relocation rant

Seriously, holy fcuk. Too much. This is all too much. When I moved from New York to Austin, went from single in the city to married and Peg Perego in the ’burbs, it was a culture shock, but it was somehow manageable. But this, being thrown into full-time mothering and full-time Long Island is too much to take.

Today: Wake up when my mother-in-law gently wakes me, “Stephanie? It’s 7:45.” From there, I must groom somewhat, find clothes and shoes, remember my phone and wallet. Then, off to pick out kids’ clothes (already set out the night before), coax the cutlets out of their jammies, chase after naked cutlets, remind male cutlet that his extra bit is not, in fact, a handle. Bathing suits on, then arguments and squinting offspring begging to go without sunblock. Rubbing. Spraying. Double-check backpacks for clean towels, extra plastic bag for wet garments, Band-Aids for Little Miss, water-shoes on, wrong foot. Where’s your cover-up? Running shoes packed in backpacks along with dry clothes, underwear and more sunblock. I can’t imagine the nightmare that would be my life if I now had to make lunch.

Goal: 9am arrival at school. It takes 7 minutes door-to-door. But first, breakfast dishes off the table into sink, hands washed, teeth somewhat brushed if you can call it that. No, you cannot watch “Max & Ruby.” “My eye stings! Mama, you got sunblock in my eye!” “Mama, I need a new Band-Aid for my chin.” It was never, ever, this hard in Austin. What’s different? A fucking backpack.

I never cared if we were a few minutes late. There was always a quick pit stop at the bakery if there was no time for breakfast. I never had to worry about two sets of shoes, extra clothes, clean towel, or a chin. I could leave dishes in the sink, knowing sugar ants weren’t going to take over the world. And if we were late, they’d only be missing a few minutes of playground time, not “work time” with tracing letters, drawing triangles, properly holding crayons, cutting, and tracing their names.

Arrive 10 minutes early, doors are locked. I want to hang someone. Once inside, I eavesdrop, hearing an assistant teacher speaking with a parent about “patching.” I interject, mentioning that Abigail is just starting to patch… again… more religiously this time. Parent asks me if I have a good doctor. We just moved here… Dr… K- something. “I hope not Dr. Kanterman.” Yes, that’s right. She doesn’t respond “Oy—” but she shares some other choice words. I grab her phone number and the name of the Ophthalmologist she swears by. The aforementioned Ophthalmologist Abigail had seen last Wednesday insisted she didn’t need surgery, so long as she could control the wandering (which she can, but she does it often when tired or spacing out). Her eye isn’t a lazy eye, where the eye turns in. The doctor explained that there was no “age window.” He said that for what she has, you can correct it at any age, but for now, there’s no reason. Do I need this second opinion?

“All I’m saying,” Parent tells me, “is that he misdiagnosed my daughter and gave my son the wrong prescription. But go ask other mothers. Though, I’m sure you’ll hear.” Awesome. Another to-do, to-worry. Because what if there is a window?! I want to jump.

Parent invites me to join her and a few other mothers with kids in the class for frozen yogurt after school. I am relieved and grateful, looking forward to it!

Returns to Tuesday Morning, a good half hour of returns (aka more purchases). Dunkin’ Donuts for the mother-in-law. A call to Costco to ask about veal. All in a morning’s work. No veal, call Publix. Veal. Pickup, panko seasoned crumbs, more eggs. The butcher de-bones five skin-on chicken breasts for my lemon & shallots chicken dinner with parmesan risotto. I want to surprise Phil with a tray of blondies. I buy chips.

Home. It’s noon. Pickup time is 2:45pm, so I have two and a half hours. And I spend it unpacking in a garage and working a king size comforter into a duvet, resorting to safety pins. The bottom of Lucas’s train drawer gives in. Trains, tracks, and bridge trestles everywhere. Mother-in-law is frying up her son’s favorite veal cutlets, needs plates, dishes need cleaning, dishwasher needs unloading. Breakfast table needs a wipe down. The Roomba is stuck in a lopsided crack. It’s 2:45pm, and I look like a band of aggressive-looking lowland gorillas have had their way with me.

Exhausted guppies. No more nap time at school. Eyes wandering on the both of them. “It’s hot, mama.” “I cut myself, mama.” Yogurt will make everyone chill the fook out.

The rest is a blur. At one point, Lucas was lying on the cement, that ready for a nap. Where are you from? What do you do? You look familiar. Where do you live now? What does your husband do? Are there any Jews in Austin? Do you play Words With Friends? I tell them yes, I do, but share that I won’t play with them. “I cheat,” I say plainly. They stare. “What? I do. Now there are no lies between us.”

The women are incredibly welcoming and inclusive, inviting us to swim tomorrow afternoon after school, setting a play date at a water park for Monday. Tomorrow, I can’t help but think, I have to bring Abigail to the plastic surgeon after dropping Lucas off at school. She still can’t soak her chin or get it wet. No swimming. I *know* the plastic surgeon will have to do something. The scab has come off, and the wound is no longer bleeding, but it is OPEN. It has healed OPEN. I am absolutely dreading tomorrow. Kids are climbing trees. Kids are eating donuts. I don’t let mine, especially not after chocolate yogurt, M&M’s and Oreo toppings.

The gas light is on. OF COURSE IT IS. Mother-in-law requested chocolate yogurt with some kind of chocolate topping. I remember just as I buckle the kids into the car. No fucking way.

Gas station. Drive-through for chocolate frosty for Grandma. Home. Carrying in artwork and backpacks, heavy with wet towels. The garage door opener hasn’t been programmed, so I must manually plug in a code. It’s 5pm. They need to be asleep by 7pm. They haven’t had dinner. They haven’t had their bath. Lucas is out of clean underwear. I bang my head against the wall and remind myself that I have my health.

Spot-treat stains, pre-soak, search for color-safe bleach, gather more laundry, unload backpacks, clean out my own mouth. Put a baked potato with broccoli and cheese onto plates, placemats, napkins, waters, forks. No one wants to eat. Abigail has chocolate yogurt stains from her neck to her china. Naked kids, not a handle, no one wants to see that. Grandma, can you please give them a bath?

Email? Blog? What’s that?

Recipe. I now know why the Contessa was barefoot. Measure wine, squeeze lemons, peel and dice shallots, cube butter, is this oil rancid? Measure salt, grind pepper, “listen to Grandma!” How long does this motherfucking piece of shit electric stove take to heat?! What does Ina mean 12-inch cast-iron skillet? Messerfecker. Wash chickens, dry chickens, pre-heat oven. Make sure NON-cast-iron 12-inch pan fits in said oven (just barely). “Give it back, Lucas!” “No, Abby. I had it first.” “I want to do it myself!” “Mama, help me!” I dig through drawers for pj’s and tomorrow’s clothes. No one wants to eat.

Phil phones from the office. All I can think, “Don’t even think of telling me you’re going to the gym.” What I say, “How are you? Me? My day was great. Really great.” He’s tired of hearing everything out of my mouth be a negative. “You don’t have to lie,” he says. “Just come home,” I say. I wipe away stress tears. The oven alarm sounds. It’s pre-heated. Season chickens, heat oil, stir wine, lemon juice, shallots, bring to boil. Thank goodness I made the risotto last night. Forget the blondies.

Grandma makes egg salad sandwiches. The kids eat them. I would’ve let them go hungry. The TV goes on. Oil pops and sprays. I forgot to pack silicone potholders. These suck! Grandma burns herself on the handle when I ask her to check if the chicken looks done. Forgot to pack a thermometer. Phil’s home… eating a cheese steak sandwich. “Please,” is all I can say as I feel my eyebrows pinch together, dog face cry held in.

“Lucas needs OT again. He can’t draw a straight line with a crayon. He just doesn’t push down.” Thera-putty. We didn’t do thera-putty today. We didn’t practice. They’re exhausted. We’re all exhausted. This is going to take time. I stir the cream into the reduction; it’s a perfect swirl of sauce, unbroken and delicious. I wish I could say it wasn’t worth it. I take a moment, breathe, drink my wine, think on it, bite, relax. Plate the risotto, a pool of sauce, golden crispy chicken, sauce.

Phil asks what the wet clothes are on the floor outside of the laundry. “Their wet towels from school, plus the rest of the laundry that still needs washing.”
“You mean the laundry you said you spent today doing?”
“You didn’t just say that.”
“What, you have one load of wet laundry still sitting in the washing machine and another pile on the floor, nothing in the dryer. What did you do all day?”
“Stop judging.”
“Who’s judging?”

We eat at the table. Phil does the dishes. I tuck the kids into bed and read them a bedtime story. Teeth have not been brushed. I hug stuffed animals. I lower the fan. I come back to turn on a nightlight. It’s likely 8:15pm. I have to do this all again tomorrow, plus a swimming play date and a plastic surgeon. We’re going out for dinner. I’m not cooking again until I hit some kind of stride a la Kramer v. Kramer and the French toast kick-ass moments.

“What can I do?” Phil asks at 10pm. I’ve been here in the bedroom, stowed away rant-blogging my day as Phil and his mother watch USA on TV in the living room.

He doesn’t understand it and can’t see about what I have to be stressed. As in, if he were doing it, it would all be done hours ago, because he’s efficient and can prioritize, whereas, I’m a mess. He doesn’t say any of this. I know he thinks it. KNOW. Also know he resists saying it. And he’s kind of my hero when he offers, “I can go out and get you anything you want. What do you want?”

I look up at him, so grateful, so exhausted, and manage to peep, “Blondies?”

He’s on it.



  1. Good save Phil! Hope the venting made you feel a little better. Things will get easier-

  2. A-freaking-men. Is this not every day in the life of a mom of young kids? My days are that exact same way, every single day: I hit the floor running the moment I wake up, and I can tell my husband honestly when he gets home that I literally have not been in a seated position all day long except for 10 minutes here and there in the car, running from place to place. And that doesn’t count as sitting, that’s driving. I am literally on my feet from morning until dinner, and yet the house is still just a little messy, there’s another load of laundry to do, and there’s a full day’s to-do list in my head for tomorrow. How is it that we can WORK non-stop every day, and never run out of things to do? I love the work of being a mom, but man were they ever right when they said a mother’s work is never finished.

  3. Oh my gosh – I actually had to stop a few times while reading this and laugh…shake my head…tear up…check to see if I was reading my memoirs…oh, Stephanie – I remember those days.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this horrible moment here, but I’ll never forget it. I had just moved to a big, fancy house with my husband, dog, 18 rooms of stuff, 2 car garage, perfect (complicated) yard with a swing set set to permanently scar my children (another story) – and my 3 babies…they were 1, 3 and 4. My husband was conveniently required to work 16+ hours a day, leaving the ‘woman’s work’ to me…the cleaning, schlepping, cooking, unpacking, nesting, nurturing, perfection making…

    One day, right after we moved in, I was surrounded by boxes waiting to be unpacked, we had gone through a morning not unlike yours. The babies were crabby and hot – it was one million degrees and the air conditioner in the fancy house was broken – the pilot light on the gas stove was out and lighting it scared the shit out of me (never used one before then) so we were without macaroni and cheese (the ultimate soother). The dog got loose. The babies realized we had a balcony off the front of the house that they could access from son’s room without me hearing them, and I found them on the balcony – in various states of dishevelment – smearing finger paints on the outside of my beautiful, newly painted white home.

    Okay – so there I was – about ready to pick up the little one to hit the big one with…when I decided that instead of making that fatal mistake, we would have an official ‘nap time’. I plopped them each in their own rooms (making sure the balcony was no longer accessible). I went into my room – turned on the ceiling fan, stripped down to the bare essentials, and flopped onto the mattress that hadn’t yet been properly assembled into an official bed (with dust-ruffles, pillow shams, etc). I had just barely started to relax when the phone rang downstairs (before cell phones).

    I threw on a towel, ran down the stairs (cursing because the moment’s reverie had been broken not only for me, but for the babies and they were MAD), and picked up the phone to one pissed off husband. “Why haven’t you gone to the bank yet? That stuff has to be signed and the safety deposit box has to be changed over…” or something. The bank closed at 5:00. It was 4:30.

    So – I ran back up the stairs, threw on my clothes, grabbed the babies, secured them in their respective car seats, and zoomed down to the bank.

    I got there with a few minutes to spare, and got everyone out…2 toddlers toddling, one baby on my hip, and went in. I was used to everyone smiling at us – I had the most precious little golden haired babies…and I was usually pulled together. But people were REALLY smiling at us. I joined the line at the teller – looked down at little sweet boy pulling at my shirt just to realize my shirt was on INSIDE OUT. I scooped everyone up to have a moment of privacy in the safety deposit box room, turned my shirt right-side out and hit my bum…when the LOLLY POP that was stuck to my butt came off onto the floor, and the little ones went diving for it.

    Oh. My. Hell.

    Thank you for letting me relive that moment. It was absolutely mortifying in the moment, but in reflection, is actually quite amusing (in my mind, at least).

    Just remember…if you can get through each day alive – these crazy days will pass. Everyone will be just fine. Don’t worry – be happy.

    And, these days with the darlings now being 17, 19 and 20, I almost never go to the bank with a lollypop on my ass.

    1. “Okay – so there I was – about ready to pick up the little one to hit the big one with…”

      That is the best thing I’ve read all day! What a wonderful image and even though I don’t have kids, I can totally feel your frustration. Wonderful.

    2. I know that this has been requested before, but, 3 teens’ mom, will you pretty please start a blog?! I get almost as excited to see your comments as I get when I see that SK has a new post. You’re the mom I wish I’d had.

      (And, I’m with jeneria: ““Okay – so there I was – about ready to pick up the little one to hit the big one with…” just about made my day, even though I don’t have kids :) )

    3. LOL 3 Teens Mom!!! giggling so much my teens are looking at me like I have 3 heads. Nope, just 3 teens…..

  4. 1) I was all tensed up just reading this. This was a lot of crap. You deserve a good rant!
    2) Despite the free time I’ll get, all that running around is one of the reasons I don’t look forward to my kids starting school.
    3) I stay home with them most days and still forget to brush their teeth.

    I met your friend Shannon the other day. We have a group of local bloggers who get together once a month for drinks. She had only the nicest things to say about you. :)

  5. you exhaust me, you poor soul. i suggest you call Norma and beg her to join you at any expense. i had twins and i relate to every minute of your day. i used to sit in my bathroom and cry after putting the babes down at night. back then hubs traveled ALL the time and I was on my own until of course i found Alissa. she was,is and will always be my life-saver. hang in there. p.s. call Norma :)

  6. I am a kindergarten teacher so this may sound really dumb, but when I have really crappy days (and days like this come to all of us, don’t let anyone tell you different) I like to read “Alexander and the Horrible Terrible No Good Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst or “Unlovable” by Dan Yaccharino…I usually do this in the bathroom with the door locked for some peace and quiet :)

  7. You are doing so great! And my god what a transition! I know I so have this coming whenever we move out of this country that has affordable domestic help! But I really do think that once you get settled and get used to this that you will flourish in south florida!!! I really think so!

  8. Who did all this when you were in Austin? A nanny? Are you staying in your mother in law’s house?

  9. I cheat at Words with Friends, too. There, I said it.

    If you’re interested in finding out which of us is the better cheater I’m “prettygirlmyers”.

  10. I dont envy you. My husband would have said the same thing (He had a perfect home ec teacher mom), and i would have gone ballistic. You handled it better than I would have.
    Things will get better with time, easy for me to say, I know.

  11. Well I’m not going to say it gets easier. You’re in the middle of a big life event and its just plain hard. And exhausting. And and and. The trials and tribulations you face raising your children change as they age. They don’t go away. If anything, the consequences for the problems are more severe.

    But that’s life. It just is. We don’t get a stroll through a rose garden. And sometimes, the life complexors far outweigh the life enhancers. But that will change, too.

    For now try to cherish yourself first. Keep your well filled. In that way you’ll have some to share with your precious ones.

    And remember, when you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

  12. Phil is wonderful. And sounds like he is being more diplomatic. Imagine being a single parent (my best friend is, and not much money with the one income) and it’s HELL. Or imagine having no grandparents (or any extended family outside your husband) who want to be involved (the two who would be passed away) even with a phone call much less a visit. I deal with the latter and it sucks.. and makes days like you described way more depressing. So.. hang in there. I think I read moving is a life change as stressgful as death, a divorce and losing a job. Thank god it’s just adjusting and finding a pace. And being full time mommy will be fun I know it. It’s not permanent from what i read and you are going to focus on working again soon so revel in the shitty parts too if possible. Kudos to Phil for not snapping at you!

    And I think it’s tacky people you just met ask you ‘What does your husband do?” like they are assessing your ‘level’. Just… gauche. It’s one thing to ask people what *they* do (even that I do not outright, I usually do not care) in an attempt to find common ground or something. But asking what your husband does is like asking what car do you drive or how much your mortgage is. Just eww.

    1. Huh. I can easily see how asking what Phil does could be part of a natural conversational progression.

      Stephanie: We just moved here from Austin.

      Other party: What brought you here?

      Stephanie: My husband took a job here.

      Other party: Oh, what does he do?

      See? Not necessarily asked with malicious, plotty intent, but more in a getting to know you way.

      Or it could be evil. I’m not saying it isn’t, just that generally I choose not to tinfoil my windows prematurely.

      1. Totally unnecessary bitchy reply. Then again I remember your comments from long ago here when you were a ‘regular’ and you were usually rather unpleasant. Trolling feels good doesn’t it? Tinfoil, wow so clever.

        1. Huh? I wasn’t being at all bitchy. Wow. I was just pointing out that the intent behind certain questions needn’t automatically be filed under “malicious”.

          There are *two* commenters named Sallie here. Though I’ve read off and on here for years, I’ve commented maybe 15 times. I can’t say how often the other Sallie has commented nor what her tone was.

        2. CC: I agree that the tinfoil comment was unnecessary, but the overall point Sallie is trying to make is valid. This sort of inquiry is a common getting-to-know-you question. In a lot of communities, there are a few prominent businesses and if you (or your husband) works there, you will likely have acquaintances in common. At the very least, it is a good introductory question because people often move because of job change. I think you are reading a bit into the question to infer elitism when there is none.

    2. I agree. I am single, in my 30’s and get asked that question all the time. I find it rather rude. It is one thing when making conversation, but quite another when just being nosy. Then when I say no I’m single, the next question is inevitably, “why’s that?” If I am in a real snarky mood, my answer is usually, “as soon as its any of your business, I’ll let you know.” Of course I live in a small town, so probably run into more nosy people than most. I make a habit of never asking personal questions to people I don’t know well. For example,I never ask someone when they and their husband are having kids. For all you know, it is a painful situation they don’t feel like discussing. Just food for thought.

      1. Yes that’s the way I do things too. The other commenters who say personal questions are getting to know you, ok, I see what they mean. It was just how I was raised I guess and what I am used to not asking certain things of strangers. I am sensitive to offending someone who might think I was being too nosy as I would be a virtual stranger to them:)

        As for the children thing: I never ask a childless couple if they are planning to have kids or even if they want’ kids (some people do this is a totally friendly, conversational way I know) as they could have suffered a miscarriage (or several) or having difficulties. The list of why they might not have kids could be long and intensely personal. So.. if it’s someone new in my life I steer clear so I do not make a misstep. It sounds a little OTT to some I am sure but I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. :)

  13. smaller children, smaller problems, bigger kids…well you know what comes next. This is THE best time of your life, believe it or not. :)

    1. Stephanie, on the next upgrade….please install a “like” button….

      Pam-you are sooooooooooo right!

  14. Stephanie – I so feel your pain. I’m reading your blog from the couch where I’m camped out next to my five-year-old watching kid shows – thank you Netflix streaming! I have two preteens and two younger kids (6 and 5). It has been nonstop the entire summer and I am, frankly, exhausted. My husband asked me yesterday if I’d run an errand he’d asked me to do. I told him, rather menacingly, that I will accomplish nothing this summer outside of making sure his children are alive at the end of the day. He quickly backed off. Your recounting of your day was too painfully familiar. Are your kids in all-day school come fall or too young? This Fall is the first time in 13 YEARS the kids will be in school all day. Hanging on ’til then…

  15. Stephanie, time to find the beauty in 30 minute meals or 5 ingredients or less meals. The kids will learn to appreciate the ‘good food’ when they’re a little older. Resort to fish sticks, mac and cheese, home made tacos….and the stress will dial down a notch. They do move past this busy stage to a more helpful place, at about 8 years old :)

  16. Your light at the end of the tunnel? it gets better. You get used to it and it get easier. Your no less busy you just figure out how to do it better. Like anything it just taks practice. Think of all the other thinks in your life you juggle. You know you can do it. I speak from experience. I have two kids who play club softball. That means practice 5 days a week from 6pm to 9pm and anywhere from 4-10 games a weekend. In between I am supposed to work eight hours, make dinner, drive the 30 min it takes to get there and back, make sure they have clean clothes and teeth and that they bathe. Then theres the fundraising to be done. OY. The first season of this, i cried every day and never ever got any sleep. I felt like a failure. Im on season three and even though I am TIRED, I get it all done and its smooth. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

  17. Stephanie,

    I don’t know if it gets easier, but it gets different. I remember days exactly like yours, and I moved 8 times with my husband for his job, with 2 girls, 1 dachshund and 40K pounds of baggage (my emotional baggage not included). Now I can leave the house without a worry, but my worrying about what my daughter is doing at college never ends. Then it’s what if she doesn’t make it home from her 7 hour drive back to Austin, what if she can’t find a job after she graduates, what if she marries a jerk who isn’t good to her…and I still have 1 at home who I have a whole different set of worries for (dyslexia, getting into a college, graduating…)!

    If I have any advice for a mother of young kids, it would be this: At the end of the day, do they know that you love them? If the answer to that is yes, then you are doing fine. Even on my worst day, when I have lost it (my mind and/or my temper) and look more like Jack Nicholson in The Shining than Mary Poppins, at the end of the day I make sure that I let my kids know that I love them.

    You really inspired me when I started my blog – it took me more than a few years to finally do it. But now, when I write about Hot Austin Moms – you are one of the ones I think about. I chose the word Hot because it has so many meanings – It’s freaking hot in Austin/hot-hormonal/mad, or as most people take it, great-looking. Looking at it now, with almost 20 years of mothering to reflect on, there really is nothing more beautiful than a mom who takes great care of her kids, and that makes you a hot mom, even if you’re not in Austin anymore. Thank God that even though you are halfway across the country, you are still only a few clicks away.

    It probably sounds goofy, but can you miss someone you never met? I loved that you lived in Austin, and am sad that you are gone. Best of luck getting moved in and I look forward to hearing all about your new home.

  18. Moving is hard.. Everyone needs time to adjust to their new life. You will be fine. One day at a time and all that stuff..

  19. Stephanie – I was there. Not so long ago (kids are 6 and 9 now). We lived in Manhattan until my youngest was 3 and then moved to the burbs for kid #2. Let me tell you, a baby in a 5th floor walk up in chinatown is a NIGHTMARE. My husband traveled constantly and so did we. No family nearby or part of our lives. No nannies. It got easier when we moved to the burbs, but I was still on my own. Fast forward to now….I barely remember that time. Almost like I blocked it out. I actually only remember the good times. And when my “baby” went to kindergarten last fall, I secretly wished that I was back lugging groceries and a baby up 5 floors…breastfeeding one while putting a bandaid on the other…picking up the sh*t that fell out of my son’s new undies onto the floor of a 5-star restaurant. Believe it or not, as hard as it was, that was the good stuff. More exciting. Sure the kids still need me, but not in the same way. My advice to you – just do your best to keep it manageable. You don’t need to spend your day tracking down veal or making sure the house is perfect or the clothes are washed. Who cares. Just enjoy it. It’s kind of like childbirth, it hurts like hell, but you hardly remember that part. You spend the next few years replaying it over and over again to anyone who will listen. When they get older, it’s the same thing. You’ll look back at your blog and reminisce about the good ol’ days.

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