Category Archives: life

Tuesdays Through Mid-November

6:30 a.m.: Alarm goes off. I find myself surrounded by sleeping children. Just two, but it seems like a lot to wake up to sometimes. The black cat jumps on the bed. He wants to snuggle. He’s a demanding and aggressive snuggler. I give in, hitting snooze several times.

6:45 a.m.: I shove the cat away. He curls around the head of the child who is mildly allergic to cats and begins to lick his (the child’s) cheek. I get up. I find enough coffee from yesterday in the French press for one mug. I decide it’s not worth the time/effort to make a new pot. I prepare breakfast for the children. The older one appears in the kitchen and begins to eat.

6:58 a.m.: I carry the younger child down to the kitchen, wrap him in a blanket, and leave him facedown on the table next to his breakfast while I head for the shower.

7:10 a.m.: Younger child has returned to his bed, claiming he has no pants, but at least he’s eaten his breakfast, which is a surprising and pleasant change. I find him an entire outfit, then go dress myself.

7:15 a.m.: Why does no one have shoes on? Has anyone brushed teeth? Get your pants on! Why aren’t your pants on? Thank god I packed lunches last night.

7:22 a.m.: In the car. It’s go time.

7:57 a.m.: Drop off older boy at school for orchestra. Drive to Starbucks with younger child. Buy us both coffees (his is decaf, despite his protests) and the chili chicken wrap he asks for. Protein and veggies, right? We hang out, talking, reading a book about the 1936 Olympic rowing team,  talking, taking selfies. I love this time together. He keeps trying to switch our coffees so he can have the dark roast that is not decaf.

8:48 a.m.: Drop younger boy off at school. He strolls in with his backpack, Starbucks cup clutched in his hand. He’s in third grade.

9:16 a.m.: Arrive at work. Dive in. Eat the rest of the chicken chili wrap for breakfast.

5:00 p.m.: Log out. Race out of the office. Email a colleague from the parking lot.

5:30 p.m.: Arrive at afterschool to pick up the kids. Feed them (beef jerky, trail mix, fruit leather, watered-down apple juice) while the older boy pulls on shinguards, socks, cleats. Would love to be the kind of parent who shows up with a cooler of homemade food but people, let’s be real. I let Trader Joe’s take care of this situation for me because I knew Tuesdays would be just one degree shy of a total shitshow.

5:45 p.m.: Drop older boy off at soccer field 15 minutes early. The coach is there, so I feel OK leaving.

6:04 p.m.: Arrive at our CSA farm. Find out what we need to harvest (PYO). Head to the fields with the younger boy to harvest string beans (green, yellow, purple), edamame, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, husk cherries, parsley, Indian spinach, various hot peppers. Return to the barn to collect the rest of our share. We have a choice between potatoes and a musk melon. Child chooses potatoes, in part because “the bag is cool.” Realize it’s now 6:45 p.m. and we need to go back to the soccer field.

7:01 p.m. Arrive at soccer field. Practice should be over at 7:15 p.m. Younger child wants me to carry him or drag him. He resorts to sitting on my feet.

7:10 p.m.: Coach announces practice officially ends in five minutes, but anyone who wants to stay can play “lightning.” My older child kind of wants to stay. His brother is hungry. Older child is hungry. I tell him he can stay late at Friday’s practice but tonight we need to head home. He agrees and gathers his stuff.

7:46 p.m.: Arrive home. Send older boy up to shower. Brotherly mayhem ensues. Maternal yelling ensues. Child ends up in shower. I heat up Sunday’s pre-prepped veggie chili, then slice green onion and put out a bowl of shredded cheese.

8-something p.m.: Child emerges from shower, dried and dressed. I feed the children and let them finish a movie. I tell them I will be in the kitchen sorting the farm share stuff, if they don’t mind. They don’t mind.

Even later: Younger child finally finishes eating. I send him up to shower. He wants me to stay in there with him to adjust the water pressure and towel dry his back. I have to clean the kitchen and start a massive load of laundry. We somehow compromise.

9:12 p.m.: Older child has agreed to practice violin in the morning, as it sure as hell is not happening tonight. I am about to send them to up to brush teeth, then put them in bed wiith books, then I will read to them and LIGHTS OUT.

9-who-knows-when? p.m.: I will pack lunches for tomorrow, for all of us, plus pack workout clothes for me, check email, and finish cleaning the kitchen.

We normally have a fairly mellow, low-activity lifestyle. But Tuesdays? We maybe drew the short straw this year. Everything happens on Tuesdays. Can’t wait until the younger boy’s soccer practice starts. Will those also be on Tuesdays, at a totally different field? Stay tuned!

Creating A Star Chart for Kids

We’ve needed a star chart for a long time. “Just find clip art!” someone (a teacher? therapist?) told us brightly. “Just make one!”

For tired and overwhelmed (and hey, design-challenged) parents, “just finding clip art” can be a daunting task. What clip art? Where do I find it? What do I need to put on the chart? Also, our brief experience with a potty training chart hadn’t been encouraging (not the chart’s fault).

This has, of course, come up again in a recent meeting. Last year the preschool had a neat chart they’d put together. They wouldn’t give us a copy, despite all the meetings and tuition payments and looks of defeat on our faces. Nope, we had to come up with our own.

Fast-forward a year, and we’re told the teacher might share a “home-school chart.” I started to think, again, about all the times we could use a star chart. The morning hell. The after-school routine. Bedtime bedlam. General behavior, table manners, the few small chores they have. WHERE DO WE START?? We also don’t want to have charts everywhere like some kind of maniacal control freaks. Just one small chart to start, please … but one that really meets our needs.

I hit the Internet harder than ever. And found the solution. It’s a site called and frankly it’s kind of a noisy site. But it is extremely useful. You can either download one of the pre-made charts on the site or give the site your email (that’s right — that is all you have to do) and download your own customizable chart. Yes. For FREE you get a word document with a chart format AND a ton of clip art, organized into topics, that you might need. Everything for the morning routine! For after school! Chores! Bedtime! Prayers, washing windows, feeding the cat –you name it, there’s clip art here for you to use!

The chart we downloaded has five rows. That’s good. That’s all a kid can handle sometimes. We settled on a morning routine chart, since 1) mornings are a really hard right now and 2) if we start the day well, maybe the rest will be better?

I made and printed the chart (had already bought shiny star stickers at Staples, but you can probably get them at any drugstore or office supply store). Then we went over it with the kids. If you do something (get dressed, brush teeth) after being told only once, you get a star (you get two stars if you do it without being told). If you get ALL your stars in a day, you can have iPad time or some other child-suggested-in-advance treat after school. If you get all your stars in a week, you can have —

— “A HAMSTER!!!!!” Ben shouted.

Aw jeez no. He’d stopped mentioning it months ago but I guess he still wants one. Ugh.

“Uh, we were thinking some other kind of special treat, like an ice cream party at home, or going out for slushies, or going to see a movie,” I suggested.

“Yeah, a hamster might be after three months of all your stars,” said C.

“No, a week!” said Ben.

“Maybe three weeks,” I said.

[NOTE: SORT THIS STUFF OUT WITH YOUR SPOUSE BEFORE YOU INTRODUCE THE STAR CHART TO YOUR KIDS. Also, don’t forget that if you turned on the boiler fill valve before you started a load of laundry, make sure you TURN IT OFF before you forget all about it and come back upstairs to go over the star chart with your family, unless you really love wasting water, flooding your basement, and hauling buckets of water to drain the boiler. Trust me on this. Also, our boiler turned out to be fine — as our neighbor said, noticing me pouring five-gallon buckets of water on the lawn in the dark, “it’s like an enema for your boiler.” Yes.]

First day, Max tried hard to do everything without being told, which is pretty normal for him. Ben, on the other hand, thought he should get a star for “get dressed” even though C dressed him after we’d spent 25 minutes trying to get him out of bed, because … well, I’m not sure why he thought he should get a star for that, honestly. I still don’t.

The next day went better, as did the day after that. And tonight before bed they reminded me to print a new chart for tomorrow.

Wow. So easy. The chart, and getting them to follow it. Maybe we should also introduce a bedtime chart. The site makes it very easy to make one.

So if you think you need a star chart and don’t know where to start, try (and ignore the site noise). It’s so helpful!


Conquering My Closet with Wayfair

As part of my New Year decluttering—and encouraged by Wayfair—I decided to tackle my bedroom closet.

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 10.41.46 AM

We have two closets in our bedroom. My husband gets the bigger one (his work clothes need hangers, whereas I live in running clothes, basic dresses, or jeans), and mine is also the front hall coat closet. As in, it is a pass-through.

My side.

My side.




Seriously grim.


The front hall closet side of my closet.

The front hall closet side of my closet.

Here’s the problem, though, when it comes to closet organizing solutions: Many are built-in or otherwise attach to the walls. We rent our apartment. Not only do I not want to put a lot of holes in the walls, I don’t want to buy something so space-specific that I might have to leave it behind when we move.

What I need, in my closet, is a little hanging space but mostly some shelving for running gear, backpacks and duffles, sweaters, and so on.

I was smitten with a steel organizer that would perfectly meet my needs. It met my freestanding requirement. It combined a hanger bar with shelving. Perfect!


This is so calming to look at, isn’t it?

I also considered this other version of a self-standing closet but decided it didn’t meet my shelving requirements.


I ordered that first steel organizer. Of course, after I ordered it, it occurred to me to double-check the measurements. Oops! I canceled the order and returned to browsing (smaller) closet storage solutions.

I usually don’t like hanging organizers (so-called sweater organizers) because they’re not solid and often not big enough for my needs.

But then I found this one, with bamboo shelvesScreen shot 2015-02-04 at 10.51.07 AM

That would solve part of the problem, but I still needed to deal with the jumble of backpacks, etc., on the floor.

While not my top choice, I found a steel shelf that I thought would do the job.


‘Twas time to empty the closet  and reorganize it.

It’s not perfect. The shelf is too wide. It fits, but it would mean I could only hang shirts, nothing long. I ended up turning it sideways so that it spans both my closet and the front hall closet. It’s better that way.

Ooh, I can see floor!

Ooh, I can see floor! (front-hall side)


My side. Better, right? I can see floor instead of a jumble of crap!

It’s a start, in any case. I’d really like a closet with built-in shelves, but this will do for now. Getting the shelving unit in really helped. It’s nice to be able to organize stuff.

Thanks, Wayfair!












Practicing Acts of Kindness

I’ve been working at cafes lately, since working at home doesn’t work out so well. It’s cold, and there’s so much non-paying-work stuff to do, and I get frustrated by our limited snack options.

Cafes help me focus. Plus, they can make for amusing status updates on Facebook, such as the day the cafe owner left to go buy toilet paper. As in, he left. He left me alone at the cafe for a good 15 minutes. (I should have used the time to brew a fresh pot of coffee, since the one he’d served me was tepid.)

Or yesterday, at Starbucks (I know, I know, but I get a lot of work done here). It was crawling with plainclothes detectives taking pictures related to a recent secret-camera-in-the-bathroom incident (sometimes a bathroom flowerpot is so much more than decor!).

Today, back at Starbucks, I noticed an older man picking his nose. With two fingers, even. He was a least using a napkin, but he was piling them up on his table. I posted about this to Facebook, of course.

And then he lifted a bloated, purplish foot and began picking at a bloody toenail, placing the scabs carefully on a napkin on the table.

Yes, I had probably the same reaction you might be having as you read that. Gross! Ewww! Shouldn’t he be kicked out per Board of Health regulations?

Then I noticed that his shoes were flip-flops. It is December in Massachusetts, and it is snowing lightly. An old backpack was on the floor, and a plastic bag overflowing with stuff was parked on the chair.

Again the urgent thought: What should I do?, but not in terms of reporting him to management. I wanted to buy him a cup of coffee, but I didn’t want to be intrusive. I thought about giving him a preloaded Starbucks gift card, so he could buy himself some food or coffee. An online friend suggested I buy him some socks at the nearby CVS, but that felt too obvious, like I was saying, “I saw your feet, and that was gross.”

I deleted my earlier Facebook post. Then I decided to do something I read about once, which can really spare a person’s dignity: As I walked past his chair, I pretended to pick something up off the floor.

“Here, sir, I think you dropped this,” I said, offering a folded bill. His eyes met mine as he reached for it. “It was under your chair. You must have dropped it.” I nodded to confirm this was true. He nodded back. I wished him a good day and returned to my laptop.

He didn’t budge. But about half an hour later, he got up and went to the counter, returning with a hot drink and a breakfast sandwich.

I felt so, so happy.

Even better? About an hour after that, a woman walked up to his table and handed him some money. “Here, please use this to get yourself something to eat today.”

The snow is falling more heavily outside, and he’s dozing in his chair. He may or may not be someone’s brother, father, uncle. He was definitely someone’s child once. He might or might not own warm boots and a nice house; I sure don’t know.

But rather than mock him on Facebook, I found I still have a shred of compassion, and for that I am grateful to him.

So thank you, sir. I hope you have a good day and stay warm.

Adding a Pop of Color to Our New Place: Giveaway!

We moved in the heart of winter. Fortunately, the weather gave us a break, but all was white and brown and dead and ice outside our windows.

Inside, we had a lot of neutrals going on, with flashes of pale greens and some blue and occasional pale yellows, as if we lived in a vernal pool. Quite soothing and nice, especially on a sunny day, but all kind of monotone. No zing.

Lucky for me, I’m a member of the Wayfair Homemakers, and Wayfair offered me a $100 gift card to add a pop of color to my home. Woooo! Where to start?

Not the bedrooms. The kids’ room has light-green bedding, blue and green painted furniture, and one red-stained chest of drawers that Max refuses to let me paint blue and green to match the other pieces. (He picked out the blue and green paints last year, but I think he wants a piece of his very own now.) Our own bedroom is a mess mix of a contemporary black headboard and nightstand, an antique dresser from C’s grandfather, and an old blue chest of drawers (mine). We don’t need a pop of color in there. Instead, we need to fold all the endless laundry that daily piles up on the bed.

Kitchen! What’s black and white and red all over? Our kitchen floor is composed of black and white tiles, big ones, which are quite striking. The fridge is enormous and white. A red kitchen cart stands at the end of one counter, under the window, and some red and white kitchen mats are on the floor. I briefly considered a lovely red appliance.

Screen shot 2014-04-30 at 12.30.43 PM

Nice, right? Plus I could stop shredding my fingers on my box grater!

But I hate giving up counter space, no matter how much I want a food processor. And maybe the kitchen is not the room that needs the pop of color the most. Maybe it is our dining room! Maybe we need some curtains in there to offset the honey browns of the floor, table, and chairs and the dark walnut of my grandmother’s china cabinet.


Screen shot 2014-05-01 at 9.32.31 AM

These would certainly give some cheery personality to our dining room!

Our living room gets the most traffic, though, and we spend the most time in there. So perking that up was the obvious choice.

Now, before we get to the “before” and “after” pictures, let me tell you: It’s not a bad space. We do need a sofa. We have this futon couch which I hate. We keep meaning to buy a proper sofa but somehow other things get in the way (races, bike rides with the kids, relaxing on weekends, daily life). Anyway. So our living room is fairly dull, overall, except for our lovely turquoise rug and the plants. Those add color but since the rest is so neutral, we need more.


Yawn. Somebody please help this room, soon.

 Believe me, I have a lot of ideas for this space.The black and gray curtains were kind of an emergency purchase when we first moved in, since we are now at street level with a lot of pedestrian traffic. But anyway, doesn’t this room scream for color? For floor lamps? Bright throw pillows? Something?

These could help.

Or this beautiful throw:

I went for an ottoman. Bright red. Useful as a seat, and the top turns over so it can be used as a small table. (My boys love this–they pull up their small chairs to it and use it as a snack table). We can put stuff inside it for storage.


Notice how it picks up some red elements from my office: red file cabinet, red legs on my desk, and (you can’t see these) red curtains on the side windows.

It wakes up the room a little, don’t you think? Best of all, it has a friend coming soon. I found a chair and my friend is upholstering it in a beautiful fabric, a light cream background with oranges, reds, greens, and a touch of turquoise forming the outlines of flowers. It’s lovely. It will go in this corner when it is ready:


My reading nook-to-be.

A hint of things to come:


Lonely ottoman seeks chair friend…

I am giving away a $100 Wayfair gift card (in the form of a promotional code) to one lucky reader! Go ahead, brighten up your home, too! (Or, heck, get that food processor you’ve always wanted! Or some fitness equipment! They have everything!)

To Enter: Leave a comment below telling me one thing you’d like to get if you were to win the gift card. You must name the item and link to the item on Wayfair. (Obviously, are you NOT obligated to buy that particular item with your gift card, should you win!)

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Disclosure: Wayfair provided me with a $100 gift card for this post. All opinions are my own.

Rules: No purchase necessary. By leaving a comment you agree to the rules of this sweepstakes. Each comment to this post equals one entry and must include a name and valid email address to be eligible. A comment must link to a product from to be considered for this sweepstakes. One entry per household. Limited to entrants over 18 in the US and Canada, residents of Florida, New York, and Rhode Island are ineligible to enter. Contest begins at of the time of this post and ends on May 11, 2014 at 8 p.m. EST. The winner will receive a Wayfair gift card/promo code, a retail value of $100 US. The number of eligible entries received will determine the odds of winning. All comments will be numbered in the order they are received and the winner will be chosen randomly by It’s Not Like a Cat using the Random Number Generator at  Winner will be notified by email at the address given in their entry and must respond within 72 hours to receive their prize. If the winner does not respond within that time, a new winner will be chosen. The prize will be provided by It’s Not Like a Cat is not responsible for any problems with receipt of the prize. This contest is governed by the rules of Massachusetts, void where prohibited. This sweepstakes is sponsored by Wayfair LLC, 177 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA, 02115. 

The Grief with No Cause

I’ve been feeling like I’m grieving: a deep heavy sorry, quick surprising tears. This has been going on for a month. More. I wake with a heaviness, an aversion to the day. My eyes sting quickly and often with frustration, tension, emotion. I’m short on patience, short on memory. I need to grieve, for someone has died.

I suspect it is me.

The grief has been here before, settling on me, and it usually indicates that my depression is back. But, before now, I’ve never been so high-functioning through it as I am this time. I have to be. There are children, who need breakfast and clean socks and flossed teeth and packed lunches. There was moving to a new town. A preschool application (no, for real, that’s how it works—you have to apply to preschool around here and even have the former preschool teacher or daycare provider fill out some long enormous form about the child). Financial aid applications. Taxes (to submit with the financial aid applications).

One client did not send their 1099 until the very last possible day, the very end of February, but our taxes were due (for financial aid) February 15… and it arrived the day our mail slipped through the forwarding system and went to our old apartment. I’d do our taxes now except we have not finished moving, and I need to spend my days on that. No, and that is not my story to tell, though I’m working my ass off to make it happen, long days in a basement churning with what looks like broken suburban dreams: fishing poles and beach chairs and camping gear, various auto fluids, yard toys, extra furniture. We don’t have room for it all in the new place; nor do we need it. We really expanded there in our former home, with the big yard and the run of the place. Here we’re compressed, houses close together, little storage. Impossible to be our free-range shouty reclusive selves.


This needs a new home by Monday, if we can chisel it out of the snow.

I felt happier by miles when my last project finished, an especially difficult one for me (harder with the snow days, the moving, the designated work time sucked away to tend to matters of the home and family). I’ll be freer still once taxes are done and we’re fully out of the old place, all of which will happen by Sunday despite doctor appointments and two days with kids home from school.

Basement of suburban dreams

Basement of suburban dreams

My left hip is out right now, literally, meaning my leg is turned out. My foot is turned the wrong way. My stride is off and I cannot support weight on my bent left leg. Running is out right now. I’m broken until I see my chiropractor tomorrow to put my SI joint and the rest of my hip structure back into place. I think, if you care to hear, this is because last week’s race stressed an already-stressed hip flexor or quad, which ended up pulling my SI joint out, causing intense pain, which I tried to fix at home, so now the SI joint is no longer screaming but the hip and leg are totally f*cked up.

Not running kills me in so, so, so many ways. It doesn’t help, here in my low point, that my friends are getting faster than ever, PR’ing in every race, every distance, while I get slower and now can’t run at all. My nonrunning friends are landing great jobs. Another friend, from my MFA program, just got into an exclusive writing group. Everyone is celebrating their awesome, because they are all awesome skilled, fast, honest, excellent-writing people. And I’m, you know, cleaning stables right now. Bitchily.

Despite feeling like “always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” I’m very happy for them. I have some super-powerhouse running friends, and I’m proud of their dedication, natural speed, and how their hard work is paying off.

I wanted to take some time. “Slack tide,” my sometime therapist calls it, and she approves of the idea. Time to settle into our new home and unpack, finish the big tasks on my plate, find a job. Time to not make many demands on myself.

It’s hard to talk about much here, in this space, at this time, because I can only tell my own story but I’m obviously so enmeshed with others. It is, at present, blurry and messy and painful and boring and tedious and stressful, and it will wash out to smoothness soon enough, I hope. I’m trying to hold on, to ebb and flow with it all, to finish this week’s horrible big impossible push, and then next week I will actually be able to start applying for jobs. Full-time jobs. Sorry, children, sorry, husband, but it’s time. We’ll all have to figure out how to shift our schedules and tasks a little bit.



How to Make Friends and Influence People: Preschool Edition

Ben is mastering some key social skills. The little guy no longer clings or wails when I leave him at preschool. No, now he always brings something with him and marches right in to show it to his friends, who greet him by name as soon as we open the door.

Yesterday he brought in his light saber (a long green flashlight, basically) and had a small pouch clipped onto his jacket. Into the pouch he’d stuffed a batting glove (you know, a rubberized glove that baseball players wear when batting).

At preschool, all the other kids crowded around to admire his light saber. Then they noticed the pouch and wanted to know what was in it. He gleefully pulled out the glove and showed it to them. Then he handed the glove to his pal O___, who asked to see it. The other kids demanded to see it, too.

Ben, in the midst of all these clamoring children, raised his voice like my own little Owen Meany and, quite cheerfully, shouted, “YOU’LL ALL GET A TURN!” and magically all the kids quieted down to wait.


Post-Vacation Song

We got back from Iceland 48 hours ago. That sounds romantic and adventurous and nice — and the trip certainly was — but in those 48 hours since returning we have:

  • Processed and planned a menu around a double CSA share
  • Picked up one car from the mechanic, dropped the other off, and then picked up the second one
  • Gone to two medical appointments
  • Gone to work, both of us
  • Run 5 miles in the midday heat
  • Unpacked 8 days’ worth of stuff
  • Done 17 zillion loads of laundry (ok, C dealt with most of the laundry)
  • Cleaned out the fish tank
  • Made breakfast out of nothing the first morning back
  • Went grocery shopping
  • Arranged for home repairs
  • Found a new preschool for Ben
  • Visited new preschool for Ben
  • Scheduled and bought tickets for a couple of children’s theater performances
  • Arranged the sitter’s new schedule from now until September, based on changes on her part
  • Applied for some new work
  • Met the new editor I report to
  • Commuted by bike
  • Popped a rib/vertebrae out of place* so that I cannot turn my head to the left nor really use my left arm
  • Attempted to contact my chiropractor to fix above problem, but she’s out of town until next week and her suggested replacements were closed today
  • Didn’t die biking while unable to look to the left (seriously, try going through a rotary on a bike when you can’t look to the left!)
  • Cleaned our house (um, yeah, C mostly did this)

There are probably a few things I’ve forgotten, and there are still some items on my to-do list, which I hope to take care of tomorrow (tomorrow includes a run, a medical appointment, and work, all to be completed by 1 p.m., when the sitter leaves, after which I’m taking the kids to a worky-thing until 3 and then hosting a playdate until dinnertime).

I know some people deal with triple-times this much every day, but I feel like my time is either running around to appointments and trying to squeeze in work or else home with the kids, who are still disoriented and fighting and whining and crying and I don’t understand why we can’t just pop over to CVS like normal people, for chrissake, to pick up a light bulb for the fridge. One kid stops whining and hitting and gets his shoes on, but then the other one has no pants on and refuses to change that situation. First child keeps insisting we leave, while second child keeps refusing underwear/pants/shoes. It gets exhausting.

But we have a new preschool! And more sitter coverage! More work for me! And — since I wrote this last night — I woke up this morning to find I can mostly turn my head again!! And the children are cheerful this morning!

So all is well. Charging onward!

What is your post-vacation transition like? Pure madness? How do you get into a routine again?






Maybe I Should Wait a Year

Maybe it’s not yet time to leave my freelance, SAHM thing for a full-time job.

My new job starts in about 10 days, but I don’t yet have childcare lined up.

Here’s what I need:

someone to pick up my older child every day from preschool and watch him in the afternoons, plus someone to watch the little one all day Thursdays.

Here’s what I have:

Sitter A___ can pick up Max from preschool on Tuesdays and Fridays and watch him until I get home (or, almost until I get home, one of those days). She can also watch him Monday and Wednesday afternoons but not pick him up from school, so I’d have to find someone to do that (could be another parent, except most of the time the kids play outside after school).

Sitter B____ can come here on Thursdays and be here for the afternoon. That leaves Ben with no care for the morning, plus no one to pick up Max from school.

I prefer “vetted” sitters, recommendations from friends and acquaintances, but since we’re down to the wire, I may try, Sittercity, or Craigslist. Those all make me nervous, but it’s worth a shot.

Or, I can bow out for another year. Ben’s already two, and next year he’s off to preschool. I ran an errand with him today and realized how much I love hanging out with him. If I don’t take this job, I can still work freelance (pretty heavily, I think), take Ben to his “tumble bumble” class on Mondays, not be rushing to get Max to his swimming lessons. Sick days wouldn’t topple the whole house of cards. I could spend more one-on-one time with Ben (such a rarity!) and show him cool things and take him places until he heads off to school next year. I wouldn’t have to worry that 5 different people are watching my kids on different days and if any of them get sick, have exams, or flake out, I’m screwed.

Add into the whole equation our cooperative preschool, which requires me to work half-days every 3 weeks or so, and you might agree that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea for me to postpone full-time, onsite work for another year.

Am I right? Is this just too crazy to try to patch together?

40 Years, Not 40 Friends

Nothing’s harder for a recluse than being asked for a list of her friends and their contact info.

And nothing is more depressing than someone asking for this a few weeks before said recluse turns 40.

I don’t mind turning 40. I’m kind of looking forward to it, in fact. I’m done with my 30s and ready to move on to the next adventure, much as I was totally over my 20s and ready to turn 30 a decade ago (31, however, was a tough birthday. 31 means you are actually in your 30s, which at the time seemed most of the way toward old). I’m ready to turn 40. I’m happy about it.

Plus, I’ll be one of the youngest in my age group at races, giving me some kind of edge, right? Right?

So that’s not what has me down. No, it’s that my brother asked me for a list of names of friends (and their contact info) to plan a party for me.

I thought for a minute.

“Um….friends. Sure. Hang on. Let me think for a sec.”

About eight or ten years ago, my close friends started moving to far-flung places: Arizona, California, Omaha, Chicago. Vermont. Pennsylvania. Delaware. Maine. We kept in touch, but of course we all start finding new friends closer to home.

And then I got married, which changed a lot of relationships for me. If I say I’m a recluse, well, I look like a blazing socialite next to my hermit of a husband.

And then we had babies.

I no longer want to go out. I’m tired. I’m hopelessly unfashionable. I own one decent “casual night out” top. I’m overwhelmed by work and laundry and my children’s needs. I have a marriage to maintain (I know that makes it sound as sexy as cleaning gutters, but marriage with two young children is not always spanky fun, you know?).

When I do finally get out the door and to my destination, I’m a little dazed. I haven’t been out in months, remember. And just being away from the mayhem of bedtime is so stunning that I can do little more than stare and smile blandly and sip a drink and ask the same question three times, interrupting the answer each time with something intriguing and thrilling like, “Wow, I can’t believe I am not home trying to get Max to pee before bed!”

I could still have friends, even if I don’t go out, but I don’t. I have about three “real-life” friends, one of whom just had a baby (as in, less than a week ago) and another with whom I’ve fallen out of touch (my fault).

Otherwise, there’s my running group, my blog-world people (both bloggers and commenters), and my Facebook friends. My running group is probably the closest thing I have to real live friends, really. I spend more time with them than with anyone else. While we don’t get too personal, we know each other pretty well.

But wouldn’t it be weird to see them in the evening, in regular clothes? And to talk about something other than our pace?

So, much as I’d love to proffer up a list of friends, dear brother, I don’t think I have enough friends to generate an actual list. This isn’t any sort of pity party; I don’t think I’m lonely. I guess I just live behind a screen so much that I don’t really talk to many people any more.

Oh, that does sound pathetic, doesn’t it.

My 40th birthday will be a low-key affair with a few essential ingredients: a long morning trail run on the actual day of my birthday, a weekend away with just C for some backcountry skiing, some small family celebration, and maybe a dinner out with my two remaining actual friends.

And it will be grand, any and all of it.