Posts Tagged ‘ affection ’

An Unfortunate Mother’s Day Truth

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is currently writing a parenting humor book. He lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

As a child growing up in a house with two parents who barely spoke a word to one another, much less showed affection, there was always a part of me that dreaded holidays. Because they included an outing, whether it was a dinner, a show, or even a simple 15-minute car ride to grandma’s house. And an outing meant almost assuredly that I’d be without one of my parents. They “stayed together for the kids,” but we were still left scratching our heads when Mother’s Day arrived and we went our separate ways to two different gatherings.

Looking back, I get it. Neither of them wanted to be apart from their children permanently, but holidays (and vacations) were sort of a reprieve from the day-to-day awkwardness. For them, and truthfully, for my sister and me.

But I resented it as a kid. I knew my parents didn’t have the kind of relationship most did, so I would sit restrainedly glum at the dinner table, feeling like we were a broken family. Frankly, because we were. And even as a child, I would try to give mom gifts as a way of distracting her from the failing marriage we all silently knew was eating at her. I just never felt like it was enough. So I told myself I’d eventually show her my appreciation for all she’d done for me.

As a teenager, not much changed. However, I began to establish more of an understanding about my parents’ marriage, and particularly, the sacrifices they were both making for the sake of seeing their children grow. Once I comprehended that, I was able to make peace with it. But that didn’t change the fact that every Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or anniversary I’d look at other married couples giving each other flowers and singing each other’s praises, and I’d be angry that my own parents weren’t showing the same kind of gratitude for each other.

As a young adult, the separation wasn’t as outwardly apparent. I’d gotten married, moved in with my wife, and by that time, my parents had officially divorced. We still got together for Mother’s Day, of course. But because we no longer lived together, I enjoyed that time with her even more. We took her to dinner, gave her gifts we thought were meaningful, but I still didn’t feel like it was enough. I told myself I’d eventually show her my appreciation for all she’d done for me.

Then, I became a parent myself. And my life was turned upside down. I was fortunate enough to watch my wife blossom into the mother I always knew she’d be. But it wasn’t all play dates and bedtime stories. It was hard. Sometimes, it felt nearly impossible to keep our cool as we navigated the treacherous, uncertain road of raising a child, then later, a second child. I began to develop a deep, thorough understanding of how having children can test the strength of not only your character, but your marriage. I looked back on my childhood and imagined how difficult it must have been to deal with a faltering marriage while also trying to manage a career and, oh yeah, two growing children. Despite the realization, I told myself yet again that I’d eventually show her my appreciation for all she’d done for me.

A couple of short years later, a week before my oldest son’s third birthday, mom suddenly passed away. She was 59. I was blindsided, irrevocably damaged. And if it isn’t obvious, I never did tell her how much I appreciated her. Maybe I grazed past it once or twice in a greeting card. But the thoughts I tucked into a dark corner of my brain, the raw kind of emotion that you’d normally hear bellowed in a Janis Joplin song? She sadly never got to hear that.

This weekend, I will celebrate my third Mother’s Day since her passing. Naturally, I’ve been receiving an enormous amount of marketing communications (spam) from major retailers urging me to “Make mom happy!” and “Save 25% just in time for Mother’s Day!” And trust me, nothing would please me more than to do exactly those things. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve simply got to suffer through this. And unfortunately, my wife does, too. I’m trying, but my instinct is to reject that this Sunday is even happening, to remain restrainedly glum at the dinner table while others clink glasses around me. Because even more than I regret my own lack of verbal appreciation, I regret that my children won’t get to know their grandmother like I did. Put simply, I can’t stand Mother’s Day because it reminds me of what could’ve been. For the sake of my wife, though, I have no plans to crawl into a corner and cover my ears.

So, do yourself a favor this Sunday and skip the vague platitudes we typically scribble into an overpriced card and opt instead to be real…so very real that it makes you uncomfortable even. I can guarantee it will feel better than holding it inside until you’re giving a eulogy.

Thanks for reading, and a genuine, uncomfortably long hug to all you moms out there making life worth living for your children. Especially to my wife, whose natural abilities make me look like a rookie on a daily basis.

Cheers, ladies.

Tell Mom she’s the best this Mother’s Day with this Most Valuable Mommy coloring card!

Mother's Day Twig Necklace
Mother's Day Twig Necklace
Mother's Day Twig Necklace

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Milestone Monday: Too Much Hugging? (Operation Failure)

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Author’s Note: Join me every Monday as I share Fia’s ongoing milestone (mis)adventures–from potty training to talking to everything in between.  Mayhem and mischief guaranteed on Milestone Monday!

I think Operation Hugs and Snugs has become a failure. Not because it didn’t work, but because it worked too well. To summarize: Fia wasn’t a huge snugger in the beginning. But through army-like training, she became one.

Now, just two weeks shy of her 2-year birthday, I find her wanting to kiss and hug every child she plays with. She doesn’t stop there though. She literally hugs them so tight that she tackles them to the floor.  Now some tots seem to roll with it. Others not so much. And with this particular tot friend, Nate, she met her match. It was like watching two babies sumo wrestle.

The Wrestlers

I almost wonder if somehow I’ve encouraged this behavior, not only from smothering her myself (I can’t get enough of kissing her, and just found this article on the science of kissing), but also because of her relationship with Wayne Sanchez. We call her a barnacle baby. She latches onto him and doesn’t let go until one of us pulls her off, kicking and screaming. She’s like a magnet to living beings. A sweet leech, if there is such a thing.

An Incredibly Patient Wayne Sanchez

Not sure what to do about this. I tell her constantly to leave the cat alone; that he’s feisty. (She repeats after me, “feisty, feisty” but continues to cling, choke, and smother.)  I tell her that not all babies want to be clung to like a parasite. She burrows on in. I find myself apologizing to parents for her behavior, as their child wails and clings to them for dear life. The more they hide behind an adult or run away, the more she laughs and chases. Good god, what if she becomes a serial stalker? At the age of 2? At least I bet her mug shot would be cute…

Is this a milestone or madness? I know it’s maddening for me–and from the cries, I am guessing some of her tot friends feel the same.

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Asking Baby to Perform

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

I posted a blog this week about how I’ve basically turned my baby into a more affectionate child. Then a friend sent me this article. It basically says that in asking our kids to perform on cue—whether it’s a hug or kiss or a word or gesture—we are in effect, pimping them out.  She goes on to say,  “And the currency you’re using is the single most powerful in the world: parental love and approval.”

Ouch. That’s hard to hear. But I think the author, Jennifer Lehr, might be onto something.

Here’s the whole article here. It’s short and very worth reading.

Granted, I don’t have to ask for the hugs and snugs as much now that I’ve “trained” her (cringe), but there are still plenty of times I can catch myself pushing her to “do” or “show off” something.  I hate to think she might be getting her self worth from trying to please me.

So where do we draw the line at asking our children to “perform on cue?

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Making Baby Affectionate

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

My daughter wasn’t a snuggler. At least not post-newborn stage after the limbs stopped flailing. At 6 months when she began to crawl, I’d hug her and she’d push away. She was far more interested mauling and smothering the cat. This puzzled me. Perhaps affection isn’t ingrained in everyone. In some, maybe it’s learned.

Thus began Operation Hugs and Snugs.

“Give mama a hug and a snug,” I’d say, picking her up and putting her entire cheek in my mouth. Phil cringed. “That sounds so stupid.” But a moment later, he’d be the one asking, “why isn’t our baby more cuddly?”

So Snugs and Hugs became my mantra.

Early on in the deployment of the Operation I noticed Fi would go up to our closest mom friend and hug her. Wtf? Granted, her boy Teddy was a huge hugger, but I’m the one who breathed life into her. Instead of getting upset about her misplaced loyalty, I decided to take this as proof my strategy was working.

I stepped it up a notch. Operation Hugs and Snugs enlisted the “Barnacle Baby.” I’d lie in child’s pose, pat my back and say, “Come barnacle on mama.” She began to scream in delight and climb on me. I’d go up on all fours and she’d sit on me as if riding a horse, giggling like mad. Then she’d lie down, her little arms wrapped around my sides, her head and warm stomach against my back. I’d inhale deeply, knowing there is nothing better (until she’d fall off head first and cry).

Barnacle Baby

Barnacle Baby

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