• Son and partner of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley by harbor
    Parenting

    What Does it Mean to Be a Dad?

    What does it mean to be a dad? It was one of those sweltering days in the summer, the kind where it’s a little hard to breathe, and I sat at a picnic table at a New York state park with Tommy and Claire. About 50 feet away, Austin was lying down on a bench, with Chris by his side. Up until that point, our car trip to Maine had been pretty uneventful. Austin, easy middle child that he is, had offered to sit in the way back so his sister and brother wouldn’t get carsick. He read a book and we didn’t hear from him for almost 5 hours.…

  • Son of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley eats ice cream with a friend
    Parenting

    Make a Prediction

    Tommy is learning all sorts of things in school this year, and since he’s learning them from our dining room, sometimes the whole family takes part in his lessons. Last week, he ran into the kitchen screaming, “I need to find something that starts with the letter T!” which led to a mad scramble as we all tried to think of an object that fit that description. His teacher is doing the impossible job of keeping dozens of 6-year-olds engaged, and part of that entails having a schedule with breaks. During these breaks, the kids often have “assignments” to complete, and either Chris or I will take a few minutes…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Parenting

    They Were So Little

    I love Facebook memories. I know lots of widows hate them, because it reminds them of what they’ve lost. But most of my memories are of my children, which I think makes it easier from a grief standpoint. They’re often photographs or videos that Shawn took and they remind me what he found hilarious or adorable about the kids. When we were first parents, we were debating with some other parents about whether it was okay to put your kids’ images online. “I think being able to document their young lives is actually pretty cool,” Shawn said. “I mean, think about it. They’re going to have this great record of…

  • Drawing of family by son of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Parenting

    Relationship to Student

    The thing about the start of school is that it’s filled with a million “get to know you” questionnaires and projects. What’s your favorite color? Do you prefer to do math or read a book? What TV shows do you watch? Who is in your family? Oh, yes, there’s always that last one. It’s an important one, and as a teacher, I don’t shy away from it either. It’s vital to understanding more about the student in front of you. And yet, I now know what a bomb it can feel like to answer that question, especially if all of the other kids are making posters with a mom, a…

  • Boyfriend of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley watches children in ocean
    Parenting

    Family Resemblance

    I was walking with Claire on a mostly-deserted trail when we saw a man coming towards us. We moved to the side to let him pass and he asked, “Is that your family up ahead?” About 30 minutes earlier, all three kids had been ready to quit the hike. There were so many mosquitos and everyone was really hot. Chris had done the hike many times before, and kept trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to encourage the kids to “just keep going!” Finally, in a fit of desperation, Austin ran ahead, though Claire refused to do the same. Chris volunteered to catch up with Austin. He was also carrying Tommy on his…

  • Food on table for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Parenting

    Highs and Lows

    Every night at dinner, we go around the table and share our highs and lows. Usually, Claire’s highs revolve around some sort of fun activity (“baking cakes with mom!”) and Austin’s highs are often about the food we are eating (he is my child who really loves my cooking, bless him.) Tommy is more of a wild card. With less ability to carefully reflect on his day, he often copies Austin or says something nonsensical. But over the past week he’s had a theme: his father. Tommy still calls Shawn by his name, something I’ve tried long and hard to change but I’ve come to accept. The thing is, Tommy…