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A Eulogy for Katherine Patton

These are the words my father wrote when his mother died in 1984. I remember him delivering this eulogy. I have reproduced it here, nearly word for word. I may have added a comma for clarification, corrected a spelling or two, but other than that, it is true to what he wrote, and what he said at her funeral.

I have asked permission to speak to you this morning about my mother, Katherine Patton, to shed a little insight upon the very special person that she was.

I am sure that my brother and sisters could tell little stories about mom, special moments that occurred very briefly, but had that special quality about them that made them very easy to remember, or, more importantly, impossible to forget. It’s as if they occurred only yesterday. In my stories this morning, I’d like to tell you about lessons that she taught me that have helped me cope with this life we live.

But first, a little about my mom. I don’t remember Mother talking a lot about herself. Over the last few years, I would spend time with her in her apartment, and ask her about her past. She would speak briefly about it. The stories were almost always short, as if she didn’t want to draw attention to herself by talking about herself for too long. They always ended with a little laugh or smile, and that statement, “Well, that’s enough about me!”

She told me about growing up on a little farm in Ireland. She remembered walking to school down the road in bare feet, along with the rest of the children. She told me about one of the first jobs she was given on the farm: She had to get up early in the morning and make sure the chicken and geese did not go onto the pond before they laid their eggs. When I asked why that was so important, she looked at me, surprised. “Timmy, if they laid their eggs in the water, that’s one less egg for the family!”

I once asked if she felt poor. She said, “No. You are only poor if you want things that you don’t or can’t have.” Everyone she knew had as little as she did, so she couldn’t remember a feeling of “being poor.”

We talked about school. Here was a woman who encouraged me, pushed me, and prayed me through college. I asked her how long she went to school. She said, with a tone of pride, “As far as I could.” When I replied that I didn’t understand, she told me about her last day. She remembered the teacher calling her up to her desk. Mom figured she was going to get her report card like the other children. The teacher said, “Katherine, we have taught you all we can. You now know all you need to know to go out and get a job, and it’s time for you to get on with your life.” That was Mom’s graduation.

I asked why she came over to this country, and she explained that some of her brothers had come over first. When they sent back letters and pictures, in the pictures they wore shirts with collars. That was a measure of success, so she felt that America offered her an opportunity to work hard and achieve a degree of success. So she decided to give it a try.

I am sure that everyone has a different idea of what a parent should do for his or her children. One of mine is the responsibility of the parent to teach the children as much as he or she can about coping and adjusting to all the things that can happen in life. There are many things I remember about Mom, but I was truly impressed with her wisdom. My mother gave me my faith, taught me about love and about keeping things in perspective, and explained to me how to deal with death. She always lived what she believed.

I once asked Mom how she had the strength and courage to raise seven children in this world. She told me that it wasn’t as hard as I thought. She said, “Every morning, I ask God for his grace and help, and then I would go and do what had to be done. At the end of the day, I would thank Him for His help, ask forgiveness if I failed, and begin all over the next day.” She placed her children in God’s hands, and did what she had to do. She explained it was a partnership: God would do His part, and you had to do yours. She said, “Timmy, God may give you the brains, but you still have to study to pass the test.”

When I was in eighth grade, I fell off the roof [of the house]. [Editor’s note: My dad actually fell out of his bedroom window. He bounced between houses before hitting the ground, and although he didn’t break a bone, he was gravely injured.] I asked her later what she thought about on the way to the hospital. She told me she prayed that I would be normal, free from permanent injury. If I couldn’t live a normal life, it would be best if God would take me [to Him].

I said, “How could you stand to bury another child? Wouldn’t you suffer a lot of pain?” She answered, “Timmy, if I had to suffer pain so that you wouldn’t, that was the way I wanted it.” That’s love, that she prayed for me and not for herself.

I remember one evening on Spahr Street, sitting on the front stoop, feeling sorry for myself over something, and Mom came out and sat beside me. She asked what was wrong, and I told her what was on my mind. She looked at me, and said, “Timmy, if everyone in the world put their problems in a big pile, you would be the first one to take yours back and go home.” With that, she got up and went back into the house. That’s called keeping things in perspective.

When I was very young, my brother Tommy died. What I remember most about that event was my complete, overwhelming feeling of anger! I was angry I had lost my big brother, and angry that people were in my house laughing, eating, and talking as if nothing had happened – one hour after we had buried Tommy. The next morning, I came into the kitchen, and my mother was going about her business.

That’s when I let her have it. Now here is a woman who just did the hardest thing a parent could do – bury a child – and I’m yelling at her for acting as if nothing had happened. Mom stopped what she was doing, walked across the room, picked me up, and set me on one of the hard, wooden, straight-backed kitchen chairs. She knelt before me and spoke in a soft controlled voice.

I’m sure if Mother could have gathered all her family into her room before she died, she would have told us what she told me over thirty years ago. She said, “You know, Timmy, I lost a child that I love very much, but I also have six children that I must live for. All you can do for those who have died is remember them, and pray for them, and miss them. But you must live for the living.”

We have all been blessed with people who love us. We have been blessed with friends and with children who need our love. We must always live for them. My brother and sisters, and cousins, will, because that is how she taught us. But I think it is important for our mental well being that as we do what we must do, we admit to ourselves and all of you, that we will miss her, we will pray for her, we will always love her. Our mother is special.

Caption for featured image: My father with his mother, circa 1978.

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Remembering My Irish Grandmother

My grandmother Katherine Patton (nee Connolly, or Conneelly, depending which family member of mine you ask) came to America in either the late 1920s or the early 1930s. She married my grandfather Timothy Michael (aka Pap-Pap) in 1933; they had met at the Irish Centre in Swissvale. From 1933 until my father was born in 1945, she had nine pregnancies, and seven live children, of whom my father was the youngest.

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Here are a few things I remember about Grandma Patton, in no particular order.

1. Her brogue. Although my grandmother had lived in America for more than 50 years, she never lost the soft, lilting brogue in her speech from Ireland. It’s a sound I always love to hear, a good Irish brogue. It makes me think of her.

2. Her house. Now, my father and his six siblings lived in East Liberty (S’liberty if you’re from here) until that house burned down. Then they moved to Hastings Street in Point Breeze, and when we visited from Erie, that’s where we went. I recall walking into the house, the way the staircase was immediately in front of you, steeply dark, slightly foreboding. Off to the right was the hallway that lead back to the kitchen, and turning to the right, was the wide open front sitting room, where Pap-Pap reigned in silence (and butterscotch candies).

3. Her mashed potatoes. We would arrive on Friday, just in time for dinner. In my childhood memory, the dining room table filled the entire room, and was laden with food. We had the same dinner every time: pork chops, corn, and mashed potatoes. (There may have been a green vegetable; I don’t recall.) I loved my grandmother’s mashed potatoes. They were smooth and buttery, the perfect texture and taste. Whenever my mother was going to make mashed potatoes, I asked her to make them just like grandma’s. Who was her mother-in-law, mind you.

4. Her blueberry muffins. I also loved my grandma’s blueberry muffins. Whenever we visited, she always made sure she had some to hand for us. It was years later that I learned they were Jiffy brand blueberry muffins, and thus came out of a box, but it didn’t diminish my love for them.

5. The pictures over the bed. When we visited, my siblings and I slept on a mattress on the floor at the foot of the grown-up bed, which is where my parents slept. Over this bed hung two paintings that to this day strike fear into me. In one, Jesus regards us mournfully, his eyes on our faces, his head lowered. Thorns from his crown of thorns bite into his flesh. In the accompanying piece, Mary looks at us, also mournful. Her heart floats outside of her chest.

And there are swords piercing it.

Every Catholic child in the world has seen this image. It was terrifying to me then, and I’m not sure that it’s not terrifying to me now. Dan inherited a set just like it when we were married. “We’ll put this above our bed,” he enthused. “Not if your parents want grandchildren,” I replied. They hang in our dining room, instead.

6. Her stature. My grandmother was tall and graceful with piercing blue eyes and black hair. When people meet the rest of my immediate family, they often ask, in so many words, “Why are you so tall?” My Irish grandmother stood five-foot-ten-inches in her heyday. She is why I am so tall.

I often refer to my grandmother Patton as the matriarch, and I don’t think I’m too far off. My grandfather died when I was just 6, but the clan continued to grow and flourish the whole of my life – it continues to this day. My grandmother had six children who survived to adulthood: my father, his brother, and their four sisters, who are known collectively as The Aunts. They each married and had children. I have 17 first cousins, referred to as the second generation, most of whom married and had children, who are the third generation.

Grandma Patton and the beginnings of the clan.
Clockwise from center: Pap-pap, Tommy, Kathleen (Kay), Mary, Noreen, Judy, Grandma Patton, Timmy (my father), and Jimmy. If I have misidentified someone in this caption, rest assured I will catch hell. And I will correct it.

Why am I telling you this? A couple of reasons.

Reason the first is because I am on vacation this week with my family, on what is basically the annual family reunion. The Patton clan convenes on a little resort in Pennsylvania, where we eat and drink and swim and play, and reminisce.

Grandma Patton with my generation of Pattons. This was one of our first years at Seven Springs. Bonus points if you can identify me (non-relatives only).
Grandma Patton with my generation of Pattons. This was one of our first years at Seven Springs. Bonus points if you can identify me (non-relatives only).
Reason the second is my parents gave Dan and me some furniture, and as I was cleaning it, I found the eulogy my father gave at my grandmother’s funeral. She died when I was 13. She was 84 years old.

That’s my next blog post.

I feel blessed to have known my Grandma Patton. She taught me about quiet dignity and strong faith. She taught me that family is everything, and love is stronger than death.

What lessons did your grandparents teach you?

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A Birthday Tribute

Today would have been my father-in-law’s 77th birthday. And I am sad he is not here for us to celebrate.

All Dad ever wanted on his birthday was his family around him, chicken vesuvius, and lemon meringue pie.

Chicken Vesuvius
One bottle Italian dressing
6 chicken breasts, cut into strips
8 potatoes, peeled and cut into long chunks
2 to 6 banana peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips

Toss everything together and bake. Probably 400 degrees? Forty minutes to an hour. (I never made it. Bella always did. And my SIL, pictured above, did too.) Serve with bread, a green vegetable, and salad — endive salad, if possible. Lots of vinegar.

I am almost positive that my FIL was the only one who liked lemon meringue pie. My MIL usually made a different dessert for the rest of us, or had store-bought cupcakes and ice cream for the children.

It’s been a hard week for my husband. Please offer him love and light.

We miss you, Tadone.

M writing words!

Trust Your Gut

Yesterday, I hustled my children outside to go for a walk. They protested, so I just guilted them into it. “I don’t get to go outside and go for walks at work! This is the only time I get to spend with you!”

I’m awesome.

Michael complained of soreness in his leg. I asked where it hurt. He indicated a spot near his groin. I quizzed him: “Did you bump something?” “I don’t think so.” “Did you get hurt swimming?” “No.” “Did you fall?” “No.”

I took a look at the spot. It did look a little red.

I told him he must have pulled a muscle. He wasn’t limping or anything, so we just headed out the door, and went for a walk.

I had to explain pulling a muscle.

This morning, I asked him how it felt. “Still sore,” he said, matter-of-factly.”

“Did you ever pull a muscle?” he asked.

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I’ve pulled muscles lots of times.”

“Like three or four?”

“Oh, more than that.”

“FIVE?”

I went to work. The nanny took everyone to the Aviary (Flora’s at Aviary camp this week).

Kim called around 1 p.m.

“Michael feels really warm,” she said.

Little alarm bells started going off in my head.

Sore low on the body.
Red skin over the sore spot.
And now a fever.

Maybe it wasn’t a pulled muscle.

So, she took Kate and Michael home, and took M’s temperature. In the meantime, I talked to our pediatrician’s office, and made an appointment. By the time M was home, his temperature was normal, but at the doctor’s office, it was elevated again — only a little bit.

The PA palpated the spot. It was definitely sore and red. M was a trooper, flinching from her touch and confirming it hurt, but not crying and not pulling away. She said it seemed like a lymph gland, but usually when lymph glands get infected, something else is going on: a cold, a urinary track infection, an STD — obviously, we could rule that out. She decided to consult with one of the doctors to rule out a hernia. And it definitely wasn’t appendicitis.

They wanted to take a less aggressive approach with warm compresses, and I said that was fine… except for the part where we were leaving for vacation Friday night. “Of course you are,” said the PA with a smile. She asked if we would be back by Monday. “Nope,” I said. So we decided to put M on antibiotics and keep an eye on it.

I’m glad it was nothing serious, but I’m also glad I listened to those alarm bells. It’s probably no big deal in the long run, but it’s better than having a feverish 5-year-old in pain up in the mountains on Saturday or Sunday and looking for the nearest urgent care center.

When’s the last time you had to listen to your gut?

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BFFs

I got Chinese food for lunch on Friday.

My fortune
My fortune

And on Sunday, that came true.

Friendships that last for more than and nearly 40 years are truly something special. I feel like they ground a person, because they remind us of where we come from. And, frankly, how far we have come.

Friendships that last so long are devoid of judgement. We just support and sound off with one another. We laugh — boy, how we laugh; we offer advice (or as I call it, assvice — advice that may not be wanted).

I have been through some things with these women. We cried over boys (which is so, so dumb, and so, so necessary). We got caught and disciplined for being mean girls (totally deserved that verbal spanking). Michele lost her father our senior year in high school; I can never hear “Wind Beneath My Wings” without thinking of that. We have been there for each other in times of loss and in times of joy. We have all been in each other’s weddings. I am the godmother to one of Michele’s sons (and a crappy one at that — I really should put a reminder in my phone for his birthday, and to buy him a Christmas present).

We grew up together, and discovered who we were. We kept each other in check when we were in danger of being lost — that is no exaggeration. These friendships (and my parents) brought me back from some dark places.

I am so lucky to have them. I am so lucky that after not seeing them for two years, Michele will text me to say, “Get your butt to Erie. Nikki will be here these dates.” And then we sit at a table of 18 people (Michele’s mom and step father; my parents; two spouses; and all our children, plus a boyfriend — a boyfriend of my friend’s daughter! What’s up with that?) And we will catch each other up: Nikki bought a house in Chautauqua; Michele and Donnie are making business decisions; they offer condolences to Dan and ask about my new (awesome) job. We marvel at our children; we tease our spouses and tease each other about them.

My Little Ponies has it right: Friendship is magic. And the longer it lasts, the more magic it is. There are miles to traverse and logistics to deal with. And friends like Michele and Nikki make it worth it.

Thank you, my oldest bestest of friends.

I love you.

How long is your longest friendship?

Kate

Oh, Boy. Literally.

Kate talked to a boy from school on the phone today.

He asked if she would be able to come over and swim.

She said, “Sure! I’ll ask my dad.”

The boy’s response: “Don’t ask your dad! Ask your mom!”

So… at least he’s smart?

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10 Ways My Parents Turned Me Into A Feminist

I came across something on FB, and posted it to my own wall since I recognized myself. While I very much consider myself a feminist mom, it’s because I’m a feminist — I never considered NOT being a feminist as a mother. I don’t have rules posted or anything; I try not to shove the feminist agenda down anyone’s throat. But I am aware of communicating my values as a feminist to my children, and yeah, I think about it often.

Undoubtedly, my mother would be surprised to hear that it’s partially her fault that I’m a feminist, since she never considered herself one. As a matter of fact, the one time I suggested she was a feminist (I believe I was in college at the time), she rather bristled at me.

My father is just as responsible for me being a feminist, though.

10. My mom and dad didn’t go on about how pretty I was. Of course, this very well could be because I was not a pretty child — I haven’t ruled that out. But the point is that our appearance was not highlighted. As long as faces were washed and clothes were relatively clean for outings in public, my parents didn’t elevate looks over other things.

Along with not emphasizing looks, my parents didn’t make a big deal about food, weight, or fashion. We ate when we were hungry, and we ate what we were served. I was a painfully thin child, but my parents didn’t body-shame me — or, for that matter, make a virtue of my thinness. They made sure I was healthy. I’m sure there were some questionable outfits in my teen years, but my parents didn’t shame me for my taste (or lack thereof). I know there were times when my mother wished I were more “lady-like,” but she didn’t repress my expression, whether it was through clothes, writing, or speech.

9. They assigned chores equally. My brother, sister, and I all had the same household duties: make beds, do dishes, dust, vacuum. Dr. Bro did mow the lawn eventually, although I recall taking a turn once or twice. We weeded, as well. None of us did laundry. I don’t think my mom trusted us.

8. They never assigned strengths or weaknesses to our sex. I wasn’t bad at math because I was a girl. Unlike English and social studies, math was just difficult for me, and something I had to work at. My sister and I didn’t “run like girls.” Traditional gender roles weren’t a thing. There was no hand-wringing over my short hair, frayed jeans, and tendency to climb trees. Dolls were optional. When my sister went through her Barbie phase — and it was a long phase — there were no lectures about how Barbie undermined women because of her impossible body type. All that anxiety over women’s roles in society came along a lot later.

7. When they told us we could be anything we wanted to be, they weren’t lying. They truly believed that their children were smart enough and motivated enough to do whatever we set out to do, regardless of sex or gender. We had to work hard, and we had to want it.

6. My parents shared work — housework, paid work, and childcare — equitably. It probably wasn’t an exact 50/50 split, and my mother did stay at home before we all three children were in school full time. But once my mother went back to work again, my parents ran businesses together. They split up housework, and taught us children how to do it; they spent time with us without squabbling over whose turn it was to be POD; they took equal responsibility for mealtimes, even if when it was Dad’s turn, he opted to take us out fairly often.

5. They encouraged us to play sports and have after-school activities. And, again, they didn’t assign us to sports or activities based on our sex, but rather on our interests. Dr. Sis was a figure skater for a while; Dr. Bro played hockey. We all played soccer; Dad even coached Dr. Sis’s teams for a time.

4. They sent me to an all-girls high school. I mean, it was my choice, they didn’t decide for me; it was also my mother’s alma mater. Dr. Sis went there, too, but in her years it was technically co-ed. Being in a single sex environment for a smart, shy, bookish girl like me was a boon. School was for learning and for making like-minded friends, not for agonizing over seeing Johnny in the hallways. I had enough boy-related angst outside of school; I didn’t need it in the classroom.

3. They went on date nights. My parents showed me what mutual respect looked like. They didn’t control each other — my father never bossed my mother around, and vice versa. They said please and thank you, and seemed to enjoy being around each other. They treated each other well, and they made us children treat them and their spouse with respect.

2. My parents let me find myself for myself. My mother never told me I had to wear a bra, or shave my legs, or wear traditionally feminine clothes, or that I should try to get a man. I didn’t get questions about boyfriends, or marriage, or children. EVER. I think my parents were as surprised when I did traditionally “girlie” things like go to prom. You probably could’ve knocked my mother over with a feather when I got married and had children. (I know they were REALLY surprised when I had Michael. I don’t blame them.)

1. My parents let me have my voice. They didn’t tell me to be quiet. They didn’t value my brother’s opinions over mine. They weren’t embarrassed or ashamed of me for being a strong girl and woman. In fact, I don’t think they expected anything less.

(Featured image is a t-shirt from Cotton Bureau, with turquoise filter.)

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Tight Schedule

I am starting to notice that I have some rigid tendencies. (Somewhere, Dan is rolling his eyes thinking, “Really? You JUST noticed?”)

Shut up, Dan.

Anyhoo: I like to do things in a certain way or in a certain order. If you’d have asked me if I minded change, I would say to you, “No, I don’t mind change.”

I may be lying. I don’t mean to lie. I would like to be a person who is flexible and can roll with the punches — as long as they aren’t actual punches.

For example: I drink two cups of coffee at work, one that I bring with me from home, and one that I make from Starbucks VIA instant coffee at 10 a.m.

And I mean, precisely at 10 a.m. Sometimes 10:02, but seldom later than 10:15. Maybe 9:58 if I have a 10 a.m. meeting.

I usually have a handful of trail mix with that cup of coffee. Every so often I will have granola bar or doughnut or cookie with that cup of coffee. But point is, my morning looks like this:

8 a.m.: Coffee and Belvita (2) at my desk
Work, work, work, surf a little bit of internet
10 a.m.: Coffee and handful of trail mix

To that effect, when my co-workers do a breakfast run (or bring in cupcakes) I tend not to participate. Not because I don’t like fast food breakfasts or cupcakes — but because it’ll throw off my schedule. And that makes me anxious.

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When Flora was born, I was a schedule Nazi. Especially when it came to naps: we had to be home for naps. HAD TO BE. Naps and bedtime.

I told myself at the time that I wanted Flora to have a routine, that we would both benefit. But when I turned into an anxious mess if we weren’t home for that nap, so help me God, I probably wasn’t doing anyone any favors.

I was more laid back with Kate. Although I still tried to instill a routine, I don’t think I was as rigid about it.

And when it came to M, that little dude got dragged around everywhere with us. Thanks be to the heavens he was easy going.

Even now, though, when I have a plan, even if it’s just one in my head, if you interfere with it, so help you God. (Dan can attest.) If I have in my head that we are going to start driving Friday at 6 p.m., but we are not ready at 6 p.m., the anxiety starts.

It’s not pretty. I should probably work on it.

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I deal with it in a couple of ways: lots of prep — lists, packing, lists, shopping, cleaning, lists, drinking (when appropriate). I communicate to my husband and children my wishes — i.e., I would like to leave by 10 a.m. — and realize it will probably be closer to 11:30 when we do actually leave. Because vacation preparation goes a little bit like this in my house (h/t When Crazy Meets Exhaustion).

I try to stay flexible in my day-to-day. Mileage varies. I did eat a strawberry cupcake that my newest coworker brought in recently, and got something ordered from a fast food place another day. I can do this stuff, I can (especially if I’m starving).

But, too, I also like to have plans and routines. It’s soothing to me. I put my workouts on my calendar; I try to lay out clothes for myself the night before. I like having habits that I don’t have to think about too hard. And it wasn’t marriage and children that did this to me — I have always liked to have my ducks in a row, even if they were short-term ducks (today, this week, this month) rather than long-term ducks. (I still don’t have a 5-year plan, never have.)

And it’s okay. Sometimes my anxiety bubbles over and gets everywhere; sometimes it makes my husband short-tempered. But we work through, we get by.

And maybe my children will learn to roll with the punches a wee bit better if they see me doing it. That would be nice. For everyone.

How do you do routine? Printed itinerary or go with the flow?

Copyright on clock image: luchschen / 123RF Stock Photo

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Why I Take Selfies

I missed National Selfie Day (yes, it’s actually a thing), and I’m a little disappointed.

In my cursory research for this post, I learned that taking selfies is good for teens and tweens. But moms should absolutely not take selfies, especially if their children are in them. (Go ahead, google “moms taking selfies.” NSFW, in case you couldn’t figure it out.)

I take selfies.

I take selfies with friends.

selfie with friends
With OC (original cast) members of Pittsburgh’s LTYM show, taken at this year’s show.

I take selfies with Dan.

Dan and I selfie
Me and my boo.

I take selfies with the children.

Golf cart selfie with Kate.
Golf cart selfie with Kate.
Michael selfie
Michael and I on his “graduation” day.

And they are some of my favorite pictures. Of me, of me and Dan, of me and the children.

The selfie serves another purpose, as well.

If you haven’t yet, look through a portfolio of victims from the Orlando shooting.

Notice how many of those pictures are selfies.

God forbid I am ever the victim of a violent crime that ends up on the national news (or any violent crime). I pray every day that my husband and children return to me safely.

But if they don’t, I have this.

Arts Fest Selfie
Arts Fest selfie.
I have us smiling and laughing and being silly.

I have us loving one another.

Cook Forest kitchen selfie.
Cook Forest kitchen selfie.

I could be next. Any of us could be.

How will the world remember you?

Arts Fest Selfie

Summertime, When the Living Is… Not As Difficult

I’ve talked about how much I like having a nanny during the summer, yes?

I was reminded of how much I like it yesterday.

  • I get myself up and ready and out the door in the morning. I only have to get myself going, and I leave a houseful of sleeping darlings.
  • I come home to a clean kitchen and some dinner prep done (when I remember to ask).
  • The girls keep their room cleaner.
  • The children get to sleep in. They go to stuff at the library. Flora and Kate will be attending summer camps in July. They get to go to the pool.
  • Sometimes, Kim goes to the store for me! This is a fantastic time-saver, I can’t even tell you.
  • She helps with special projects around the house.

I love being home by 5 p.m. Some evenings, Kim meets me with the children at Aldi or the farmers market, which means weekends are for fun and not errand running. Some evenings, she can stay a little later, so I can attend Stephen King events or happy hours.

Evenings involve much less rushing around. Tuesday night, we had eaten and were done with clean up by 6 p.m. Michael and I went for a walk; the girls elected to stay and do an hour of tablet time. Michael told me a long rambling story about Bob, his deaf wife (“She used her hands to talk.” “Yes, that’s called sign language.”), and the doggie toy they bought. He asked a bunch of questions, some of which I could not answer (how do you explain radio waves to a 5-year-old?), some of which I could (we can’t go to the sun because it’s far too hot). Then we all played Sorry! I won.

Then it was 8 p.m.!

Last night we met at the farmers market, and then Michael and I planted herbs in the backyard.

Having a summer nanny gives me breathing room. Yes, it’s more expensive than sending them to daycare, but not by a lot. The tradeoffs are worth the extra expense.

What is your favorite part about summer?