Continually Shifting and Always There

I wrote this a few weeks ago. I was out for a jog on a Sunday morning and all of these thoughts filled my head and I couldn’t stop crying. Generally when I write something emotional I sit on it for a bit before I hit publish to make sure it wasn’t a momentary blip.

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If there is one constant in the world of a working mom, it’s that the balance is always shifting. From the first time that someone introduced me as Juliana’s mom – there was an internal struggle of yes! I am someone’s mom followed by – but wait, I have a name – I’m still my own person, right?

I will forever be grateful for the years that I worked from a home office. I saw my children first thing in the morning and as soon as they got home.  For many of those years, I walked one block with them to preschool/daycare and I was minutes away from them all day. During the years of constant ear infections it was a dream to be so close.

Over the past few years I have managed to put the kids on the bus to school most mornings. I have gotten up and ready for work and then encouraged children to wake up and get ready for school. Once they were on the bus I would get in my car and spend the next 50-60 minutes driving to work. Scott or one of my parents would be there in the afternoon when they got home. Juliana still complains when I am dressed for work in the morning because she knows I won’t be home after school.

As we were winding down the school year, we were operating on auto-drive. Everyone out the door, wave goodbye as the bus drove away, walk downstairs, get in the van and start my commute.

It was a routine morning on one of the final school days and I had just gotten on the turnpike when my phone dinged with a text. I glanced at my watch and saw a text from Juliana that Ruslan had puked on the bus. Scott had an appointment that couldn’t be changed so I called my dad who was fortunately working from home that day but currently wasn’t there. So I called my mom who was able to go get Ruslan from school and drop him off with my dad before she went to work. By the time the bus arrived at school and the nurse called me, my mom was on her way, and by the time I pulled into the parking lot at work she had picked him up and I went about my work day. How did stuff like this get coordinated before cell phones…

Last year I met a woman who in conversation asked me if I would be interested in trying something new and then said maybe I still needed time to get out of the intense mom years and carve out time for myself. Those words stuck with me and I have had several reactions:

  • The intense years end? My kids will eventually demand less of my time?
  • Time for myself sounds awesome!
  • Won’t I feel guilty?
  • Do I want them to need me less? Won’t that make me sad?

We are in the midst of summer which is anything but routine in our household. The kids go to a variety of camps so we are constantly coordinating drop-offs and pick-ups and working around different times each week. I have been able to put them on the bus to day camp and drop them off at a few other camps, but I haven’t been around much when they got home this summer.

I was home early one day last week so I was there when the bus dropped them off from camp. Ruslan came in the house crying that his eye hurt. I quickly determined that he had been swimming without goggles and the chlorine was bothering his eye. I suggested eye drops and he eventually agreed that it might help but wouldn’t let me put them in. After several minutes of him being upset but not letting me use the drops, I finally suggested that “maybe Daddy should do it” and much to my surprise he said yes. He sat and let Scott put the drops in and then happily ran off and I went into another room and cried because I felt like he didn’t need me. And I still can’t get that moment out of my head. I want the kids to be happy and well cared for when I can’t be here, but I still wish I could always be the one that is available. It’s hard.

Of course I want them to grow up to be self-reliant adults but in my heart I still want to be there holding their hand every step of the way. Growing up is hard for everyone.

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On the day that I wrote this and on two other occasions since then, Ruslan has been unable to fall asleep without me. So I guess they still need their Mama sometimes.

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Happy Father’s Day

This is the 7th year of pictures with the DAD letters. All of the previous pictures were taken in the front yard of our house – the first year’s pictures were taken right after we moved in to this house. This year we changed things up and took the letters on the road with us to Erie. Before visiting my Grandma we stopped at the Lake and took some pictures on the beach. Happy Father’s Day from the Three Weasels who are looking much too grown up this year. Especially if you look back at some of the early years {2011, 2013}.

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The Big Scary Monster

The house was quiet and everyone was in bed for the night. I went back downstairs to fill my water bottle and Juliana suddenly appeared in the kitchen doorway (no idea how the kids manage to be so quiet late at night).

She was huddled in a blanket and it was wrapped all the way around her head so I could only see her face. I asked why she was downstairs and she told me that she had a nightmare. Then she started to describe it – she was sound asleep and a big, scary monster attacked her in her bed and she was really scared and couldn’t fall back asleep.

I started laughing and she stared at me. I laughed more and she looked confused. I finally stopped laughing long enough to tell her that I was the one who was in her room and she smiled and said “you were the big, scary monster?”

I explained that I was checking on her as I do every night before I go to bed and in the process I noticed that her head was awkwardly twisted and under her pillow. So I stood on her ladder and reached under her head to shift her. Of course she was out cold, and I could barely reach her head, and the small shift ended up being more vigorous than planned. But she didn’t wake up in the process so I left her room.

She thought that this was all very funny and we walked back upstairs together. We found Scott at the top of the stairs; he had gotten out of bed to investigate the source of the laughter. Juliana announced that she thought I was a big, scary monster, hugged both of us and went back to bed. Easiest nightmare resolution ever.
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Why We Marched

I didn’t intend to write about the Women’s March – the March wasn’t about me. But then someone questioned my integrity and parenting so maybe I do need to talk about why we participated because apparently not everyone takes the opportunity to educate themselves before making judgements.

I posted a picture of Juliana at the March with one of the signs that we made and a family member took issue with it. I am specifically pointing out that it was a family member to make it clear that he could have contacted me directly with his concerns – I could have been instantly reached via text. He also could have commented on the photo so I would have seen his response, but he didn’t. Instead he went to his own Facebook wall and posted that he was offended that an 11-year old girl being used as a political pawn in a march to support baby killers. I think that he missed the whole point – estimates put the total global participation at over 4 Million people – this wasn’t about a single issue. However, I know that there are some people who look at politics and see only one issue, therefore everything must be related to that one issue.

The sign that Juliana carried had the words: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – damental Human Rights”. As she was making the sign, she laughed because everyone should have fundamental human rights – kids get it. Friday night when I talked to her about the March she asked some questions and I explained some of the goals of the March. {If you want to know more about the Unity Principles, you can read them here} We are fortunate that the school that she attends has programs that incorporate social justice topics – I remember when they were studying the civil rights movement and she came to me in tears to ask why anyone would think less of someone because of the color of their skin.

I talked to her the day after the March as well. I asked if she was glad that we went and how she felt about the day. Here is her response:

“I think that the March was important and it was kind of cool to be part of something that could help create change. All people deserve to be treated with equal respect – no one should have different rights – people can’t control how they were born.”

An election has never impacted me like this one. It made me feel helpless and at the same time it made me want to try harder. It reminded me of every time I’ve seen a man promoted over a more qualified women. It reminded me that women with passionate arguments in the workplace are often told to calm down while men loud opinions are praised for their leadership skills. It reminded me that women need to be twice as good at their jobs to gain the same level of respect and look good doing it…but not too good.

I’ve heard people say that women have come so far and it’s true. And I am grateful for the women who came before me, but the work is not done. I am incredibly fortunate to have a husband who gets it and wants the best possible future for all of his children. I was impressed with the number of husbands and families that marched together – we can all be stronger together.

This day was one of the first times since the election that I felt a glimmer of hope. The experience was 100% positive – the signs were witty and the participants were friendly. There were no negative chants or signs. It was about equality and people coming together to support each other. I think that this article does a great job of telling why it was important so I will link instead of going on here.

My hope is the same as Juliana’s – that this is the start of creating change. That’s how I see this event – not a single day but a start, and I am evaluating the best way to lend my talents to the effort.

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Christmas Goodies 2016 Version

After several years of making some of the same treats for Christmas (some of the favorites are posted here), I decided to make some new random treats along with some tried and true recipes.

I made Snickerdoodles from the classic Betty Crocker Cooky Book – these are a well loved family favorite with green and red sugar instead of cinnamon. The other regular treat that I couldn’t skip was the M&M pretzel hugs – they are easy and delicious. http://beckyhiggins.com/valentines-pretzel-hugs/

I wanted a thick chocolate cookie so I made these Chocolate Crinkle cookies – prettier than I expected and just enough chocolate flavor. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/chocolate_crinkles/

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As a replacement for my favorite peppermint cookie, I found White Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies (http://www.completelydelicious.com/white-chocolate-peppermint-cookies/). The recipe calls for Andes Peppermint Crunch which was impossible to find locally. I combed through the comment sections of this and similar recipes to find out what other people substituted for the Crunch. There were lots of suggestions and I decided to work with something I have used in the past – Hershey Candy Cane Kisses. I pulsed them in the food processor into tiny pieces and the resulting bits would be great in hot chocolate on as an ice cream topping.
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To replace the classic toffee recipe, I made Heath Toffee Cookie Bars (http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/heath-toffee-bars/).

And finally I added another simple pretzel and chocolate recipe. I made pecan turtles last year and these were much easier and just as good. (http://www.hersheys.com/rolo/recipes.aspx?id=8631)
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I spent a lot of the weekend in the kitchen and sometimes I even had a good little helper or two.

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October Went Falling Away

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October is one of my favorite months – I love fall. It’s Juliana’s birthday month. The heat of the summer is replaced by cooler temperatures. It’s a lovely time of year.

But it’s also one of the busiest months of the year for our family. School is cruising along with early mornings, homework and . . . → Read More: October Went Falling Away

Thyroid Cancer and What That Means for Me

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I wrote about my thyroid surgery at the beginning of June and haven’t talked about it much since. A lot has happened since then and we finally have all of the answers that we will have for now.

It’s a long story…so here’s the short version. In the words of my surgeon – cancer . . . → Read More: Thyroid Cancer and What That Means for Me

Tales of Fourth Grade

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Juliana could not be more excited to start fifth grade tomorrow. She cleaned out her locker in our front hallway without being asked. All of the summer stuff is put away and her backpack and new shoes are ready for tomorrow morning. I don’t know if there are children who love school more than . . . → Read More: Tales of Fourth Grade

No One is Born a Racist

Like so many of my fellow parents, I woke up with a heavy heart today. I didn’t want to see the news and find out how many more lives were lost overnight as a result of racism and guns. Raising kids in a divided country is challenging. Raising kids in a country where I . . . → Read More: No One is Born a Racist

Happy Father’s Day

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Wyatt is currently terrified of bugs and especially mosquitos. I don’t know if it is the Zika virus news or not, but he is convinced that you will die if a mosquito bites you. There is no reasoning with him, because how do you have a reasonable conversation with a child who starts shaking . . . → Read More: Happy Father’s Day