Two years.

Dear friends,

Nineteen years ago, our first child was born. I can remember with vivid clarity the concentrated emotion surrounding that event. For the first two years of Kate’s life, her father and I had a laser focus on her every need, emotion, and developmental milestone. Any new parent knows the feeling I’m talking about. It was frightening in some ways, but magical in so many more. We were a family of three — perfectly contained, thoroughly in love, completely content.

Then Parker came along and the whole dynamic changed. A family of four is entirely different than a family of three. And when the siblings are born 2-3 years apart, as ours were, the children can become their own self-contained unit, far more content to entertain each other and less needy of their parents’ attention. We were blessed that Kate and Parker developed a close relationship and enjoyed each other’s company right up until the moment Kate went to college.  We’ve been the four amigos for a very long time. (Well, 16 years to be exact.)

So it occurs to me now that — just as we enjoyed two years alone with Kate when she was a baby — we will now have two years alone with Parker. We’re a family of three again — two parents with a laser focus on one child.

I know. Kate will be home for holidays and such . . . and we’ll always really be a family of four, Lord willing, but it feels once again like we’re a family of three.

For example, there’s only three voices in the dinner conversation now. And only one of them is our child, so we’re naturally more attentive. It’s interesting, lisenting to this solo son’s voice without an echo or an interruption or an aside from his sister. In some ways, he’s on his own two feet for the first time since he was born. I wonder what he makes of it. I hope he’s enjoying our  undivided attention.

I’m certainly enjoying giving it to him. I’m enjoying listening to his voice with a new ear, one not distracted by another child’s concerns. I’m enjoying his company in a way completely different but just as satisfying as that of his sister so many years ago. When Kate was an only child, I read Dr. Seuss to her. I played with her. I cuddled her. Now that Parker is an “only” child, I watch reality television with him. I discuss social media with him. I seek his opinion on politics, community events, and family priorities.

Two wildly different stages of parenting, but still one deeply satisfied and appreciative mother.

With gratitude {for two years — then and now — as well as all the years before and after},

Joan, who just discussed with her son his essay comparing the sociological imaginations of Socrates and Forrest Gump and thinks adult conversations with your children are awfully cool


Dear friends,

So I told you already I had a crap day this week, followed by another crap day. Then I didn’t post anything at all so I’m assuming you knew the crap was still flying.

And in the middle of the flying crapeze, also known as just another day, I took a second to check my Twitter account. I admit it. I was at work, you know working, and I checked my Twitter account. And look what I found:

And suddenly the crap melted away and all was right with the world again.

Parker was at our school’s conference championships playing tennis. Kate is the team manager. She was supposed to be texting me scores, but instead, they both were apparently stretched out like cats, napping in the sunshine. It made my heart swell. And when I turned back to my work, everything didn’t seem nearly as craptastic. Love has a way of doing that, you know.

(By the way, I later found out that Parker and his teammate took fourth place in doubles, while the team won 3rd in the tournament. Hooray for our boys!)

So here’s to sibling love. And Mamma love. It does a heart good.

With gratitude {for the fact that I’m tech-savvy enough to actually know how to use Twitter and stumble across these glimpses of my children’s lives},

Joan, aka @MayberryMagpie if you care to follow her

Before I run, I have to tell you the funniest tennis story I’ve heard in a long time.

In case you’re not a tennis fan, here’s a little background. If you’ve ever watched a professional match, you may have noticed there are people standing around the court doing all sorts of things. A few of those people are “line judges” meaning they decide whether the ball bounces in or out. In amateur tennis, there are no line judges. The players call the lines themselves. And since the player receiving the ball gets to judge his opponent’s shot (and, therefore, determine whether he wins the point or his opponent does), there is an incentive to cheat.

If you don’t play tennis, just imagine a basketball game where a man on defense is allowed to decide whether or not a basket counts. Yeah. Things can get crazy.

Now, I’ve played a lot of tennis and I can tell you 99.99% of players are honest. But every now and then you run across a cheater. Or a guy who understands gamesmanship. And don’t disparage gamesmanship. Some of the best players in the world are also great gamers. (Think McEnroe.) In fact, some amateur players advance far above their talent level purely on gamesmanship.

Mr. Mom is a former tennis coach and he always taught our kids to challenge a cheater by cheating him back. In other words, send an immediate signal that “Hey, I can play your game, too.” He also taught his players that kids make honest mistakes, and if you think your opponent made one, ask “Are you sure?” when he calls the ball out. (A lot of honest kids will correct themselves on a bad call when questioned.)

This tactic doesn’t work with the gamer, of course.

Anyway, apparently there’s a kid named T on Parker’s team who’s a pretty clever gamer. According to Parker, T recently hit a shot out by a foot. His opponent immediately shouted “Out.”

“Are you sure?” T asked politely.

“Yeah, I’m sure” said the opponent.

“Okay,” T said. “Hey, how about we play rock-paper-scissors to decide the point?”

“Uh . . . . . . okay” said the opponent.

And wouldn’t you know it? T won a totally free point on his bad shot that a blind man would’ve called out, all because he outwitted an inexperienced player who fell for the gambit and then was lucky enough to call scissors over paper.

Sometimes a little clever goes a long way.