View More Blogs...
About the Author: DANIELLE SULLIVAN is the Managing Editor of NYMetroParents,an essayist and fiction writer, and a big Dave Matthews fan. She lives with her husband and children in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at www.Danielle-Sullivan.com. |
There aren't any
little babies toddling around in our home anymore. Our youngest is six years
old and he reads chapter books by himself now instead of me reading Arthur
stories to him at night. He's obsessed with video games, his bike, and Sonic
the Hedgehog. But he's still sweet and innocent enough to talk about how
beautiful the sky is on a clear afternoon and count the stars with me when the
day settles into night.
It feels strange to
not have a toddler in the house.
After more than 15
years of always having a baby around, my newfound independence is both welcomed
What do I love? I love
being able to take a shower without asking someone to watch the baby. I love
not being pregnant and never again having to go through labor. I adore having
quiet time when the kids are off on their own and I feel my writer?s sensibilities
slowly inching their way back into my mind through all the chaos and loudness
that comes with life when you are raising children.
I miss a lot. I
miss the smell of a newborn. I miss the constant cuddling and rocking with
babies late at night when the house is quiet and they need a bottle. I miss
pushing a stroller around on a warm spring day. I miss watching a baby sleep.
Yet I realize that
I am really not missing out on anything really. I was very fortunate to have
had my children in my twenties and now in my thirties, I am entering another
phase of life. As they grow, I grow as a mother. So instead of first steps and words,
I am there for graduations and proms. Instead of mending hurt knees, I am
trying to help mend hurt hearts. I share daily laughs and discuss politics with
three bright kids that I am glad to call my own, whom I know in the end are
really not my own.
I am just privileged
to be along for the ride... and oh what an exciting ride it is.
Posted on Monday, October 19, 2009 @ 06:49 PM | 1 reply View/Post Feedback
The 'H' Word
"I hate you!" my son said to me this morning. Startled, I turned around to watch him burst into laughter as he picked up on my shock at hearing his statement. "It's Opposite Day!" he squeaked with delight, so happy he was able to fool me and pull off the joke.
I thought about resorting to a Mom speech and saying that I understood he was telling a joke, but maybe he shouldn't use the word hate. Maybe he should try something lighter, like "Mom, it's Saturday" when it's actually Friday, or "Look there's a bug on the wall". Or just something that sounded better.
One thing I've learned about parenting is how much it makes you think about your own childhood. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be the funny one and use my sarcasm to make people laugh. When I was a teen, I was proud of my non-conformist ideals. I would never settle into the hum-drum lives the adults around me had.
Now I'm an adult - a mother with three kids. And I spend a good deal of time saying proper things like, "Did you say thank you?" and "Use your indoor voice". But still, I (fondly) remember not always wanting to do the proper thing as a kid.
So when my son looked at me, still giggling with his eyebrows high awaiting my reply, I said "Well, then I hate your guts!"
His eyes widened even more as he ran over to me, arms opened, laughing out loud hysterically. He hugged me and we shared a silly, beautiful, fun moment.
Was it the right a proper thing for a parent to do? Probably not.
But it certainly was for me.
Posted on Friday, February 13, 2009 @ 12:14 PM | 2 replies View/Post Feedback
Defining a Family
The typical nuclear family doesn't really encompass what actually constitutes a family, especially in today's day of divorce and multiple marriages. The man who you grow up with and who is always there for you is typically a father, but for me it was my uncle (my mother's brother). Uncle Richard watched me while my mother worked two jobs. In order to do this, he took a night job so he could be home in the daytime. As a child, he brought me medicine when I was sick, celebrated countless birthdays and family dinners, and even took me to Christmas parties at his local hangout, Farrell's Bar and Grill. He called me Yellie.
As an adult, he was proud of me as I graduated from college, stood by me at my wedding, and enjoyed every single one of my career accomplishments along with me. He was always one of the first people to visit me in the hospital when my children were born, and continued to stay involved in my kids' lives, often telling amusing stories to his co-workers about each of them, the same way a grandfather would.
Uncle Richard passed away last week suddenly and this has thrown me in ways I would have never imagined. Besides being immensely sad and angry and just plain lost, I've found that what I want to do most is talk about him so people know what kind of person he was.
So here it goes:
Richard Williams was an outright old-school Brooklyn guy. He hated the invasion of the yuppies into the old neighborhood, and was a stringent anti-liberal conservative. After being laid off, he began a new job in his early sixties and worked his way up to management in a few short years. He spoke German and Latin and had more stories than anyone I know. His tastes were simple. Every Sunday morning, he'd get a bagel and the newspaper, do his laundry, and enjoy a good Mets game. He was smart and knew a little about everything and whenever I needed a question answered, he was the one to call. Even with severe asthma as a child, he would miss weeks of school at a time, go back and still end up with straight As. He was also a stubborn know-it-all at times but it was okay because in my eyes he actually did know it all. He was kind and would help anyone who needed it. He would buy expensive gifts for his loved ones' birthdays, but items from the Dollar Store for himself.
So you see denoting him as just an "uncle" seems somehow incomplete. Families are made up of the people in your life who make your life special, no matter where they fall in the family tree. I have been lucky to have had many special people in my life: family and friends, and though I know it will be weeks or months or more until my family and I are whole again after this loss, I can't help but feel that Uncle Richard is happy upstairs - and in all likelihood giving God his two cents.
Posted on Wednesday, October 01, 2008 @ 10:01 AM | 2 replies View/Post Feedback
The Boys of Summer
My household is clearly divided. Some of us are Yankees fans and the rest of us love the Mets. Until recently, I haven't followed baseball that closely since the '86 Mets reigned. But my daughter, Amanda and her recent fondness for the sport has brought our family back to the game. Amanda attends St. Saviour High School in Park Slope, and joined her school softball team this year. The team finished as Division 2 Diocesan finalists, an honor the school hasn't had in years. (Go Pandas!)
All of the constant baseball talk floating around in our family has brought me back to the '86 Mets, and my junior high affection (OK, obsession) with First Baseman, Keith Hernandez. Amanda has a similar thing for Third Baseman, David Wright. Like her, I'd memorize the batting order and plan my schedule around the games. It was all the innocent fun that baseball is meant to be. I remember waving to Hernandez as a thrilled kid as he passed by in the Championship Parade.
But now Keith Hernandez is a commentator and it's all about David Wright.
When Amanda postpones homework or walking the dog because she has to see Wright's postgame reaction, I completely understand it. I see myself in her a lot- only she had more guts than I ever had. While I only watched from the sidelines, she joined the team, who at the beginning of the season didn't even have a coach. Now that her season's over, she's even more glued to every Mets game (while Katelyn is just as equally glued to every Yankees game- and Derek Jeter!).
I don't quite mind that baseball has become a staple of our daily life. We are even planning a subway series party tomorrow. This way Amanda can watch Wright, Katie can see Jeter, and I can listen to Hernandez commentate on them both.
In our baseball divided family, it'll be a rare moment when we all enjoy the same game- that is until one of teams actually wins!
Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2008 @ 10:58 AM | 6 replies View/Post Feedback
First Grade, First Grade
I've had an affinity for New York City long before "Sex and the City" made it fashionable. As a child growing up in the 80's in Brooklyn, there was nothing I enjoyed more than going on an outing in Manhattan. I didn't care where we'd go, I just wanted to be in "the city". Consequently, one of my favorite songs since childhood has always been "New York, New York".
When I became a teen, my friends and I would wander around aimlessly through different parts of Manhattan, not doing anything in particular. We might spend a day at Washington Square Park or shop in mid-town. Back then, my goal was to be a writer and live in a Manhattan penthouse. I wanted trendy black and silver furniture and appliances, and the solitude that comes with a writer's life.
Fast forward 20 years...
As I look around my Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn apartment today, I realize that most of my color scheme actually is black and silver, and my view (which overlooks Prospect Park) is spectacular during every season of the year. It's not a penthouse but it is on the 5th floor. I have never stopped writing and have been lucky enough to have made a living from it.
Solitude? Well, solitude rings a bit elusive when you have three kids. Yet children bring about beautiful and unique experiences in your life that you would have never imagined.
For example, my son, Malachy, graduated from Kindergarten last week. The class sang a series of adorable popular songs re-written with lyrics to reflect the day. Malachy had the honor of introducing the final song, "First Grade, First Grade" sung to the tune of "New York, New York". On the way to the microphone, he reached under his seat and pulled out a Frank Sinatra-like hat, put in on his head, and marched up to announce the song.
"We've waited all year to sing this song: First Grade, First Grade".
Then he quickly ran back in line, as the class locked arms and kicked up their legs Rockette style as they sang their little hearts out.
"If we can make it there, we'll make it anywhere. It's up to us, First Grade, First Grade".
That moment alone, in a series of ongoing moments experienced as a mom is what joy really is. And, unlike a fancy Manhattan apartment, it's something money just cannot buy.
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2008 @ 10:58 AM | 0 replies Start the Discussion
Dogs Days? Part II
I finally did manage to get off the train and to work yesterday at nearly 10 am! And as I write this, I am on a relatively empty F train and the lights are flickering. But we're moving along.
Today is the last day full-day of school for my kids. Today is my son, Malachy's Kindergarten graduation and Katie starts half-days.
It's really just in time. It's getting too hot for kids to be in buildings all day long with no air-conditioning. I've always believed that kids don't learn well when they're overheated. The teachers are miserable. It's a no-win situation.
Katie is lucky because she has a wonderful, experienced teacher who believes in kids being comfortable, which means that all of her students have been allowed to bring in a bottle of water since the first day in September. They're also allowed to use the bathroom regularly.
This has always been a pet peeve of mine. I once worked in a school in which cranky teachers would deny bathroom breaks as a rule. This drove me crazy. I would like to see the same teachers be denied using the faculty restrooms (which they used throughout the day).
I'm fortunate because the beauty of my kids' school is that the entire staff recognizes each student as an individual. At the same time, the academics rival any city school, and order and discipline are a top priority.
There is no better piece of mind for a working mother than knowing that her kids are well-cared for when she's at work.
The weather forecasters are calling for an end to this heat wave today, when it will lower to a brisk and refreshing 89 degrees!
But I'll still be counting down the days until pumpkin-picking season.
Posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 @ 10:07 PM | 0 replies Start the Discussion
Preparing for the Dog Days of...Early June?
I am not a sun-worshipper. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am nearly as pale in mid-summer as I am in mid-winter. Needless to say, I find this recent heat wave (when it is not even technically summer yet!) appalling.
It's one thing to have temperatures this high when you're on the beach or on vacation, but quite another when you have to schlep into the city on the subway. I'm fortunate though because once I exit the underground sauna, I walk into a wonderfully air-conditioned office. If I stayed at work, I wouldn't even necessarily know it was summer.
My kids aren't as fortunate. Like many others, their school has no A/C. I felt bad this morning as I put on my son's private school uniform- a knit polo and navy utility pants with black, patent leather shoes. My daughter, Katie, always a planner, kept her N.U.T. (no uniform today) card she received in the early fall for days exactly like this. She escaped wearing her coarse uniform jumper and sported a T-shirt and Capri pants.
As I write this, I am stuck on the F train as the train ahead of us has signal problems. But at least it's air conditioned. Hopefully, it will stay that way and we won't have a black-out when I'm in the middle of a tunnel.
But like my daughter, I'm a planner too, and have prepared for the always looming train black-out during NYC heat waves.
Ipod. Check. Notepad and pen. Check. Bottle of water. Check.
It's been 25 minutes.
The train conductor just got on again , saying "we have signal problems", and ended with "Ooooh, this is bad."
Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008 @ 10:10 AM | 0 replies Start the Discussion
Sweet Sounds of Summer
Ever since the Daylight savings time switch a few months ago, my son, Malachy, has taken to waking at 5 am (instead of the usual 6 am). He's always raring to go while the rest of the household would prefer to sleep in on the weekend. So I get up and start my day, which usually means a quick check of emails and coffee. Then we walk the dog.
We live in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, and are lucky enough to be directly across the street from Prospect Park. The neighborhood typically bustles on weekday mornings with kids getting to school, adults running to catch their train, or searching for coffee and parking spaces, delayed by slow-moving traffic and too many Fresh Direct trucks.
But after a fast-paced workweek, one of the nicest things to do on an early Saturday morning is simply enjoy the stillness of a new day. The sounds are there if you listen hard enough.
Just ask Malachy.
He'll point out the low hums of the birds chirping, or the planes flying overhead, noting that it's quiet out. Life is so overly fast-paced today, for kids as well as adults, and sometimes taking just a few, quiet minutes to start your day helps to clear your mind.
I also know that the days that Malachy will want to wake early and walk with me are limited. Soon enough, he'll become one of those big kids who would rather sleep in. Knowing that, I cherish every morning walk with him, holding his little hand as he ponders life from the perspective of a 5-year-old. What are the pigeons saying to each other? How long does it take to make an anthill? Why are the moon and the sun out at the same time? We listen to the birds and hear the horses trot along, as I try to find meaningful answers (or just correct!) to his inquiries.
We walk side-by-side, his hand wrapped up in mine, and I treasure this time.
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2008 @ 08:02 AM | 0 replies Start the Discussion
The treadmill finally arrived a few days ago. I was so excited (thinking I can still get my 30 minutes in after the kids go to bed or before they get up) until I opened the massive box and looked down at the various sized nuts and bolts. I closed the box over and decided it was a job my husband would have to tackle.
Two days later, it was assembled and it's great. On a rainy day like today, it's nice to know I don't have to go outside for exercise once I'm home from work. Although our dog, Hayley, still does need a walk. She gets an abbreviated trot when it's wet out which is fine for her, considering her legs are only a few inches from the ground.
Another thing a treadmill provides is uninterrupted and quiet thought, which every working mom craves. The benefits of regular exercise are obvious. It's the subtle perks that you don't think about when you begin a program.
Posted on Friday, April 04, 2008 @ 11:39 AM | 0 replies Start the Discussion
When I first started the President's Challenge, I realized quite quickly that 30 minutes doesn't actually take much time from your day, even when you are overextended, as most of us are. The first week, all I did was walk. Since I have to walk our dog several times a day anyway, I merely extended one daily walk to 30 minutes, and tried my best to trot my 'lil Chihuahua at a brisk pace. Typically, one of my kids would come along, with rollerblades or a scooter.
The second week, I felt like upping the ante and began strength training. Ok, it was just lifting weights in my living room to loud music, but strength training sounds so much better! This was actually fun. One of my kid's usually wanted to do it as well and I managed pull out some old one pound weights, so even my five-year-old could join in.
A few days ago, I ordered a treadmill and I'm waiting for it to arrive as I am really growing accustomed to this routine. I wouldn't say I actually look forward to it yet. I often do just add it to my to-do list. But I absolutely feel much better after I've done it, and that is progress.
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2008 @ 04:27 PM | 1 reply View/Post Feedback
Here We Go...........
Whenever I hear the song, 'Ants Marching' by the Dave Matthews Band, I can't help but wonder why we all are so caught up our lives, that we don't take the time to enjoy it.
'Driving in on this highway/All these cars and upon the sidewalk/People in every direction/No words exchanged/No time to exchange them'.
I have listened to these words through my Ipod speakers, countless times while trekking to and from work each day. Whenever I hear them, I always tell myself that I am going to slow down, and do more leisurely and fun things for my family and myself. Then the train stops, I unplug my Ipod, and plug into the various work and home tasks that must be accomplished daily when you have a demanding job and three children.
When I was asked to participate in the President's Fitness Challenge, my initial thought was how I would fit this into my schedule. Then I realized that if I agreed, I would definitely do it because I am conscientious with work, so I joined the team effort. Now I have no choice! I hope that by the end of this challenge, in addition to benefiting from the exercise, I will also have mapped out a way to keep it going on my own.
I'll probably always be one of the ants marching in a crazy, chaotic world, but I hope I can learn to unplug out of that world just a little, every now and then.
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2008 @ 04:28 PM | 0 replies Start the Discussion