The Longest Traffic Light

Usually, On Balance features guest blogs only on Tuesdays. However, this week and next, I'm on vacation. So, I'm turning the forum over to several guest blogs. I'll rejoin the comments and conversation on Aug. 14. In the meantime, continue to send me your own guest blog (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

by Kevin Canavan

It's 9:05 a.m. and I'm at the longest traffic light. I have to be at work by ten. I am a salesperson, so my days are flexible but endless and I frequently work weekends, over 50 hours per week. My wife is a federal government employee who job shares three days a week plus 2 hours per week from home.

We have an eleven-year-old boy and seven-year-old triplets, two boys and a young lady.

We are in the middle of a major home improvement project.

Each day is a blessing.

It is a summer Tuesday and I just dropped the triplets and big brother at swim practice. My head is pounding from my morning so far. "I want pancakes and sausage"; "where are my jammers?" "The boys saw my underwear;" "I don't want pancakes, I want waffles;" "who forgot to dry the towels?" "I need $5;" "I can't find my goggles;" "can we have a dog?" Then the contractor called to say "you need to be out for three days while we do the floors."

We've read every "how to get organized" parenting book and Tivo-ed about a dozen SuperNannies, but no one can adequately prepare for seven-year-old triplets, an eleven year old Boy Scout, a major home improvement project, and swim practice. The early years were a blur: 24 to 27 bottles per day, 21 diaper changes, laundry, multiple high chairs, three cribs in one small room, and never sleeping more than four hours at a crack until the triplets turned two.

Supportive friends, mother-in-law, an awesome nanny, and neighbors helped us when we became exhausted. We were awed when the kids played with each other and crawled after each other, and learned to entertain themselves. The best two hours of the day were the hour they woke and the hour they fell asleep, as their babble soothed themselves (and us).

As parents, we ask ourselves, "Can we keep up this pace for much longer?" We yell, we argue, we trip over shoes. But after the morning wackiness, a calm arrives along with the swish sway of the Metro ride to work. The office is wonderfully quiet. I hope the kids are enjoying practice.

A day in my life.

Kevin Canavan lives with his wife and four children in Bethesda, Md.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 2, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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What's the point of this blog? Life is a chaotic disaster area and kids make it worse? Hooray for you and your brood.
Four kids?
Get a hobby already.

Posted by: whatev | August 2, 2006 7:59 AM

Kevin, Good job and congratulations!

On those triplets -- Haw, haw! You da man! Instant chaos, just add water? I think it's easier taking care of 2 kids than taking care of 1. Three at a time must be special. I bet you loved it when the minimum car seat age was raised to 6 years old. didn't plan that one either, huh.

Good luck. Hopefully I'll bump into you on the Metro someday. I'm that annoying guy that sits in the handicapped seat and blabs on and on about his kids...

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 2, 2006 8:03 AM

whatev - yeah, there are tons of insipid blogs out there. So... why don't you get a hobby? I'm thinking you could go out in the yard and find a stick to bite on.

Posted by: gimmebreak | August 2, 2006 8:10 AM

whatev - yeah, there are tons of insipid blogs out there. So... why don't you get a hobby? I'm thinking you could go out in the yard and find a stick to bite on.

Posted by: gimmebreak | August 2, 2006 8:11 AM

whatev - I got a hobby for you. I'm thinking you could go out in the yard and find a stick to bite on.

Posted by: gimmebreak | August 2, 2006 8:12 AM

Multiple posts and timestamps broken?

I think your triplets broke the blog.

Posted by: Broken? | August 2, 2006 8:58 AM

Went to a new OBGYN in our new town the other day. While waiting to get into our exam room, my husband and I were admiring the collages of all of the babies that the docs had delivered. When the nurse came around to meet us, she pointed out a group of pictures of one woman's kids. First their was her son. Then her triplets. Then her twins. Then the youngest. Seven kids, and for a while, the nurse said, she held the world record for largest babies born in a multiple birth. My hat is off to her, Kevin, and everyone else who manages multiples! We're concerned that with our third, due in March, we'll be outnumbered. Can't imagine being outnumbered with just one birth!

Posted by: niner | August 2, 2006 9:10 AM

My goodness, you must be so tired. I can't imagine having triplets. How did your older son react to having three little siblings?

On the only child thing. I can't imagine my daughter being an only child. I don't think I need another child for me but I do think I need one for her. I just want her to have the bond that I had with my siblings.

However, I agree that it is up to each couple to decide how many children they are going to have.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 9:11 AM

My question is how does a family with multiple births work spontaneity into their lives. I know that for my family it is difficult with just two single birthed kids. & I don't just mean for the parents for the entire family. How hard or impossible is it to do something on a lark?

I really admire parents who can juggle their lives with multiple births.

Posted by: working mom of two | August 2, 2006 9:29 AM

wow! i've heard the comment made by a parent or two that the days feel like a month, but the months go by like days. i feel that way and we've only got one child. i am continually amazed at the number of people who feel everybody should be having either more or less children (don't reckon too many strangers tell kevin he should have more, but complete strangers constantly tell us we NEED to have another child). i don't think we could handle a household that big, but kudos to kevin and family!

they'll be paying social security for us all ; )

Posted by: 2parents-1child-3cats-1dog | August 2, 2006 9:33 AM

I think everyone should have exactly 2.2 kids. No less. No more.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 2, 2006 9:34 AM

Wow! I don't know why people are upset about this post. I love the guest blogs. This is nothing else if a forum for people to talk about their own balancing acts. Surely, most of us would not want Kevin's! So, good for you, my friend, and hang in there. (And I'll tell my sister to stop whining about her twins.)

Posted by: VAMom | August 2, 2006 9:39 AM

My biggest fear during the first trimester was have multiples. Thankfully, my prayers were answered and it was a singleton. To parents of twins, triplets and etc., I salute you! You know an exhaustion not many of us have ever remotely experienced.

Posted by: silly blog reader | August 2, 2006 9:50 AM

Meesh, what's the frog in the frying pan metaphor? I'm not familiar with that one, and I'm intrigued.

Posted by: SEP | August 2, 2006 9:55 AM

"On those triplets -- Haw, haw! You da man! Instant chaos, just add water? I think it's easier taking care of 2 kids than taking care of 1. "

Fo4, I have to respectfully disagree....when we only had one, we could split drop-off and pick-up from day care, still have time to run errands and cook (I'm a darn good cook, if I say so myself), and have some time to just relax. Now, with 2, everything is harder....from breakfast to childcare, to you name it, to no time alone, to always being tired.......

Don't get me wrong, I love both my kids, but I'd love to find a way to make it easier sometimes.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 2, 2006 10:01 AM

I think its always interesting to take a peak into other people's lives. We have one and its chaotic at times, can't even imagine four. Thanks for sharing, Kevin.

Posted by: August | August 2, 2006 10:08 AM

He sounds like all of the rest of the women on this column, that life is a soap opera.

Posted by: mcewen | August 2, 2006 10:08 AM

Meesh (11:04 am) -- Your last paragraph was well stated, thanks for putting into words the concept.

Posted by: KJS | August 2, 2006 10:14 AM

Kevin- I liked your blog. I would think it is exhausting. Yeah people are always telling us to have another child. The two kid model just seems to be the American way. It is amazing in this country. Everyone has an opinion on everthing. Even the number of children. I never read Linda Hirshman but evidently she thinks everyone should have only one kid. Don't worry, more and more families are choosing one kid. I think it will be a lot more popular choice in years to come.

Posted by: Lieu | August 2, 2006 10:14 AM

hmm...maybe Kevin is the mysterious "Father of 4"!!!

Posted by: J | August 2, 2006 10:29 AM

father of 4 kids are older and younger than the ones described in the post.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 10:35 AM

I'm not trying to stir the pot or be mean like whatev, but I do wonder what the point of this blog as a discussion springboard is. I think everyone agrees that parenting can be chaotic, and that multiples can add to that, but aside from some head-nodding, what else can be said?

Posted by: wondering | August 2, 2006 10:40 AM

Dad of 2, I know what you are saying, i think the difference is in the detail of "raising" and "taking care" of kids. This is my formula for raising kids:
1 kid is difficult
2 kids is twice as difficult as 1
3 kids is 4 times (not 3) as difficult as 1 and the third kid put me "over the edge"
Why did I have my fourth? Let's just say that i was "over the edge"!
Later on, I'll go for the fifth... in the liquor cabinet...

As far as "taking care of kids" goes, especially with the 2 year old variety,what I meant to say, or meant to mean, was that I would rather have another kid to entertain my child while I'm on duty other than do it all by my lonesome. Many times single child parents will do what I call "borrow" one of my kids for the same reason I just mentioned.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 2, 2006 10:45 AM

OK, what's going on here? Meesh has a post at 11:04, but my computer clock shows 10:45. Have we engaged in time travel, or am I just stupid? (Probably)

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 2, 2006 10:45 AM

Triplets? I'm jealous! My wife are trying now and I would love to do a three-for-one! Of course, everyone tells me I'll feel differently when I walk in those shoes....Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Michael | August 2, 2006 10:46 AM

Things we can learn:

My four kids all participate in different activities, mostly because of their age differences. (3-6-12-14) It isn't really that hard to get them all where they need to be, but it definitely would be if I worked outside the home. So I don't really know the answer to "how do you do it" because I don't think I *could* do it with a full time job. Either they wouldn't be able to do as many things or I'd have to depend on someone else to get them there.

About swim team - two of my children are swimmers (the 6 & 12 year olds) and we're waaay in the minority on the team because not all of our children swim. It's definitely a "family sport" - it was the same way when I was a kid....all of the kids in a family swam, not just one or two!

Posted by: momof4 | August 2, 2006 10:53 AM

It seems like your family is VERY lucky that your wife has a flexible position with the government and can afford a nanny. Congratulations!

Blogs like these remind me of the ol' frog in the frying pan metaphor. Based on the entries today, I think that most people think their lives are chaotic. I think mine is and I don't even have kids! But when something stressful is added (infirm parent, loss of job, addition of child), you learn to adjust. People can adapt to almost anything, but there does come a point at which one more thing will put you over the edge.

So I think everyone can achieve balance as long as each person knows his or her limits. Some people handle stress better than others, while some people buckle under the pressure of too many expectations. There's no shame in admitting when you can't take on any more responsibility. It's when life becomes a competition ("I can do everything that Mr. or Mrs. X does and better!") that things get out of balance.

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2006 11:04 AM

Interesting theory, atlmom. The three-kid families I know have one screwup, but rarely the middle child. Maybe it's luck. When we were thinking about a third kid my mother-in-law (who had 3) advised us against this, since one of the three spends his or her childhood feeling left out. I know this doesn't hold true for every family, but it explains the patterns I've seen.

Posted by: Three Kids | August 2, 2006 11:21 AM

I feel you really have to nuture the relationship between your children so that they remain close. This is what my parents did, and my sister and I are very close despite and 9 year difference between us. One trick I use when my two are having a particularly bad arguement (ALL siblings argue!) is that I make each of them come up with 3 (or more, depending on the severity of the arguement) reasons why they love their sibling. It stops the arguement and gets them thinking!

Regarding the middle child often being "screwed up" -- my best friend is the middle child of three. Her older sister and younger brother are both screwed up -- she's the only one that turned out "normal."

Posted by: SLP | August 2, 2006 11:33 AM

I'm just curious, Kevin. Did they all want to be on the swim team or do you actively try to encourage them all to have the same interests? We only have 3 but I've discovered it's simpler if they all play the same musical instrument, play the same sport, etc. just because logistically it's one place rather than three, one set of parents rather than three, etc. etc. etc.

Unfortunately, when my kids hit the age of 8 or so, this no longer worked. They became (gasp!) individuals. And life got a lot harder. How do you handle it when you have four? How do the rest of you handle it?

Posted by: Things we can learn | August 2, 2006 11:43 AM

How is the time stamp 11:43? Weird.
In any event, for my second, I really did want twins, partially because my husband says: two is enough. We have two now.

We are both one of three, and I would argue that having a sibling for the sake of the 'only' isn't always a great idea - you never know what's going to happen. However, parents can certainly nurture a relationship.

My husband and I rarely if ever speak to our siblings and certainly aren't close (tho I know they think differently).

Posted by: atlmom | August 2, 2006 12:06 PM

My wife and I always joke that once the kids outnumber us we can't play "man-to-man" defense anymore, we will have to "go zone".

Good luck teaming up to tame your kids. Throw some junk defenses at them to keep them on their toes.

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 2, 2006 12:12 PM

I didn't say that everyone had to have more than one kid, I said it's what I wanted. I love my siblings, so I can only assume that if I raise my children without favortism or rivarly they will love each other too.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 12:15 PM

The frog in the frying pan metaphor (and I'm sorry if I'm butchering it--it's been a while since college) is this.

If you put a frog in a frying pan and very slowly increase the temperature over time, the frog won't jump out because the change is barely noticeable and can adjust to the temp. However, when the heat gets to a certain point, the frog will die. People like to use this metaphor to describe the way the government is slowly but surely taking away our civil liberties. This metaphor is also used in the Handmaid's Tale (a wonderful book!!!).

While it doesn't completely describe families (changes often happen very quickly), it did remind me of balancing ever-increasing demands that get heaped on us without our even realizing what's happening!

Posted by: Meesh | August 2, 2006 12:16 PM

"My husband and I rarely if ever speak to our siblings and certainly aren't close (tho I know they think differently)."

Thanks for pointing out that there are no guarantees in life.

"I love my siblings, so I can only assume that if I raise my children without favortism or rivarly they will love each other too."

Nice theory but doesn't always work.

My brother and I were VERY close unti he married a real psycho control freak. I haven't had a private conversation with him in years. His wife picks up the extension whenever he is on the phone (they don't have a cellphone), he can't receive personal calls at work, his wife reads all of his snailmail and e-mails, etc...

I still love my brother, but we are no longer close because he doesn't have the balls to stand up to his wife.


Posted by: Marlo | August 2, 2006 12:18 PM

f of 4: we were thinking about having 2.2 kids, but i couldn't decide which parts of the 3rd child to cut off...

so balance for the canavan household probably means, nobody gets hospitalized and everybody gets at least 3 hours of sleep per day; whereas, balance for smaller families, might mean more sleep. the early years of childrearing seem to necessitate a naturally skewed balance (i.e., focus on the children, less focus on work/career, less adult pursuits, etc.)--ya can't just squeeze another person (or 6) into your life and expect your life to be the same.

Posted by: 2parents-1child-3cats-1dog | August 2, 2006 12:20 PM

Oh, one of the reasons that we have two is so that they can have each other.
But each of us are one of three and the middle child is waaaaay screwed up. And pretty much, everyone who is one of three, with very few exceptions, I can only think of 1), the middle child has something strange going on.
It's not necessarily anything, but when I mentioned it to someone having three, she dismissed me out of hand. My only point was that if she was going to have three, she should look to the facts and parent accordingly.
It's not even only prevalent when girls are the middle - I've seen screwed up boys as well.

Posted by: atlmom | August 2, 2006 12:26 PM

My better half and I have 5 kids - 3 girls (36, 33, & 31) and 2 boys (28 & 12). Yes, we started over on purpose. That old adage about being qualified to be a parent after all of them are grown and gone ... don't believe it. We still make it up as we go along. That is one of the perks of being a parent - we are never wrong, even when we are wrong. ;) Every one of the kids was different, including the youngest. We now have 4 grandkids (13, 2, 2, and 2 months) and the holidays get better every year. On a personal note, I have always asked the kids what they want to be when they grow up - I wasn't really interested in them, I was looking for ideas for myself :) (apologies to Paula Poundstone for that one)

Posted by: morethan2activebraincells | August 2, 2006 12:35 PM

I am the youngest of three, and the middle child was screwed up for a while, but is now mostly functioning. Kids are tough for a while, then you slide into an easy period (at least we did). Life with kids for me is better than life without. They often go to sleepovers that last from early afternoon to late the next day, and life just seems stale without them. I know--get a hobby. And F04, my second was even easier than my first! Which may be why we didn't have any more--we just knew the third would be the devil incarnate. My sister has always said if she had had her son first she wouldn't have had her daughter. He is 9 now, but we were wondering for a long time if he would ever make it to kindergarten. Good thing he was cute and loving part of the time.

Posted by: parttimer | August 2, 2006 12:39 PM

The current US birth rate is 2.05. You would have to cut out a lot of the third child to maintain that birth rate!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 12:41 PM

Fo4 said, "I think everyone should have exactly 2.2 kids. No less. No more".

Now, my son is rather tall for his age (almost 4 ft. tall at 5 years old) -- if I ever decide to have a second one, can I count my first one as 1.2 for the record? :D

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | August 2, 2006 12:55 PM

yes, I'll just be pessimistic and assume that my children will hate each other.

That's the right idea to have.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 12:56 PM

Centervillemom-my kid is short. So can I have three and assume they are really 2.05 kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 1:00 PM

I have one four-year-old and I still wonder how my mother made it though caring for five of us without e-mail, Peapod, cell phones or the Little Gym.

Triplets? The hair on the back of my neck stands up just thinking about it. Go with God, and go on vacation!


Posted by: Uplandermom | August 2, 2006 1:26 PM

[I think its always interesting to take a peak into other people's lives.]

august, that's what I think is best about this blog.

So, congratulations Niner. I hope you'll keep us posted, so to speak. And Arlmom, congratulations to you too. do tell us when you are expecting.

A few weeks ago, I posted a few words and mentioned my son's birthday. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that nobody, not even the regular posters, wished him a happy birthday. Oh, well.

I would like to suggest, however, that if anybody wants to share the birthday of their kid, their own birthday, announcement of a pregnancy, new adoption, grandchild, new job..., I would be more than happy to wish them good fortune. Whether you are a flaming, knee-jerk, pinko liberal, or even if you are a SUV-driving, gun-toting, Bambi-shooting conservative, I still want the best for you and your family.

And if newbies visit this blog and see us parents (and childless) as respectful, well wishing adults trying to help each other out in our endeavor, despite our differences, maybe, just maybe, they will join in on our civil discussions and make this blog even more entertaining than it already is.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 2, 2006 1:26 PM

As long as you can say each day is a blessing...you will be just fine.

Posted by: Rockville, Md. | August 2, 2006 1:27 PM

"I still love my brother, but we are no longer close because he doesn't have the balls to stand up to his wife.

this sounds like a personal problem.

Posted by: | August 2, 2006 02:37 PM"

Well, yeah, it's a personal problem. Isn't that what everyone who posts here is airing? Give Marlo a break!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 2, 2006 1:34 PM

I used to think the idea of twins would be cool (and sort of efficient) but after experiencing the first (single) infant, I changed my mind. More power to those who have them. I'm currently expecting my third and recently met someone expecting her fourth. This woman told me that three was easier than two. I wonder.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 2, 2006 1:59 PM

To SoontobeMO3:

Congratulations first! I have three, 12, 10 and 4 so similar age spread. The older two are boys, the youngest a girl. I did not have the boys help much with the baby - mostly because I didn't want it to be their responsibility. After all, we didn't ask their permission before having their sister! My older son adjusted well - his life didn't change very much really. My middle son had more trouble. He had been the youngest for so long and he resisted giving up his family spot. I found that 15 minutes to half an hour of one-on-one mom time each evening made a HUGE difference for him. He needed to feel like he still had my undivided attention for some time each day. We would read, talk, play - I let him decide. Now that the kids are older, it's the middle son who is especially close to his younger sister.

Good luck!

Posted by: SS | August 2, 2006 2:00 PM

The out of order posts are because of different time zones. Usually all of the posts are "converted" to EST so they flow in the order posted. I'm in a different time zone and my post was inserted into the list where it would have fallen using my actual time zone instead.

Posted by: SS | August 2, 2006 2:02 PM

Both my husband and I are the youngest of three. Can't say that in either case anybody was particularly screwed up. I also don't think there was any benefit or lack of benefit due our birth order (or gender for that matter). A lot just depends on the family/parents.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 2, 2006 2:11 PM

I still love my brother, but we are no longer close because he doesn't have the balls to stand up to his wife.


this sounds like a personal problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 2:37 PM

I'm expecting my third little boy in about 1 month. Both my husband and I are from 2 children families, so this will be very new to us. My first two are great buddies and close in age. The third is following almost 4 years later. Not planned, but welcomed! Any advice from all you parents or siblings of 3 out there? What should I look out for (besides just assuming that my poor soon-to-be-middle child will inevitably be screwed up)?

Posted by: SoontobeMO3 | August 2, 2006 2:44 PM

Both of my parents had 5 siblings each (catholics) and loved growing up in large families. But interestingly, I think it is the parents who can help determing the closeness of siblings. My mom's household was alway negative and lacked emotion or tenderness. All 6 kids hit the road as soon as they turned 18 just to get away, and now they are somewhat close, but often times it is just feels like holiday obligations.

My Dad's family was constantly loving and wonderfully supportive of all of the kids. They were loved and respected, and thier parents commanded respect in return. Those 6 siblings are closer than anything, even though 1 lives over seas, and the rest live in 4 different states. There is always the effort to travel and visit whenever possible. And my cousins on that side are super close too.

Just another point of view...it's not just the number of kids...but how they are treated that can make a big difference.

By the way..my mom was grateful for so many siblings because then no one kid took the brunt of it.

Posted by: Lots of aunts and uncles | August 2, 2006 2:45 PM

My husband is the middle child of three. He is the most successful out of the three and he is the most normal. His older and younger brother had everything handed to them, paid tuition, paid cars, money, etc. His older brother is older by three years so there is no excuse in his case for the discrepancy. The youngest is younger by 14, so I can see older parents having more money etc for him.

Being the middle child and watching the oldest child get everything has made my husband ambitious beyond belief. It has also made his older brother lazy, self centered and rude. He always has his hand out to his dad (mother is dead). He dropped out of college his junior year after they had paid for it, got married and lives from pay check to pay check. We are supposed to feel sorry for him, but we don't.. My husband is close to his younger brother, but only sees or talks to the older one at family gatherings.

The point is that no matter how many kids you have, you should treat them fairly. Don't hand one kid a twenty and the other one a ten. Don't pay for college if you don't think you will be able to pay for the other kids in a few years. Basically, don't have favorites.

I really think that how you parent affects how your kids turn out and whether or not they like each other.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 2:58 PM

What's "an 11-count gin and tonic"?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 3:04 PM

"I still love my brother, but we are no longer close because he doesn't have the balls to stand up to his wife.

this sounds like a personal problem.

Posted by: | August 2, 2006 02:37 PM "

And by the way, how is it already 2:37 PM? I show that it's 1:34.....the insanity has got to stop!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 2, 2006 3:11 PM

I know that being fair is hard sometimes, but that situation is FUBAR! My sister and I always had to do the chores--laundry, dishes, etc., while my brother was supposed to take out the trash once a week (it really was only once a week because we had a trash smasher--very 70's!). He also had his college totally paid for (even tho he flunked out the first year). We finished, own houses, have healthy relationships, etc. He is 40 and just now standing on his own. In my heart I know it is because he didn't do his fair share of chores!) While I don't have any sons, I have taught my children how to use every appliance in the house and clean every surface in case I die tomorrow. I want them to be able to create order in their universe, which my brother was never able to do. And, while I love my brother, I only talk to him once in a while, whereas I talk to my sister twice a day. She lives 500 miles from me!

Posted by: to scarry | August 2, 2006 3:16 PM

In the midst of packing for a move back to the States, I sure needed this smile. My chaos is confined to a super helpful DH, a high-maintenance 9 year old, and a 3 year old who's excited about flying on an airplane to Virginia. Right now, the cup of strong coffee provides the balance along with relief that it only feels like I'm doing it with 9 year old triplets...

Posted by: Military Momma | August 2, 2006 3:19 PM

but that situation is FUBAR

I don't know what this means, but I think we agree.

What is wrong with the blog today?

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 3:23 PM

SoontobeMo3, congradulations! My suggestion is to have your older 2 start helping out in the very beginning. Sure, the baby will get dropped or a bottle or 2 stuffed up its nose.. Later on maybe a few stitches or so... Just use good judjement on safety.

I've seen large families though, where too much responsibility is placed on the oldest. You can tell this is happening by asking your kid if he/she wants you to have another baby. If the child has "too much" family life, they will say No Way. If you are doing a good job, your kids will promise to give up their Christmas presents to get another brother or sister.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 2, 2006 3:28 PM

Actually, I think scarry's husband and toscarry should be grateful to their parents. Sounds like they got the best deal of their siblings, judging by end results.

Who would you rather be, the favorite child who can't grow up or the beleagured child who fashions a life for himself?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 3:30 PM

Every day is a blessing.

Every day is a blessing.

Every day is a blessing.

EVERY day is a blessing.

EVERY DAY is a blessing.

EVERY DAY IS A blessing.

EVERY DAY IS A BLESSING...D***IT!

Posted by: Working Dad | August 2, 2006 3:35 PM

Anon posted:
Who would you rather be, the favorite child who can't grow up or the beleagured child who fashions a life for himself?
--
I'll take door number 3!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 3:37 PM

I think Americans overnurture their kids. If you look at how my sisters and I were raised ("I want you to go outside and play somewhere and don't come back until you hear the dinner gong"), never mind how my husband was raised (e.g., playing with homemade rubber band guns in a huge furniture warehouse and detaching each other's retinas, shooting each other with bb guns, etc.), it is a miracle we lived to be 15.

My mantra as a mother of 2.4 children (.4 is a stepdaughter who spends most of her time at college) is "The odds of them surviving their childhood and my slapdash parenting are incredibly high". It is very comforting, especially when I say it while I have an 11-count gin and tonic in my hand. I highly recommend this course of action to all overly concerned moms and dads!

Posted by: MomNC | August 2, 2006 3:38 PM

Please don't favor your a kid if you have more than one. How's this for an example: parents expected me to pay for half of college (which I don't mind one bit, I expect to have to pay for all of it), and don't expect my brother to pay a dime. I was expected to have loans because I "can handle them and am a hardworker." arghhhh

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 3:44 PM

Just wanted to throw in two cents worth: My husband and I were only children and enjoyed the quiet/solitude. If we wanted to play with other kids we went outside or had someone over. Hated going to friends houses with sibling as there was always a fight. Our daughter is also an only child. She has a very different personality, though. She does admits to not wanting any siblings of her own (she is 6 and my husband had a vasectomy to prevent more munchkins from showing up). However, she also claims that she will have at least 2 kids when the time comes (we'll see about that - she's 6). To each their own.

Posted by: Onlies only | August 2, 2006 3:45 PM

Fubar is F(expletive) up beyond all repair.

Posted by: explanation | August 2, 2006 3:48 PM

you guys are right, I did get the better deal, but it realy made things hard on my husband growing up.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 3:52 PM

If parents make more money for a younger sibling, then how about helping the older sibling with loans instead of saying "You're on your own because you can hack it and you have a responsible job but we think your brother isn't responsible enough to do likewise."

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 4:03 PM

father of 4, i was off the blog for almost a whole week so if I missed the boy's birthday, i am sorry.

Happy belated birthday.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 4:06 PM

Happy belated birthday brother of 3!

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 2, 2006 4:10 PM

My parents had us 7 years apart. We also were in two very different eras of our parents' lives, materially, financially, emotionally. In a lot of ways, we were only children, because we had the exclusive attention of our parents for a while, 7 for me and all the time after I was 17 for him. We are not that close, now. I was more like a second mom--both from the age gap and my temperament. Mom also worked more with him so I did a lot of baby sitting. He got a lot more of the material blessings and fewer chores. He got all the benefits of me clearing the way. I am more GenX, he is more GenY. We both turned out okay:doctor, investment banker, both married. Both of us wanted to have what the other had with our parents--grass always greener. Good luck Rockville.

Posted by: sunniday | August 2, 2006 4:33 PM

It's called you have children. Maybe your wife needs to be a mom and stay at home with your children. It's sad when your favorite part of the day is when your children are asleep. I want to stay at home with my children full-time and nurture them full time and not miss a minute.
My mom (a full time stay at home mom as well)always taught us: as a woman have to pick one, you can't put 100% into both career and kids. So...which one is worth more?

Posted by: southern belle | August 2, 2006 4:33 PM

What's "an 11-count gin and tonic"?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 4:50 PM

Hi everyone, just checking in from vacation in New Hampshire...

Rockville - 7 years apart can work great. My sister is 7 years younger and we have always been really close. And I babysat for her starting when I was 11 which I imagine my parents loved. But you never know...

Interesting discussion...why does there always have to be a clear point or agenda? Kevin Canavan was just giving a snapshot of a typical crazy working dad day...

Yesterday's discussion (Johanna Wald's Opt Between Revoluion) which I missed was great. I thought her description of her life was one the most accurate, realistic descriptions of motherhood today I've come across.

Posted by: Leslie | August 2, 2006 5:02 PM

Tried to post this before, but it didn't gor through, hmmm.

My opinion re favoring of one sibling is that parents generally aren't aware of it. And sometimes kids don't see that parents do have a reason, i.e. there is more money by the time the younger kid gets to college, so parents can help more. But even when parents don't have a good reason, try not to beat up on them too badly. The fact is, parents usually do the best they know how to do. Sure they'll make mistakes, some bigger than others. It's a 24 hour job for 18+ years, of course mistakes will occur. This blog is evidence that parents who favor one child are not doing that child a favor.

But if you make it to adulthood reasonably intact and with the ability to care for yourself, try to be thankful. Try not to blame your parents for their errors, but instead praise them, because they must have gotten something right. Use their errors as a guide towards helping you, so you will, at least, make different mistakes.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 5:07 PM

Happy belated birthday, son of FO4. Sorry, I missed the announcement last week (or whenever it was).

Posted by: Rockville | August 2, 2006 5:16 PM

Does anyone have any experience with having kids 7 years apart? Pros and Cons? Am considering another rugrat. Did not before because son was hell on wheels as a little kid. Don't get me wrong, joyful and wonderful hell on wheels. He was very active. Thankfully, very sunny disposition, but I was tired all the time. He has grown out of it now, and is very self-sufficient. I think I might be able to do another one if I move fast (I'm 40). But it will be starting all over again. Comments?

Posted by: Rockville | August 2, 2006 5:20 PM

Having kids years apart...

My youngins are 12 years apart. It's been mostly heaven.

The oldest is now 35 and yep, sometimes I miss his "hell on wheels" moments.

The 23 year old got the benefit of my experience with the older brother.

Damn, I miss those Hot Wheels & Barbies!!!

Posted by: Marlo | August 2, 2006 5:33 PM

I can't speak for everyone, but my in laws knew they were favoring my husband's brother. I mean how can you not know? You buy one kid a car and not the other. You give one kid money and not the other or the ultimate, you give one kid a house and not the other.

I understand that having kids years apart makes a differnece. My sister got to dirve because my parents has two cars when she was 16, 15 years later, we had one my dad drove to work, but blatent favortism, is just wrong.

Plus, I always heard, you always go to her parent's house and not mine. That's because my parents treated us better than his did. So, you reap what you sow.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 5:51 PM

An 11 count gin and tonic means you pour the gin for a count of 11 seconds and then add as much tonic (usually not much) as will fit in the glass.

Posted by: MomNC | August 2, 2006 5:59 PM

Looks like the timekeeper for this blog has had an 11 count gin and tonic.....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 6:02 PM

I find it interesting that your favoritism examples all involve material things. How about love, affection, time, attention, etc?

Posted by: to scarry | August 2, 2006 6:06 PM

I'm dissapointed that most of the regulars didn't immediately know what an 11-count beverage was.

Those things are great until after the second one. Then you can no longer reliably count to 11.

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 2, 2006 6:19 PM

Weird, Rockville. My response to your note got printed ahead of yours...Anyway, see above

Posted by: sunniday | August 2, 2006 6:26 PM

Is it possible for the dad to give 100% to both career and kids?

If so, why can't a woman?

If not, should he not work also? Or is he doomed to be on the outside of his own family?

Posted by: to southern belle | August 2, 2006 6:31 PM

Thank you sunniday. I have heard that having kids that far apart is like having only children. We'll see what happens. It may not even be an option anymore (at my advanced age).

Posted by: Rockville | August 2, 2006 6:32 PM

Hey, someone is posting under my name! Well, the first explanation of fubar was almost correct, except my interpretation is "f'ed up beyond all reason." And WHAT is up with this blog today? This probably will post last week! Fyi, I am not envious of my brother or sad for him. There were many other issues. I was never angry at my parents for not giving him chores or for giving me more, but kids aren't stupid or blind. It wasn't favoritism, it was sexism. He would also cut the grass now and again (although I did it too). I don't blame my parents for the way they raised us. It was the 70's. We have learned from their mistakes and are standing on their shoulders, so to speak. My sister and I were never 'beleagured', and our parents were as good to us as they could be, but I think if my brother had been given more responsibility as a member of the family he might have been more responsible as an adult. But, as I have said, he had other, much greater issues to deal with later on.

11 count gin? I have not been living right 'cause I have never heard of that! I need some new partier friends!

Posted by: the Real to scarry! | August 2, 2006 6:58 PM

To to scarry,

I guess it sounds pretty materialistic of me to say my brother in law got more. However, getting more things also equated to more attention, more love, etc. How would you feel if your sibling got four cars in three years, wrecked every one of them and then your parents bought you a 300 dollar beater that the breaks went out of causing an accident that almost killed you? In my opinion, giving one child more, means you like them more and you value them more. And, last time I checked love was tied up in something called feelings and my husband's feelings were hurt a lot while he was growing up.

If you want to buy one of your children everything and then turn around and shower the other one with love and time, more power to you, but you can probably expect that when they get married and come home for holidays, they will be spending them with the in laws. And by interesting, i'm sure you really mean messed up?

To the real to scarry,

I see what you are saying about the sexism thing, I am 31 years old and my old man won't let me do anything that he thinks I could get hurt doing. I offered to cut the grass one day when I was 16. Long story short, the grass was wet, I slipped and the lawn mower drug me down the hill. No more grass for me, my dad made my much older brother do it from then on because he didn't want me to get hurt.

Posted by: scarry | August 2, 2006 7:16 PM

Don't know if anyone will see this, as I'm posting from mountain time, but here goes!

Thanks, Fo4, for the congrats; I feel awful that I missed your boy's bday! Give him a hug from me, a total stranger. :)

I was babysitter for my siblings, too, as someone else mentioned at some point during our time travels today. They, both boys, were 5 and 10 years younger than me. They were both a little messed up, but for ultimately the same reason: the youngest has health issues. Manageable, but issues nonetheless. Youngest was favored, and middle child always took the blame for things gone wrong, even if youngest claimed responsibility, which lead to self esteem problems. Youngest child wasn't given boundaries, so the police set them for him when he ended up selling drugs. And I do feel the gender thing, too; I, the girl, had much tighter curfews and rules! All is good, now, though, with parents and kids. Better, closer, relationships, and no more drugs.

Posted by: niner | August 2, 2006 8:44 PM

"A few weeks ago, I posted a few words and mentioned my son's birthday. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that nobody, not even the regular posters, wished him a happy birthday. Oh, well."
Father of 4

Oh, please! Manipulative, as usual. Your son reads this blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 9:09 PM

how does father of four maniulate anyone? He provides great comic relief to the blog and a differnt perspective. He was probably being sarcastic anyway! Geez, if you jelaous that he gets so much attention, post under a name and post something funny.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 9:18 PM

it's not impossible if you get a job and they do keep track. good luck though.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 9:59 PM

Reading all the comments about favoritism. Wow.

I am the youngest of four. The two middle ones, both boys, are deceased. One of them couldn't earn the grades like the rest of us and tried and tried for his associate's degree right up until his death. The other was the smartest of all of us and chose a life of crime. The oldest and myself are the most responsible. But our spacing was crazy -- the two oldest were about 14 mos. apart, then the next came four years after that, then I arrived nine years after that. I felt like an only child at a young age. I also felt like my mother favored my oldest sister because my mom was younger, more optimistic, and less stressed and beat down by life with them. I don't think she meant to show favorites -- it was more of obviously admiring the oldest's personality, looks, achievements, etc. more than the rest of us. I didn't feel the favoritism with my dad, but he does rely on my older sister more, I think, because she is, after all, the oldest child.

My two kids are nearly three years apart. I think that's good, but I probably should have had my daughter when my son was a year younger. He thinks I favor my daughter, but I don't feel that way.

As for the topic, more power to Kevin and his family. I couldn't imagine having four kids. I was tempted to have a third child, but one of the things that deterred me was that I didn't want to create a middle child. My brothers had a hard time, and one of my brother's middle daughter had a hard time as well, with bad choices, self-esteem issues, etc.

A woman and her husband in my neighborhood has six children. She works full time. She still looks a little shell-shocked, LOL.

Posted by: momof2 | August 2, 2006 10:32 PM

to boy of Fo4, happy belated birthday, and as one of 4 children, you should be accustomed to not getting too much attention, which is a great way to grow up!!
The beauty of four kids, they can't keep score, it's too complicated. Material goods aren't going to be doled out evenly, it's impossible. Hopefully love and affection is doled out is huge, even quantities. Or whoever needs, gets. I think it's working, ask my four kids in 20 years.

Posted by: experienced mom | August 2, 2006 11:52 PM

"My wife & daughters read this blog and sometimes post to it. My oldest son..."

I believe the birthday child was 3? 4? If so, Father of 4 was seeking the blog's attention on his own behalf, not the child's.

Not jealous, just weary.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 8:11 AM

thank you all for the b-day wishes for my son. My wife & daughters read this blog and sometimes post to it. My oldest son (who I refer to as my annoying son) knows when I'm blogging and when I'm programming the computer. When I blog, I laugh, and when I work, I cuss at my machine. Yesterday he asked me about 5 times "Are you blogging again?" He called it right each time. What a punk!

rockville, go for another baby! good families are in high demand. I love babies and I think pregnant women are cute, especially when they start getting round enough to waddle and get clumsy.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 3, 2006 8:15 AM

Not jealous, just weary.


Please, he gets enough attention by just being himself. We love him on this blog because he is so different from the rest of us. There is no reason to call him manipulative, I mean it's just a blog?

Posted by: scarry | August 3, 2006 8:16 AM

Scary asked: "I find it interesting that your favoritism examples all involve material things. How about love, affection, time, attention, etc?"

Good point. Love is impossible to measure; affection is impossible to measure. Number of new shoes, car in driveway and college edumacation is easier to see.

Posted by: Stacey | August 3, 2006 10:11 AM

to the person who responded to my comment: I am just a firm believer in certain roles, you want to be a mom; then be mom and do your role as primary caregiver to your children. The father should then be the breadwinner. I just strongly believe in the traditional family roles. You may not agree, but I think more stable roles like that help the children. I love that my mom was a stay-at-home mom with us. I just think someone should be home with the kids.

Posted by: southern belle | August 3, 2006 1:44 PM

Scary asked: "I find it interesting that your favoritism examples all involve material things. How about love, affection, time, attention, etc?"

THis wasn't said by me, it was to me.

Posted by: scarry | August 3, 2006 3:12 PM

To Southern Belle:

"I just think someone should be home with the kids."

Many of us wouldn't argue too much with this line but it doesn't jibe with the rest of your posting. You don't believe "someone" should be home with the kids; you believe "mom" should as if that's the only way it should be. Many of us are just striving for more gender equality in all realms of our lives. And "mom" doesn't always want to be home with the kids. And sometimes "dad" does.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 3:41 PM

RE: The Longest Traffic Light
It is interesting to hear the banter of parenthood and I'm glad to see that some men chime in. My blog didn't have a point per se, other than to share a bit of the thoughts crossing a parents brain in the quiet moments. Long traffic lights aren't the issue, it is the "can I keep juggling the commitments" while finding some sources of energy mental wrangling. I have hobbies, I run before my kids wake up, I coach little league, I camped with cub scouts. I made them participate in Walk for the Homeless. I give baths, help with homework, and make them do chores. There's not much favoritism, but a goal of getting some face time- parent to each kid for a few minutes a day. I enjoyed the banter as my kids fell asleep, not necessarily the fact that they were asleep. Thanks Leslie for including me in the blog.

Posted by: kevincanavan- | August 3, 2006 4:14 PM

yes, you are correct, when I say someone should be home with the children, I do indeed mean the mom should be home with the children. When you take on responsibilities, such as having/raising children, then you do that job of raising them. No b/s about "mom doesn't always want to stay home with the kids." Then maybe she shouldn't have kids then. It's a full-time and lifetime responsibility and if you aren't willing to put everyone into it that you should, then don't take on that responsibility.

Living in DC, I find that many people have different views of life; I was raised in the South were family values are a huge priority and more than picking your child up from daycare and heating up a microwave dinner for them b/c mommy is too tired from work and doesnt want to deal with her kids.

Posted by: southern belle | August 3, 2006 4:15 PM

southern belle,

I find you comments rude, not because you have another opinion but because you make the generalization that all moms who live in DC only pick up their kids from day care and feed them TV dinners. You are exactly what fuels the mommy wars. I am not saying your way is wrong, so why do you have to say mine is wrong.

gotta go order my kid a pizza because I am just to tired to cook.


So glad I am a YANKEE

Posted by: scarry | August 3, 2006 4:26 PM

Southern Belle - Your definition of family values = stay at home mom and breadwinner dad.

So if I earn more than my husband the family should suffer fancially because the mother has to stay home?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | August 3, 2006 4:35 PM

apparently sol divorced mom of 1. Keep your apron on too.

Posted by: scarry | August 3, 2006 5:57 PM

"Not jealous, just weary.
Please, he gets enough attention by just being himself. We love him on this blog because he is so different from the rest of us. There is no reason to call him manipulative, I mean it's just a blog?
Posted by: scarry | August 3, 2006 08:16 AM "

(1) Not everyone on the blog loves him and (2) Should I use your answers to/re: Southern Belle as an example of how to behave?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 7:19 PM

we need to vote on most annoying person on the blog.

#1 scarry
#2 Rockville

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2006 11:11 PM

Hey Anonymous 11:11, I'm a little disappointed from being left out.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 4, 2006 9:18 AM

if southern belle can't take it she shouldn't dish it out. THis comment was not nice to the many people who do make their kids a priority, but choose to work.

"I was raised in the South were family values are a huge priority and more than picking your child up from daycare and heating up a microwave dinner for them b/c mommy is too tired from work and doesnt
want to deal with her kids."

Here is my vote for most annoying: People who hold grudges on the blog and who post Anonymously.

Father of four don't worry being manipulative is so better than being annoying. Hey wait, being childish is better than both of them, so a lot of people on this board have us beat.

Posted by: scarry | August 4, 2006 10:54 AM

Scarry, I am glad you are a yankee too!

Posted by: southern belle to: Scarry | August 4, 2006 11:02 AM

The yankee thing was a joke, but why would you phrase your comment like that? It sounded really judgemental and self rightous.

Posted by: scarry | August 4, 2006 1:27 PM

Scarry: I understand that everyone has different family situation and that sometimes it's necessary for both parents to work; I understand that, you gotta do what you gotta do.

What I don't agree with is when both parents work b/c they wont give up certain material things or wont sacrifice to be a parent or one parent wont stay home b/c they don't like staying home with their children. That is what bothers me and it just seems to be the norm in bigger cities. I was very fortunate to have my mom stay at home with us and have her on PTA and she was always home after school to bake us snacks and dinners. I am blessed for that; but I also understand that can't always be the case. I just think some parents who want this big career should just focus on that and maybe have children when they are 100% ready for children and can devote to them emotionally as well as financially.

Posted by: southern belle | August 4, 2006 2:03 PM

"What I don't agree with is when both parents work b/c they wont give up certain material things or wont sacrifice to be a parent or one parent wont stay home b/c they don't like staying home with their children. "

I'm still wondering why you keep saying "parent" when you mean "mother."

"yes, you are correct, when I say someone should be home with the children, I do indeed mean the mom should be home with the children. When you take on responsibilities, such as having/raising children, then you do that job of raising them. No b/s about "mom doesn't always want to stay home with the kids."

Seriously, why should it be the mother? Do you think men are incapable of this? Do you think that in situations where she doesn't want to stay home and he does, she should anyway, just because she's the mother? Mom doesn't always want to stay home with the kids. Why is this BS? Sure it can be but it isn't inherently so.

Posted by: To Southern Belle | August 4, 2006 3:16 PM

Thank goodness. My mother worked when I was a child (because she was great at her job, not because she had to). She did not stay home and bake cookies. We had take out a lot, and we also had someone who cleaned twice a week. My mom was around on evenings to help with homework and eat dinner. I never missed baked snacks or home cooked dinners. I was proud to have a mom who was so smart and hardworking and good at everything she did. She came to my school on career day to talk about what it was like to be a nurse in the ICU. I remember beaming with pride. I still do. I'll take that over home baked cookies any day of the year. Plus, you can buy cookies at any good bakery, and my mom did that too. We even got to eat them warm.

Posted by: Not a southern belle | August 4, 2006 5:46 PM

I understand what you are saying, and you are entilited to your opinion, but it's just the way you phrased it. I grew up with a SHAM who baked and did crafts, etc. I love her and I appreciate all she did. However, when my dad lost his job she had to go be a cleaning lady and pick up after other people in order for us to eat.

Yes, I admit that I like nice clothes, Ann klien shoes, and jewlery, but I actually like knowing that I have skills and can carry my family if my husband loses his job without working in a low paying job.

I just think that you should be open to how people become who they are instead of making blanket statements like "the mom should..." or basically don't have them if you cna't stay home. I think it just sets people off and if you would have posted your post at the begning of the day, it would have been more than just me and another few people who resonded.

Posted by: scarry | August 4, 2006 7:26 PM

scarry,

You should really proofread before you submit. Your postings are full of typing and/or spelling errors. Somewhere you said that you are an editor. It's a little hard to take you seriously with so many errors.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 5, 2006 12:12 AM

It's a blog not my job, I've seen posts from Leslie with errors too, should she stop writing for the post?

scarry,

You should really proofread before you submit. Your postings are full of typing and/or spelling errors. Somewhere you said that you are an editor. It's a little hard to take you seriously with so many errors.

Posted by: scarry | August 5, 2006 5:53 PM

Someone always has something to say about scarry, even on the weekends. Get a life people! If you read that she is an editor, you must be able to read her posts. Like she said, it's a blog, not her job.

afhdifherghetignsdjfblsdkjcfdklscflsdjfoasemkfgv

Posted by: good god | August 5, 2006 7:55 PM

"It's a blog not my job, I've seen posts from Leslie with errors too, should she stop writing for the post?

scarry"

Um, yes!

Posted by: Scarry's Good idea | August 6, 2006 9:26 PM

Um, yes

Posted by: Not a complete sentence. | August 7, 2006 7:03 AM

Why don't you just stop reading the blog if you don't enjoy it? Or are you some kind of masochist?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2006 10:51 AM

who are you talking too?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2006 3:11 PM

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