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On a Notable Occasion

Being a special day of some sort, I thought it might be fun to deviate from our usual topics of the daily rigors of parenthood, the various milestones of my darling daughter and the comedic antics of me trying giving parenthood ‘the old college try’ and attempt to convey some thoughts on some important women in my life.

MomMy Mother

My mother’s greatest gift to me was deciding to have another child after the two train wrecks that came before me.  What prompted her to agree to bring another one of us into the world is beyond me, but I am ever so thankful that she did, because I just can’t imagine how different the world might be without me in it.  (Although I would assume less sarcastic by several percentage points).  Beyond merely giving birth to me, (a feat that, despite the name, Mother Teresa never accomplished) she also instilled in me a number of personal traits and interests that define who I am.

One common interest we’ve always shared is with computers. She (and presumably Dad) purchased our first home computer at some point the mid 80s, a “state of the art” IBM PCjr.  My brother and I both picked up our computing chops from that machine and a succession of newer, better machines.  My mother was always hovering in the background, soaking in all of stuff we figured out.  We were a formidable team when things went wrong – she’d stand behind me while I swore at the computer, and then would ask questions that would invariably lead to some obvious solution that I had entirely overlooked.  She also once spilled a beer on my keyboard when she was reading over one of my high school term papers – which (in case you are curious) caused a number of electrical shorts so that typing any letter would display another, random letter.  Try it sometime.  Have a spare keyboard handy.

My mother is a librarian by trade, and was our personal Google before anyone knew what that was. I’d tell her what term paper I was interested in and soon thereafter I was awash in resources she had culled from the library, through interlibrary loans, or by calling up and haranguing old war veterans into “spilling what they knew about the Kaiser.” The librarian in her also makes her a very organized and list-oriented person – the whole extended family always know when her and Dad are going on a trip somewhere because all we receive the detailed itinerary, yet another copy of the family phone list, and of course a reminder of upcoming holidays including US, state, and local holidays as well as both mainstream and fringe religion holy days. (March 16 for example is the Voodoo Holiday Loko Davi which I was unaware).  I would love to say that her organizational skills were instilled in me, but one look at my desk at work will demonstrate clearly that they were not.

Nowadays, of course, Mom has become Mom-Mom to my little Justine, who is actually just the 5th of her 6 grandchildren.  Having been a knitter all of her life, she has now (in semi-retirement) boosted her output to near Southeast Asian sweat shop levels, churning out sweaters, blankets, hats, beer cozies, and so on for the now burgeoning Frantz grandchild population. She accompanies Dad on his various trips around the country, whether playing baseball or discussing the fascinating topic of natural gas pipeline maintenance and installation techniques, and once in awhile drops by here to say hello and marvel at the size of our Wegman’s.

KimMy Wife

My wife and I first starting dating in high school, and if you had told me then that someday she would be the mother of my children, I probably would’ve told you that I didn’t want kids, only cats.  Actually, I still tell people that.  We dated through high school, maintained a long distance relationship through college,  the 6 months I spent on the International Space Station, the 2 years in the French Foreign Legion and my short stint as batboy for the now defunct Montreal Expos, and finally got married.  A few years later and we had Justine.

If there is an ideal mother, then June Cleaver is it. But a close runner up would have to be my Kim. Yes she can at times be over-protective (“But dear she likes the bottom of the pool”) and in the wee hours of the morning her patience can wear thin (especially with my lack of mammary glands and Justine’s aversion to bottles), but if you could watch her with my daughter for just five minutes you’d see how natural being a mother is for her.  From the moment that Justine emerged from the bloody gash in her abdomen, Kim has amazed me with the ease in which she has taken to raising our daughter while simultaneously trying to minimize the damage my fatherhood invariably causes.  It’s no small feat.

The truth is that while “Dad” may be fun to have around, it’s Kim that makes the whole family work.  I’ve learned to follow directions well, but she often just seems to “know” what the right thing to do is, what the next step should be, when the diaper needs changing, the tummy needs food, or naptime is near.  I can certainly fake it for sometimes hours or more, but in the end Justine and I would be lost without her.  She doesn’t know it but when I’m alone with Justine we spend most of our time together just talking about how cool “Mommy” is.  Actually I do most of the talking – Justine is usually over trying to jam her hands through the bunny cage.

Watching the way that Justine’s eyes light up when Kim walks in the door after having been gone for awhile just further cements what I’ve known all along  – Justine likes her better.  Now, Kim will make the argument that the eyes light up just as much for me when I come home, but we all know that it’s just not quite the same.  While I do provide a majority of the funds for her daily amusements, it is Mommy that has been feeding her, from BEFORE birth mind you, from her own body.  Let’s face it – I can’t top that.  No, that makes a special bond between mother and child, and one of the many reasons this particular day is designed to celebrate.

So on this special federally mandated holiday, I just want to express to my mother and my wife my heartfelt love and and of course the phrase you would expect me to say:

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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