Don’t go back to sleep 

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.


You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the door sill

Where the two worlds touch.


The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

This is one of my favorite Sufi poems by Rumi. The first line sits with me. It’s said the veil between worlds is the lightest just before dawn. I’ve felt that when I’ve been up early. There is just something light and magical in the air. At early dawn it feels as if the world is vibrant with possibilities. Shhh… listen to the breezes and enjoy this time. But the poem means so much more.

In 2012; through a mix of rediscovering religion, turning off the radio, listening only to uplifting music, and discovering a myriad of podcasts on spiritual living – I proverbially “woke up”. Waking up means different things to different people. For the purposes of this blog, I am writing about spiritual awakening.

I didn’t do this on purpose, and it wasn’t something that happened over night. It noticeably started when I went to a two-day work training on the Seven Habits of Highly people. It was on March 1st that year. Something seemed to deeply resonate in my soul from that training. There were quotes I may have otherwise looked past which the instructor stopped to explain. Those quotes seemed to make so much simple sense.

After the first day of training when I got in the car, I made the rare decision to keep the radio off. We had just completed a journaling exercise, and I felt like I could have kept writing all evening. I really wanted to keep that sense of peace and pondering I was experiencing. I wanted to continue writing, and to contemplate the simple truths I leaned that day. I decided to keep the radio off the next morning too. Then I set a goal to keep it off for a week and avoid all media during that time. That week turned into two, then three. When I opted to listen to music again, I decided to first listen only to things I loved and made me feel good. I started with U2. I haven’t really watched the news or listened to the radio since.

At first I wasn’t sure what happened. I just felt different and more subdued. Noises, people, work, media; they all started to really bother me. Not annoy me, but get under my skin and really eat away at me. I was more irritated than ever. During a period of a few months I only listened to U2 if I listened to any music at all. I was doing more thinking than I ever had. Thinking about why I felt so irritated by the world. Why billboards and convenience stores would turn my stomach. What was wrong with me?

I started really hearing U2’s lyrics and began to understand the deeper meaning behind the words. Bono actually sings about waking up, being born again. Popular songs like ‘One’ and ‘Mysterious Ways’ took on a whole new meaning. Less popular songs screamed of rebirth – off hand ‘Unknown Caller’, ‘Moment of Surrender’, ‘Elevation’, & ‘Walk On’ to name a few.

Waking up is about noticing what you hadn’t before. Discerning what is good for you, your soul, mankind and all living creatures. It’s about realizing that what we consume (through all senses) becomes our thoughts, cultural norms and even our physical body. How could it not? How hadn’t I thought about this before? And why is the predominance in the world toward things that aren’t good for us? Am I the only person who is noticing this?
These questions lead to others. I’m sure it’s different for everyone. For me it raised questions about social injustice, the environment, consciousness, the power of the mind, animal rights, the products we put in our bodies… the chemicals in them. Questions I googled, questions I spoke to people about, questions I found; others before me have asked through art, poetry and song.
“I’m waking up!” Imagine Dragons screams into our radios. Breaking out of the prison bus we all live in. Conditioned by the world to just follow unquestioning through life helping to possibly benefit the selfish and “privileged” that just hope the masses stay asleep. I started journaling again, drawing pictures of cogs in the wheel… wheeling us off to places that I didn’t want to contribute going to anymore. How to get off the bus? My whole world and life as I knew it before was on the other side of the fence I just crossed, pulling me over. I was happier on that side, blissfully unaware of what I didn’t know.

Others wrote, sang and painted about this too. The Dark Night of the Soul. Again, this looks different for everyone. For me it was about the fear of changing things. My family, friends, hobbies, job, life style- I couldn’t just walk away from it all. And even if I could, where would I go? What on this giant green and blue earth would I do? While I had some deep conversations with people that seemed to understand what I’m saying, they were living in the world in a way I no longer wanted to. The people and answers online wouldn’t provide that sense of community I craved. However, continuing to do what I did every day and being a cog to a world I don’t want to see seemed impossibly depressing. Just thinking about it made me want to absolutely crawl right out of my own skin. Although many of these same blogs I read about this topic promised that after living through the ‘Dark Night’ it becomes very possible to live in the world again with a new perspective. Live in it? I just wanted to run away!

As I write this blog I’m on a two plus week trip with Daren to Africa. It’s one of the most exciting trips of my life, but I was truly nervous about being so close to wild animals, being with people who get some kind of high from getting closer and closer to more and more dangerous animals in hopes of getting a ‘like’ worthy picture on Facebook. Lots of people I know have done similar excursions and had the time of their lives. They reassured me I’d love it.

Three days ago we went from the city of Maun in Botswana to the Okavango Delta for a two night camping excursion with no facilities or electricity. We were in the middle of the Delta with little to no cell reception, no toilets, no lights, no electronic devices and no showers. The only way off the island was an hour & a half makora (sort of like a canoe) ride that is done by a poler through reeds of the Okavango river. A poler is a native of the delta area who moves the makora with a long pole. We lived right on the land that the animals do. In the middle of the night I awoke to the loud sound of hippos mating. Zebras roamed the open grass. Birds sang loudly and landed on branches. Impalas roamed and hopped around.

Yesterday when we left Okavango, we took a plane ride with the majority of our travel group over the Delta. Had I not been there, I wouldn’t have appreciated what I was looking at. I wouldn’t have know that those large grey objects were termite mounds, that the green land was actually reeds that spread apart pretty easily and provided life to frogs, hippos, crocodiles, lily pads and beautiful water flowers; or that the bushes spread nicely apart were perfect little private bathroom areas. We flew over a massive heard of water buffalos, tons of elephant herds, zebras, impalas, hippos, and even two prides of lions.

It was a unbelievable experience that I’m still glowing from. We slept just outside the delta last night in the city of Maun again. While showering this morning I felt like I didn’t want to leave. Next week when I’m back home in the concrete, fabricated world; those lions will still be here. The polers will be poling their makoras through the reeds, and the natives will be singing and dancing their traditional customs in the evening. This world is more real. I feel connected to nature, the environmental balances and myself. I was also thinking about all the other people I know in the states that have done similar excursions and wondered why they didn’t come back changed. They seemed to know how it felt and told me how I’d feel. They were right!

As I thought about it further, it seems like for a temporary period some activities “wake you up”. They wake you up to what is actually real. About what feeling connected really is. To our inner selves. To feeling truly and deeply present and alive. Lots of activities do this and it varies [again] for everyone. For me, I sometimes gain this deep understanding through hiking, writing, yoga, or having deep connected conversations. But why don’t we hold onto it? Why does it disappear? And then it hit me, because we go back to sleep.
Most people probably wake up for short bursts in their life many times. Whether it’s through sailing, running, sky diving, or even through every day mundane activities like driving or putting a baby to sleep. Others wake up more harshly for longer periods like I did in 2012. Where the sense of inner peace clashed against the known world. At first it’s wonderful. It’s like you’ve gotten a taste of this delicious sub-world living right below the surface of the known world. Everyone has access it to, only most people are stuck in what they believe is reality. Sometimes because I don’t know how to handle going back and forth; I’ve gotten agitated, judgmental, sad or anxious. I’ve gotten through it by going back to sleep dozens of times and getting re-absorbed into the drama and superficial world I’m used to. It feels safer there. The community is larger and it’s fun to not care, close your eyes and go on. But the period on which I am comfortable staying there is getting shorter and shorter. I feel more off, and sooner and sooner I feel as if I’m not following my inner compass. It always feels right when I open my eyes, willingly wake up and go to the other side. I know deep down it’s the right side of the fence to be on.
Humans have struggled with this very thing through the ages. A few hundred years ago Rumi wrote

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

Take advantage of that light veil. Stay there, explore. Question things.
You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You will be and experience what you consume. Be careful about what that is…. what you think, eat, listen to and surround yourself with. Take in what you actually want to experience.
People are going back and forth across the door sill

Where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

We have the power with our minds to make decisions about which side of the door we would like to be on. The openness and roundness of makes it easy to cross back and forth. But if we stay awake we will stay on the right side.

Don’t go back to sleep.

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On a Disjointed Life



This blog is mostly in response to one my husband Daren wrote a few weeks back

We did chat that day in the coffee shop, and I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now. One of the reasons rituals are so awesome is because it traces something back to it’s roots and honors something in it’s entirety. Well, there is nothing alone in its entirety. Anyone who is Facebook friends with me (IF they paid any attention to my page) would know that for the past 7+ years the main quote sitting on my profile is: When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. – John Muir

I love that quote. I’ve used it in many conversations and presentations in a variety of formats. We can trace everything almost continuously including ourselves back to the stars. We and everything around us is made of star stuff (thank you kindly Carl Sagan for coining that term in my head forever). If we do actually think about this & how we are all nothing but star stuff; it’s easy to see nothing at all or just outright chaos. But if we ignore everything else and only focus on one piece of the universal pie we miss understanding and appreciating the beauty of the tie in. And feel very much alone.

Our human brains need to draw natural lines to understand something so it’s not all chaos or nothing at all. We also need to stop those lines in a place that we as humans can understand something and make sense of it. What I would argue is happening in the world today is that those lines we draw around something to make sense of it are becoming smaller and smaller.

Take for instance a shoemaker 150 years ago. He had a little shop in the heart of a town. People who lived in that town acquired their shoes there. The shoemaker knew his customers well. Everyone had a role in the town’s functioning and everyone supported everyone else to keep that town running through trade, bartering or monetary exchange. They were all they had and likely felt a sense of community and oneness. Mr. Shoemaker made the shoes from start to finish. He knew where the material came from, how they were put together. He literally created every stitch and hammered every sole. When he walked through town and saw others, he saw his creations on their feet. He felt connected to the product he made and the people who benefited from it. He appreciated the art of his work, which helped him to inherently understand and appreciate the products and services of his fellow townsfolk. Making shoes was a ritual and the universal lines were drawn around the whole shoe and the tie into the community and other humans.

At some point in history, machines and the assembly line were developed and broke up shoe making and nearly every other previous manual whole process that we could as humans possibly get our hands on. The universal lines broke down even smaller. Instead of making shoes; one stood on a line and mechanically made just a sole, or hammered in the same piece of stinking shoe over and over. The pride and ritual of the shoe in it’s entirely was lost. It became harder to connect with the final product. Supply chains were built up and one would no longer see the product they created on the feet of habitants of their town. In fact today, no one really knows any longer where things were created or how they were put together. People started working outside of their towns and traveling alone to jobs on long commutes to do things they don’t feel a part of. While our world is becoming more and more connected, humans are becoming more and more disjointed from the origin of their being; and their own worlds are becoming smaller and smaller.

I love Daren’s example of the record player. It was a ritual to play a song or album. The anticipation of hearing a song would build up as you went through the process of getting all set up. Manually making that happen while we wished it were faster felt very satisfying. Now that I have every song I have ever heard or could want to hear in my life at my fingertips, I just don’t enjoy music like I used to. Daren’s example of the coffee making process is simply beautiful. Making a cup of coffee in the morning was a means to true enjoyment. Manual effort was put in. The waiting made it all the more special. Do we really enjoy the k-cup, drive through, or 7/11 versions of coffee in disposable containers as much? As we gulp them down without thought? …several times a day for most.

Our on the go life style has started to suck the pleasure out of life. We aren’t connected to the things we do, the food we put into our body, or the people we run into during the day. We see ourselves as separate, and not part of the whole. Unless you own your own business, most of us who work have little to no connection to the mission of our jobs. We feel like a part in a machine with no connection to the outcome or even our own humanness. I march through the VA facility where I work and see the patients hobbling down the main corridor as road blocks to the next place I’m heading and already late to. Every so often when the bathroom on my floor is being cleaned and I need to walk down to the floor below, I see patients in the waiting room and checking in. It’s only then I remember that I even work in a hospital. That is sad and a symptom of something gone terribly, terribly wrong.

I wasn’t around back in the shoemaker days, but based on my experience with record players (and cassettes and CDs), and when my mom ground the beans at the end of the line at A&P and then percolated the coffee; I much more enjoyed the older, more manual versions of these and many, many other products and services. We don’t have time to do things in a way that are truly enjoyable any longer. How uncool is that? Why are we trying to do more and more faster and faster? It necessitates a quicker, faster, and smaller means to an end. It’s harder to appreciate the whole when you and everything you take part of is such a small cog in a larger wheel. What’s the rush? What are we accomplishing? Are we happier as a human race? I’m not. Am I alone in this feeling? Even if I am, I want to step out & slow down. I want to know the bigger whole. I’m a bit tired of the disjointed feeling of my being. I miss manual processes and rituals. I want off the treadmill. Anyone care to join me?



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Email I sent to kids 2 years ago today already! 

I was just thinking this morning and wanted to share my thoughts & wish us all a Happy New Year.

Today is Sunday, December 29, 2013. I woke up this morning feeling incredibly grateful. It’s Kieran’s birthday today and last night we took him out to dinner and had his cake here back at home. He turned 14. We had candles that were a #1 and a #4 on the cake. They were left over from Gabby’s birthday. They were also left on the counter with some yellow frosting remnants from the PacMan cake we had. The frosting had gotten a little hard over night. I was the only person up so I straighten up the kitchen a little, fed the cats, and then ran the candles under some warm water to wash away the sugary frosting. As I rinsed them off I thought about the age 14… and for a moment stood in disbelief that I am the mother of teenagers already.

I thought back to when I was a 14 year-old girl living on Long Island. It truly seems like yesterday. I realized with a moment of panic that Tommy will be turning 17 in just over 2 months. These are ages to absolutely cherish. I love that you guys are young adults now and learning how to be independent. Every age that you two ever turned I felt was better than the ages before. With every passing year and every seed of maturity that you gain in your faces, minds and hearts I’m finding it amazing that you are growing up to be really great young adults. In every year that passed; I thought to myself – I thought this is just a perfect age and if I could, I’d like to hold onto this time a bit longer.

This morning again was no exception. 16 and 14 years old. You guys are healthy, and smart, and think critically about the world around you. Neither of you are sucked into the things that most kids and the rest of this country are. I’m glad that you are questioning the mindless things people do, are appreciative of what you have, and have the capacity to think about the effect of what you do on other people in most of the decisions that you make. At this ripe time, you are old enough to be thinking critically (and do!), starting to drive, test out different looks and styles, try out different music and hold some deep thinking, meaningful conversations. And for this wonderful time you still live at home and I still have a good year and a half left of enjoying raising the two of you together.

I walked over the drawer where we keep the candles and contemplated whether or not to keep them. I’d like to use them again in 3 years when I turn 41 and Devin turns 14 a few weeks later. I don’t want these next 3 years to pass too quickly. By then – hoping we are all healthy both mentally and physically – Gabby will know where she is going to college and Tommy will be a sophomore almost halfway done with an undergraduate degree. I will have had some sad but very proud moments as you guys get older and older. I thought back to how both of you volunteered at the VA the summers you were 14. As crazy as that place is and as much as neither of you enjoyed it, I was sad the first day I went back to work alone knowing that you wouldn’t be in the car with me again heading down to work anymore. I thought about how proud I was when Tommy came through the doors of the DMV after his road test – proud, but sad and hoping that all the lessons and advice would stick. And I thought about the pride in my own heart when Gabby recently wrote an essay about someone she admired and she saw traits in me that I always hoped would be traits you guys understood and would emulate.

I opened the drawer and laid the two candles down in one of the plastic bins. The next time they are used for anyone in this house I’ll be thinking back to how quickly these last 3 years passed. Then I thought I hope that I’m looking back fondly. I hope everyone here stays healthy and continues to make wise choices between now and then. I can’t predict the future, but I do love and cherish the present. You guys are 16 and 14 and I wish I can hold onto these years just a little bit longer. There will be a day in the not-so-distant future when you have seen a child grow up and in the blink of an eye is 14 years old and feel like it was yesterday too.

No one and nothing around us is perfect is or ever will be (it’s a farce to think otherwise), but we are very lucky in the grand scheme of things and I just want to be thankful for the moment I am in. I’m grateful and I wanted to share. I love you both incredibly and I just wanted to share what I was thinking about you. Happy New Year going into 2014.

Love Mom.

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A Cold August Morning

A Cold August morning

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I am walking our dog Koji. It is the first day this summer when I am out in the early morning and the air actually feels cold. I think about how it always feels this way at this time of year. Each summer there is a specific day where I wake up and it’s a bit chilly, unlike the day just before. I recall the first time I had this realization just 13 years earlier. Tears fill my eyes, a lump fills my throat.

That day was August 26, 2002. Until that day in since Tommy (my oldest son) was 15 months old I had been a stay-at-home mom for the most part. I was in college and I worked part-time at A&P and was in the U.S.C.G Reserves, but only opposite my ex-husband’s shifts. At that time Tommy was 5 and his sister Gabby was 3. It was my first day of work at what I considered at the time a “real” full-time job. It was also Tommy’s first day of kindergarten. When my alarm went off that morning the sad realization that I had to get out of bed before my body or the kids woke me up was startling. My initial gut reaction was that it would only be for today, but it quickly sunk in that this would be the sensation I would have every morning going forward. Ugh. I wasn’t quite ready to go into the work force. My then husband and I were really struggling to make ends meet since he got out of the military just a few months earlier. My working full time was a necessity for us. I felt extremely tired. I distinctly remember when I walked from the bedroom to the bathroom that morning that it felt cold. It was so very unlike the warm summer mornings I had been used to, even just the day before.

I begrudgingly waited for the shower water to warm before heading in. I wasn’t sure how the new morning routine would work, how long it would take to get ready, and get the kids dressed and fed before dropping them off at their new daycare. I was a bit worried. Nervous butterflies. My husband went to work hours earlier for his own shift, and I was left to get the kids ready for this first day of something new for all of us alone. I dressed and woke the kids. They too were not used to being woken up. And by golly – it was just chilly in the air. Somehow I don’t remember much about the morning or how I got them situated or where they thought they would be going; but I do remember being cold when we first got in the car, and driving over to Buttons & Bows daycare in Naugatuck. They weren’t nervous or excited or sad – they just were. It was me who had those feelings. Overall I was sad. Today was Tommy’s first day of kindergarten, and neither I nor his father would be there to witness this very special occasion. The bus would come pick him up and cart him off to school with the other children whose parents worked.

Somehow the sadness quickly passed as I started the drive to the new job, trying to navigate unfamiliar roads with a print out of map quest directions in hand. More nervous butterflies. Where to park? Wow, there are so many people who work here walking into the building! Will I find the right room in this massive hospital I was entering? Am I really qualified for this job?

Somehow I made it to the correct room to start a two-day orientation. Everything was new and unfamiliar. I was almost in a trance, there was too much to take in and it wasn’t all quite registering. Sounds, lights, colors, smells. The VA Hospital felt like the military somehow. Familiar, but not quite. At certain parts of the day I thought about being home with the kids and how much fun we had that summer. Then I thought about them at Buttons & Bows, and how they must feel similar to me. I felt sort of guilty for some reason. Lunch time came and I went outside. What struck me the most was that it was hot! I had to take off the sweater I put on at the last minute that morning. I ate my lunch in the warm sun, alone and nervous. I didn’t define myself as someone who worked outside the home. I felt like an impostor. I checked my two day old cell phone that I had just gotten from Cellular One that previous Saturday. No one called. That must mean the kids are doing well. I went back inside and finished up the day.

When I got home that evening the kids had already been picked up and were settled in at home. They were beaming about their day. They were OK! Tommy told us as much as he could in 5-year old vocabulary about school. I was sorry I missed it but glad to know that they were happy. I wasn’t as excited about my day as they were, but it was a success. I came to the sad realization that as they were going to get older I would be missing many other things in their lives. This is a normal and expected part of children growing up, but worse for parents who work.

The next day I woke up and it was cold again. And by the time I left work in the late afternoon it was downright hot [again]. It was the same the next day, and the day after. Until the crisp autumn days began to swallow up some of the heat, and when I left work those afternoons there was a chill in the air. And so it goes, the seasons change. The winter came and I had to really bundle the kids up in the morning. Just a few short months later when the snow melted and there were signs of spring, my car felt surprisingly warm in the afternoons. Eventually the mornings warmed up too. Before I knew it, it was late August again and I remembered the previous year’s sensation when I experienced the first of the cool mornings and hot afternoons. A year went by in a flash. Then so did two years, then three, and now 13.

Today, 13 years later, this first cool morning air following the humid summer mornings is all too familiar. This particular morning I am filled with an unbelievable sadness. I blink back the tears as Koji happily pulls me along on his leash. I inhale deeply trying not to cry, becoming slightly distracted from my own thoughts in an attempt to make smoke rings like I’ve seen pictures of American Indians doing with the condensation of my breath. I notice the heat from Koji’s breath too. Tomorrow we will be bringing Tommy up to college in Maine. His entire school career had come and gone in the blink of an eye. A few months ago our families came from New York and North Carolina for his high school graduation. Cards from relatives near and far poured in. It was our mailbox that had the graduation balloon. It was hot out. It seemed like there would be so much time before he had to leave for school 3 months later. And here we were. Tomorrow was the day.

Hints of light are coming through the sky as Koji and I walk the streets of our familiar neighborhood. I reflect back on the past 13 years. They went by so quickly. When I first started working I imagined I would only do so until my ex and I got back on our feet. I really wanted to be home with the kids. That first winter started the many years of snow-fretting that parents who do not work outside of the home likely do not realize. Which parent would stay home when both school and daycare closed? I had to use my vacation days when it was my turn, which diminished time with the kids in the warm months when they were home with little to do. I did however cherish those early snow days. I would make hot chocolate with marshmallows and graham crackers with peanut butter for breakfast. They would squeal with excitement about this special snowy day treat. Years later when the kids were teenagers and there was a snow day, and my now husband and I went to work since they were old enough to stay home; it was Tommy who would wake up and prepare this same treat for his sister and two younger step-brothers.

After the first year passed of my being in the workforce full time, my now ex almost went back into the military. Even with both of us working full time and me keeping my old part time job at A&P, we were still struggling to make ends meet. We were all prepared to make the entrance back into military life. I was kind of excited. I would be able to stay home again and pretty much wherever we got stationed, the location would be a new area to explore. The kids were a bit nervous about this change, but I don’t think they fully understood it. Just before we had to make the final commitment, I got a promotion at work that resolved all our financial problems. We thought long and hard about whether to take the plunge and stay in the civilian world, or head back to the military family life we were used to. My ex wasn’t crazy about going back in and here was out opportunity to make it in the “real” world. I quit the job at A&P and only worked at the VA. The kids were ecstatic. I was a little disappointed, but trucked on.

Just a year later my ex got a new job and huge raise. We were at last not only financially free, but had breathing room. For the first time when I went grocery shopping I didn’t have my eyes on sale items only. When the kids asked for a cereal off the shelf, I was able to say yes. It felt great!

For a short period of two years time while I went back to school to get my MBA, I cut my hours back and had Thursdays off. The kids ended up loving Thursdays. I did too. I would wake up before dark and get a start on my schoolwork. The kids were able to sleep in a little, and when they woke up I would always make them a special breakfast since the other days of the week were rushed. I would then lovingly get them off to school on the bus in front of our condo instead of dropping them off at daycare or with a neighbor. I would go back to my studies, usually taking a break at lunch to walk by the pond down the street and then heading home to whip up a batch of some sort of homemade dessert. The kids usually knew I would have some treat after school waiting for them. They would come off the bus with big happy smiles on their faces while I waited at the door, excited to see me- but also looking past me to see what kind of goody awaited them inside. They’d drop their backpacks and sit at the table with their after school snack and a glass of milk. We would talk about the day and then split up again until dinner time. If it was warm enough they would go out to play with the other neighborhood kids.

I had many different daycare arrangements while the kids were in their early elementary years. Friends and neighbors, different daycare locations, odd shifts with their father watching them for partial or full days. It was a constant struggle worrying if their dad would be late, the sitter or their children would be sick, or the daycare would be closed.

When Tommy was in 4th grade I finished my MBA and was promoted to a new job. I had mixed feelings about it because it meant I had to go back to work full time. I really felt bored in the position I had and was ready for a change. Accepting the new position meant more money and less boredom, but the trade off was that I had less time to be a mom. The choice wasn’t easy. The kids were rather proud of me and were only slightly disappointed that I would no longer be home Thursdays. We had enough money to buy a house and move the kids to a town with a good school system, and into a neighborhood where they could ride their bicycles in the street. Tommy was at the end of 5th grade when we moved to Cheshire. He was excited while Gabby was very hesitant. I had no reservations about moving and continuing to work at this point. It was 2008. I did worry about how we would manage when the kids were teenagers and could get into trouble after school with a lack of after school care as my catch net, but there would be time for that.

Only there wasn’t. In the blink of an eye the years flew by. My ex and I started having marital problems before we moved to Cheshire and they did not resolve themselves. My efforts were spent working to save a failing marriage, then a divorce, new relationship/home/step-kids; working on helping the kids and pets adjust while trying to nurture a new partnership; all of which moved incredibly quickly. At one point I attempted to apply for one day of telework per week. For two weeks while the paperwork was being routed Gabby would excitedly ask me every day if I heard anything back. Tommy was a little too old at the time to care and was indifferent. When I did find out that my request was denied, Gabby put on a brave face and said it will be alright. I myself felt hardened somehow.

Another blink of an eye and I was suddenly teaching Tommy to drive. He got his license, then a job of his own. Before I knew it he was taking SATs and his high school was having student-parent sessions about the college application process. Another promotion opportunity came up when Tommy just started his senior year. I wondered if trying to learn a new job would be too difficult in my increasingly complex home. It was Tommy’s senior year, we just got a new puppy, we were having problems with my husband’s ex, and my own children were having issues with their father. Again I felt a bit bored in my current position and it was a toss up between money and learning versus focused home time and boredom. I took the job.

A whirlwind of college visits ensued and then the application process seemed to be over in a heartbeat. Tommy always wanted a puppy and took the brunt of the responsibility for training, feeding, and walking the dog. The holidays came and went. Tommy found out he got accepted into all the school he applied for. My husband and I went on the acceptance visits circuit. There were suddenly senior pictures & events all around, and then the culmination of the graduation. Now here we are. I don’t know how it happened, but my little boy grew up and was about to move away. Until a few days ago I thought I would be fine, but now that this change is staring me in the face I’m completely broken up. I will be one of those parents who cries and hyperventilates the whole way back home from the college drop off.

I am rounding the corner with Koji back toward my house. In another minute I’ll be inside on one of the last mornings that will feel normal. Of all the firsts and celebrations that make the fanfare throughout the years like first birthdays and other milestone birthdays, first day of school, communion, end of sport seasons, concerts, start of high school, graduation etc; the most transitional moment happens very quietly. There are no family and friends visiting and celebrating or handing out presents or money. Hardly any of our family even knows which day Tommy is leaving. It will be a quiet drop off. Just me, his sister and his step-dad. His dad moved away and is living in Massachusetts, treating tomorrow like any other day. My friends and the people I work with hardly have a clue that my heart is breaking. I knew back in 2002 that I would miss many things throughout the years. Only I did not know at the time how quickly it would go. In these years Tommy learned to read, ride a bike and navigate peer pressure. He went through puberty, had his first kiss, first girlfriend, first heartbreak. We had normal teenage ups and downs without too much drama. Now he was a grown man. This all happened in front of my eyes while I spent these precious years in the workforce.

We are just feet away from my house now. Koji doesn’t want to go back in and very deliberately sniffs the grass across the street. I pause and let him, looking over at my warmly lit home while I shiver in this cold August morning. That same lump fills my throat. I worked for 13 years and let his life pass. Would it have been any different if I stayed home? Did I have a choice? Does it matter? Will Tommy or Gabby ever understand how much they mean to me? I feel the need to let people know how emotionally challenging it is to be a working mom. It can only be worse for a single parent. Most workplaces including my own are not very flexible and do not allow compressed, flex or telework schedules. Would the world be a different place if the organizations understood the challenges faced by single parents or two adults in that work outside the home? All I can do now is go back inside, put on a brave persona, take my little boy to college tomorrow and continue on knowing that I did the best I could. It will warm up and be hot this afternoon. The mornings going forward will be cooler, and soon the days will as well. The seasons will go on and life will continue.

“Come on Koji-poo” I say. Koji looks up at me, I give him a slight tug on his leash, and we head back inside ready to tackle another day.


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