Monday, June 29, 2009


Its raining...again. Of the last eight months this has been the cruelest month of all. After a long, cold, damp New England winter and a dreary, muddy spring, I had looked forward to a gloriously sunny June. I anticipated trips to the beach, bike rides, outside dinners, and hot nights sitting on my balcony enjoying homemade sangria. Instead I find myself craving pot roast, chili, and chicken soup.

So its monsoon season here in New England. Good weather days are measured by or not it rains and not whether the sun is out. If the reports from their mother are accurate I am going to have three full blown cases of cabin fever on my hands once my kids arrive here later in the day. I am not yet into my second week of summer vacation and I have already exhausted many of my indoor entertainment options. We have baked, played cards, played checkers, watched movies, painted, built birdhouses, and watched TV. I have access to an indoor pool but I think they are getting tired of that as well. I find that I am able to deal with cabin fever in January but not in June.

My parent pals find themselves in the same boat. A friend of mine whom I saw over the weekend has his kids engaged in gathering wood for his still (no typo here...he makes his own spirits...which is one of several reasons he is my friend). Another sends her kids out into the rain regardless of the weather (I would need a cattle prod to get my Oliver and Fiona out in lousy weather). I know a mom who is already in despair and another with whom I have not yet spoken to this summer whom I imagine is ready for the nuthouse. I am afraid if I drove past her house I would see a sign posted in the front yard "Two boys...Free to a Good Home."

Unfortunately, that is not a solution available to me as I have already tried it and failed to find buyers for my children as their mother insisted on being part of the deal. But seriously I think its time that somebody asks management to let up on the least for a week...or until I can sell my kids.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Its Not About The Fish

There are two children I know who would dearly love to go fishing with their dad. I know of their dad only by reputation but I find myself thinking of him from time to time. I hope he comes to understand that going fishing would not be about catching would be about spending time, away from the TV, with his children.

I don't mean to hold myself up as a great example of fatherhood in action as lately I have fallen short of the mark. However, I know my kids have their own unique needs for particular types of attention. For an example, what would work for Aidan my not work for Fiona or Oliver. With this in mind, I strive to engage my kids on terms that would enrich all of our lives. In this I fail almost as often as I succeed but I think the effort is almost as important as the results.

There is a lovely little pond near our home. Surrounded by parkland and modest homes, this pond is stocked with rainbow trout and is a favorite destination for casual anglers and afternoon fisherman. This pond, I have found, is my Aidan's favorite thing about where we live. He and I went fishing one afternoon last week. For almost two hours we stood on the bridge that transverses the pond and cast our lines. During that time we talked about school, baseball, fish, and cars. While we had a few nibbles we did not catch any fish. To my surprise, Aidan was not at all disappointed. He told me that going to the pond was not about the fish. My Aidan told me that he likes that we have a place to hang out and talk, that it was a chance for him to practice casting, and that he enjoyed being with me.

Lately, parenting has felt like work. I am coach, psychologist, playmate, cook, maid, ATM machine, mother, and father to my kids. With summer time here and the pace of life slowed, I hope I can better listen to my kids when that tell me that its not about the fish, that is about the time we have together.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Vacation

My kids started summer vacation in earnest this week. As my ex wife's health precludes her from driving we decided that the kids should remain with me for most of the week. I have not decided whether having the kids here will help or hurt my efforts to resume working...oddly...I find myself not really caring either way and plan to enjoy the summer regardless.

However...I might need to take a vacation for myself in September if yesterday is any indication of what my summer is going to be like.

5:30 Got up, ingested coffee, stared into the abyss, started work.

7:00 Fiona woke up. She insisted that I make her breakfast, call her friend, and pay attention to her.

9:00 Called Soccer Mom Friend and arranged for play date for Fiona with her daughters.

9:30 Went fishing with Aidan...took three work phone calls

10:00 Soccer Mom Friend picked up Fiona

10:30 - 12:30 Worked

12:30-1:30 Had homemade taco lunch with the boys

2:00-3:00 Errands...picked up repaired bicycle, went sneaker shopping for Oliver, drank more coffee.

3:00-4:30 Bowling with the Boys

5:00-7:00 Dinner at the Soccer Mom friend's house with the kids...Soccer Mom told me that hubby wants to use another mortgage broker for the purchase of their new home. I am plotting my revenge.

7:00-8:00 Worked

8:00-9:30 Hung with Kids

9:30-11:00 Read, putz, had a drink, stared into the abyss, fell asleep in my chair....

I am fortunate that much of my work can be done outside of business hours and that most of my clients can be reached via email. Balancing work and my kids has always been a challenge...particularly now as I try to rebuild my pipeline which is almost empty as a result of the two month hiatus I took from work.....

Today is shaping up to be a similar day but with an oh so entertaining twist. Aidan went into my room this morning...woke me up...told me it was was actually 5:00...I am plotting my revenge.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day

Last month a friend of mine gave me a Happy Mother's Day shout out on Twitter (thanks Gretchen). I think she did so because during the last several months I had assumed so many of a mom's traditional responsibilities. Admittedly there were Mother's Days when I did feel like I deserved a card or a present.

Today on Father's Day I am thinking of a handful of moms I know who have assumed the responsibilities typically associated with fatherhood. In some instances I know their children only by name and what their moms tell me about them...and in others I know what their favorite shoes are, the names of their best friends, and what they like for dinner. These kids are lucky to have moms who cut the grass, pay the mortgage, play Lego's and ball with them, and patiently walk behind them as they rumble along in their Big Wheels. Their moms play video games, make sure the heat stays on, teach them baseball, watch the same movies over and over again, and are on duty 24 hours a day. As for their dads'....all have to say there is more to fatherhood than siring a child, writing a check, or sitting on the couch while their kids spend weekend after weekend in front of the TV.

So...I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to all of the women who visit this space who have stepped in and assumed the role of both mom and dad. You have my admiration, affection, and respect.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Half Days

On Sunday night and Monday morning I set up a game plan for the first half of the week. I make appointments, arrange my life, and develop a plan for as much of the week as I can. Today I had planned to be in New Bedford, developing a new business relationship (yes...I do work occasionally) and I had made lunch plans with a friend.

These plans were blown up last night by pronouncement from the back set of the car. "You remember that we have a half day tomorrow Dad...don't you?" Not only did I not remember, I did not even realize they had a half day. Seriously, what school, public or parochial, schedules a half day with less than two weeks left in the school year. So last night was spent frantically re-arranging my day...fortunately everyone understood. The business meeting will take place in the afternoon and the lunch plans turned into drinks later on in the week...

So this morning I am presented with a choice; make snacks, roll out the uniforms, and hustle the kids off for a half day of school....or....let them sleep late, take them to the pool, and then ask their mom to watch them for the afternoon...I decided to let them sleep late and then tell them that we are going to play hooky from school. There is no harm in giving them an early taste of summer vacation. I only wish I had a slip and slide...