Posts Tagged ‘guilt’

The Button Box

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
No Gravatar

The button box wasn’t actually a box. It was a round basket in a strange shade of orange and gold.buttons

Despite its shape, we never called it the button basket. It was always the button box.

Growing up with a mother who wasn’t a collector of much of anything, the button box was magical to me.

If the weather was stormy or if I was stuck in bed with some childhood illness, I could spend hours going through the only treasure chest I knew. I would take off the lid, dip my hands into the jumbled contents, and let the buttons spill through my fingers as though they were precious jewels.

After admiring the contents, I would sort the buttons by color, size, and shape. Then I would create designs with the buttons while I imagine why they had landed in the button box. I became an archaeologist digging up my mother’s history by uncovering a small remnant of a favorite coat she no longer wore; the eyes of a stuffed animal from her childhood or the small pearl button from her high school prom dress.

I never wondered why my mom had collected so many buttons. I never even considered the possibility that she had an emotional attachment to the objects. She was a practical woman, and buttons were useful.

Except, most of the buttons in the button box weren’t very useful at all.

There were a few sets of buttons still packaged with price tags that were more reflective of the 1950’s than the 1970’s. Some buttons matched, but most were singularly odd: a red heart, a large black square, a plaid, cloth-covered disc. I couldn’t imagine my mother would sew them onto anything she was making or mending.

On  rare occasions, Mom would take out the button box, riffle through it, and pull out what she needed. More often, however, she went to the store and bought the exact buttons she wanted

And yet, she kept that box and saved those buttons because she considered them valuable. Then, she shared her treasure with me because she thought I was valuable too.

And that’s the magic of motherhood– the appreciation that the greatest gifts we pass on to our children aren’t the ones that cost money but instead are the ones that require us to give pieces of ourselves to the next generation.

The magic of childhood is appreciating those gifts.

And the magic of family is appreciating why those gifts are so important.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

Motherhood Test Anxiety

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
No Gravatar

Being a mom is like constantly suffering test anxiety.test_-_multiple_choice1

I should know.

Back in my student days, I hated taking tests. I always considered myself horrible at exams. That belief stemmed not from the scores I received but from the emotional turmoil I experienced before, during and even after tests.

Generally, I paid attention to lectures and completed most of the required reading. I usually studied and would actually feel fairly confident before a test. At least, I was confident until I took the risk of talking to other students. Their concerns about failure would immediately become mine. Then, the day of a test, I would listen to my classmates as they reviewed potential questions. If there was something I didn’t know, I could feel a sense of panic come over me. Even worse, if another class had already taken the same test and reported that the questions were unfair and impossible, I immediately became a nervous wreck.  Even after the test was over and I had done my best, I would second guess at least one or two answers.

My anxiety was never relieved until I actually had the results in hand.

Being a mom isn’t much different except that I’m never actually provided with the results. Instead, I feel as though I’m constantly preparing for a final exam that is always a day away.

No matter how much I think I know, it’s never enough. I often find myself listening to other moms talk about  how they handled a specific situation, and I feel like I’m that student who realized she studied for all the wrong questions. Even worse, the questions keep getting more difficult with time.

I remember years ago, when my son was just out of diapers and my daughter was still in them, the mother of two teenagers had an office next to mine. Instead of decorating with recent photos of her children, she had numerous photos of her son and daughter when they were very young.

Since I was at the stage when I was constantly bringing in updated photos of my children, I didn’t understand. So I asked.

“Those photos remind me when being a mom was so much easier,” she said. “They remind me of a time when I probably worried more about making mistakes but, in retrospect, the decisions I had to make were so much simpler.”

Now, more than a decade later, I completely understand.

Even if I had read every book and magazine article about parenting, I’m doubtful I would feel any more comfortable with some of the parenting tests I face on a regular basis.

As a mom, many of these tests are the same ones other parents face. But let’s face facts: cookie cutter approaches don’t work when it comes to our children. They have different personalities and different temperaments. Decisions I’ve made for my son are often the completely wrong decisions for my daughter. To make matters even more difficult, my children are reaching that age when their decisions, not mine, will define the direction of the rest of their lives.

All I can do is set parameters, try to help steer and hope for the best.

Those feelings will probably never go away entirely. My mom, who has been a mother fifty years this April, still expresses doubts about some of the parenting tests she faced.

When she does, I usually tell her that my brother and I turned out fine. We aren’t perfect, but we are well-educated, productive members of society. We may not live our lives exactly as she had hoped, but neither did we land in jail or become cruel, unkind people. The people that we did become are partly a result of genetics, partly a result of the parenting we received and partly a result of life circumstances. Mom only had significant influence over one of those factors.

While I think nothing of reminding my mother of that, I have to remember to be as kind to myself.

Being a mom isn’t a science, and each child is born with his or her own challenges. Most moms are just trying to help our children become the best people they can be.

If and when that happens, we shouldn’t consider ourselves deserving of an A plus grade. Instead, We should simply consider ourselves fortunate.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

The Truths We Never Talk About

Friday, October 31, 2014
No Gravatar

Becoming a mother is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I’ve mentioned some of the ways in which it is hard here and here. But recently, some of my mom friends and I were discussing how difficult becoming a new mom can be and why no one seems to talk about it. So I’m going to talk about it.

There is really nothing that can prepare a new mother for the shock of caring for a newborn. This can be a challenging time for women – besides having a fragile, small person completely dependent on us, we have to balance extreme lack of sleep, recovery from the birth, the pain and struggle of trying to breastfeed, and the Baby Blues. It’s no wonder the thought, “I can’t do this,” crosses our mind every now and again.

Here’s the truth – taking care of a newborn is not fun. There are fun moments, yes, but in those first few weeks there are, for many of us, many more un-fun moments. We look forward to the moment we get to bring home our baby for nine months, only to have our expectations shattered. In the first weeks the future looks bleak. “Will she ever stop crying? Will I ever sleep again? What am I doing wrong? Maybe I’m not cut out for this.” These are just some of the thousands of questions and thoughts that cross our minds. We are unsure of ourselves yet afraid to ask for help lest we should admit that we have no idea what we are doing and feel like we never will.

Why are new mothers constantly surprised by this truth? Why don’t we ever talk about this?

Mom guilt kicks in the second we start to think any thought of frustration towards our new baby. Every time I mentioned that I was struggling from lack of sleep or that AJ was crying a lot I felt extremely guilty immediately afterward. I didn’t want people to think I didn’t love my baby, and even worse, would she somehow be able to pick up on the fact that I was “talking bad” about her and hate me forever from birth? When I start to feel mom guilt now, I console myself with the fact that I know my own parents felt frustration when I was a newborn and do I blame them? Heck no! Did I turn out okay? Yes!

We also forget oh-so-quickly how hard it actually was to take care of our newborn. I’m already to the point where I can look back and think, “Maybe it wasn’t so bad. After all it was only a few weeks.” But when you are in the thick of it, it is that bad. Three weeks can feel like an eternity.

Another reason new moms are unprepared is that when mothers do share their struggles, we as pregnant women have on our pregnancy blinders and don’t believe them. I had people tell me I wouldn’t like my newborn or that it was okay if I cried. I thought, “Ha! Not me! I will LOVE being a mom.” And I do, now. Those wise women who went before me knew what they were talking about; I just didn’t want to listen. Can you blame me though? What pregnant woman wants to hear that the baby they’ve been dreaming about will terrorize their life when it arrives? As a pregnant woman, I wanted to think about all the good times ahead.

Here’s the second, and wonderful, truth – it gets so much better. Quickly. There is a light at the end of the newborn tunnel! For me, it took about six weeks for things to finally feel good, for me to finally feel like I was getting the hang of things. For some moms it takes only a few days, and for some moms it takes months. It’s all normal and it’s all okay. And once your baby is able to acknowledge you, able to smile and coo and laugh, you realize it was all worth it. Every tear, every sleepless night, every moment of hardship was worth it. There are still tough days, there will always be tough days, but before you know it the good days way outnumber the bad.

The Blame Game

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
No Gravatar

I’ve been told by numerous people on numerous occasions that I apologize too much.

My first response to their words is usually “I’m sorry,” which is just proof of what I’ve always known: my mouth often engages before my brain does.

But, to be honest, I’ve never understood their concern.  Many times, I’m simply conveying sympathy – as in “I’m sorry you are having to deal john burroughs quotewith this situation.”

At other times, I’m admitting my imperfections and mistakes.

That’s how I was raised.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents never engaged in guilt parenting. They did, however, set expectations that my brother and I understood consequences and accepted responsibility for our words and actions.

I’ve held on to a memory of my mother complaining about an individual for whom she held very little respect.  “There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes,” Mom said. “Everyone makes mistakes.  But you are likely to create more problems when you don’t  take responsibility for your mistakes.”

Of everything my mom has said, those words have probably had the greatest impact.

I’ve lived by them, and I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I have a difficult time understanding people who never take responsibility for their mistakes.

Sometimes, though, I do feel as though I should apologize for those feelings., especially because I’m a social worker who shouldn’t judge others.

I work for an absolutely wonderful organization with a mission to reduce poverty and advocate for people who are struggling. The stories my co-workers and I hear on a daily basis are often heart-breaking. Life is unfair, and we serve people who generally draw the short straw.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard an elderly woman apologize for even walking through our doors or listened to individuals who have nowhere to go because they have aged out of the social service system after being abandoned by parents who were abusive or addicts or simply had no interest in their children.  We see people with no support system and few resources who are doing their best to live  one day to the next and to contribute what they can.

Just last week, I was handed an envelope with a dollar bill, a few nickels and a handful of pennies. It was given to us by a gentleman who had received hygiene and cleaning supplies from our  personal care closet. He couldn’t give much, but he gave something.

Unfortunately, we also see people who take no responsibility for their situation and instead want to blame others.

Sometimes they blame their employer for firing them, Sometimes they blame a diagnosis of anger management issues for losing their temper at work and therefore losing their job. And sometimes, they blame staff at my organization for disrespecting them when we  ask about changes they might make to improve their circumstances.

My co-workers and I get frustrated with such individuals – not because they are angry with us but because, for some reason, they think admitting to mistakes is a weakness rather than a strength.

We try to change their perspective, but we often fail.  Despite that, we won’t give up on anyone who walks through our doors. Our personal support systems never gave up on us, never allowed us to sell ourselves short and, most importantly, taught us the importance of both accepting responsibility and learning from our mistakes.

I want to provide those same gifts to others, especially my own children, who I  hope will someday appreciate them.

In the meantime, I will never apologize for my belief that we can only move forward when we accept all of the missteps we’ve made and decide to take steps in a different direction instead.

The Puzzle Piece

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
No Gravatar

I’ve started feeling guilty about a cardboard puzzle piece.

I’ve been passing it for more than a week during my early morning bike rides as I pedal across an interstate overpass.IMG_3440

The puzzle piece is lying on the shoulder of that overpass. The first time I saw it, I simply wondered how one puzzle piece can be lost on the side of the road. I’ve asked the same question about abandoned shoes, socks and other random items.

But the more times I’ve passed that puzzle piece, the more I’ve thought about it. It has simply stayed on the side of the road to endure heavy rainstorms and traffic, and it is getting more and more worn down.

To me, it is not  just a piece of cardboard. It is a piece of a  picture that will never be complete again. It once belonged to something bigger than itself, but now it is all alone. It has been ignored and discarded, and as a result is now broken down. And it reminds me of people I encounter every day:

  • Children who have been abused or neglected but know other families are healthy and happy. They wonder why their family is broken;
  • People who struggle with physical or emotional pain that leaves them isolated from others and afraid to reach out;
  • The single mother who lost her job and is now living in her van with her five children. So far, everyone has told her she doesn’t fit  anywhere.

Yet even though I’ve had these thoughts, I haven’t picked up the puzzle piece. I continue to ride by and think how sad and isolated it seems  just  as so many people pass by the children who are hurting,  the people who are lonely and the homeless.

The people who do take the time to stop, listen and offer some type of support are my heroes. Often, they can do little more than provide momentary comfort, but sometimes they are able to provide assistance that can make a significant difference.

They are the reason I am going to pick up that puzzle piece tomorrow. I’m going to bring it home and hang it on my bathroom mirror.

And when my children ask why I have a broken puzzle piece hanging on my mirror, I’m going to tell them that things that have been broken still have a great deal to give. I’m going to tell that being kind is more powerful than being a millionaire, and everyone has the ability to be kind. Most importantly, I will tell them that when our circumstances change and we feel that we no longer fit in, we can always find somewhere else where we can make a difference. That puzzle piece certainly has.

I fed my baby a Big Mac

Friday, June 13, 2014
No Gravatar

I haven’t eaten a hamburger in five years. That is, until a recent late-night craving. It was one of those days where I’d been busy, and at the end of the day I realized I hadn’t eaten any meat. I felt a little light-headed, but thought I could get by with a light snack.

Come 10:30 p.m., the craving hit. I needed MEAT. RED MEAT. God bless my husband, who is always willing to make a late-night food run for me. The only fast place to get a hamburger at this hour was McDonalds, so a Big Mac I ate.

At 4:00 a.m., the upset tummy and feelings of guilt kicked in. As I lie awake in upset-stomach misery, I started to think about the junk I put into my body, and therefore my baby’s body, that night. This did not help me feel better.

Before I became pregnant, I told myself when the time came, I would be the epitome of a healthy eater. I would choose organic all the time, limit my sweets, say no to fast food and eat mountains of fruits and vegetables. That did not exactly happen. I’ve tried to make sure I am getting the right nutrients and I am eating the right amount at the right times. But being pregnant also means sometimes you are too tired to cook or go to the grocery store; and there is a reason they call them “cravings.” For me, they are almost impossible to ignore. And my cravings mostly have been bread and ice cream (and recently, meat).

My goal is to foster a nutritious, healthy diet for my child when she starts eating. Same as what I thought I would be doing in my pregnancy – plenty of fruits and vegetables, limited sweets (grandparents, I’m looking at you), no fast food or fried food, etc. I realize when we are eating out of the house the rules will bend, but at home I want to help her form healthy eating habits.

I’m beginning to think this is going to be a lot harder than I imagined. I’m sure I will run into the same problems I have now (too tired to cook, no time for the store) but magnified.

I will try my hardest to make sure my daughter gets the right nutrition in the right forms, but will have to realize I haven’t failed if I sometimes decide to order a pizza for dinner. We strive to be the best parents we can be, but occasionally need to realize we aren’t perfect nor ever will be.

So, here’s to hoping my late-night cravings don’t lead to my baby girl arriving with an affinity for Big Macs, but if she does…everything in moderation.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014
No Gravatar

The woman at the church picnic was looking at me as though I was raising the devil himself.

I wavered between the temptation to tell her off and the desire to disappear.

I didn’t do either.

Instead, I pretended to be oblivious to her indignation and the judgmental comments she was making to anyone who would listen. whoopsThere was simply no reason to defend my son, who was in elementary school at the time and had said absolutely nothing wrong.

But I seriously doubted  the woman would believe any explanations from me.  She was convinced my son had uttered a very offensive cuss word, and she was relishing her indignation the way others at the picnic were enjoying their fried chicken.

So I ignored her comments and finished our game of miniature golf as though nothing had happened.

But something had happened, and because I hadn’t addressed the issue, for months I felt guilty and angry.

That’s why the next time my son was accused of using foul language, I rushed to defend him. He was a year older, and this time I wasn’t present during the incident in question. Despite that, I insisted I knew my son and that he wouldn’t talk like that.

Actually, he would.

As the story unfolded, he readily admitted he used a cuss word, and I was once again felt guilty and angry.

Years later, my son told me had no idea what the word meant and had simply attempted to use it in the context he had heard others utter it. When he told me that, I laughed just as I laughed at how much time and energy I had wasted on the incident at the church picnic.

In the grand scheme of our lives, neither incident really reflected who my son is or my abilities as a parent. But they were important because they taught me two important lessons: 1) the opinions of other parents have absolutely no place in my family and 2)  I need to prioritize my concerns and my reactions to my children’s behaviors. As long as no one’s life is at risk and no one is being hurt emotionally or physically, I have no need to lose any sleep.

My son is in high school now, and the choices both he and I make are far more likely to have an impact on the rest of his life than when he was in elementary school. Prioritizing my reactions to his missteps is more important than ever.

Which is why, you might, on occasion, hear him cuss.

But if he does, you’ll probably also hear him catch himself and apologize then simply move on with the conversation.

Because he’s learning that moving on from his mistakes is far more important than never making them at all.

His mom is learning that too.

The Art of Acceptance

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
No Gravatar

As I write this by pecking the keyboard with my left hand, a little booklet titled Acceptance Therapy sits on the table next to me. I bought it after the death of someone I loved, and it is full of reminders about coping with situations that are beyond our control.acceptance

That book has become particularly meaningful over the past couple weeks after I lost the control and independence I’ve always treasured.

I was walking my German Shepherd on a snowy Saturday morning when I fell on ice and shattered my right wrist. (If you are interested in that story, you can read a full description of the incident in my personal blog: The Ice Gods Are Laughing).

After two nights in the hospital and surgery, I was feeling guilty that I hadn’t been able to help my son finish his science fair project or to hear my daughter sing a solo at church. That guilt, combined with my complete lack of independence at the hospital and my need to get back to work, made me more than excited to be released from the hospital and back to my life.

I should have known better.

I didn’t grasp the impact the injury and subsequent hardware in my right arm would have on my life. I wasn’t just being forced to use my left hand for everything (yes, I am right handed), I was being forced to do everything with only one hand. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t open containers. I couldn’t write, or wrap Christmas presents or cook, I couldn’t even put my contacts in my eyes. Worst of all, I, a person who is constantly in motion and thinks sleep is a dirty word, was too tired to do much of anything once I got home from work.

Friends rallied to help. My husband took time off work and did everything he could. And I went to work, came home, slept and felt guilty and frustrated.

Then I received an early Christmas present in the form of a comment on my personal blog from my friend Sarah: Trina – in the sense that God can make something good result out of something bad, perhaps this unexpected “slow down” will in the end be quite the gift to you and your family. Just “be” – and worry less about the “do.”

Sarah was right. I couldn’t change my circumstances, but I could make the best of them. That’s when I dug out Acceptance Therapy and took on a new challenge – one I could tackle with no hands: the art of acceptance.

My accident was two and a half weeks ago, and I’m doing more every day now. I’m dressing myself and putting in my contacts; I’m preparing simple dishes; I’m getting better at typing. I’m even driving (short distances only.) And I’m learning to accept my circumstances.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor and discussed the possibility of more surgery. That would be a  temporary set back to all the progress I’ve been making. At least it will set back almost all the progress I’ve been making. Because the one thing I did really, really well during the appointment was accept what the doctor told me. And that’s a skill that no accident or surgery can ever take away.



Wednesday, June 26, 2013
No Gravatar

I did a really bad thing this past Sunday.

Well, for the purposes of accuracy, I actually failed to do a really good thing.

I didn’t protect a child.

The first time I saw the little girl, I wanted to scoop her up in my arms and keep her safe. But I didn’t. Instead, I, along with most of the people near me, kept eyes on her rather than on the baseball field, where the Colorado Rockies were beating the Washington Nationals.

The toddler wobbled with the gait typical of children who have recently learned to walk, and she held her arms out for balance.

The reason she had our attention was that, instead of walking across a floor, she was navigating steep, concrete steps in an upper section of the ballpark. With every unsteady step she took, my heart would skip a beat. The twenty-something woman sitting next to me would sharply suck in her breath every time the child teetered.

The toddler’s mother, on the other hand, seemed completely unconcerned as she sat drinking beer and watching the game. Even when the toddler grabbed the handrail and let her legs swing back and forth, the woman absently glanced at her daughter then returned her attention to the ball field.

I could have said something. I could have done something. But I didn’t.

Instead, I simply let my voice blend in with the chorus of others quietly whispering horror.

And I have no idea why.

I’m the mom the who won’t start the car engine until everyone is wearing seat belts and who appreciates other parents keeping my children in line.

I’m the professional who has committed her career to promoting the concept that members of a community should take responsibility for each other.

And I’m the licensed social worker who is obligated to protect those who can’t protect themselves.

Yet, during the relatively brief moment in time I shared with that little girl, I failed her in every respect. I also failed her mother, who I believe loves her daughter and was probably tired at the exact wrong time. She also had a little boy, a few years older than the girl, who seemed completely content as he sat next to his mother watching the baseball game. The father arrived during the third inning, and by the seventh inning, the entire family was gone.

Each member left uninjured and, apparently, happy. My negligence hadn’t resulted in disaster, yet I still feel guilty.

So now, I have a choice.

Instead of focusing on the guilt, I can practice the art of forgiveness.

I can forgive myself and all those people like me. People who sometimes follow the crowd instead of doing what’s right. People who, just for a moment, want to pretend that bad things don’t really happen. People who suffer from that human condition called imperfection.

The great thing about imperfection is that it always provides room for improvement and the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.

I’ve certainly learned from mine. I know for a fact, the next time I see a child, any child, in a dangerous situation, I will take some kind of action.

Double Duty

Monday, June 18, 2012
No Gravatar

After attempting to cut the grass myself, I was instructed never to touch the lawn mower again.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about being a working mother — the responsibilities, the expectations and the stress.  I’ve been trying to get my arms around the idea of giving our daughters daily chores and assessing how much of their own weight they can pull now that they’re 9 and 6 years old.  I’ve also been fighting for a little respect from those girls, who don’t seem to understand that I have a career aside from what they see.  As I stewed over all of this “me, me, me” stuff, a little voice whispered:  Get over yourself, Katy. Mike is a working parent, too.

So this week’s blog is all about him, him, him.

Recently, MSNBC posted an article about the family duties of Dear Old Dad and the net worth of those household jobs.  Unlike the “real” working world, Mom makes more money (theoretically speaking) — by nearly $40,000.  Dad’s assignments typically include pest extermination, plumbing and sanitation, and odd jobs such as yard work.  Mom’s jobs span nursing, crisis management, catering, interior design, and janitorial service.  But according to, Dad is most deserving of an imaginary raise since he’s been doing more around the house these days.  Why? Because Mom has to work outside the home now, too.

At the end of the school year, I watched my own husband struggle and juggle. He was in the middle of a major engineering project that required extensive travel. Meetings were scheduled during the last weeks of school when every memory-making-milestone-moment takes place, such as field day, Donuts with Dad, and kindergarten graduation. Mike didn’t want to miss any of those events, but he had a job to do.  I sensed his anxiety by the number of emails I was receiving, each one hinting that he was feeling guilty about being gone so much.

Now when is the father-daughter breakfast at school?  

I signed up to do Career Day — when is it over? I have to leave by noon.

What time is Ava’s birthday lunch? 11:25 or 11:55? 

Can you drop them off in the morning?  I have a meeting at 7:30. 

Usually, I’m the one who’s fretting over how to get everything done; how to be present for each social event, practice, lesson or ceremony.  I’m the one who works before the girls wake up and after the girls go to sleep so I can be “there” for the things that occur in-between.  But I realized that motherhood is often an act of self-centered behavior — we’re the ones who complain about all the laundry and dishes and cluttered rooms, and we’re the ones who rush and race to deliver lunch to faculty and forgotten homework folders.  But fathers (ok, some fathers) are panicking over parenting duties, too.  They just don’t talk about it.

Mike is trying to rearrange his schedule so that he can be home by 4:30 or 5:00 (instead of 6:30 or 7) to take the girls to the pool in the evenings.  So far, it hasn’t happened. He’s just going into the office earlier and staying later.   In his heart, though, he wants a part of the girls’ summer vacation. He wants to be here. He brings work home so he can be at the kitchen counter marking up drawings while the girls are clicking away on their video games from a nearby couch.  On Sundays, he offers to make dinner and do the grocery shopping so that I can retreat to my basement office to pound out Monday’s blog post.  Mike wants to share in the responsibilities of being an active parent, but I’m starting to see a shift in pressure:  More and more rests on his shoulders aside from the mortgage, the cars, the taxes, the insurance, the retirement plans, the utilities, the yard, the cracked ceiling, the leaking faucet, the cat trapped under the staircase, and an annual “vacation”.  Mike’s also trying to take the girls to swim lessons twice a week, Family Buck Night baseball games, and concerts on the Levee.  He’s trying to get home for dinner — which we ate two hours ago. Time is not on his side.

Yes, I handle most everything that goes on in this house and I maintain a respectable book of writing business, but I’m not the only one who’s striving to make everyone happy.  He’s trying to find that same home/work/life balance that mothers search for on an hourly basis.  So the next time Mike is out of town and sending text messages at midnight to make sure I’ve locked all the doors, I’ll stop to remember that his job as a parent is really no different than mine.  And, despite the distance, he’s always with us in one way or another.