But We Are, Blanche

But We Are, Blanche

The “no strollers” sign was a wake-up call. We’d managed to Yelp a family-friendly seafood restaurant and then Google Maps our way to it. (Why using simple tools that previously required absolutely no effort is nearly impossible with two kids is a mystery to me, but I swear it’s a real phenomenon.)

We buckle the two-year-old into his stroller so we can go eat. He screams like we’re space aliens performing evil experiments. We wheedle the 5-year-old to walk out onto the Monterey wharf alongside her shrieking brother (isn’t it cool? looks like a street but it’s above the water!). Then our kid-friendly destination has a sign, “No strollers, no screaming babies.” Suddenly we were those people, and we realized we didn’t feel welcome.

No, we didn’t let the two year old shriek in restaurants. Or rather, upon the first shrieking we took him outside (again and again). But sitting there praying he won’t dump all the spaghetti on the floor, or telling our five-year-old just to leave the fork she’s catapulted toward that sweet elderly couple, or waking up at four am, the little one shrieking his night terrors in our thin-walled motel, I see us through this whole new lens.

Many people were just lovely; complementing us on our cute children and forgiving their acting like drunk monkeys. A family trying to eat breakfast responded warmly when our little girl told them in great detail about how she has two dads, what her pets’ names are, and many many other details. People politely looked the other way as a quarter of the food ended up in one of our laps or on the floor. But I couldn’t help feel that quite a few people saw us coming and thought to themselves, “oh please don’t sit here. Please please please.” Is that lady having a bad morning, or did we wake her several times last night with our kids’ howling? And believe me, more than once I felt like howling too.

Jay calls our weekend in Monterey a “mitigated disaster,” and in part trying to do the beach or pool in the freezing fog was bad timing (and wrong location… San Diego anyone?). But I think the worst of it for me was realizing that so many simple pleasures that I’ve taken for granted are just not going to happen for awhile.

Let’s sit by the fireplace at the lodge for a few minutes. No.

Oh, look at that little yard sale/garden shop/tacky souvenir shop. Let’s stop! No.

I love sitting looking at the waves here. Um, no.

I’ll just try on a pair of shoes in this store. Are you kidding?

Like so many incredible, delicious pleasures in life, I didn’t realize how sweet it was to be able to make stop after stop on my little weekend trips if I felt like it. Boy now I appreciate those freedoms.

Partly, I have (surprise) an overly romantic view of what any experience will be like. I never want the weekend or vacation to end, except this one! And even fleeing this disaster I was sad, though maybe not because it was over, but because it didn’t happen at all as I’d hoped.

But also I think my own fun memories of trips and family fun are from when I was maybe 7 to 12. While there are some photos of camping before that age, I suspect my parents had the good sense to avoid certain kinds of trips until then. Maybe they learned the hard way too?

At a minimum, I think our two year old needs some more words, so he can ask for what he wants (before we say no), and maybe negotiate a little better behavior in exchange for sugar or other favors adults have the power to provide. We do have a few cards up our sleeves.

I think—I pray!—that with time we’ll remember the nice parts of this trip. We’ve got smiling photos, and we sure look like we’re having fun. There were some lovely moments.

But please, please! somebody tell me all of parenting isn’t like this: searingly awful and difficult times with little tiny moments of grace, so that everything only seems fun in retrospect? That’s not what it all is. Right? Right?

2017-05-18T14:48:37+00:00 August 11th, 2012|daily life, gay dads|4 Comments


  1. Ira Serkes August 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Well … all my children (that I know of) have 4 legs and fur, so I don’t know the answer.

    But I have a really strong feeling that you’ll be really glad you’re writing these blog posts because you’ll soon look back (perhaps even a few days) and know that it’s worth it all!


  2. Donna Devall August 12, 2012 at 5:31 am - Reply

    Dear David,
    We are extremely (!) sorry we missed you in Monterey! Some of your blog was hilarious. We have been going through old photos and I get what you mean about how we all looked so happy in the past. I completely appreciate what you said about all those experiences you took for granted PRE-KIDS! Still, there is nothing to compare to the experience of being a parent!!

  3. Jonathan Botkin August 12, 2012 at 9:22 am - Reply

    It is true, as your wonderful trip shows, that parenting is the most difficult thing you’ll ever do. However, it is also the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. Unfortunately, the rewards are not very well synchronized with the challenges. The rewards will come, eventually, and the memories of the difficulties fade. In a couple of years, you might find yourself saying, “Let’s go back to Monterey. It was fun last time!” Then you’ll say, “Wait a minute. No it wasn’t! It was hell.” But, is it all awful and difficult times with little tiny moments of grace? I think in the early years, the hours of difficulty will far exceed the hours of happy wonderment, but somehow, when they come, those moments of grace make it all seem worthwhile. While each age has its own particular challenges and rewards, I think it does get easier. When your daughter says something in a couple of years that shows what she’s gained from the wonderful home you’ve given her, or when you start having real conversations with your little boy, and you are simply amazed at the thoughts that come out of his head, then it will all seem so incredibly worthwhile. Between then and now, there will probably be more trips to and from hell, but there will be good times, too. We all keep trying to get it right, and once in a while, it works. And, when it doesn’t, well, in a few years, you really will be able to look back and laugh.

  4. Nancy Ellinger August 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    I believe my two year olds especially had a hard time sleeping away from home. It might be better to concentrate on evaluating in one hour increments in terms of whether the family is having a good time.
    On the other hand, what can I say? Casual browsing in boutiques probably really won’t be a big part of your near future.

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