So, how have you been?
I've missed you! Well, most of you. Whether those of you reading this are new to Offsprung or are longtime denizens, I have not, in fact, written a Hausfrau column in many months, and so would like to open our new, weekly (she says, optimistically) conversation with updates and reintroductions. So, welcome -- either back, or for the first time. The Hausfrau blog is all about being OK with being an easily confused and generally overwhelmed parent, and with taking parenthood as it comes. I am eminently qualified to dispense such wisdom; after all, only 50 percent of my children is a budding criminal mastermind.
That said, those of you who have already been Hausguests know that I think early-21st-century parenthood is decidedly absurd, particularly as manifested in my life, by the cast of characters that populates the extended Haus. Perhaps you remember them?
Benevolent dictator/Chairman and CEO of Pandolfo Roy Enterprises. I am, as my tagline has long stated, a cranky, liberal, Italian-American, Episcopalian, Bronx-born, Jersey-bred, 40-year-old part-time working mother/part-time SAHM. I love Britain, cats, British cats, food, wine, Boggle, and sleeping in hotels. And I look damn fine in lingerie.
You fine folks, plus everyone else in my world.
My world. (Duh.) Not to be confused with...
My craptactular, 100-year-old house:
The falling-apart pile of peeling plaster, crumbling cement, rusted pipes, and rotted wood from long-extinct trees that I have, against all logic, decided is an acceptable shelter for the beloved fruit of my loins. All for the low, low annual property tax bill of $15,000. We tie ourselves in pretzel knots to pay for, and endlessly repair, this abode because it is located in...
Stereotypical Liberal Utopia:
Montclair, NJ, whose multitudinous gay, straight, transgendered, black, white, biracial, Hispanic, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist voters gave Barack Obama 84 percent of its vote in 2008. I am not going to lie: broadly avoiding Republicans would be a bargain at twice the price. [Republican readers: You're the good kind of Republican! I don't mean you! Everyone else: Yes I do.] Stereotypical Liberal Utopia is but one gem in the rare, exquisite string of jewels known as...
I don't know if this made national news, but we here in Jersey are in the midst of a huge, breaking public corruption scandal involving Democrats, Republicans, rabbis, and organ harvesting. That about sums up my state. After committing the better part of four decades to the place, I really have no choice but to wear it as a badge of honor.
My 40-year-old husband, a lawyer, history buff, and board game addict who, ethnically, is eight or nine different kinds of white with a tablespoon of Jewish sprinkled in to keep him interesting. He stubbornly insists that our lives would not, in fact, be exponentially better if he would just be George Clooney.
My other husband. I had no choice, given NotClooney's intransigence.
The Heir [a/k/a "My Sweet Gay Son (Fingers Crossed)" and "World's Skinniest Goalie"]:
My firstborn, who is almost nine and will enter third grade in September. He is anxious beyond his years, a good student, popular, a comic book fan, and very, very skinny. And although he is extremely sweet, he does not appear to be gay (thereby ensuring that he will neglect me in my golden years, dooming me to die alone in some godforsaken tenement, my half-frozen corpse eaten by my own cats. /Shudder./). In fact, he already has a "type" of woman he likes; he has been in love with four different girls since kindergarten, and they have all been of a different race than his because, he has stated, "Brown skin is better than white skin. It's creamier." The Heir is also a talented hockey goalie for our town's travel team and thus the reason we have no extra money or time anymore. The only sport more expensive and time-consuming than hockey is, I'm pretty certain, yachting.
My five-year-old soon-to-be kindergartener. He is a tiny, frequently furious, hilarious, fighty, unibrowed, happy-go-lucky, profane, cuddly, extremely smart, and extremely lazy atheist, currently recovering from racism, ageism, and a peanut allergy. He could charm you out of a kidney during a commercial break from "Wonder Pets." I expect he will take up yachting just to spite me.
My best friend, a 15-year-old gray tabby on daily medication for hyperthyroidism. She and I started this family, and she lets no one else in it forget that.
The Spare's best friend, an eight-year-old tuxedo cat whose birth mother, I am convinced, dropped him on his head more than once.
My mother, Mr. Monopoly, and my father, Mr. Mr. Monopoly:
My parents, generous to a fault and the reason I have been in therapy for 15 years. (Aw, come on! That's fair. After all, I already know I'm the reason for my own kids' neuroses, though I'll find a way to blame them on my parents, too.) They, particularly my mother, have an obsessive need to pay for things, for themselves and others, and though I often let them do so for us (e.g.
, Martin Brodeur's goalie camp; appointments with The Preeminent Pediatric Food Allergist...in the World!
; our second-floor bathroom), I resist just enough to prevent Pandolfo Roy Enterprises from becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mr. Monopoly Inc. Causing this uncomfortably comfortable relationship to veer ever so slightly off-course lately has been my father's unexpected "retirement" from Ye Olde Investment Banke and Brokerage Firme that went "poof!" back in the early days of the economic meltdown (good times, W, good times!).
Maw and Paw NotClooney:
My in-laws, who, in their ongoing, desperate quest to never cause anybody any trouble ever, drive us crazy. My interactions with them often remind me of the episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" in which Larry David visits his parents' house and asks his father, "Where's Mom?" and his dad replies, "Oh, she died last week. We didn't want to bother you. We know how busy you are." My in-laws are from "South Jersey," so in a sense their weirdness is understandable. But they are exceptionally kind, which I appreciate every day.
Princess Diana [a/k/a "Miss Monopoly"]:
My sister, who inherited my mother's love of the good life and is taking the most surefire route to attaining it: she is studying to be a teacher in the NJ public schools. She'll be a billionaire before you know it! Her big heart generally compensates for her need to buy purses that cost more than my first car or Martin Brodeur's goalie camp.
God, er, Nicholas:
My eleven-year-old nephew, who, according to my kids (and everyone else on my side of the family), created the world and everything in it in six days. He manages to remain adorable despite the constant adulation.
Uncle Big Eddie, Uncle Little Eddie, Gross Uncle Gary, Mean Uncle Keith:
Some of the rest of the traveling circus that comprises our two families. The Eddies are "Senior" and "Junior," which in Italian-America makes them "Big" and "Little," even though Little Eddie now resembles a former college athlete coming up on 40, while Big Eddie kind of looks like Benjamin Button at the beginning of the movie. Uncle Gary is Gross because he teaches my kids about such concepts as "Fartcanos" and "Expecting wind but getting rain." Uncle Keith is Mean because he's the rabid Hockey Mom I'll never be, raving like a lunatic at The Heir's games and making him cry if he lets a goal in.
The Supporting Players
The raisiny old French lady who lived to be 120 because she ate cheese, drank wine, and smoked cigarettes every day. She is my hero. (I suspect the trick is not deep-frying the cheese.)
The Serial Killer Who Lives in my Basement:
Since my basement looks exactly like the set of the climax of Silence of the Lambs
, it follows that a serial killer lives down there, biding his time until I come down one day carrying an extra large load of laundry, so that he can kill me and fashion a ladysuit out of my carcass. Though they adeptly remain in hiding, I know everything else that haunts my dreams cohabitates down there with him, including Jack Nicholson, Gene Simmons, sharks, and cat poo. (Note: I've actually even seen the cat poo with my own eyes.)
Thankshallochristmakkuh's Eve [a/k/a "the holiday season"]:
October 31 through January 1, the nine-and-a-half weeks every year that I am "happy."
My 35,000-Word Manifest About All of Society's Ills:
What I work on the rest of the year. It's a moody loner thing.
So that's what you can expect to read about here at the Haus. I hope that my family's hi-jinks make you laugh but also make you feel that much more comfortable with the way you, too, might be bumbling about this whole parenting thing. Please use the comments to let me know a little more about you, and to introduce yourself to the other Hausguests!