On Thursday night I attended a party at Magnolia Bakery on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. The hostess was a radio personality named Lisa G. who is also the newswoman on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite radio. If you've read my book All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa you know I am a huge Howard Stern fan and have been for almost 20 years. Sure, it's incongruous for a buttoned down, Lilly Pulitzer wearing, Fairfield County CT autism Mom to throw out a "Bababooey" as easily as "Honey, where's the plunger and the snake!?" But I love to laugh, am a fan of the irreverent and Howard Stern has gotten me through some rough days and nights during this autism journey. When someone yells, "Does anyone remember laughter?" I say "YES! It's on Howard 100!"
While at the party, which featured not only the delicious cupcakes for which Magnolia is famous, but an assortment of home baked treats by both Lisa G. and Stern Show SuperFan extraordinaire Mariann From Brooklyn, a beautiful woman who is also Howard Stern's biggest fan bar none, I struck up a conversation with a 31-year-old woman I'll call Ayesha. The topic of my children came up, and we talked about a friend of hers who has a child on the spectrum and whose husband pooped the bed in terms of caring for him. Or her.
And then she asked me a question that made me put down my cream cheese chocolate chip cookie bar (and that ain't easy for me to do) and think hard. It went something like this: "What traits should I look for in a man I can consider as husband and father of my children to make sure that doesn't happen to me?"
Well color me Cookie Puss and call me Debbie the Pet Lady. I didn't have an immediate answer. It wasn't the sugar haze I was reveling in either that made me think hard. But I thought of my own husband of 20 years Mark, and how he has stood by me and our three beautiful daughters, Mia (17), Gianna (15) and Bella (11) through thick, thin and thin enough for an electron microscope. I shared this thought with her.
Beside the basic kindness and generosity that you'd look for in a husband and the more superficial attraction, it's impossible to know who will rise and who will sink like a stone when adversity moves in for a long stay. There are no guarantees, which is why traditional wedding vows cover all the bases, good and bad, though there isn't bride alive who pays attention to worse, poorer or sicker on her wedding day. I sure didn't.
This weekend is Father's Day. I'd like to thank my husband for acting as our family anchor even while he keeps us afloat during tough times. It's not easy to watch your children suffer and struggle. Not a father watching his son -- or a man whose every instinct is to protect his daughters.
Thank you to all the Dads who stand by their families. I wish I had better advice for Ayesha. I got lucky. I hope she does too. Did you?