Parenting

Why parents deserve a pat on the back more often

When it comes to parenting, Susan Goldberg has a new appreciation for her role as mom.

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Rob with Rowan and Isaac. Photo: Susan Goldberg

Follow along as Thunder Bay writer Susan Goldberg shares her experiences as one of two mothers to two boys.

I’m putting together The Document, a kind of Rosetta Stone of the kids’ routines, the rhythms of their days: school, daycare, pizza day, soccer, piano. Here’s what you can put in their lunch bags, but don’t be alarmed if they eat all of it one day and none the next. Rowan’s class is going swimming on Thursday — remember to pack (and unpack!) his bathing suit and towel. Here’s what’s for dinner each night, labelled neatly in the freezer. Feed them pizza bagels in the car on the way to soccer after tae kwon do because the timing is too short to come home — and don’t forget the shin pads. Take out the chicken the night before so it’s thawed in time for dinner. Here are the days you pick them up from school, and here are the days you pick them up from their afterschool program. Make sure they stay hydrated, sunscreened (and they’ll fight you on that). Rowan likes his closet door open and his lights dimmed, but not off, at bedtime. Take Isaac to pee before 10 o’clock at night. Here are the eight possible triggers to a meltdown, and the best strategies for dealing with one should one (when one) happen(s). Thursday is garbage day.

And so on.

Nothing like going on vacation to really realize just how much we do at home. Rachel and I are getting out of Dodge for a week, for a vacation without children.

(I’ll just repeat that: A VACATION WITHOUT CHILDREN!)

Boo-yeah!

It’s a luxury made possible by Rob, also known as Rowan and Isaac’s dad, formerly known as their sperm donor, always known as our good friend.

When we started on this process of having kids, going on nearly a decade ago, Rachel and Rob and I really had no idea where we would all end up. Not only geographically (although the fact that we are here in Thunder Bay and he is at minimum two flights away is a bit of a drag), but also emotionally, logistically. We weren’t sure how much time we would all spend together or what the kids would call him, how much hands-on parenting he would do and how we’d all feel about each other this far in.

The short version of the story is that we’re all quite happy with the arrangement. But I have to say, one of the most fantastic things about the place we’re at now is the week he stays with the boys while Rachel and I take off and pretend that we never procreated. It started last year, when we went to Denmark as my 40th birthday present. I thought the extended babysitting would be an every-so-often arrangement, especially after we came home to Rob gratifyingly flattened by a week of solo parenting. But he had different ideas. “So,” he said, “same time next year?” And I just nodded, the idea of a week away sans kids every single year was a luxury that left me speechless.

There’s also something so satisfying about putting together The Document for Rob — of seeing just how much we know, just how much we do, just how much we’ve been whipped into shape over the past eight-and-a-half years. We’re by no means perfect parents, but the amount we get done in the house and with the kids, on top of working full time, is pretty phenomenal once we write it all down. You should try it sometime: document every single bit of information somebody else would need to know to take care of your kids for a week. And then give yourself a self-satisfied pat on the back, because you deserve it for keeping it all together like that. You really do.

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