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Post-Travel Fallout Boys

My Internet is getting fixed today! At some point between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., anyway.

Thanks for that super-helpful service window, Verizon. I'll just sit here and wait for the inevitable, which is that you will not arrive during any of the many hours I am here sitting and waiting, but will of course arrive during the 15 minutes that I absolutely have leave the house to pick Ike up from school. And you'll get all huffy and impatient and I'll be all apologetic and flustered and we'll get off on the wrong foot, all because my three year old can't "drive" or "cross major intersections by himself." Yet, anyway. 

Let's not get off on the wrong foot, Imaginary Huffy Verizon Authority Figure. 


Speaking of Ike, he has decided that he is done with preschool, and the fact that he is not allowed to attend kindergarten at his brothers' school has taken over as the latest Three Year Old Worst Injustice In The World, At Least Since This Morning When He Was Served Milk In The Wrong Cup.

(Yes. STILL with the wrong cup. And the dark blue plate. We've also added: Non-Ninja-Turtle Underwear is basically Garbage Underwear, and there is only one acceptable pair of socks in the world, and any time you deny him a plastic straw for his cup you are basically violating his human rights.)

So...yeah. Ike's been a little difficult lately,  and even though "lately" technically dates back to his second birthday, I'm guessing some of this has to do with all the travel and upheaval of the past couple weeks.

Because this blog isn’t the only thing struggling in the face of the New World Order (aka Mommy Went & Got A Real Job). There's no denying that this month HAS been really tough on the boys, and while I like to think I shook the majority of my mom-guilt off right around the time I had a second baby and was like, FUCK ALL THAT, LET’S JUST KEEP EVERYONE ALIVE UNTIL BEDTIME…well, I am feeling it pretty hard right now.

At bedtime, Ike makes me promise that I won’t go away again. He crawls into bed with us more nights than not, claiming everything from bad dreams to phantom tummy aches. During the day, He’s clingy and needy and weeps when I drop him off at school. “Don’t leave me!” he sobs as I hand him over to the school staff and get back in the car, feeling every uncomfortable feeling one can possibly feel in the heart area. 

The Friday after my first trip, Noah’s class had a field trip. He begged me to chaperone, reminding me that since I’d been unable to chaperone his LAST trip because of work, I’d made some vague promises about “next time.”

So I signed up to chaperone. Less than 12 full hours after I stepped off the plane. MOM POINTS!

But then I stepped off the plane and discovered that my entire family was sick, and violently so. Noah recovered in time to attend the field trip, but I had to back out of chaperoning to stay home with Ezra and Ike. He was devastated.

(Also the only thing I brought back from Orlando for them was a collection of theme park maps from my hotel lobby. Legoland, Harry Potter World, Disney, etc.)

(To be fair, they all really like the maps. But have all now planned our next family vacation with them and hoo boy, it sounds exhausting and expensive and I would really rather not.)


(BREAKING NEWS: I started and abandoned this post so many hours ago that I can now report that I managed to get to and from Ike's school successfully, with no sign of or huffy phone calls from the Verizon guy. I suppose that's a plus, but now means the rest of my afternoon and evening involve MORE WAITING.)


The Friday after my second trip (from which I brought them ABSOLUTELY NOTHING), all three of their classes had their Valentine’s Day parties. Jason had thankfully remembered to pick up a few packages of cheap drugstore Valentines, so I spent most of Thursday night trying to get the boys to fill them out. MOM POINTS!

After Ike threw a huge early-bedtime-worthy tantrum over some heart stickers that I cruelly would not let him put all over his face, I forged his name on a stack of SpongeBob cards, knowing full well that we would be the only Montessori family sending in something commercial and cartoon-based, because all the other Montessori families send in homemade Valentines. Year after year, somehow all getting and agreeing to a memo that I never got, but would probably ignore anyway. Yet once again, Ike came home with a bagged packed full of handmade asymmetrical construction paper hearts with googly eyes, glittery doilies, crayon portraits, and OF COURSE…painstakingly lettered names, even from the littlest class members.


Meanwhile, us: Goddamn SpongeBob, with me using my left hand to forge my child's signature so it would kinda maybe look like we kinda maybe tried. Yep.

(I am not even close to the only full-time working mother in this class, by the way. I am just the one who is the most bad at it.)

That Friday morning I had to tell Ezra and Noah that no, I would not be attending either of their classroom parties that day – after two straight weeks of travel I had to stay at my desk and work all day, as did Jason. Devastated, again.

At a birthday party this past weekend, another mom who attended the Valentine's party related a choice Ezra quote: “My mom had to go away on TWO trips in TWO weeks but when I get home, she’s going to be there! And she’s not going away again!”

And even though I technically did go away later that very night (to celebrate Valentine's Day with Jason and also give the poor man's fraying sanity a break), Ezra seemed quite understanding, and even opted to give me a last-minute accessory from his Valentine's stash:


(Edited super professionally to smear out his teachers' names.)

You know, it's nice to be missed. Even if the people who miss you tend to let you know that they missed you in ways that try your patience to the edge.


(And mess up your proper plank form by choosing that moment for some way overdue togetherness and bonding.)



Hang in there! It will work out. It might take a little time but I think everyone will adjust.


OMG, the working mother guilt will kill you. I have been a single parent for a long time and, even though my youngest is now 16, I STILL have guilt when I have to travel on business. Somehow, my kids have managed to survive my job. Myself, not so sure. But, basically, we've gotta do what we've gotta do. And it's not a bad message for kids-- to know that they're important to us but that we have other duties and obligations and our lives are MOSTLY but not ONLY about them.


My son just started preschool. The teacher said to send in valentines, so I did. I even made him sit down and hold the pen and trace the letters with me! So yeah, then we go to the class party and I discovered that every other parent had sent in candy and loot. Wrapped. In gift bags. With decorations. I felt like such a jerk.

I don't know how I'd pull off travel with one kid, no idea how you do it with three!


Ugh. I feel this. My son (almost three) has taken to asking "Remember when Mommy left me at daycare and I cried?" Knife to the heart. With one I am already the mom not getting the valentines memos; I'm due with our second in August and I have pretty much abandoned all hope at this point.


Hahaha I am suddenly so thankful that we go to a Montessori "inspired" school and not a legit one because it's all cartoons and candy and half are totally signed by moms not even trying to pretend.


As privileged as I feel, sometimes this working mom stuff just sucks. Just left my boy crying from the top of the lungs after I didn't even have time to have breakfast with him. Because I woke up late. Major mom guilt. TGIF...


You sound like a kick-ass Mom! And it sounds like your boys realize it too, given how much they miss you.

This month is hard for everyone in different ways, I think. It makes everything feel... magnified somehow? Keep your chin up, you're doing awesome. :)


What in the hell is with the Valentine's now?!?! Our daughter is in Pre-K and we bought the store cards, which she picked out and was super excited about. I pick her up and she has goodie bags of stuff! BAGS! FULL! Of candy and princess jewelry and one with a handmade sewn wand! With material and thread and stuff. The hell?!?! I must have missed this memo as well.


ok I was laughing at the clothing fights. when my son was that age he only wanted Bob the Builder shirts and jean shorts. So I gave in and bought every version of that stupid character shirt. He also had to have the same exact pair of shoes when he grew out of his size.

ks grandma

Talking to my way-grown-up kid as I watch her parent - so, I didn't make it to many of your events, did I? Her - No, but I've thought about it, and I did like eating. I know you did what you had to do. Yeah - the Mom guilt thing. For the most part, everyone survives, and it will give them something to talk about in therapy. And maybe keep some of those other skeletons in the closet. We've all got them. Even the folks with the glitter in their suppers.

birdgal (another amy)

Girl, I wasn't even on an out of town work trip and I decided to skip the Valentines completely this year (I have one in 3rd and one in K). I didn't even realize they still did that in 3rd grade, but apparently they do--my daughter told me that her teacher gave her some extras to give to her classmates. Talk about feeling like a shitty parent....


So. Much. Empathy.

I have three boys, stair steps almost exactly the same age apart as yours, except 2 years behind you (i.e. 6yo, 4yo, 1yo). I am an associate attorney at a private law firm - I went to law school w/1 kid and 1 on the way, so I started this lark already parenting.

It's crushing. It's crushing me. The only solace is it's crushing me more than it's crushing them. When my litigation schedule opens wide up and I have to work 70+ hour weeks, my stress and anxiety is magnified by my kids' freaking the fuck out over my even-greater-than-normal absence. Our baby just started at a new daycare and he screams every time I hand him over. It's been three weeks - still daily screaming. And my husband works in another city 33 weeks a year, so he doesn't live with us during the week. It's all on me.

That said . . . some weeks (when no one is sick, when my work schedule is sort of normal, when the husband is home all week) - it all runs smoothly. I kill it on an awesome motion or in court. I manage to remember to give the kids their crappy Valentines(right there with ya with the Valentines, even up to the forging of my children's names at midnight the night before because I forgot to make them do it) - and the boys are thrilled with them, even half-assed as they are. And I think - OK, we got this. We're making it.

It's up and down - the guilt and stress sometimes turns into pride and "HELLS YEAH I SURVIVED THIS EXPERIENCE!" It's harder on us than them, all their tortured weeping notwithstanding. You are making it. I am, too. Solidarity girl - you'll get them through.


*working mom guilt fistbump of solidarity*

Holly W.

Here's my valentine's day kids + classroom valentines, to make you feel better:
I have leftover valentines from last year, that I planned to repurpose for my preschooler this year - totally commercial some cartoon or other, with sticky bugs in them, so fun, but also so easy for working mommy me. On Monday of Valentine's day week, I asked one of his teachers to make sure we got a list of names in the next day or two. She told me that since our classroom is very diverse (both ethnically and socio-economically, which we really appreciate), they weren't doing a valentine's day party, since not every family can afford to bring in gifts or valentines. Roger that. I felt like maybe we should do something, so we spent Wednesday night making valentine's for my kids' three different teachers. Making = mommy finding old thank-you notes in the closet, making my boys color on the inside, and then signing their names with a cutesy four-line valentines day poem I found online. Voila!
Thursday, I had to pick the kids up, and I noticed that there was a list of kids names in the class, I assumed for valentines. But since I'd already spoke to the teacher and she was encouraging parents to NOT do this, so as not to be off-putting to those who couldn't afford it, I ignored it. I also ignored it on principal, because you can't give me a list of a dozen names the night before I'm supposed to make a bunch of things for class - I have maybe 20 minutes to spare in a given evening, and sometimes I need that to shower, yo. So I ignored the list, as I assumed most parents would do.
My husband picks the kids up on Friday afternoon, and the preschooler comes home LADEN with valentines. From nearly every kid in his class. And not just the little store-bought ones, oh no. One was an entire box of candy and bouncy balls. Another one held necklaces and starburst. Another with a slew of hershey kisses and a hand-written note. So not only did apparently every other parent decide to do valentines against the teachers request (or lack of teacher communication, who knows), they decided to buy out candy stores to do it. And what did we bring for our preschooler friends? Not. one. thing.
Gah commercial holidays. Bah humbug.


8-8 thats a big service window. I gotta know did they even show up?

Erin G

I had my 4 year old put her name on each store-bought Valentine...then I filled-in the rest with 'To My Friend' because I was too tired to bother looking-up the online class list of names. Imagine my delight when the teacher complimented me in doing this...since it meant my kid could pass-out her own stuff without help from an aide, since there were no specific names on each to be read. Yeah, yeah...that's why I did it that way. To help the teachers. not because of my laziness. WINNING.


One year I forgot about Valentine's Day completely until my kid's teacher said something about it when I ran into her the night before. Cut to: me at Walgreen's at 9:30 pm on Feb. 13 buying the least crappy box of Valentine's I could find, then forging my daughter's name on all of them. And that is not even close to being the worst of my working-mom stories.

BUT. It is necessary for our family for me to work, and so I do. You can't "have it all" at once, but you can have bits and pieces here and there, and that has to be good enough. Hang in there.


Aw, this post really got to me. It is so hard when our kids treat us like garbage after we've been away for work. Hard doesn't begin to describe it. Upside - your hair is really cute!


Montessori Mom, here! I busted my ass at work all week, and Thursday night I absolutely left-hand forged my kids' names on their Valentines. I made them by snipping 3x5 index cards in half, and slapping a sticker left over from a birthday party on them. Done! My daughter was supposed to make a mailbox at home, and decorate it. There were some very elaborate, Pinterest-worthy mailboxes in her classroom. Hers was a brown paper bag with her name forged on it, and more left-over party stickers. She actually put those stickers on herself-- I remembered after I had tucked her in at night and was like "sweetie? You still awake? Can you stick some stickers on this bag? I've got to make the lunches."

One teacher said NO CANDY, and the other said please just keep it simple. Fortunately parents mostly listened and both my kids came home with bags full of little Valentines, and a couple pieces of candy. We're at a Very Montessori school, and half these Valentines had Ninja Turtles and Disney Princesses on them. The classrooms where kids are coming home with goody-bags?? Boxes of chocolates?? That just sounds insane. Way way way too much.


I just read your post. It is very timely for me as I just got to work after dropping my kindergartner off at school...only I was the one in tears. Rough morning getting out the door. The kids weren't cooperating, I yelled, I felt awful, I cried, we were late. They will recover. I feel crappy!


The moment, the moment I hit send on a comment that said, hell yes, forge your special need kiddo's name on his Valentines, the kids don't give a dang anyway, my preschooler threw a fit over signing her name. And I was only trying for her initial! So many of her classmates wrote not only their names, but their classmates, too. Screw it. It ain't a race, and my little has lots of time to work on her fine motor skills.
I ordered finger lights on Amazon, printed cards off the web, and stuck it in a snack bag. Big girl got tons of kudos, but I mostly did it to save myself a trip to Target with her and avoid more candy in the house. The Little taped mini notepads to a printed card, because it's just Valentine's, for Pete's sake.


Dying at the Montessori valentines. It's true! I mean, zero guilt whatsoever because a) obligatory yet throw-away cards for small children and b) my kid is 2.5 and can't read, write, or conceive of what a Valentine's Day is, but the contrast between our what's-cheapest-on-Amazon cards and some of the others was hilarious.


Easiest valentines day solution - for my preschooler I found an online printable. Saves the late night trip to the store. She's barely three - I didn't even bother to write names on them
One mom had printed one with a picture of an aquarium that said I"m glad your in my school and attached a baggie of goldfish - am stealing that idea for next year.


After years of precious handmade valentines for my step kids, numbers 3 and 4, who started preschool this year when I went back to work, got walmart valentines. Spider-Man and the avengers, I believe. For their very first valentines party. I was going to hit glue chocolate hearts on their to cute them up, but couldn't find the glue gun. So they got scotch taped on super classy style.

And while I was scotch taping? The three year old appeared with wet hands, which I assumed was from, you know, washing them. He had actually been removing his brothers goldfish from its bowl. I found it 15 min later. Friend I was texting (a kindergarten teacher), insisted I put it back in the bowl. And it lived! I looked at it as the universe throwing me a much needed bone.


We call it Valloween these days. My daughter (pre-K) paistakingly made out her cards in advance with her handwriting only to discover teachers did not want to "to" line filled out, just the "from." I took the cards to school and said "Really? You want me to sharpie out her practice?" I won.


I had planned on making cutesy penguin Valentines for my 3 y.o son's Valentine's Day party with the bits of crayons turned into a new crayon thing. It didn't happen. We bought Valentines at the discount grocery store the day before and used left-over Halloween candy: Starbursts as nobody in the family likes them. And I used masking tape because the 2 y.o used up all of the clear tape.

And I don't even work.

Your kids love you and honestly that is all that matters.

Annie B

Mom guilt.

Gillian the Attorney up there summed it up so beautifully - HELLS YEAH I (THEY) (WE) SURVIVED! So many of us have such crushing (to us) stories of crying children, missed field trips, hastily-hired-sitters-we-felt-a-bit-bad-about-but-IHAVEAMEETINGICANNOTMISS - and those are the good stories we don't mind telling. And yet, we survive, and we say I love you, and we make some kind of lunches and forge names on Valentines and suck it up and go to work and try to down dog with a toddler (or a Labrador Retriever, or both) underneath us.

So, here's to you, Amy, and to all of us and our boys and girls and babies, toddlers, kids, teens, and adult children. WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH MOTHERS. Cheers to us.

Korinthia Klein

Dropping my daughter off at Head Start on my way to work was one of the most painful experiences I ever had to endure. Day after day of tears and begging and pleading, and her teachers told me minutes after I left she was happy and fine. Even knowing that didn't help, because I was left at work with this crushing feeling of having abandoned my little girl. Yuck. But she really was fine and has nothing but fond memories from then. You're doing great. I know you know that, but really, you are.


Another Montessori Mom here. I know it's well-meant, but having to make the valentines can be more stressful than necessary. My kid can spend half an hour on one valentine and declare herself done, so this year, I wanted to help her be a little more organized because, ahem, attention issues.

A week ahead, I precut pink paper, got out a stack of heart doilies and had her glue them on assembly-line style. That almost wore her out, but we kept it on a little tray which made it "valentines' work" -haha. Then I made a list of names she could copy, and she wrote their names and her name and put a couple of sticker hearts on each one and then got to check names off the list. It took her three more days to get through the list, and it was a near thing. But everyone and all of the teachers got one, so I consider it a success! Go me! lol! It's an uphill effort, though, trying to find some project that it not too complicated or too simplistic. I may be punting to Hello Kitty next year. I don't know how everyone else does it. Or maybe we do, kinda, but half-ass it as necessary and feel awful about it. I'm trying to embrace the parenting hacks and any need to do it my way if not the ideal way.


A piece of advice that I wasn't given and helps none of us with kids already but....
never, never, N E V E R buy different coloured (read IKEA) cups plates etc for kids. This includes cutlery. Give them glasses, give them white cheap crockery, give them adult size cutlery. So very many meals, and those with playdates, would have been oh so much better. That said, I bet the little devils would still find something wrong.

Lisa V

My kids are now 23, 21 (they can go on beer runs for me now!) 17 (and see R-rated movies with me!) and 12 (mows the damn lawn!). I messed up , stressed out, missed things, broke promises, and all around had some really lame mom moments. They still love me. They don't remember those moments, and when they do, they give a hilarious retelling at the Thanksgiving table. They remember most of the good things, but not all. I can tell you there are stories I read and afternoons I spent playing legos or Barbies or taking them to duck pond that they have no recollection about. I should've laid on the sofa and set them in front of the TV and years later TOLD them I did that shit.

Don't feel guilty. This too shall pass. You love your boys, they know that and that's all that is really important.


Are you still writing for Alpha Mom?


I get over some of my guilt by knowing that me working is why we can take that trip to Disney World, or drive a decent vehicle, or pay for both of my kids to play hockey. Sure, I could stay home, but we wouldn't live in the house we live in or drive the cars we have or be comfortable financially. The financial comfort eases the guilt dramatically.


For what it's worth... as a kid, my mom always made me make my own valentines. But I just remember really wanting to buy the cool valentines from the store. You know, my little pony, or lisa frank, or some such thing. You can't win! ;)


I call bullshit on a class of 3-year-olds all writing out Valentine's Day cards. My kid's a month younger than Ike and his class is just starting to trace their names. I say that Ike is a genius for being able to write his own name at all, and I bet other parents faked it, too. You're being too hard on yourself. You're a kickass role model and the boys will remember that.


Nothing to make you feel like an inadequate Mom like Valentines from a 3 yr old. On a holiday that is stupid and I never celebrated until I had a kid!
What a rough 2 weeks for all of you. It will get better. You are doing an amazing job.

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