Night after night she woke me from a deep sleep. Softly she called “Mama? Mama?” until she got my attention. I groggily trudged to her room while longing to crawl back into bed. As I entered she smiled. Her smile was filled with love, light and happiness. It was irresistible. It was infections. Even at 4am.. As I held her tight in darkness I learned the power of a simple smile.
This is one of the lessons I learned since my kids started arriving on the scene. Some of the most important lessons they’ve taught me have come through our most intense moments together.
When Marlee started being more independent I started to calculate all the efficiency gains. We could sleep later. Get out of the house faster. Independence equaled all sorts of time-saving territory.
Each morning and evening I barked out orders to maintain maximum efficiency. “Upstairs. Get dressed. Brush teeth. Brush hair…”
Day after day Marlee begged me to help her. Day after day I refused. One day as she verged on a temper tantrum she used different words. Instead of asking me to help her she yelled “Why can’t you just be with me while I get dressed?!?!” Her words lingered in the air. They stung. All this time she was asking me to simply be with her. She didn’t want my help. She wanted my company.
On 9:15a.m the nurse practitioner exclaimed, “Your water broke! You need to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW.”
My water broke? What? How did I not notice that? And OH MY GOD Josh was hundreds of miles away in Pennsylvania. My mind started to calculate. How long would it take him to get to me? Was there a chance Marlee would arrive without him? Would I deliver ALONE?
(Despite popular belief, water breaking is not always a dramatic gush of liquid that cannot be mistaken for something else.)
I called Josh and burst into tears. “Marlee is coming. I am going to the hospital.” I sensed his smile. He was excited. I was terrified.
He calmly talked to me then hung up. All eyes were on him as he shared, “my wife is having our baby.” His customer quickly jumped up to end the meeting. Josh assured him that he had time to finish the meeting and get to the airport for the next flight. A bold move – his team closed the deal on the spot.
Meanwhile I called my dad. “Dad, go to my house. Pick up my bag. Meet me at the hospital.”
Everyone has that manager.
The one you’d follow from company to company.
The one that challenges you in ways you didn’t expect.
The one that teaches you things you didn’t know you needed to learn.
The manager that inspires you to become a manager.
Early in my career the manager that inspired me to become a manager – the person that made me think, “when I become a manager I want to be like him” – was Brian Grundei.
Maybe the things he imparted to me are taught in text books and management courses. Or maybe they were uniquely Brian. All I know is they made an impact on me and I pay it forward to my team today.
Brian taught me 4 things that are forever imprinted in my mind. (Note: these are not the ONLY things that make a great manager. These are the things that made Brian a particularly fantastic manager.)
As a parent I have certain expectations of…well…everything. Including the PTA.
As a member of the PTA I have (potentially too many) expectations of parents, teachers, principals, and the community.
There is a tension. A tension that tugs at me daily. It’s the tension between the part of my brain that reacts as a parent and the other part of my brain that reacts as the president of the PTA. I’m not claiming there is any sort of scientific evidence that there are different parts of my brain working here. It’s just that I often have two very different but parallel thoughts.
How can I possibly get what I want from the PTA as a parent and get from parents what I want as a member of the PTA? Seems impossible.
As a parent I want to just.be.left.alone (sometimes).
As a member of the PTA I want everyone to get involved now!!!
As a parent I want people – specifically the plethora of organizations in this small town – to stop asking me for money.
Memorandum # 7
To: All cats
Effective date: immediately
It has been brought to executive management’s attention that you have engaged in loud, hysterical meowing during the early morning hours. While we encourage all members of the faculty (i.e. family) to express themselves, we must insist – if not demand — quiet voices during sleeping hours.
Effective immediately loud meowing will be permitted between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Please refrain from meowing outside of these hours unless you are notifying management of a dangerous situation. Please note that dangerous situations do not include annoyance with the dog, a desire to be fed prior to 8am, or a demand to be let outside at any time.
If you must express yourself after 8pm and before 8am you are welcome to do so in the confines of the basement.
Failure to adhere to this new rule will be considered a violation of this memo. To understand what happens when you violate a memo please refer to Office Space.
We appreciate your assistance in this matter,
Executive Management (Jill & Josh)
Executive Management in training (Marlee and Lila Pearl)
P.S. We know you try to be extra cute when in trouble. Cuteness weighted against lack of sleep? You’re not going to win that one!
P-nut knows how to work his cuteness for maximum results. We are suspicious he has imparted this wisdom to the girls.
I was 5 months pregnant. My nesting instinct was raging. It made me want to do unexpected things. I created a baby and apparently this baby was going to change my life. First she took over my womb. Then she made me want to do things I never expected to do. Like knit.
With a round belly I waddled into the local knitting store and meekly asked “do you have classes?” My intent was to gather information. I walked out with a receipt that said “$40” on paper but said “life defining moment” in my heart.
The moment I declared, “I want to knit” I simultaneously realized, “this baby is going to teach me things I never imagined I could learn.”
I was stepping into a world that blends creativity and math – two of my least favorite things. Why in the world would I want to start a new hobby – one that I certainly wouldn’t like, and couldn’t do – just months before having a baby? My nesting instinct didn’t offer me a choice. It demanded I fulfill this need my baby created.
Before she was even born, Marlee pushed me out of my comfort zone into an unknown world.
Learning to knit was akin to learning to become a parent.
I learned to knit one stitch at a time. I learned to parent one step at a time. With both, I learn from my mistakes and move forward. Knitting taught me an important life lesson: be present.
Mother’s day is the holiday that most inspires me to scream obscenities at greeting card companies.
How can a single holiday make me want to tell an entire industry to fuck off? There are 4 reasons.
- Reliving heartbreak
I mostly hate mother’s day because of the flashbacks I have to when I was 17. Of the first mother’s day I spent without my mom. When everyone was celebrating and I was mourning. When I had to somehow simultaneously celebrate my (step)mom who was still alive (and I loved very much) while remembering my (biological) mom who died just months before.
There was no joy on that mother’s day. Only deep, penetrating sadness that I can’t shake 18 years later.
Great moms in my life together for my junior prom. A picture that would not otherwise be released!
I hate Mother’s Day because it always has an undertone of sadness.