I am exceptionally fortunate to have a husband who is the prime contributor to all things household management. From bill-pay to cleaning to cooking to chauffeuring to laundry and beyond, he bears the bulk of responsibility in the daily maintenance of our health, sleep, nutrition and activity participation. Friends who stay with us for extended intervals marvel at his capacity for meeting the needs of our busy family of five with a true love for helping. He is generously encouraging whenever I schedule a conference, race or sister-weekend away and rarely complains about the burden of temporary solo parenting (likely because the duties are not significantly altered!). When he leaves, however, there is a substantial shift in task management and this past week, I had not modified my work schedule to accommodate. Knowing the importance of the conference he was scheduled to attend, both from the perspective of professional enrichment as well as much-deserved personal relaxation, I trusted in my own capacity for multi-tasking and the universe’s sense of humor and set forth into the week, with a constant reverence for the unbelievable work single parents do every single day.
Day One began with a bit of a cushion as husband packed the lunches before departing for his flight while biggest and middlest slept and I had littlest at the gym to coach the 6am class (a common occurrence even when not rolling solo). We made it out the door and everyone got to school and work on time with a ten-minute window between drop-offs where littlest and I managed to get dinner in the slow cooker. In a moment of mercy, which I often confuse with weakness, I requested my office staff to hold on filling any gaps that might appear in the schedule. Much better at shepherding my time than I am myself, they whole-heartedly agreed to maintain any pauses that might serendipitously occur in the week. With littlest safely in the care of one of her favorite friends, and also one of our most dedicated members at CrossFit Inconceivable, I made it to school in time to see middlest off with another friend, and super helper at the Siskiyou School, for dance while I coached Run Club with biggest. With the final meeting with teacher and mamas from littlest’s school on the evening agenda, pick-ups by our neighbor and fellow solo mom of the week (whose husband was with mine on the adventure), the earlier dinner prep and extended stay of littlest’s friend and friend’s husband saved the day. I arrived home to a happy crew, telling stories, drawing pictures and adequately tired for bedtime as our helpers departed for home.
Day Two, my coaches rallied and gave me the morning off from the 6am class. Though littlest wondered why we were not heading in to coach, she was happy to replace her chilly morning stroller ride with waffle-making. A little hairier than the day before (not surprising given no head-start from husband on the lunch-making) but we made it to school without mishap. Tucking in for the rest of the day at the gym, I collaborated with another coach, completed a conference call for working moms (it called for doing less…) and literally ran to get littlest in between workouts, honoring the beautifully sunny weather. As the end of school day approached and the sunshine continued, it worked well for my coach to pick-up biggest and littlest, taking them on a hot chocolate outing and to flag (thankfully not tackle) football practice. In another ten-minute window, littlest and I prepped dinner and wagon-ed over our toaster oven for a gym-side meal. As littlest snoozed, consistently soothed by the ambient noises of workouts that have been the soundtrack of her early years, the afternoon classes concluded with arrival of neighborhood friends to play in our newly crafted kid’s area. As the children of the gym designed their own workout and cheered for their parents, I felt a lifetime of dreams coming to fruition. Walkable neighborhoods, full days of training, shared responsibility and relaxed hangouts in a space dedicated to wellness.
Day Three, we were back in action for the early morning class. Brightened by our newly painted boxes, littlest and I managed the 6am, powered by leftover waffles from the day prior. After, we gathered middlest and biggest for the day. Littlest even got the special bonus of a before-school hang-out with one of her classmates – a fortunate opportunity borne of the connection of Monday evening’s sewing group – for all the challenge and frustration of the task for my non-crafting self, sharing time and tale with the other mamas was a welcome, nurturing experience. My clinic day was full, with the exception of a serendipitous re-schedule that allowed me to stay on-time and caught up on charts. Upon our move to Ashland, I worked to match school hours for most of my work days, to be available as needed and generally more present with my children. This mid-week day, however, I remain later in clinic, requiring outside help to manage the pre-evening bustle. Thankfully, fellow solo mom generously shared her time with littlest while biggest and middlest enjoyed a hang-out with friends between chess club and middlest’s classroom lantern walk. Embracing the dark of winter and finding the light within, the gathering is such a beautiful moment. Hearing the voices of all middlest’s classmates guiding us through the night with a pause to greet his kindergarten teacher, was truly a magical experience. Not as adept with the meal planning this time, we had the luxury of a meal out at one of our favorite spots before heading home, ready for bed.
Day Four was supposed to be a relaxed start, allowing for muffin-baking to share at littlest’s pending evening lantern walk. The morning took an unexpected, frantic turn when I received message from an athlete at the gym that no one had arrived to coach. Thankful for the reliability of my 6am-ers and the brief 300m sprint from my doorstep to the gym’s, I packed up littlest and we made it in record time. Luckily, the skills of my coaching staff are diverse and instead of help with coaching, I received help with baking and the potential muffin catastrophe was averted. We made a rushed run to school and work, with one last favor from my coaching staff to pick up littlest after school, bringing her back to gymnastics in the studio that shares foyer with our gym, a home away from home for all three of my kiddos. We wrapped up in time return to school to coach run club while middlest, though offered a ride by generous dance friends, elected for baking of his own at school alongside his favorite friends and biggest hitched a ride with his coach to another football practice. As the sun began to set, we ventured off to our second lantern walk of the week, where we reunited with my husband and enjoyed a beautiful, though chilly, walk illuminated by candlelight and song.
The week was intense but richly full and, above all else, an amazing testimony to the genuine care and commitment of the community that has developed around and among my family here in Ashland. Knowing that from gym to school to work, with neighbors, colleagues, staff and friends, we are held so strongly with love and generosity is overwhelming in the best way. With tremendous gratitude to my husband for his selfless care for our family every day and to this marvelous community for truly being our village and making the week better than any I could have possibly imagined or planned. May we all give with the spirit of abundance and receive with simple graciousness – we are truly better together.