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On Ryan’s Plate: A Case of the Mondays

November 15, 2012

A few weeks ago, Anna posted a day-in-the-life snapshot of her Mondays as a teacher and mother. That post was a hit, and soon a public movement grew, like when fans petitioned SNL to let Betty White host, demanding that I provide a similar account (and by “public movement,” I mean that one person suggested it). My Mondays are interesting, because Anna has an intense teaching schedule that day, meaning that I get a lot of time as Mr. Mom (when I first said this, Anna responded “No, Mr. Mom vacuumed.”) But even without the vacuuming and tricycle races, I still fancy myself a Michael Keaton type.

Mondays usually begin bright (actually dark) and early, as Lila has been getting up between 4:30 and 6:00 for the past few months. Since Anna teaches has a long Monday, I wake up with Lila to feed her, and I get to sleep in on Tuesdays and Thursdays (my college self would be shocked that I consider getting up at 7:30 to be “sleeping in.”) Lila and I rock while she sleepily takes a bottle, and then it’s off to the playroom for fun.

Lila’s usually in a great mood in the morning, and loves playing with all the toys in her playroom.

There’s the piano, for when she wants to unleash her inner Billy Joel:


There’s the octopus, which is the funniest toy Lila has. Whenever she sees him, she starts laughing and smashes him into her face. He’s basically the Louis C.K. of toys, but presumably with fewer jokes about how much kids suck. Just look at him and try not to laugh:


There are the Little Penguin and Little Fish books, which are some of Lila’s favorites. You put your finger in the puppet to make the animals wiggle, which amuses Lila to no end. I heard that Random House was releasing a similar version of Crime and Punishment with a Raskolnikov puppet so you can bring the murder to life. 

She’s an active child, and doesn’t always want to sit still to read. I don’t know where she gets the energy. Among my hobbies, I would list “sitting still” and “sitting quietly,” but Lila likes to move. Sometimes when I read to her, she looks up at me like “What’s this, nerd?” So the books with finger puppets really captured Lila’s attention when we first started reading to her.


These two were so popular that Lila’s Mimi and Grandad got her Little Turkey, another in the series. At the end, Little Turkey is slaughtered so a family can feast on his carcass at Thanksgiving. It’s never too early to teach children the realities of mass-scale food production.

Around eight, Lila gets some solid food, and shortly after that, another bottle. Usually she sleeps. Sometimes Dad sleeps too.

At 10:00, our terrific nanny Jessie comes, and I head off to school for four hours of work. While the life of an English professor may seem like an endless immersion into stimulating academic arguments like “Did James Joyce write all of Shakespeare’s works and Shakespeare write all of James Joyce’s works?”, for me, it mostly involves sending emails, prepping lectures on technical writing genres, and having meetings about course scheduling. Sometimes, I ask random students to tear pages from their books just to see if they get inspired.

As Anna mentioned in her post, we have offices right next door to each other, so we get to see each other at work. For many couples, this much togetherness might lead to a murder-suicide, but I like getting to see Anna for a few minutes between her classes. Plus, the other day we both left our office hours a little early to get foot rubs at the Chinese Massage place at the mall. Don’t tell our department head.

Around 2:00, we return home to relieve Jessie and reunite with Lila. In the afternoons, I try to take her out for a walk around the neighborhood. She loves getting outside, and so do I. Often, Lila insists that I listen to a podcast as we walk. She likes Radiolab, WTF, and This American Life, though lately she has really been getting into Fatman on Batman, a new Batman-themed podcast by director Kevin Smith. She loves the episode where writer Paul Dini chokes up when he talks about an episode of Batman: The Animated Series where Mr. Freeze cries tears that turn to ice. This baby has good taste.

In the evenings while Anna teaches, I often put Lila in her jumperoo and cook something for dinner.


All that jumping gives Lila an appetite, so she gets another round of solid foods for dinner. I didn’t realize that baby food companies could puree turkey, rice, and squash into one substance, but Lila loves it. Plus, we get to apply those lessons we learned from the Little Turkey book.


After dinner, Lila plays on the bed. With Lila laughing and crawling as all the pets gather around to join us, and this is one of my favorite times of the day. The nights when Anna is home are even better.



Around 7:30, it’s time for another bottle as Lila rocks to sleep. Sometimes she goes right down, and sometimes she screams and cries like a 12-year-old at a One Direction concert.

Around 8:30, Anna comes home and we eat dinner while watching How I Met Your Mother. It’s a relaxing end to a long day, topped off by some reading of grown-up books and a final nightcap bottle for Lila. The next morning, we start the whole thing over again, except that Anna spends much of her day with Lila during my long teaching schedule. And unlike me, Anna vacuums.

Obviously, I spend my time much differently now that Lila is here. But that mostly means that I’m not sitting around watching reruns of Seinfeld and reading comic book spoilers online (who am I kidding? I still do that). And it means spending more time with my family and getting to hang out with my lovely wife. I wouldn’t trade that for all the Seinfeld reruns in the world.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. lilveggiepatch permalink
    November 15, 2012 2:18 pm

    The Louis CK of baby toys… ha!

  2. November 15, 2012 3:11 pm

    So great to hear the male perspective, especially from a dad whose work offers so much work/family flexibility. Note to self: have husband become English professor.

  3. Kristi permalink
    November 15, 2012 3:53 pm

    Glad she likes the Octopus.

  4. November 16, 2012 2:55 am

    I snorted out loud re: the octopus & Lil Turkey. Hilarious. I was also expecting you to say something like “My actual life as an English professor entails teaching 18 year olds the difference between their, there and they’re – after which I go cry in my office.”

    I’m currently grading essays. Where are all the paragraphs?!?!? 😉

  5. Patti permalink
    November 16, 2012 2:58 am

    Great insights into your fun Mondays. You are right, a great change from your single days but so worth it!

  6. November 16, 2012 4:58 am

    That totally reminds me of myself – I also think of 7:30 as sleeping in, but in high school & college this would be soooo early to me haha.

  7. November 16, 2012 1:20 pm

    Haha, love this post.

  8. November 17, 2012 12:28 am

    I LOVE this post! I think Tony and Ryan would totally get each other! Tony is currently drawing Batman and I get to hear about how his inner teenage self is bursting with excitement. I’m not gonna lie, it’s awesome.

    Sounds like you three have a great team there!

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