Role Reversals

For almost 10 months, life is deadlines at work, school activities and endless “to do” lists. Mornings launch with my “let’s get moving or you’ll miss the bus.”  Mid afternoons are follow-up phone calls, meetings and “I’ll be there just as soon as I refill my cup of coffee.” Early evenings are filled with “let’s finish up your homework, eat dinner and off to the fields.”   Nights are no different. “Finish your reading, brush your teeth and lights out.” Hit repeat and the cycle begins again.

Much to their credit, my children fair relatively well to this schedule and those in my office can appreciate my love for coffee. Yes, at times, the children will need some gentle reminders but all in all they are cooperative troopers in our army.

Ironically, the roles quickly reverse the moment we are taking a vacation.  “Are we ready for the beach?” asked the fully dressed bathing beauties as they stand at our bedside at 6:30am.  “Your 5 minute break is over.  Come into the ocean so I can boogie board,” they insist as I adjust my towel on the beach chair.  Water park, beach, boardwalk, mini golf, ice cream, sea shell hunts in that order every day announce our children turned cruise directors.

And just like that, we follow their lead and they become a reflection of who we are for most of the year…..and I wouldn’t want it any other way :-)

Summer Drive

My office is approximately 20 miles from my home.  You would think that driving 60 miles per hour on a two lane highway with the ocassional light, will allow me to arrive within a half hour or so.  But this is not so.  I live in NJ, where everything is 45 minutes away but takes 2 hours to arrive.

However in late June, my morning commute takes on a new life.  The traffic is lighter and the tempo is less charged.  I have time to stop for a cup of coffee and maybe a bagel and still get to work early!  It’s the time of year that my commute becomes my half hour of serenity.   With the windows rolled down and the music tuned to my Ipod and the warm cup of coffee sitting so pretty in my cup holder, dare I say….I feel recharged and giddy!  (Completely Unrelated Side Note: This morning my Ipod was tuned to We Are Augustines and replaying Chapel Song.  Love it!  Take a listen…you won’t be disappointed.)

So this lighter traffic, less charged tempo on the roadways made me wonder, is everyone else feeling as happy as I am?  Can I assume that less drivers cutting off other drivers, allowing for an orderly alternating merge is the result of the warm summer morning?  Is the lack of constant beeping, lude salutations and heeding the yellow light warning -not racing it- a product of the season?

If so, then Summer 2011…bring it on.  Hope you are happy behind the wheel this season!

The Irony

My daytime line of work is marketing transportation demand management programs that support sustainability.  In plain English, I market the use of mass transit, carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling riding and walking to commuters.  Theses programs encourage commuters to leave their cars at home or at least share the ride whenever possible to save money, to save time and to save Mother Earth.  I have been working in my department and leading it for close to 12 years and have honed what marketing strategies work and which don’t.  But a completely different perspective to carpooling has found me marketing this concept at home too.

Case in point:  My daughter’s summer camp is in full swing and much to her delight, the day does not begin until 9am.  This gives her extra sleep time in the morning and gives me extra stress knowing that I can’t possibly make it to work in time with a 9am drop off.  The camp does not provide busing,  but for an extra fee children are welcome to arrive beforehand.  It kills me to fork over additional dollars for time under an hour so beforehand care is not an option.  What is my solution?  Carpooling!  I quickly call a fellow working mother and arrange a carpool that benefits both of our working schedules, our wallets and in a day and age where everyone is going green, two mothers are helping fellow Mother Earth.

After this morning’s drop off with my fellow carpooler, I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony in all this.  I have been unknowingly practicing what I preach. Since my children were of school age, I have been both the carpool driver and the carpool benefactor.  I benefit tremendously when my children are carpooled by a fellow trusted parent.  I earn borrowed time to accomplish what needs to be done and my children practice their manners.  But the true benefit comes during the times  I am driving the gaggle of children.  I am privy to so much interesting information that flows from their conversation.  Excited to converse, the children tend to forget it is Mother driving and Mother’s ears are listening.   Most times, I hold back the laughter at what is being said and other times I thank my lucky stars that I am blessed to catch these special moments between my children and their friends.

So one could say, that I bring my work home with me.  With complete pride I retort – I wouldn’t have it any other way!

A Man

I met a boy who was just 19. Exciting and Carefree.

This boy became a young man. Ambitious and Eager.

Time passed and he became a husband.  Hardworking and Committed.

One summer afternoon this husband became a father.

As he held his daughter for the very first time that late summer afternoon, I saw the boy I crushed on who later became the young man I fell in love with who stood at the end of the aisle waiting for my hand, look into his daughter’s eyes and smile.

Happy Father’s Day to the man I call my husband and my kids call Daddy.

It Doesn’t Surprise Me

In the wee hours of the morning, the lightning lit up the sky and the rain fell.  Under my covers, I felt safe and warm but I knew this feeling would be short-lived.  Scampering down the hall to my bedroom was my youngest and my oldest was not far behind.  As they peacefully slept, I was sandwiched in the middle and undoubtedly awake.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.  I remember last seeing the clock read 5:42am…….the sound that wakes me this time is not thunder but the far more effective screech of my oldest.  “NO SCHOOL TODAY!” she exclaims at 6:15am.  Ironic coming from a girl who I normally must pry out of bed at 7:45am.

It doesn’t surprise me for one bit!  In fact, I can’t be more delighted to relive the excitement of knowing there is a full summer of fun ahead of me.  But for now I must shower, get ready for work and think warm summer thoughts!