While I’m Away: Leaving My Mental Load Behind

Here’s a perfect example of the mental load I constantly carry:

The Schedule
Photo by Lisa Sadikman

I went out of town for a work retreat this past weekend so I was gone for three days. We always have a ton going on with the three girls so this is a pretty typical weekend schedule for us. And yet it’s ridiculously full of places to be, things to bring and people to coordinate with.

My husband is perfectly capable of handling the kids and their activities while I’m gone. He has all of this on his calendar just like I do. What he doesn’t have when I’m gone is what’s in my head and that’s why after 15 years of parenting together I leave him with an annotated schedule.

Continue reading “While I’m Away: Leaving My Mental Load Behind”

There Is Never Enough Time But There Is Now

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“Tuck me in momma,” she insists sweetly, her blue eyes big behind her glasses, her long, caramel-colored hair tied back for bed. I’m standing against her doorway more out than in. Her bedside table is littered with gum wrappers and tangled hot pink headphones, Catcher in the Rye, its pages curling. The bed is unmade and her finished homework spills out of her unzipped backpack.

“Pleeeese?” she says dramatically as she reaches for her phone, the glowing screen a constant calling. I watch her check her texts or maybe it’s Snapchat. For me, it’s her girlish plea that beckons and tugs at my heart. It’s past her bedtime and inching closer to mine. With the younger two asleep, My Time is just within reach: the book I’ve been meaning to start, that cherry enzyme facial mask I want to try out. If I go upstairs now, I might even eke out a solid 30 minutes cruising Amazon Prime for the ever-elusive perfect beach cover up I absolutely must have. Then there’s the undeniable relief of simply cozying up in my warm, soft bed next to the guy I married and never seem to have enough time to just be with. Continue reading “There Is Never Enough Time But There Is Now”

5 Important Life Lessons I Learned While My Dad Taught Me to Drive

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My oldest in 2004. She’ll be driving for real in a year.

“Ready?” he asks.

“Um, yeah. I think so,” I say. I shift the car into drive and gingerly lift my foot from the brake.

“Give it a little gas,” he says. I do and the car lurches forward like an overly ambitious toddler taking his first steps. I quickly slam on the brakes and we both whip back in our seats, our seat belts yanking tight.

“Rule number one,” says my dad. “Always wear a seat belt. Okay, let’s try again.”

Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, in the mid-’80s meant I was eligible for a full driver’s license at 16. A few months before my birthday, my dad and I embarked on a series of weekend driving lessons, commandeering empty lots and deserted side streets. As an overly eager teen, I figured a few quick tutorials were all I needed to hit the road. Turns out I had a lot to learn. Here’s what my dad taught me about driving—and life: Continue reading “5 Important Life Lessons I Learned While My Dad Taught Me to Drive”

From Where I Sit

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“It’s a serious thing // just to be alive // on this fresh morning // in this broken world.”

 – Mary Oliver, Red Bird

From where I sit, the day is just beginning. Perched on the edge of my bed, I slip my bare feet into my sheepskin slippers, sinking my toes into the comforting fuzz. Mornings in Northern California start chilly, even in summer. I blink away the veil of sleep over my eyes and reach for my glasses. The dim room comes into focus. I stretch my arms over my head, roll my neck, catalog the snaps and crackles.

From where I sit, the space created when I unplugged from the usual beat of motherhood is about to fill. Today my two oldest girls come home from camp. The month they were away, the house was quiet and clean. There was less laundry, fewer dirty dishes, no sibling spats. Left with one child to mother, I scaled the symphony of our lives down to a neat little duet. In the afternoons, we played Go Fish and Zingo or watched Paw Patrol. Meal times were simple with just the two and sometimes three of us when my husband was home. My youngest daughter had us all to herself. We were rapt. It’s easy to dote on just one child. Continue reading “From Where I Sit”

Comfort Food: Remembering My Grandmother

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Grandma Helen with my nephew Ben and my daughters Ruby and Ella in 2007.

Leaning forward in the backseat of the taxi, nose pressed against the window, my breath fogging it up with each exhale. No car seats, no seatbelts, the bare-bones car rattling along FDR Drive, the East River black and glassy on the left, the enormous red and white Coca-Cola sign forever winking just across the water. The mid-morning sky is wintry gray, solid and low – nothing like the sun-kissed blue of my now home thousands of miles away in the southern hemisphere. Apartment buildings rise high one after the other. Green and white streets signs whip by: E. Houston, Delancey, Grand.

It’s 1975 and we are back in the States on Home Leave, the official company term for the six weeks we take at the end of each year to travel the world and visit family back in the U.S. Home. Leave. We are both coming and going, leaving and arriving, traveling between our temporary and forever homes, each anchored at one end of the world. Continue reading “Comfort Food: Remembering My Grandmother”

Making Room on Mother’s Day

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My people, minus Josh who was still in the kitchen.

I woke up dazed and confused: this was not my pillow or my comforter. A Playmobil queen and her entourage stared at me from the other side of the room while a ginger-haired mermaid gazed sweetly down at me from the wall. Even more unsettling was the glowing yellow-faced clock that announced it was 9:04 a.m., two hours past my typical wake up time. Where the heck was I?

Then I remembered: I’d stumbled into my youngest daughter’s room sometime in the early morning when she’d come bouncing into our bed, awake for the day. Without saying a word, I’d padded down the hall, slipped into her slim twin bed and fell soundly back to sleep. Isn’t sleeping in what moms do on Mother’s Day?

Continue reading “Making Room on Mother’s Day”