Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

Hold That?

Our neighborhood playground is quite a magical place lately. A trio of 100+ year old oak trees fell over in a terrible wind storm a few weeks ago. The kids have been making Terebithia in there, climbing the massive trunks, hiding in the caves the branches form. Poachers come with chainsaws to take bits of the wood before the city can break down the trees, so there are also deep piles of sawdust. Felix calls this “snow” and sprinkles it around like he’s a wood fairy.

Then! The city seems to have heaped its entire stash of mulch on our basketball courts, so there’s a mountain at least 12 feet high. Dump trucks come to haul bits of it away every day, but for the most part, it forms a massive playground the kids have pretended into a Minecraft mine, a throwing platform for logs, a snow-covered mountain from Frozen…really they just spend hours there.

We’ve been going to the playground every day it’s not actively raining. I’m willing to stand around in the mud and deal with 3 dirty boys. I’m not willing to stand around in the rain. *shrugs*

We met a neighboring family there the other day and I had the most lovely experience. Bethany was supervising kids climbing around the fallen trees. I was over near mulch mountain. One of B’s kids wandered over and, seeing just two of mine, asked, “Where’s the other one?”

I pointed behind a heap of mulch and B’s son shrugged. Then he thrust a bag of chips at me and asked if I could hold it so he could climb with two hands. I already had a pair of binoculars and a soft pretzel in my hoodie pocket, so what’s a bag of chips?

By the time I made it over to Bethany to share this story, she was holding sweatshirts for both of her kids and one of mine. We each had picked up a sprinkling of random things other kids asked us to hold.

This is what moms do, right? We hold all the stuff.

Whenever we went to an amusement park, my mom never rode a single ride. She stood at the exit and held all the stuff for us. I can see her there, wearing her big sunglasses, arms laden with water bottles and coats, bags and snacks.

I felt this very deep connection to her in that moment, standing in the park holding all the stuff. I wanted so badly to call her and tell her about it, the binoculars in my pocket with the chips and a rock with googly eyes glued on top.

I often think about why it feels so important to me to work part-time. For many years, my parents worked opposite shifts because of childcare. My mom worked 3-11pm, and that meant I didn’t really see her during the school year. Those weekends holding our crap while we road the whip and the bumper cars were all she got to enjoy.

Standing in the playground, with the magical mulch and the ruined trees, I felt like I was exactly where I need to be. Present, with my kids, watching as they discover a nest of snails in the mulch or blowing sawdust snow into each other’s hair. I’m so fortunate to be able to afford this, that our family is financially stable on 1.5 incomes.

So yes. I’ll hold that. I’ll hold whatever you hand me.

Except yesterday, I took a tote bag along for our things so that I, too, could climb mulch mountain and watch the freight trains rattle past.

Posted by on March 23rd, 2017 2 Comments

Feeling Flush

I’m in a boom, in terms of writing gigs. Whenever I’m in a trough, I forget how invigorating it is to get new assignments. This week, I got 3…maybe even 5 new projects. Best part? They showed up unsolicited! Past clients came to me seeking more work, and all about something different. I’ll be checking out a winery in Erie, learning about asthma research, thinking about engineering curriculum, and I’m still writing about food rescue. God, I love that.

This is why I wanted to be a writer, because I get to dive into so many different worlds. I can’t help but observe this latest gush of new work comes on the heels of my efforts at going out into the world (networking, parties, generally leaving the house).

Some days, I think When will the children grow old enough for me to work full time? When will I get to stop wiping poop off the floor?? because really, I want to do this writing work all the time. All the time! It’s so addicting, and I know from experience that if I keep dedicating time into it, I’ll eventually stop having troughs of no work. Someday, with enough effort, each morning will bring new assignments to my inbox.

This is, however, a marathon and not a sprint. So this week, I’m feeling really lucky and excited about my sense of balance. I get to be there when my baby squeals with unfettered delight at the sight of a flamingo at the zoo and I also get to interview a woman whose research was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine. I helped my son climb a rope ladder and interviewed a chef rescuing 15,000 pounds of food every month.

The last of these new assignments is due mid-September, so by October I might be whinging again about the challenges of making a go as a self-employed person. Isn’t that the way with everything, though? The good stuff is unthinkably great and the hard parts seem utterly unmanageable. With practice and persistence, I know I can find a middle ground. Which is great, because in this line of work a middle ground still means touring wineries and reviewing art exhibits.

Posted by on July 25th, 2013 No Comments

Leaving My Baby

Today, I leave Miles. I am heading to Denver to speak at the AWP conference. This trip has caused me so much anguish: should I take the baby along, pretty much eliminating my opportunity to do anything professional or get any rest? Should I just not go? Should I leave my wee bairn at home and take this opportunity to speak about freelance writing and attend professional development sessions?

I chose number 3, and I have not stopped building up guilt since I booked my ticket.

The closer I got to the trip, the crazier I seemed to become. I have been lurking in online forums, attending all sorts of support groups to moan about my breastmilk supply, expressing milk on the go, and the possibility that Miles will forget who I am and prefer my mother by the time I get back.

I began doing guilty spoiling things for Miles. Like I made him a pot roast on Tuesday even though it was almost 90 degrees outside. He loves pot roast and ate a man-sized bowl of it, happily smacking his lips as I cried in fear that this would be our last supper together. I took him to the zoo to look at the elephants and sharks. He babbled while I clutched my chest, sure I would die of love and/or anxiety.

I prepared like a madwoman, leaving detailed instructions about naps and purchasing prepared food (with coupons). I would like to say I cleaned the house from top to bottom, but I did do all his laundry and scrub him in the tubby and even pick at his cradle cap.

But mostly, I have spent the past few days chewing on my son’s bare foot, wondering how I ever thought I could return to work outside the home. Ever since Miles stopped screaming and I stopped working full-time, I’ve been with him almost constantly. I haven’t been away from him for more than 5 hours since December 10. And now I face 72 hours of separation. An eternity. Enough time for me to miss his first music class and the growing of his brand new incisors.

At home, where we are never separated for long, by the time he wakes up in the morning after having slept a bunch of hours in a row, I actually miss him and run into his room so excited to see his toothy face. I hurry home from the grocery store because I can’t wait to see him. I never expected this. I totally thought I could leave him as easily as I leave my other relatives–with a touch of bittersweet sadness, but the calming assurance we’d see each other again soon.

Not so. I couldn’t even bear to prepare the work of this trip because it reminded me I had to leave this darn baby. Although, eventually I did bite the bullet and write my presentation. And it felt good. Energizing. Empowering! Like “Old Katy.”

My God, but my former self loved to work. I loved working from 6am until 2am. I loved the days I forgot to pee or eat or bend my limbs, so hard was I working. Preparing for my presentation has reminded me of this drive. The glimmer of my self-employed mania assures me I am indeed making a good decision in going away for a few days.

So how will I get through it? How will I possibly make it until Saturday afternoon without my Miles?

Posted by on April 7th, 2010 No Comments