Raising Baby T. Rex: What Lies Between Us

We both went to bed with tears in our eyes.

It was past Remi’s bedtime and Waffle and I were both home, something increasingly rare. We protect a little late-night time, whenever Waffle gets home, for catching up on the day, watching our TV shows, and mostly sitting on opposite sides of the living room playing games on our phones if we’re being really honest. It could be enough, but lately it had not been feeling like enough.

“Do you feel like we’re drifting apart?” I asked.

I paused.

“I do,” I said. “I worry we’re going to keep on this path.”

“I don’t feel as close to you anymore and I feel like I have to say something because if we don’t talk about it then one day we’ll wake up and find that we’re just really good friends who love each other, but aren’t in love with each other and I don’t want that to happen.”

I searched for signs of acknowledgment or shared concern.

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” he said. We stared at each other with tears in our eyes. He got up and went upstairs alone. I didn’t follow.

Later, before bed, Waffle texted me from the bedroom. I’m sorry you feel that way. I love you.

The next day, we got up around 7:30 am to get Remi ready for Pre-K. Every morning, she climbs into our king size bed and cozies up in the middle. Sometimes she yells, “Open your eyes!” Some days she sings us a song. On the sweetest days, she snuggles up like the tiniest little spoon under the covers.

We all get cleaned up and dressed together. We drop Remi off at school together. With his recent schedule change, the time between 7:30 am and 9:00 am drop-off is the only time Waffle gets with Remi on weekdays.

After dropping Remi off at Pre-K, I cautiously broached the topic again. Not the best timing, I knew. Fall brings the worst of the sads for Waffle. Maybe that was part of it. Or maybe it wasn’t. It felt like things were starting to feel less intimate, that we only talked about our jobs and our toddler, and that we didn’t have much left to talk about when we finally found alone time. I suggested we take advantage of our newly free early morning hour and have a weekly standing morning date. He agreed.

I planned the first date, a 9 am trip to the public market, a place where we used to go regularly pre-Remi and hadn’t been to for years. The market has open-air fruit and veggie shopping, light crowds on weekdays, a call-back to simpler times in our relationship, and also fresh empanadas. We didn’t make any rules about how to conduct ourselves, but we both put down our phones for the entire date. We held hands while browsing for local produce and bought some concord grapes. Minus the bees who hang out near the Empanada Stop trying to get a taste of our breakfast empanadas, it was a really gentle, low-stakes, sweet date.

“This is nice,” he said. I squeezed his hand. We go on our morning date every week now. Sometimes to the market and one day when the weather was horrid, we instead drove out to a local farm seeking warm, fresh cider donuts.

This past weekend, Waffle and I did one of our epic whirlwind NYC adult-only trips. We don’t do them as frequently now that childcare is a factor, but when we do them, we don’t mess around. We went to two huge NYC Halloween parties with a Hitchcock theme (and executed some pretty excellent couples costumes, if I do say so myself).

We also saw three new immersive plays. (One was not great, but the other two were excellent and one made us both sob uncontrollably.) Of course, we saw the one show we’ve seen a hundred times (literally). We had brunch with friends and scarfed tacos on Governors Island and snuck late-night snacks from the bodega near our hotel. We stayed in Chelsea like the tourists we are. We attempted to sleep in, however futile on a Pre-K sleep schedule internal clock. We dashed about all day and all night and crashed into our queen hotel bed exhausted in the wee hours of the morning each night.

On the last night, I finally succeeded in sleeping in and…missed my outgoing flight. We’d decided to split our return flights home. I went back on Monday to pick up Remi and take her home. Waffle stayed until Wednesday. On Tuesday, Waffle turned 38. Frankly, I can think of very few things that would please him as much as going to Sleep No More on his birthday. I left him alone on his birthday, by his and my choice, and I strangely felt more connected to him than ever.

On the day I missed my flight, I felt awful. Waffle’s parents were anticipating taking a half-day off of work and I was no way going to make it back until the early evening. Once I sorted out my flight change, we decided to get lunch near the hotel. We had an unexpected block of time to fill. After three days, four shows, and two parties, we had a million things to talk about. Over burgers, we chatted excitedly and took silly selfies before I had to leave for the airport. Right before I walked out of the hotel with my bags, I flopped onto the bed and we got into another philosophical discussion about one of the shows we saw. If I could have stayed longer, I would have.

“I really have to go!” I said. “I’ll see you at home.”


4 Queer Parenting Things I’m Currently Overprocessing

1. You Can Stand Under My Bumbrella, Ella, Ella, Ella

Waffle got Remi an umbrella and she loves it. She used it for trick-or-treating in the rain this Halloween. She wants to use it whether or not it’s actually raining, though. Have you ever felt as pleased about modern conveniences as Remi is about her “bumbrella”?


2. Parenting Things I’ve Googled This Week

  1. how to help toddler learn to wipe potty training
  2. ways to help three year old with separation anxiety
  3. halloween songs for kids

3. Progress at Pre-K

You may have inferred or read that Remi had some challenges adjusting to Pre-K. That said, she’s a kid who adapts and learns quickly. She’s still a little nervous about her full classroom in the morning (“Too many people!”), but she goes in willingly. She’s leaving her lovey, Dino, at home finally and has also started being more confident talking to new kids, in general. I still can’t believe she’s shy at school–it’s completely unlike her personality at home. It’s great to see her start to open up, though!


4. On a Related Note

Remi and Jeter are getting closer and closer. For the most part, they hang out peacefully unless Remi gets loud or stomp-y and scares Jeter. I finally see a future where they’re more comfortable with each other all the time. Only took three years and anti-anxiety meds to get here, but I’m happy about it.

KaeLyn is a 37-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, over-caffeinating herself, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, eating carbs, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can buy her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 211 articles for us.

23 Comments

    • Relate to all you are writing about the importance of quality time for you and your partner so you are not just drifting apart from each other. It is hard when you have been together for a long time, you get into a sort of autopilot mode. My son is also very shy at school and that is so different to how he behaves at home…

  1. @kaelynrich do you know the book Umbrella, by Taro Yashima? The story of Remi and her umbrella reminds me of the little girl in the story who wants nothing more than to get to use her umbrella!

    I hear you on parenting and a disconnect between partners. We now have five kids including two teenagers (and should be adopting the two youngest next year). The kids are doing well!

    • Parenting does take a lot of energy and uses a lot of spoons! But I also believe it increases the love in the world. Sometimes my wife seems to believe it takes away some of my love for her. It’s a tricky balance.

      • It’s 2:30 AM and I’ve been up for hours with my 1 year old. Spoons for days. My 4 year old is tough and has been going hard on “I hate you, you’re stinky, you’re fat” and I can’t even imagine what it’s like with 2 teenagers plus other littles, with the extra element of the state involved too.

  2. I love these articles. I will never have my own kids but I spent yesterday with my “nephews” who I love as much as if we really were related. Kids are a special kind of joy, and of course, a special kind of stress. It was Ethan’s second birthday party yesterday and my friend says it’s like a hurricane has gone through the house.

  3. When our kiddo was teeny we used to declare it was time for a thirty-second date. Sometimes it was just leaning on each other at the bottom of the stairs while teeny-kiddo screamed in her crib. Hang in there, date at every opportunity, you’re doing it right, I have never had a cider doughnut but you are making me crave it anyway. :)

  4. Thank you for sharing! Coparenting is freaking tough. Unfortunately I’ve really fallen into that insufferable hetero type socially acceptable resentment marriage. I’m just too sleep deprived to deal with BS but too dependent on him for ALL THE CRAP THAT HAS TO GET DONE. It feels barely liveable. We did get out on a date last week maybe? But are entering a busy time with work, school and holidays so maybe we will talk again in January.

  5. Thank you for this, as always. Date days and nights are so important; just connecting with our partners is important. I am so excited to have two date events within two weeks (thanks to good friends). It’s been a long time but it’s well needed.

  6. This series has been precious for me as a trans parent with a daughter who just turned 3. Seeing a reflected experience is so welcome. We get in relationship slumps just like you did. Loved to see how it worked out for you though being able to take a trip like that is something we’re still negotiating. My wife doesn’t want to leave our daughter behind on our upcoming beach vacation, and I would rather stay home than take our child. I need romance!

    • It’s not really a vacation when the kiddo is along, is it? Even if you theoretically have fun things to do, you’re also far away from your usual routines and all your old-standby things for them to do and you have to keep them supervised and entertained 24/7 and everybody’s sleep and eating schedules are off and … yeah. Trips to see our families used to really feel like vacations, and now when we get back from one we’re like “phew we’re home, do we get a vacation now?”

      Got anyone you can leave your daughter with? Even for just an overnight get-away?

      • I completely agree! I’m the one who is the event and meal planner already. When there’s childcare on top it’s no vacation. We do have some family that our daughter loves to stay with, I guess the worry is that she’ll misbehave at school or somehow be traumatized by being left behind. I think we just have to do it to prove it’s okay and healthy and fun to shake things up.

        We do get in a monthly date night, which has been a life saver.

  7. Thanks for teaching your kiddo to wipe. When I taught kindergarten I had to explain to a parent that we would not, as public school teachers, be wiping his kid’s butt. 🙄 Another kid thought her poop came out of her bellybutton and attempted to wipe her stomach.

    Now i teach first grade and I don’t have these problems

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