NAME, AGE & HOMETOWN I’m Debbie Grillo and I have exactly three more months left in my thirties. I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. It’s the capital city of our province and well known for its Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. It’s the one weekend a year I pretend I’m not a parent and party like it’s 1999.
GOOGLE+ Debbie Boyce Grillo
ON THE WEB WildMudTurtle (personal blog)
NUMBER OF CHILDREN When my youngest turns 13 in May, I’ll be the mother of two especially active teenagers. Both of my children do well academically, play basketball competitively, and swim. My oldest will be lifeguarding by next summer. In addition to the two kids, we have the cutest little Shih Tzu puppy who was one year old in June.
DAY JOB I’m a high school English teacher, and that keeps me busy day and night for ten months a year. In addition to teaching, I also act as the teacher advisor for our school’s Peer Mentor group. I truly love what I do. Teenagers are wonderful and fascinating. It is so rewarding to watch them learn, grow and gain an appreciation and love for reading and writing. While that doesn’t happen for every one of my students, it is also rewarding to encourage and build relationships with students who resist what school has to offer. It’s a challenge that I dive into over and over with enthusiasm and passion.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
I co-parent with my husband Glenn, and he is the most amazing step-father in the world. We met online when my children were in pre-school, shortly after we each separated from our first spouses. He is from New Jersey, and because he has no biological children of his own, he happily moved to Canada to be with me and my children just over a year after we first met. We’ve been together now for over nine years and married for seven.
Our children rarely see their biological father, so Glenn fulfills the father role. My children are lucky to have such an active and caring dad. The kids call Glenn ‘Crickett’ which is our last name in Spanish. He’s Italian, but ‘Crickett’ sounds much better than ‘Grasshopper’, our family name in Italian. Because I am a teacher, my schedule aligns well with my kids’ schedules. For the most part, I’m home when they are. Because Glenn and I both work, our kids have their chores.
My son is the first one home and he takes the dog out, empties the dishwasher, brings the laundry to the laundry room and separates it, and takes the recycling out. My daughter attends the same high school where I teach, and she travels to and from school with me. This year we’ve started the tradition of playing the same song, ‘Girl Named Tennessee’ by Need to Breathe, on our two minute commute. It’s a fun and positive way to start our day. When we get home, she helps me start supper, folds and puts the laundry away and starts her homework.
Glenn is Mr. Organization. Our house is always neat and company-ready and it has very little to do with me. A year ago, I graduated with my Masters of Education in Literacy. I completed the program in two years, and it altered our home life in a big way. Glenn really picked up my slack. As parents and partners, Glenn and I share similar goals and work together to achieve them. So, when working on my masters, he took over many of the things that I would normally do. Although he always cooked, cleaned and taxied the children to their various activities, during those two years he did even more of it, and quite happily so.
Even though we’re a busy family, family dinners are important to us. It keeps us connected and in touch with each other and gives us time, almost every day, where all four of us are together. For example, this coming week we have church, school, work, youth group, bible study, four basketball practices and a swimming lesson; we will still manage to have five family dinners together.
BEST AND WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
My worst parenting moment would probably have been standing by and allowing my ex-husband to ‘parent’ in a way that went against my core beliefs. In turn, my best parenting moment was when I left that unhealthy relationship. I believe in the Dr. Phil-ism that children would rather come from a broken home, than live in one. I couldn’t wait around for my ex to get his act together any longer; it was affecting my children and who they were becoming. They are, and I am, lucky to have such a loving example in Glenn of what a father and husband should be.
Glenn is sixteen years my senior, so nine years ago when he was nearing fifty, he inherited a six year old and a three year old, two very active children. The learning curve was huge. At that point, the children still visited their father regularly. As a couple, we took the time we had alone to grow closer and bond. It was necessary for our young marriage. Today, we parent full-time, but still find time to spend alone together. Instead of spending whole weekends alone, now we are happy to steal away an hour or two. Our marriage is a happy and solid union.
Although I love and take pride in my job as a teacher, my most important job is mothering my not so little kids. We only have another decade, give or take a year or two, before they leave us with an empty nest. While some days, when life seems too busy, that idea seems inviting, we are doing everything we can to raise them with love, responsibility, integrity and a whole lot of fun.