Happy Father’s Day, Ed {Spin Cycle}

Ed was thinking about our children long before I was. When we began looking for a house soon after we got married, Ed had some specific requirements.  All the cute little houses I liked were no good. He wanted room to grow, a basement, a big backyard, and a playground within walking distance. He also wanted to live in a neighborhood with sidewalks so that we could walk safely to the playground with our kids. Our house was going to be our lifetime house; the house where we were going to raise our family.

When I write “lifetime house,” I do not mean our dream house. These are two different things. I’ll describe the dream house for you another day. The lifetime house that we bought has three bedrooms, a basement, an attached garage and is walking distance from both the elementary school and the playground. It was built in the 1960’s, decorated in the 1980’s, and we are still working on updating it. Ed knew what he was looking for, and we found a great house for raising a family.

About a year after we bought the house, Lily was born. Ed was thrilled to be a Daddy. He changed Lily’s first diaper and walked around with her for hours while she cried and while she slept. He gave Lily her first bottle when I couldn’t produce enough milk, and we tag-teamed feeding her. I breastfed her during the day, he gave her a bottle at night.

Ed holding Lily at the hospital
Ed holding Lily at the hospital

When Emmy was born almost three years later, he was just as thrilled and stayed in the hospital with me and Emmy for four days while I recovered from a c-section. He changed her diapers, I fed her. He slept on that green chair in the picture below every night so that he could help me get Emmy when she cried.

Ed with Emmy and Lily the day Emmy was born
Ed with Emmy and Lily the day Emmy was born

We were a team.

We still are.

When Emmy is having one of her meltdowns and I’m about to lose it, Ed steps in and calms her down. When the girls want to go to the playground, Ed is never too tired to take them. He is always available to read a book or play a game. And he is the best at surprising them with a trip to the ice cream shop.

He’s not the perfect dad, but I’m not the perfect mom, either. Somehow, together, we seem to make it work. And there’s one thing I know for sure.

He’s always thinking about his girls.


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Your Third Place

Caribou Coffee didn’t waste any time getting out of Chicagoland. I drove by my local coffeehouse last week, and the windows were already covered with brown butcher paper. I’m a little sad about this development. Sure, we still have Starbucks, but Caribou is a little less trendy and less expensive, which suits some of us quite well. One of my favorite columnists, Mary Schmich from the Chicago Tribune, wrote an article about Caribou Coffee’s retreat, and something she said about coffeehouses struck me. She describes coffeehouses as “a third place.” Your home is your first place and your work is your second place. (As a mostly stay-at-home mom, my first and second place seem to be the same–home.)

Schmich writes, “A third place is generally an unpretentious spot filled with regulars but open to anyone, where people of all kinds and social ranks mix, for little or no money.” People in my generation will imagine the coffeehouse of Friends, which was shown so often on that TV show that I think it was Rachel, Monica and Phoebe’s first place. However, I don’t think a coffeehouse qualifies as my third place. For one thing, I prefer to brew my own coffee at home. For another thing, when I go to Starbucks, Emmy wants me to buy her a cake pop for $1.25, which seems ridiculous even though I can’t make cake pops on my own. Trust me on this one.

Caribou Coffee
In October, Caribou offers a special blend for breast cancer awareness.

Where is my third place, then? Unpretentious and open to anyone? In the past, it certainly would have been the bar where my husband and I would grab a pizza and a beer every weekend.

Before I met my husband, my third place was the public library. I loved the hushed reading area in the stacks at my library. The building was old and creaky, and there were French doors leading out to a small courtyard. It was a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon. The library became my third place again after our first child was born. I was a new stay-at-home mom, and didn’t quite know what to do with myself. The second story of the large, suburban library was perfect to find a quiet nook to nurse my newborn and read. As Lily grew, so did our time at the library. We went weekly to check out books and attend story time. Now that Lily and Emmy are both in school, we don’t go to the library as often as we did back then. One day, school was canceled when the power went out. Our first stop was the library. We saw many of Lily and Emmy’s friends there that morning!

The third place where I spend the most time, however, is my church. You can find me there every weekend. I’ve been attending the same church since 1981.  I attended junior high at the parochial school.  My first overnight trip without my parents was with my seventh grade class. When I was sixteen, I went on my first date with a boy in Youth Group (not my husband, but we are still friends). I met my husband, got married and baptized my children at St. Andrews. Now I teach Sunday school and direct VBS at my church.

Yes, I think my church is my third place.

Where is your third place?





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