Monday, January 29, 2007


In a family of three, it is bound to feel like a triangle sometimes.

In our family it is Em and i, and then the Mister.

I know he feels left out, he has said so.

Some of it is because Em and i are both female, there is inevitably some bonding over tampons and bras and giggling over ultra-thin maxi pads or ultra-thick mini pads.
Some of it is because we are quite similar in personality and that brings a natural affinity too. Some of it is because she and i spend more time together than she and the Mister. I hear all about her day on the way home from school, and by the time the Mister gets home she doesn't want to tell him about it. It's old news.

When we eat dinner, Em positions her body so that she is facing me. She looks at me more, and is very attuned to my facial expressions. I don't think she is doing this consciously. In fact, i often wish she would be less attuned to me. I can't even heave a sigh (which i do with embarrassing frequency) without her asking me what's wrong.

Sometimes a sigh is just a sigh, you know?

I have tried to suggest to the Mister that he make an effort to spend some time with her without me there. This usually translates into him taking her to a bookstore and buying her a bunch of books. Which is not really what i had in mind.

Of course sometimes the fact that Em and i are similar leads us into the bitterest fights. We know just how to get to one another. I wish i could say that i always take the high ground when we fight, but i would be lying if i did. I mean, i try, but sometimes i act like a total wacko bitch.

Poor Mister. One hormonal teenager and one hormonal menopauser.


A blog that i read that i don't know why more people aren't reading:


Anonymous said...

Hey, I get to post first.


Poor Mister.

Lucky you.

Lucky Em.

That's all I dare write so that I can post first!

thailandchani said...

Oh, yeah.. I can kind of understand where the Mister is coming from... but if he takes more time to develope an independent relationship with her, it will get better. But, ya know, guys just aren't really good at that! LOL



Anonymous said...

This is relevant to me today because last night we read the Ask Amy advice column in which Amy said an involved father could influence a daughter's decisions about sexual activity. My husband indicated he was clueless, so I tried to explain why I thought she was right. He didn't get it, and I won the argument by default because, although I couldn't name any fathers or daughters who fit the bill, I certainly could name plenty of messed up girls with uninvolved fathers. (Sorry, a bit of a tangent, not a reflection on the Mister at all.)

Lucia said...

What a lovely photo to illustrate three. In human interactions, with three, isn't it inevitable that someone feels a little left out? Maybe you should suggest some specifics to the mister so he gets the hang of what might help in their bonding.

Lynnea said...

I don't know that I have anything much new to add here. I like Lucia's suggestion of specifics. It is inevitable with so many factors that you two would be closer, but the fact that he feels left out is a great sign in that he cares and if book buying is his best for now I suppose its a start. My daughter is only two so I will have to wait to see how this develops in our dynamic. In other words, I'm shooting from the hip here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the endorsement, meno. It means a lot to receive a plug from someone who's writing I admire, enjoy and respect.

Some of what the Mister is experiencing could be complicated by the fact that women communicate differently from men. For most of the men in my life, "a sigh IS just a sigh" (I like this about them), but the women in my life, like em, to tend look deeper into these things. Girls are trained from an early age to be intuitive about the needs of others, in addition to inquiring about those needs. Men and boys usually aren't trained in asking the "right" questions. Those who do, tend to learn in it as a trial by fire.

It's hard to reacquaint yourself with your children, by the time that they're em's age. They have their own interests, friends, and opinions. He may need more guidance from you on how to bond with em. It can the most important investment in their relationship that he makes.

QT said...

Maybe he should take Em dad and I did that throughout my teenage years and it was so fun. Saturday mornings, after a pancake breakfast.

I'm a nerd, I can't help it.

urban-urchin said...

I have to second what De Aufiero said. In addition to reading that study, my husband told me once that all the girls that were the most sexually promiscious when he was growing up (and that he-whore would have known) had strained at best relationships with their fathers. Neitherr pertains to Em.

I know what you mean about being outnumbered. My husband feels better now that the playing field is numbered. It was the house of estrogen for a good 5 1/2 years.

amusing said...

according to the books I've read on divorce, on being a military brat [daughter], etc. I should have been a promiscuous creature into all sorts of problems. I went the other route -- wanted nothing to do with boys, stayed a virgin until my mid 20s. So the studies and theories and can drive you crazy. Same sort of thing says my boys will do drugs, get into trouble and send me to an early grave; I choose not to believe them.

I suspect women have "talks" looking eye-to-eye over coffee while men like to have "talks" standing side by side doing something else. (Fishing, urinal, driving, bowling) (That second one wouldn't really be an option for Em....)

meno said...

holly, aren't you cute? I've never before had someone excited to leave the first comment. *smiling*

chani, i can understand it too. What if we'd had twin boys? I know i'd feel left out.

de, i read that too. The father is the first man that girls have a relationship with. So that's what they learn. Glad our men are here with our girls.

lucia, thanks! I did suggest some things tonight. I know he wants to spend more time with her, but life gets lived too fast. Gotta do it now.

maggie, i am eagerly awaiting your developing realtionship with your daugter. I know you are doing an amazing job with your son.

patches, i love your blog too. You're welcome. It's true that it is complicated by the gender difference. I also agree that it's important for him to make it his business to spend some time alone with her. They both need it.

qt, that's a good idea. I love bowling, and pancakes. I also love nerds.

u-u, we only had the one child, so balance is out of the question at this point. They were closer when she was younger. I think that might be common. But we need to figure out a way to reverse the decline. (In our house we call it the mensesfest!)

SUEB0B said...

Thanks for the Clawless shout out. It is great.

It never changes. My dad is 88, mom is 80, and we still gang up on the poor guy. More so now that he is getting deaf and we can talk to each other right in front of him without him catching on. We are horrible.

Andrea Frazer said...

My kids and I are very close. I'm sure my hubby will be in the mister's shoes one day. Thanks for the candor.

shara said...

Imagine my own personal Mister, two girls a year apart, teenage years looming ahead, and a wife who digs things out of the trash to make odd creations with, menopause looming (glowing?) ahead. I'd feel bad for the poor guy if he wasn't such a pain in my ass sometimes. (But I say that lovingly, in much the same way I sometimes refer to my children as "those little shits".)

Anonymous said...

My husband is the only man in a house full of women - my girls are nine and seven. He's smart, though - he's already built enough bathrooms in the house that every girl can have her own when it starts to get hormone-ugly around here; the only one he'll have to share with is me, and he's pretty used to me by now.

I'm really hoping to have a close relationship with both of my girls. I had a rotten role model for mother-daughter interaction, so I'm going at this without a reliable map. I'm working hard at a good, solid bond NOW, though, so it will - hopefully - carry us through the tough bits on the horizon...

karmic said...

Heh. I feel Mister's pain, but I have to say he has to connect better as you so rightly put it.

I know that sometimes I need to spend more time with *A* who is my wife. Buying her gifts does nto do that, I learnt that a long time ago. :)
BTW. I knew someone who was the only guy in the family. His wife, and 3 daughters, two were twins, they must be in their teens now.
Will look at clawless.

Bob said...

I am afraid that I am The Mister too, in our house. I do not make friends well and, as bad as this may sound, neither of my kids are people that I would have been drawn to as a friend. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids more than anything (except my wife - not less, just differently). I spent more time with them as children than as teenagers. My son is much like me, he is introverted and difficult to know. My daughter is outgoing and makes friends easily. She and my wife are close. I wish I had had it in me to be closer to them, but I don't know how to be anyone other than myself. I don't know if that is a copout or not. I don't feel I am distant from them, but I'm not buddy-buddy with them either. I'm not buddy-buddy with anyone except Laura, and my roommate from college.

I will always be there for my children, I just hope they know that.

Anonymous said...

Meno, I'm not cute. I'm pathetic. But at least I'm out and about pathetic. No closet for me, no siree.

Mother of Invention said...

I have no great insights at all but I do know that the same sex parent is always the major influence during the early years. Maybe this just continues naturally. Although, in my family of 3 daughters, we all bonded closely (and still are)to our dad. He just happens to be very expressive and sensitive.

I guess I'd try to get Em and her dad to try different activities where it might be conducive to conversatio and sharing feelings, memories etc. Canoeing, a walk or hike?

meno said...

amusing, i am a military brat also, but my parents are still married to each other. I was also a pretty straight arrow growing up, although i didn't wait until my mid 20s. :) I think who your boys turn out to be has much to do with their personalities, not always with their circumstances.

suebob, In my family, it's my dad and i who used to gang up on my mom. We don't do it anymore. Too bad, it was fun. See I am horrible too.

mamap, time to build those relationships now. The Mister was busy at work alot back then. His loss i say.

shara, poor guy. Do you ever post pictures of your odd creations?

mrs.chili, i too had a rotten role model. The good news is that you don't have to mother like you were mothered. Yay!

sanjay, it's so easy to put it off because we are busy. Sometimes later becomes never. Get on that! :)

bob, the Mister is an extrovert, so that's not it. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you invite your daughter to lunch sometime. My dad and i used to do that and i loved it, even though we are both awkward types.

holly, Pathetic and Proud! Right on. So, you must be in-between rewrites right now.

MOI, I used to be closer to my dad too. I will encourage him to do something with her.

Imez said...

I've always considered your blog one big real-life love letter to your daughter. She is your favorite thing. That isn't quite your topic.

I had a couple fancy dinners out, just me and dad growing up. I remember them fondly.

Mona Buonanotte said...

My daughter is only 7, but our shared stubbornheadedness has already gotten us our share of fights. I can only hope we both chill out before she hits her teen years.

egan said...

What sort of suggestions for Mister and Em do you have? Have you shared them with him? You've probably already gone this route, but it can't hurt to suggest it.

Do you pay Mister as much attention as Em?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for wondering, Meno. I submitted the novel and I'm about to begin a nonfiction book about one of the Dr. Mengele/Auschwitz twins. Both the novel and the nonfiction book will be released in the spring of '08. Right now, I'm just a slug in flannel pjs. It's sweet.

Anonymous said...

thank you for this. we are having some of the same here, w/ J not understanding why M is so attached to me.
truth be told, i'd hate to be the guy on the outside even though inside has it's limits too.

meno said...

esereth, huh. i didn't think i taked about Em so much, but she is a huge part of my life so maybe i do.

mona, ha ha ha ha. Good luck with the chilling out thing. It seems that the traits that kids have become more exaggerated when they become teens.

egan, things they have in common. Books, movies that i don't want to see, coffee. Yes, and yes. I spend a lot more time with the Mister as Em is mostly off in her own world.

holly, so the nonfiction is a light-hearted romp? Just teasin' Wow. You'll be sure to let me know when/what they are won't you?

jen, i too would hate to be the guy on the outside. Especially in my own family.

Tink said...

Before there were my brothers, my brothers' father, or my stepdad... There was my Mom and me. We're best friends. We've been yelled at by family members for being "too close." We've been accused of outing people, although we never meant to. It's tough. But I wouldn't (couldn't?) change it ever.

Anonymous said...

That must be very tough. Stumpy and I are like that but because there isn't a third person it doesn't have the same effects. Although, I've noticed my mother seems very jealous of how we get on! Hang in there and do keep suggesting that they spend quality time together. The lunch thing might be good for them too - you know, a more grown up kind of father/daughter thing.

Bobealia... said...

I read this yesterday and then the Mister (mine) distracted me and I never commented, so now all my wit has flown out the window and I have no idea what I was going to say other than I love your "voice" and you are awesome. Oh, and I think this kind of relationship is very common between moms and daughters. Like it's more intense in all areas. At least it is for me and my mom.

egan said...

Cool, just checking is all. That's a mighty short list of things in common, but I suppose that goes with the age.

meno said...

tink, you are lucky to have that kind of relationship with your mother, the family members are jealous, i am too.

platypus, it's tough for the Mister, sometimes. I think my mother is jealous of how Em and i get on too.

bo, well thank you, that's a nice compliment and i shall let it go to my head directly.

egan, i guess they have more in common that that, but those are the things that came into my head at the time.

Julie said...

I think the photo is a beautiful addition to your thoughts. Funny how family dynamics play out. Coming from a very large family, I wish I had been closer to my mother growing up. Em's a very lucky girl.