March 19: A Gift


It’s been awhile since I have written a daily journal as a true working mother.   Now, my week is halved due to the divorce.  Half of the week I do not have the kids, and I work.  The other half of the week I DO have the kids, and I’m a stay-at-home mom.   Wednesday is a hybrid day – I work from home for ½ the day and then go pick up my kids and am with them the remainder of the day.  So, it’s been difficult for me to still be relevant for a blog trying to navigate the challenges of a working mother, and the balancing act of these two roles that occur daily for many women.

Today was different.

Co-parent has a work trip so he dropped the kids off to me last night.   I eagerly prepared for their drop off – cleaning the house and making their arrival comfortable.  They arrived at my home to a warm fire in the fireplace and the smell of clean laundry drying – but, it was 8 PM, not ideal since that is their bedtime.  It was confusing for them.  They arrived and wanted to play, especially the younger ones Twin Crazy and Twin Husky.   So it was hard for them to arrive at my place and immediately go into books and bed.   But we did it.  I loved having them with me last night and reading to them and hugging them and telling them that I love them.  It was a special gift for me.  One by one they were put to bed.   After Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were in their rooms, I witnessed the end of Big Bro reading to Red.  It was so sweet.  He decided he was shy so I gave them privacy to read to each other without me looking over their shoulder.

I spent the rest of the evening getting ready for the next morning.  Shoes were laid out for the kids.    Clothes were folded and more were put in the dryer.  I took a shower.  I was a bit anxious about being able to get all four kids (and me) ready and out the door, doing the 20 mile/45 minute commute, doing two drop offs, and then hopefully making the ONE ferry to work.

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Highlights of the Morning:

  • I hit the snooze button out of habit and then woke up late.  Thank goodness I showered the night before.   I got dressed in 1 minute flat and started with the kids’ breakfast.   Chocolate Tuesday.
  • I got Twin Crazy and Twin Husky started.   Twin Crazy was causing me a problem because she felt I was giving more time to Twin Husky.  I spent some time talking to her and then she was fine.    Red ran into the kitchen for chocolate Tuesday and spread the Nutella on her tortilla by herself (lover her age and her independence).
  • I started to get the kids dressed one by one with clothes they liked.  Their reward for getting dressed is vitamins.   I talked all the time about having to get out early and needing everyone’s co-operation.  I got it no problems.  Kids were fed, dressed, and in the car one by one.   Not all together, but one at a time I had each kid into the car and ready to go.
  • Big Bro is always the last to get up.   I gently woke him up and unwrapped him from his blanket, but gently.   He was so warm and toasty and it felt like Christmas for me to open up such a gift – a school day for my eldest child who no longer looks like a baby but reminds me of one at that moment.  He got dressed and I gave him a breakfast bar to eat during the commute.   Red was not happy about that but got over it quickly.
  • Twin Husky wanted his red fire truck.   Red helped me find my keys.  I call her “eagle eyes” now.  She is so observant – in so many ways.
  • We were out of the house on time!   I loved the drive with them.  We talked about how it felt like a different day since the normal schedule got a bit disrupted.   Kids were pointing to the trucks on the highway.   Big Bro was playing Angry Birds on my iPad.  We talked about the bedtime routine last night and how it was a bit hard at first but everyone did great.  How the boys went to sleep without a problem but the girls kept laughing and talking and then whining that they were scared (just for my attention).   And how I said a new rule at my house would be if anyone causes an un-necessary problem at bedtime then they lose dessert the next day.   Quickly Red and twin Crazy ran back to their rooms and I didn’t hear a peep out of them.  We laughed about that this morning together.   Twin Crazy was busy singing the “day of the week song”.   Big Bro asked her to be quiet since after 15 times it started to bother him.
  • I realized I missed a conference call in the rush to get out and on the road.  I was supposed to lead a 7:45 AM conference call to hire a lawyer for one of the forums I manage but I realized at 8 AM that I missed it.   So, I had to organize with my admin to get back to him and apologize and reschedule for later in the AM.
  • We did crazy-fast drop offs.  Big Bro off at his school on time.   Then the second drop off with the rest of the kids.  They were all speedy.  Red had a problem saying goodbye to me, as usual.  I had to pry her hands off of me and her teacher pulled her in close to him.  This is our normal routine for her when I do drop offs and transitions from me to her school.
  • I raced to the ferry and actually made it!!!!

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Now I’m on the ferry and it feels the same yet different.   I feel the anxiety of having to rush, rush, rush to get ready and out with the kids.  The ONE ferry deadline is extremely stressful.    Again, I have no make up on.  Hair is a mess.   It looks like I just crawled out of bed.  No breakfast.   I’m seeing some familiar faces and am finding that I really don’t miss this at all.  This is like groundhog day.  I remember these days so well and am so glad that I am not in that place again.   The dark, run run run days where I tried/begged for help and change but my spouse was unwilling to do so.   Feeling lost, cold, and alone.  And scared.  I’m in a better place now.

Today at work I will need to:

  • Negotiate price and hire the lawyer that I needed to talk to this AM
  • Confirm  details with two forum meetings that I am managing
  • Do one last round of sales efforts to Guests that came to previous meetings in the past
  • Be part of a kick-off phone call for a project I sold – I am not on project  delivery but am involved in the project for client relationship reasons.

Ferry is pulling in now!   Gotta sign off and get ready for the day.  I feel great.

Highlights of My Working Day:

  • Great day.  Received more positive responses for Guests for the upcoming meetings.
  • I approved a web-based survey to go out to the participants of one of the meetings I am organizing.  It feels good to have that part kicked off.  I will have a consultant run with it and feel good about that too.  That frees up time for me to do client relationship type stuff.
  • Had a conversation with potential new legal representation for our one forum and negotiated price down – so great – we are both so happy.   I’m excited about getting this new firm on board.   And he seems eager to get involved in our group.
  • The day just went by real fast.  I was busy and enjoying myself.

On the ferry back I saw an old friend from over 20 years ago (I can’t believe that!).  I used to work with him when I was in NYC and we both wound up on the west coast.  It has been the first time I’ve seen him since the divorce.   It felt good to connect with him again.  I find that people react differently when faced with these kinds of discussions.  I try to strip out the awkwardness and focus on the positive.  The positive parts in my life now.  How I am enjoying work (at 50% even!) for the first time ever and being a stay-at-home mom for half the week for the first time ever.  How the kids are doing great (I think) and how I’m finding happiness.  Once I describe how my life has changed in a good way, these people tend to feel more at ease, share their thoughts, and actually look me in the eye.

Highlights of the Rest of the Day:

  • Pick up for Red was great.  Her teacher commented on her new shirts.   Red and I went shopping the other day at Target to pick out shirts – she is extremely picky about clothes and it was a problem with her in the mornings.
  • Pick up for Twin Crazy and Twin Husky was so cute.  I usually get them from daycare when they are in the middle of their naps.  But today they were full on playing.  Twin Crazy was pretending to read a book to the class.  Twin Husky was showing me how he can support his body with his arms like a pull-up but under a table.   I signed up for parent-“teacher” conferences for all 3.
  • Pick up for Big Bro was fun.  He stays with a neighbor on Monday and Tuesday afternoons (a stay at home mom with four kids of her own).  It was the first time I’ve picked him up there.  I walked into a house of freshly baked blueberry muffins.  The kids there are wonderful.  I spent a lot of time with their daughter.  It has been awhile since I’ve seen her – she is the youngest with 3 older brothers so she is tough – but today she was wearing the sweetest dress and she looked so grown up.  So sweet.
  • On the ride home we ate muffins and graham crackers.  Twin Crazy was singing again.  Big Bro was playing with the iPad.  Twin Husky kept pointing out trucks.  Red found a gray porta-potty which we all thought was an unusual color for a porta-potty.
  • It was fun with the kids on Tuesday night in my neighborhood.   We took out the trash.  We were greeted by a neighbor with two wrapped gifts for each of the Twins for their birthday.   And unbelieveably, the neighbor across the street got two goats.  The kids were going nuts (as was I).   He was talking about it because of all of the grass we all have.   He’s keeping them and I am psyched.  So now we have chickens to the left of us and goats across the street.  Unbelievable.  And I grew up in Philly.   I love where I live and I love the people that I am surrounded by – they are wonderful neighbors and people.
  • Big Bro was reading Twin Crazy and Twin Husky their books during dinner prep, instead of doing his homework.
  • Kids ate well but it was late.  The long drive home and the goat escapade put us back a bit.
  • After dinner I did homework with Big Bro and set up the rest with their own “homework”.  Red with some workbooks, Twin Crazy tracing her name, and Twin Husky just coloring and making a mess with pencils and crayons.   I love doing homework with Big Bro.   I really enjoy it.   I love learning about what he knows and how he is learning.
  • Bedtime was a bit rough.   Putting them down one by one, trying to give them individual attention is hard.
  • I cleaned up from dinner and folded more clothes.  I’m gearing up for tomorrow.

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I’m in bed now feeling really tired but really really full inside.  It was a busy day for me but a return to “working motherhood” that I was so used to before.  I am glad that the days of multiple drop offs while racing for one ferry are over for me.  This coupled with a 45 minute drive was difficult.  I felt bad for the kids since they ate dinner so late.   It is now past 10 PM and the boys are sound asleep but the girls are still being girls, talking.  I don’t know how they do it.

I loved today.  The extra time with my kids is a gift that I do not take for granted.

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

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Staying Sane: More new friends


Saturday is a day that I get to wake up late and enjoy a day getting things done while I wait for the kids. They are with co-parent until I see them at 4 PM.  This Saturday AM I spent my time cleaning up my front yard and planting about 50 bulbs for the Spring – but that is a story for another time.

During this planting, I had the opportunity to meet some kids who were walking their dog Hershey. They usually don’t walk this way in front of my house, but they were on this day because their dog is new to their family. Rescued from a dog pound 2 days before he was about to be put to “rest”.

I learned that they were the neighbors at the end of the street whom I did not yet meet. Two boys, ages 11, 7, and a girl, age 6. I had fun with Hershey and talking with them. I guess I don’t mind talking to kids when I am solo since it is in my nature now to talk to kids since I have so many. Anyway, they asked about my kids and they asked why they weren’t around until 4 PM. I explained that they were with their Dad and that they have “two houses” and that they spend time with me, and they spend time with their dad. How they have two rooms, two sets of books, two sets of toys, etc. (my normal explanation about the separation).   Usually this story works out well since I end with “two sets of toys”. But this was the first time I was talking with a sort-of older kid – and that’s when the 11-year old told his siblings “yeah she’s talking about Divorce. When things don’t work out.”…..

Anyway, I told them that the kids would be at my house at 4 PM and ready to ride bikes. So for them to come back. They walked off with their dog and I continued with my yard.

*****

At 4:02, the new kids came back, with their bikes. They were waiting to meet my kids. The van pulled up. My kids came out and met the “new kids” (it’s so ironic since the “new kids” have actually lived on that block all of their lives, and WE are the family of the “new kids”). Big Bro got out immediately and started riding. Red was a little bit apprehensive, since these were older kids, who ride fast. Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were anxious to get their bikes and get going!  Twin Husky helped me put out the traffic cones in the street. The kids next door were calling out through the window that they were coming out too. The kids across the street were getting their bikes out and helmets on. The boys up the hill were coming down with their bikes with their mom who had a margarita in a cup. And then the 6-year old twins from way up the hill were seen to be coming down with their bikes and their shark and fish helmets. The fun began…

Kids on bikes. Kids running from house to house. Kids on the tree swing next door in the front yard.  Big Bro coming out with some balls to kick in the street. Big Bro wanting a snack so I went in and got Ritz Crackers and asked him to bring out the entire box for everyone to share. I asked him to ask everyone if they wanted any… and he did – such a good host and such a “giver”. The neighbors congregated on my stoop. Some had never met since there are new folks here. I met the parents from the corner house. Some disappeared and came back with bottles of wine. Boys were running from house to house. Red just wanted to be an acrobat on me. Twins were riding bikes. Big Bro hit it off with the “new kid” who is 7.   Everyone looking out for cars and having the kids pull over when one would drive by, very slowly, just looking at all of the people/kids in the street and maneuvering through the “kids at play” signs and my traffic cones with flags.

As far as we know, we have 21 children ages 11 and under on this block.  And we had 19 of them out this past Saturday night with their parents congregated on the stoop of my house.  The only ones that I have not yet met are a family with 2-year old twins (more twins!!) who are hosting a Halloween party for everyone on Halloween night.

All kids were going non-stop – and then the sun started to go down and families started to separate. I wound up with some stragglers at my place as I cooked dinner. I didn’t mind.

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*****

The next day, Sunday, Big Bro went over to “the new kids'” house to play wall-ball. And then after lunch I had 4 extra neighborhood kids in my house along with the dog, Hershey. In the late afternoon, I took my kids back to co-parent’s house. And then when I was alone, there was a knock on the door and it was the “new” kids again, boy aged 7 and girl aged 6, and Hershey. Again it was hard for them I guess to understand that even though I was there, my kids were not. They are only at this house some of the time. But now at least they know that we live in this house and that the four kids are here every Saturday starting at 4 PM.

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I love how Big Bro just hit it off with these new kids – especially how in the past he was so shy. I love how welcoming in general children are. I love how they see fun in each other and how quickly the activities can change when so many kids are getting together. I remember nights like this as a kid. I am happy that I can give these experiences with my kids now and that we, together, get a chance to explore these new beginnings together.

Have a great week everyone –

– Mama K

Staying Sane: Offload a child!


It’s the end of a busy weekend with the neighborhood kids.  On Saturday night, we had our normal crew of 10 kiddos in the street with their bikes, and then we had the fun of welcoming a new family to the street – so make that 12!   The kids had a blast.  I had cones with flags in the street and everyone was cruising along looking out for cars.   Then, Big Bro decided to bring out various paddles and balls and then all kids were in my front yard trying to see how many times they could hit their own ball up in the air.  I absolutely loved it.  I’ve always been an entertainer… I love having people around and intermingling.  And I think it is so cute to see Big Bro following quietly in these footsteps… bringing out pitchers of water and cups for the kids, paddles, a wheel-barrel of balls… too cute.

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Then Sunday.  The kids know to wait until 10 AM until they knock on any doors.  But Big Bro was anxious.  He took a tricycle in the front lawn and stood on top of it announcing, “Do any kids want to come out and play?!?!?!??!?”.  Way too cute.

It was going to be hot out today.  So I decided it would be a slip-n-slide and blow up pool day.   I asked Big Bro and Red to go to each of the neighbors’ houses and invite them over for 11 AM if they wanted to play.   Everyone were takers except for the new kids on the street…. their family was way too busy unpacking.   But somehow I lost Big Bro in the mix.   He absolutely hit it off with the new kid – almost his age.

The new kid had Ninjago Legos.   Something that Big Bro does not.  So any new toy is a fantastic toy to a six year old.   When I went over there with the Twins to fetch Red and Big Bro, he did not want to leave.  And surprisingly, the new family did not want him to leave either.   He was quiet entertainment for their eldest.  Their quiet play gave their child something to do while each of the parents got productive at unpacking and sorting out their lives.   I exchanged phone numbers and we texted throughout the day.  Big Bro wound up staying there a whooping 5 hours and even having lunch there.    They assured me he was no problem and actually was great for their son.

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Meanwhile, I had the rest of the neighborhood kids along with some parents to enjoy the warm weather and laugh like kids.

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I am happy there is another family in town, another two kids to join our community, and a connection formed between my sometimes-shy son and other kid who seems to be wonderful, at least at this point.

Have a great week everybody –

– Mama K

September 29: Dazed and confused


This morning was unusual in that Hubby had to leave early for a meeting; so he had to also bring Red with him on the earlier side. This isn’t really much of a problem though since she is usually the first one up anyway.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • Red and Big Bro are up, lounging in their beds. They set out clothes the night before so changes were fast. Big Bro asks me if I will be volunteering in his class today. I say to him that I filled out ALL the paperwork for me to volunteer, and they are asking parents of his class to do lunchroom duty for the month of October. I picked 4 days to do this for him (including Halloween — I will have a blast with this). I also mentioned to him that I will talk to his teacher about other ways I can help in his classroom. I will likely be working from home going forward so this will be completely doable for me. He is psyched. I tell Red that I will have the same conversations with her teachers if she wants me to volunteer in her class too. She does. So it will be done!!!
  • I go to the Twins’ room – and they are just waking up. Twin Husky jumps up immediately and wants to get out of the crib to start his day. Twin Crazy generally prefers to sleep later so she takes some time to roll around, look around, and then get up.
  • Twin Crazy seems cranky. I look down at her pajamas and her poor little legs can’t extend the full way. They are too small! I take them off and talk to her about it and as soon as I get them off of her she is smiling and looking at me like I saved the day. Cute!
  • Red decides to switch out of the dress she had on; I ask Twin Crazy if she would want to wear that dress. Everything is cool. So I put the dress on Twin Crazy and she looks so sweet, so demure – I ask her to show Hubby and her cute little face looking up at him asking for his response back was so adorable.
  • I go downstairs with the kids and everything generally went smooth. REd was ready for the earlier departure. Big Bro was fast with breakfast and very quick at getting changed.
  • The 3 kids were great getting into the van. Big Bro was busy holding his lunchbox and his folder with all the paperwork I completed the night before.
  • Quick drop off for the Twins. I hugged them extra long today.
  • Drop off for Big Bro was great. He was psyched about his folder of paperwork. His teacher gave him a high-five. She also appreciated my offer to help her in any way that she needs.

So now I’m on the ferry. It is gray outside. I also feel grey inside. I’m hurting and upset about a life that I feel is so out of reach for me and my children.

Work today will be very busy. I still have some last movements in one agenda, and I still have many presentations yet to receive. I will probably get them at the end of the day and will need to review and provide feedback over the weekend. On one hand I am very excited about being away for a week; but on the other the thought of being away from my kids is heartbreaking to me. I need to get over that feeling.

Highlights of my Working Day:

  • As expected, I was extremely busy finalizing an agenda, sending info out to attendees, reviewing presentations, providing feedback, etc. etc.      I feel like I’m doing things that are needed to be done but feel like I have four left feet.   It’s all a bit confusing thinking through all of the play-by-play details and I feel like I’m missing a alot…. I’m a bit confused and trying to get my act together, but falling behind.
  • We had a planning call with one of the Directors who will be attending one of the forums with me, to get him up to speed on the people there, the content to be discussed, and how our company provides value to the audience.
  • I also had a planning call for a separate forum — it looks like the potential speaker has content that actually looks and feels like competing content that we provide…. ugggh.   So now I either stick to an agenda with 3 speakers or I need to find another…. I’ll need to worry about that later.
  • HOWEVER THERE IS STILL A LOT MORE TO DO!!!!!!!!!!!!   Do I work on it tonight after the kids go to bed?   Or do I do it over the weekend?   My preference would be to knock it out tonight but I am so drained, for so many reasons.
  • On the commute home via Ferry I talked with a neighbor – a family who lives behind us with FOUR kids and also a set of Twins!   We were commiserating; I don’t feel as alone.   We promised to get our families together after all 8 of our kids are asleep.  That way we can drink and get to know each other better.  Funny – it’s been over a year and its taken us that long to connect.   People are just so busy out here in a big city to stop what they do and take in the surroundings; I feel like the sense of community is lacking, making it harder to expand beyond our own little part of the world.
Dinner and Bedtime:
  • Hubby is not going to make it home this evening; he’s spending time with his brother and sister-in-law who is ready to give birth any day now.  So I am with the kids solo – I know I can handle it.   In fact, I revel in it.
  • I picked up Big Bro and spent some time with him at after-care since he was in the middle of a “pom-pom” project.   I thought it was really interesting and SO EASY to make little pom-poms.  I’ll try to replicate it someday and then send out the instructions to the group.  I also wanted to go slow with pick up — mommy-time is on my mind for each of these kids.
  • We picked up Red – she was outside with this HUGE floppy pink hat on, looking absolutely adorable.   She immediately reports on the amount of lunch she ate that day.
  • We decide to go grab take-out food for dinner.   So we drive to our favorite BBQ place to pick up food, and then we pick up the Twins.   Twin Husky is upset because he wants to get in the front seat to drive the car.
  • At home, I get kids organized with eating right away.   Twin Husky is still in the van playing with the steering wheel.   I finally get all kids at the table eating.
  • After dinner Big Bro starts a movie (Friday nights are movie nights) and I play with Red (flying airplanes and general rough-housing) to the point of feeling sick.  I’m not sure if its the rough-housing or the stress I’m under.
  • Twin Crazy is busy wiping her mouth with a little napkin I gave her at dinner.  This was the first time I’ve given them napkins and she was so cute – she’d take a sip of milk, and then wipe her face.  Take another sip of milk, and wipe her face.   I was laughing and encouraging her cleanliness.   She also did some airplanes on me but got a little scared so went back to cleaning her face.
  • We all make it to the living room to be with Big Bro.  I get the Twins changed in PJs.   Twin Husky stands on the coffee table.  Twin Crazy is cleaning her face, and now also her feet.   Twin Husky is also brushing his teeth.
Four kids mesmerized by Toy Story

Four kids mesmerized by Toy Story

  • I bring up the Twins first — we read a picture book together.  It is amazing how intense Twin Husky is with this picture book.  He MUST point to everything to understand what it is and he repeats EVERYTHING extremely well – he is very understandable.   Twin Crazy however still is very vocal but mumbles everything…. but she is trying.   I encourage both and give them lots of hugs and kisses for reinforcement.  We sing and then they are ready for sleep.   They say “night night” and I also hear some “I love you”s — -I just can’t get over it.   Hearing that from them is a pinnacle moment.   I remember when I first learned I was having twins, seeing their two little spots and heartbeats, and feeling terrified and wondering how were we ever going to do this??!?!?!?!??!?!    And now these children are children…. they are speaking in words… they are active…. they are eager to learn…. and they are so affectionate; and the “I love you”s are beginning for them.   I really am so proud of them and feel lucky to have them in my life.
  • I head downstairs for some mommy-time with Red and Big Bro.  The three of us sit together on the couch bundled under a blanket, watching Toy Story and laughing at the funny parts.   By the time we head upstairs it is late; so I only read a FAST book and then they are both out.
Today was a day of ups and downs.   Parts of the day just left me dazed and confused.   It makes me want to just go to sleep.  But now I need to work.   So, let me go at it so I can enjoy the rest of my weekend.
Happy weekend to all –
– Mama K
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