Parenting and Odd Jobs

It’s Sunday.

Weekends are spent trekking out to play paintball at CPX, Chicago’s premier paintball facility, cheering Cole’s soccer team. and using Groupons to try a new lunch or dinner place. We might head over to the forrest preserve for some scientific exploration; our Sunday night dinner will include steak, baked potatoes and a Hallmark Hall Of Fame Movie, for mom. Weekends are fun, and yet at each turn, I miss Joe.

Joe and I were a good parenting team. We never tried to be consistent. Cole learned quickly which parent to go to for the answer he wanted. Joe and I learned to live with each other’s answers. I thought Batman was too violent for a ten-year-old. Joe would never have agreed to stop at nine McDonalds in search of THE ONE Happy Meal toy standing between Cole and happiness.

Joe and I agreed from the beginning that day care and nannies were not for us. In order to make ends meet and allow me to be a stay at home mom, we were very resourceful, and very committed.

One day, a flyer hit our door offering the “opportunity” to deliver phone books.  Feeling broke, I said, “Why not?” Grabbing the baby, I went to the phone book warehouse, and picked up my phone books and route. New to the neighborhood, it never occurred to me that it might be tough to handle hundreds of phone books and a 14-month-old on the busy streets my route covered. Joe helped me complete my route on Saturday and Sunday. I lied about how much the job paid.

My next gig was mystery shopping. It’s possible to make money mystery shopping but it has its challenges. Seven McDonalds in one day looking for employees with “exceptional smiles.” Really. Shopping Banana Republic with the $12.00 stipend the company allotted and a three-year-old in tow, it was taxing trying to remember if the employee greeted me within 10 seconds of walking in the door, and how many customers were at the register. Cole had his first job at 4. For every salesperson’s name he remembered, I paid him twenty-five cents.

We created a company called “PlayStands by Joe.” Playstands were introduced to us in our Waldorf parent-child class. Playstands offer hours of amusement and fueled the imagination, but are expensive. I wondered if Joe could make them for less. He could. I handled the business, Joe handled the saw. Cole learned to use a hammer. The first Christmas we were in business we sold 100 sets of playstands and shipped 64 of them. Joe lost his wedding ring during our Christmas rush. He was more concerned about tarnishing his record of “never losing anything” and having to listen to my “I told you to take it off” than the actual loss. The second week in January we received a package with Joe’s ring. It seems it had fallen off in one of the packages we had shipped.

Following PlayStands by Joe, Camp Run-A-Pup was born, which is a story for another day.

Joe and I included Cole in our business endeavors. “Have baby will go” was our usual motto, with each of us parenting in our own style. We didn’t have rules. We didn’t parent for an audience. Simply put, we did what worked. We said yes often. Joe could always be counted on to have chocolate for Cole. It never occurred to him to suggest Cole wait to eat it until after breakfast, lunch or dinner. Cole’s early bedtimes were never challenged. It was clear I needed them. Our threesome had lots of fun together. We often wonder why else you would have a child. We also knew our limits. Cole would remain an only child.

My plan did not include being a single mom. Joe and I might struggle as a couple but Team Parent was strong. It’s different going it alone. Like most teens, Cole can push my buttons. Joe had no problem pulling Cole up abruptly, while, like most moms, I tend to nag and poke. I’m clear I’m the mom, but I’m also clear in our current situation running our business, we need to function as a team. We try hard to remember each of us is doing our best.

Cole stopped watching Survivor, because he can’t watch it without his dad’s running commentary. I can’t stand Survivor, and even if I could, it would not be the same.  Soccer will be reevaluated after the spring season.  It’s just not the same without Joe. The fall season hurt. I had always hated it when Joe would stand on the sideline with me and mutter obscenities under his breath while cheering the team loudly. I hated the play by play evaluations of Cole, the other players and the coach on the way home. It made me cry when Cole told me he looked over at the soccer sidelines this fall and thought he saw his dad.  Of course, it’s completely possible he did. A dear friend wandered over to me at one of the games and said, “It’s just not the same without Joe.” He was right. It’s not. This weekend, Cole wishes his dad was available for the movie, Kick Ass. I wish he was to, its a hard movie for a mom to say yes to.



Take Cole to see Kick Ass.

Its R rated and much to violent for me.

I wish I could take him.

Me to!!  I miss parenting with you.

It’s different, but babe, I’m still there. You believe that right?



Want to share a large popcorn?

Glad you were in my Odd neighborhood. Feel free to drop by any time. I would love to hear from you in the comment section of this blog, or on Facebook or Twitter!


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