a little providence with beer on the side

It's been rough. Poor sonny boy is sick (the first time ever), and I feel almost overwhelmed by the challenge of full-time employee, and mother & wife. I know this is somewhat "normal," but I don't want normal. I don't want a mediocre marriage or for my child to be raised and loved by another more than myself, nor do I want to spend the time away from the two I love most unless it is real quality stuff I'm doing. So when I heard that Mike Mangione had a last-minute live solo show at Turner Ballroom in Milwaukee, I made sure Ace had enough to eat and headed off for a little gather-yourself-girl time. Maybe some mothers need to get away from their children, but not me. It killed me to leave him for those 90 minutes, but I knew I needed to collect myself and just be somewhere I couldn't cry.

So of course, I got there when it was almost over. And I couldn't see any of my friends in the darkness, so I couldn't get a beer---don't want to be that weird short married chick who drinks alone at a concert---so I was doubly crushed. Then, from across the room, I spotted our friends G & D! They were our marriage prep couple back in 08-09. I had asked them to fulfill the role for a number of reasons, none the least of which was this conversation at their house one evening:

D: "Jen, want to try my latest home brew?"
Jen: "Um, yes please."
D pours pretty amber beer and hands to happy Jen.
D: "Hawk, you?"
Hawk: "Absolutely."
D pours sweet-smelling amber beer and hands to happy Hawk.
D to 5-year-old: "Son, would you like a beer?"
Son: "Sure."
D pours an ounce and hands to happy son, who clearly doesn't appreciate how European (and awesome) this exchange truly is. Spoiled. I want our kids spoiled in that European way.

They are excited to see me, not because I'm that great but because they are. Oh, what a tremendous grace. I'm at my wits' end and there they are, a plethora of good-marriage-ness, understanding expressions, authentic empathy, and sarcastic banter to make it less surreal. We only spent about 45 minutes together, but we were able to partake of a pint of Fat Tire and share a little convo. I expressed my failings, and among the many golden tidbits they dropped me between gulps of goodness, D said this:

The first 2-3 years were the hardest for us. I realized I had to figure out what was important to her and then attend to it. You gotta figure out what is important to each other.

He said it not in the generic "Love your hubbie's music and your wife's cooking" sort of way, but in the "this is where they need you to show up, and that's where they expect you to be regardless of whether or not you actually know it." 

We listened to the first 2 songs of Bobby Long's show and then all took off for our familial responsibilities (and joys!). When I returned home and helped arrange poor sick Ace, Hawk came up to me, wrapped his arms around me, and told me that he loves me. I really needed to hear that right at that moment. I relayed the previous 90 to him, and we're agreed in discerning and sharing what is important to us at this time. No guessing games. No ledger systems. No "cookies or medals or chests to pin them on."

Wait, you guys used to say that in middle school, too, right?

I'll leave you with one of my favorite Mike Mangione & the Union songs, Woman in Gown. I think it was recorded a few years back, though the song was only recently released, because I can see a Tenebrae drum in the background---from his second album.

Please enjoy. And thank you for listening.



  1. Hugs to you today! I hope your little guy is all better.

  2. Thank God for people who have been through it already, right?


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