Go ahead and love something an embarrassing amount: the advice that isn't really about the advice

On Thursdays at 2:00 PM, it’s rare that I’m not staring at my phone, my podcast app open, waiting. Perchance even refreshing now and then. Thursday at 2:00 PM is when the latest episode of Mom And Dad Are Fighting drops, and as soon as I get to leave work for the day, my earbuds are in and the anticipation I feel is delicious. A whole hour - or close enough to it - of Mom and Dad awaits me, and for right now, all could not be more well. If I were to Marie Kondo (or is the verb KonMari? I forget, I’m at that much of a saturation point with this obsession) my phone and its contents, I would be unable to deny that Mom and Dad Are Fighting sparks a joy that I feel in my entire body.

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Your kid is amazing

Yesterday afternoon on Slate’s parenting podcast Mom and Dad are Fighting (the “This Job Sucks” edition), panelists Allison Benedikt, Gabe Roth and Carvell Wallace responded to a question from a listener whose 11-year-old, a straight-A student, was not too interested in the kind of reading and writing they (the parent) wished he would cultivate. The question (which starts at the 30-minute mark) was, basically, how the parent could make the child a better writer or convince him to read more than just comic books. After the question had been read aloud, all three parent panelists let out a heavy sigh. It was Carvell’s response that implanted itself firmly in my brain and has not let me go: “Your kid is amazing,” he said. “And part of your job as a parent is to find the ways in which they are amazing, not to make them amazing according to your own definition of that. And that gets confusing, because there’s so much overlap between what we value and what our kids end up valuing that often times we can take that overlap and confuse it for some measure of influence over how they turn out to be amazing. … but that’s luck.”

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A Letter to Ros in 2019

Dear Ros, I took you back to school on Monday for the first time in almost a month. I was dreading it a little bit, both because I was strangely emotional about saying goodbye to you for the whole day and because I wasn’t sure how you would handle the transition. You strode into that building like you owned the place, and you were immediately greeted by the school director, who exclaimed how happy she was to see you back after such a long absence. “Did you go somewhere special?” she asked. You said nothing; there were more important things to discuss first. You held up a water-filled globe for her to inspect. Wordlessly, you shook the globe, and the Moana figure in the center was surrounded by floating sparkles. And, with a flourish, you pressed a little button that made the globe erupt into song. As “We Know The Way” echoed through the hall, you let the awed crowd gather round to greet you and admire your treasure. You swelled with pride. I did not have to worry about you that day.

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Vacation has found me.

I came into this trip expecting it would be fun, but that it would not necessarily feel like vacation. Flying to a foreign country across several time zones with a three-year-old is not anyone’s definition of relaxing. Parenting in public places with a big audience, parenting while jet-lagged in the middle of the night, parenting while subject to the whims of a foreign transit system which may or may not decide to close every stop you could conceivably get off at on New Year’s Eve (for instance): these are stressful things. At the same time, though, living in the not-quite-real world of Paris for a not-exactly-brief time - two whole weeks - is working its magic on me, because outside of the strict non-negotiable of parenting, there is actually nothing, and I mean nothing, that I have to do.

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She Dissents

Recently, we’ve received lots of beautiful books containing stories of amazing women in the world: Ada Lovelace, Joyce Chen, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just to name a few. Ruth is the clear favorite, though. In I Dissent, Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley have created a compelling and enriching narrative of RBG’s life in picture-book form. It is a serious book, and assumes seriousness on the part of its readers. It’s been around for several months now, and Ros seems to periodically remember that it’s there and subsequently request that it be read to her multiple times a day for a while, before getting distracted by some other (usually inferior) book.

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I'm sorry for my troubles

“Hey! How was your race?” my friend asked, and it took me a moment to remember that he was talking about the marathon I’d toyed with running in September. “Oh!” I said, “I decided not to run it.” He was surprised to hear that. “Oh, how come?” I knew that this friend was actually asking out of genuine interest and concern, and with the working assumption that I am a driven person who always runs, no matter what, and that therefore there would have had to be a very good reason for me to decide not to run this marathon. So without really thinking it through, I gave the true answer. “Well, I decided I wanted to get pregnant instead.” At this, he lit up with a big smile, which I immediately torpedoed by continuing with “And then I had two miscarriages, so…I guess it’s been kind of a tough time.”

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