TIME celebrity

Brad Pitt: “I Want to Spend More Time With My Kids”

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt Jason LaVeris—WireImage

The actor opens up about being a dad

Brad Pitt’s favorite role? Being a dad.

The 50-year-old actor, newly married to Angelina Jolie and father to six, told the U.K’s Psychologies magazine that being a father makes him “feel like the richest man alive,” according to TODAY.

Though he says being a parent is “the most beautiful thing you can experience,” he also admits that he worries when it comes to his children. “I worry about them all the time,” he says. “That’s the emotional bond and responsibility that sweeps over you when you have a family to look after. I care about them more than I care about myself, which I think is the real definition of love.”

Amid all the gushing, it’s clear that Pitt’s priorities are shifting to his family, possibly at the expense of his career. “I’ve been slowing down for a while now — and slowly transitioning to other things,” Pitt says in British GQ’s November issue. “And, truthfully, I do want to spend more time with my kids before they’re grown up and gone.”

TIME Family

African American Donor’s Sperm Mistakenly Sent to White Mom

A medical worker works on a dish ready f
Georges Gobet—AFP/Getty Images

Lesbian parents tell the TODAY Show that they love their mixed race daughter but are suing their sperm bank to prevent future mixups.

The Midwest Sperm Bank sent Jennifer Cramblett of Uniontown, Ohio, the wrong sperm. She’d requested sperm from donor number 380 and received instead sperm from donor number 330. Ms. Cramblett and her partner are now suing the sperm bank.

What makes the story a whole lot more complicated is that donor number 330 is African American.

“On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed-race baby girl,” says the lawsuit. “Jennifer bonded with Payton easily and she and Amanda love her very much. Even so, Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Among the issues that are causing these anxieties are the prospect of sending her mixed race child to an all-white school, traveling to a black neighborhood—where she feels unwelcome—to get Amanda’s hair done and the lack of acceptance by her extended family, who, according to the suit, are already having issues with the whole same sex couple arrangement.

Ms. Cramblett told The Today Show that she and her partner Amanda Zinkon love their daughter very much, but she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else’s family. “I’m not going to let them get away with this,” she said. She’s primarily angry, she says at what she considers the sperm bank’s cavalier attitude and “lack of concern for me and my family…if they had some compassion and just said sorry. But they didn’t.”

So far, the Midwest Sperm Bank has declined to comment.

(This might be a good time to direct Ms. Cramblett’s attention to Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care, a website used by many transracial adoptive families. You’re welcome.)

TIME Family

I Don’t Want to Marry a Man Who Will Feed Our Kid McDonald’s

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Smneedham—Getty Images

Am I cursing my future children to a life of being social outcasts because mommy wants to feed them green smoothies?

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Right now, there are at least a handful of people who I KNOW will never babysit my imaginary, yet-to-be born child. As far as they’re concerned, my baby will be more under wraps than “Blanket” Jackson was. Yes, I want nothing more than to have a full stock of potential babysitters, but sometimes these people—my friends—say things that make me get the Scooby Doo face.

“Your kids ain’t gon have any friends!”

“I’m going to feed your kids McDonald’s when you’re not around.”

“I feel sorry for your children…” *Insert sympathetic head nod and social worker look of dire concern here*

I’m a horrible mother and my eggs haven’t even hatched yet. Is it a crime to want my children to eat healthy? Am I cursing them to a life of being social outcasts because mommy wants to feed them green smoothies and use unsweetened almond milk in their gluten-free cereal? I bet the little girl I saw drinking blue juice and eating a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos before 8 a.m. has LOTS of friends to go with her early onset diabetes. Don’t I want that for my children?

I thought my peeps would be excited to know that at least my children will be fed and have something that passes for a decent home-cooked meal because for most of my adult life that whole part of being a mother was questionable. By everyone. Including me. Historically, I’m not known for cooking, so I get why there might be some concern about the future welfare of my family.

I’m always the person they ask to bring the cups and napkins for get togethers. Being in the kitchen used to make me really nervous because I never felt comfortable there. Growing up, my mother cooked every day, even when I moved back in after college. She didn’t like people in the kitchen with her, and I guess I never forced the issue. It wasn’t a big deal to learn how to cook or not; I just wanted to eat.

But things are different now and the “Sandi can’t cook” jokes have had their last laughs. I’m learning and practicing to cook and I’m not just doing it for myself. I’m doing it for people I haven’t even met. A family that only exists in my imagination.

When I changed my diet nearly three years ago — to become a pescatarian with a few vegan and raw foodie tendencies — it was a deliberate choice to change my family legacy. I wanted to feel good and I wanted to grow old healthy, unlike both my parents who both died pretty young. And I wanted a sexy womb!

The idea of a baby nesting inside a womb full of toxins, cysts, fibroids, lethargy, relationship trauma, and nondescript goo and gunk sounds really wack to me. As someone entertaining the thought of having a family one day, it also seems mad irresponsible. Shouldn’t you at least attempt to clean your house before important guests come over? Shouldn’t you at least clean your womb before you bring a life into the world? Like they say in church, I’m just trying to set the atmosphere.

So, where does this leave dating? They say if you want a man, you better know how to cook, but learning to eat and cook healthier has seemed to open a whole ‘nother can of worms. I’m very conscious about not being the food police toward people. What I eat affects MY body and what they eat affects THEIR body. I’m not here to convert or condemn anyone’s nutritional choices, especially when I still drop it like it’s hot for snacky cakes. I never really had to consider how a man ate before, but now, that’s a legitimate “thing.”

I thought I was progressive and open-minded enough to say it doesn’t matter; I can respect his food choices if he can respect mine. I mean, I guess I still feel that way when it comes to us individually, but parenting is a joint venture. One parent can’t be #TeamMcDonalds and the other #McDonaldsIsTheDevil.

Things like knowing a man’s nutritional values — how he feels about food and the way he wants his children to eat — are important if we’re considering doing more than just dating. If we have sex, we might procreate, and if we procreate that child is probably going to want to eat at some point. We have a dilemma on our hands if we’re on different McDonald’s teams.

Or, what if he IS #TeamFit, but his family and friends eat like crap. Am I just supposed to be like, “Nawl, the baby can’t spend the night at your mother’s house! You know that woman doesn’t like my non-cooking!”? What if he’s surrounded by people who do cartwheels every time we drop the baby off because now our child can finally eat some “real” food? I’m accustomed to having my food choices respected, so the thought of people not respecting them is new for me.

I ate “funny” according to my mother because at a very young age, the little girl who couldn’t stay out of the corner store buying snacks and pineapple pop suddenly changed. I gave up Kool-Aid, pop, stopped putting sugar on my grits and rice, switched to soy milk and requested my tacos and meatloaf be made with ground turkey instead of beef. My mother totally supported me. She and the rest of my family still ate “regular,” but she allowed me to do me and I’m forever grateful for that.

I couldn’t influence my mother to eat differently, but I can influence my child. I can start her on a healthy path and if she decides to veer off later in life, at least she can just do her in an informed way.

I don’t want a divided home. Even if I have to cook steaks for my husband every night, I want to be able to trust that when it’s just him and our child they aren’t running off to McDonald’s together for “our little secret because you know mommy eats funny and hates McDonald’s.” I want to trust him and anyone else our child is with when I’m not around.

I can deal with my imaginary child being invited to a few less play dates, or having to pay for a fancy school that serves organic meals so that she can feel normal around other kids who have mommies that are pescatarian with vegan and raw foodie tendencies. This veggie vixen hopes to have a man and a support system that can deal with that, too.

Sandria M. Washington is a Chicago-based writer.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

Meet the Clinton Baby’s Other Grandparents

Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky attend 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Opening Session at the Sheraton Hote in New York on Sept. 23, 2012.
Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky attend 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Opening Session at the Sheraton Hote in New York on Sept. 23, 2012. Janet Mayer—Splash News/Corbis

Or, as they're called in Yiddish, the 'machatonim'

Even before Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky headed home from the hospital on Monday, we had seen the first photos of her with her “over the moon” new grandparents, Bill and Hillary Clinton. But where were the machatonim?

In case you’re wondering, machatonim is a Yiddish word that describes a relationship for which there is no equivalent word in English: the parents of your child’s spouse. And in the case of the Clintons, the machatonim are two longtime friends and allies: Marjorie Margolies and Edward Mezvinsky.

Marjorie is a women’s rights activist and former Congresswoman from Pennsylvania who served a momentous single term in 1993-95 after her deciding vote for the Clinton budget cost her her seat. She ran but lost in the Democratic primary this spring, despite vigorous support from both Clintons. Her former husband, Edward Mezvinsky, served two terms in Congress from Iowa — but also served fived years in prison after being convicted of fraud in 2001. They were divorced in 2007. So maybe their low profile is understandable.

“We are totally delighted,” Marjorie told TIME. What matters this week, anyway, is the relationship of the Clintons and the Margolies-Mezvinsky as machatonim — surely a more efficient way to put it than fumbling around awkwardly with phrases like “my daughter’s in-laws.” If Bill and Hillary are newcomers to their heightened status as grandparents, Marjorie and Ed are black-belt machatonim. Between their combined eleven children, they already have 18 grandchildren, thus presenting Charlotte with 18 cousins “who can’t wait to be part of Charlotte’s life,” Margolies says.

It’s often pointed out that the machatonim often become uncommonly close for two reasons: (1) their shared love for the same grandchildren, and (2) because they and the grandchildren are united by a common enemy: the parents.

So now begin the sensitive negotiations that are more than familiar to many grandparents. Which family will Charlotte (and, oh, her parents) visit for Thanksgiving? Or will they split the difference, Solomonically bolting after turkey dinner to commute to the Other Grandparents’ House for dessert? Who gives her the coolest presents? And, most terrifying, which grandparents does she says she loves the MOST? She will say she loves them all, of course. After all, at least genetically, all machatonim are created equal.

TIME Family

See Chelsea Clinton’s Life in Pictures

From her first baby pictures to her pregnancy, here's Chelsea's very public life in pictures

TIME Family

Please Stop Telling Me I Won’t Care About My Dog Anymore When I Have a Baby

Courtesy of Liz Shields

“Oh, once that little baby comes, you’ll forget you ever had a dog!”

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

When I found out I was pregnant, Milly, our nine-year-old cockapoo, was the first to know. She was sitting at my feet in our bathroom, waiting rather impatiently to go outside for a walk. As I squinted, anxious to see if a second line might appear on the pee stick, it occurred to me that I was probably more sure about getting a dog almost a decade ago than I was about the idea of having a child now.

The very first time my husband and I saw Milly, she was curled up in such a tight ball that we couldn’t tell where she began and where she ended. She was a little circle of black and white fluff that made us squeal like school children. Her saucer-shaped puppy eyes and inexplicably long eyelashes peered out from under her old-man eyebrows and our hearts went from solid, functioning muscular organs to oatmeal-grade mush.

She was our dog.

We took her home one year after we were married, and people would often ask if she was “practice” for having a child. The answer, truly and honestly, was no. We just really wanted a dog. And Milly wasn’t practice for anything at all. She was a real-time floppy embodiment of our heart and souls and from the minute she pranced through our front door she has filled our lives with an unreal amount of happiness.

So as my eyes darted back and forth from her pathetic, take-me-on-a-goddamn-walk face to the second pink line that was slowly revealing that there was a teeny human growing in my uterus, I kind of freaked out and. As I am wont to do when it comes to Milly, I asked her opinion.

“Doodlebug! What do you think about a baby?!” I expressed this to her with the same zeal I applied to treats and walks, which riled her up enough to circle my ankles and bark at absolutely nothing in general.

A little time passed and we began sharing our news with family and friends, and it surprised me how quickly Milly’s name and, apparently, her place in our universe, was thrown into the conversation. Here are a few gems that stuck in my craw:

“Oh, once that little baby comes, you’ll forget you ever had a dog!” (Correct! I will promptly erase the last nine-plus years of my life so I may better focus on the raising of my child.)

“Don’t be surprised when whole days go by and you don’t even walk her!” (I’m assuming that the person who said this spent those “whole days” either ankle-deep in all sorts of dog excrement and/or gingerly leaping over massive piles of canine mess.)

“I had a friend who gave her dog away one week after having her son. She couldn’t stand having that thing around.” (That “thing”? Couldn’t stand? Gave away? Wait, what? Find new friends, girl.)

“If you think you love Milly, just wait until you meet this baby!” (Because I couldn’t possibly find it in my shriveled, frigid raisin heart to love two adorable things at once!)

It goes without saying that being pregnant often brings about a slew of unwanted and unnecessary advice from people you know and strangers alike, but it shocked me (and grated on my hormone-riddled nerves) that people were so quick to discount our poor pooch and write her off forever. It seemed to me akin to telling parents who were about to have a second child that their first children were like the first batch of burnt pancakes. Just go ahead and toss ’em! You have new, shiny babies coming! Who needs the old ones?!

Perhaps people have had different experiences with their pets. For us, Milly is as much a part of our family as actual human family members, if not moreso. In fact, I tend to prefer the company of my dog to most people, in general. She is beloved and she’s been along for the ride of our marriage, which hasn’t always been smooth or easy. She’s lived in our apartments and houses, cities and suburbs and, despite one nasty incident involving the ingestion of a substantial amount of packing tape, she’s made each move seamlessly. (In her defense, the packing tape had it coming. It had the nerve to deny her access to her toys and food. Not cool, packing tape.)

As long as we were there with her, she found her new nooks and settled in. Her philosophy has always been, “You guys hanging out? I’ll hang out.”

Milly’s personality is, at once, fiercely loyal and shockingly contrary. There is a chance that when I call her name and pat the empty space next to me, she will stand up and pointedly walk away to the furthest corner possible. Or, she might walk right over and curl up next to me so tight and with such loving conviction that I vow never to move from that spot. I have spent many an afternoon risking severe nerve damage from various limbs falling asleep as well as borderline-fatal UTIs because I’ve had to go to the bathroom but don’t want to move for fear of losing snuggle time.

I find such great comfort in Milly. I’m not sure if it’s simple familiarity or the fact that she looks like a stuffed animal come to life, but I’ve always felt calmer with her around. Having spent a great deal of time in hospitals, a place where dogs are strictly forbidden, I can tell you that the thing I missed most, more than the comfort of my own bed or the idea of not being woken up at 3:30 a.m. to have my blood drawn, was my sweet, little dog.

When she isn’t in the house, there’s an emptiness that is completely unsettling. I’ll listen for the jingle of her collar or the clicking of her paws on the hardwood floor and, when I hear neither, my heart sinks a bit. This feeling has existed for almost a decade and I doubt it will go away just because another person enters the picture.

I fully recognize that things will change. For example, I probably won’t have time for our regularly scheduled conversations where I ask her, repeatedly, why her nose is so delicious or who made her so cute. (All valid questions, people). But Milly will continue to be, as she has been, a very important member of our small clan.

So next time you see a pregnant woman walking her dog down the street, keep all your dog-and baby-based opinions to yourself and stick to awkwardly petting her belly like the other strangers. Or, better yet, just pet her dog.

Liz Shields is a writer from Boca Raton, Florida by way of New York.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

CEO of Trillion-Dollar Company Resigned After His Daughter Told Him How Much He Has Missed

Key Speakers At The Bretton Woods Committee International Council Meeting
Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz SE, speaks during the 31st Annual Meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee at the World Bank Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian's daughter made him a list of all the milestones he had missed

Updated Sept. 29, 6:12 pm

A 22-point list written by his 10-year-old daughter was all it took to change the trajectory of Mohamed El-Erian’s life, the former CEO says.

In January, El-Erian made headlines for announcing his resignation as chief executive officer of trillion-dollar investment fund PIMCO in January. In an article for Worth this summer, which has recently gone viral, El-Erian explains that he decided to step down after his daughter listed out the many milestones he had missed in her life.

When El-Erian asked his child why she wasn’t listening to him when he asked her to brush her teeth, she gave him a list of 22 things he had missed (from first soccer matches to Halloween parades) because of work.

“Talk about a wake-up call,” El-Erian writes. “I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos… But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point.”

Family may not have been the sole factor in his resignation, however; at least one report at the time suggested El-Erian’s departure might also have been motivated by an alleged falling-out with PIMCO co-founder Bill Gross, who left the company Friday.

But whatever El-Erian’s actual reason for leaving, his blog post still struck a nerve. While discussion of work-life balance is often discussed with women in the C-Suite, men are rarely asked whether or not they “have it all.”

But the conversation is now opening up. And this is largely because men are speaking out. For example, former CEO of MongoDB Max Schireson wrote a popular blog post about his decisions to step down from his position after he realized how much he was missing in his children’s lives.

A recent TIME article asked 7 C-Suite dads, many of whom were CEOs, to reflect on their struggles to maintain a strong work and family life. Intuit CEO Brad Smith recalled leaving his wife and newborn daughters the day after both of them were born for work trips. Since then he has learned that there are “crystal” and “rubber” moments — while you can bounce back from missing a few occasions, the crystal moments (graduations, weddings, births) should never be dropped.

Since resigning, El-Erian now manages “a portfolio of part time jobs” that provides more flexibility. (Meanwhile his former firm, PIMCO has run into some troubled waters.)

“I now alternate with my wife in waking up our daughter every morning, preparing her breakfast and driving her to school,” he said. “I’m also around much more often to pick her up after school and take her to activities. She and I are doing a lot of wonderful talking and sharing. We’ve even planned a holiday together, just the two of us.”

Read more:

CEO Dads Open Up About Balancing Fatherhood and Work

 

TIME Dating

18 Reasons It’s Great to Be Single (According to People In Relationships)

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Digital Vision.—Getty Images

And single people give a bunch more

Being single is rad and always has been. So rad, in fact, that single people now represent a majority of the U.S. population. One in four Millennials say they don’t ever plan on getting married.

Single people are so comfortably in the mainstream that the whole idea of making time to celebrate Singles Week—that’s this week—is beginning to feel a little weird.

[Note: I’m ignoring the very real structural inequalities levied against single people, helpfully outlined in this post by Bella DePaulo, because that’s not my point here but by all means if anyone wants to launch a singles revolution let me know. I’m always down to Fight The Power.]

Anyway, in celebration of this ridiculous holiday we compiled two lists, both about the same thing: what’s great about being single. One list comes from single people themselves, the other list from people in relationships. The entries have been lightly edited where necessary but reproduced as faithfully as possible.

A number of responses, particularly from people in relationships, reflected the mistaken notion that single people are happily filthy and frumpy looking all the time. (e.g.“You don’t have to impress anyone.”) Since being single in no way diminishes the libido and the art of seduction often depends, at a bare minimum, on at least passable hygiene, we can dispense with that whole line of thought outright. Other responses, again perhaps unsurprisingly mostly from the coupled, were splendidly optimistic (e.g. “You can make out with anyone you want anytime you want.”)

If indeed the world is that much your oyster then by all means, Casanova, carry on. Sadly most of us don’t have that kind of game, so I’ve eliminated most such responses as well.

SINGLE PEOPLE on the Benefits of Singledom

“You will never in your single life be told how much ice cream is too much by your non-existent partner. Never. Not even once.”

“No guilt flirting.”

“If you like to travel you travel. That’s pretty much the beginning and the end of that entire discussion.”

“I don’t have to say hello to anyone when I get home.”

“You stay culturally relevant. So many people have never experienced the joy that is Tinder.”

“You don’t have to go to work events with your significant other where you know nobody and where there’s never enough alcohol.”

“If you’re tall you don’t have to worry about whether you should wear high heels out, how high those heels are before you’re taller than the guy, and whether that’s emasculating.”

“You can’t be cheated on.”

“Life can be one big weird sexual walkabout if you want it to be.”

“If you have a food allergy, you don’t have to worry about whether he’s ordering things with nuts.”

“Girlfriends are net generators of grief. They may start out easygoing, carefree, accommodating, but eventually the grief will start”

“Having hilarious/horrifying dating stories with which to entertain your friends.”

“The adventure of not knowing how your Saturday night will end. “

“I have an ex who, feeling disgruntled one evening, and to be fair had reason to be, leveled my herb garden and left me in the morning.”

“You can listen to the same Leonard Cohen album over and over for the entire winter without anyone yelling at you.”

[Divorced] “Career and big life decision flexibility. Doing whatever the hell you want to excess. $$$”

“You can wear lipstick all the time.”

“Fewer people have an incentive to lie to you.”

“Less likely you will get pregnant on purpose with a partner you will be yoked to for 18 years despite them revealing themselves as a terrible person.”

“Getting to know yourself and your habits.”

“Independence. Dating. Having sex with EVERYONE.”

“Going to the movies and never having to worry about finding two seats together.”

[Widowed] “Learning to forgive and live again.”

“Singing and talking to my dog.”

“Best/Worst: eating for one.”

“Not clearing your browser history.”

“Never having to leave a place until I [explicative] feel like it and never having to go to a place unless I [explicative] feel like it and doing whatever the [explicative] I want at all the time.”

“Masturbation Marathons!!!”

 

COUPLED PEOPLE on the Benefits of Singledom

“You never have to see a movie with Liam Neeson in it.”

“You can binge watch an entire series in one weekend without committing Netflix infidelity.”

“You only have to deal with your own parents and their crazy.”

“Do you know how embarrassing it is to watch Friday Night Lights from start to finish for the second or third time and have your husband witness that?”

“You can engage in gross single behaviors like plucking your eyebrows without judgment.”

“You don’t have to regularly shower in a place where the shower bottom is blackened with filth because your boyfriend’s roommates are freegan cavemen.”

“One time one of my boyfriend’s friends peed in my rain boot.”

“Watching TV on the couch for 8 hours at a time.”

“NO IN LAWS.”

“Farting.”

“You don’t have to hang art on your walls that you hate with a burning passion because a) one of your in-laws painted it or b) your husband loves hockey and thinks that hockey posters are ‘art.’”

“Every time you stay late at work or are in a bad depressive mood you don’t have to worry about ‘What this is doing to my marriage?’ Your ‘marriage’ becomes like this third person you have to nurture. And it is exhausting.”

“You never get home from work desperate for a snack only to find that last night’s leftovers were already somebody else’s lunch.”

“You’re wrong a lot less often.”

[FORMER SMOKER WITH BOYFRIEND OUT OF TOWN] “I sat out on my balcony on this epic fall morning with my dog, sipped my espresso and smoked a cigarette. Quite possibly the best morning ever.”

“Laundry for one.”

“Breathing sweet, clean air.”

“She’s referring to my farting, which happens. I think losing time freedom is the biggest downfall in a relationship but it only applies if you haven’t found the right person. You only have so many hours on earth.”

TIME Family

How Dancing in the Kitchen Saved My Marriage

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Johner—Getty Images

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

I fell in love with my husband because I could be myself with him. Unfortunately, he couldn't dance

I’m gliding across an empty dance floor in the arms of a tall, strong, graceful man named Shane. Shane wears too much jewelry, reeks of men’s cologne, and is about half my age. But in his arms, I can do it all: not just a simple waltz, but also the West Coast and the East Coast swing, the jitterbug, the rumba, the cha-cha-cha. I am beginning to have feelings for him, my ardor building with each dip and turn, until I catch a glimpse of my husband standing against the wall with a look of utter bewilderment on his otherwise intelligent face. “I’m supposed to be able to do that?” he says.

Almost 30 years ago, I fell in love with my husband because I could be myself with him. He was literally tall, dark, and handsome—versus now, when he is tall, white-haired, and handsome. He liked dogs, tolerated my father, and adored me.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t dance. It’s not that he had two left feet, either—he ran like a deer, swam with speed and agility. It was more an inner-ear thing. He had no rhythm. Correction: he had negative rhythm. He wouldn’t know a down-beat if it beat him on the head.

Whereas I love to dance, courtesy of my mother, who used to dance me around the house to the soundtracks of various Broadway shows. For me, dancing is pure joy—utterly freeing. All I have to do is listen to the music, and the steps are just there, under my feet. I love to dance so much that, before I met and married my husband, I seriously considered running off with a man named David, who was sleazy, furry, hyper, and insistent, for the sole reason that the man could shake his groove-thing like nobody’s business.

For better or for worse, I chose my husband over David, and we closed the deal one gorgeous June night in the company of friends and family, celebrating afterwards in the usual way, with music, wine and food. It was a fairy tale, with me in the starring role, arrayed in a gown, and with flowers in my long hair. The magic moment arrived with the first dance approached: my brand-new husband, tall and elegant in a tux, took my hand, led me to the dance floor, stepped on my feet, kicked me in the shins, and pulled me this way and that, in accordance to some inner music that he and he alone heard: perhaps it was something by Pink Floyd.

More than 25 years later, though, we have come to this point—a crossroads. We’ve made it through all kinds of ups and downs, including cancer, two major moves, my mother’s death, a career crisis or two, and a couple of hurricanes. The eldest of our three children graduated from college and made Aliyah and served as a soldier in the Israeli army. The other two, right behind him, have little need for me beyond my college-tuition paying abilities. Even my dog isn’t as interested in my ministrations as she once was. Which leaves what, exactly? A house, a garden, work—and a husband who wouldn’t know a good boogie-woogie if it abducted him and took him to Mars.

It goes right to the heart of our marriage, too: on the one side there would be the wife, me, dancing around the kitchen, and generally being slightly less than constrained; on the other side, there would be the husband, his life conducted entirely within the space behind his forehead. Our fights, over the decades, went something like this:

Husband: the problem with you, Jen, is that you follow your instincts with no regard for actually thinking. You’re too emotional, too out there. You need to rein it in on occasion.

Me: the problem with you is that you can’t even locate your feet, you brainiac over-intellectual psycho-nerd.

Hence Shane. Initially, when my husband and I first started dabbling in dance lessons, it was because, for our anniversary, I thought it would be fun to give my husband two private dance lessons—with me along, of course. But after the first lesson—at $70 a pop—Shane told us point-blank that with only two lessons he wouldn’t be able to do much other than teach my husband how to count out a one-two beat. So we came back a few more times, and a few more times after that, and so forth and so on, hoping against hope that, within the confines of the dingy, over-air-conditioned studio in a half-vacant mini-mall off a side street behind a Walmart near a main truck route, we might transform ourselves into rough equivalents of people who actually know how to dance.

And you’re just going to have to believe me when I say that I really do love my husband a whole lot more than I ever loved our dance instructor. A lot more. Because in fact I didn’t really love Shane at all. But when the man took me in his arms to glide me around the dance floor, my body just melted away, becoming both more and less than it was, and I was in utter and complete bliss. I was one with the music, one with the dance itself, as Shane led with strong manly resolve. Versus my husband, because when my husband leads, he’s reluctant to apply much in the way of pressure to my back or my shoulder or any other body part where we connect, and hence, I am just supposed to know when he’s wants to, for example, execute an underarm turn.

“What are you doing?” I’d say.

“Excuse me. But aren’t you supposed to be following me?

“Yeah. And I would, too, if you actually led.”

“I’m doing better. Aren’t I doing better?”

“Why ask Shane? Shane’s not the one dancing with you. I am, and I don’t have a clue where you want me to go. It’s like dancing with a flaccid noodle.”

“This was your idea, not mine.”

“Oh, come on guys. This isn’t marriage counseling here.”

“Shut up, Shane.”

He started us on the Foxtrot, because the Foxtrot is easy, like walking to music. The next easiest is the box step—the foundation of both the Polka and the Waltz—because here again, the steps are dead-easy—front, side, together. As summer rolled into fall and then winter, and winter unfolded into spring and then blossomed into summer, we went on to learn various flourishes, and finally continued on to scale the heights of swing, which my husband actually enjoyed, a little, because he got to spin me around, or at least he did when he remembered to exert enough physical conviction to indicate which direction I was supposed to turn.

How much money did we spend, anyhow, before my husband finally got the hang of the box step? Truthfully, I didn’t keep track, and I don’t really want to know, but estimating from memory, I’d say in the range of somewhere between one and two thousand dollars, or enough to fly to Paris for a romantic weekend. And the man still couldn’t dance. On the other hand, he continued to be uncomfortable when I took to the dance floor either alone or with some other partner. Sometimes, afterwards, he’d make remarks: “You’re too old to be doing that, Jen.” Or: “Next time, would you please restrain yourself?”

By the time our next anniversary rolled around, our threesome with Shane was at its apex. Which is to say that we were still shelling out for private dance lessons, but by now were coming out of denial about our prospects of, say, making it onto one of those dancing shows on TV. I gave my husband a CD, he gave me a book, and we went out to dinner, where we discussed the profound mystery of why anyone chooses to be married.

And then, one day, just like that, we looked at each other and realized that Shane was no longer someone we particularly needed, or wanted, in our lives. By now we’d been neglecting to go to the studio for weeks, coming up with one excuse after another for our negligence. But the truth was, and we both knew it, no amount of private dance classes could teach us to glide gracefully, and in unison; no amount of coaching might heal the rift that our own inborn personalities had brought into our marriage.

Nonetheless, like elephants we’re in it for life, and every now and then, as I’m washing the dishes after dinner, my husband will put his arms around me, turn off the water, spin me towards him, and lead me, slowly across the kitchen floor, where we will sway in each other’s arms to music that the two of us alone can hear.

Jennifer Moses is a writer and painter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Odd Spending

12 Things Made for Kids That Are Now Being Marketed to Adults

Who says kids should get to have all the fun? Not the forces behind a wide range of seemingly juvenile foods, products, and places that are increasingly being sold to adults—plenty of whom are happy to play along.

It’s hard to remember a time when video games and comic books were enjoyed almost exclusively by people under the age of 18. But that was the case a mere couple of decades ago, before both began featuring violence, profanity, sex, and other material not appropriate for young children. Along the same lines, in recent times many other things long associated with kids are now being marketed to adult consumers. Here are a dozen examples:

Gummy Vitamins. A string of studies indicating that vitamins appear to be largely a waste of money has resulted in flat sales for the once sizzling vitamin market. It looks like consumers are getting the messages spread by researchers in the field, who point out that while vitamin supplements are correlated with better health, there is little proof of causality because the people taking vitamins tend to healthier and take better care of themselves in the first place. But if consumers are dubious about the benefits of boring old-fashioned vitamins, they appear less skeptical about vitamins “disguised as candy,” a.k.a. gummy vitamins. Once popular only with children, colorful, chewable, sweet-tasting vitamins are now ubiquitous in stores’ adult vitamin sections, and makers of such adult vitamins say that the category has been enjoying “explosive growth” of late.

Walt Disney World. In some ways, Disney World has always been marketed to adults—who often say they enjoy “feeling like a kid” while touring the theme parks sans children. Some even wish Disney would host child-free days when adults could hit the rides without having to deal with the young whippersnappers clogging up the parks. While that’s highly unlikely to ever take place, Disney has taken several steps over the years to appeal to adult-only clientele, including the introduction of booze for sale at the Magic Kingdom, as well as special events like $35 “After Hours” party with alcohol and tasting menus, and, most recently, a $79 “Food & Wine Late Night” at EPCOT.

Pop Tarts. While interest in breakfast cereal has collapsed in recent years, sales of another kid favorite at the breakfast table, Pop Tarts, have risen each and every year for more than three decades straight. The Wall Street Journal noted that while Pop Tarts are most popular with teens and younger children, “adults reach for them as a retro snack.” It’s not just nostalgia that’s drawing adults to Pop Tarts, but that, “Shoppers increasingly want quick breakfasts they can eat with one hand on the go.” Over the years, Pop Tarts and its imitators have periodically tried out products more directly marketed to adults and foodies, such as “Toaster Pastries” in flavors like Cherry Pomegranate from Nature’s Path.

Happy Meals. McDonald’s briefly tried to market a “Go Active Happy Meal” for adults a decade ago, with a salad and an exercise booklet instead of chicken nuggets and a plastic toy. It obviously didn’t catch on—very few healthy fast food items are successful—but this fall, the Happy Meal for Adults concept is back, bizarrely, in the world of high fashion. Nordstrom is selling a series of pop culture-themed items from Moschino, including an iPhone case that looks like a McDonald’s French fry container ($85) and a Happy Meal lookalike shoulder bag that retails for over $1,000.

Backpacks. In what could be considered a sign that adults really don’t want to grow up, backpack sales are up dramatically among consumers ages 18 and up—including a 48% rise in backpack purchases by female adults over a recent time span. Valentino, Alexander McQueen, and Fendi are among the many fashion designers to feature posh leather and camouflage versions of the bag normally associated with high school and college kids, only theirs sometimes cost $2,000.

Lunchables. OK, so neither Kraft nor its Oscar Mayer brand actually markets Lunchables to adults. But the Adult Lunch Combos look eerily like Lunchables only without Oreos or Capri Sun, and everyone is referring to the new protein-packed prepared lunches as “Lunchables for Adults” even though the real name is the Portable Protein Pack.

Obstacle Courses. Kids have playgrounds in town parks and schools. What do adults have to help keep them in shape while also having fun? The gym doesn’t qualify because, for most people, working out is work, not fun. The exception is when the workout allows adults to swing, jump, get dirty, and challenge themselves on courses made specifically for them, like those on the popular TV show “American Ninja Warrior” and on Tough Mudder and other extreme obstacle course races. This fall, Las Vegas is even hosting an “Adult-Themed” course where the obstacles have names like the Dominatrix Dungeon and the Blue Balls Dash.

Sugary Cereals. A big reason that cereal sales have dropped is that fewer kids are eating them for breakfast. Yet as parents try to sub in healthier fare as a replacement for kid-favorite sugary cereals, the cereal giants appear to be having some success reaching a different audience—the parents themselves. Baby Boomers and Gen X, who grew up craving the sugar rush provided by a bowl of neon-colored goodies on Saturday mornings, are now being fed heaping doses of nostalgia, in the form of cartoon-character cereals brought back from the dead and other adult-focused marketing efforts. The fastest-growing consumers of Trix and Lucky Charms are, in fact, older adults.

Legos. “The Lego Movie” was certainly clever and entertaining enough to warrant an adult audience, especially among those who grew up building with the bricks. Lately, Lego has been making another appeal to adults. Several Legoland Discovery Centers—which normally attract families with children under the age of 10 or 12—have been offering special Adult Nights, where all visitors must be 18 or over.

Fruit Roll-Ups. Many adults would probably be embarrassed if they were caught eating Fruit Roll-Ups, delicious though they may be. How can you avoid being kidded about your preference for what is a quintessential kid snack? Easy. Call them something more adult-sounding, such as Fruit Strips or Fruit Leather.

Hot Pockets. Last year, Nestle attempted to broaden the Hot Pocket demographic—typically, teen boys and slacker college kids who don’t want to cook or even order pizza—by introducing gourmet versions featuring angus beef, hickory ham to appeal to adult foodies.

Halloween. October 31 used to be about children trick-or-treating door to door in their neighborhoods. Now it’s the centerpiece of a whole Halloween season where the kids are invited to enjoy only some—but by no means all—of the fun. A year ago, adults spent roughly $1.2 billion on costumes, compared to $1 billion spent on costumes for kids. Roughly 7 out of 10 college-aged adults plan on dressing up for Halloween, which explains the sales success of oddly “sexy” costumes of pizza slices or corn fields. Or sexy nuns. Adults also tend to spend more on their costumes than they do on Halloween outfits for kids. So that explains why companies are marketing the holiday to adults more and more. Still, it’s hard to come up with a good explanation for the existence of the Sexy Pizza Costume.

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