We forgot about Earth Hour on Saturday night—well, technically I knew about it but JB and I were out watching a sustainably-harvested organic movie, Hot Tub Time Machine, so it’s not like we weren’t doing our part—but we did get all post-apocalyptic on Sunday and cooked an entire meal in the fireplace. It consisted of two gourmet courses, hot dogs and marshmallows, with a tangy mustard sorbet as a palate cleanser (which is to say I accidentally doused myself with a bunch of disgusting French’s pee while upending the bottle).


It was so much fun, and the boys loved it, even though Dylan would only eat the bun and Riley managed to coat every inch of his body with sticky melted marshmallow and then promptly got stuck to a sofa cushion.

There are some less-than-quality times when the hours crawl by too slowly and I’m counting down (and counting to 10) until bedtime and we use the TV as a Hail Mary, but I think (hope?) there are many more hotdog-in-the-fireplace times when we’re all just . . . truly enjoying each other’s company. It seems like a newish sort of dynamic, now that Dylan’s old enough to actively participate and hold up his weird little end of the conversation. Like we’re not just two flailing adults trying to keep small children alive, we’re a foursome.

It feels more important than ever to have dinner together as often as possible, no matter how chaotic and messy and short-lived it is. It’s the one time during the week when we can all sit down and eat a meal as a family, and it rarely happens because I can’t get home soon enough.

Almost every day, JB picks the boys up from school. He’s the one that greets them, that drives them home, that talks to them about their day. He takes care of their meals. By the time I get home, they’ve been fed and they’re happy, but I wasn’t there for it.

I can’t adjust my hours and I can’t work from home. I can’t move my workplace closer to me or change where I live. Right now, it is what it is: I have to work, I have attendance requirements I have to meet (whether I have sick kids or not), I have a long traffic-choked commute.

Today there’s a White House forum on workplace flexibility, and while I can’t watch it live I hope I have the chance to learn what was discussed because this is an issue that means a lot to me. I don’t know what the answers are, and maybe there are none, maybe it’s enough for now that people are asking the questions.

I know I’ve talked about this before, the commute thing, the coming home late thing, and yet everything’s stayed the same. For years. Here is what I’m committing to in this little space of mine: I’m going to change this crappy situation.


I want to be home in time for dinner.

A while ago I learned about a mom whose little boy passed away after accidentally falling in their backyard pool. It was the sort of senseless tragedy that makes every parent shiver and clutch their own kids a little tighter, but then the story took an even worse turn: people started criticizing the mother for using Twitter in the awful moments following the paramedics’ arrival. There was some ugly fallout from the whole thing, with all kinds of judgments and wild speculation and a truly unfortunate amount of media interest.

I don’t know that mother and I don’t know much about her story, but it was impossible not to feel devastated on her behalf for not only the unthinkable loss of a child, but the finger-pointing that swirled in the wake of the accident.

The entire scene—the accident, the discovery, the frantic call for help—was unimaginable, and yet I found myself doing so, in some helplessly dark sort of way, and while I held no judgment I did find her use of Twitter at that time difficult to understand. I let my mind wander into that nightmare territory we all visit now and then, where we see something a parent is never meant to see, and I couldn’t picture lifting my phone and typing out words.

On first glance Twitter seems frivolous, after all. A place where we post jokes and lighthearted comments and complaints about television shows. Not a place to broadcast a horrific situation in progress.

But the thing is, there are no rules about how Twitter should be used, despite what some people may claim. Each of us use it in a way that best suits us, and for me that changes throughout the day—sometimes I treat it like open mic night at the discount comedy club, sometimes I vent frustrations, sometimes I post links to things that make me smile.

Last week when JB had bundled up our droopy, white-faced boy and headed off to the ER and I was at home with Riley waiting for the babysitter so I could join them at the hospital, I paced the floor and peered out the windows and chewed my fingernails and finally tapped something out on my phone. It took about five seconds.

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Moments later, I had a flood of responses. I read them until the babysitter arrived, I read them while I was stopped at red lights on the way to the emergency room. (I know: bad idea. Also, illegal.) I read them in the waiting room while Dylan slept and JB and I stayed quiet so as to not disturb him.

I cannot tell you how much those replies helped me. It was so soothing to hear from people, to feel less alone in those moments. Don‘t worry, he’ll feel so much better when he gets rehydrated, someone said to me, and I clung to that sentence like a raft in the ocean.

I don’t know what I would do if faced with an actual life-threatening emergency involving my kids, and I pray I never, ever find out. I guess that’s the thing: we can’t know what we might do, what we’d need, what seemingly odd decisions we might make.

It’s human nature to reach out when we’re scared and we feel helpless. I’m glad Twitter was there for me on a night when I put the dick jokes aside and spoke nakedly into the void, and the void spoke back and said, hang in there.

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