Just a Hello and thinking of you

Hello Suzanne,

Perhaps you’ll have a chance to read this, no reply necessary. Just know that you are in my constant thoughts and however things turn out, I think of your kindness, Grace, love, dignity, courage and spirit…this is what I endeavor to share of the people who have been a part of my life, perhaps what most of us remember — the little things, the little glimpses and stories of a day in the life. Should we have grandchildren together, wherever you are I will make sure to include you so that they know their other grandmama well. We will set a place for you at our table always.

Much love for you .

P.S. You have raised some remarkable boys, and your tribe will gather to embrace and support them however we can.

Done Differently — Things I Wish I’d

There are things I wish I’d done differently with them, but overall, I did the best I could as a single parent with two very bright (and strong-willed) children. The times I regret are the times I listened to others’ wisdom rather than my own. But I want to look ahead and not continue to beat myself up over the mistakes I made.

There were plenty I didn’t make — like my decision to stay home with my son rather than pursue a career.


I didn’t miss my kids’ childhoods. I don’t regret my choice to raise them myself and be available to them. But it’s got me pondering the definition of success. I did turn down a career offer when my son was three. Entry level position with this agency with opportunity for growth. My kid’s growth was just more interesting to me at the time.

I worked through my pregnancy with him and Jason (his dad) collected unemployment. When the unemployment ran out, J got a job driving the shuttle van for the hospital which he complained about constantly. That and a bit more got him fired. And I don’t think he could continue collecting unemployment.  I was offered a full-time job washing dishes at the time (only female of about 100 or so male applicants — unemployment was high during that part of the Reagan era), but I was nursing my baby and I really did not want to be away from him.

Since we had a child, we qualified for welfare so that was the route we took. Jason would grumble and carry on regularly because of the job contacts and whatever else he used to have to do to stay in the program. I considered another job when A. was a year old — retail — but still I just could not leave my boy. By the time he was two though, with Jason not really looking for work and me feeling we can’t live this way forever, I took a job in a dry cleaners pressing shirts. (I pressed some of the most famous shirts in the city of Burlington I might add). But every morning  at 6:55am when I walked around the corner to work, I used to hate leaving my little boy standing on a stool at the front door, looking out the window at me as we waved bye-bye until we could no longer see each other. There were pluses to the job — walking to work, finishing at 2pm every day, having my lunch break at home, weekends off, a decent wage, boss and co-workers. I stayed for 5 months before I accepted a position with the Girl Scout Council. That felt like more than a job. 8 to 4, Monday through Friday and no going home for lunch. It was a grind. I took the bus to work because we only had one car, Jason wouldn’t let me drive it, and he wanted to sleep in. So I would leave in the morning, with my boy crying in the window when I left, because this was a different kind of work that took me further away, and for longer. He and his dad would pick me up at 4pm though and it was always a joy to look out the picture window from my office and see them waiting in the Dart for me. Sometimes, they’d come in. Anthony impressed everyone, he was so sweet and so “articulate” for such a wee guy.  J. would tell me what they did that day, who they hung out with, sometimes they went fishing or just hanging.

I’d try to tell myself how progressive we were with the role reversal. Househusband (who left the housework for the wife). Stay-at-home dad who took his boy fishing sometimes and bought him “jolly” doughnuts from the Freihoffer’s outlet. (Anthony loved jelly doughnuts and he also loved Cheez-lits, as he used to call them).

J.  loved smoking weed, and don’t ask me why, I didn’t get an “allowance” for working, but J. did for “babysitting.” We always called it “the allowance” and it was a huge bone of contention with us. I tried to feel “modern” but career woman just wasn’t my thing. Neither was the allowance.

Some mornings I would feel so trapped going off to this daily grind, missing my son terribly, heart breaking every morning as he cried in the window. Sometimes, when it was just Joyce and me in the office before anyone else arrived I would cry. She was so good. She was 63 at the time and we both started working around the same time. She was going through a divorce so was back to work. She’d had two children, but her daughter died in a single car crash at the age of 19. As Joyce put it (and I’ve always loved this expression relating to loss), she “healed well.” She loved her pb & j sandwiches. Every day for lunch. And nature and Twin Hills, the girl scout camp she took the boys and me to once. She soothed my sorrow after I returned from a trip burying my best friend, she soothed my sadness over my marriage and leaving my son every day.

After about a year and a half of this, I’d finally told Jason I was sick of it, I wanted him to get a job, I wanted to be home with our son. I’d been after him to get into UVM, and sure enough he did; he got a printing job that he enjoyed — good pay, benefits and hours. And I could finally stay home with the boy. But I’d also been applying for jobs in case J. didn’t get one — jobs with more opportunity. So when J. accepted his UVM job, I’d also been offered the job with what was then called Resolution. It was basically an upstart PR agency and I knew what I was turning down when I turned it down. Because I was already successful. I got to stay home and grow with my child.

Grown Up

He’s actually a grown man now, one I am proud of. I know this, I recognize this — the time flies and it’s hard to believe that he is no longer my sweet rockin’ boy. Is this how my parents feel about me — that I am still their girl even though I am a grown woman of 51?

I am still so smitten with my kids, their charm, their humor, their humanity, the privilege of watching them grow into adults I enjoy being around. I am letting go — slowly, finding my way back to a life beyond motherhood, but man I cherish those memories like nobody’s business.

Rabbit Rabbit

This morning was the first I woke up to in a long time and remembered to say “rabbit, rabbit” before anything else…Wrote in my journal that I love October, it’s the month of my firstborn’s birthday — then my daughter text messaged me before 8 am with…”Rabbit Rabbit!” Those are the moments that make life sweet.

I know I have to move on with my life as my children move on with theirs but it is a slow process for me. I can only do it in my own time. I had my children young and tend to gravitate towards women with children still.

I delight when I find someone who’s childless by choice, or who has older children though. It gives me hope that there is life beyond motherhood. I know that, but still I think some of us women so loved our children, their childhoods, the magic, the wonder, the luck at getting to experience childhood all over again through our child’s eyes (because how many of us truly remember the giddiness of our first tumbling steps?), that it’s very hard to let go.

So the trick for me is continuing to capture that wonder through my own eyes, hope that my children will never lose the capacity to experience it in their eyes, and continue sharing the wonder with whomever understands what it is I’m talking about.


Ad I Saw:

Mother’s Helper:Female: Private Living Space in my home with Cable and WiFi. $120.00 per week OR free in exchange for helping with my family (for 12 hours)… Driving, light cooking, babysitting (supervising) my two children ages 11 and 15. Must have car. Can work more hours then agreed upon for hourly wage. I can work my schedule around your “real” job. I am looking for a responsible but fun, family-oriented role model for my kids who are at a very formidable age. Sorry, no partying in my house. Please plan to socialize elsewhere.

My response:

Hello there,

I am very interested in your position for a mother’s helper for your 11 and 15 year old. My son is now 25, on his own and a musician. My daughter is almost 20, very responsible and returning to UMass for her junior year in September.

Years ago I was looking for the very same person you are looking for now — another me — I was raising my children on my own and recognized that those in-between ages are much more challenging than the early childhood stages. There were a couple of occasions that we got a taste of what it would be like to be in a household with other loving caregivers — it was a joy. I truly believe that it does take a village to raise a child and it was difficult trying to create the scenario then, but it was something I always dreamed of. I would love to be that person I needed then for someone else now.


Patricia A. Hurley

Attached is my resume. Please let me know if you don’t receive it. Thank you so much.

Her response:

Wow! Your letter made me cry! It was beautiful! I would love to meet you. I am sorry to say that I am running out the door to pick up my daughter from gymnastics, so I can not respond as I would like to. It appears to me that you are looking for a mother’s helper position and not a place to live… Could you just clarify that? I will give you a call if you would like either tonight after 8 or tomorrow.
Looking forward to talking with you!
P.S. Do I have your phone number?

Some things just make you feel good, you know?

How It Is with My Mother

Sometimes if you want a relationship with someone badly enough, perhaps you have to settle for it on their terms, so long as it doesn’t mean allowing yourself to get beat up. This is how it is with my mother. I can’t totally shut her out of my life and yet her toxicity has had a huge affect on my life. I don’t want to blame, but I do want to break free and live a life of joy and wonder. But how do I find that life? I am still searching. In the meantime, I think I do not want to have regrets when my mother is gone — regrets that I could have done more, visited her more, called her more. I’ve tried at one time or another, and I have had some good memories with my mom, but there is also a lingering melancholy that persists and sometimes it drowns me. I want joy and wonder. I am not sure where to look for it. But this is how I feel today. Tomorrow I meet my childhood girlfriend and the sun is supposed to shine. And that is one place I will find that joy.

Sisters of Mercy

My marriage, on the other hand, was not like Amanda’s. If it was, I’d have 3 children instead of two. I miss that third child every day. As it was, Molly almost wasn’t. Although I was married, I felt like I had no business being pregnant when the marriage was unhappy and volatile.

I loved my little boy fiercely, with all my heart, he was the light of my life, the apple of my eye, in an otherwise soul-killing marriage. I loved being pregnant with him, the childbirth experience, everything about it. I remember his first movement in utero. We were on a hill on Cheese Factory Road in Hinesburg — a country drive like so many we did, that was when we were happiest as a couple, when we were on the road.

I imagined working right up until he was born the way so many women the world over have — working in fields, squatting and having their baby, and then returning to work. I did work right up until he was born — not in a field, but in a convent kitchen. I began labor before my shift that morning, but only told Brian, the main cook and Leitha, the housekeeper and my neighbor. I didn’t want to worry the nuns, because I knew I could handle it. And I knew they’d be all worried and possibly send me home (or to the hospital) if they knew. They were very good to me, the Sisters of Mercy. They are not departed or gone., experience