Tradition Week (Christmas): All About Eve

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My 4-year-old drew this on my parents’ porch today with chalk she got in a present. Later in the afternoon, I was carrying a load of boxes out to our van and didn’t want my son to get out too, so I asked her to close the door behind me.

Her: I need my chalk!

Me: Close the door, please.

Her: Where’s my chalk?!

Me: The door! Close it now, please!

Her: I need my chalk!

Me: Close the door!

Her: I forgot to draw the tornado!

I’ve been blessed to have Christmas traditions that are roughly compatible with my wife’s family’s traditions, as well as to have parents and in-laws who are willing to be flexible. So my wife’s parents’ annual Christmas Eve fondue dinner was on Christmas Eve Eve this year. And we treated Christmas Eve itself as Christmas day with my family. We’ll spend Christmas Eve night with my parents and my dad’s brother’s family, and Christmas Christmas with my wife’s family.

It sounds busy—and it is—but we’ve more often than not managed to schedule out big blocks of time so we don’t feel like yo-yos spinning rapidly between a couple of houses.

Plus, we have a tradition of going away Christmas night when we can, just my wife and I, to a local bed and breakfast.

Amid it all, we get to see friends and cousins, aunts and uncles, and multiple generations enjoying conversation and fun under one roof.

When my cousins were little, we would go to my uncle’s house for Christmas Eve, and I would tell them elephant jokes on the drive across town back to my house, where we’d read the Christmas story. Now that they’re older and we get together at my parents house, we tend to show each other Youtube videos.

I love seeing my family, which is why I’m cutting off this post here and rejoining the chaos—though it is nice to have an excuse to sequester myself away for a breather. (I’ve found since starting this blog, however, that they also tend to worry that certain stories or anecdotes will find their way onto the Internet. Some will, someday.)

Also, my girls are right now shouting about seeing the Magic Shoe, which is a pink, glittery sneaker that’s been known to peek in windows or skitter across the lawn at my parents’ house from time to time.

Merry Christmas!

Tradition Week (Christmas): The Food

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In his book Me Talk Pretty One Day, in the essay titled “Jesus Shaves,” Dave Sedaris explores the difficulty in explaining a holiday to someone for whom it has no cultural reference: “Faced with the challenge of explaining the cornerstone of Christianity, we did what any self-respecting group of people might do,” he writes. “We talked about food instead.”

Sedaris was relating an anecdote about parsing Easter for two Moroccan students in a beginners’ French class he was taking, but the sentiment applies here, too.

Many of my Christmas memories involve food—and it’s no wonder. Smell, tied as it is into the sense of taste, is a powerful force in triggering recollections and remembrances.

I remember my mom making beef stew in the crock pot, where it would simmer throughout the day. Picking almonds out of the party mix at my paternal grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve. Eating beef stroganoff later that night. A tart lemon dessert my maternal grandmother made each year (and still makes from time to time; I got to have a slice this past Thanksgiving). Containers of bacon bits, bottles of Ranch dressing (both staples of my diet when I was younger), and Pez in my stocking on Christmas morning, which often yielded to a breakfast casserole fresh from the oven. The one and only time I had alcohol before I was 21 (shh, don’t tell!) was when I got a splash of champagne in my orange juice one Dec. 25.

Food showed up everywhere: I remember the cinnamon and gingerbread smell of a paper fold-out holiday street scene we unpacked along with the other decorations. And the photo of candlelight illuminating some sparkling champagne on the album cover I carefully handled each year so I could listen to “Do You Hear What I Hear?” And the Christmas ornaments featuring small mice tucked cozily into beds made from walnut shell halves.

As my family has expanded, so have the food memories. My wife’s family tends to enjoy cheese fondue on Christmas eve, a meal for which I’ve declared myself the official cheese grater.

I love grating cheese. It’s so gratifying to watch the block get smaller while the pile grows larger. You can tell you’re really accomplishing something. Success is so measurable and obvious.

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(I included my hand for a sense of scale.)

My children have been quick to identify and generate their own traditions. They may try something once and then declare that that’s what they eat whenever they visit Grandma and Grandpa, as they have with biscuits and gravy at my parents’ house.

I realized recently that now is when their lifelong memories are starting. My earliest recollections—the ones I can reliably say are true and in context—are from when I was 4 to 6 years old, so this is the time in my kids’ lives when they’re inhaling the scents of seasonal spices or otherwise mundane meals and connecting them with sparkling colored lights, sleeping bags under the Christmas tree, and everything else catching their eyes this winter.

In other news, I fell asleep while writing this post.

Late Week: Freaky Friday

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Freaky Friday on a Saturday? It’s Late Week! Anything goes!

Actually, I had most of this post prepared a full day in advance, and I still managed to fall asleep without finishing it Friday night. But this week’s theme is a forgiving one. So I’m declaring this a Late Week miracle!

Now, onto the actual content:

My wife was heading out to run some evening errands couple of days ago, and my 4-year-old was, for some reason, freaking out about the departure: clinging to her mom’s leg, crying, refusing to answer our questions as to why she was so upset. She’s only blubber that she didn’t want Mom to leave.

Before we just pried her off and let her scream—my wife had presents to buy, after all, probably for me!—we tried making my daughter laugh. Nope. She chuckled a bit at my attempts, and then went right back to her paranoid sobbing. We tried reasoning with her. And then I decided to throw her into the middle of a game. I figured that if she suddenly thought she could win—that elusive and undefinable yet desperately desirable state of success my daughters yearn for, whether they’re on their way up the stairs to brush their teeth for bed and decide to start racing or are comparing the juice I poured them into different-shaped glasses to see who got more—she’d forget whatever was bothering her.

“I bet you can’t catch me!” I said, and I darted a bit, as if I were about to run off.

My 6-year-old caught on immediately and tried to help, employing what sounded like some reverse psychology of her own:

“Dad’s a thief! He wants to catch you, kill you, and eat you!” she shouted. “Want to chase him?”

In retrospect, and looking at it actually written down, it seems fairly innocuous. I play all sorts of games where I’m a lion ready to pounce on the girls, or a monster coming to chomp them, or something similar. So I guess the death is implied.

But I never come right out and say it. There’s a difference between sending your kids scurrying by shouting “I’m going to get you!” and “I’m going to kill you!”

I do have a somewhat dark game I break out when the girls are pretending they’re asleep. Sometimes they’ll fake it in the backseat of the van, squeezing their eyes shut and keeping rigidly stoic faces as I unbuckle them and toss them over my shoulder to carry inside. At times like that, I’ll stage whisper to my wife: “Since the kids are asleep, I can tell you this: They seem to be getting to just about the perfect size for eating. Remember: Never let them know!” Then I act all surprised when they sit up and accuse me of wanting to cook them.

Anyway, my 4-year-old wasn’t terrified or anything by her sister’s shout, but it didn’t help either. My wife and I exchanged eyebrow raises, and then we did the prying.

My girl was fine for the rest of the night. Mostly.

Late Week: White Christmas

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This whole season has felt … delayed. Here it is Dec. 17, and my wife and I only just had our annual White Christmas viewing last night.

That movie never gets old. I love it—though the song “Snow” has always been an odd one to me. The four main characters suddenly start singing about how much they love snow, and all the stuff they’re going to do with and in it. Betty Haynes (played by Rosemary Clooney) twice declares she wants to wash her hair with snow.

Is that a thing? I mean, do people really wash their hair with snow? And their faces and hands, as also indicated by the song? I’ve never lived somewhere that cold, so I don’t know if it’s common to see folks bathing in the frozen outdoors. Or carting buckets of snow inside for a soak?

If you’ve never seen White Christmas, I suggest giving it a try. It’s got its cheesy moments, sure, and it’s musical—which isn’t everyone’s cup of cocoa—but it’s clever and funny and ultimately has a happy ending, which is what Advent is all about, right?

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Late Week: Remember, Remember, the Efforts of Movember

Back when I was just a fresh-faced young blogger (about two months ago), just starting out with my daily posts and preparing my face for the moustache-growing endeavor that is Movember, I learned that Just for Men hair products was looking for facial-hair-friendly bloggers willing to review the product line.

Eager to test out just how far the Shallows extended, I threw my name into the hat—and I got a response. In exchange for a review, they’d send me a bunch of free products, as well as some Movember goodies, like a T-shirt and stickers. I just had to be honest and post by mid-December. I knew I could do the former, and was reasonably certain I could do the latter. As my grandma sometimes says, “I’ll be there if the good Lord’s willing and the crick don’t rise.”

When the package arrived, I got a little worried. I had thought the Just for Men product line would include moustache waxes or similar products, but it was actually their complete line of hair coloring, from sandy blond to real black. I knew that Just for Men did hair coloring, but I figured a product line involved something more. It was my first product review, and I was already fumbling around.

I let the go-between company know that I was sorry, that I didn’t actually have any gray in my moustache—though I do have some on my temples. They were cool with the situation and encouraged me to move forward however I thought best—but to keep the coloring on my facial hair, if I chose to use it. The stuff I got is formulated especially for coarser hair (though a warning inside the box said to not use it on body hair; I didn’t ask whether Just for Men has a product line for, uh, anything below the neckline—or below that).

I decided to take my dark brown moustache to black and, time and skills permitting, attempt to shave my facial hair into the Batman logo.

But first, my brother-by-choice—who does have a little gray in his facial hair, even though he’s a year younger than me—agreed to get in on the action, too. My review is supposed to be my own, but as I’ll still be posting my own thoughts, I thought this would be an OK write-up. He and I bleached our hair together years ago when we were roommates, and we’ve given each other haircuts (buzz cuts, but still), and we shared a bathroom mirror for shaving for a few years during and after college. We’re old hats at this.

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You can see some gray just under his lip and to the right. His wife likes it, but he still wanted to give the coloring a try. The application is super easy and quick, and the package—he chose dark brown—even comes with disposable gloves. I mixed the coloring up in a little plastic tray (also included), he brushed it in, we waited five minutes, and he shampooed it out. That’s it.

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He liked how it turned out. The single application made the gray strands take less of a spotlight. I asked if he would have wanted a darker color or a second application, but he said no. After he and his wife left, I turned to my own moustache. I’d let more of a full beard grow after Movember ended, but I was ready to scale back again. I change my facial hair a lot anyway.

As you can see below (despite the weird lighting), I’ve got dark brown facial hair.

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I opened the box of real black and repeated all the steps from earlier in the evening. Easy. I was pretty liberal with the stuff, but there was still a bunch left in the tube, so I could do this a couple more times if I wanted. I waited five minutes, then hopped in the shower. While I didn’t go from brown to jet black, my moustache is noticeably darker. It’s serious. Like, this is a moustache that wants attention. I trimmed it up, and here’s the initial result:

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I like it. I had got some of the coloring on the skin around my moustache and wiped it off as best I could, but there are still some stains as I write this. I’m sure they will fade. That’s totally not something I would typically worry about.

With my moustache blackened like a Louisiana catfish, I started the fine tuning. My tools: two straight razors, a detail trimmer, and a copy of the Batman logo.

A few experimental passes with the detailer in, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The more I shaved, the more I said stuff like, “I should’ve kept that part,” and “Dang it,” and “Darn it,” and “Dagnabbit.” I really do say “Dagnabbit.” My 6-year-old has started saying it, too, in addition to “Nuts!”—which I don’t say.

I did the best I could, but the Batman logo just didn’t materialize the way I hoped it would. I took a picture anyway, which I won’t post now. I think I’ll hold onto it until the inevitable Fail Week here in the Shallows. My wife, however, thinks it’s recognizably the Batman logo—but as my wife, she’s legally required to say that.

Successful logo or no, the Movember effort was an unquestionable triumph. Friends, family, and an anonymous donor helped me to raise $375; I came in seventh on my team of 50 guys. That group, Dads/Bloggers, raised a collective $15,797. Boston, the city where our group was registered, netted $1,153,223. That’s one city’s total! The final numbers for the entire effort won’t be in until after April, but there has to be millions upon millions of dollars raised in the fight against testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and mental health issues. Thanks to everyone who supported the effort in any way.

I may reward you soon with a photo of my terrible Batman moustache. I also probably have some beard/moustache coloring in your shade, so let me know if you want to try some out. Maybe I can lob a box your way.

Thanks Week: Over the River and Through the Woods

Thanks Week: Over the River and Through the Woods

When we begin a five-hour drive to visit our families for the holidays at 5 a.m., the trip goes something like this:

Firstborn: *sleeping*
Secondborn: *sleeping*
Thirdborn: *sleeping*
Wife: I love you!
Me: I love you! And hey, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me is on! We should always do it like this.
Wife: We’re here!

When we begin a five-hour drive to visit our families for the holidays at 5 p.m., the trip goes something like this:

Secondborn: How much longer till we get there?
Wife: Um … about four hours.
Me: Let’s listen to a CD. I got one of dragon stories.
Thirdborn: *crying*
CD: “The Last of the Dragons,” by Edith Nes—
Thirdborn: *screaming*
CD: —she wore a—
Thirdborn: *shrieking*
CD: —told him—
Secondborn: I can’t hear! Stop it!
Me: *shutting off CD*
Firstborn: Turn it back on!
Me: Let’s wait until the crying stops.
Firstborn: Turn it back on!
Thirdborn: *crying*
Thirdborn: *crying*
Thirdborn: *quiet sniffles*
Me: *reaching for the play button*
Thirdborn: *screaming*
Firstborn (whining): My back hurts!
Wife: Stretch your arms up. Way, way up! That will help!
Firstborn: No.
Wife: It will help!
Firstborn: No.
Thirdborn: *crying*
Secondborn: *whimpering*
Me: What’s wrong?
Secondborn: *crying*
Wife: Are you going to throw up?
Me: What’s wrong?!
Secondborn: *sobbing”
Firstborn: My back!
Secondborn: *weeping*
Me: Fine. Don’t tell us.
Secondborn: My tummy!
Wife: Get your bag if you’re going to throw up.
(rustling noises)
Firstborn: I want the blue bag!
Wife: It doesn’t matter which bag you have.
Secondborn: She won’t give me my bag!
Wife: Give her the bag.
Firstborn: No.
Secondborn: My tummy!
Wife: It’s a throw-up bag. I gave her the blue one. Just hand it to her.
Thirdborn: *screaming*
Wife: Give her the bag! Now!
Me: Are you going to throw up? Is she going to throw up?
Secondborn: No!
Firstborn: *angrily huffing*
(more rustling)
Secondborn: How much longer till we get there?
Wife: Um … still about four hours.
Me: *crying*

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’m thankful for safe travel, no matter how much screaming is involved.

Fight Week: Making Up

Fight Week: Making Up

In the back of my head, during pretty much every fight I have, there’s a part of me thinking: “This is going to be great when we finally get it resolved.”

Every fight I have with my wife, I mean.

We don’t like to fight, even though you’d think so if you were our wall-sharing neighbors. But we do like to make up, which you’d know if you were our wall-sharing neighbors.

Ahem.

We fight about the typical things: bills, insurance, spending habits, what we can afford, our credit card. It’s pretty much all about money. Sometimes we’ll fight about other stuff, but cash and what to do with our general lack of it is the big one.

We’re doing OK, as far as people do—especially when you compare us to most of the rest of the world. But what we’ve got coming in determines who of us works and how often, and where we live, and what we eat—and all that stuff may sound like what we’re fighting about, but underlying all of it is the bottom line.

But under even that is the understanding that this fight will be temporary—much, much, much shorter than my marriage to this amazing woman. On the geologic scale of our relationship, one fight isn’t even the Holocene. It’s the complete series of Firefly compared to an epoch. Except Firefly is awesome, and fighting isn’t.

I got lost somewhere in that metaphor. Actually, I got lost somewhere in this overall post.

My point is that we’ll work the money stuff out. And we’ll get through our communication issues. Because we told each other we would more than nine years ago. We told each other we’d keep working at this—even the hard stuff.

So after a fight—even a big one—we like to remember that commitment. And if we’re good at fighting, we’re really good at making up.

On a totally unrelated topic, prostates and testicles are awesome, don’t you think? (Yes, this is unrelated.) But cancer isn’t awesome at all. Check out what’s happening on my face this Movember.

And check out Firefly if you haven’t seen it.

Fight Week: Highly Logical

Fight Week: Highly Logical

I’ve really, honestly, in real life ended a fight with my wife by saying this: “And that proves why you should no longer be angry.”

Actually, I’ve tried ending a fight by saying that. Not surprisingly, those words didn’t go over well. In fact, they just made things worse.

Which I didn’t understand. OK, OK. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I still kinda don’t understand.

Though I am not afraid to let my emotions show, my most logical self is the one who tends to show up during an argument. This is the self who really focuses on word choice. Who demands precision. Who will walk my verbal sparring partner (aka spouse) from Point A, through Point B, to Point C in an effort to convince her that her tears or anger or disappointment have no factual foundation.

“See, Honey?” I’ll say. “You only thought that was what happened. But it didn’t really! All that frustration was over nothing!”

I also try this on my children: my volatile 6-year-old and my clingy 4-year-old. Because little kids are ready to listen to reason when they’re convinced their sibling is getting the bigger scoop of mint chip.

Not surprisingly, my wife feels I come across as smug and condescending when we’re having a disagreement. I get that, sure. But when I state, “No, I’m not being condescending at all!”—because in my heart, I know my motivation for my words is not condescension, but enlightenment, which is really what counts, right?—I’m still a bit baffled when she doesn’t immediately agree with me and do an immediate emotional 180.

This isn’t to say that I don’t get emotional when we fight—or at other times—but when I do, I have a grounded, empirical reason for it.

I’m learning, though—I’m starting to learn—that not everybody thinks the way I do. It only took me 18 years of living with my parents, six or seven years of living with roommates, and nine years of living with my wife—six of those with an increasing number of children—to begin to learn that there are more world views in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in my philosophy.

So I’m working on listening: to my wife, to my kids, to everyone around me who just doesn’t get it the way I do. Because maybe my belief that I don’t always have to be right—I just am—is wrong.

My wife suggested that I end this post by asking, “What are you wrong about?” But she doesn’t get that people won’t want to answer that, at least not on my blog. Right?

Fright Week: Zombies

Fright Week: Zombies

(Shallow Note: This zombie is from a series of monsters I drew in 2002, back when I was still trying to draw hands.)

As a father, I’ve always got a plan. For certain scenarios.

I frequently rank the objects and people I’m holding from most fragile to hardiest, in case I get tackled or the earth starts shaking and I need to drop something/one to keep my balance to protect the rest. The baby and eggs are priorities.

Some of my plans are decidedly less practical.

When I spot a secluded area with an overhang, I note it and tuck it away into the “if we’re trapped outside and need someplace dry to stay for a while” mental file. This wouldn’t be a case of our getting locked out of our condo. This is like “disaster is upon us and martial law has been declared.”

I don’t stock up on fresh water or anything. I have a hand-crank-powered lantern/radio combo, but I’m not sure where it is. So yeah, maybe I don’t have a plan for most things. But I don’t think I’m alone as a husband and father in latching onto some odd and unlikely or impossible aspect of survival and running with it. I’ve talked with other dads who do the same thing. Maybe moms do it too, but I’ve yet to meet one who brought it up.

When my wife and I found ourselves to be the only guests at a country bed and breakfast (even the caretaker was out for the night; we were seriously alone), I laid awake for quite a while after my wife fell asleep. Every time the crickets and other night creatures all went silent at the same time, my heart started pounding. I began devising strategies for what I would do if I heard someone breaking in and coming up the stairs. The best I came up with: Quickly move aside some of the bulk packages of toilet paper under the bed and have my wife slide between them, moving one back into place to shield her so if anyone looked, all they would see is two-ply. Unplug the lamp, hold it like a club, and hide behind the door so I can whack anyone over the head as they come in. In case of desperate emergency—e.g. I take out a scout, but more attackers start to come in—we go out the window over the Jacuzzi tub (no screen to kick out) and inch along the sliver of roof.

That’s as far as I got before the sun came up. When I told my wife about my (theoretical) heroism over breakfast, she wasn’t knocked off her feet by my (theoretical) actions, like I hoped she would be. She was amused. And a little annoyed, I think, that I didn’t get as much sleep as I should have.

To my credit, however, we’d been seemingly followed by a truck for the whole drive after leaving the restaurant in a nearby town where we’d had dinner the night before. I didn’t want it to follow us all the way back to where we were staying, so I pulled off the main road and down a dirt lane to a driveway a few turns before the bed and breakfast—and the truck continued to follow us. I did a three-point turn at the random house and drove back out past the now darkened vehicle, which was either filled with bad guys I’d just outsmarted or a creeped-out family wondering why I inexplicably acted like I was leading them home, then turned around and left.

In the years since, I’ve learned that my wife isn’t into romantic acts of bravery. She prefers a living, accessible coward.

When we saw the preview for World War Z—about a man who gets his family off of the zombie-ravaged mainland and then leaves them on a ship to go back in and try to find a cure for the undead plague—my wife turned to me and said, “You will not go back. When we get out, you will not go back.”

I later learned that *spoiler alert* the guy is forced into action by a government that will kick his family off the boat where they’re staying if he doesn’t cooperate. So I explained the situation to my wife in a pitch to try to get her to watch the movie with me.

“I don’t care,” she said. “You don’t go back in.”

“But—”

“You don’t go back in.”

“He has no—”

“You don’t go back in.”

“We’d get kicked off the ship.”

“You don’t go back in.”

“But in your scenario, we’d all go back in.”

“Yes, we’d survive together. You don’t go back in.”

I appreciate her loyalty and tenacity, but I must admit that I have a hard time picturing my kids cooperating in a survival scenario. As soon as I told them to be quiet, one of my girls would start whining that the other one got a bigger piece of emergency rations or that the knife we issued her had the wrong colored handle. The more I tried to shush her, the louder she’d get.

Either that, or my son would see a zombie shambling in the distance and shout “Doggie!” as he does at everything that moves that’s not a ball. “Doggie! Uff uff!”

When I told my wife about what I was writing for this post, she laughed. Then a few hours later, she said, “I’m really good at walking quietly.” I didn’t know this about her.

As parents, we like to think we’re protectors, that we can shield our kids from the world. But we can’t. Even the best of us can’t. So I think that in order to cope with the unpredictability of car accidents and disease and other scary but real things we have no control over, we enjoy exploring threatening scenarios in which we can do something tangible and effective. By we, I mean me. I do this.

So I make myself the hero in the zombie apocalypse. In my nightmare (dream) scenarios, my family is always tucked away somewhere safe, barricaded on the second floor of our condo after I’ve taken out the stairs. I have roof access via a ladder that can be pulled up and down. I scavenge for food, plot escape routes, protect us from raiders, and pretty much keep us alive.

A global doomsday scenario would be horrible, horrible, but there’s a part of me, and not a small part, that wants to know if I have what it takes to bring my family through. So I get a little excited about hints of such disasters.

When the power went out one evening earlier this year, I lit some candles and briefly entertained the thought: “Is this it? Has it started?” Then I worried that the flickering light in our kitchen window would draw whatever was out in the dark like moths.

I’m not alone in this, am I?

Words from my Wife

Words from y Wife

Recently in a dad-blogging forum—because I frequent such places now—somebody posted a link to this babble.com article, “Why I Don’t Put My Husband Before Our Children,” which is about, well, exactly what the title says.

Someone else contrasted that essay with this one from the New York Times, “Truly, Madly, Guiltily,” which presents the opposite perspective.

In case you’re too engrossed in my own writing (or lazy) to follow the links, here’s a summary: In the first piece, a mom discusses the challenges of dealing with three children and the tolls that takes on a marriage—and why she’s OK with that, for now. In the second piece—written years ago, actually—a mother explores the idea that her children are orbiting moons, while her husband is the sun. (She also explores that topic though a lens of sexual attraction, so hey!)

Intrigued by the two views, but leaning very heavily toward the second (given the two choices; there’s no angle here on children vs. no children or single vs. married), I was interested in hearing what my wife thought. So I sent her the links.

She responded pretty quickly, sending me what I now give to you as the first guest post in the Shallows (almost guest post, because I’ve still written a fair bit).

On the first essay: “That mom is going to wake up one day to the realization that the ‘hard’ part of parenting doesn’t end after the children are toddlers. One day she will realize she has no idea who the man is in the bed next to her. Children are needy and exhausting little humans. They will always demand all of you. You make choices about your priorities and how you manage those demands. I think her attitude leads to the kind of marriage that ‘stays together for the kids’ and ends as soon as the kids are out of the house because she and her husband made the choice to not make each other their priority.”

Wow! Maybe I should turn this blog over to her more often.

She continued: “The second one I tend to agree more with (obviously). As I have said before—I married you because I chose you. Our children are needy, exhausting blessings—but you (and being united with you in our parenting) always comes first. You can’t be united if you don’t make each other a priority (or don’t even spend time together). That time does not necessarily have to be romantic weekends away like she says (though that sounds wonderful); it does have to be a regular commitment to communication and connection. Children learn from what is modeled for them—I would hope that we model a love that is committed, playful, supportive, and passionate. I also think sex is a reflection of the intimacy and emotional connection that is in a marriage. I’m glad she talked about enjoying her sex life (though I personally would have been more bold in challenging the play group moms and their negative attitudes)! I actually have had the same thoughts she has about how I would react if our children died versus if you died.”

I’ve been thinking of starting a place in the Shallows for the bigger-issue serious stuff, called the Deep End, and this post would certainly land there.

What do you think?

(P.S. This is an old drawing of Sarah, from back when she had rectangle-framed glasses. Also, as you can see, the straight lines of her eyewear influenced the hole out of which she’s sticking.)