Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hit by a Truck

Saying having children changes your life, is like saying it is inconvenient to be hit straight on by a Mack Truck. We have entered into an alternate universe; the life we once had now exists only in memories and photos deep in the Facebook archives. Times when I once wondered through Barnes & Nobles or met with friends for beer, have turned into bath time, bottles, bed time and prep for tomorrow. We were once casual people who lackadaisically wondered through life doing things that looked fun, avoiding drama and chaos. Now drama and chaos are the bywords of most days and our free-wheelin' times and laid-back lifestyle have been replaced with feeding schedules, nap-times and daily routines.

When I owned The Mud Shack, customers would often ask if I had children and upon hearing the word no, there was a standard silence as they went in search of the next topic. Now that I've got kids, I realize that the silence I heard was really a footnote in the conversation identifying that I was not in “The Club” and had not yet been hit by the proverbial, life altering Mack Truck. It was something that I had always sensed, ignored and at the time never understood. Like conversations I've had with military friends, who can tell me about their time in the service, but I just can't appreciate their life-altering experiences. Similarly, if you haven't been in the trenches with up-the-back exploding diapers and projectile vomit all over the back seat of your car, you just aren't in “The Club” and can't appreciate the infinite love for your children that is required.

Every few weeks I have the chance to catch up with my brother-in-law, who lives in NYC, works on Wall Street and is single. Hearing his stories is like seeing pictures from a deep-space NASA explorer. You believe that those amazing rings from Saturn and the moons of Jupiter are real, but they are unimaginable and impossible to comprehend. He speaks of nights out drinking, going to Yankee games and leaving early to make it to a party in The Village before going out to clubs with doormen that have clipboards and my favorite, staying up past 10:30. I love those phone calls, they bring back memories of times past and that alien life forms do exist.

We have gone through the first-year of life-altering hazing by our children and are in “The Club”. There is no doorman and no clipboard and if you break curfew, six am comes really fast. The rewards are smiles and those perfect moments when your daughter stops perpetually moving and puts her head down on your shoulder to give you a hug. We've loved every moment of it, I can answer, “Yes, I do have children” and relate to other parents about how the CVS diapers are awful and those Nuby sippy cups rock. I now understand the silence in those conversations and am glad that Facebook still has all those old pictures for me to peruse and remember the other life we once had.
At a Winery
 Note: no black circles under our
eyes or spit-up stains on our shirts

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

First Time in the Ocean

Like a stone spreading ripples out in concentric circles on a still pond. Ten+ families with twins and triplets splashed down on the shore at Point Pleasant, NJ spreading rings of chaos, noise and fun for all lucky enough to see it. The ocean tried to beat back the children who dared challenge its sea weed filled strength, but those little crawlers and stumbling walkers giggled and smiled with each wave and splash of water.

Our little Ruthie literally had the time of her life and laughed and smiled from ear-to-ear with every crashing wave. It was absolutely amazing to see how you can appreciate the pure joy of a child in complete bliss as she was knocked over and tossed around by the sea. My wife and I had never seen our often cranky and sometimes whiny daughter so happy. People speak of how they can relive the simple joys of life through their children, but until you are sitting on the water line as the high tide comes in and the waves get bigger and bigger and all you hear is laughter coming from the one-year-old on your lap, that concept is just an abstract idea. Today my wife and I got to relive the first moment we ever played in the ocean through our two little babies and it was fantastic.

Ethan took a little longer to warm up to the big ocean crashing down at his ankles and had no interest in racing after it with the gusto of his sister. After a short while, though, he relaxed to the idea of the enormous moving swimming pool we had taken him to and crawled right in to the fray with Ruthie.

Back at base camp was a collection of some of the most well-equipped families ever seen at Pt. Pleasant, NJ. The preparedness of these families of multiples rivaled that of most military first responder units. There were strollers with enormous over-sized wheels to handle the rough and sandy terrain. There were great big pop-up tents, enormous beach blankets, bags and bags of supplies and there was sun screen of every variety. I'm not just talking about 30, 40 or 50 spf. There was the old fashioned rub-on stuff, the kind you roll on like a big fat crayon and my amazing wife even found this stuff that you just spray on your child like some sort of anti-sun graffiti.  And don't get me started on the food. My wife was so well prepared these kids ate like royalty. Which completely blew my mind, because we were the people not five years back who forgot to so much as bring beach towels and sunscreen on our overnight trip to the shore.

The rings of chaos and beach excitement spread around us as onlookers took notice. More than once we were asked the standard, "are those twins you've got there?". "Yes, they are, and so are they and so are they and..." Of course the identicals always take the prize for cuteness with their matching ginger hair or identical sharp blue eyes, but I think we gave a lot of people something to talk about on their drive home that afternoon. Hopefully it wasn't the often quipped, "better them than me," but the more accurate and rarely said, "Wow, they've got it good!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How Do You Dress a Girl?

I’m not sure what other stay-at-home parents find stressful, but by far, without a doubt the most aggravating part of any day is dressing my daughter.  Since she was first born I have been completely overwhelmed by all of the possible clothing options and combinations I’ve had to learn.

Have you ever heard of tights? I’ve got no idea what they are; all I have figured out is that they are tight and impossible to get on the legs of a squirming little girl.  The one upside is that she can’t pull off her socks when she is wearing them because they are basically two big socks that go up to her waste. But that doesn’t mean she won’t try, I could spend hours watching her try to pull them off - good times. 

That brings me to skirts, what in the world is the point of a skirt on a baby?  They are basically just expensive cloth that wraps around a diaper, not to mention, if teenage Ruthie tries to go out in skirts as short as the ones I see my wife dressing her in… Well let’s just say that she won’t be getting very far out of my front door dressed like that!

On to matching, to start you need to know that I hate picking out my own clothes and can barely match my own slacks to a shirt.  I hate any sort of plaid because I never know what color shirt will match and forget about fatigues, aside from not really being cool enough to pull it off, my instinct would probably be to match it to something plaid. 

When presented with the unending wardrobe that is Ruthie’s closet, I’ve got no idea where to start and for the first four months of her life you could always tell when I had dressed her. She would have been in some sort of androgynous Liz Lemmon-esque outfit of brown pants with a white onesie.  Somewhere along the way I figured out that everything matches brown pants and stuck with it and would occasionally, on special occasions, substitute some sort of pink sweater for the onesie.  In addition, I could never figure out what to do with dresses.  Do they require a onesie underneath? Does it matter what color it is? Should she wear tights with a dress? After about five minutes up against the multitude of dresses, colored tights, sox and onesies I would basically fall apart into a nervous twitching mess bent over on the floor covered in pink tights, purple onesies and yellow sun dresses.

The best morning for me is one where my amazing wife has surprised me and set out the kid’s clothes the night before.  It’s like a blessing straight from above and an additional thirty minutes of pain and confusion has been taken from my day.  One day, I’m told she’ll be able to dress herself and she can have it.  The second, this young lady begins asserting herself it’ll be right into the wardrobe we go.  You want independence, take it – I’m through!

Friday, July 6, 2012