The First of Many “Firsts”

The day I have been dreading for five years arrived on Tuesday:  Kindergarten.  My “baby” isn’t such a “baby” anymore. With each passing day she needs me less and less. “I can do that mommy”, “I don’t need any help”, or my favorite, “Mother, I can do my own hair” (remember, she’s FIVE!) She’s her own person now with (strong) opinions and views. The things she notices or comments on continually surprise me. So while I know it’s time for her to go and continue on her independent journey, I’m not ready. But let’s be honest, no matter what her age I wouldn’t be ready. I think I handled the first day better than initially thought. So I take some comfort in that. Although it was an insane morning ensuring each lunchbox was packed to its owner’s specifications, breakfast eaten, vitamins, teeth brushed, etc. Not to mention the “first day of Kindergarten” pictures. In hindsight I guess we were so busy I didn’t get the chance to worry or be sad. But as things have calmed down a little and I have time to reflect I wonder if she’s ok. Is she hungry? Is she warm? Is she warming up/getting comfortable and making friends or is she miserable? Will the teacher know to ask if she’s doing ok or just think her being shy is the way she is? Will they...

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Those three little lines

Just the other day, after my son’s first day of Kindergarten, I sat at the table and started to fill out all the contact information and emergency forms for his school. And as I cruised through all the family information I came across the “Additional Information” space, with it’s requisite three lines. I thought, “ok, I got this. I can sum up our unique family situation in only three lines and make sure they know it’s all good and I’ve got it under control and that even though Inti has a unique family to what might be considered the ‘norm’ he and I are totally well adjusted”. And so in just a few words I tried to sum up what I know to be the big things in Inti’s life that might affect his behavior: 1. Inti is very sensitive and has a hard time with transitions, hence the very difficult teary goodbyes; 2. He has watched his papi become a mapi in a very short time, and; 3. He has undergone long term separation from one of his parents as well as major geographic change in the past few years. Ok, deep breath, I did it. But it didn’t feel complete. And so I started writing more, starting with an additional sentence, and then my words bleeding down the margins in ever-smaller letters. I didn’t want to burden...

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What Unpaid Maternity Leave Meant to Me: A Case for Paid Family Leave

I have been a working mother for almost thirteen years. I know the hardest parts of parenting may still be in front of me. I also know I have fought through some pretty difficult times already. My first real challenge as a working mother came six weeks into motherhood. I am a school-based speech-language pathologist working on a typical teacher’s contract. When I became pregnant with my first daughter, I was two years out of graduate school and absolutely loving my career choice as a new special educator. It never once occurred to me that I would not return...

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Holy shit. I think we need a minivan.

Up until recently, I did not care for minivans. Driving around town, I told my daughter I never wanted one. “Not for me!”, I’d say, and zip along in my small SUV. Many respectable people own and love their minivans. Some of my very close friends gladly rock them. My sister-in-law sings the Toyota Sienna’s all-wheel drive praises. Minivans are all over our neighborhood, which is crawling with families. Families that have drank the Kool-Aid. The few times I’ve been a passenger in one, they felt overly big and generally frumpy. And yes, I AM a mom, but nothing says “matronly” like a 7-passenger van. Can I please hold onto a shred of my youth?? At a good friend’s baby shower years ago, I looked out the window to see a champagne-colored Odyssey humbly parked out front. One of my friends had buckled and bought one. My stomach dropped: who among us has gone to the dark side?? (She still drives it and swears by it). But a funny thing happened this year: we found ourselves in a three-family carpool to my younger daughter’s school. Her school’s in a neighboring town, and a bit of a drive. Splitting the haul with other families opens up a good chunk of time, and gives my car (and the environment) a break. The carpool is a win-win that required logistical gymnastics. After some deep thought, I figured out how to make it work. We’d...

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Shameless Fall Post: My favorite pumpkin bread recipe!

I make no apologies for my love of fall in New England. Us fall fans take some flack, especially at this time of year when the maple trees are *just* beginning to turn but the temperatures still often scream “summer hasn’t left yet!”, but I say bring it on! I couldn’t resist stocking up on some canned pumpkin this past week, and wanted to share one of my favorite fall traditions: my health-ish pumpkin bread. I love this recipe, which is a hybrid of at least three recipes I’ve tried, because it uses the whole can of pumpkin. I’ve never understood the recipes that call for just part of the can…what do you do with the extra?! This one uses extra pumpkin in place of some of the oil and sugar, yet remains so delicious. Enjoy, and have fun ringing in the most wonderful time of the year! Healthy-ish Pumpkin Spice Bread yield: one loaf 1 can of pureed pumpkin 2 eggs 2 cups of whole wheat flour 1/3 cup vegetable oil 1 cup of sugar 1 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. cloves 1 tsp. ground ginger 1 tsp. baking soda 1 cup of chopped pecans, optional Preheat oven to 325 f. Grease a loaf pan, bottom and sides. Mix pumpkin, oil, and eggs together in a large bowl. Add sugar and spices; mix thoroughly. Mix baking soda together with...

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Let’s Go Camping! It Will Be Fun!

Last weekend I spent an overnight at a Girl Scout Camporee with my co-leader and seven 8-year old Brownies. It was our first time together as a troop for the school year and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had just come off of a vacation week of solid “together time” with my own personal 8-year old.  And by “together time” I mean “up my ass time”.  You know what they say: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”  I was hoping we were all going to have an awesome time, but I was prepared for...

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To my 2nd and 4th graders,

I wanted to give my boys some advice before they started their school years last week. I had visions of Glennon’s letter to her son entering 3rd grade and wanted to write something HALF as great. So, I sat down to write 2 separate letters for them to read the night before school started. Each letter was specific to the particular kid and his personality and needs. I printed them out and put them in envelopes with their respective names. Now… Here’s where it gets real. I have lived enough to know that people don’t really want advice, even when they ask for it. I think I’ve parented enough to know that my children don’t want any “wisdom” imparted upon them from my years of experience to help them through their challenging times. My experience has been that advice is usually ignored, especially if it’s not a total affirmation of what that person already wanted to believe. I had some fantastical visual of my boys quietly reading each of their letters, then climbing into my lap and telling me their thoughts, telling me they loved me and thanking me for being so thoughtful and taking the time to talk to them through my writing. I know that I can sometimes write better than I can say things aloud and I hoped they would absorb everything I wanted to impart...

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Tripping

Any time my husband has an opportunity to get away, without hesitation, I tell him to go. It does not happen often, but when it does, I recognize the fact that he could use some time away and he deserves that time away. There is just something about hanging with old friends that reminds you of the person you once were, and even sometimes makes you appreciate the person you have grown into. I recognize the great value in a brief period of time where the focus is not on being a parent or a spouse. So when the invitation arises for a baseball game, a guys’ trip to Miami or the Poconos, or, before everyone got married, a bachelor party, he has my full-fledged support. He figures out his travel plans and returns, refreshed (or exhausted, depending upon the trip) and excited to see his family, who shower him with hugs and nonstop chattering. This spring, a girlfriend from graduate school invited me to Ireland. She is turning 40 this year and, before she begins an exciting adventure with her family, she rented a house for a long weekend and invited a small group of her girlfriends to join her and celebrate. Immediately, there were a flurry of group emails, excitedly discussing things to do and places to visit. And from me? Radio silence. My girlfriend recognized that...

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We’re Never Visiting the Mouse Again

You guys, I’ve been having a year.  I was put on a big project at work a few months back, one that ended up requiring working day and night for nearly five months.  There were more instances of my kids begging me to get off the computer at night, on weekend mornings, on weekend afternoons… and on weekend nights… that I care to remember.  The sighs and FINEs were aplenty and the mom guilt was HARD. At one point, Abby sat down next to me with her toy computer. Jake asked her to come play and she replied, “Not now, Jake....

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Picture Day

Family pictures might be right at the top of the list of things that cause me to have low level panic attacks. I play the role of stylist, logistics coordinator, and financier to make it happen.  I usually work myself up into a frenzy thinking about the Who, What, When, Where, and How.  The Why is always a known variable:  To capture images of my kids as they are today – A seven year old boy with a golden honey tan only achievable by spending a summer outside. He is trademarked by the gaping hole where his baby front tooth was once a placeholder. A five year old boy with the cutest smirk of a smile and the constant twinkle of mischief in his eyes. And a three year old girl with unruly curly cues and streaks of blond highlights just weeks shy of her very first haircut. They will never be this version of themselves again and I ache to remember every detail. It is easy to lose sight of the true motivations of the event while percolating over the smallest details of the hour.  Stress is a thief like that. I’ve been consistently remind myself that life is full of trying moments and unexpected obstacles in order to alleviate the massive amounts of pressure to get it right on a daily basis.  To remind myself that life...

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