Half Life

“Please mom? Can we go the waterfall way?”  all three kids shout from the backseat in unison.

It’s just a dam.  And half the time it’s off and there’s no “waterfall” anyway.  But it means 20 extra minutes with the kids, singing the Despicable Me 3 soundtrack at the top of our lungs before dropping them off to their father.

So I always say yes.  Always.

This is the part of divorce that I wasn’t prepared for…the part where I see my kids less.  While I am a full time teacher, I am a mom first and foremost. I made breakfast each morning.  I packed the lunches, signed the permission slips, did the homework.  I made dinner each night.  I did the baths and showers and the bedtime routine and then also the house cleanup after bedtime routine before slumping exhaustedly and somewhat defeatedly into the couch for the rest of the evening.  365 days a year this is what I did.

It’s not the case anymore.  Two days a week I don’t see them at all.  I always feel like I’m going to be happy about having a break.  “Yay!  No kids tonight!  I can relax, or watch TV, or sleep in a little bit tomorrow morning!”  But that feeling lasts for about an hour and then I just want them with me.

It’s because of this whole half time phenomena that it took me so long to leave.  It was an unhappy and unhealthy marriage for far too long but I couldn’t not see my kids every day.  I assumed they would fall apart.  But in reality, I seem to do way more falling apart without them.  And no matter the sadness we feel at being apart sometimes, we are all happier.  All of us.

I think back on last year and get nauseous knowing how much I put them through when I couldn’t leave, but I couldn’t stay.  The shortness of breath.  The tightness in my chest.  They rush in when I think of last year, a panic attack on the brink every single time. It’s the year I would take back if I could ever take back anything.

But I can’t take it back.  It’s there.  It happened.  It changed us.  It scathed us.  It traumatized us.  But it also taught us.

It taught me it was ok to not see my littles every single day if that meant a better quality of life for all of us.  It taught me to leave the pile of legos for the night if that meant feeling like they were here when they weren’t.  It taught me to put down the phone and really be present in the moments because they were no longer unlimited.

And no matter how much longer it makes the drive, always say yes to waterfalls.



We’ll all float on Ok.

I don’t seem to know who I am anymore.

Not so long ago I felt like I had it all figured out.  I’m a mom.  I’m a runner.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a friend.  Things were going well.  I had a wonderful new daughter, two amazing boys, and a fantastic support system of friends and family.  I literally had no complaints and was perfectly content any happy.

And then I broke…again.

This wasn’t like the first time I felt that I had broke, when my dad had died.  When that happened I feel apart all at once so it was almost easier to out myself back together.  The pieces were right there and easier to find, not scattered over space and time.

I wish I could say I knew the exact moment that it happened, but really it was a series of events that started small, each one separately almost microscopic in size, but together crumbled my world into a million pieces.

I cut back on my running and dropped out of the NYC marathon.

An old friend came back into my life just when I thought I was finally over our past.

I lost a person in my life who I thought was a good friend.

The separation began…and ended…and began…and changed so much that I don’t even know where we are at this point.

Most recently I’ve done things I probably shouldn’t have.  I’ve eaten things I probably shouldn’t have.  I’ve stopped running altogether.  With each passing day, the numbers on the scale keep inching closer to where I said I never wanted to be again.  And the worst part of it all is that I just don’t seem to care.  Not about being a bad person, or losing certain people from my life, or even losing everything I worked for.  None of it.

I feel like I’m on the roundabout on the playground spinning more and more out of control each day.  The sad part is that I know I’m the one that’s pushing it to go faster and faster.  I am in complete and utter control of this and I can’t seem to jump off and just stop. Because I know that when I do I’m going to break even more from the impact.  I know that I’m really going to have to work to find all the pieces and put myself back together again.  Not only in the “now” but in the past too.  The task seems daunting and so impossible that 99% of the time I don’t even have the desire to try.

But then, out of the blue, today happened.  The 1%.  The one glimmer of hope I had been hoping for.

We’re driving to the park and the library and all three kids are squeezed into the back seat.  Charlotte is singing along to Modest Mouse playing in the background while Oliver and Max argued about how many sheep are in an adjoining field.  The sun was shining in the blue sky as wispy clouds float by, my hand out the window rising and falling in the warm air.  I finally felt it.  What I had been longing to feel for so long lately.  A sense of peace and contentment.   A sense of placement.

This is where I was supposed to be.  Maybe not forever, but at least for right now.

And with that tiny feeling of hope, I know that pretty soon I’ll have enough courage to make the leap off the roundabout.  And maybe, just maybe, my feet will actually hit the ground and I’ll be able to pick myself up and begin to collect all the pieces.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter the teaching profession

“In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.” ~Dante Alighieri – Inferno

Most teachers I know believe that this was their calling.  They wanted to work with society’s youngest and most impressionable.  They wanted to “make a difference” and “change the world”.  The wanted to inspire and mold the next generation; the generation that would undoubtedly take over when they eventually perspired.

This was not me.  I never wanted to be a teacher.

I started college as a pre-med student, wanting to be a surgeon first, then a medical research scientist.  Once I discovered that chemistry and I would never be friends, I changed my major (to be honest, there were about 50 in-between) and picked up a dual degree in psychology and sociology.  I was going to go to graduate school and do research about the world; why it was broken, and what I could do to fix it.  Or I’d work at a non-profit.  Or join the Peace Corps.  Eventually I would probably teach, but to the “big kids” and the grown-ups who had a choice about taking my class.

But, as life has a way of showing us, it didn’t work out that way.  My senior year of college brought forth: a disastrous internship at the Baltimore ACLU, the GRE’s, 9 grad school applications sent out (1 acceptance), and a part time job working at the pre-school on campus.  It was there, working in the pre-K/kindergarten class, where I discovered my love of the little people; the tiny scholars who would one day change the world.  I discovered beginning writing, circle time, centers, recess and story time. I discovered a lovely world full of hope and amazingness.

And I also discovered something I was actually good at.  I remember the exact day, sitting on the carpet with my “friends” and realizing that this is what I wanted to do…forever.  I immediately found graduate schools education, got my M.Ed. in early childhood education, got certified, and embarked on my life path. I was ready to change the world, one five year old at a time.

Fast forward to 6 years post grad school.  I am no longer a teacher.  Yes, I work at a public school in Baltimore.  Yes, I am in a classroom. But I am no longer a teacher.

I am a data analyst.

I am a paper pusher.

I am a photo copier.

I am a lesson planner.

But I am not a teacher.

I was hired to be a teacher, but I very rarely get to do my job.

Beginning writing is now forced handwriting.  Circle time and morning meeting (character and community building parts of the day) only happen if we can keep it under 10 minutes.  Centers are nonexistent because I’m usually either still teaching my pre-prescribed scripted lessons from the district (yet still have to write multi-page lesson plans) or I am testing and the rest of the class has to do busy work.  Recess?  What’s that?  We barely have time to look out the window to check the weather for our weather graph let alone go outside and PLAY.

The other part of my day I get to be a bouncer and break up fights, stomp on sassy attitudes, and continually call and text parents of disrespectful students.  Why?  Because their ENTIRE day is one big structured minute after another and they get NO time to act their age.  We can barely take a bathroom break without it interrupting too much instruction.  And even then I could bet you that most of them don’t actually have to use it: they simply just want to get up and walk around for a minute and just be.  But I have to get through it all.  Whether they can do it or not.  Whether we’re ready or not.  Because if not, I’m the failure.  Not them.  Not the system.  Not the district.  Me.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I think this may be the year I decide to not be a “teacher” anymore.  It’s just too much and I can’t keep up with all the “extra” non-teaching things I have to do on a daily basis.  I’ve said before that there is no way I can be an effective parent and an effective teacher and I whole heartedly believe that because by the time I get home after working a 8+ hour day I still have to make dinner, pack lunches, and spend quality time with three of my own little people.  By the time I finally sit down at 9 pm to do the 2-3 hours of nightly work that I have before going back to school tomorrow, I AM DONE.

So something gets dropped.  We eat pizza instead of a healthy meal.  I put on a movie so I can work.  I just don’t get the school stuff done and I look bad.  And once I’m caught up, the vicious cycle starts over and over and over again.

There are lovely moments, don’t get me wrong.  But that’s what they are – moments.  Fleeting glimpses of what teaching used to be.  Smiles and math manipulatives and bright-eyed understanding.  And it’s always just enough to get me to think maybe it’s not so bad.  Maybe I can keep doing this.  Maybe I’m over reacting.

But then I check my email.  Or get a text from an administrator about something I forgot to do.  And I realize there is no winning.  Not for me, or my colleagues, or the students.  There’s simply getting by.  And I know this isn’t enough.

Are we ever going to be able to just TEACH?

teacher humor


Tomorrow is a good day.

Some days are for living. Others are for getting through.

I had a whole post written.  I was about to hit publish.  And then I deleted it all.

This morning I woke up from a bad dream and my day got worse from there.

I stressed.  I cried.  I yelled.  I threw a fit.

I wish I could keep myself together better when I get like this.  I get so worked up when I can’t have control over every situation.  When I can’t solve problems that pop up in my life, I seem to lose it.

Today I wasn’t the best mom.  I was a bad wife.  I was a bad me.

Tomorrow I need to do better.


Color Us Amazing

“Family mean no one gets left behind or forgotten.” ~David Ogden Stiers

I took the Fitbit off for a week.  I wanted to let it run all the way out and start all over.  I was pushing myself too hard with it.  Suddenly, just reaching the 10,000 steps a day wasn’t enough.  Once I hit 100,000 for a seven day total I felt like I needed to stay there and I was putting way too much pressure on myself.  I finally put it back on today for the Color Run.


Yesterday’s color run total. Today I was down to zero.


Today is Max’s 5th birthday.  In order to celebrate a little differently, we ran the Color Run in Baltimore as a family.  The kids had a blast and people seemed pretty impressed that they were running a lot of it, especially Ollie (the 3yo) and finished it without strollers, etc.  Mike had a lot of fun too!  We’re excited to do another one in the future.  The best part was, even after half walking, half running, I wasn’t tired or sore at all.  Not even after coming home and sitting for a while.  I can really feel a difference my running has made and I couldn’t be happier to share my new love and hobby with my family.



Max with his color run gear before leaving


Pre-Color Run Family Photo


Oliver after all the color


Max is tired, but colorful


Post Color Run! We had a blast!

Another Old Post…This time about Max.

I posted an old post about Ollie a few weeks ago, so I feel like I should do the same for Max.  Here are two posts about going through the IEP process with him.

My Dearest Maxer:

Tomorrow is my first meeting with the IEP team about you.  We’re not sure what’s going on, if anything is going on at all.  You’ve been having some trouble at school playing with friends and following directions and we just want to see if there is anything we can do to help you out!  That’s not to say you don’t have good days.  As a matter of fact, you have had two perfect days at school that last two days!

We’ve been so proud of you throughout your short, but lively, three and half years.  When you were born, it was a miracle.  Literally, a miracle.  It was the happiest day of my life and I can’t see any way that day will be topped.  I wanted to take this time now, before any meeting, before any checklist or specialist can decide who you are, to tell you all the things you are to me, and how, no matter what is said, these things will never change.

  • Our eyes are exactly the same color.  I haven’t noticed this until recently, but I love that we have this in common. You actually told me about this. Its a subdued hazel color that reminds me of a calm lake and I love that it links us together in a way that is only for us.
  • You have the most amazing vocabulary, better than most kids I know.  You use so many words I didn’t even know you knew and in the correct way
  • You are a wonderful big brother.  You go out of your way to make sure your brother is included in most things you do and are always sharing with him and asking him to play with you.
  • Your memory is remarkable.  You remember things I may have said once weeks, even months, ago (and are oh so kind to always remind me)
  • You give the best hugs.
  • You love your family; your grandparents, your uncles, and me and daddy.  You have no trouble telling us this and do so frequently.  This is a gift.  Don’t ever lose it.
  • One of my favorite times of day is the first five minutes that you wake up.  You run in, jump into bed with me and pretend to go back to sleep as you snuggle up.  Guess what.  I pretend to stay asleep, just to have a couple quiet minutes with you.
  • You love to help out and always want to be involved in everything.
  • Your stubborn streak drives me crazy, but I secretly love it.  It’s a part of me in you.
  • You are very interested in building and making things.  Anything you can do with your hands, really.  That makes me so proud considering I can’t even put together IKEA furniture.
  • You have a very active imagination.  You make up amazing stories and songs and constantly keep me laughing.

I could continue to write this list forever but I’ll stop here for now. Really, there is only one thing you need to know. No matter what happens, I love you.  As long as you know that we have nothing else to worry about.




I realize it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Part of me just wasn’t ready to post until I had a final answer about Max. The other part of me has been crazy busy with so many things going on that I can’t even keep my head straight most of the time.

About a month ago we had Max’s testing date. I got the results in the mail a few days ago and today I met with that evaluation team to talk about the results. He received hearing and vision tests, was observed at school by a child psychologist to evaluate social behavior, and was given language, speech and cognitive tests as well.

One of the biggest things we found out was that Max has profound hearing loss in his right ear and borderline hearing loss in his left ear. This hearing loss has most likely been there for a while, probably more than a few months and it just shocks me that we never even noticed anything about it. Both the audiologist and the pediatrician believe it’s due to fluid buildup behind the eardrum when he had an ear infection almost a year ago! We went back today and saw that the hearing loss is getting worse.  We’re hoping that with this next round of medication he will be able to regain all of his hearing. If not we’ll have to visit the ENT to find out if surgery is needed.

As for the other tests, long story short…we have a well adjusted, highly articulate and well mannered, very bright, slightly fine motor delayed three year old who is well socialized for his age in all areas.  I don’t know if you know what it’s like to have a 50 pound bolder lifted off your chest, but that’s what this news felt like.  As first I was so relieved that I cried.  Then I became so angry I cried.  For two years we have been going through this nightmare where his teachers have been saying that something is wrong, or he might be on the spectrum and in reality, nothing is wrong. I wasted two years of my life trying to change my child and expecting him to adapt to what certain people think is “normal” instead of finding the right environment for him…the one that will let him be his quirky, lovable self.

Throughout this whole process I’ve learned a lot about Max, things I never knew.  Amazing, wonderful, delightful things.  But more importantly I’ve learned a lot about myself and my role as a mother and an advocate for my children. I’ve learned better to stand up for myself, my thoughts, and my opinions, and to stand up for theirs because they can’t do it themselves yet…that is, until I teach them to.

Throw Back Sunday (an oldie, but goodie about marriage).

I wrote this post over a year ago on my old blog.  A YEAR AGO.  I identified these problems a year ago and still have not done enough to solve them. 

*Hangs head in shame*

I have been home for the past five days because of Hurricane Sandy.  It’s been nice being able to spend so much time at home and with the kids (really, I’m not being sarcastic).  Of course, every night when they have gone to bed I have spent many hours reading, knitting, and playing on the internet.  I actually started about 5 different blog posts as well, but something made me want to spend more time on this one today.  On one of my MANY Pinterest visits I came across an article called “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage” It was written by a man so I figured I could get a lot of information from it, showing new ways that I am right in our arguments, but my husband was wrong.

As I began reading (and continued through the entire list of 16), I realized this article actually detailed all the ways that I was creating strife and conflict in our marriage.  It really did hit me hard and I have spent a lot of time thinking about this article the past few days. Below are a list of the 10 things from Dan’s article that I identified with the most with an explanation of how I am currently ruining things.  You can find his complete post in the link above.

1. Don’t Stop Holding Hands

I am terrible at this.  We held hands so much in the beginning, but now, not so much, and it is entirely my fault.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s the fact that I have two littles vying for my hands now as well?  I don’t know.  Point is, I need to stop thinking that my kids are the only ones that need a little affection.

2. Don’t Stop Trying to Be Attractive

Guilty as charged again.  As a kindergarten teachers most of clothes are practical and stained.  On the week-ends I tend to wind up in khakis and jeans.  I do have make-up and jewelry and nice clothes, which, for some reason I only wear when going  out with friends.  Why?  Again, I don’t know, but maybe if I tried a little harder I would gain the confidence that I seem to be missing as well.

3. Don’t Always Point Out Weaknesses

For some reason I was under the assumption that all my nitpicking was good.  In my head I was challenging him to be a better person.  Now, I realize, I was just tearing down.  I truly believe that spouses are supposed to challenge each other and you should want to be a better person for your spouse, but at what expense?  Not at the expense of love, happiness, and self esteem.

4 & 5. Don’t Yell at Your Spouse or Call Names

This is the number one on my list.  No explanation needed.  I need to stop.  Period. Especially in front of the kids.  Enough said.

6. Don’t be Stingy With Your Money

I do this all the time.  How many times do I spend $7 on a cup of coffee from Starbucks (yup, I said $7) only to yell at him for buying a soda at 7-11.  I know why do it.  I am a control freak.  I need to be in control of EVERYTHING.  Only I don’t.  And I need to sit back, and let go sometimes.

7. Don’t Argue in Front of the Kids

I’m stealing Dan’s words here because I can’t write it better. “There was never any argument that was so important or pressing that we couldn’t wait to have it until the kids weren’t there. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist or super-shrink to know why fighting in front of the kids is a dangerous and selfish way of doing things.

8. Don’t Encourage Each Other to Skip Working Out

We should want each other to be the best versions of ourselves, and I would hope that he would do the same.  Maybe, though, this is one of those things we can start doing together.

9. Don’t Stop Kissing

I know this isn’t just me and happens to most of my married friends.  When you work full time and have two kids everything becomes a time crunch and I always feel like every minute of every day should be filled doing something useful and kissing simply takes up those minutes. But I have to remember that spending time connecting with my husband is also useful.

10. Don’t Stop Having Fun Together

The kids have great grandparents in the fact that they spend a lot of time over there and are usually gone one night a week.  And what do we do? Watch TV, play on the computer, sleep.  I have to remember that there are a ton of things we can do that don’t require money and would probably help build up our relationship.

So, now the challenge comes to start to make things better.  Identification of the problem is half the battle, right?