Staying Sane: Home security botched my shower


I have so many ideas that I want to write about for “Staying Sane” for working mothers. Ideas are flooding me at completely random times. And with these thoughts, I can’t help but draw a connection to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I wrote about the Hierarchy of Needs and the implications to working mothers more than one year ago — see post here. It is amazing to me the difference of where I was emotionally and with my life between then and now… but the Hierarchy of Needs still applies to me now – even though my situation has changed so much. I can’t help but think that as I continuously evolve and grow as a person, as a mother, and now as a Head of Household where I must work to not only contribute for my family but also survive… that this Hierarchy of Needs will still apply to me with the different roles that I play. I can’t help but wonder how the levels and extent of my happiness will be correlated with this… this is a topic that I will continue to explore in the future.

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Anyway, one of the needs closer to the foundation is in this model is Safety. “Security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property.”

When I first moved into my new house, my very FIRST house, as a newly separated mother of four young children, Safety was top on my mind. Safety of the neighborhood, safety of the structure of the house that I just purchased, keeping my family IN and potential trouble OUT. Of course there were other issues of safety as well (e.g., resources, health, etc.) but I want to focus on this house. Of this new home. Of being on my own again after 10 years but now also being solely responsible for the health and safety of four little ones when they were in my care. A house and a home was important to me. But I also wanted to make sure that I was doing everything in my power to keep this new home SAFE for me and my children.

So I caved into the many “new neighbor” flyers and advertisements that were sent to me and a bought a home security system. This does not come without a cost. Installation and set up was expensive. The monthly service fee is expensive for me since my resources are now so strained. But for me, the cost is worth the added piece of mind.

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So far the system has worked quite well.  It not only helps me to feel secure, but the kids as well.   When they used to get “scared” at night from the “kitty cats” and the “alligators”, I was able to show them how I lock the doors and set the security alarm.   They watched me intently.  And then we would go back to their rooms and talk about being scared and how they were in fact very safe in this house.   Talking to them helped to make it easier.

Another benefit is the “chime” whenever the front door or back door is opened, even when the alarm is not activated.  This helps me to control my kids.   I know precisely if one of these little explorers is leaving the house.   Very handy indeed.

Regardless of this, I do feel very safe in the neighborhood and I often keep my car unlocked.  And even my doors unlocked during the day.  Today was no different…

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I was looking for my wallet (yes, I am forgetful and misplace things easily) and decided to look in my messy minivan.   I started to gather lots of things that needed to be taken out so that I could clean it up a bit (yes, I am messy and the minivan looks like a disaster).   I didn’t realize it but I hit the emergency button on the alarm key fob.   I thought I heard something, but wasn’t sure since I was in the car.    When I got out I realized it was the home alarm and quickly entered my password.  I did not receive a call-back so I thought I was within the normal amount of time that would not trigger a call to the police.  I was wrong.

After cleaning out the car I decided to take a shower since I felt grimy.    It is not often that I am able to enjoy a shower – particularly with four young kids.   So when I get the “alone” time, I relish in the long, hot showers that are uninterrupted.    That is when I heard a loud, deep, male voice.    And almost shit myself while I was in my own shower.   I turned off the water, in shock.   I screamed – who is this?  Who is there??!??!??!?!??!?!??!?!?!??!?!      Wondering what I had to arm myself – which was not much.   Maybe some tweezers or a toe-nail clipper.   Or some high-heeled shoes.    Again, the loud, deep voice.

“SHERIFF!!   ARE YOU OK???!!!?”

I jumped out of the shower and threw on my robe as fast as I could and there were these two huge guys in uniform and guns in my bedroom asking me if I live here (yes) and if I’m OK (yes) and if I was an intruder who decided to take a shower in the owner’s house (ha, not funny assholes, I almost shit myself in my shower just now).   Sure I fantasize about a husky man waiting for me on the other side of my shower, but two guys is a bit much, and certainly two guys from the police department under these circumstances was NOT what I had in mind.

So as these guys left my house, I was still saying to myself “oh shit, oh shit” and thankful for this security system.   And yes, there were neighbors on the street who were outside wondering if anything indeed was wrong at the single-mother of four kids’ house on their block.   I am thankful for their concern.

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So, now that the security system has been successfully “tested”, I can rest easier tonight and in the future.   And I think I’ll talk to the kids about it too, if I can figure out a way to do so that does not tempt them to “call” the police officers over to our house again on their own.

Hope you are having a great weekend everyone –

– Mama K

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May 10: The start…


Thursday is normally a day off, but I had meetings scheduled in the morning and also my Tuesday this week was all messed up so I took the kids into daycare today.

Highlights of the Morning:

  • Big Bro made an awesome plane and car out of new Legos and he is totally improvising and creating new things out of the materials. I love that creativity in him.
  • I mentioned to Twin Husky that I needed to change his diaper and put on some socks, which I had ready in my hand. But he took off, ran upstairs, and picked out socks. That was the good part. The bad part is that he started to throw the socks over the balcony/banister of the house and thought that was a lot of fun. So he went back for more. And then Twin Crazy came over when she heard his laughter and started doing the same.
  • Twin Crazy wanted to wear stockings but had trouble putting them on over her pajamas pants.
  • Big Bro left on his bike and the other three were running around a bush in our front yard.
  • During the Twin drop off they were interested in seeing a flag so I spent some time with them outside, looking at it.
  • I forgot Twin Husky’s shoes so had to swing back to the house to pick up a pair for him. They go on a walk at 10 AM so she needed them by then.
  • Red’s drop off was great except we forgot her purse. I was running late at this point so I asked her to be strong.
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    Highlights of My Working Morning:

  • I had an internal team call about the follow up we need to do for the client presentation and work we just completed. There is some more work but not much.
  • We then had a call with our partners on an effort we are trying to sell to 7 potential clients on Tuesday. We needed this meeting to get on the same page as to what we were offering and what each party is bringing to the table. This effort has started so long ago that the people around the table now (including me) are uncertain what the overlay and committed effort is for our partner. This is a problem but hopefully something we can figure out after talking with the clients on Tuesday.
  • We immediately went into a debrief call with the client regarding the meeting we just had. We received some feedback that will require serious re-working of the document and I simply do not have time. We promised them a revised Executive Summary for Monday but I cannot do it; I offered up commentary on two pieces which I will need to work on over the weekend and then send off to them.
  • I then sent out a survey for our sales call on Tuesday to get more background and expectations from the participants.
  • I then called it a day….
  • The Rest of the Day:

  • I picked up my keys to my house at 1:30 PM this afternoon. The sales agents gave me big hugs. It is hot out there and the grass is already turning brown so we notched up the sprinkler system. I opened the door and the place actually seemed much bigger to me. We talked for awhile but I was anxious for them to leave. When they did, I peed in my toilet (it works) and walked around. I called my mom. I took pictures. I don’t know how exactly I feel. I think a bit scared. I want so badly for this to be home and I guess I’m fearing that I’m pushing myself too hard. I walked out back and climbed the stairs and walked the grounds. I walked over to my neighbor’s fence and counted 9 chickens. Two came over and squawked to me. I looked around at the weeds. I’m not sure what to do with this backyard. I have some ideas but all are a bit unorganized…. moonlights, pulling weeds, citrus trees, blackberry bushes… I went back inside the house and took measurements of the walls of all rooms (except for mine) since I will need to get furniture. The refrigerator space. The washer dryer space. I can buy these things now. And bar stools. I’d like for there to be bar stools at the counter for when the kids come to visit next weekend. Everything else will be unfurnished but that’s OK. I somehow thought I would be happier…. liberated…. but I didn’t really feel that way. It will be a home, I know, but I feel cheated that I can’t share this feeling with anyone. I should have brought a friend or something. I emptied out the mailbox which was STUFFED with mail. Some of it for me. The mailbox is metal and kindof gross. I looked around at the other mailboxes. I need to add “mailbox” to my list. I knocked on 3 houses and introduced myself to one of the neighbors – who also recently bought and is officially moving in tomorrow. The house next door to me has “children playing” signs outside so that was very encouraging. When I went to the door I saw a pair of girls shoes probably Big Bro’s age or slightly older. I found that I was paying so much attention to how the houses were set up on the outside to make them feel inviting. Again I have some ideas with my front space too but I’m not exactly sure how to pull it together. I felt strange not having cried or anything. I thought I would. Why didn’t I? I wish I was experiencing this feeling, this “first time homebuyer” feeling with someone. I feel cheated for having to do this by myself. Now it feels like just another set of activities that I need to get done and squared away. I’m hoping that as things settle, as I feel like I’m stretching into my new space, that it will feel like home and I will get that sense of elation that I am hoping for. Please?!??!?!? I backed out of the steep sloping driveway without ANY incidents…. that must be a good sign. I headed to my next destination.
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  • The elementary school is zoned to a town in the area known for its excellent schools. I called in advance so they knew I was coming. I brought the Closing Statement and my license so Big Bro is registered there for the Fall. Our child custody mediator suggested to register the kids in both locations since we don’t know where they will be going. I asked her about pre-schools and got a list. That will be one of my projects over the summer. Scoping them out, inquiring over price, and seeing if there is a way to get Red and the Twins in the same pre-school. The Twins deserve that kind of environment and having one drop off for the three of them would be ideal. I have time to work on that. But again, I felt a bit lonely on the winding streets in this new area. I had much higher hopes for this next phase in my life and I feel disappointed that things went the way they did. But I cannot change people and I tried my hardest to be understood. I feel excited and sad at the same time. At peace but thinking about the things to do. Excited for the opportunity for the children but crushed about the impact on their feelings and sense of security. We are going to talk to them on Saturday morning about this and come clean with them. There is a part of me that want very much for this to happen since it’s hard for me to keep this secret from them. I feel so close to them but feel like a liar most of the time. So it will be good to “come clean” but I am going to see their faces when their worlds fall apart. I can see Big Bro’s expression and Red’s expression. I can see Twin Crazy and Twin Husky not really getting it, but then looking at the older siblings and then getting upset too. I need to keep it together for them. I remember when my mom told me about my parent’s divorce and I remember it very clearly. I was nine at the time, so older, but I have a feeling that these kids will somehow remember their feelings from this upcoming Saturday morning for many years to come. Even if they don’t remember the words, they will remember how they make them feel. I’m dreading that part.
  • I picked up take out BBQ and went through the mail while I was waiting for the food. It felt really strange to see other people’s names on the address. I feel like there’s so much that I don’t know about that house but it is mine and it will be my home. It’s been there for 70 years. Who’s lived there? Who else has called this place home? Was it a happy home? Was it filled with laughter?
  • I picked up the kids and Red had to go pee. We went at Big Bro’s school and had fun running across the stage acting silly. It was a good time and completely out of our normal routine which was fun.
  • We played with Batman and fed him a carrot. Big Bro wants to give him a choice of an apple, carrot, and orange and see which food he goes to first. Sounds like a fun experiment. Twin Husky almost flooded the kitchen again but I was listening for him and got to him before he started to play with the refrigerator water spout.
  • We played upstairs together; it was hot so I dressed the Twins in short PJs which was fun. I read to all four of them at the same time which I love to do. The Twins both in my lap cuddling up to me and Red on one side and Big Bro on the other. The best is when it’s time for the kids to kiss each other which they all do. Even the boys.
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    So I’m in the hallway listening to them sleep. There’s a part of me that will miss this house even though it represents the failure of my marriage. I will miss watching over the kids and yes, I will mourn the feeling of hopefulness I felt when I first moved in. That was 2 years ago and it seems like yesterday yet also a lifetime ago. There is also the packing process that I have not written about – it’s very emotional. Things and “stuff” that you sift through and keep and then the stuff that you decide to toss. I’ve been doing a lot of tossing. I don’t know if it makes me feel better or worse. Like the 100 or so “tea lights” from our wedding ceremony. And all of the RSVP cards that I saved. And the wedding cards that I saved. All tossed. At one time it all meant so much to me and I guess they still do – but I needed to rid myself of it all and not bring it forward into this next step. The only part of that that I want to keep and cherish and celebrate are the kids. Someone the other day replied to me when I told them I was with him for 10 years and they said “what a waste” and I was so offended. How could it be a waste when I have these four amazing kids? And I am stronger now. And I know more now. And I trust myself more now. I’ve learned what I can do and what I desire. And I know what to fight for. And there is more that will come and I need to experience it in its fullest. Even though it may very well be the ugliest that I have been through. But I know that I will come through and hopefully be a stronger, better, wiser person because of it.

    And that’s probably the most I’ve dwelled on me in a long time. I have to save up energy and strength for this Saturday morning.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    February 21: The Little Blue Engine that could?!?!?!?


    Tuesday – after a long weekend – so this will be a super-short week for me. I don’t know if that is good or bad, since I am busy at work these days. It was a great morning until “the blow-out”….

    Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • I walked into the Twins room and they were just waking up; Twin Husky was sitting up sucking his thumb with his Tigers, and Twin Crazy was hidden in her crib underneath a pile of blankets (the house was freezing this AM). They were quietly talking and mumbling and being sweet. I went to Twin Husky first since he seemed more awake. He was talking about the pile of books and the choo-choo train. Then Twin Crazy started talking about the train that was “broken” and how the other trains needed to “help”. I’ve been reading “The Little Engine that Could” to them in an abbreviated format, talking about how the one train is broken, and how THIS train doesn’t help, and THAT train doesn’t help, and THAT train doesn’t help (he’s too tired), but the happy little blue train helps. Well, Twin Crazy while in her crib suddenly becomes so fixated on retelling that story to me and she was so concerned about the train that was broken and I re-assured her that eventually the little blue happy train helped. We spent the next 15 minutes talking about this, all through their diaper changes, and getting ready to go downstairs. It was so cute. So cute how they feed off of each other and so cute how focused she can be so early in the morning.
  • Chocolate Tuesday! Twin Crazy and Twin Husky ran into Big Bro and Red’s room, talking about Chocolate Tuesday and about the train that was broken.
  • Big Bro and Red both wanted me to carry down their piles of clothes for them. They were excited about chocolate.
  • All kids downstairs were thrilled for chocolate tuesday. Fingers in the chocolate, chocolate all over faces. (I’m talking about Nutella for those that do not know – don’t worry, I don’t feed Hershey’s to the kids in the morning).
  • All bags were already packed and ready – jackets ready to go. We just had to get kids fed and Big Bro/ Red dressed. It all seemed easy.
  • I instant messaged our neighbor to confirm that Big Bro could ride his bike with them this AM. He got mad at me because he wanted the message to read “today and everyday”. So I had to resend a message since he went on strike and would not eat his breakfast otherwise. He was mad at me but then got over it. He got dressed very easily.
  • Red was next. She was doing great until we got to her shirt. She picked out a short sleeved shirt the night before, but the house was freezing this AM so when she put the shirt on she rejected it. I picked out 3 different long-sleeved shirts but she wanted a shirt that was in the laundry. So she rejected the 3 long sleeved shirts. At this point, we only had TWO drop offs (since Big Bro was outsourced to the neighbors) but believe it or not we were running late. So we decided to divide the drop-offs. Red still refused to put on a shirt. I threatened for her to just wear her jacket. Then her shoes were not in the designated place so I had to run around and try to find her shoes. That is something that just shouldn’t happen. All of the shoes should be in their place. With eight feet to get ready, we can’t afford the time in the morning to look for ONE pair of shoes. She knew I was mad so cooperated the rest of the time. She got on a shirt, got on her jacket, got into the car without a problem. Her drop off was fine, but she was clingy.
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    I am so frustrated today. Frustrated that I had a partner that just accepted this kind of routine. Frustrated that I did not have the support from him. Frustrated that we couldn’t turn to each other when things with the kids were hard. Frustrated that as a couple we could not get to a better place because of inertia and fear. I can’t wait to get through the next few months in this house.

    I’m on the ferry right now and am still typing fast and hard at all of this. It is foggy. I don’t like that I have to rush for this ferry. I don’t like that I have to commute to the city away from the kids. I don’t like this situation right now. I need to get out of this “temporary” abyss that I am in. I need to re-start my life.

    Work will be busy today. We have a client touchpoint today on the project we just started so I’ll need to connect with the team and figure out what we can share with them. I also need to get out a planning survey for one of our forums so I can start to plan out the Agenda and secure speakers. I also need to reach out to secure primary interviews for another project I am assisting on. I also need to see survey results from the other forum I am planning to see what topics I should focus on. Finally, I need to pack up my office – our office is moving over the weekend and today will be the only day I can physically pack up my stuff. Looks like I need to re-calibrate my “to-do” list above. It will be difficult to execute against all of it today.

    Highlights of My Working Day:
    OMG I was so busy today. I almost did not stop for lunch, but this was the last day in the office for me so my “last lunch” was a bit of a momentus occasion – I got a huge turkey sandwich with REAL roasted turkey. YUM.

  • I was able to work with the research house we used before to get the old survey tools used for previous survey work we did in 2009 and 2010; we want to do the same customer surveys this year and feature the results during our meeting in April. So, I will need to work with these materials and modify to get the survey ready for this year.
  • I met with a team member to talk about the progress and initial results of his work related to our client project. I separately met with another team mate to understand available secondary research to help with the consumer preferences part of our work. I packed both sets of materials and sent to the client; we met with them in the afternoon to discuss progress and they seem really happy to-date. After the call, I talked with each of the team members about my expectations for the next Tuesday’s client call – what I wanted us to provide to them and if it was doable. They both have their marching orders so hopefully we will stay on track. I’ll check up on them on Friday and again on Monday to get the materials ready for the Tuesday client meeting.
  • I had a quick update meeting for the other initiative we are meeting for in April; I sent out some more invitations and also set up some conference calls to go over the purpose of the meeting and gauge interest.
  • I sent out the Zoomerang survey to help plan for one of the forums in April. This will help to identify which topics are of interest and how I can structure the Agenda into “tracks” so that we are presenting on topics that are of interest to the group(s).
  • I then spent several hours going through 8 years of files and packing. It was difficult for me. A part was extremely cathartic – getting rid and purging old work that I know I will no longer need. But there were many memories that flooded me — pictures that the kids drew over time, pictures of the kids as babies, spare diapers, old clothes, personal paperwork that brought me back in time. Maternity leave paperwork, health reimbursement paperwork, research of cities and their affordability and strength of public schools, copies of my marriage certificate, pictures of colleagues who passed away entirely too young. 8 years were compressed into 4 moving boxes. And these included “junk” of mine too…. rubber chickens, a favorite lamp for soft lighting, and lots and lots of photographs. I’m looking forward to a new office building. New faces. A new neighborhood. New lunch spots, new watering holes. A new breath. A new start.
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    So now I’m on the ferry with my normal shoulder bag but also with a roller bag of other personal paperwork. The sun is out. It’s beams are reflecting off of the waves and are flickering on my table. It is pretty, and relaxing. Maybe this is a sign that things will be better for me going forward. I’m hoping so.

    I have a pot-roast and chicken defrosting in the refrigerator. I think we’ll do the potroast tonight since it will be faster – with some pasta and veggies. I want to talk to Red tonight about this morning and how I felt mad but that we still love each other. Family members sometimes get mad at each other but it is OK to feel mad. It’s what we say, what we do, and how we communicate that is important – and that we all understand that we still love each other.

    Dinner and Bedtime:

  • I picked up Big Bro and he was encircled by several girls, each writing the names of different boys on their notepads and putting “stars” next to each of the boys’ names. They said Big Bro has the most starts because he is such a good boy. A quiet boy. A nice boy. One of them even went over to him and hugged him. she was cute with long hair. He blushed.
  • He walked the long walk to get his bike and he rode it back to the van. I watched him as he walked and then ran away from me. He stopped once to look back to see if I was still there. I couldn’t help but feel a bit lonely then, but also proud of the person he is becoming.
  • We picked up Twin Crazy and Twin Husky next. They were both going on a walk and were very concerned that I was going to pick them up without their second sets of lovely blanket and Tiger. I assured them we would go back and pick everything up.
  • We all went to pick up Red next. Red had some issues on the way out. She refused to walk. So all of us were standing there and she wanted me to pick her up but I just wouldn’t do it. I can’t do it. I’m too old for this. We eventually made it out with her walking on her knees and crying the whole way out.
  • I made dinner – a Trader Joe’s pot-roast, shredded cheddar cheese, warmed tortillas, broccoli/string beans, and a can of black beans — while the kids played. They played with plastic balls and Legos and pots and pans.
  • Dinner was really good and really easy. The kids ate well. Afterwards there was an issue with Big Bro and Red – he pushed her so I sent him up to his room. He kept coming down so I told him firmly that he needed to stay in his room and play quietly with something – Legos, books, anything. He kept it up and eventually I sat with him upstairs and he read to me – his homework for the night. He was fine from then on out. He read me his book, and then we were greeted by Twin Husky. He played with some magnets and then also with Big Bro’s Legos. Then they both played Legos and were really cute together.
  • I called down to Red to have her come up. I was on for their bedtime tonight. She came up without a problem and bedtime routine with both of them was really very easy. We picked out the clothes they want to wear for tomorrow. However… Big Bro has refused to sleep in his bed and is now on my bedroom floor. And now, as I type, I hear Red crying through the monitor for “mommy”. I can’t take this. It’s too hard to see this right in front of me. Let me go and check in on her.
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    *****
    I sat with her and rocked her for 15 minutes. I tried to put her in bed. She rejected it. Demanded her pillow and her doll. We came downstairs and I attempted to set her up next to Big Bro on my bedroom floor. She rejected that. She is pissed. And rightfully so. She wants her own bed but she wants Big Bro there too. She doesn’t understand. I don’t know what to do for her, for our kids in this situation.

    Til tomorrow –
    – Mama K

    November 23: One-on-one time with Big Bro


    Today was a work-at-home day. And it was a 1/2 day. And it is the day before Thanksgiving. And we decided not bring Big Bro in for “day camp” today and save the extra money.

    That meant that I had some extra time with Big Bro, just me and him.

    • We dropped of the Twins and Red. She wanted to wear her little turkey head band again today. She is too cute. Her teacher chuckled when she saw Red back at school with the hat on. Too cute.

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    • I did some work and reached out to a number of prospects for a new forum we are trying to launch. As I did this, Big Bro watched a movie.
    • I straightened up the house and unpacked some Yankee Candles that I ordered. Pumpkin Pie and French Vanilla scents. I love candles. The house just felt warmer with them on.
    • We went out to lunch. We talked. He felt tired and rested his head on my lap for a bit. We held hands. I loved this time with him. I feel like I love him so much that my heart hurts. I asked him if I told him how much I loved him yet today, he said yes, but I kissed his nose anyway.

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    • We went shopping at Trader Joe’s for our entire Thanksgiving dinner. I love that place. We were in and out in less than 20 minutes. They had everything and the place wasn’t too crowded. There were little turkey footprint stickers leading the way to the turkeys. We left with four strips of stickers.

     

     

    Dinner and Bedtime were a bit routine; with the exception of the older kids wanting to read to the younger kids. And also Red asking me to spend some alone time with her, doing exactly what I was doing with Big Bro today. Her face looked so sweet and patient when she asked me this. It’s not like she is jealous of Big Bro – in fact, I hear them right now talking up a storm upstairs – they get along really well. I just always sense her neediness. And I feel bad for her that she went to school while he stayed at home, it’s just that I had work to do and I can accomplish things with him and not nearly as much when she is around – she is much more interactive so I can’t focus on work while she’s here.

    This does frighten me. How on earth am I going to be able to give each of these children what they need? How much more can I possibly give? Am I shortchanging them individually because I have so many children collectively?

    There’s a sense of sweetness that I’m feeling now, the night before Thanksgiving – with my children who touch me in ways I’ve never dreamed imaginable. How Big Bro took my hand at lunch and how we sat there in silence briefly just being there with each other. How Red looks at me and expresses her need to be with me – while she’s hugging me and laying in my lap. How I danced softly holding Twin Husky earlier in the evening because he seemed more tired than normal and how he wrapped his arms around me and held me tight. How Twin Crazy looked at me tonight and said “I did it” and then I looked down at her foot and she had a sandal on, apparently put on by her, all by herself.

    But at the same time there is such a feeling of solitude. Loneliness. Despite the new work arrangement and the happiness that it has brought me. There is more. I need more. But I will spend time tomorrow feeling thankful for this family and what we have.

    Have a great Thanksgiving everyone –
    – Mama K

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