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.

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.

it’s just a number

September is always a difficult month for me. When I was in university, I never had any money until the financial aid check came at the end of the month. Working for the school system isn’t any better; they send checks on the very last day of the month. But of course, the kids’ school needs money for field trips and photos and school supplies–this year alone they are asking for nearly $500 this month.

Our Trio in 2006

There are six birthdays of friends and family that I can’t afford to buy gifts for and both of my kids’ birthdays are barely more than a month away. Add in the bittersweet anniversaries of both the day I struck out on my own with the kids and the day the divorce was final (a year later) and you’ve got a month that adds up to not a whole heckuva lot of fun.

Last year, we managed to enjoy our Trio Anniversary (being in Thailand for most of the month on our way back from Vietnam), but this year the anniversary struck me particularly hard. I tried to fake my way through it, pretend I was happy, but in reality when I say “It’s our eleventh anniversary as a trio!” what I’m really thinking is “Eleven years of being unloved.” Melodramatic? Silly? Sure is.

Continue reading “it’s just a number”

Like Mother, Like Daughter.

My daughter, A., is a list maker. Just like her father’s mother. Just like me. She begged for a magnetic pad of paper from the dollar store last week. It’s lined paper, with the heading of “The List” on each page. She won the argument and has used the pages diligently including this to-do list for going to the movies on Friday:

1. Get tickets.
2. Get food & drinks. [yes, she drew an ampersand]
3. Give ticket to person.
4. Find best seat in the house.
5. Talk quietly during the movie showing.

She carried it with her, crossing off each item as it happened (and as it so happened, #3 came before #2). Then refused to throw the list away. Last night she indexed her blank book, marking pages to be used for “flower pictures,” “word dictionary,” “poems,” “life stories/fairy tales,” and “anything you want,” then writing up the index at the back to point out where each is in relation to the others. Word Dictionary is before Poems. Poems are before Pictures. Anything You Want is in the middle and Life stories/Fairy tales are at the end.

It reminded me of the summer that I was 10; I marked and organized our small home library using the Dewey Decimal system. I saw the same look of pride I had felt then in A.’s eyes yesterday. The apple surely hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

Of Course I Worry; I’m a Mom

Buying the plane tickets, or rather deciding about buying the tickets, has got to be the most stress-inducing part. So far, at least. Purchasing tickets for any flight has always caused me serious anxiety; life tends to throw hurdles when I least expect it and, although it has never happened, I always buy tickets expecting that something will happen to cause my trip to get canceled. The worst that has happened is that I’ve flown out with little money in my pocket (like when I flew to Boston with $6 to my name or NYC with less than $100). That absolutely cannot happen this time.

I don’t want to buy the tickets and have something go terribly wrong and not be able to come up with enough money (because it is a ton of money I have to come up with).

But then again, I don’t want to put off the tickets too far or the prices will go up drastically and I won’t be able to afford it. All price differences get multiplied by three, which adds up way quick.

But I don’t want to buy the tickets that fly into the city on the opposite end of VietNam from where K lives; it’s not critical but I sure would like to have him meet us at the airport to make our arrival slightly smoother and because, quite frankly, I miss him and want to see him again.

But K likely won’t know until July where he will be living: in Hanoi or HCMC? in VietNam? Does it even matter (to him) that we meet him? Do I put the tickets off until July in hopes that it will? should I risk losing the affordable price fares?

I just don’t know what to do, so I keep putting it off. I find tickets that I can afford, then find a reason or five to not buy them. It’s the big step that will make this whole adventure a reality and that both thrills and terrifies me. The kids are determined that it will happen, so that should reassure me, but I can’t yet get over the fear of actually buying the tickets.

Ah, if I could only put this much mental focus on my studies….