Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters


mixed marriage

Stitching Together the Constellation of Us

I’ve focused on a lot of topics in my blog over the past year – twindom, football, politics, family, and school — but one topic I’ve never really discussed at length is the extreme distances that were overcome in order for me, a small town girl living in a lonely world and Mike, a city boy born and raised in south Detroit to become what we are today: a crazy, chaotic well-blended postmodern family, complete with toddler twin boys, grown adult daughters, a couple of grandkids (with another on the way) and an arthritic dachshund.


Now our love story is far from typical. But then again, it’s also classic. And I think you could even argue it’s entirely commonplace. I guess it’s a little of everything all rolled into one.

And it was definitely written in the stars. Stars in alignment long before we knew one another. Stars that were galaxies and galaxies apart. Stars scattered like fairytale breadcrumbs, like metaphysical connect-the-dots, like paint-by-numbers serendipity. Stars patterned by God and physics and football to bring the two of us together.

Mike grew up in the frozen tundra of pure Michigan. A place of legends. A place of snow and ice and everything nice. I remember the first time I ever visited. It was the holidays. There would be snow. On Christmas. It was gonna be epic. And then I landed. “Welcome to Detroit,” the pilot announced. “The temperature is currently zero degrees, and there’s a wind chill of negative fourteen.”  Hmmph. Maybe not so epic after all.

And me, I grew up in a hotbed of humidity, where we steam your dumplings and sauce your giblets. Where it’s too hot for Satan – which is the real reason we’re known as the bible belt. Where swamp ass ain’t just a condition, it’s a way of life.  Mike came here for the football — the second reason this is known as God’s country.

So, yes. There were some miles between us to overcome. But that was nothing the universe couldn’t handle. But then, there were also the years…

You see, my husband and I are eleven-and-a-half years apart — and not in the traditional, socially-acceptable, romantic Hollywood couple sense because… well, I’m the older one.

Did you hear that? The tires screeching? The record scratching? The world’s axis grinding to a halt?

Yeah, me neither. But I did worry about that in the beginning, when we first started dating. I was totally stressed out that I was upsetting the natural order of things and that the world would suddenly stop spinning and people would start staring. And pointing. And judging.

And believe it or not, even though I write a blog that encourages me and you and  everyone else I know to stand up against injustices and double-standards, encourages us all to go against the grain, to be individuals, to be rebels, and lovers, and fighters, I’m still an incredibly private and sensitive person who has deep-seated insecurities. It’s really easy to be brave when hiding behind a computer screen in the privacy of my own home. It’s another thing entirely when I can see and hear people talking smack about me. And I know for a fact that we got some of that in the beginning of our relationship.

Now I told you our love is the trifecta of contradictions – it’s atypical, classic, and commonplace all at the same time. And since I’ve explored the major atypical bits, let me jump ahead to the commonplace…

We met in THE most common of places: work. And after half a semester of lunches ‘round the teachers’ work room table, I invited him to my Christmas shindig.

Now let me say right up front, there were no, as in absolutely ZERO, ulterior motives behind the invite. He simply ate with my crew at lunch –and since I’d invited all the rest, it would’ve been downright rude not to invite him. Besides, he’s hysterically inappropriate, and every party needs a heaping helping of that. Plus vodka. It needs that, too.

So he came to my party. He brought the jaeger. I supplied the potato juice. Things progressed quickly. It was a match made in heaven – truly an orbital realignment of stellar properties from the very first kiss.

Yeah, that kiss threw me ass-over-tea-kettle right from the get-go. But I was also really, really terrified to let it show.  I was forty-one, after all, and he was two weeks shy of thirty.

I got a lot of cougar jokes. (I know you were wondering.) I got bookoodles of cougar jokes. They cut me. Every time. I would shrug them off, trying hard to deflect the pain with a joke or a giggle, but they knocked chink after chink into my relatively flimsy confidence.

And I also had concerned and loyal friends who worried about me. Worried a lot. It’ll never last, they said. Your heart will be broken, they said. Watch out, they said.

And to be perfectly honest, I was afraid they were right. I did my research. I tried to find couples who matched our gender/age ratio who were actually going the distance. I found a few celebrity prototypes: Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins; Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon. They gave me hope. They boosted my confidence. But then, over the course of Mike’s and my relationship, those rare and beautiful unicorns crumbled under the weight of Father Time’s death march. Both couples separated and divorced.

So I feel a bit like we are in unchartered, unsanctioned waters. Even to this day my insecurities get me at times. Twelve is a lot of years, David.

But then I think about the classic nature of our love and how it is made of far sterner stuff than time. It is made of two hearts beating to the syncopation of the stars that stitch up the constellation of us. They blaze and gleam in the wink of his eye, the flicker in my pulse, the flash of his smile, the flare in my chest, the heat in his soul and my answering own.

Our love is dense and wide and galactically strong. It is timeless.



Our dishwasher has the longest cycle of any machine I’ve ever encountered. An elephant’s menstrual cycle is only slightly longer. It runs for 2 hours and 83 minutes.(The dishwasher, not the elephant.) Not kidding here. It seems unheard of. I’ve never been around one as dedicated and hard working. What makes this so incredibly irritating is that we can’t run the dishwasher unless the boys are asleep or absentee because they like to push buttons. All buttons. The ice and water buttons on the fridge (we had to put it on lock-down mode– I didn’t even know a fridge had such a thing!), the buttons on the oven, the buttons on the remote control, the buttons on their parents (every damn day), the buttons on their parents’ cell phones… the list goes on and on. You name it, they push it. So if we run the dishwasher while they’re awake, inevitably it gets stopped somewhere, mid-cycle. And they’re so stealthy about it that we never see or hear them do it.

We’ve tried for four days to run our dishwasher. Four. But, sadly, because we are the parents of twins who have decided that sleeping is overrated and shouldn’t necessarily be applicable to them  – well one twin in particular these days — we continuously forget to run said dish washer because our minds are M.I.A. So we currently have no dishes in our cabinets. None. Every dinner, salad, and dessert plate – even every coffee saucer (because we ate breakfast off of those this morning) — is dirty and festering in its own detritus waiting for us to run the load. And we just can’t seem to manage it.

Which makes the task at hand – preparing our New Year’s Day feast – rather difficult. I’ve been closely examining the contents of the dishwasher – sniffing glasses and squinting at fork tines – to determine whether or not I need to take forensic countermeasures with a brillo pad and hot water. I decided it was easier to just pull out the Vodka and pour myself a drink and let the alcohol kill the germs. Besides, I hadn’t properly rung in the New Year yet. Mike and I fell asleep last night before 10:30. Tate and his propensity for middle-of-the-night wake-up calls are beginning to take their toll.

But let’s talk about New Year’s Day in the South. It’s a beautiful conglomeration of country fare: black-eyed peas and collard greens, buttermilk cornbread and sweet tea. And I do it all. Well, except for the sweet tea. I told you already, I’m not a tea-totaler 😉 And I may be Southern, but I’m not Southern Baptist. So I threw back a couple of vodka tonics while I cranked up my veggies because I like my potatoes fermented. Not mashed. And not fried.

But it’s not all peas and greens and potato juice at our table on New Year’s Day. Remember, we’re a mixed marriage, so we’ve got ourselves a mixed menu.  Mike contributes his cultural heritage, too.  He makes his family’s duk guk. It sounds incredibly wrong — like something feculent at the bottom of a millpond. But it tastes incredibly right — like seventh heaven in a soup bowl, complete with seaweed and rice cakes. It’s my second-favorite thing my husband does for me… but I digress.


Now the boys won’t eat any of the above-mentioned goodness. And it’s not that they are the kind of kids who will only eat chicken nuggets and French fries (although they love those too.) They’ve been raised on multicultural menus their entire two-and-a-half years on this planet. Their favorite foods are Korean curry and chicken n dumplings. Sadly, though, they draw the line on vegetables of almost any variety, so beans and greens are entirely out of the question. And it saddens me, but while my mom and Mike and I feasted on soul food and Seoul food, the boys feasted on Cheez-its and the bacon reserved for crumbling atop the collards. Oh, and some random bites of cornbread. If tonight’s any indicator, I won’t be winning any mother of the year awards in 2017.

But I am winning. Even when I fail.

Even when the boys have minor (and major) meltdowns in Aisle 3 of the new Kroger — and then again in Aisles 8 and 12. (Which happened today while we were shopping for our duk guk and greens, by the way.) Even then, I am still winning. Because I have been given the opportunity to mother four exquisite, perfectly imperfect children who show me the secrets of the universe every single time that they smile. They bring me a joy that cannot be described nor contained.

So, yes, I am winning. Even when I fail. Even when I have minor (and major) meltdowns because I feel like I am inadequate. Like Mike deserves someone better. Someone younger and more energetic and maybe even more Asian who can truly appreciate his passion for all things Ramen and Star Wars and technological. Even then, I am still winning. Because when he wraps me in a big, warm hug and looks me squarely in the eyes, I know I am right where I belong. He is my destiny and I am his. Star Wars fanatic or not.seoultrain

Yes, I am winning. Even when I fail. Even when I have minor (and major) meltdowns because I feel like I can never be all that I should be as a teacher for my students. Hell, if I can’t even remember to run my own dishwasher, how in the blankety-blank am I supposed to properly impart kernels of truth and wisdom to the young minds of Bartow County? But I am still winning. Because even though I teach them about life and literature, they teach me so much more. About life and about living it. The wisdom of American youth should never be underestimated.

Yes, I am winning.

By the way, my first favorite thing my husband does for me is his curry. His thick, brown, spicy, Korean curry.  Happy New Year, ya filthy animals.


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