The end of the #RoadToSixPointTwo

Since I’ve last blogged many, many months ago, I’ve become a legitimate runner. I now have a real training plan, drink PowerAde Zero (and eat real carbs!) and have plans to run my first two real “long” races – my first 10k in October, and my first half marathon in February. I think about things like hydration belts, Sweaty Bands and Body Glide, which all sound like they’d be a lot more fun than they actually are!

So, why did I start this journey? In part, boredom. Although I’ve been insanely busy with work over the summer, I wanted to have a new goal to work towards. Yes, I do have other goals that are more important, but they are practically unattainable, including (1) finding a new home for my family and (2) learning how to braid the girls’ hair in either French or Fishtail style. So, I needed an achievable goal. Many of my similarly aged friends run long distances, including full-time working moms, so I thought, why can’t I? If I am ever going to run a half marathon in my life, I wondered if I was more likely to do it at 41 or 45. And hell, if I was going to get myself to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2017, the only way to justify it was to run 13.1 miles, right?

As I started training, I discovered that running gave me permission to take time for myself, and as a full-time working mom of three, I treasured the time alone (shhhhhhhhhhh, don’t tell Patrick!). There was absolutely no one around outside at 5:30 a.m. in Allston (cars or pedestrians), and I could take any problem plaguing me (personal or professional) and just let it roll around in my head as I ran. By the time I was finished running, the problem seemed totally manageable and I usually had a solution for it. And no matter what life threw at me on a “run” day, I could take it in stride. It was as if the run took the edge off the crazy. For real. Talk to me on a “non-run” day, and you’ll easily be able to tell the difference.

But the biggest motivation for running came when I discovered that NOTHING makes me happier than seeing the sunrise. There’s something amazing about the subtle way the colors in the sky first change, that first dot of reddish sun peek over the horizon and those rays of sunlight starting to creep across the water (be it the ocean, a reservoir, or the Charles River). There were so many mornings where I’d snooze a bit and remind myself that I didn’t HAVE to get up to run. But then I’d lace up my shoes, stumble out the door and as soon as I saw that first hint of light in the sky, I’d be OFF trying to get to the best possible point on my running route to see the sunrise. And take a million pictures while my fellow and more legitimate runners rolled their eyes at me. #WillRunForSunrises #SorryNotSorry

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Sunrise over Narragansett Beach, Narragansett, RI (July 2016)

The beginning of my running journey was actually pretty easy. The summer flew by, and I racked up the miles. The first time I ran six whole miles, I gained so much confidence and just had this feeling in my heart that I was going to achieve my running goals and be able to finish the half marathon without getting “swept” by the Disney balloon ladies. I never stressed about my pace, and instead focused on building distance and endurance. Even with the time I spent snapping pictures, and doing “intervals” (i.e. walking) up the big hills, I was somewhere in the realm of a 12 minute mile, which felt pretty good for a relatively new runner despite some people asking me, “but don’t you want to run a 10 minute mile??” (Well, yes, of course I want to run a 10 minute mile…and I also want a condo in the city big enough to fit my family, so your point is what?). Depending on my route distance, my pace this summer was between 10-12 minute miles.

But now it’s September and this race stuff is getting real.  My first 10k is only ten days away. And with all my focus on building distance and endurance, I’m afraid I didn’t spend enough time focused on pacing and speed. Although I don’t care about my time for the half marathon (really, it’s a runDisney race and part of the fun is everything you get to experience on the course), I really care about my time on the 10k. In order to get “preferred” placement in a corral in the middle of the half marathon pack, I have to submit a proof of time of about one hour and fifteen minutes, which is roughly a 12 minute mile pace. If my math is correct.

Given where my pacing has been on my training runs, this goal *seems* achievable. (And shush, all you experienced runners who can do a 10k in under an hour….this is my story!). However, there is a certain word that keeps creeping into my brain no matter how I try to avoid it. Well, two words actually. “Can’t” and “fail.” I keep hearing that running is “90% mental” and I believe it. In these last few days, I’ve been trying to get myself into a positive frame of mind, despite recent personal and professional setbacks. I need to view this first 10k as a fun experience, knowing that I’ll be in one of my favorite places in the world, and that the worst thing that can happen is that I won’t hit my goal time. Well, no, actually the worst thing that could happen is that I get a horrible race photo, with an awful pained facial expression mid-stride along with three chins and muffin top. But seriously, if I don’t hit my time, I won’t get a “preferred” corral, and I’ll be somewhere way in the back for the half marathon. Is that really a crisis?  No. Will it allow me to come back and PR on this same 10k next year??  Hells, yes.

I have to keep my head in my own race, if you will, and try not to worry about the six-foot tall, 22-year-old Barbie doll blowing past me with the swishy blonde ponytail wearing a Victoria’s Secret “sports” bra that doesn’t actually support anything and booty shorts. The only person I’m really competing with here is myself.  I can’t expect that I’m going to be crushing races this early into my training, but by golly, I’m hoping those booty shorts start looking good on me too pretty soon! 😉

For those of you who are more experienced runners, what are your best pre-race tips? How do you spend the week before a big race? More importantly, what are your must have songs to get you pumped the morning of your race?

#RoadToSixPointTwo #TheEndOfTheRoad

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Smile! You PAID to do this race! (After my first 5k on September 21, 2014). #WillRaceForFinishersMedals

 

 

 

 

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#39TilYouGetItRight

I’m feeling reflective in the last few minutes of 2015.  Although this has been a year of loss and frustration, 2015 has turned out to be one of the most remarkable and memorable years of my life.   Like the #39BucketList, I’m really sad to see it go.

The #39BucketList started on the night of my 39th birthday.  I found myself alone in New York City on a business trip for a brand new job. My new boss had dinner with me, but once he headed home for the ‘burbs, I was alone for the rest of my birthday.  The city and evening stretched out ahead of me.  Was I going to go back and sit in my hotel room? Hell, no!

On that night, I decided to take advantage of as much of the city as I could. I wandered all over midtown Manhattan alone. I sat outside for a while watching the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. I went to the very top of the Empire State Building (yes, I paid extra to go to the 102nd floor). I went to the really cool Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel and had a drink (try the Matilda!). I went shopping at H&M after midnight. Crazy, I know!

#39BucketList was never a specific list of things that I wanted to do before I turned 40. It was about saying “yes” to things that are important, that feel right and that make me happy. While it may sound juvenile and a bit selfish, it was a frame of mind to help me become more comfortable in my own skin and get me and my family on a better path. Instead of simply enduring life, I wanted to enjoy it.  It’s not that I’m not incredibly grateful for everything that I have. I am lucky to have a wonderful family, healthy children, and (while it’s not anyone’s ideal apartment) a roof over my head. For me, happiness means appreciating everything that I have, but also dreaming that there’s always something exciting around the corner.

As painful as it was to turn 40, I truly had an INCREDIBLE 39th year in 2015. For the first time since I was in my 20s, I traveled all over the country. In one year alone, I took four trips to NYC, two trips to DC, and trips to Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, the White Mountains, the Walt Disney World Resort (of course!), and more trips to Atlanta than I care to remember. On each of the business trips, I had the opportunity to meet, present to, and get to know all kinds of people. As much as a natural introvert as I am, I always feel a little sparkle inside when I’m out there in front of people.

I had the opportunity to be on TV, to the delight of my inner teenager, who was convinced that she’d dye her hair blonde, move to LA and become an actress.  I had a blast coming up with nonsensical soundbytes such as “the bustle of the city” and “gotta have these peppers,” all while showing off one of my favorite places in the world.  It was an AWESOME experience, even with the ridiculously frizzy hair and the wardrobe malfunction issues.

I found my voice on social media. I have come to love Twitter, a mini virtual universe where something is always going on. I have quite an eclectic Twitter network, made up of approximately 40% Disney enthusiasts, 30% social activists (many of whom I discovered during my #NoBoston2024 days), 25% professional contacts, and 5% spam accounts…well, ok, maybe it’s 25% spam accounts, and 5% professional, but whatever. Most of the time on Twitter, I feel like I’m the weird girl sitting alone at a cafeteria table talking to herself, but it is really fun to connect with people you’d never actually meet in real life.

I didn’t think anything would top the TV experience, but it was a spur of the moment cruise to the Cape that truly topped off my summer.  My husband and the kids were staying with my inlaws on the Cape, and as I had to work in the city, I planned to meet them later in the week.  Rather than take the bus (which was really the most cost-effective and sensible option), I decided she need to take the Provincetown Ferry, declaring it a #39BucketList item.  And I’m so glad that I did.  There I was, sitting in the open air on this ferry boat, my legs propped up on my suitcase in front of me.  The water was a little choppy that day and the boat was just speeding along, rocking in the waves, the ocean spraying in my face every so often.  I had no little people to care for, no worries that Bree was going to jump overboard, or having to take Owen to the bathroom.  I was completely relaxed, listening to my favorite playlist on my iPod, and just watching the as the city faded away into the place where the sky met the ocean.  The sun started setting, and I thought the ride couldn’t get any better.  Until I saw my first whale!  I’ve never been on a whale watch (that I recall) and so I just watched this whale in amazement. And then I saw another whale.  And then another. And I could see more in the distance – a random tail shooting up, a spray of water.  I think I saw about 10 whales in total.  Completely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.

Even though I’ve crossed the threshold of 40, I am going continue the Bucket List idea.  One of my friends posted the perfect hashtag on Facebook that cemented this all for me:  #39TilYouGetItRight. Obviously, 40 is not an end point,  and while I can’t use #39BucketList anymore, the purpose and idea behind it doesn’t have to go away.  Maybe the next decade will be about pushing myself to really explore what excites me and what I’m really passionate about. More than anything, I want to feel more of that “sparkle” that I felt a few times over the past year. I’ve always admired people who knew what their dream was at an early age and chased it. It finally occurred to me this year that the reason I haven’t found my “dream” is not because I failed, but it’s because I never identified what that dream really was.

I am sad to see 2015 go, but can’t wait to see what adventures await in 2016.

 

40 Reasons Why Being in Your 40s is Fabulous (really)!

  1. All the bands you loved in college are now on reunion tours and you can afford to get the really good seats.
  2. You can listen to Maroon 5 without embarrassment.  You score “cool” points for singing in the car while driving the kids to school.
  3. And, it’s not at all weird to crush on Adam Levine because at least he’s in his mid-30s.
  4. You can relate every guy you’ve loved in your life to a Taylor Swift, Katy Perry or Pink song, and you can’t help smirking while you sing along.  Jerk.
  5. You’ve figured out that simply wearing activewear gives the appearance that you work out.
  6. Same deal with a FitBit.
  7. Shapewear not only becomes socially acceptable, but expected and welcomed.
  8. Anti-aging skin products are now fully justified purchases as they are medically necessary.  They may not fly with the IRS as FSA-approved purchases, but your spouse cannot protest the cost.
  9. You are that much closer to retirement.
  10. Yet you are still smack in middle of the most desirable TV demographic.
  11. And you are still not *quite* yet at the age for bifocals or scary tests that end in “-scopy.”
  12. Do you still own any clothes, shoes, or purses from your 20s?  If so, congrats!  They are now vintage.
  13. You’ve figured out how to hide a bag of fun size Kit Kats from your family and so that you “forget” to hand them out to trick or treaters.
  14. You remember to hit up Target the day after Halloween for the 50% off Kit Kats and hide those too.  Beach season is over, anyway.
  15. If you have children, you stop feeling like the camp counselor or babysitter and more like a mom.
  16. If you are single, you can now *usually* spot and resist the allure of a “bad boy” — he may be exciting, but you have no time for that drama.  Been there, done that, have the T shirt.
  17. You finally got over that guy that ripped your heart out in your 20s.  Jerk.
  18. And you’re mature enough to be friends with said guy without getting sucked into a Vortex of Emotion.  He’s still a jerk though.
  19. You’ve forgiven your old boyfriend (one of the nice ones) for the whole “unanswered prayers” comment he made years ago because you’re there now too.
  20. Even as you grow tired of your own bull$hit, you have the optimism that there’s still time to change.
  21. There’s no shame in falling asleep on the couch by 8 pm.
  22. Or getting up at 4 am.  They have all those “early bird” sayings for a reason.
  23. You stop feeling like you need to compete with other moms.  They are going to better at some things, you’ll be better at some things, and it’s just best to find some to call friends.  All moms need good friends.
  24. Speaking of moms, you don’t have to wear mom jeans. Cute jeans nowadays do all the lifting and tucking for you.  Or come with stretchy waistbands.  Leggings?  Yeah, they ARE pants as long as your top covers your butt.
  25. You’ve finally figured out which clothes look good on you and you stop trying to make maxi dresses happen.
  26. You’ve learned to accept swim skirts, cover ups, and modest suit cuts, and for the first time since you were a little kid, you feel a bit more comfortable at the beach.  And you don’t miss being ogled at by gross old guys.
  27. You don’t have to worry about getting carded, unless you just ran to the liquor store and forgot your license (damn it, I’m 40!).
  28. You no longer get pressured to do shots at a bar.  Unless it is your husband’s 40th birthday and you are still in your 30s.  In which case the night may take a sharp, nasty turn and we shall never, ever, ever think about that again.  Like ever.
  29. You have fewer, but closer, friends.  Which is good because the limited time you have to socialize is too precious to waste on anything less.
  30. You really do stop caring what most people think of you.  It could be because you are just too damn exhausted to care, but it still counts.
  31. You have more credibility at work, no matter your field or job, if for no other reason than you’ve been in the working world for at least 20 years.
  32. And you are *that* much closer to deciding what you want to be when you grow up.
  33. You mentor the high-potential junior staffer at work because you used to be that girl.
  34. You also mentor the hot mess at work because, at times, you’ve been that girl too.
  35. At least one person looks up to and admires you, whether you know it or not, and even if you still feel like a hot mess most days.
  36. You finally settle on a title for your memoir.  And it doesn’t have a hashtag!
  37. You own at least one pair of nice sunglasses, a watch, or a great piece of jewelry that came in a robin’s-egg-blue box.
  38. You drive a car that has four hubcaps, both side mirrors, and is absent of major dents or rust.  (Oh, this one doesn’t apply to ME per se, just generally to people in their 40s).
  39. You have fun on Facebook watching friends, old and new, living their lives.  Some married their high school sweethearts and now have teenagers of their own.  Others are on second marriages becoming the modern day Brady Bunch.  Some are welcoming brand new babies at 40.  Others are world travelers, pursuing careers & dreams.  And all of these are valid places to be in life.
  40. You appreciate the meaning of “it all happens for a reason” because you understand that every heartbreak, missed opportunity and closed door put you closer down the path to where you are today.  And you are mostly satisfied with where you are today.

 

Winter Warrior Woman

Hello, most recent Snowstorm.

You have met your match.

I watched my Facebook newsfeed nervously today, and when that dreaded announcement came, I had the most surprising feeling. Instead of the sinking depression, hopelessness and overwhelming anxiety that I was expecting to feel, I felt angry. And then something miraculous happened.  Snowstorm, you have awakened the guerrilla mom within. The mom who is not going to be shamed from voicing her frustration by people who are not in her shoes.  The mom who refuses to be painted as an employee on the “mommy track” who does not prioritize her career. The mom who is tired of resorting to yelling, time outs and threats to keep the kids quiet while she’s on conference calls.  After all, this is the same woman who landed a career-defining job before college graduation, managed to pass the bar on the first try, and successfully reinvented her career three times. In other words…you are screwed.

Being a working parent is hard. Really hard. It is an art that is practiced over many years, but never quite perfected. It is a constant balancing act, carefully patching together child care, coordinating drop off and pick up times, remembering homework, school projects, parent council meetings and responsibilities, snack donations and backup clothes, all while building credibility and proving yourself every day at work. It means doing housework at night or early in the mornings (or not at all) so you can spend your precious few hours outside of work with the kids.  This is NOT to suggest that being a stay at home parent is easy.  It’s just that there is a vast difference in the consequences of not doing housework during one snow day, and missing important deliverables and calls at work.  Schedule and routine are critical to the working parent’s success, and any anomaly, such as a business trip, must be carefully orchestrated as to not disrupt the balance. Anyone can manage one snow day, or even two or three. Facing eight snow days since the beginning of January, however, proves to be a special challenge. I wish that I had the luxury of spending this stolen time with my littles. I want nothing more than to do all the activities and crafts that I see on Pinterest with them. The worst is that the kids don’t get it. They don’t understand that I really am working, at a job that requires concentration and conference calls. They want to spend time with me, too, and I realize what a special (and fleeting) gift that is. I can’t describe how low I felt last week when Bree told me that she and Emma were wishing for “a big sister” so that I’d have someone to help me on snow days.

I work from home the majority of the time, and am so grateful for this. Not having to commute, or get myself gussied up for the office, saves me so much time and helps me be more productive at work. I do not want this privilege taken away. So while the one or two snow days would likely not put this at risk, eight snow days within five weeks is extremely problematic. Social media and online news resources are overflowing with people who are actually excited about missing school. It shouldn’t be a surprise that many of these people do not seem to be working parents. What is happening in Boston right now is unprecedented. It’s not just that we have a lot of snow and have missed a lot of school days. On the days when we do have school, it is virtually impossible to get around the city right now. The MBTA is not running consistently and is overcrowded (and not usual overcrowding – I’m talking crushing small children crowded) and many of the roads are narrow and clogged. Although some sidewalks are cleared, others only have a small path created by people walking – not wide enough for two people to stand side by side and certainly not wide enough to walk multiple children safely. If you’ve ever been in Back Bay or the Financial District during rush hour, you can appreciate what that does to the foot traffic. While I was away last week, it took Patrick two hours to pick up all three kids. And they are all the SAME city!!!  It took Patrick several calls to our City Councilor to get the sidewalks and streets cleared around Bree and Owen’s school, because as the City Councilor stated, the CITY WASN’T PRIORITIZING THE SCHOOLS.  Apparently, City resources were focused on prepping for the Patriots Championship Parade.  Priorities.

Feeling that I have been whining too much on Facebook, I was so happy to FINALLY talk to other working mom friends who shared my same level of stress and frustration. One admitting to having to do her conference calls in a closet last week. A few others set up a “child caravan” of sorts, carting a small group of kids from house to house for a few hours at a time while parents took turns attending critical meetings. Sadly, with three, my options are very limited – very few people offer to do “tradesies” with Traveling Chaos – and my youngest is too little for the usual backup care. But, as I’ve said Snowstorm, you’ve awoken the Winter Warrior Woman within, and I am not one to be messed with.

I plan to get through this winter with my job and work arrangement intact, no matter how many snow days you throw at me. And here’s how I’m going to do it:
1. Plan the day’s schedule, down to planned meal times, snack times, rest times, and activity blocks (both planned and “choice” time). This will also include a couple of times for me to do something with the kids when I am able to take a quick break.
2. Set ground rules for the day. Such as, when I am on a call or in the middle of an important project, you must keep voices down. I will come out to check on you periodically, but do not disturb me unless it’s an emergency.
3. Gather materials for activities to include art and craft supplies, etc. in advance.
4. Have a morning meeting with the kids. During this meeting, we will go over the day’s schedule and ground rules. I will welcome input and ideas from all at the meeting.
5. Clean up as I go, and expect the kids to do the same. We’ll see how this one goes.
6. Designate authority in the form of a mother’s helper. Emma Sullivan, your day to be the boss has come. Make me proud.

So take that, Snowstorm.  You’ve thrown me a challenge and awakened my fiercely competitive spirit.  You may get the best of me in the end, but I will not go down without a fight.

XOXO,

Winter Warrior Woman

#39bucketlist

I had to give something up this year.  So I chose the gym.  Even though I’m probably three slices of bacon away from a heart attack, I accepted the fact that it is better for me to just allow myself to work out on weekends or when the opportunity strikes than having to feel guilty for not making the time to go to the gym on a regular basis.

Last year was the year to Just Say No (please refer to last post entitled “Just Say No”).  I was overwhelmed by having my two girls in public schools for the first time, taking on a teaching job, juggling work and home life and trying to prevent my husband from nominating me for Hoarders:  Buried Alive.  I said no to joining Parent Council, I said no to putting Emma in Orchestra and generally put the brakes on extending myself any further.  I even stopped writing my blog, which must’ve been sad for the three of you who read it. (Hi, Patrick!).

What a difference a year makes.

I am turning 40 this year, and this year is about saying yes to things that are important, that feel right, and that make me happy.  Yes, this is something that I shouldn’t need a milestone birthday to prompt me to do, but my 20s were kind of a mess and my 30s were about finding myself, so I hope that my 40s will be about me feeling comfortable in my own skin and enjoying my amazing family.  #39bucketlist is a frame of mind that I use to make choices that will help get me and my family on a better path.

Where has this journey taken me so far?

I changed jobs.  Like three times in one year.  I’m no stranger to moving around professionally, but even this surprised/embarrassed me.  It was so sad and painful to have to leave the other jobs, particularly because I really liked and respected my bosses, but in the end I arrived in the right place.  The funny thing was that I didn’t even apply for my current job – I decided to say yes to a call from a recruiter for a position I felt I was overqualified for and didn’t think I wanted.   It’s only been a couple of months, but it’s amazing what a difference the right job makes.  I’m doing work that I love (even when it makes me want to pull my hair out – my fellow HRBPs will understand what I mean) as part of an incredibly talented, smart and hardworking team of Type A personalities.   I don’t know where my career will go from here, but I absolutely know that I am in the right place right now.

I said yes to Parent Council at Emma’s school.  I figured that if all three of my children end up going there, it was worth my time and energy to get involved.  Now as a Parent Council Secretary, I help creating flyers, stuffing mailboxes and taking meeting minutes.  But I also get an insider’s look at the school, access to the administration and an opportunity to voice my opinion.

I said yes to applying to the Disney Parks Moms Panel.  Yes, that would be a third unpaid “job,” but it would allow me to write AND would legitimize my obsessive love of planning Disney trips!  I only made it to the second round but met some awesome people who are equally obsessive about planning Disney trips and learned a LOT in the process.  For example, nomenclature is very important to Disney.  I like to think that I did not make it to the third round because I forgot to put the “Disney’s” in “Disney’s Hollywood Studios,” and not because I wasn’t “magical” enough!  It was fun to see who made it through to the Panel, and I look forward to trying again in the future.  It also inspired me to restart my blog and to become more active on social media.

And coming full circle back to quitting the gym, I said yes to running again.  Specifically, I picked up the hobby popular with so many of my similarly aged and situated friends:  running races.  Please be clear – by “running races,” I mean to say “finishing races,” and short ones at that.  I’ve done two 5ks so far, and would love to work my way up to a half marathon by 2016.  By the way, if any of you have training plans that can get you shape to run 13.1 miles when you can only run once or twice a week, please call me!

I may not be a fast runner or on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, and I may have set myself back years in my career trajectory, but I know that all of these steps I’m taking are at least keeping the heart attacks at bay.  Which is good, because I’m not ready to say no to bacon.

 

Parent Disorientation

I’d like to ask you to participate in a little reading comprehension test.  Imagine that you are a parent of a child entering Kindergarten this Fall. You receive the following notice of an upcoming event at the school:

“Open House for Parents: You will learn important information about classroom curriculum and school policies —please make every effort to attend.  Tuesday September 3rd for K0—K1 from 12:30-1:30p.m.”

Select the answer that BEST describes the meeting:
(a)  This is an important meeting for new Kindergarten parents to attend and learn about school policies and procedures;
(b)  This is an optional meeting to attend if you happen to live a life of leisure and have nothing better to do in the middle of the day; OR
(c)  This is an important orientation for your child to attend.

Ready with your answer? Ok, now imagine you receive this follow-up email a week later:

“This is a reminder for families of KO and K1 children that the  Open House will be this Tuesday 12:30 to 1:30 and Open House for K2 and Grade One parents is Wednesday 1:30 to 2:30. Although we have limited ability to provide child care during these times, we really would like you to attend. So if you are not able to obtain alternative childcare, you are welcome to bring your child to Open House.”

Select the answer that BEST describes the meeting:
(a) This is an important meeting for parents to attend and they are hoping you’ll leave the kids at home so that you can concentrate on listening to the presentation;
(b) You should bring all of your children as they’ve offered to provide limited childcare; OR
(c) This is an important orientation for your child to attend and you are of sub par intelligence because you failed to see the obvious differentiation between the phrases for K0/K1 children and the K2/Grade One parents.

You’re all smart, so  I’m sure you can guess what happened.

I practically strutted into Bree’s school for the Parent Open House, so proud of myself for making the commitment to a mid-day meeting and for actually being a few minutes early (thank god for flexible employers!) and excited to get more information on what Bree’s life would be like.  A very friendly woman (vice principal?) greeted me at the door and directed me towards Bree’s future classroom.  I saw a sign in sheet on a shelf next to the door, and two women setting up the class room.  “Hello,” I called.  “Should I sign myself in?”  The women looked up and one answered, rather coldly, “It’s only 12:20.  It’s not time yet.”  Not sure whether she was the teacher or someone else, I uncomfortably backed out of the door and mumbled, trailing off “oh sorry, I guess I’ll just go sit here in the hallway…” “Yes, please do that,” came the reply.

I could feel the tears stinging in my eyes and immediately started to panic.  What was I DOING here?   Why am I pulling Bree out of her school with all those lovely teachers?  The worst I ever get from them is the passing reminder that I forgot to bring a certain form YET AGAIN or a comment that I MUST be older than Patrick after telling them that he turned 40 this year.   How can I send my sensitive Bree to this cold, unfriendly teacher?

Another woman eventually joined me, along with her small daughter and older son.  She too was turned away from the inn classroom and was wandering the hall, looking annoyed.  Seeing an opportunity to make a new friend, I immediately went over to her and asked, “oh, did they send you away too?”.  To which she replied, “No habla ingles.”  My disoriented brain somehow couldn’t recall how to say, “I don’t speak Spanish” so I looked helplessly at her children.  Her son was there to translate.  “Are you the teacher?” he asked, noticing that I was alone and clearly confused why I would be there without a child.

It wasn’t until the other parents and their children started to arrive that I slowly realized that something was  wrong. I didn’t bring Bree, and this was obviously an orientation for her.  When we were finally granted access into the classroom, I pulled one of the teachers aside (the nicer one who didn’t snap at me earlier) and asked her if Bree were supposed to come.  She said yes.  I told her that because of the communication, I had assumed I shouldn’t bring my child and now it was too late to go pick up Bree to bring her.  She looked at me as though I was wearing clown makeup and a bikini and asked, “You didn’t think that you should bring your child to meet her teachers and see her classroom before the first day of school?”

The absurdity of the situation really sunk in while I was sitting in a child size classroom chair waiting for the parent meeting to start while “Tainted Love” played on a portable radio/tape deck that was so “vintage” that you couldn’t quite call it a boombox.

I was in Parent Disorientation and suddenly became a lot less sure of this next phase of my life.

Emma’s Orientation at her new school is coming up this Friday.  On the plus side, the message was idiot proof as the event was billed as a “Parent and Child” Orientation [emphasis added] and the email specifically noted for us to “please bring [our] child.”  On the down side, we just received the invite on Monday and had to rearrange our entire week’s work schedule in order to be able to attend…

I’m hoping that one of these orientations will eventually help ME improve my own comprehension of what it is that I should be doing.  Transitions are always hardest for the parents, right?