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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
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.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Potentially the toughest overall challenge of parenthood, at least for me, has been devoting the appropriate amount of hours to my job and to my children. Frankly, I’ve been considering writing about this for months, my hesitation stemming from the fact that I could be interpreted as a not-so-dedicated worker, if any of my colleagues were to read this. But alas, it’s a discussion that needs to be had.
I’m a disaster in the morning. Meaning, I have no patience, I fly off the handle if the littlest thing doesn’t go smoothly. And this is especially problematic when you have two uncooperative children to get fed, dressed, and out the door in time for school. And that’s not even taking into account the time it actually takes to wake them up and get them into the kitchen. I’ve gotten passive aggressive emails from their school, more than once. They remind me that school starts promptly at 8:30, that bringing them in later than that sends the wrong message to the children. Well, I encourage them to spend just one morning with mine, forcing a flailing leg into a pair of pants, trying to determine if he’s having a tantrum because he’s sick and tired or because he’s just being a jerk. When I had only myself to dress and feed in the morning, I could wake up late, shove a granola bar into my mouth and bring a thermos of coffee for my commute. Done deal. But now, the very real possibility that my kids will wake up before I do, in inconsolable moods happens more often than I’d like to admit. And when this does happen, I have a decision to make. How much am I willing to allow my children to affect my reputation at work?
This past Halloween, I found myself in a situation at work where I was torn between the responsibilities of my job and those of parenthood. In the office, there was a project going on that required me to be there till about 1:00 p.m. My 4-year-old son, Antonio’s Halloween parade at school was happening at 1:30. I work about 30 minutes from his school. So even the slightest of delays would mean me missing the parade, which I adamantly did NOT want to miss. Not only do I adore Halloween, but I want my kids to look back at moments like that and remember me being there. You can probably guess that the work project wound up getting delayed. And I was left with a choice. Leave the office and risk looking like I abandoned an important project or stay at work and disappoint my son. I opted to split the difference. I stayed an extra 20 minutes at work, tying up loose ends and ensuring the project would get done (mainly by colleagues I was leaving behind) and then literally raced to my son’s school to catch as much of the parade as I could. I ended up catching the last 1/3 of the parade/concert, feeling partly like I’d let both my boss and son down at the same time. My boss, to his credit, encouraged me to be with my family that day. At the same time, I also know that staying instead of leaving would’ve had a more positive impact on my overall career. But at the cost of my absence at a significant moment in my son’s life? I made the decision to say no, regardless of consequence. And I’d do it again.
Don’t get me wrong. I work my ass off. Anybody who’s seen me on the job knows this. But that struggle of balance will always be there, no matter my efforts. And as any parent knows, once you’re done with the middle-of-the-night feedings and tantrums, impossibly frustrating mornings at the breakfast table, the last thing you want to do is push yourself even further. But we do. We all do. If you’re anything like me, you constantly feel pulled in at least 25 different directions, your career, parenthood, household duties, and even hobbies relentlessly (and hopelessly) vying for your brain’s undivided attention at all times. However, at the end of each day, I’m far more proud of the accomplishments I’ve made as a parent than as an office worker. I’ll never be a CEO, I’ll never own a house you could get lost in. But my sons will remember me for (hopefully) being a mainstay in every aspect of their lives. That, to me, is exponentially more important. To read more about someone who feels very much like I do (albeit in a much higher rank), read about this CEO who quit his job to be a more present father and grandfather. Granted, he’s actually at retirement age anyway, but it’s still an admirable stance worth reading about.
Follow me on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
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.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Have you ever been talking to someone, and you suddenly find yourself wondering if you left the stove on at home? So, you retrace your steps, map out your entire morning, and before you know it, you haven’t been listening to your friend at all for 45 straight seconds. At that point, you have one wish and one wish only: Please don’t ask me a question that relates to the story you just told me. And I find that, as a parent, this type of situation presents itself far too frequently. It doesn’t help that your brain is so worn out that it has lost the ability to focus on, well, anything.
Let’s be clear; I was not a very good student in school. Part of the reason is because I didn’t apply myself to subjects I found boring (which was almost all of them), and another part is that I have a difficult time retaining information that doesn’t relate to fantasy football stats or character plots on Breaking Bad. So, naturally, a great concern of mine is that one or both of my sons will start asking me questions I flat out don’t have the answers to (because I either wasn’t paying attention when they were being taught, or I just don’t remember). Considering my sons don’t play fantasy football or watch Breaking Bad yet, I get the feeling I’ll find myself stumped early and often.
Randomly, here are five questions I’m hoping I never have to answer for my children:
1. Can you help me with my algebra homework?
I fear the day my son comes home with an equation-filled ditto and realizes his father is an idiot. Calculating 20% of a tip? You got it. Figuring out exactly how many rushing yards I need from Maurice Jones-Drew to score enough fantasy points to win my matchup? Done. But…finding x? I have to admit, I’ve been trying to find x for over 20 years, and I give up. I’ll sooner find meaning in a Kevin James movie. Sorry, kid, but I’m afraid I can’t help you. And I really don’t care where x is. You shouldn’t either.
2. What’s the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?
I will never, ever remember. Yes, I know I can simply Google this. So, let’s do that right now…
I clicked on the very first result that came up after asking the search engine, “What’s the difference between alligators and crocs?” and one of the first sentences is: “All alligators are crocodiles, but not all crocodiles are alligators.” I’m confused already, and I’m an adult. What chance do I have of explaining this to a kid?
3. If someone pushes me, should I push them back?
This is a tough one. I want my child to stand up for himself, but I don’t want to encourage violence. Nor do I want to encourage him to bypass revenge, only to rat his classmate out to the teacher. As someone who dealt with a moderate share of bullying myself as a kid, it’s very tempting to suggest that my son tap dance on this kid’s face with cleats.
4. Who’s that guy hiding in my closet with the Bill Clinton mask on?
This isn’t a political statement. I’m just really freaked out by those presidential masks. Any of them. Especially when I see one peering out from behind the crack of a closet door. Because how in the world can I be expected to protect my kids from this hooligan if I’m terrified myself? It should be noted here that George Clinton would make for a much more fun, dynamic mask.
5. What do you do for a living?
A college basketball mascot. Dishwasher salesman. The guy who duplicates keys at Home Depot. All sexier jobs than mine. I work in webcasting, virtual meeting technology. It’s not that I’m ashamed of what I do. It’s just that I’m ashamed of what I don’t do. And what I don’t do is a job that you’re really excited to tell your friends or teachers about. I plan to book a vacation every year that overlaps with “Career Day.”
Do you have a question you’re dreading? Worse, have you already been asked it and now your kid has lost faith in your intelligence? Tweet me with the hashtag #kidquestions.
Plus: Check out these so funny and so true parenting quotes or take our quiz to find out if you’re setting a good example for your little ones.
* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Friday, October 11th, 2013
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.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and will be releasing an uncensored parenting humor book in 2014. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
I live with my in-laws. On purpose. Meaning, I willingly packed my bags and set up residence under the same roof that covers my wife’s parents. Some people would say it was a foolish, illogical self-inflicted attack on my own privacy and sex life. But whether you agree with those people or not, at least hear the reasons why I did it (you can still call me an idiot later, if you like).
Back in early 2011, my wife Sonia and I were living in a two-bedroom ranch. Our son Antonio was about to turn two and my wife was four-months pregnant with our second son, Nate. Looking around, we were running out of space quicker than the last person to sign your high school yearbook. The writing was on the wall (quite literally, actually). We needed to move. Sonia tentatively looked at me and said, “My parents have offered to have us move in with them. They have more space and will already be helping to watch the kids. I think it makes sense.”
I didn’t answer for at least 15 seconds. I let the concept sink in. I considered the implied benefits as well as the worst case scenarios that went along with it. I created a pros and cons list in my head that was both comprehensive and realistic. Then, as I was fully immersed in contemplation, I remembered how stupid it would be to disagree with a pregnant woman. So, the weekend that Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey (naturally), we rented out our ranch and threw caution to the wind (and trust me, with the hurricane, there was plenty of wind). There was no turning back…
Before I go any further, I want to make it perfectly clear that my in-laws are great people. They both left South America and took chances on achieving successful lives in the U.S. when they were young, and both love my children more than Garfield loves lasagna. But, of course, sharing living quarters with anyone can be awkward, no matter how “compatible” you are. Because home is where your true self creeps out. Home is where your quirks are amplified, where the words that have been bottled up in your head all day come spilling out, for better or worse. And, let’s be honest, home is typically where bodily functions are free to let themselves be seen and heard as well. The expression might be, “Home is where the heart is.” But more accurately, “Home is where the fart is.” For me, I would change that to, “Home is where you duck into the nearest bathroom to release all sounds and odors while running the faucet as loudly as possible.” Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, though. No matter how close you are with your in-laws, there’s always a level of formality there that you don’t have with your own parents.
If I had to summarize my experience living in a multigenerational household, I’d say the highs are high and lows are low. The most significant benefit, of course, is the help we get with our sons. Everything from picking my boys up from school, taking them to doctors appointments when we’re at work, and plenty in between, my in-laws do it. I’m well aware that some people likely think we’re spoiled rotten having this live-in assistance, but to just assume we’re living in the lap of luxury is short-sighted and uninformed. Everyday, we all help each other. It’s a two-way street. We split living costs. When we have a party, they help out. When they have a party, we help out. We’re a team. Simple as that. And for all four adults in the house, there are sacrifices made. For me personally, those sacrifices have been costly at times. If you’re currently heading toward this situation, this is the part you need to consider.
Your ego. Your pride. Your privacy. Those are the items you need to leave at the front door once you move into a house that doesn’t have your name on the deed. Admittedly, I’m two years into this living situation and I still occasionally struggle with these obstacles. It might sound simple, but swallowing your pride and accepting that you’re a “guest” in your own quasi-home is no easy task. I never imagined I’d be in my 30s, married with children, yet still not technically the “man of the house.” Also, there’s something inherently uncomfortable about sleeping with someone’s daughter a mere two bedrooms away from them. Married or not, it makes you feel like you’re 14 and pretending to do homework together. And good luck ever ironing naked again. Sadly, that’s off the table.
Aside from the privacy you lose, another thing that must be considered is consistency. You now have four adults collectively raising a child. Four adults who individually have their own respective ideas on how a child should be nurtured, how much sugar they should have in their diets, how much television they should be allowed to watch, etc. It’s not easy. You just have to be fortunate to where the differences in approach aren’t drastic enough to cause a divide between you and your child’s grandparents, or even worse, you and your spouse. So, before you even start your new living arrangement, be sure to have a collective conversation about diet, discipline, and overall direction for your kids (as well as a layout of expected responsibilities). You’ll see that if you don’t, it makes for some pretty uncomfortable moments later on.
When you make the decision to move in with your parents or your spouse’s parents, it is one of the last decisions you’ll make for the foreseeable future that isn’t a decision by committee. Because everything from picking out a Christmas tree to the temperature in the house is no longer a two-person judgment call. I like my Christmas trees tall, English is my first language and I sweat if it’s warmer than 72 degrees in the house. My in-laws are, you guessed it, the exact opposite. I feel bad saying anything so I end up sweating while decorating a tiny Christmas tree, utterly lost and confused as my wife’s family tells jokes in Spanish.
But at the end of the day, what makes it all worthwhile is that it’s temporary and you’re doing it for your children. They may never thank you for it, but if you ever find yourself awkwardly spraying a deodorizer as your mother-in-law walks into the bathroom after you’ve destroyed it with your nastiness, know that you’re breaking down that fourth wall for the greater good of your kids. Despite all the awkwardness, that’s all that matters. So, should you decide to bite the bullet and add some more place settings to the dinner table, be prepared for growing pains, but rest assured that you’re enriching your children’s lives by allowing them to grow up so close to their grandparents. And that, my friend, is worth sweating over.
Are you in a similar situati0n or considering it? Join the conversation and add a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and serves as complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
I’m not cut out to be a parent. I say that every morning. Rather, I think it as I’m limping out the front door with two reluctant children, a sippy cup, two lunches intricately planned by my wife, and a thermos of coffee, leaking steadily onto the tile floor. Only a few short years ago, I was enjoying the autonomy of a stack of pancakes, not a single parental concern as I mindlessly watched SportsCenter and sipped orange juice without interruption. Of course, life changes drastically when you suddenly have children to raise. I expected that. But what I didn’t expect were the ways in which its intricacies could blindside me without any notice at all.
My two sons, Antonio, 4, and Nate, 2, have taught me more about myself than I actually care to know. For one, they’ve taught me that I’m able to shout much louder than I ever believed I could. They’ve taught me that getting hit in the groin is still intensely painful no matter how underdeveloped the hitter’s muscles are. Mostly they’ve taught me to expect embarrassment. It’s all part of the gig, really.
To fully introduce myself to you, the reader, here are a few of the most memorable embarrassments I’ve faced as a parent.
1. Can you turn that down a little?
On my way to the grocery store, my shuffled iPod playlist yielded the ferociously aggressive Metallica song, “Master of Puppets.” Stressed out, I cranked the volume and serenaded fellow drivers with the deliberately intense chorus. As I peered into my rear view mirror, I noticed I wasn’t alone; both my sons were in the backseat. And yes, they were absolutely horrified. I’m sure it didn’t help that the lyrics included “Obey your master!” They’ve been on a healthy diet of yoga music ever since.
2. The mystery buckle
It was my first time taking care of both my kids solo while my wife, Sonia was out of town. I decided it’d be in my best interest to take them out so they didn’t get bored with me or realize I’d run out of ways to entertain them. Five minutes on the road and I noticed my younger son standing in the back seat. As in, just wandering around on foot. I pulled over into a gas station and was completely perplexed. Was my son that dexterous at 15 months that he could manipulate a car seat buckle? No, he wasn’t. I was just a fool who forgot to buckle him in. I begged my older son not to rat me out to his mother. Naturally, it was the first thing out of his mouth when he saw her.
3. Spell it out for me
Since neither of our sons have the ability to hear an assortment of letters and make a word out of them, my wife and I occasionally spell things out that we want to keep the boys from understanding. So while having his diaper changed, my son Nate was hiding a little bit more than just a bowel movement in his Huggies. I turned to my wife and asked, “Did you see his B-O-N-E-R?” So, of course, our older son began marching around the house, loudly chanting those letters to the tune and tempo of B-I-N-G-O. So, we added a new word to his vocabulary that day…
4. Don’t cry for me in public
The first daycare drop-off is a rite of passage for most parents. And it’s excruciating. It means so many things. It means you’re giving up control, that your newborn is no longer a newborn, and that you’re going to cry like Sally Field in Steel Magnolias . It’s simply going to happen. Even for guys. It certainly did for me the first time I had to drop my then 4-month-old son, Antonio off to be cared for by women whose names I’ve already forgotten. Surely, he was too young to know or care that I was leaving him there for the day, but that made little difference to me as I bolted for the exit, probably pushing a toddler out of the way in the process. By the time I got into my car with the door closed, I was a blubbering mess, a true wreck of a man. Tears started to drip from my face onto my khakis as I glanced to the left, noticing a young boy standing outside my window, with a look on his face like he’d just witnessed an alien abduction. His mother yanked him by the arm and muttered, “Don’t stare!” The lesson to be learned here is to remember when you don’t have tinted windows.
5. Gorilla warfare
This past April, my wife and I hosted my older son’s 4th birthday party. Every minute detail was Jake and the Neverland Pirates-themed, right down to a climactic treasure hunt where the kids would smash a treasure chest piñata and collect candy. But my cousin Brian had an idea to take this idea to another level. For reasons that would likely frighten me to know, he had a gorilla suit stashed in his car. So the two of us hatched what we thought was a brilliant scheme of having him wear it and surprise everyone near the end of the hunt. So, as planned, Brian emerged in the gorilla suit, interrupting my niece mid-swing, stealing the piñata away and raising his arms to wordlessly indicate victory. And the children were absolutely terrified. They screamed, they ran away, it was an epic party foul and failure. Parents had to console their traumatized children while my one aunt pleaded with Brian to abort mission. Ultimately, my wife was much less upset about the scaring of the children, though, than she was with the gorilla suit clashing with the pirate theme.
At the end of the day, though, despite my (generally) isolated failures as a father, I know that simply being present in my kids’ lives is a mark of success. My blog entries will cover everything from annoying baby-naming conventions to the awkwardness of being criticized on your parenting by a complete stranger. I thank Jill Cordes and Sherry Huang for the opportunity to share my stories with you all.
What are your most embarrassing moments as a parent? Feel free to leave them, and any other feedback, in the comments section–which is on facebook!
* Photo of man with bag on head courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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birthday party, carseat, dad crying, daycare, diaper change, embarrassing, gorilla suit, joe deprospero, men crying, parenthood, parenting, Parents, single dad, spelling out words, toddler carseat, toddler music | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Joe DeProspero, Mom Situations
Thursday, May 10th, 2012
I had no idea my boobs would stir up such controversy. Maybe I’ll get implants next. In lieu of all this, I decided to just let Fia, my 2 1/2 year old, take over feeding Emmett the bottle, while I lay drunk, passed out on the couch. Plus, this way neither Phil nor I have to parent. But wait; will I still be called “lazy” for putting my toddler in charge? Maybe…
I’m referring to my post, Why the Boob Rocks. Most people who commented (particularly on the Facebook link) “got” that it was a humorous article on getting the most bang for your, well, breast. As in, use it to your advantage when you can. Why not? You can’t be called neglectful (though I was actually) for feeding your infant while your husband feeds your toddler. You can’t be called selfish (though I was. Hmm) for having some alone time with your infant–helping him survive, ie: eat--while your husband deals with the household. And god forbid you have a glass of wine while doing all this feeding nonsense. That set off a sh-tstorm.
Here are a couple favorites:
(#1) “That’s sick is about all I can say. Drinking while feeding your child. Being lazy while the man does all the work.”
(#2) “I have 2 under two and have nursed and bottle fed. it sounds like she is finding an excuse to ignore the daughter. drinking while nursing? wtf? yes, it would take some time before the alcohol entered the breast milk but nonetheless you are promoting a dangerous habit. Just because you “can” drink does not mean you should. Think about all the young and new mothers that are reading this article for advice and do not know how to “safely” consume alcohol while nursing (I personally would never risk drinking and nursing despite what research says). This is an irresponsible article that is not helpful to parents with kids close in age.”
(#3) “I am all for breastfeeding, i breastfed my son for a year..but to disregard your other child completely and use nursing as an excuse not to interact with your child. Disgusts me!”
Yup (#3), that’s exactly what I do. Fia who?
Here is my rebuttal:
For all the teetotalers out there–RELAX! I’m not getting sh-t faced and nursing my child. If you drink a glass of wine while feeding them, by the time it gets into your breastmilk–filtered by Mother Nature– Hello!–they are done feeding. As some of the more reasonable commentor’s pointed out, doctors/pediatricians/lactation consultants all say it’s fine in moderation. And drinking a glass is moderation. I would go as far to say 2 glasses, but I’m afraid I’ll have to don a bulletproof vest. LA is too hot for that.
I think it’s amazing that my husband is not only able–but also WILLING to be a team in parenthood. I’m selfish because I want to nurse my child and let’s see–maybe enjoy it? While he gets time with our toddler? That’s whacked. I think the moms who viewed it this way must be martyrs, humorless or both. Why else would you be so negative?
A few brought up drinking wine with Emmett’s reflux issues. It’s a legitimate point and I thank you for your concern. Here’s why it’s not part of his barf equation:
If you boob feed a baby at say 6 pm, take a few sips of wine, finish the feed, finish the wine, then don’t feed him for another 6 hours (as it’s in the night now, and he is going longer stretches) he isn’t getting any alcohol. Plus, let’s not forget breastmilk is a filter. Many of you aren’t giving Mother Nature the credit she deserves. But just to be cautious, I time it strategically. If on occasion I have more than one glass within a feed time, then I give him a bottle of pre-pumped breast milk. (Fia will now be taking over that duty.)
The other thing: his reflux is most extreme during the early morning feed. I promise I’m not downing Bloody Mary’s. So these theories that I’m harming my baby with a glass of wine are simply unfounded and silly. Moms, lighten up! Enjoy yourselves! However that may be…
I think Time Magazine missed the boat on breast feeding your 3-year old. They should have had the mom holding a wine glass in this incredibly disturbing cover picture. But I’m not touching that one! At least not yet.
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boob, bottle, breast, breast milk, breastfeeding, breasts, drinking, drinking while nursing, formula, implants, nursing baby, parenthood, reflux, Time Magazine | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read