18 Years and 15 Kilometers

Yesterday was our 18th wedding anniversary, so my husband and I did what any couple who loves to run does: We ran the Hot Chocolate Chicago 5K/15K. It probably sounds crazy to you non-runners, but, for us, it was the perfect way to kick off our anniversary and celebrate with an activity we both truly enjoy. After my husband’s injury last spring, I am happy for any chance to run with him, but it was beyond awesome to have him with me in the start corral again (along with our 13-year-old daughter and her running pal).

I have to admit, though, that I had an ulterior motive in signing up for this race. After months of training for a marathon that didn’t go at all as planned, I wanted to remember what it feels like to just run for the fun of it. I wanted to hit the streets of a city I love with no time goal in mind, to follow my body’s natural pace and truly enjoy the experience. And I did. My husband and I ran together until the 5K/15K split, shared an awkward “Happy Anniversary” kiss (it’s not easy to smooch while running, people) and then parted ways. My Nike + app went berserk, so I had no idea how fast I was running. I just ran, and it was wonderful. I felt strong throughout the race, clocked negative splits and sprinted across the finish line with a smile on my face. It was the most fun running I have had in I don’t know how long.

Hot Chocolate Chicago 5K/15K finishers

Hot Chocolate Chicago 5K/15K finishers

Sometimes I think I get so caught up in obsessing about time goals and rigidly following training schedules that I forget the beauty of running and how much joy it brings me. What’s funny is that when I stopped being so hard on myself and forgot about goals, I set a personal record. I ran 0.14 seconds faster than last year. A tiny victory, for sure. But in the face of the disappointment I felt about my performance in the Portland Marathon last month, I’ll take it.

Next month I start training for my third 26.2: the Illinois Marathon in April. I definitely have something to prove — to myself – after Portland, so I know I will be serious about sticking to my training schedule. But I also hope to keep yesterday’s 15K in mind and focus on the journey to the finish line rather than the amount of time it takes me to cross it once I get there. I’m guessing that having my husband and favorite buddy along on some of my training runs – the guy who got me into running in the first place – will help me remember to not only keep pushing myself but also keep enjoying myself.

We celebrated our 18 years of marriage in a more traditional manner with a steak dinner yesterday evening. We may or may not have discussed running. We definitely had fun.

Cheers to 18 years!

Cheers to 18 years!

Goin’ Home

“Can’t Find My Way Home” by Blind Faith played in heavy rotation on my Ford Escort’s cassette deck during my twenties, when I lived in Michigan.

Come down off your throne and leave your body alone.
Somebody must change.
You are the reason I’ve been waiting so long.
Somebody holds the key.
But I’m near the end and I just ain’t got the time.
And I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home.

I was a different person back then, sad, lonely, disconnected. Instead of figuring out who I was and what would make me happy, I hid from my true self in a bad relationship, trying to fix someone who did not care enough about himself — or me — to let me. When he finally ended things, I was lost. I realized the person I needed to stop avoiding and fix was me, and I knew I couldn’t do it in Michigan, surrounded and haunted by the memories of my many mistakes. I moved to Chicago in search of the key, to find my way home.

These were my thoughts as I sat drinking a Centennial IPA at Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, two days ago. My husband and I stopped there for lunch on our way back to Chicago from a weekend of camping, hiking and canoeing with friends in Wellston, Michigan. When he left the table to use the restroom, I noticed the Rolling Stones song playing in the background.

Spending too much time away.
I can’t stand another day.
Maybe you think I’ve seen the world.
But I’d rather see my girl.
I’m goin’ home, I’m goin’ home, back home.

I laughed to myself, thinking that “goin’ home” for me used to mean returning to Michigan, but now I couldn’t wait to get back to “my girl” (and boy — i.e., our children) in Chicago. Two years had passed since our last visit to my home state, when we attended my aunt’s memorial. This time, our trip took us nowhere near the Detroit area where I used to live, but the drive Up North was a familiar one. I took it often as a child with my aunt and uncle who raised me and later as a young adult with friends. Driving those roads now, after 20 years have passed, made me remember the figurative journey I took, trying to escape my Michigan self and start a new life.

Change is never a quick, easy trip, even against a new backdrop. Your problems follow you until you acknowledge and resolve them. When I met my future husband a few months after moving to Chicago, I knew immediately that he was a good man, the kind you marry and raise children with. I had never felt more comfortable or at home with anyone in my life, and it terrified me. It took a long time for me to see myself as worthy and let go of my fears of abandonment. But no matter how many conscious or unconscious attempts I made to sabotage our relationship, he kept coming back. It’s almost funny to think about what we considered argument-worthy in the early days, compared with what we have experienced during almost 18 years of marriage. I guess learning to sort out the little problems in the beginning of a relationship helps prepare you to deal with the real ones later.

Watching my husband walk back to the table, I thought about the Blind Faith song again. During my younger days in Michigan, I didn’t realize I was the one holding the key. I kept searching for it in relationships, jobs and other experiences, always looking for the next best thing. The key, it seems, was inside me the whole time. Marriage and motherhood led me toward happiness, but only I could unlock the door and walk through it to find peace.

The photo below is of my husband and me enjoying a Michigan sunset long ago. I don’t think we were even married yet. It’s the only copy I have, and it’s covered in fingerprints. I think one of our kids ripped it at some point. It hangs on the bulletin board in my office, reminding me how far we have come, together, finding our way home. Cheers to the man who never gave up on me.


With or Without You

I started going without him a month or so ago. The first few times, the guilt outweighed the pleasure. I would think of him and wonder if he was upset that I had left him behind. I tried not to talk about it afterward, even though he knew full well where I had been. He never appeared sad, disappointed or jealous. In fact, he encouraged me to go.

Before you start speculating about the state of my marriage, let me clarify that I am not hitting the singles bar with my girlfriends; I am training for a marathon without my husband. It might sound crazy, but I feel as if I am cheating on him every time I lace up my Sauconys. I know how much he misses running, and heading to the trail without him seems like a selfish, insensitive betrayal. I remember how bittersweet it was for me two years ago when both of us signed up for our second Chicago Marathon, but only one of us crossed the finish line. As happy as I was to be there to support him, I envied him and all the other runners as I watched from the sidelines. I also know firsthand what a frustrating letdown it is to get injured while training for a marathon, which is what happened to my husband this time around.

Although I feel guilty running without him, this next race means a lot to me. I hurt my foot 11 weeks into training for my first marathon back in 2011. I ran it anyway, but my time was nowhere near what I had anticipated because I missed so many of the long training runs. Since then, I have quit smoking and gotten smarter about incorporating strength training and yoga into my workout schedule to prevent injury. I am healthier, stronger and faster. And I am ready to prove it at the Portland Marathon, or at least I will be when race day gets here in October.

As much as I want to run this race, I offered to skip it when my husband learned that he won’t be able to join me. It will be a big expense for us to travel from Chicago to Portland, and we are trying to be (at least somewhat) more budget conscious with college just three years away for our oldest child. Plus, it is not my nature to spend a large amount of money on something that will benefit only me. A family trip to Europe? A must. A weekend in Portland for me to run a race? An extravagance.

I am happy to say that my husband did not see it that way. When I mentioned us canceling the trip, he insisted we go. “You are running for both of us,” he said. And that is my plan. I remember how happy I was when he finished his second Chicago Marathon and set a new personal record. It may not have been my year, but I was thrilled that it was his.

I am sure I will feel a little sad when I enter the start corral without my running buddy on race morning, but I also know how much he wants me to finish and do well. Yesterday, when we were planning dinners for the week, he offered to make a meal with pasta on Thursday, the night I usually rest and carb load in anticipation of a long run Friday morning. We may not be able to run together for a while, but I appreciate how lucky I am to have his love and support as I head out the door on my own. It makes what I initially perceived as cheating feel a whole lot more like winning.

My running buddy and me in Sedona this spring

My running buddy and me during a trail run in Sedona this spring

The Martyr Mom

What's that you say? I can have a life of my own?

What’s that you say? I can have a life of my own?

She is so busy doing everything for everyone that she leaves no time for herself. Maybe she works. Maybe she doesn’t. Either way, she tells herself her schedule is far too full to allow an hour or so of “me time” here and there. Maybe her mama guilt convinces her it is selfish, or maybe she has lost sight of who she was before children and no longer knows what makes her happy. Either way, she has no life outside her family. She is secretly — sometimes openly — angry and resentful, and she is unwilling to acknowledge that she created her situation or at least enabled it to fester through inaction. She is the martyr mom, and I know her well. I used to be her.

When my children were 1 and 3, we moved from Chicago to the South Suburbs, where we knew only a handful of people. My husband traveled constantly for work, and I stayed home to care for the kids. Despite his packed schedule, he still found time to form a band with his buddies, to practice with them once a week and to book gigs in the city. While he played music, I played the martyr at home. I resented the time he spent away from the family, leaving me to deal with the kids on my own in the evening after an already long day with them. I was envious. Not because of the hours he spent with his friends, but because he entitled himself to pursue something he loved.

What about my “me time”? Well, I worked out regularly, but only at home and while the kids were napping. To me, that didn’t count. I was managing my health, not following a passion. I didn’t even know what my personal interests were anymore because I had immersed myself so fully in motherhood. Instead of trying to rediscover them, I obsessively micromanaged my kids’ activities and daily lives so I wouldn’t have to think about my own lack thereof. I begrudged my husband for having a life of his own, but I was too afraid and complacent to create one for myself. It was easier to hide behind my role as caregiver than to confront my personal dissatisfaction.

I don’t blame my husband for that period of our life together. He hated the stress of long hours at work and constant travel, and finding time to pursue his hobbies and interests brought him a sense of peace and balance. He didn’t ask me to wait at home while he was out having fun. He encouraged me to come along to the band’s gigs, which I gladly did. He also pushed me to get out and do things for myself, which I did not. At least not at first.

I’m not going to manufacture a quick and easy happy ending here. It took time for me to emerge from my mommy martyrdom. When my son started preschool shortly after we moved, I made some mom friends. I began picking up freelance writing assignments. I went out with other moms. I planned dates with my husband and dinners with other couples. The busier I became socially and professionally, the happier I grew and the more I realized what a disservice I had been doing to myself, my husband and our kids by putting my own life on a shelf to accommodate theirs.

What martyr moms can’t or won’t see is that the hobbies, classes and other activities we think we can’t possibly squeeze into our crazy schedules actually make us better mothers and role models for our children. Not only do they help relieve our stress and bring us joy, but they also show our kids that it is normal and healthy for moms (and dads too) to be something other than parents. I don’t want my daughter (or son) to grow up sacrificing her interests because she thinks all her time should be devoted to her family. I want her to be a happy, well-rounded woman who knows how to tell her mama guilt to shut the hell up once in a while.

Now that my kids are teenagers, it’s much easier for me to carve out a few hours here and there to do the things I love. The irony is that as my “me time” grows, what I want more than anything is time with them. The older they get, the more important every little thing seems, every school band concert, every track meet. I don’t want to miss any of the moments with them because soon enough I will have nothing but time to myself. What then? Maybe I can convince my husband to book a world tour for his band or, better yet, a summer in Europe for the two of us. Martyr mom would definitely not approve. It’s a good thing she doesn’t live here anymore.

Happy Hallmark Holiday!

photo (99)

Last weekend, I bought my husband and kids Valentine’s Day candy and cards, chocolate and shiny red heart reminders that I love them. I do it every year. While perusing the “husband” section of the gift card aisle of Target, I cried as I read the cloying sentiments. I do that every year too. I am a sucker for sappiness, a greeting card company’s dream. But that was not always the case.

In my single life, I stubbornly shrugged off Valentine’s Day. I considered it a Hallmark holiday designed to manipulate consumers into purchasing items they did not need. If a man loved me, I thought, he should tell me, and show me, every day. Even when I was dating someone or in a relationship, Feb. 14 was not a day I deemed worth celebrating.

I still don’t, at least not most of the time. But the thing about being married with children is that sometimes you do need a reminder that you love and are loved. You become so wrapped up in daily life that you forget how and why you wound up there in the first place. If it had not been for the man I loved enough to marry, I would not have two beautiful children. I would not have this life that I so easily and often take for granted.

This year my husband and I are planning a date on Valentine’s Day. I suggested it. We have had a busy few months. Heck, we have had a busy almost 15 years of childrearing. We have not made time for a date night in a while, and I know we need one. No kids, no interruptions, just the two of us remembering who we were when we met and celebrating the life we share. As our children get older, they drift further and further away from us. Soon they will have Valentines of their own, they will head off to college, they will leave us behind. If we do not nurture our relationship now, despite the distractions, it may not be there for us later when we want and need it to be.

I made a lot of bad choices in my twenties, but marrying my husband was not one of them. He is a man who brings me flowers on random days, who tells me I am beautiful when I am wearing pajamas and no makeup, who supports me whether I am right or wrong and even when he does not understand me. Most important, he demonstrates to our almost 13-year-old daughter how a man should treat a woman by the way he treats me. She will have high expectations when she starts dating, as she should, and he is the reason.

I may not celebrate Valentine’s Day next year. It is pretty silly after all. But this year it is my excuse to recognize and appreciate the man I married, my best friend. You know those elderly couples you see walking hand in hand in the park? I know it sounds like another greeting card cliché, but they exist. I have seen them, and I want us to be them one day. I bet they went on lots of dates when their kids were young. Hallmark holiday or not.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

April 1971 at the Melrose house

That’s me on the front porch of the Melrose house in 1971. It must have been Easter or something. I wasn’t normally so fancy.

I played alone for hours outside the house where I grew up in Southfield, Michigan, daydreaming on the swing set or exploring the pastures and back woods, acting out books and creating my own worlds. A barn on the property housed several horses, and one of its three pastures doubled as a vegetable garden, which I helped my Uncle Lincoln plant and tend each summer. The modest ranch house with a screened-in carport anchored two acres of land, but it sat close to the gravel road, its doors always open to the stoppers-by who regularly bellied up to my Aunt Thelma’s table. Her kitchen smelled of coffee, cigarettes and bacon grease, a combination of odors that thirty-some years later still reminds me of home.

I left the house on Melrose at age 11 to move in with my father and his new wife, but I can still picture the kitchen table, where my aunt sat in her white quilted bathrobe, smoking cigarettes and writing letters, while Patsy Cline sang softly on the transistor radio. I can see my bedroom window at night, a bright light beckoning from an apartment building on Lahser Road, and hear the soothing hum of a train passing in the distance. I recall the gilded mirror with a photograph of a boy playing cowboys and Indians that hung on the wall of the rec room, or “rumpus room,” as my aunt and uncle called it. I remember the cobalt blue candy dish in the living room filled with butterscotches, which my uncle let me eat before dinner when my aunt wasn’t looking.

Whenever I dream of going home, even now, it is to that house.

With the holidays approaching, the Melrose house and my childhood there are on my mind more than ever. It was in that house that I knew safety, comfort and stability after losing my mother as a toddler. It was there that I discovered the importance of tradition and the meaning of family. It was there that I felt the unconditional love of two people who were my aunt and uncle but also my parents. And it was there that I unwittingly learned how to be a mother and make a house a home.

I miss my aunt and uncle, and the Melrose house, the most this time of year. An industrial park now stretches across their property, their house long since razed. Uncle Lincoln, my second father and best buddy, passed away when I was pregnant with my son, who is now 14. Aunt Thelma, the only mother I ever knew, died two years ago, four days before Christmas. As anyone who has lost one or both parent knows, there is something hollow and unsettling about spending the holidays without them, even if you have a family of your own and no matter how much time passes.

Although there is nothing left of my childhood home, I like to think it lives on through the life my time there helped me find. After the tumultuous teenage years I spent with my father and stepmother, I wandered lost and miserable through my early twenties. I was looking for something, I guess, but I had no idea what. When I met my husband, a quiet, thoughtful man much like my Uncle Lincoln, I realized all I ever wanted was what I had in that ranch house on the gravel road in Southfield: to feel safe and loved.

I’ll be home for Christmas. I am already there.

Say Hello, Good-Bye Girl


He sat at the counter with our daughter, telling tales from his trip to China, as I scurried around the kitchen. He described the fish skin dumpling soup he ate for breakfast in Shenzhen and the Jetsons-esque skyscrapers he saw in Shanghai; she chattered about cross country and honors math. I tried to focus on their conversation, to relax and enjoy having him home, but the perfect meal I wanted to serve wasn’t turning out as planned. The mashed potatoes were lumpy. The gravy was too thick. The beef brisket wasn’t big enough. It was my husband’s first dinner with us in 10 days, and I had ruined everything.

A few minutes later, we were seated at the table, and I watched the two of them devour the food on their plates. I apologized for the lumpy potatoes and inadequate brisket (there was actually plenty since our teenage son wasn’t home), and they dismissed my culinary self-consciousness and served themselves second helpings. The food was obviously at least edible, so why was I being so hard on myself?

It wasn’t about the dinner. It was about my husband leaving again in two days. He would barely have a chance to recover from his jet lag only to board another flight, and we would be saying good-bye all over again. I hate good-byes. I hate being left behind. I know these things about myself, but I can’t seem to control my fight-and-flight emotional response when people I love go away. My modus operandi is to pick a fight before the person leaves and then withdraw emotionally. It hurts a lot less when someone says good-bye if you were mad at him or her anyway. This time the fight was different, though, because I was having it with myself. Before I knew it, my husband would be walking out the door again. I wanted to appreciate our time together. I didn’t want to screw it up.

The next evening, I was alone in the kitchen as I made dinner. I poured a glass of wine and turned on some music. I thought about the fact that I had made it through 10 days without him. The next trip was only two days, the one after that seven. And in 11 days, it would all be over. I could manage. I would survive.

Dinner was perfect that night, or at least as perfect as salad and chicken parmesan with store-bought marinara can be. My husband and I took our dog for a walk afterward, holding hands and laughing as our crazy little Yorkie ran from one side of the street to the other. When we picked up our son from marching band practice, we cranked up Led Zeppelin and sang along in the high school parking lot.

Later, as I watched him pack his suitcase yet again, I realized that instead of worrying about the good-bye, I should relish the hello. And that night I did.

The Key to the Lock

I had been seeing her for a few weeks, and today’s session was no different from any of the others. I sat in her Chicago office nervously spewing my life’s stories, some from the present but most from the past, all the while hoping desperately for answers to the questions I was too afraid to ask. Why couldn’t I feel happiness? Why couldn’t I maintain a relationship? What was wrong with me?

As usual, she nodded occasionally, took random notes and said nothing. There were no comforting words. No supportive smiles. Does she think I’m crazy? Should I keep talking? How is this helping me?

Fifteen minutes into the session, I knew I couldn’t tolerate her stoic expression anymore. I couldn’t bear to regurgitate another story from my string of failed romances or my troubled relationship with my father and stepmother. If she wasn’t going to offer a diagnosis, I would have to ask for one. I wanted a label, something to which I could attach the pain, the fear, the emptiness. If I gave it a name, perhaps it would finally go away.

So I did it. I asked her the question I was most afraid to ask. I asked her what was wrong with me.

And she gave me the label I thought I wanted to hear: post-traumatic stress disorder.

But how could that be? I was a 26-year-old magazine editor. I had never served in the military or held a dangerous job. I had never been the victim or witness of a violent crime. How could I have PTSD?

She explained that children who lose a parent at a young age often experience PTSD symptoms, even into adulthood. My mother had died when I was a toddler. I had no memory of her death or any effect it might have had on me. But there it was: the reason I couldn’t visualize my own future, the reason I felt perpetually detached from others, the reason happiness seemed constantly out of reach, the reason change terrified me.

I had lived with my mother’s death all my life, yet I had no idea, until that moment, how much it had haunted me.

* * *

Several friends back home had told me about the “Love Lock” bridge in Paris, where couples attach locks to symbolize their undying love, and I had hoped to visit it during our family’s trip there earlier this month. But when you cram London, Paris and Amsterdam into a seven-day visit, some things just don’t make the cut on your itinerary. When we stumbled upon the bridge during our walk to Notre Dame, I was thrilled at the chance to squeeze it into our adventure.

Our visit to the bridge was unplanned, so we had to buy a lock and borrow a marker from a street vendor. I wrote our last name and the year on it, while my husband and children searched for a vacant spot on the lock-laden bridge. Apparently there is a lot of undying love in the City of Light. When we finally settled on a location and affixed the lock, I was overwhelmed with emotion. This trip had been both an ending and a beginning for us. Summer was over and my oldest child was about to start high school. I had spent much of the past few months struggling with my own fears about the changes in his life and ours. I had been worrying so much about all the bad things that could happen that I hadn’t been able to see the good.

As we stood there on that bridge in Paris — my husband of almost 18 years, my 14-year-old son, my 12-year-old daughter and 45-year-old me — I imagined my kids returning to it as adults. I saw them married with children of their own. I pictured my husband and me coming back as silver-haired grandparents. I knew we would be holding hands, and I knew we would still be in love.

On that bridge with my family, I saw the future for the first time in my life. And it was happy.


Love Lock Bridge, Paris, 2013

These Boots Are Made for Walking


I bought my first pair of cowboy boots in the seventh grade. It was 1980, the year “Urban Cowboy” was released, and western boots were a must for any budding fashionista. I saved for weeks to buy those boots, hoarding my allowance and babysitting, which I hated, to earn extra cash. My stepmother said I had champagne taste and a beer budget. Being only 12, I didn’t understand what that meant. All I knew was that the fawn-colored pigskin suede boots with white leather flowers cost $75, and I had to have them.

Thirty some years later, I still remember how proud I was when I plucked those boots off the shelf at the Scott Colburn western store in Livonia, Michigan, and handed my money to the cashier. They were a symbol of my individuality and confidence, and I wore the hell out of them. I wore them with leg warmers and prairie skirts; I tucked my jeans into them. I wore them till they needed new soles and were beyond out of style. And then one day I packed them away on a closet shelf and forgot them.

The Southern road trip my family took last week made me remember those long-lost boots and the strong, self-assured girl who wore them. After a lengthy monologue in which I ruminated over situations I cannot control, my husband set me straight in the lobby bar of the Peabody Hotel. “It’s a big world,” he said. “If you don’t like who’s in that corner of it, move to a different one.” What we don’t want to hear is often what needs to be said most. He was right: It was time to dust off my self-confidence and stop being a victim.

As we wandered down Broadway in Nashville a few afternoons later, I found myself as drawn to the western stores as the honky-tonks. I tried on boot after boot, but the perfect pair eluded me. The next day, an hour before we left town, I headed back to the first store we had visited to try on the boots I liked most. The fit wasn’t right, and the toes were too square. Disappointed, I looked for a larger size and noticed a pair I hadn’t seen the day before. They were exactly what I wanted: black, distressed leather with low heels and sharply pointed toes. They fit perfectly.

I wore my new boots out of the store and on the drive home from Nashville, and I have been wearing them ever since — to a party, to the grocery store, even in the carpool line at school. When I look down at them, I feel a wave of pleasure and pride. Like the flowered pair I bought in seventh grade, my new boots are a symbol of my individuality and confidence. But more important, they remind me of the much-needed earful I got in Memphis and my decision to leave my blues there, where they belong.

Hockey Skates and a Not-So-Lucky Cat

There are moments in marriage when you look at your significant other and remember why you got hitched in the first place. Of course, there are also moments when you wonder, “Who is this person, and why on earth did he just do that?” The best moments are a bit of both: His actions take you by surprise but in a way that makes you see him as you once did.

I never thought I’d find my husband of 16 years more attractive in a pair of hockey skates, but it happened two Sundays ago in Chicago.

School was about to resume after a two-week break, and everyone in our family was dreading Monday’s arrival. A friend suggested dim sum in Chinatown, and it sounded like the perfect beginning of a winter-break last hurrah. It was. We spent an hour at Phoenix Restaurant stuffing our faces with mostly unidentifiable but delicious steamed and deep-fried dumplings. Dim sum, like marriage, requires a leap of faith.

As we sipped our tea and patted our bellies full of heaven knew what, we decided the next leg of our journey would be shopping in Chinatown, followed by ice skating at Millennium Park. My 13-year-old wasn’t interested in shopping or skating, but I promised him an overpriced hot chocolate at the Park Grill and he kindly acquiesced. My 11-year-old wanted some panda paraphernalia for her collection, and I was dying to find a “lucky cat” (a.k.a. maneki-neko) to add to my tchotchke trove. Five (more like 10) stores later, our daughter scored a panda coffee mug, and I settled on a bright-eyed mama cat with a full litter of kittens, figuring all the babies made her extra lucky. With our dining and shopping needs satiated, we headed to the rink.

My not-so-lucky cat

My not-so-lucky cat

My new cat may have been cute and fertile, but she didn’t seem to have much going on in the luck department. We spent at least 30 minutes trying to find parking, and when we finally arrived at Millennium Park, the wait for renting skates was an hour. My daughter brought her own skates, which meant she could hit the ice immediately. But what fun would it be to skate alone? When my husband saw the dejected look on her face, he donned his super hero cape and hatched a solution. All we had to do, he said, was hop a cab across town to the nearest Sports Authority and buy him a pair of skates. It was an impetuous, overindulgent and completely out-of-character move, and it thrilled both my daughter and me.

Thirty minutes, two cab rides and about $65 later, Super Dad was slipping and sliding across the ice in a brand-new pair of hockey skates. I enjoyed the warmth and libations of the Park Grill with my son, both of us laughing as we watched our super hero try to keep up with our figure skater in training. The man had no clue how to skate, but he knew how to make his daughter happy.

I’m not banking on my not-so-lucky Chinatown cat winning me any lottery jackpots, but she makes me smile every time I look at her on my living room bookshelf. She reminds me of a day when I remembered why I love my husband so much. And so do those hockey skates in the garage.

Super Dad and the figure skater

Super Dad and the figure skater


P.S. Thank you so much for all the supportive comments on my post about quitting smoking. I’ve been smoke-free for 21 days now, and I feel great. It truly helps to know you guys have my back.