Category Archives: Parenting

The Five Best Things About Living With An Artist

This Father’s Day post is dedicated to my husband, who has sketched and painted all his life. Although “artist” is not his official job title, that’s fundamentally who he is. He also happens to be a wonderful father to his two daughters and a terrific stepfather to my daughter and son — an art unto itself.

Lest we get overly sentimental, I would like to point out that living with an artist is not all beer and skittles, as my mother used to say. Bear in mind that certain sacrifices are called for.

The five worst things about living with an artist:

  1. There’s at least one sink that is never clean
  2. It’s really hard to wash dry paint off someone’s clothes
  3. You have to be diplomatic if they create something you hate – and then you still have to live with it
  4. You have to learn to interpret grunts as conversation when they’re in the middle of working
  5. Painting the bathroom (or anywhere else in the house) holds no allure whatsoever

But on the plus side,

  1. You always have beautiful work around you
  2. Your partner understands the value of alone time
  3. An artist finds an aging person interesting rather than repellant
  4. An artist appreciates silence
  5. An artist is inspired by variety so he or she is never boring

Some recent work, featuring “unloved buildings”:

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Happy Father’s Day to all the inspiring men in our lives!

Ms. StrangeLove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About My Kids

Sorry; this is an outright lie. If you’re a parent – whether to a child, dog, or gerbil– you know there’s always something to worry about. What’s more, what you worry about is a moving target: Just when you think you have a handle on the problem, something you didn’t anticipate rears up to scare the living crap out of you.

The Seven Stages of Anxiety

Infancy: Colic; SIDS; will I drop the baby on its head? Should we decorate the nursery in black and white for stimulation, gendered colors since you’re tired of people asking if it’s a boy or a girl and besides you actually like pink or blue, or a neutral color they can “grow into”; your baby’s measurements vs. the norm. (Note: The 20th percentile daughter I feared would be abnormally short has grown into a very slim 5’7”.)

Toddler: How to keep them from climbing on tables; how to keep them from pulling off all the baby-safe outlet covers and sticking wet fingers into them; how to stop them flinging food all over a restaurant while shrieking hysterically; whether they’re talking on schedule (how many five-year-olds do you know who don’t talk?); potty training (how many eight-year-olds do you know who aren’t potty trained?). Deep breath.

Kindergarten: Biting: It’s the law of the jungle—your kid is either a biter or a bitee; falling off the monkey bars and cracking their skull open; being “behind” the rest of the class; whether my son would have permanent nerve damage from putting his hand on the broiler-cooktop at Benihana. (He didn’t, though he still has issues with impulse control.)

Elementary school: Bullying; not having friends; having the wrong kind of friends; doing their homework; remembering to actually take said homework out of their backpack and turn it in; whether they suck at sports; ADHD; their exclusive diet of pizza, soda and candy.

High School: Drugs; sex; cutting class; smoking; not being able to get into college.

College: Drugs; sex; cutting class; smoking; not being able to stay in college.

Early adulthood: Not finding a job; not staying in a job; staying in a dead-end job; dating the wrong partner; dating the right partner but not committing; living too far away; living too close and wanting to stop by when it’s really inconvenient; not calling enough; calling whenever you’ve settled into a quiet night watching your favorite TV show; not telling you what’s going on in their lives; telling you too much about what’s going on in their lives and giving you new things to worry about.

The point is: For better or worse, your children have their own destiny. Once you’ve safely guided them through the early years, keeping them in one piece with a minimum of trauma and hopefully imparting a set of values and a sense of humor so they can make good decisions, your job is done.

I’ll always worry, but now that my kids are 25 and 30 I try to keep it to myself. Some days are more successful than others. Happy Mother’s Day!