HOMETOWN(S) Moorestown, NJ / Maplewood, NJ
GOOGLE+ Brian Glaser
ON THE WEB BaristaKids.com
NUMBER OF CHILDREN One
FAVORITE CHILD if applicable* (we’re joking*) We often feel bad for other parents who don’t have the best kid in the world, as we happened to meet him almost two years ago.
DAY JOB Web Editor, Corporate Counsel Magazine
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
Would you believe me if I said “seamlessly”? I know, it’s absurd…but it often feels that way to me. I work hard during the day (with plenty of pictures of the boy and the missus at my desk, to keep me focused), and then when I come home I’m all Daddy and Hubby. Evenings and weekends, I make sure to keep my eye on the important things: some time as a family, some time with just the kid & me, some time with just the wife & me, and also a little bit of time just for me. Two years into being parents I have found the balance holding pretty well, and based on the experience thus far I’m optimistic that our equilibrium will continue to roll with the changes.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
Perhaps the biggest change is that both the process of becoming and the reality of being a parent have made me rearrange the bigger-picture plans my wife and I had—and I found I was naturally and totally OK with that.
When we moved from the city to the ‘burbs, the idea was for me to quit my job, stay at home with the kid, do a little freelance work, and eventually earn a part-time graduate degree that would propel me into a new career when our son started going to school. My wife, a textile designer, was the breadwinner, and as a writer/editor my career and skill set were easier to adapt to being home.
But then the baby thing didn’t happen the way we’d planned. And then just as we’d gotten that sorted and became parents to the best kid ever, the economy thing put my wife out of work and tightened up her industry. So I went and got myself a better job, which required more work (for more pay, more prospects, etc.), and my wife stayed home and started to build a part-time work situation for herself.
All of which is working out great for everyone—especially for our son, who has an attentive and available parent on call during the work week, and I am able to do my bit to provide the resources to make sure he has every opportunity he should (plus we have plenty of father/son time when I’m off the clock). Much of the arrangement is not quite the picture I had in my mind back when, and I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I have nothing but positive feelings about my role in our family ecosystem.
HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
The process of trying (and not succeeding) to have a biological child, followed by the process of preparing for adoption, all served to make my wife and I into an air-tight, battle-hardened unit.
We were a team with a single voice, we had each other’s backs, and you messed with us at your peril.
That sense of team play carried right into being parents: it feels to me that we are Mom & Dad as a fairly seamless entity, and our son seems to get that. He rarely plays favorites, is just as happy to be with either of us, and thrilled to be with both. And beyond the childrearing, as we get into issues about work or logistics or getting on each other’s nerves or any of that marriage-y stuff, my wife and I continue to treat each other as members of the same team, which helps us be pretty good at working it all out.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
I think my biggest strength as a parent is that I very clearly remember what it was like to be a little boy. When my son is doing something fun (like hiding in the hamper and jumping up to surprise me), I can viscerally recall why and how it’s fun, and I’m able to get right in that “kid mode” to play with him. At that moment, I’m not an adult supervisor during playtime so much as a fellow playmate who just happens to be able to reach the stuff on the higher shelves.
My biggest (and perhaps related) weakness is that I can get so into the flow of my son having fun that I often forget to step back and teach him things. So if he’s referring to something wordlessly, I’ll frequently just do the same instead of teaching him the word. Those shapes and animals and colors aren’t going to name themselves, are they? I find myself having to make an effort to pause my own playing and give him a little grownup knowledge.
WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
Just like me, my wife had to adapt to different circumstances than she’d been expecting, and she’s done it splendidly. Her biggest strength is probably that she doesn’t hold a grudge—not only in her relations with me, but as a parent. Which means that when some parenting task turns out to be way tougher than she was expecting, or when the kid wears her down on a tough day, she doesn’t hold that in and carry it over. Within an hour she can be right back where she needs to be for our son, and with a smile on her face.
Her other big strength is having married a guy smart enough not to speculate about any of her weaknesses in a Q&A on the web.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
Our son is in daycare a few days a week, which again wasn’t exactly the original plan (see above). But we signed him up when my wife needed to be able to look for and complete freelance assignments…and he started loving it so much that it seemed foolish to view it as anything but a plus in the overall childrearing scheme. It got him socializing with other kids right off the bat, he’s been learning things there at a rate we’d have been hard-pressed to match at home, and on the days he goes to daycare he comes home in a particularly good mood.
An unexpected bonus: The daycare center people have been through all this before and they know what they’re doing, which cannot always be said of the rookie parents my son has. Sometimes we come to pick him up, and they tell us something he needs that never occurred to us…and so far, they’ve always been right.
For example, as our son was slowly putting together the elements of walking, one day they told me, “He needs hard-soled shoes.” We changed his footwear, and in less that a week our son was walking like a champ.
DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS?AND IF SO, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?
We adopted our son from birth, which means we’re the only parents he’s ever known…but it also means he has a bio-mom and bio-dad out there. It’s not something we have to deal with too much in these first couple of years, but we maintain regular contact with his birthmom and keep both bio-parents updated with photos as he grows up.
We know we’ll be able to tell him that he’s got even more people who love him, etc., but we don’t yet know how he’ll react at each stage, nor what he’s going to need from all of us as he processes and understands his story. While the adoption process effectively ended some time ago, we’re keenly aware that we will need to keep making adjustments, as a family, at many points along the road.
But what parents don’t have to, right?
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
What made me think I could reach the spare diapers before my son would take it upon himself to roll off of the changing table? And why didn’t I use the blatantly available strap to keep him in place? I still have no idea. Luckily the drop didn’t hurt him, but it was probably the first real object lesson that my inattentive mistakes as a newbie parent had the potential to do some serious harm to the little guy. Lesson learned. Sorry ‘bout that, buddy.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
Without a doubt, the two weeks we spent in Texas after our son was born. As adoptive parents, my wife and I didn’t get to have the “pregnancy experience,” but we got an intense, emotional, and unforgettable adventure all our own. Our son was born several weeks premature in a small town in Texas. We rushed there within 24 hours of his birth and got our first parenting lessons during his time in the NICU.
We were far from home and only had each other to focus on, the three of us figuring each other out a little bit at a time. When he was released from the hospital into our care, our new family spent several days in a hotel room (waiting for the inter-state adoptive paperwork to clear), where our son slept in a suitcase we’d rigged up as a makeshift bassinet. There were no visitors, no familiar sights & sounds, just three people taking care of each other as best we could. When we got the all-clear to fly back to NJ, we’d already given this weeks-old boy a lifetime of parenting and love, and he’d already started giving it right back.