Throwback Weekend Of Sorts

Mixed into my watching four pre-teen softball games over two days this weekend was an ever rarer set of circumstances that just never happens any longer and in some ways it’s for the best and in other ways, its something I miss.

The girls and I did all the food shopping together this weekend for the first time in years.

Now for the uninitiated to the inner workings of our house I am very finicky about what is purchased on the consumables side.  I make a trip usually first thing Saturday morning to our local produce store for fruits and vegetables.  They also have fresh-cut meats there so I pick up proteins there as well.  If the line permits I also hit the deli counter here, otherwise there is an Italian specialty shop next door to my dry cleaner.  On Sunday night – usually after dinner while the girls are hitting the shower – I make a run to the local supermarket to fill in on the rest of the stuff (milk, juice, bread etc).

Perhaps not the most efficient way to keep the house stocked, but it works and I think we get a better quality of meats and produce.

Because of scheduling between doctor’s appointments and softball I could not get to the produce store first thing Saturday morning.  Instead, the girls and I had to return our rental skis and since we were there we made a quick stop in.  It had been so long since 11.5 was there she even commented that it had been awhile.

Tonight after the fourth of the four softball games I asked the girls if either of them wanted to hit the supermarket with me.  Usually this is a rhetorical question, instead 9.0 said she was in.  After a little convincing, 11.5 went with us too.

There were not comments about how long its been since we all went to the store, but I can honestly say I do not remember the last time I took them both to all the weekend shopping.  Call it a throwback weekend-go figure.

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When All You’ve Got Just Has To Be Enough

As I mentioned yesterday, the schedule this weekend is a mess, and the eventuality that would not help the most occurred, a rain out of 9.0’s softball game.  The funny thing about the rain out is it came as the sun came out for the first time all day.  I guess the fields were not in safe and playable condition…

Anyway, with a suddenly open night with the girls (I was work from home on Friday) we set out to begin chipping away at the next major hurdle that looms, the camp checklist 2012 edition.  In a four-hour excursion we hit three stand-alone stores, four or five places at the mall and dinner.  The haul was rain boots, rain coats (you have no idea how tough it is to find these items), sandals, flip-flops and socks.  Plus a nice dinner at Bobby Flay’s burger place.

Before going out, the girls did an inventory of shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits and I think we are all good there, so we are pretty close to being shopping complete for camp.

When all is said and done I can easily say I used my time wisely and we accomplished a lot.

But then came the nagging feeling the while we accomplished a lot, could the “found” time have been better utilized?  In one semi-failed relationship, one not started relationship and one I can’t figure out what is going on relationship-time and scheduling have been at the crux of the breakdowns.  Largely the way I schedule time and the lack of time I schedule for myself.

So, yes I was a good parent and we did a lot.  But was I as good to myself as I could be?  As I looked back in the mirror this morning brushing my teeth (I did not shave) I thought about this and all in all I am good with where I’m at and what I’ve done and will do over the course of this weekend and into next month.

The girls and I are a package.  We are all in this together and anyone who wants to be in has to understand this.

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When Worlds Collide: Striking Balance or Striking Out

There are a lot of people who can speak to this subject of work life balance far more eloquently and with more passion than I can.  But somewhere along the line today, I realized that somehow I have lived a crash course of splitting time and attention-and while not “text-book” in my approach, it works.

For the uninitiated work-life balance is how you manage the 24/7 demands of work and the 24/7 demands of life and all the components like family, personal time and the subsets that hang off of them.  There are lot’s of online resources to read-in on, so I won’t go into deep detail.

While it’s easy to think about the balance being equal parts work, self, family, friends-the reality is it’s not.

Ultimately the self covers all the buckets-and the balance has to start from within.  It’s easy to set rules and guidelines about creating the balance.  No checking work emails at night and on weekends is great on paper (or on the computer monitor) but not really practical.

There are times I have to step out of the professional world and into the dad world-but the professional world needs attention.  For my balance I need to deal with work in real-time even while being in dad mode.

The moments when I do get some personal downtime, my iPhone is not far away-because that’s my tether to my kids.  They know (because I have told them so often) at any time they need me, day/night/school/home/friend, my phone is how to get hold of me.  So it’s never too far away.  And since I am only one text away from having to drop everything and become dad, the work phone (yes I do keep a work phone and a personal phone) is never too far away.

For me, I guess my balance is about being able to be present in the moment-whenver or wherever that moment occurs.


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Without Divide It’s Conquer or Be Conquered

It’s 6:30 this morning.  Both girls are sort of up and moving about getting ready for school.  Today is the fist day of the New York State ELA test. When they accuse teachers of teaching the test, in NY this is the one they are talking about.

As for me as I sip coffee I am rolling through my mind the mountain I will have to move between now and four this afternoon, when a second mountain needs to be moved.  Today is one of those days when a two parent household could divide and conquer-with some effort but nothing Herculean.

Here, it’s a sense of keeping the balls in the air long enough to check things off the list and avoid being conquered since there is no way to divvy up the tasks.

Along with a full schedule of meetings and deliverables I will take on via VPN since there is no way I could survive the day with four hours of commuting layered in, I also need to call two doctors and set up appointments (one for me and one for 11.5).

Because of the opening day festivities for the girls softball season over the weekend I need to swing by the place 11.5 will have her Bat Mitzvah and put down the deposit and book it.

Then I need to print out the medical forms for summer camp and get them up to the pediatrician’s office (and pay off the balance for camp).

All of that needs to happen by four-because then it’s time for the second mountain.  9.5 has a dentist appointment (cavity in a baby tooth that needs to be taken care of) and straight to softball.

The reality is that’s just a lot of running around and timing to make it all work.  But that all comes after a day of running around (NYC commute, home, change, 11.5 softball).

I suppose to divide some of this would be easier, but right now it’s just trying to avoid being conquered.

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The Longer Day

As we wind down the Sunday where we “spring ahead” and the days become longer-I realize now that longer days are what I need to get through the end of the school year and get the girls off to camp.  The only problem is in my mind, the longer day is like another six hours, and not more sunshine in the same 24.

This weekend featured the start of the softball season for both girls.  This is the third season they are playing, and I am pretty sure it started a week earlier than normal-so we’ll have to make a run to get some new gear.  I had planned on that anyway, but thought I had another week.

From here its four weeks until the season starts.  It looks like both will have one or two practices during the week and then a practice on Saturday.  About half the mid-week practices are direct conflicts with Hebrew school, and much to 9.0’s already stated chagrin Hebrew wins during practice.  During the season we’ll evaluate on a game-by-game basis.

Add into the mix is the end of the last third of the school  year which includes several events that are open to parental particiaption-which I think it’s important to make so I do.

Then we have to get all the camp stuff ready which will need some counting and a bunch of shopping.

New to this year’s mix, 11.5 and I need to figure out where her Bat Mitzvah will be and put together a plan of some kind to get ready for her Bat Mitzvah next year.

And for 11.5 being in middle school this year, we add finals week to the mix so I have to evaluate child care and how to manage those days.

Oh yeah, I’ll also need to work and take care of the usual day-to-day stuff that just gets done.

So yeah, it will be nice to have more daylight.  But what would be really nice is some more day.

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Of Plans and Planning (Again)

As we finish the middle third of the holiday break, I’m reminded once again of the true juggling act it takes to plan for three people, and then to mesh those plans with others-it becomes a bit of a ballet that requires some precision.  But there is also a varying degree of plans and planning that I’ll try to accomplish versus others. (I am avoiding adding labels of a single parent versus a non-single parent for now because I am just not sure).

Whether it’s a day with family in the city or a quick get away with the girls the first hurdle is coordinating our schedules.  There are demands from friends to compete with, the random work call or email to juggle (even during a vacation) and just setting and measuring expectations.

Then comes meshing that schedule with people you are going to see.  If it’s a day out it’s a question of meals, meeting places and making sure everyone will find the day fulfilling.  If it’s a longer visit, there’s packing, travel time and the elusive setting and measuring expectations-as well as the sometimes daunting trip to navigate.

So this holiday break, after three days of planned events, comes three days of pretty laid back time.  The girls are mostly on their own to make their own plans.  But even then, there comes a certain amount of having to mesh the individual plans they make with the ebb and flow of the house.

I guess as a single parent one up side to all of that is there really is not a check and balance-I get to use whatever semblance of judgement I care to at that moment to validate or repudiate plans and proposals.

The downside to that is that when it comes time to say no, or have to re-think plans it’s on me as well.

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The Holiday Break: A Look Back and Ahead

So, we made it.  Individually and collectively, we’ve made it to the holiday break.  This means a new year is upon us, which also gives us a chance to look back at the year that was.

It’s a chance to glean a lesson, reflect on what has happened and perhaps more importantly take those lessons and go forward.

At least for us, 2011 was a year of immense transition, so many things occurred, so many people came into our lives and so much has gone on-it’s great to take a moment and take a breath.

It would be folly for me (or any of us of that matter) to try to go through a list and thank everyone for the love, support and help we’ve had over the last 12 months-we would leave too many people out and not do justice.

Instead, I hope everyone will accept from me (and 11.0 and 9.0) our eternal thanks for all you have done to be there for us-and know when we can we try to pay it forward and we are committed to doing just that.

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52 Weeks +

This is one of those posts that is a few days late.  I’ll say because of the demands of being a single parent during the holiday season.  The cynic in me will say it’s a series of thoughts I’m trying to avoid.  Reality is it’s probably somewhere between.

So we’ve marked a year since Risa passed.  With the unveiling next week, I intentionally did not call a lot of attention to the day with the girls, but the subject did come up during the weekend-and we talked about it a little.

What struck me though was the familiarity that the weekend took on.  While the memories of that five days last year is vivid to me like it all occurred yesterday-I could not help the moments of deja vu over the weekend.  From the hustle of the holidays to spending time at the temple’s Hanukkah party to the discussion with the Rabbi about how I wanted to handle the next solemn moment to the flurry of emails and texts from family about “stuff” that was coming up it really felt like I had already done all of this.

But this time, if I were looking for differences it wasn’t that tough.

While marking a year of mourning and transition, I can also take a moment to look back and see real success.  Tangible moments that make me think we’re on the other side of this part of our lives.  Yes, we have memories and even moments of pain and self-doubt.  But by and large, 52 weeks later the girls and I can truly say we’re doing alright.

One of the worries I have is someone on the outside looking in and seeing us a year later not in a traditional sense of mourning-but rather in a state of recharging our lives.  It’s something each of us in the house do in our own way.  9.0 looking for new things (violin like her mother, art projects) to be interested in.  11.0 becoming an increasingly independent young lady (with a pretty cute childish streak) or me trying to figure out what’s next…and then the voice, “It’s only been a year.”

Well, for us, it’s been years.

So yes, we mark the calendar solemnly.  Sunday we will go to the grave side and unveil the headstone (even that has not been a simple as it should have been).  No one here has forgotten-and like Risa did 13 years ago when she was told she had a brain tumor-none of us has let this moment define us either.

And that may be the lasting tribute each of us can give to our wife, mother and friend.

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It’s Always Something

Any parent in any situation knows all too well that being a parent is a full-time job.  24/7, we never close.

A single parent will tell you sometimes the job is more than 24/7-because you constantly have to look ahead and try to figure out how to make disparate parts come together.

Between work, home, school, religious school, after school activities, family obligations and holidays there is a lot to have to juggle and keep moving ahead in a connected (and hopefully well thought out) way.

And then come the surprises.

11.0 needs to go to a specialist today for a relatively minor issue and it causes a ripple across the entire ecosystem.  A day off from work, out of school early, impact on after school activities-and oh yeah, all the stuff for tomorrow and the next day need to stay on track.


As expected, 11.0 is on a watch program.  Have to build in visits to the orthopedic doctor every three months for the next couple of years.  That seems viable, right?

Traditional, two parent couples can do the divide an conquer.  It’s still a lot to manage-no slight to anyone.  But let’s face it, the tasks can be split in some way that makes sense for that family.  Even in a divorce/separated situation-there is a likelihood if not more that when the true new wrinkle comes up there is a way to ease the impact.

For widowed folks, we can ask family or friends to help-and I am a lot better about that-but still keeping the trains running on time and making it all fit together falls onto one person.

So, here I am on PTO from work waiting for noon so I can go get 11.0 out of school.  Of course 9.0 is upset because she doesn’t get to leave school early.  And without even knowing what the doctor will say, I am already plotting out what we can do to maximize the time and place we’ll be in later this afternoon….

The beat goes on.

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Could it Be? Am I Getting Better at This?

I could also call this update, what a difference five months can make.  Looking ahead at the schedule for school (or lack there of), work and all the other stuff-this week (and really this month) has the potential to be disastrous.  I think back to June and the struggle with partial school days, and other events tugging at me.

Now this week-11.0 only has school on Wednesday and Thursday.  9.0 is home on Tuesday and Friday.  I have a full day of meetings on Wednesday and have to prep for them on Tuesday.

But things are much calmer inside.  I feel like there is more control and less frantic running.

And that’s a good thing.

Yes, I made some changes: a better sitter, better infrastructure and the experience actually let me be calm about it all.  When I look at the entire month-it could be nerve-wracking.  Half days, no school, holiday breaks…

But this time, there is a sense of calm.  Calm because we’ve been through this.  Calm because there is not the feeling that there is so much else going on.  And on net, that’s a good thing.

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