went to a restaurant where no parents had to request crayons, cut up anyone’s meat besides our own, and didn’t have to use the word Fudge instead of the F-bomb if we were so inclined.

From “Friends” To “Family”

This past Friday was no exception. We had our friends over for a campfire “booty call” complete with smores. While waiting for them, Hannah and Jay were really getting rowdy. I wish I had a bat signal I could send up like a flair in the sky to let them know we really needed them to come quickly. I have found great strength of sanity in numbers. Allison told me that her daughter Jordyn had asked her if she and Hannah were like sisters and she told her that they had different parents to which Jordyn replied, “Well, like cousins then?” Jordyn’s rationale was that she sees my kids more often then her own cousins. So the new status of honorary cousins was granted.

Gender Reveal
Sharing important life events – Hannah and Jay
with Avery and Jordyn at our “gender reveal booty call.”
All the kids learned we were expecting a baby girl (Sydney)
when they bit into the pink icing at the same time.

These are the relationships you aren’t likely to read about on magazine covers. The ones where you quietly adopt an entire family and agree to make them as important to you as your own flesh and blood. Yet, these are probably the most important ones If you are lucky enough to find them. They are more than mere playdates where our kids play together. I see ways in which our family is rubbing off on theirs and vice versa. We’re not just planning our next “booty call” every Friday; we’re planning our lives with each other.

So the next time you read one of these 20 something magazines trying to get you to complicate your ideas of what men want, know this – men are simple and relationships are a choice. Relationships are work that starts with one person saying “I choose you” and meaning it. Then you keep saying it over and over again even when life gets hard. Marriage is what comes after the I Do. Children are what come after sex. And Booty Calls, my friend, are what happens if you just so happen to be as lucky as we are. If you’re lucky you find great friends, parenting tag team partners, and adopted family that only require a simple “you free?” for the next visit; no fancy clothes, no clean houses and no perfect people required.

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