Site Loader

It has been a week. Well, it has been a series of weeks, but this one in particular was desperately challenging as Jeff was in Germany for work, leaving me high and dry on a few family and work obligations. This, following a boys’ trip to Vegas and a bout with COVID has me deep in the belly of resentment.

And typical of Jeff, he asks what I would like from Germany. I, for lack of anything else, say, sausage, chocolate, and a hoodie. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what he comes back with, because he is very literal. He does not have the initiative to go beyond the list, and all this does is sink my resentment deeper. In my mind, I don’t inspire anything in him. In his mind, he’s doing everything I ask. It’s a draw. Our marriage is at a draw. I don’t know where to go from here.

Even if that piece of the relationship is stalled, the parenting piece is still very much in place, and he is 100% there for that. There was an exceptional amount of chocolate. The spinny keychain for Kenzie was a hit. The v-neck tshirt that she will need to wait a few years before wearing out of the house was an instant favorite. The Kinder stuffy and other travel paraphernalia that is evidence of a father thinking of a daughter on a business trip, that is all there. And that is how our family will remain intact.

Meanwhile, while he was gone, I juggled five different identities as best as I could: PhD student, professor, colleague, mom, self. In many instances, I failed. But I never quit.

On Monday, I was the PhD student not quite grasping some stats concept. I never got the chance to figure them out, because I had to go get Kenzie from school. The upside is, Kenzie made us dinner (Tovala), which involved reading, measuring, and a whole lot of self-reliance and independence. Seeing her pride in plating, serving, and tasting a meal, was pretty awesome.

On Tuesday, I had my headphones on blasting house music trying to psych myself up for a lecture…a favorite colleague walked in, took one look at me, asked how I was doing and I almost broke down in tears. It was terrible. I had to close my office door, and take a walk before class to find myself. When I lecture, I imagine it’s like strutting around on a pair of custom Louboutins. I prep my own lectures, so they’re made for me, they fit me like a glove, they have my spark…and when I’m off, they’re off. My lecture was off. It felt flat. I felt flat.

On Wednesday, I had to teach late, and I was fortunate that another colleague, from a completely different school was available to watch Kenzie. When I showed up at 7:20p, she smiled at me, handed me a cracked Tupperware full of lukewarm mac and cheese, and said “because I know what it’s like to come home after teaching to an empty house with no dinner.”

On Thursday, Kenzie was my date to another colleague’s talk about a book she wrote, about how food defined her family’s history. We sat at a table with undergrads, grads, and postdocs, all women away from their moms, eating pad thai off paper plates, and drinking water out of clear plastic cups. You could tell that many missed their mom, but simultaneously treasured their distance. I hope this is the case with me and Kenzie. During this event, I realized, very signifcantly, how much my mom hated cooking, and probably resented that she had to cook for me and my dad. (She grew up with a maid in Hong Kong.) That is not my story to digest really, but I think cooking has a different connotation for her, that it does for me. And that’s okay. Do you remember, “Like Water for Chocolate,” where the food takes on the emotion of the cook? Perhaps that’s why my mom’s recipes are so technical, and my my colleague’s recipes are so, “If it’s sour, add more…if it’s sweet, add less, lo.” Cooking is like that, I think.

On Friday, I thought I had childcare, I didn’t. There was none. My disciplined plan of spending an entire day focused on PhD work fell to the wayside. I decided to go to PT (because why not go ahead and throw out your back when everything else is falling apart) and leave Kenzie home alone for the first time in her life. Zee and Kona would be with her, and I’d be less than three miles away, for less than two hours. Amazing. It was like shifting from one mode of life to another. After PT, we headed to Auntie Charlotte’s, where the kids played, I worked, and then all was well.

In the end, I look back at how much help I needed to make it through this week. I look at how much Kenzie and I got accomplished. Road trips, bridal showers, work obligations, auditions, rehearsals, and yet she just stepped up her game, and I just did the best I could, and amazingly, we did it. Honestly, if I had any other kid in the world, I’m not sure we would have made it, but I think my kid took care of me, as much as I took care of her. I’m so lucky.


Distracted, working mom seeking short escapes from a hectic life via quick crafts and fast food. Sure, she could meditate, after she cleans the house.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shop King Arthur Baking for all your baking needs!