Tag Archives: balancing motherhood with work


I am sitting here writing this, with Emma to my left singing “Three Little Elephants” in Spanish.  Okay, so you might not know that was what she was singing even if you were a native spanish speaking person, but I know the song, because the tune is exact even if her pronunciation is not.  Richard and the children arrived in Aspen last night.  To say that I was pleased to see them, really doesn’t sum up my excitement and happiness.  I am blissfully happy!

Last night Emma was so excited to be here that she didn’t want to go to bed.  As my husband, now to be referred to as the man-of-the-decade (MOD – I tried “century” whose acronym then became MOC and have opted for “decade” simply because of the acronym and not because there’s a time limit on my admiration for him and all he does) was unpacking, I got Em into her nightie and brushed her teeth.  When she finally felt it was time for bed, at around 10:00PM (that’s midnight by New York time) she said, “Time for reading and bed!”

“Are you ready for bed, Em?” I asked.

“Yes.  Mommy come,” she replied.

I am reading a book written by a wonderfully talented friend of ours – Dan Elish – whose book is entitled “The School for the Insanely Gifted” and Emma is enjoying it immensely, as am I.  As I read to her, Emma snuggled up against me, putting her head on my shoulder as I read.  I use to do the exact same thing when my mother used to read to me and it filled me with joy.  When her little body succumbed to sleep I lay with her, not wanting to move, just relishing her head on my shoulder, her body pressed up next to mine.

This morning Nic and Emma woke at the rousing hour of 5:30AM – in part because the dogs began barking at a particularly tenacious coyote who has a habit of coming right up to the house and yelping.  The dogs, in a spectacular display of frenzied aggression twirl around barking and ramming their bodies against the door in an effort to get outside.  My mother’s voice shouting from her bedroom, “be quiet!” does nothing to calm them.  And in fact, may just rile them up further, though I’d never say this to her directly.  The whole thing has a comedic aspect to it – dogs making more noise than one would think possible, coyote howling, children bolt upright in bed, Mom shouting for quiet in a kind of exaggerated stage whisper and Richard covering his ears with a pillow.

Once downstairs Emma and I made chocolate pudding, while Nic proceeded to play his newest composition on the piano.  By the way – Piglet – if you’re reading this – any tips on how to keep the instant pudding from turning into soup after an hour or so in the frig?  I think it has something to do with the altitude, as this doesn’t happen to us in New York.  But I digress…  After making pudding, Nic proceeded to demonstrate his newly acquired skill of blowing bubbles and Emma went upstairs only to return wearing her bathing suit.  “Time to go to the indoor pool!” she cheerfully announced.

Nic proudly blowing a bubble

The aftermath of another bubble

“But Em, it’s not open yet.”

“We have to wait.  Then going to go to the indoor pool, jump off the diving board, go down the slide, go in the carousel.  Go with Mommy?”

“I can go later today or tomorrow Emmy,” I told her.

“Okay,” she said.  “Mommy has to work,” she added in a serious tone.

“How about getting dressed so you’re all ready to go?”

Emma returns wearing her swimsuit and clothing over her suit.

“Playing bells,” Emma explained as she pounded on the keys of the piano.

Everyone is together and I am in bliss.

For more on our crazy family and Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:  www.EmmasHopeBook.com

Explaining Travel to Emma

I flew back to Aspen, Colorado yesterday, alone.  Explaining to Emma why I had to return so quickly was difficult.  First of all I don’t know how much she understands and since she cannot ask me questions the way her older, neuro-typical, brother, Nic does, I cannot know what goes through her mind.  So when I told both children ten days ago that I was going to have to go back to Aspen because of my store, Nic said, “NOOOOOO!  You only just came home!  That’s so unfair, Mom.  Why do you have to go back?”

Emma remained silent.  I explained that there were things I needed to take care of at the store, that it was part of the deal with owning one’s own business, it’s just what one has to do.  After awhile, Emma wandered away muttering, “Sleep, wake up, camp on the lake, sleep, wake up, get on airplane.”

Nic meanwhile was angry, then teary, then resigned.  “I know, honey.  It’s a drag.  But you, Daddy and Em will come out in August so it won’t be so long this time that we’re all apart.”

“No Mom.  It’s not a drag.  This sucks,” he said, before turning away from me, his arms crossed, to stare out the window.

“I’m so sorry, Nicky.”

And as sorry as I was that Nic was upset, I wondered what was going on through Emma’s mind.  Was she just accepting that this was how things were, did she have questions?  What was she feeling?

Impossible for me to know.

This past weekend I pulled out a calendar and went over it with Nic and Emma.  Pointing to various dates, I said, “Okay so this is when I have to leave.”

“Get on airplane, fly back to Aspen,” Emma said, looking at the box with the number 19 on it where my finger was positioned.

“Yeah.  That’s right Em.  That’s the day I have to go back.”

“Sleep, wake up, get on airplane,” she said.

“Just me, Em.  You guys are going to go to camp and stay in New York with Daddy,” I explained.  “Then look, on this day you, Daddy, Nic and Jackie are going to fly out to Aspen.  That’s in twelve days.  And here, this is when Joe comes out and Jackie has to go back, then here is when we all fly back to New York together.”  I looked at both of them.  “Okay?”

“I don’t want you to go again.  We’ve only had you for like three days,” Nic said.

“Two weeks.”  I put my arm around him.  “I know.  I know.”

“It’s not fair,” Nic said.

“Sleep, wake up, sleep wake up…”  Emma began, counting on her fingers how many sleep, wake ups it would be before they flew out to Aspen to meet me.  “Go to YMCA with just Mommy?”  Emma said after she had finished counting out 12 “sleep, wake ups”.

“No, Em.  But Daddy will take you.”

“Go to YMCA with just Daddy,” she repeated and then scooted away on her scooter.

Yesterday morning as I was gathering my things to go downstairs, Emma ran over to me and threw her arms around me.  “Bye Mommy!” She said, burying her face into me.

“I’m going to miss you so much, Em.”

“Miss you,” she said, before pulling away.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:  www.EmmasHopeBook.com

The Aspen Ideas Festival & Autism

I am going to a lecture at the Aspen Ideas Festival this morning at 7:45AM in the Doerr-Hosier building called: How to Recognize Happiness.  I am going because I’ve been told this session will include something about autism, though if one goes to the AIFestival web site it doesn’t mention autism.  But my source is a good one – in fact she is the one who organized the entire week long program, so I’m fairly confident she knows what she’s talking about.

If you don’t know about the Aspen Ideas Festival, it is a week long summer camp for adults.  Every day is packed with lectures, panel discussions, interviews, readings, film, videos, etc beginning at 7:45AM and ending well into the night, every day for seven days.  I’ve been lobbying for Ideas to include autism in their program now for the past year, so was pleased when I was informed they were doing one talk which would include autism.  I will report back tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Emma announced on the phone last night that:  “Mommy’s staying with Granma.  Mommy is in Colorado.”

To which I replied, “Yes, I am, Em.  But I’m coming home in three days!  Tomorrow’s Wednesday, then Thursday, then it’ll be Friday and I’ll be home!”

There was dead silence and then after about ten seconds she said, “Bye Mommy!”  I could hear Richard saying, “Wait Em!   Don’t hang up, don’t hang up!”

Apparently my promise that I’ll be returning home on Friday is one of those – I’ll believe it when I see it – situations.  Emma was not impressed.

A friend of mine suggested I stay in Aspen over the Fourth.  “I need to get home before my kids forget what I look like,” was my response.

Friday, Em.  I promise.

For more on autism and Emma’s journey through a childhood of it, go to:  www.EmmasHopeBook.com