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Guest author Andrew lives with his husband Juan and their son Benji in South Orange, NJ. They share their constant home remodeling project with their nine-year-old blind pug Poqui. Andrew was trained as an architect and now is the IT Director for a New York City architecture firm, where he works hard to come home on time every night. He enjoys travelling, cuddling by the beach and walks in the fire. He blogs at  Opladen Baby Muff.


For those of you non-architects – I know there may be a few of you in this town – coping is a term that shouldn’t be just tossed around. It has roots in construction and it means the device one uses to protect the structure, specifically the cap (or capa) of a wall. It is a vital part of both architecture and psychology and neither would persist without it.



A critical structural element like a wall can’t exist without protection from the elements; usually we design roofs to absorb most of nature’s onslaught. But when walls are left to fend for themselves, we stick a coping on top: a simple slanted cap that drains off the rain so it doesn’t seep into the core of the structure.

No wonder that we’ve taken this term to symbolize the way we protect ourselves. We might typically have larger structures – family, society, morals – to shield ourselves from the weather much like a roof gives cover to our mid-century ranch.

But when your walls are outside – when you’ve reached the limits of what your infrastructure can protect – you have rely on your coping. Those simple yet effective actions that allow you to get through just one more temper tantrum, just one more late train, that last workplace confrontation intact.

I used to cope by meeting friends out for drinks in the city. Then during a brief period I was able to focus my attention on remodeling our weekend house and literally pounding out that anxiety into the sheetrock. Lately I’m surprised to find myself coping by just…simply stopping. That simple, slanted cap that moves the rain from the top of me to the side, as if I’ve taken a cloud of anxiety and let it drain into a basin for later.

This is not to say that I have become “zen” about my “journey.” I’d rather define it as being just incredibly tired. Any substitutes for coping proved to be more exhausting than facing any parenting issues head-on. The tantrum is best handled in the moment – water off a duck’s back – and then we move on to getting dressed for school. The structure is sound and protected.

Of course I look forward to the day that we have a more comprehensive solution to moisture control. Hence my investment in quality babysitting resources for those less frequent – but still vital – nights out with my husband, protecting the structure of our family.

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