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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Aug 9 and 10 recap: SAHM in the summer


It has been a busy two days for me so I collapsed into bed each night without a post.  I had the kids and wanted to take advantage of the summer time with them before school starts.   The school year for us will involve many highway trips in early morning rush-hour traffic so I wanted to enjoy this time with them on my days off before the school year begins.

Thursday, August 9:

  • We woke up to chickens.
  • Chocolate Thursday at Mommy’s house!   Red teased a chicken with her chocolate tortilla roll-up

  • We hit the road to get Big Bro’s backpack which we forgot a daycare the day prior.   I took the opportunity for us to introduce Twin Crazy and Twin Husky to their new daycare room when the “school year” starts.   Red showed Twin Crazy the potty (very small!  Very cute!) and they used it.   Red helped her wash her hands and showed her where the soap was and the paper towels and trash can.   Big Bro showed Twin Husky the kitchen set (Twin Husky loves playing kitchen) and they all experimented with the couches and the books.   They were having a great time.  We showed them the cubbies for their “stuff” as well as the hooks for their jackets.  Both indicated that they would like to come here for the day and play and learn.

  • From here, I was spontaneous and decided to take them on a train ride.  We talk about the trains all the time when we are commuting on the highway.  I talk about how I take that train to work and how it goes into the city to my office.   They have been asking about going on a train ride and going to my new office.  Big Bro and Red did not have the opportunity to see my new office and they wanted to see it.  So I called in advance and then we headed over.  IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!  The kids were great.  We all stayed together.   We parked and remembered the number of the parking space. We paid for parking together and then we went through the turnstile and up the escalator to wait for the train.  On the train we stood up and looked outside and also had some time underground.  They were very brave.  And the older kids looked after the little kids.   I told them how many stops and when to get ready for the next stop.  THey were excellent and followed directions so well.

  • Along the street we had a long 5 blocks to walk, but again, we stuck together, held hands, went slowly.   It was lunchtime and there were lots of people walking about but all were generally good / patient with us.  I got a lot of comments.  I love going places with all of these kids.   I love being able to do things with them in tow.    Especially when they are so good and are able to take in so much.   We talked about the city, the big buildings, how people move fast, how we used to live here, the streets where I used to move the stroller with Big Bro and Red.

  • In the office we were surprised to learn that there was a birthday that day.  So they brought lunch in, and better yet, cupcakes.  That was a huge hit with the kids.   They were extremely talkative with my co-workers and very lively and funny.  Big Bro was showing off his Lego plane.  Twin Crazy and Twin Husky were busy playing/talking/fighting like twins.   Red was quiet, but cute – we talked about her “sibling haircut”.   Twin Husky asked my boss “do you have a penis?”.    He is on the boy/girl thing and yes, they talk about penis and vagina body parts all the time.  My boss (who is kidless and in his 60’s, about to retire), indicated “Yes, I do have a penis.”.  OMG.

  • The kids made it back AOK on the 5 block walk to the train station and on the ride back.

  • When we got home it was dress up time.  I tried to get the Twins down for a nap but it was impossible.

  • We headed next door to see the neighbors and the kittens.  They invited us over to the pool.  We gladly accepted.
  • At the pool the kids were having an amazing time.  My other neighbor showed up at the pool with beers and pizza so we made a night of it.  We met more friends of neighbors and more kids that are Big Bro’s age.  Nice kids.  They hit it off.  I love it here.  I gave big hugs to all when I left.  The folks were great going into the big pool with Big Bro and Red while I kept my eyes on Twin Crazy and Twin Husky.  Big Bro wants me to get the phone number for the new kid he met so he can continue to play with him.  He had a great time with him tonight.

  • We saw deer as the kids were getting ready for bed.  A mother and her baby.  The baby has gotten much bigger since we’ve seen it last.

  • The kids slept well.   (As did I).  It was a full day.

Friday, August 10:

  • We again woke up to chickens.
  • The kids did art activities while I straightened up the house a bit.   I started a lot of laundry.

  • After snack I took the kids to the playground.  A part of the playground where there is sand and a structure with a water pump and spouts and pipes.  The kids had a great time.  Big Bro was in his Batman costume.  Twin Husky was completely immersed in his building, pounding, scraping, water activity.   He was in his own world.  Twin Crazy had fun playing a little more conservatively than her brother.  But she loved the sand and the water.   Red was very apprehensive about the sand at first.  She didn’t like the feeling on her hands.  But once she got into it she loved it.  She was making me sand meatballs.

  • We headed home for lunch and naps.  Again, the Twins refused to nap.
  • We played outside in the blow up pool since it was so hot outside.   They were enjoying it but Big Bro was having a hard time.  He dumped the pool upside down.   I don’t know what his problem was but I sent him inside.  I set up the kids again, and then I went in to get Big Bro.  We sat on the rocking chair together, with him on my lap.  He was cranky at first but we had a conversation.   How I thought his behavior was not that friendly and if there was something wrong.   He wouldn’t answer.   We then just talked.   Talked about school, about how much fun that will be, about math, and science… and he told me he didn’t want to go to aftercare since you can’t bring your toys out.  So I told him that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday there would be no aftercare.  I would pick him up from school and did he like that?   His face smiled.   And on Monday and Tuesday, we were going to see if he could go home with the Motley Crew (friends behind co-parent’s house).   He seemed much better then.  He was ready to play with his siblings again.

  • We played in the pool.   Red asked me to sit in the pool.   The kids were all pouring water on me and I was carrying on enjoying myself with them.  They were laughing.

  • I took the opportunity while Red’s hair was wet to actually try to cut it to even out the sibling haircut.   I think it looks OK.   She doesn’t seem to care.

Before you knew it, it was time to head to co-parent’s.   On the way, we drove by the parking lot where I park for my commute, and also the train station where I go on Mondays and Tuesdays.  The kids wanted to see that.

The kids were in good moods.  They had very active days and I had a lot of time to spend with them collectively and individually.

I went food shopping and bought gas and then headed home – doing these activities helps me to avoid the rush-hour commute traffic on the way back.   I was tired when I got back.  I played with Cocoa a bit.   Did some gardening/watering.   Did some work on my computer with photos.   Then called it a night.

I had an amazing two days with the kids.   I was able to get things done and also spend a lot of time with them.   They are feeling more and more comfortable here and I love it.

August 3: My summer day as a SAHM


Amazing day.   Amazing.  Filled with kids’ laughter, my chores, kid interaction, and yes some fighting and challenges along the way.

I actually had an outing in mind, but decided not to do that since I still did not get a proper answer from Big Bro about the haircut.   [Note:  I found hair pieces under his desk in his makeshift “trashcan” so it really is incredible.  Either he DID cut Red’s hair, or someone else did and he just threw the pieces away.   I don’t know what really happened.  Still.]

So I didn’t want to treat them to a “trip” that I had planned.  We stayed at home.   So what happened during the day?

  • Woke up to Red, Twin Crazy, Twin Husky in my room.   Twin Husky now visually can recognize the numbers and he said that it was time for me to get up since there was an “8”.  He was correct.  8:03.  Time for me to get up.
  • I made them a pancake breakfast
  • Afterwards kids had pillow play in the living room.   Kids covering bodies with pillows.  Hide and seek.  Playfulness.
  • We got dressed; I did manicures and cut nails on the front porch
  • I did TONS of laundry.   With sheets and blankets and such I think about 6 loads in total.  The kids, in turns, helped to either change loads or help sort.
  • Girls played Legos together
  • We all had office time together.  I did a bit of work, rearranging meetings and setting meetings up for next week.   Kids were drawing.  Red was practicing her letters.   I played “African Playground” kids music and started dancing.  Twin Crazy danced with me and cackled she was having so much fun.
  • Snacktime:  Yogurt bar.   I had 3 different kinds of yogurts for the kids to pick from.  I had 6 bananas at the beginning of the event and zero bananas at the end.  I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW MUCH THESE KIDS EAT
  • We did some gardening; Twin Husky helped me to water our fruit trees and plants
  • We spent time outside but I’m not sure doing what.  I think we picked weeds and fed the chickens several times
  • Lunch:  build-your-own burrito bar.   The kids ate well.  Twin Crazy ate I think an entire can of black beans by herself.   My stomach hurt just watching her go.
  • Twin naptime.  They actually had a great nap today.   A proper nap.  During their nap Red and Big Bro did an outdoor finger painting project.
  • I vacuumed the entire house, and the couch.  My days with this vacuum may be limited so I wanted to make good use of it.   All cobwebs are now gone.  The house just breathes better.  Or maybe its my imagination.
  • During the couch vacuum kids of course had more cushion/pillow play.
  • Snacktime:  smoothies.  We had frozen bananas, fresh strawberries, left over peach slices from yesterday, and a handful of leftover carrots from lunch.   They loved it.
  • Kids had outside playtime – sidewalk chalk and bubbles; while I did some weeding and also cleaning up twig and branch debris from the yard.    I filled up a garbage bin.  I then also started to dis-assemble the long box of blinds that has been blocking the kitchen floor for weeks.  I guess putting up the blinds is my next project for the weekend.   During outside play time Big Bro had some issues with siblings so he was banished to his room for quiet time.  I brought him his Star Wars book that he loves and also suggested that he play with Legos.  That’s when he dumped them on the floor.  I demanded that he pick them up before coming outside to join us.  He stayed back there for quite awhile but then finally cleaned up, I think when he heard the commotion going on in the living room that he wanted to take part of….
  • Kids jumped on bubble wrap from said packaging of blinds.
  • Then it was time to go.   I packed them up and all seemed quite happy.  There was no whining about the drive and I told everyone that I had such a good time with them today.
  • After I dropped them off I headed over to a neighbor’s house and picked up some things she left for me
  • Once at home, I sat on the couch with the directions for the blinds and totally fell asleep.
  • Now I’m here, wrapping up the day and getting ready for bed.

I loved today.  For so many reasons.   It was a carefree day with just me and the kids.  We sortof just carried the day away.  No real plans except for feedings and nap time.  But everything in-between was just unplanned.  And the kids were kind of doing their own thing while I was also doing my own thing but then our worlds would intertwine throughout the day.   It was a day where I heard a lot of laughter.  And at times I just stood there, listening, and laughing to myself.  The kids really enjoyed this time today with each other.  They were all playing with each other, and even Twin Husky was largely accepted in the day’s play.

I feel like I had really good one-on-one time with each child at some point during the day.   I was able to connect with each one separately – either dancing, or talking about my owie (I got a bad finger cut today), or talking about the mysterious haircut…. I gave lots of hugs and kisses and look in your eyes smiles today.

I didn’t have a care in the world.   I was feeling like a mom with my kids and we were enjoying a summer day without interruption.   The only thing missing I suppose was a home cooked dinner.   But I can’t complain about that.

I feel fortunate for having this day with them.   And feel really full inside.

Have a great weekend everybody!

– Mama K

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