Last night, as I opened a beer seconds after putting my boys down, I felt gratitude that they most likely won’t wake for 10½ hours. I am so lucky to have sleepers. As I sipped, I thought about gratitude. It was a Hallmark Channel moment. And I was reminded: the strongest thanks I can give this (and every) year is to my mom…for making me a dad. I write about her in the past tense. Six years ago, she died unexpectedly from a cardial arrhythmia. Doctors said it’s the way we all want to go: one second you’re here, then you’re not. I was suddenly an orphan (my father passed when I was 8 years old). There are worse tragedies in the world, but in our culture, 32 is young to be parentless. Thanks to our close relationship where nothing was left unsaid, I wasn’t bereft. I was sad, but I’d be ok. That’s a tribute to her.
Let it be know, that on the 21st day of the month of November, in the year of our parenting lords, 2014, my eldest son, who’d blessed me with so much sleep time for 39 months, gave up his afternoon nap. I may only express myself through poetry to face my new hell. LIMERICK There once was a toddler who slept, And made all his dad’s friends verklempt. Until that one day, When the nap went away Now Dad looks at life with contempt.
I was leading a tour of friends backstage at ANNIE (in 2013) when I described my schedule: “We’ve got eight shows a week, including Wednesday and Saturday matinees.” “Whoa. How do you do it? When do you see your kids?” “Oh, it’s great,” I said. “I get to spend all day with them five times a week. Before leaving in the evening, I feed them and they basically go to bed an hour after I leave.” “When do you get home?” “Eleven thirty.” “You must be exhausted.” “Well, it’s a good exhaustion.” But this description was filtered. Usually I say, “I’m stuck ALL DAMN DAY with my kids and around 4:45 I count the seconds until the sitter relieves me and I to blaze a trail out of my apartment.”
My mom was the best. And she was doubly amazing for having raised me after my father died when I was 8. She devoted her very being, to me. I’m eternally grateful. Aaaaaand…as with us all, there are a few things I hope to do differently. I’m probably doomed (or blessed) to repeat what I see as mistakes, but are probably in my genetic makeup. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES Mom was perpetually preoccupied with outward appearances, be it state of the house or state of moods. She made Herculean efforts to present an “everything’s great” facade for the world. I just don’t feel like doing that.
While on a walk, Ellison climbed the stairs to the entrance of a church. We are still in the period where he explores every set of stairs, store front, or tree stump. Why can’t I plan accordingly and let him explore? Instead, I’m too often I bark, “Come on, Ellison! We need to get home to…(fill in the blank)…eat, let Daddy potty, crochet an Afghan.” But this once, I wasn’t in a hurry. He peered inside the candlelit glass doors and whirled around to shout excitedly, “A show! A show!” The previous year, I’d left Ellison eight times a week with a babysitter and said, “Daddy needs to go do the show.”
1. “Granny Hour” Back when Ellison was born, I read (meaning watched the 20-minute bootleg video) of HAPPIEST BABY ON THE BLOCK. I understood the “5 S’s”. But at about six weeks, when he became inconsolably irritated and annoying, my sleep-deprived mind didn’t realize Ellison needed the 5 S’s. I was suffering more than he. A friend told me it was “Granny Hour”. In olden days when we lived in tribal villages, or just villages without cars and YouTube, Granny realized that Daddy needed a drink around 5pm and she’d come over and bounce Junior so that Daddy could get fresh air (into his glass of wine). Nobody told me that the 5 S’s were for what would become Granny/Witching/Hell hour…and that it would go on for the first three months of infancy.
Since you read my last blog, I don’t need to remind you that Ellison chose to be “Zoe Zebra” for Halloween, right? I will remind you, however, that “Zoe” is a 7th-friend-from-the-left (essentially background) on the uber-popular British cartoon, Peppa Pig. Per Ellison’s request, Colton dressed as Peppa’s little brother, “George Pig”. The two of them were an adorable, zoological sight stumbling down SoHo cobblestones knocking “store-to-store” at the likes of Tiffany’s, BoConcept, Jack Spade and Louis Vuitton. I’m not kidding. It was absurd. And hilarious. No, the stores didn’t hand out $10 bills or even full-sized candy bars. They handed out the same solo Reese’s and bite-size Snickers as the Williams and the Ericksons.