Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Great Expectations May 31, 2013

Some terribly unrealistic force of optimism cursed me during my pregnancy. This mystical force convinced me that I’d be capable of achieving everything I set my mind to accomplishing. I was so certain of this power being mine that it confuses me every time I’m forced to accept reality. My reality these days is quite bleak.

I wake up early to get going before my girls get out of bed.

I have energy and big plans for getting through my to-do list.

But… the baby wakes up as I’m doing my morning chores and I spend 30 minutes or more nursing her back to sleep.

Then, just as I’m leaving the baby, my middle daughter wakes up with the energy of five elephants trapped  in a room full of mice, and wakes the baby.

I calm the baby, play with my preschooler, and go about doing my morning chores with “help” from my second born.

My oldest daughter wakes up, typically in a bad mood with a bad attitude, and gets things moving downhill at an accelerated rate.

They eat breakfast, and I keep cleaning, and somehow through it all I still believe I’m going to get a lot done.

Then, before I’ve had the chance to catch a breath, it’s time for lunch.

I create, serve, and clean up lunch, and then I try to get some homework done, but alas…my big girls need rest and cannot play without fighting.

They also refuse to rest.

This makes my outlook on the rest of our day take a nosedive.

Two hours later, after many failed attempts to get them to do anything together without fighting, I realize that my attempts have been in vain because all they want to do is play with me.

I play. I enjoy their company. I play for as long as I can without having to leave to feed the baby or work on something.

But it is already nearing dinner time, and I am running out of energy fast.

I yawn through dinner. I clean their plates.

We do bedtime business and I promise myself I’ll stay up after they’re in bed to get my work done.

I am too tired throughout the day to stay up late to finish things.

I realize that this is my reality.

I am too tired to freak out, but if I weren’t I’d be screaming, “How the hell am I going to pass two graduate courses on top of all this?!”

 

Casting Calls and All May 27, 2013

This past Saturday I took my daughters to their first open call at a modeling/acting agency. What an experience! My older two have shown an interest in the industry for some time now; after everything we watch they ask me to look up the actors who played their favorite parts, they look through my dust-collecting parenting magazines for pictures of kids modeling, they marvel at the posters and billboards of children their ages and “want to do that too!”

I considered it when they were babies, but I always felt like I’d be exploiting them and it wasn’t fair. I’m not sure now if someone else planted that guilty seed or if it was my own doing, but with my current baby I don’t feel that way at all. My big girls want to know what the industry is about and my infant just so happens to really enjoy smiling, so I figured…I’m not working a 9-5, we’re finally close to a big city that has major industry connections, why not give it a try?

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All of our professional pictures were taken by Shannon Culpepper ❤

So we went. I didn’t get to bed until 1am on Saturday morning because I’d spent the night preparing their applications, arranging their photos in folders, packing our meals, and being anxious about it. I had to wake up at 5am to shower, pack the van, and wake/groom the girls before getting on the road to the first open call.

My GPS lead me astray, but we eventually made it to the parking garage. We suited up for the rain, and walked for thirty minutes to the first agency. So far so so…it was wet, and cold, and Boston’s sidewalks are not very accommodating to parties of…more than one. But we’d made it, and we weren’t late. We went inside and took some open seats next to another family of curly headed children. The mother and father of the curly headed siblings were drop dead gorgeous; I couldn’t even keep eye contact with the father out of fear that I’d blush too much. Wow. It’s not that I lusted for him, it just seemed impossible to me that anyone could look that gorgeous without being Photoshopped!

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Anyway. The accented agency man explained the business to us and what would happen if our children were accepted. Since I had both a baby and children for the older division he had us stay behind and wait for the second session to end before interviewing my girls. They had to sit quietly for over an hour before it was their turn to be interviewed and I was incredibly impressed with their behavior and their answers when it was finally their turn to speak.

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I’m not sure what will happen, but it was a learning experience either way. We left that agency and headed to another. It was another good 45 minute walk away in the cold, in the rain, but we were already prepared for it so I wanted to stick it out. We got there on time, parked the stroller, walked up three flights of stairs, and waited…and waited…and waited…and waited some more. No one every showed up. What?! We have no idea what happened, but we were not the only family waiting for the agency to open its doors. Several other mothers, one of them a mother of six who had traveled from Rhode Island for the open call, were just as confused as I was. Calls made to the agency earlier in the week verified that the agency would still be having the open call, but the doors never opened, and it made me a little unsure of whether or not I’d want to work with them regardless now.

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So after an hour of waiting around quiet at the second agency I wrote a note, slipped our folder of applications and pictures under the door, and we headed toward the Boston Children’s Museum. It was still raining out, and still cold, and we were getting hungry. I’d planned to go back to the van, grab our tennis shoes and lunch and the baby carrier, then head to the Children’s Museum after the open calls. I found, however, the navigating Boston’s subway system with a stroller is not the easiest thing to do, by far. After making circles around the subway stations, searching for elevator access and smelling the stench of the elevators we found, I scratched visiting the van from our list and head directly to the Museum.

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When we finally arrived at the Museum the line was longer than I’ve ever seen it. It was raining harder than it had all day, and there were at least twenty families in line ahead of us. I just laughed because I couldn’t have imagined things getting much worse. We’d watched a few clips from “Singing in the Rain” a few days prior so the girls attempted umbrella tricks while we waited in line, but I was nearing the end of my energy.

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We finally got into the Museum, but being inside wasn’t much better. We weren’t cold and wet, but I swear that every child in Boston was there as well. The place was so packed full of people you could barely get from one room/activity to the next. We stayed for three hours, but spent most of our time maneuvering around the mass of bodies, and visiting the bathrooms. Ugh! It was so overwhelming.

When we finally made it back to our van, after another ridiculous attempt trying to navigate the handicap subway exits, I packed us up, distributed snacks, and drove for three minutes before Nohra was crying so hard that I had to pull over for fear that she’d choke on her tears. It had been a hard day for all of us. We eventually made it home, did Bedtime Business, and fell asleep.

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I must admit, it wasn’t all headache-inducing craziness. One perk of hoofing it around the city to the two agencies was that we wound up right in the middle of Boston’s Anime Convention. The girls loved seeing all of the colorful costumes and even took a picture with some girls dressed as Madoka Magica characters! We also hadn’t known prior to arriving in the city, that the last official mile of the Boston Marathon was being run at Copley, and we got to watch and cheer awhile as people crossed the finish line. And a friend of mine from Emerson met up with us at the Children’s Museum and brought us brownies from the bakery where she works. It was nice getting to see my friend, see Boston Strong again, and hear my daughters say, “I can’t wait to grow up so I can dress up like those people!” 🙂

 

A Day for Me May 13, 2013

Mother’s Day was lots of fun this year. My oldest daughter, Amara, had a good understanding of what the day meant (thanks to my teachings and what she learned on the Sprout channel) and went to great lengths to make it special for me. She was very well behaved that day, let me pick all of the games and things we’d do, and even volunteered to get her curls combed out without whining. AMAZING!

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Mother’s Day Bouquet

It was a nice day. I did clean the kitchen and bathe the girls and wash a few loads of laundry, but I knew I couldn’t take the day off completely. We’d already planned to go the the Museum of Science in Boston today, so doing a few chores on Mother’s Day was necessary.

It was off and on rainy on Mother’s Day. In the morning, I let the girls jump in puddles before their bath. They had a blast! I didn’t get to go hiking like I’d wanted to, but we went outside awhile to search for inchworms. We found about 30 in as many minutes!

We mostly stayed inside though, eating homemade popcorn, playing board games, dancing to rock and roll and saying “I Love You” a lot. In Boston, my classmates were walking the stage for graduation, but I’d take dancing in the living room with my daughters to La Bamba any day. It was grand 🙂Blog5.1

I tried not to think about him too much. It’s tough, but I did alright. I think it’s harder to push the thoughts away because it’s so close to The Big Incident’s anniversary (and another hearing for his felony charges, and another few hearings for our divorce), but I didn’t let it ruin my celebration.

Mother’s Day isn’t about flowers and candy and gifts from a husband; it’s a day to reflect on how much I love being a mother, a day to do something special with my kids. Mother’s Day recharges my ability to enjoy this craziness for another year.

We had fun at the Museum of Science today too. It had been awhile since our last visit, but we’ll go again soon.

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Incredibly Close April 26, 2013

I’m proud of myself. I’ve managed to stay in graduate school throughout this ordeal and I am almost finished. I will have my Master’s degree in Publishing and Writing this summer. Getting my MA from Emerson College has been a dream of mine for quite some time, and within a few months I will have accomplished my goal.Goals

Moving to the Boston area was difficult enough. I knew around 2006, when I graduated with my BA in English, that I wanted to attend Emerson. Five years, two children, and a wicked roller-coaster of co-dependency and manipulation later I finally made it to my first semester as an Emerson student. It was magnificent. I was meeting people in the industry, I was learning the history, I was witnessing and mastering the revolutionary technology affecting publishing. As the president of an organization I hosted events and ran meetings, I attended readings and collaborated on projects with my talented classmates. Graduate school was everything I’d hoped it would be.

Then…The Big Incident changed everything. It’s not as though my marriage had been peaches and cream before that night. No. Far from it. But after that night, after his arrest, after the restraining order, it has been a different type of hard. Finding a way to pay for things, staying healthy during the pregnancy, dealing with the insomnia and the court cases and the uncertainty, dealing with the loneliness, the embarrassment, and the grief. Finding support and regaining my strength. Working constantly to become a better mother, and doing my best to help my babies transition smoothly.

Igoals2t has been very difficult, but very rewarding. So when I look at the mountain of coursework in front of me, as it is finals week…and as I look at the massive amount of assignments I still have yet to complete before I graduate…I try to think back on everything that I’ve already accomplished. I look back and remember how incredibly impossible it all seemed. Then I cannot help but to feel proud of me, because I’ve already done such amazing things, and I know that I will get through these next two courses because I am too close to finishing to stop fighting.

 

Nothing Went As Planned Today April 15, 2013

Thankfully, we hadn’t planned to attend the Boston Marathon. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

I’d planned to do my homework. I’m nearly one week behind on turning in my assignments. I’m trying to keep from being stressed out about it, but there are only two weeks before the end of the semester and I’m not ready to do my final project, nor am I ready to dive into my next (my last) two courses.

PlanningI’d planned to wake up and get to reading my lessons. I wound up waking up and getting some laundry started, made breakfast and straightened my kitchen, then contacted my lawyer, led the girls through their learning assignments, took the girls on a walk past a pond (where we saw seven sunbathing turtles) to a playground (where I learned that pushing them on the swings while wearing two pound wrist weights is a great arm workout), and then back home where we played Candy Land and Barbies after lunch, then I cleaned the condo some more and had Mommy and Me time with each of them before dinner and Bedtime Business.

Things didn’t go as I’d planned for them to go today. Around lunch time though, I gave up on getting any homework done before the girls went to bed, and although I was disappointed it became easier to accept. I admitted to myself that what I’d wanted wouldn’t be happening, and slowly but surely I felt the tug of self-defeat loosening. Every activity then became a valued experience instead of another nuisance task keeping me from my studies.

Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way I hope, but the more flexible I become in dealing with whatever I’m thrown without freaking out the more capable I feel about controlling the only thing I really have the power to control, myself. I truly believe in leading by example, and I want my daughters to know me as the mother I’ve always wanted to be. Lately I’ve been making a lot of progress, and although nothing went as planned today, I am pleased.

 

One of those days January 28, 2013

Everything went right for a change.

The girls and I went to pick up my loan check from my school, then made our way to the bank in the bitter Boston cold to deposit it. We’d taken the commuter rail to get to the city from our town, then walked a total of ten blocks and took two T’s (subways) before we made it to the Boston Children’s Museum.

I could’ve just shuttled them to my school and back, but for all the effort (and expense) it takes traveling to Boston with two small children I figured we may as well make a day of it at one of their favorite places. We’ve been to the Boston Children’s Museum countless times since moving to Massachusetts, but the girls always enjoy themselves there.

We’d decided against the Museum of Science this time because we chose it the last few times and it’s not as easy for me to sit down while the girls explore there. The children’s museum was perfect for such a cold day, energetic children, and a mother waddling around two weeks away from having a baby. I wish we could’ve stayed even longer than we did, but we had to save some energy for the trip home. I’m happy to report there were no tears, feuds, or long periods of fussing. After arriving home we played our routine games of Uno and the girls feel asleep easily.

Two or three weeks from now everything will be different for my family, what with the new baby coming soon. But this was one of those days were everything just falls into place. I’ll take it.

 

 

The perfect blend of discovery and exercise

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They chased one another up and around this structure for ten minutes!

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The girls love the Peep’s World Exhibit and spent a lot of time playing in the water.

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Even though they were surrounded by huge exhibits and amazing things they spent about twenty minutes playing with these semi-soft animals.

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I bought them these awesome new headphones for only $5 at TJ Maxx so that they could listen to music on my phone together. The ear pieces have a super soft center, but they’re not buds, and the band adjusts to fit each ear perfectly. This is the look I got when I tried to take a picture of them enjoying the music (Disney’s Tangled Soundtrack). I didn’t know that I couldn’t take pictures and have them hear the music at the same time. Oops!

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The Museum has a new exhibit sponsored by the Blue Man Group. It’s pretty awesome. It deals with sound and sound waves and teaches children how they can distort sounds and use noises creatively. The girls are hardcore Blue Man Group fans now and request YouTube videos of them constantly.

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“I wish we lived across the street from the Children’s Museum,” Amara told me as we were leaving. So do I.

 

M.A. Candidate – Publishing and Writing November 16, 2012

I’ve always been fascinated by the Book Publishing industry.

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When I was a child I was enamored by books; their creation was such a mystery and I was interested in everything. Who was the author? How did the author get the idea to tell this story? Who was in charge of making it a book? How was the book manufactured? How is it that the book is available for us to purchase? How did they get that shiny gold edge on the pages of our bibles? How do people get into this business?

Upon acquiring a new book I would look first to the copyright page. I wanted to know as much as possible about its origins, I wanted to somehow unravel the mystery, but for some reason it never occurred to me that book publishing was a tangible career possibility.

Not until my senior year of undergraduate college, while interning for a journal published through my university, was I introduced to the behind-the-scenes of publishing. I found it fascinating. From acquiring works, to selecting which pieces to include in the journal, to editing the pieces, to electronically formatting the works for print publication, everything was enthralling.  I enjoyed it so much that the journal’s Editor suggested I intern for the university’s press. My university had a press? I hadn’t known a thing about it, and I was ecstatic.

During my time at the university press I began to see the mysteries of book publishing revealed right before my eyes. I wanted to know more; I wanted to learn everything. There are only a handful of universities in the country which offer Master’s degrees in Publishing; I knew that Emerson College would be perfect for me. Five years passed before I was able to attend; one mortgage, two children, the roller coaster of my abusive marriage, and the continual lack of finances all attributed. Nevertheless, I was determined to make it to Boston, to learn even more about the ins and outs of the industry, to meet and network with people who actually work in publishing, to further unravel the mystery, the magic, of bookmaking.

Being here has been wonderful. I love the city, I love the school and the people that I am surrounded by, who are as enamored by good writing and beautiful manufacturing as I am. I have met people on all sides of the industry, from authors, to editors, to marketing folk, from agents, to booksellers, to those who are brave enough to do rights and permissions, from traditional booksellers to eBook professionals, from printing facility personnel to distribution managers. All sides of the spectrum are being shown to me through this program, and I feel so fortunate to have made it here. I love that I am getting my Master’s degree in a field that intrigues me, fulfills me in a way that no other profession has the ability. I belong in this industry, I breathe publishing.

After this semester I will be three courses away from obtaining my M.A. in Publishing and Writing. Just three courses away; I am going to make it. I will have no choice but to stay in school through the birth of Baby #3. I will not be able to take a break as we are currently living off of my loan money. It scares me a little, but I have the support of my program’s faculty, and I hope to be allotted flexibility. I will not give up, I will not drop out. If I quit now I will probably never finish; I am too close to quit. And I want this.

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I don’t know what the future holds for me as far as it goes with me actually working in the publishing industry. I have learned so much throughout my schooling that I have a wide range of interests in various aspects of the trade. I absolutely love marketing, but I unexpectedly fell in love with production as well. I think that trade books would be exciting to sell, but I am compelled to work for a scholarly press. Then there’s always novelty books, textbooks, electronic publishing, or something else.

Only time will tell which direction I may go. Right now my focus is on graduating, taking care of my three babies, and stabilizing our lives. One thing I can count on is the industry still being around when I am back on my feet. Only three more classes and I will have a Master’s degree in the field of my dreams. I must find the strength to keep going. I’ve come so far. I am so close now.

I will succeed.