Author: Karen Mickley-Gomez

Where does the time go?!

  I never wanted to help raise someone else’s kid.  Quite the opposite, really.  Although I’ve always been fond of children, and have the most awesome nieces ever, I confess that for most of my adult life, I was perfectly content to enjoy the company of other people’s kids in small doses and a nicely controlled setting.  When I ran into my now-husband 15 years after we were high school friends, he was a new dad and pretty excited about it.  I thought it was cute, but not necessarily come-hither cute.  More like, enjoy that at a safe distance from me, and show me some photos which I’m likely to find sweet but not nearly as appealing as dog pictures. A few years later, we ran into each other again, commiserated about being single, and then promptly commenced dating. Funny how that works.  Although I met Lilia early on, it took a while before she and I had any alone time.  The first solo day I spent with her, I discovered that I had absolutely no idea what to do with someone else’s toddler.  My nieces and I had done plenty of hanging out when they were Lili’s age, even a good deal by ourselves.  But I’d known them from birth, and was familiar with their preferences, so it was pretty straightforward.  Trying to entertain someone else’s two-year-old (who was still eyeing me somewhat suspiciously) was a different ballgame. During our first visit, we mostly...

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I could get used to this

  If someone told me 20 years ago that in 2016 I’d be working as a nurse and happily living 25 miles from the town where I grew up, I probably would have socked them.  In June of 1993, I graduated from high school and hustled out of Connecticut with no plans to come back. Acutely aware of – but grateful for – the amenities provided to me by both my parents and the community we were raised in, I was determined to find a place I felt I belonged. My childhood had no shortage of friends or fun, it was nothing if not idyllic.  However, the roller coaster of adolescence and a growing discomfort with the value system taught to “privileged” kids led me to believe I needed to get as far away as possible to find myself.  I started college in Virginia.  The countryside was beautiful and horses abounded, but the mindset conservative and old-school.  Next, a brief stop in Massachusetts before throwing caution to the wind and going across the ocean to France. Spending four years based in Paris led to more than just language skills, it gave me the opportunity to begin creating an identity for myself that was uniquely my own.  For most of those years, I lived in a ten by ten room.  So did everyone else.  And it was enough.  When I returned stateside, it was not that I felt I had learned all I could have,...

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Living out loud

Some years ago, I was on the phone with my friend Joanna from Philly.  As she filled me in on goings on at her office, in the background I could hear her boxer, Bella, making trouble. It sounded like paper was being shredded and Bella was alternately play-growling and victory-barking.  Joanna continued her update, undeterred, weaving in a few cheerful threats pointed in Bella’s direction.  It sounded something like this: “I never imagined running into this kind of thing in my career, you know? BELLA!  It’s just not something you’re ever prepared for.  BELLA, GIVE ME THAT!  I wasn’t sure if I should say something or just keep it to myself, you know?  BELLA, KNOCK IT OFF!  So I went home and figured I’d take a night to think it over.  BELLA, I SWEAR TO GOD!  This morning, I was still really conflicted about it.  BELLA, I’M GOING TO EFFING KILL YOU!!  So that’s kind of where things stand.” A decade later, I now find myself carrying on similar conversations with her while making thinly veiled threats at my own dogs and kids.  Much of pet and human parenthood involves managing multiple tasks and conversations like this at once, translating unspoken requests for animals and little people, trying to prevent illness and injury, summing things up in 10 words or less… Marriage and parenting require putting the needs of others above our own, and significantly changes the...

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Missing: One Toddler

  Name: Timotéo Nicolas Gomez Age: 2 years Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown Clothing: Hanna Andersson top, navy (or likely, no) pants Last seen smiling in April 2016.  This child can be further identified by giant flames which burst from his ears when a commercial interrupts the Little Baby Bum video he’s watching. Or by daggers that shoot from his eyes when they rest upon his mother.  He is also identifiable by a trademark right hook, which rarely misses making contact with his mom’s nose. About six weeks ago, my two year old disappeared one night. While I was resting with one eye and ear open, someone replaced my giggling, sunny, mommy-loving baby with an angry, whiny, destructive Little T doppelganger whose face contorts into a miserable grimace at the very sight of me. I heard about this Terrible Two phenomenon, but never paid much attention.  Our 8 year old was somewhat stubborn and a little oppositional at two, but either she skipped the part where she wanted her parents to suffer, or I have one hell of a selective memory.  Both equally possible. For the past month or two, when I get home after hubby has been watching the kid(s), T always seems to be whining as I walk in the door.  Jeff swears – every time – that T is “perfectly fine” until I arrive on the scene....

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Mommy is a big sh*t!

  I say a lot of stupid shit.  This isn’t news to me, I spend every day with myself.  Historically, most of my profane rants have been limited to monologues delivered in the privacy of my car, or tirades witnessed only by my dogs, who have been kind enough not to slander me. When I became an auntie, I started trying to watch my mouth and become more of a role model, with moderate success.  Later, as a step-parent, I again tried to curb my potty mouth and behave like a proper adult, as unnatural as it felt.  It’s possible that I didn’t make any discernable improvements in either department.  Most conveniently, however, when one has a child who divides her time between two homes, one can conveniently chalk up all negative behavior to things learned at the Other House.  Now, as the biological mommy of a toddler just learning to talk, I find myself once again considering a swear jar for the grownups in our home. I admit to worrying that my kids will adopt my more unorthodox methods of self-expression and decoration, although, theoretically, exercising our right to adorn ourselves with tattoos or swear (or both!) should not be barriers to success. Being inked up never prevented me from attending an ivy league university, landing a solid job, finding love, or being a good parent. Having said that, if I were interviewing elementary school teacher candidates, and a prospect rolled...

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