Friday, May 17, 2013

It gets easier?

Every time I see a mom challenged by baby/toddler multiples, I remember thinking how overwhelming my life was. Every time another mother of multiples said, "It'll get easier," I always answered with exasperation, "When!?"

In all honesty, motherhood has become easier. The challenges are still there; just different.

Today's challenge - not worrying about them as they walk themselves from school to my work place. It's only 6 blocks, and they'll be walking together. How else are they going to learn to be independently responsible? It's not like I'll ask a friend in the local police force to follow them in his cruiser.... (or maybe I will)

Here comes the "when I was their age" reflection:
When I was in third grade, I had to walk a little over one mile from my house to get to school. Here's the route:
I can also honestly share that there were mornings I had to walk in a snow storm (No, it wasn't uphill in both directions). I remember walking with my younger sister, who was in first grade at the time. We were plowing through the long stretch of side walk that framed the cemetery on Sheridan Rd. The snow hadn't been cleared yet, and since we were kind of short, there were drifts that were higher than the top edge of our boots. These boots went over our shoes. At one point, Shaun's foot slipped out of her shoe/boot and she took a step in the wet snow. She howled like Randy in "A Christmas Story" when he couldn't put his arms down.
[note for geography buffs: Terra Haute, Indiana is in the same snow belt as Kenosha, Wisconsin.]

In fourth grade, our family moved to a new home seven blocks away from school. It was only .4 miles. From this new address, I could walk home for lunch. One bonus to this situation, was that my grandparents lived two blocks away from the new house. I even walked there for lunch.

Grandma's Irish spaghetti looked suspicious - her tomato sauce was condensed soup and she added chopped overcooked strip steak. But I ate it - because it would have hurt her feelings not to, and I was always rewarded with a light, crispy sugar cookie.

Oh gosh, it was just too friggin' simple.

I'm getting a sense of how complicated I tend to make parenthood. I'm trying to figure out how to work around their schedule. More honestly, I'm still trying to figure out how to work them into MY schedule. I'm being selfish when I put work before them too much.

I'm incredibly blessed with a wonderful, challenging position in an institution which encourages me to seek solutions as an academically minded administrator. The opportunities to investigate systems, create new ideas at the edges of multiple disciplines, to forge relationships with forward thinking people, and to facilitate learning for students while being actively engaged in my community.... it doesn't get much better than this.

I'm surrounded by good people. My husband is ridiculously supportive of my urgent desire to make a difference. But this year, my kids started to complain about my leaving the house after dinner, or their need to quietly wait outside the board rooms. They are always well-behaved. But what kind of memory will that give them?

Moving forward, there will still be times they'll need to patiently wait outside the room while Mommy does her thing. Their patience is usually rewarded with simple things; a special trip to the library, a chance to explore the Monocacy creek in their school uniforms, or a round of Putt golf with the girl scout troop later in the evening. The latter is the activity I did with Bridget after she and Stephen had to wait in the lobby of the Hotel B while I live-tweeted the last Mayoral Debate. Don't worry, Stephen had his reward, too. They both ate a few too many bacon wrapped scallops and sesame chicken skewers. Good thing they aren't picky eaters.

Last month, I resigned from two boards. I'm making room to return to an academic program to support research and publishing goals in my field. I'm certain that this kind of focus will also give me more time with my kids. There will still be afternoons when I have meetings that go beyond their 3pm end of school day.

This summer starts an investigation into balance. I'm trying to balance my time better for taking care of things that will mean better memories for our kids. I'm also trying to balance things I take on to stay focused on work goals. I have learned to say no - now I have to say "yes" to things that may not be as exciting in the moment - but worth the dedication in the long run.

Time to create balance for simpler things. I don't need to do it all. I don't want to do it all.

I just want to know I'm making the right decisions. Giving my career the focus it needs, giving my family the attention they deserve, giving myself a break.

oh...., but I can't forget; there's the local history hobby/research I want to publish, too.

smack me.


  1. That's a long walk to school. Builds hardy kids.

    I note you were good kids and did not cut through the cemetery. I used to walk through a cemetery to get to school, for a year or two.
    There's been a fence put up since then to stop that.

    Did you ever wear a plastic bag between your shoe and your boot to help get the boot off?
    The under-boot plastic bag was a staple of my youth. Worked great -- almost too well.

    Are the kids old enough that they can start coming inside the room to see how the adults work? Maybe that would be educational.

    1. The cemetery had a tall, imposing fence with only two openings, neither of which were access points that would make the walking route faster. Also - cemeteries are scary places; even in daylight. Every Irish-Italian Catholic kid knows that!

      I do remember plastic bags between shoe and boot! I only wish I could remember how Frankensteinly my feet must have felt with all those layers fo footwear.

      The kids often come to my office on Friday afternoons; only two blocks from school. This time, my remote office was one of the performance halls in the campus arts center. A place they see me work in many capacities.

      When people asked my kids what their mom did for a living they said, 'She plays on the computer and talks on the phone a lot. Mostly, she talks." Now they just say, "She does a lot of things for a living." This must be why kids never say, "I want to be a university administrator when I grow up."