Sunday, August 21, 2016

Don't Check Your Email on the Weekends: A Reminder to Myself

Although weekends are now exceedingly precious to me as they are the most quantifiable and qualitative time spent with my family, I, as an anxious individual tend to check my email at work so that I do not come in on Monday and feel bombarded. I've done that in the past to help alleviate anxiety; but I think it's now having an opposite effect. Thankfully, when reading my daily meditations with Frederick Buechner, today's post rang true entitled " Adversaries":

" In this war of conquest we all must wage, there are also the adversaries with whom we have to wage it;  and they are adversaries of flesh and blood. They are human beings like ourselves, each of whom is fighting the same war toward the same end under a banner emblazoned with the same word that our banners bear, and that word is of course Myself, or Myself and my Family, or Myself and my Country, or Myself and my Race, which are all really Myself writ large. It can be the most ruthless of all wars, but on the other hand it need not be, Saints and Sinners fight it both. Ghengis Kahn fought such a war under such a banner, but so did Martin Luther King Jr.. It can be the naked war of the jungle, my ambition against your ambition, my will against your will,,, it is often the war of the just against the unjust . Whichever it is, it is the war of flesh against flesh: to get ahead, to win, to regain power, to survive in a world where not even survival is without struggle."

Sigh. This work/life balance is hard.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I'm finding it difficult to sit down and write anymore, but I've had a few reminders lately that this is a passion of mine that I should continue, however mundane my thoughts might be.:)

Quick update: Annie Gray is now 9 months, crawling and will be walking soon enough. Her colic has subsided, however, she still remains a very spirited young lady. She loves to eat, listen to music, and reminds me a lot of my dad. Has a very obvious temper but also enjoys just being held.  She likes watching the weather reports on TV and is interested in singing ( dad was obsessed with weather as well as his father, Both had weather radios that were always on, blaring away no matter what was going on.:) She is a daddy's girl through and through and watching Geoff and Annie Gray together melts my heart and increases the love and gratitude I have for him. We're a full family now, and I can't stress enough how lucky I am to have Geoff as my husband and best friend.

Arlo is so amazing.  He has definitely taken on the role of big brother with humor, kindness, and empathy. Of course as a big brother, he has his moments of " older sibling" syndrome... but overall, I am so proud of him. He starts first grade on Monday and I am so very confident that he will do well. He cracks us up on a daily basis from his ruminations on the illuminati to his pokemon knowledge and ability to understand and participate freely in the process of pokemon go, something a year ago might have been difficult. I feel he has gained so much confidence this summer in making friends and I thank Geoff and my in laws for supporting him in this as I went back to work full time in June.

I love my job, This is what I need at this time in my life. It was tough at first leaving the kids. In all honestly, I still feel some guilt going back, But in the few months I have been back I have felt more confident, assertive. I feel like a "better" mom and person. I admit that I am struggling with finding myself again-- a momma without kids and other responsibilities and relationships. Thankful I am working with teenagers now as it might have been more of a struggle working with the little ones. Thankful I have begun to foster friendships with people that I work with-- something I thought that I was never totally good at in the past, although in discussion with Geoff tonight he reminded me of all the friends I've made along the way that we still connect with.

I feel happy and content at the moment.  I feel supported and loved. I feel grateful.  And of course, for those of you that know me well-- I feel like maybe I'm making mom and dad proud.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Welcome to Parenthood. Again.

Well, it's been a long time since I've updated this blog. Many things have happened, but the biggest thing that has happened is the arrival of our newest family member, Miss Annie Gray, born 10/24/2015, 2 weeks earlier than scheduled.

We're now into February, and things haven't changed since welcoming Arlo into the word.


 Going from one kid to two is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life besides dealing with the loss of my parents, and if you truly know me, this speaks volumes about what we're dealing with right now.  I love Annie more than I can explain, yet, I am so lost. So frustrated. Her smiles are absolutely beautiful and for the short time in which she decides to give those smiles, I am smitten beyond belief. My heart lurches forward and I feel so lucky to have her and be her mom.  I see so many people in her eyes, her face... my dad, my mom,  Geoff's Aunt Katie... and the way she looks at and loves Arlo is beyond anything I can describe. But we have ourselves another "high needs" baby. Some call it colic, some describe it as just having a " grumpy beast of a baby", but whatever it is, it's rough, and both Geoff and I are struggling. She won't nap unless she's being held. Sleeping at night equals her being up every hour, sometimes with screaming that we can't find a reason for. Geoff and I fight. We fight over who slept the most, who got the most sleep, and who deserves it the most. Poor Arlo isn't getting what he needs from us, and I think this is the worst part for me. My son, my heart and soul, feels slighted because mommy isn't 100 percent there for him anymore. I get it. I miss him so much. I miss our relationship before all the madness. I hope he doesn't grow up to resent me, Geoff, or Annie.

I'm divulging all this information because I think a lot of moms don't. They feel ashamed, they feel guilty, and I'm here to say that there are so many of us in the same boat, and that those feelings are a byproduct of the need to be "everything to everyone"  and be good at it, by standards put in place by others. This need is, of course, ridiculous and if I may say so, dated and not a realistic goal of being a mother or a person in general. If a friend were to come to me with his/her feelings that resembled mine, I wouldn't think twice in saying " You're a great mom/dad. You're doing the best job, and I am here to support you. Let me know what I can do to help. "  Because at least for me, that's what I need. Unconditional love and support.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

For Arlo

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use, 
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

                                                                                    - T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Dear Arlo,

We've learned a lot together, you and I.  These past 4.5 years of cultivating each other's lives have entertained a tangled yarn ball of every emotion I've ever experienced, multiplied by 8.  At times, I've felt I have been the ultimate warrior in shaping your identity.  But more often, I have felt ( and still do) the fool.

Apparently that's what parenting is. Feeling, more often than not, that you really have no clue what you're doing, but doing it anyway.

As I  head back into the workforce next week for the first time since the doctor wrestled you from my very oversized belly, I want you to know and fully understand how much the time I've spent at home with you has changed me. I am more of a fool than I was before, no doubt. Each year of being a parent makes me feel more and more confused.  But I am also much more comfortable being a fool... meaning that I now possess the confidence to laugh at myself, which I didn't have before you were here.  My confidence is the direct result of having you in my life. Your laughs, your screams, sleepless nights, power struggles, even your knock-knock jokes... everything you've ever done or experienced has been incredible, one way or another, and has significantly enhanced my life.

This next phase in our mother/son saga will be different. Not bad, just different. We'll both need to adjust to my work/life balance, and while I am obviously sad to be leaving this part of my life behind, I am truly excited to see how our relationship grows in other ways. I truly enjoy seeing you get older. I don't know many parents who say this, but I do. Your personality is unlike any other I've known. I love hearing you talk about dinosaurs and Canada and trains. I love watching you evolve as my determined, caring, dramatic,intelligent and quirky little man.

Mommy loves you more than anything else in the world, Arlo. Always.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What's Next?

Arlo loves to know what's coming up next. He is my mother's grandchild for sure, and if I'm being honest here,  I also thrive on knowing "what's next".  I'm guessing this is a hereditary thing. From the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed, he is always asking about what will happen in the next portion of our day. And sometimes, I don't have an answer for either him OR myself.

I finally graduated with my MSW in April, and the " what's next" portion of my brain is very active. I've been a stay at home mom now for 4.5 years... much longer than I had ever envisioned. Part of me is amazed at how quickly time has passed, and part of me feels like it has been 20 years since I last had a job.

I'm now at a point where I really, really want to get back into the workplace and use my degree and skills to assist others. I mentioned to my husband this morning that I just feel flat. I don't feel like I'm doing anything to give back to the community, and this bothers me. So this afternoon I spent my time going through endless papers and documents from school and organizing them... so much so that when I was finished, I decided to start working on weeding out all of the random papers I have kept from my mom and dad's house. In doing this, I found a letter that my dad had kept in a folder entitled " keepers ". In this folder,there were a couple of sappy letters from me with a barrage of quotes from other people-- this is how I usually expressed myself as a teen/young adult.  There were a few blank cards my dad had bought and never sent out, and then, a letter from my mom to me. On yellow lined paper, dated 3/21/79.  I had read the letter with my mom many years ago, and she explained to me that she wrote it the night before she and my dad had ever left me alone with someone else for more than an evening. She explained that she wrote the letter in case anything had happened to them. I remember her laughing when she initially showed it to me- I was probably like 12 or so- but after seeing it then I never saw it again until now. As she was most certainly planning for what might be next, her words were anything but anxiety laden. They were calming and loving, and more evident of someone living in the moment than I think she ever realized. Her words are timeless, and without the anxiety of someone needing to know the what comes next. She writes:

" I hope your life is full of love and joy. I know that there will also be pain and disappointment and I only hope that this will make you a stronger person... if I could choose to give you all the qualities that would make you have a good life, I would want you to have the ability to be unselfish and know the feeling that comes from giving to another without thinking of yourself. I would want you to be able to risk your own sense of security in order to gain and grow from new experiences. I would want you to know what comes from loving and being loved... I would want you to feel the specialness and uniqueness of yourself."

So after reading this tonight, I know what's next. Being the person she wanted me to be.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mother and Son

Today I had a downright amazing day with Arlo. We didn't do anything new, travel anywhere exotic or interesting, or encounter anything extraordinary. We traversed the mundane... yet had a blissful time doing so. It becomes inherent to me, in times like these, when I realize that with each day my child gets older, our mother/son relationship grows with reckless abandon, and I absolutely love it.

I look back at Arlo's earlier years with fond memories, but if I'm being honest,  I don't always necessarily yearn to have them back again. Sure it was nice when I could cart him around to various places and not have to worry about him running off and disappearing into random clothing racks or the candy isle at Target. Of course I loved watching him learn to crawl and walk, and cherished many of  the moments that I attempted to rock him to sleep at night. But I have decided that with  increased age comes such incredible personality ... and with every morning I am so excited to encounter whatever new phrase he's going to repeat throughout the day, or what song on the radio he's going to either approve or disapprove of,  his most recent obsession being the "banjo station" (aka Sirius Bluegrass).

While having lunch today, a little girl ran up to Arlo and began screaming " Hi, Arlo! Hi! Hi!" all the while twirling her hair and looking at him excitedly. His face went from his normal pale complexion to beet red in about 4 seconds. He smirked and said quietly " Hi, Sophia" and then hid his face. She ran off to her mother and Arlo continued to hide his face. I waited a few seconds and then asked him who the girl was, in which he replied " my friend who is a girl at school. Sophia."  At that moment I felt really proud, and  I don't know why. Maybe it's because I witnessed a key developmental phase in Arlo's growth, the " oh crap, I've been seen in public with my mother" phase, or maybe it was how happy the little girl was to see Arlo. In any case, seeing him grow and develop as a person is so amazing. His interactions with and thoughts about the world around him are incredible, and I feel so fulfilled accompanying him on his life journey.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I've always been a fan of the National Lampoon Vacation series. Chevy Chase's depiction of the clueless, giddy yet ultimately gracious and humbled family man is one of my favorites, and the underlying plot asserting Murphy' law of vacations that " if it can go wrong, it probably will in some fashion" rings true when reflecting on our recent initial full-family sojourn to Florida.

Before I go into the details of our trip which at times might err on the negative tip, I want to emphasize that we had a great time overall, and I mean that in all earnestness. We had a wonderful visit with Geoff's brother Mike and his fiance, Jessi, and this in itself was reason enough to travel to Orlando and encourage future trips.

Oh, and the wizarding world of Harry Potter was awesome as well.

Now, onto our Chevy Chase-esque adventure.

This was Arlo's first time as an air passenger, and he assumed the role like a pro. He navigated the airports with the ease of a pharmaceutical rep from Eli Lilly slinging Prozac, and was very calm during the flight. Well, the first flight. The flight back he was somewhat restless and at one point began to take his seatbelt off. Geoff and I were completely frazzled by that point in time and mentioned to him that the police " air marshals" would come and tell him to put his seatbelt on if he didn't listen to us, to which he very loudly exclaimed " BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO TO JAIL".

Once we arrived in Orlando, we disembarked our flight and had a little trouble locating our baggage claim area. Once we found it, I'm not sure what happened, but Arlo wasn't having any of it. He conveyed his frustrations through his many attempts to run away " MOMMY, IT'S HARRY POTTER AND MINIONS AND SHREK" ( after escaping my grasp and sprinting towards a poster for Universal Studios) , refusal to walk, and just generally not following instructions.

And it was H-O-T. Like camping that year at Deer Creek for Phish hot. But with luggage and a very tired 3 year old and many miles still yet to go.  We got our car and set out for the hotel and we pretty much guessed our way to the hotel( Geoff has a great navigation sense). Once there ( NO thanks to Onstar) we all collapsed.

Next day we awoke and immediately got ready for what I thought was going to be our vacation "it" factor. Little did I know it would be more like our vacation "shit" factor... Through media and Disney stores and Disney junior and mass marketing etc etc I mistakenly thought that my kid would become the happiest kid on earth in the " happiest place on earth". I. was. SO. WRONG. In retrospect, I had encountered several telling reactions towards our " Disney demise"- most notably from a momma friend who would giggle nervously and look the other way when I would discuss our trip details with her.

So we got to the park early, as everyone else in the world apparently does. 18 dollars later, we walked to the entrance and made a beeline for the monorail. Arlo was pumped about riding the monorail, but when we got to the line to get on said monorail, IT WAS CLOSED. " Sorry folks, gotta ride the ferry!" exclaimed an overly chipper park attendant. This should have been our first sign to just turn around and go back, but we pressed on. Now about 8:45AM local time, I was already sweating buckets, waiting in line for this magical ferry. We were herded on board and smashed together like some theme park crazed sardines. Once off the ferry we encountered more difficulties getting into the park, as their finger ID system eluded Geoff and I. We were yelled at by the ticket guy " only one fingerprint per person!!"but were finally granted access to the " land of dreams and creativity". We rented a stroller and Arlo immediately began to cry even though we had just purchased a gold plated water fan thingy for him ( I say gold plated because the price indicated that it had some sort of value other than plastic and dirty water).  Main street was packed already at 9:30 AM, and an eccentric crowd of over-eager mouse eared wanderers and enthusiasts were already scavenging and devising their plans for the day. We, however, managed to simply score a map and decided to just try and play it by ear. Apparently you can't do that at Disney world.

We started with a walk towards somethingorother. Fantasy land, Future world, something. I think they all start with the letter F. At any rate, Arlo threw a fit the entire walk towards the castle muttering something about being scared. Never did figure out what that was about. We walked towards whatever land houses the dumbo ride and the little mermaid stuff and attempted to take him out of his stroller and stand in line. He freaked out. Put him back in the stroller, walked him towards the race cars. Tried to stand in line for that. He started hitting and screaming, so back in the stroller he went ( sorry, i don't care if i'm at Disney world, if you throw a fit, you get a time out). Had him watch dumbo ride. Screamed and cried. Bought him a cookie, refused to eat it. Finally we decided to cut our losses and go back and sit somewhere for a few minutes. Geoff had to go to first aid for a huge cut on his foot, so we tried to watch a parade. Again, another epic fail. FINALLY we decided on embarking on the train that goes around the park, and that was a success. Oh, and I got my Dole Whip thing. That was cool.
We go back to the hotel ( our checkbook is now uncontrollably SOBBING with our costly mistake) and contact my brother-in-law and his fiance, who quickly come to our aid and whisk Arlo off for a few hours so that we can all take a breath and realize that Disney is not our thing, but we can still salvage this trip, which is what we did.  The next few days were awesome. We went to Universal, which was much more our speed. Arlo enjoyed all the kiddie stuff and I pretended I was a student at Hogwarts. We went to dinner and had laughs playing in the pool. I think I saw the guy who played Jacob on LOST at whole foods. I finished my JK Rowling crime novel( which was excellent, BTW).

Most importantly, we SURVIVED our first real trip as a family of 3.