Gender Roles and Gift-Giving in the 80s

The 70s were a confusing time for kids. The culture was changing and like all culture changes, while there’s always the revolutionary group moving forward with new ideas and new challenges to entrenched thinking, there’s also the stalwart holdouts plodding forward and pretending their sky is indeed, not falling.

But the 80s…well, the 80s made the 70s look like Hilary Farr on Love it or List it would look if she had a three-hundred-thousand-dollar budget to spend on an 800 square-foot house (I’m saying the 80s were crazy and excessive). But, in ’79 my dad got re-married to a woman eighteen years younger than him and if you think that wasn’t bound to cause problems no matter what the decade, you’d be very, very wrong.

Continue reading “Gender Roles and Gift-Giving in the 80s”

When You Wish Upon a Star

ImageIt’s Spring and that means one thing around my house – baseball! With two boys playing ball, one in “Select” league, it also means that I’m lucky if I’m home two nights during the work week. It also means that CareerMom, who works out of the house, is stuck doing the bulk of the schlepping back and forth. She called me yesterday and–you know how this works–asked if I planned on going to my son’s game last night. I could tell by the sound of her voice that there was an undercurrent of hope that I would not.

What happened was that we had an early game last night, which meant getting there really early (coach wants them there 45 mins early), which meant my wife had to either pick my daughter from DayCare early and be late to the game, OR drop off my son at his game,  and then drive ALLLL the way back to get my daughter.

I made it easy on my wife and skipped the game and picked up my daughter and went home. Throughout the evening, my wife kept me updated via text messages, so I got all the benefits of being there, with little of the nervousness.

But a great thing came out of that–I got to spend quality time with Baby Girl. She’s four now and she’s a talkative spirit. After she fell asleep on the couch and then woke up again around 7:45, we spent 45 wonderful minutes on the back porch, under a blanket, watching the stars and airplanes, and making wishes. With three kids (did I mention my friend has five?) that kind of quality time doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, you have to squeeze every moment out of it.

When we found out we were having our third child, one of my fears was this very issue of spending quality time with that many different children, plus keeping a marriage healthy, plus keeping my career going. I wish I could say that I was wrong and it’s easy to do, but it’s not. Then again, maybe it depends on your definitions of success. All I know is that last night was a success. The first thing she said to me this morning was, “Daddy, do you remember making wishes on the wishing star last night?

I sure do Baby Girl. I sure do.


Remember when…

1. Being sick meant you felt quasi-bad for a day, but by the end of the day, you were second guessing whether or not you actually had felt well enough to go to the gym?

2. A million dollars sounded like a LOT more money than it does now when you really break it down in your head (taxes, mortgage payoff, etc.)

3. The one child that you had seemed like the hardest job ever.

4. You weren’t going to be one of these people who never travels overseas. After all, there’s plenty of time for that…

5. Vacations actually felt like vacations? Mostly because someone else was paying for it and you could just relax rather than busily trying to ensure the kids make a memory.

6.  Sex was REALLY exciting.

7. Your current job was simply a means to an end, and not a definer of you as a person to everyone else

8. You could stay awake at night (in bed) through an entire prayer.

9. Aerosmith was a fairly young band (you can also insert “U2” here)

10. Cold weather didn’t bother you and the beach was NEVER too hot.

11. You had friends that you could spend time with.

12. The cost of gas for your car was the most important expense you had.

13. You could eat an entire box of Krispy Kreme donuts and not notice the result the next day (uh huh, you know who you are)

14. Choosing between getting some sleep, or staying up and watching THE most important sporting event of the year on TV was a no-brainer.

15. You didn’t get mad when the fireworks went off on New Year’s Eve and July4th (thereby waking you and the kids up)

16. You thought reading a story to your kid(s) at night was going to be a wonderful and precious thing, rather than just another chore you have to do before you can get some quiet time.

17. You had time to actually cook…using knives and other fun utensils.

18. ANY alcohol at all–even cheap-o Mad Dog 20/20– tasted good to you.

19. Your parents looked young(ish)

20. You felt young(ish)

Tell me how you REALLY feel!

Next to perhaps husbands whose fumbling and bumbling, “couldn’t find his way through the mall without his wife” antics are well-documented by the media, the second most vilified social group in America, is the in-laws. Situationally, I think of the Griswolds in “Christmas Vacation.”

Every married couple has them, unless something devastating has happened, and it’s the in-law parents that we most hear about and make fun of. And while we all roll our eyes whenever we speak to others about them–regardless of whether or not we really feel that way–it’s not often we’re totally honest with our spouse about how we view our in-laws.

No? Well, draft up a “Will” and then give me a call.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that CareerMom and I, at the ripe old ages of…um…our current age, haven’t had a will, despite having two children (now three). It’s been ever-present on our minds, but we just never took the time to do it. I started doing one on some software I got for free with my tax software a couple of years ago, but I gave up after about five minutes of looking at the dozens of document options and becoming completely overwhelmed. But as luck would have it, God put people on this earth who have taken it upon themselves to figure out how to simplify these things for people like us. I think their formula goes something like this:

“Find guilt-driven parent. Convince them they need a will and promise to do it dirt cheap. While you’re in their kitchen talking to them about estate planning, scare the bee-Jesus out of them by explaining how their kids may not actually get ANYTHING thanks to the U.S. Government, and then hit them up for several add-ons to pay for our coming out to their house and doing this thing.”

So now we have a Will. We also have one of those “Don’t let me die like Terry Schiavo” documents too that tells whomever I deem appropriate, that I don’t want to be kept alive if I’m not eating on my own and wiping my own bum whenever I go to the bathroom.

In the course of this process, we had to decide a few things, such as:

  1. If we both get taken out by one of those parachuting Chick-Fil-A cows, who gets the kids? What if our first choice for custodians are also in the car and die? Who is our second choice?
  2. If any of the above happens, who decides how our money is spent?

Now here’s where it gets hairy. When it comes to deciding who gets your kids, naturally for many people–certainly for us–our immediate family came to mind, but so did every conceivable reason why they should, or should NOT be given such a responsibility.

  • They’re too old
  • They’re too sick
  • They live in Tim-buck-too (OK, Tennessee, but close enough apparently)
  • They have too many other grandkids to worry about
  • They don’t need this responsibility at their age
  • They live too far from MY family
  • blah
  • blah
  • blah

At a time like this, it’s hard to take your emotion out of it and step back logically and look at the situation. Given my familial background, and the fact that I’m closest to the one person who is probably the least related to me, either by blood or by law, I think I have a unique ability to do this–to separate what’s best for the kids, from what’s not going to hurt someone’s feelings.

Some call this ability a gift–others call it mean, brutal honesty. Only time will tell.

At any rate, the conversation that ensued while CareerMom and I debated these questions was not pretty–and it’s also not over despite having signed the papers. For every logical reason I have about why such and such a person should or shouldn’t be doing something with our kids or any money we have left over after I hire Guns N Roses to play at my cremation, CareerMom has her feelings about it and it generally differs from mine.

I foresee numerous posts stemming from this topic, but today’s take-home message is this: “Sure, your spouse SAYS they like your mom’s slightly eccentric mannerisms. And your dad isn’t crazy…he’s just gruff. But present the idea of having your children live with them for the rest of their pre-adult lives and see what your spouse says.”