When fate solves the problem for you

It’s been in the back of my mind, and sometimes overshadows everything else. What do I do? All the work and stress that comes along with trying to please two bosses and two kids has been overwhelming me, but try as I might I couldn’t figure out what to do. I even heeded my own advice and wrote out a Pros and Cons list. But everything was coming up pretty equal. Working for the school I have health insurance and more money for fun this summer. Working for only the PR company gives me more time to be with my kids and less stress.

I felt like the responsible, grown-up, won’t-be-judged-harshly thing to do was work my arse off and let the cards fall where they may. I just wasn’t convinced that it’s what I should do.

That’s when fate stepped in.

student gratitude

Today at work, I found out they were calling each para-educator in, asking if they might be willing to leave our school. The option existed to be transferred to a life skills classroom in a local high school. Of the four of us, two have been there since forever, two of us are newer. One was willing to toy with the idea of moving, but instead I took the leap and volunteered to be the one to go. Not to transfer to another school, but to resign.

So that’s what happened. In a fit of tears in the principal’s office, I raised my hand and said, “I’ll go.” The other three have been there all school year, the kids love them. I have a part-time job to coast us through for a while. My daughter will be happy to not see me in the halls. We won’t argue about how embarrassing it is to have your mom work at your school. I won’t stress about having to wake at 4.30 to get work done before going to work.

I might even start writing again. And running. And my heart will stop skipping beats to make up for the stress. I can stop drinking so much caffeine.

I’ll make it a good thing, but I think tonight, I’ll cry a little––sad to not see the lovely little faces of these kids from kindergarten through high school, the ones who greet me with hugs or high-fives, the teachers who so desperately need more help in the classroom. Tonight I’ll be sad. Maybe tomorrow, too.

Monday, though… Monday will be a new start, again.

Finding the time and the money to mother.

Since last November when I started working two jobs to make the ends meet, it’s been almost as hard on my 13-year-old daughter as it has been on me. The long hours and the inattention when I am home make her feel a bit neglected: “You always say ‘Sorry, but I have to work.'”

She’s right; these days I spend most of my time working. On top of the PR job and the school job, I also head up a twice-monthly writing group and a monthly brunch club with friends. I’m still working intermittently on my book about our adventures in Vietnam. Add in friends and blog and laundry and, God forbid, sleep and there’s no time for anything, especially the mothering that I had so prided myself in.

All the work will, in the end, provide for me to return to the orphanages in Vietnam and my kids to have summer vacations with family afar. There’s a pay-off in the end, but in the meanwhile our trio isn’t as tight as it used to be. I don’t have the time to sit and watch movies, go for a walk or hang out at the mall. But sometimes I just have to have a break.

So that’s what we did.

Audrey and Lily watching the pendulum swing

On Saturday, we invited Audrey’s friend along to join us at the Northwest Chocolate Festival, a celebration of all that is cocoa-based. We tasted all sorts of chocolates and caramels and truffles, drank a bit of sipping chocolate and just sat around enjoying the serenity that can happen in a crowded plaza. The girls went their way for a while and I went mine, finding our way together again before too long and pleased to be together.

There was something lovely about being out of the house, away from work and just enjoying being with my daughter and her friend. Something that I haven’t had in what seems like a very, very long time. Being an attentive mother has taken a back seat and I don’t like it. I find myself stressed out too often, frustrated by the tiniest things, frustrated by myself.

I don’t know what to do to fix it though. If I quit a job, we’re back to not being able to make ends meet, but I’ll get to be the mother I want to be. My daughter will be happy to only see me at home, not in the halls at her school. And yet, for so long we’ve struggled that I don’t want to do it again.

Decision-making is never easy; either is parenting.

Moving is difficult

Even when it’s just moving blog posts, it seems to be taking forever. Plus it looks like I didn’t blog for a couple of years there. Not true, but it’s a tedious process to move it over, especially after accidentally deleting files via FTP.

It’s happening, albeit slowly. If only someone could pay me to do it, it would get done a heckuva lot faster.

Facing an Empty Nest

A month ago, or so, I emailed Rachel and Dr. Leah over at Singlemommyhood with an article suggestion. And today they published a blip about me and this feeling of loss I’m facing as my son moves away. I originally posted about it on my personal blog, but really, it is a family issue.

You can read the article and comment, if you care to, on their site.

Celebrating Solstice

Every year the kids’ school spends the week before Winter Break in a flurry of activities that culminate in what is simply known by the school community as Solstice. Each grade presents a song or a poem or a dance; something to celebrate the lengthening of days and return of the sun. It’s a proud moment for parents at every grade.

This year was even more so… Audrey played in her marimba band to start off the show and I got a front row seat reserved just for the “parent of the Moon.” Stuart had said, three years ago, that when he was a senior and had the chance, he would be the Moon. And this year there seemed to be no question about it. No tryouts. No requests. He was the Moon, the antagonist of the story.

Stuart as the Moon with his minions.
The high schoolers getting ready for the Solstice celebration.
The power animals hanging in the Commons.

Each child and most staff members take part in creating a power animal, from kindergarten through high school. No sketching or scissors allowed. You simply tear your animal out of a folded sheet of construction paper. Inside, everyone writes a goal, hope or dream for the coming year then staples their animal onto the string. The scraps, left from creating the animal are used to write down the bad thoughts, habits and experiences you want to get rid of. Class by class these scraps are compiled into paper bags and on the day of the Solstice celebration, they are burned on the bonfire. A final farewell.

Mine was an octopus, but it never got on a string–the joy of being part of Special Ed and not a classroom. Instead it’s tacked to the wall by my desk. Inside I wrote: Don’t be afraid to accept new opportunities.

It's like a big hippie-fest with all the drumming and dancing.