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The art of tag-teaming

31 Oct

Daddy steals a snuggle before running off to a gig.

At the risk of boring y’all’s socks off, here’s what today looks like:

George makes us coffee and heads to work. I get Annabelle up and tend to her diaper and breakfast. I eat my breakfast while she plays. Play, play, play, she goes down for a nap. I cross my fingers, because not all of her “naps” are naps. Meanwhile, I caramelize some onion and sausage for a pizza for dinner. I’ve already taken the homemade dough, a la Mark Bittman, and sauce out of the freezer. Annabelle is still asleep, thank you Greek God of Napping (Snorello?).

Soon, I’ll make lunch. George will come home from his morning classes, and Annabelle will wake up. We’ll all eat, I’ll shower and change and head out to teach my own classes. I love teaching, and I couldn’t possibly be more thankful that Oklahoma State University hired me to teach college students how to make podcasts, online videos, blogs and slide shows. I’d be pretty bored here in the middle of Oklahoma without this gig! It’s the perfect arrangement, because I teach enough to keep up my chops and contribute to the community, and I stay home enough to be the very involved parent I always wanted to be.

George will take Annabelle for the afternoon, running errands and — he doesn’t know it yet, but he will soon — assembling and baking the pizza. I’ll get back at 5:30. We’ll scarf down dinner together and then at 6 my dear busy husband will head to Oklahoma City for a rehearsal with the OKC Philharmonic. I’ll put Annabelle to bed, do some grading, watch “Nashville,” and wind down. The hubs will return at 11 p.m. and we’ll go to sleep.

Mommy and her little munchkin!

It’s incredible that we are able to have this schedule, and I can’t say enough about tag-teaming everything, from making money to preparing meals to raising our child. To have both parents feel involved in every part of making the household run smoothly means both are invested in everything equally (except for the obvious exceptions of the cars, which George cares about 8,000 times more than I do, and Annabelle’s wardrobe, which I care about 8,000 times more than George does).

Of course everybody has a unique set of circumstances to consider when they’re carving out the way their own family will function, and there’s no one right answer for anybody. I’m really not judgmental about other people’s decisions, because no two families should be alike. Some parents work, some stay home, some do something in between. Whatever floats your boat — or rubber duckies — is fine by me. I’m sure we’ll all find a way to totally screw up our children no matter what choices we make!

But I just love that in the Speed family, we have achieved a balance that really defines who I am: traditional and progressive all at once. I love thinking out of the box and love that our arrangement is not one you would magically be offered without creating it yourself. And it’s a priority to me that we can be making most of our own meals and that Annabelle can always be at home with a parent. I LOVE, too, that that parent is not always the mom. This baby girl adores her daddy, and that they get to spend alone time together warms my heart. George also admits that he has bonded with his daughter in a new way since he began taking solo-parenting shifts.

This blog post doesn’t have a big point to make (other than, “I’m still here, even though I haven’t blogged in ages!”) I guess I’m just consistently grateful that we are making this work just the way I want it to. And as much as I hate to admit it, I think I have Oklahoma living to partially thank for that. A short commute for both of us plus a low cost of living and ease of everyday errand-running really help make our work-life balance possible. Yay, small towns in the middle of the country (sort of)! Now if only we could get a Whole Foods …

One-Year Anniversary: The Best Father I Could Find

21 Dec

Our New Years Day wedding, 2011: nothing short of perfect.

Forgive me while I gush.

One of the most exciting things to me about entering parenthood is that I will be able to look at our daughter – and any future kids we bear – and know that I have given her the best possible father I could find. I will be able to tell her, “I worked hard not to settle, and as a result, you get a great dad.”

The ability to proudly present your children with an outstanding daddy isn’t necessarily something you think about much when you’re dating, but boy does it reassure you when you take those first steps down the never-ending path of parenthood. Especially when you can’t even see your toes as you walk down said path.

Whether your husband is going to be a total douche through fatherhood (and oh so many husbands are) is one less giant thing to worry about when you are days away from ejecting a squirming, screaming, 8-poundish creature from your body and then holding yourself responsible for her well-being for the next 18 years.

It helps, during those anvil-dropping reality checks, to know that you’ve chosen a mate who will hold your hand in the delivery room, change diapers in the middle of the night, be a comforting force during tearful moments (yours and baby’s), serve as a strong, moral compass during the shaky growing-up years and stand up for whatever your family needs through every upcoming stage. It helps to know that you genuinely like the guy.

A year ago this New Year’s Day, George and I were married at a small, stone church in Newton, Mass. It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in the 50s, with the perfect blanket of snow left over from a blizzard days before. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. No jackets. No pantyhose. No cold, red ears to ruin the pictures.

After a lovely ceremony, we celebrated our nuptials at the All-Newton Music School. Instead of the traditional dance party, we opted for a “cabaret,” where our incredibly talented friends and family performed a series of “acts.”

They entertained us with clarinet, piano, guitar, voice, violin, flute, cello and trumpet. There were original lullabies and a short play and three unforgettable toasts. The food satisfied, the decorations were handmade and stunning, and nearly everybody stayed until the very end. We didn’t spend much money, as far as weddings go, but we’d like to think we provided an original and meaningful affair for everybody there. It will forever be one of our greatest memories as a couple.

While we would have loved a year or two or ten to bask in our romance before bringing children into our family, we also knew we wanted kids and didn’t necessarily want to put it off. We started trying and, as George often likes to marvel, “It worked!”

Now here we are, a year into our marriage, and it looks like we’ll be having our first kid before we have our first fight – although I suppose there’s always room for a good, old-fashioned, “I Hate You Why Did You Do This To Me” temper tantrum during delivery. We’ll see!

And even if I do direct my fury toward my poor husband during those hours of unbearable pain and frustration, I will know that mere moments later, our daughter will be resting in her dear father’s arms, and I will look over and know that she is a lucky, lucky, lucky little girl.