Carol Kaufmann

Writer, Editor, Etc.

Riding Away January 27, 2010

Filed under: Mama Tricks — carolkaufmann @ 10:24 pm
Riding Away

mother child sign loveBy Carol Kaufmann, Mama Tricks

Months after my son’s first day of school, I can honestly say I haven’t moved past the initial sendoff.

The crunch of the holiday season should have pushed memories of fall on the cerebral back burner, but it’s taken some time to process that my baby is now a student. Each morning he rides off with other, bigger kids to a place where I’m not. Thinking about that initial shock still fills me with both head-swelling pride and full-blown anxiety.

At 8:20 that morning, we stand at our door, set for the big departure. It’s a crisp September morning. But I’m afraid that, somehow, we’ll miss the pint-sized preschool bus. I don’t know how small it is, exactly.

I look at Luke, my Big Proud Three-year-old in his maroon hoodie and slightly big-around-the-waist khaki pants, carrying a small canvas book bag embossed with Star Wars action figures, all ready.  How is this possible?

We’re on time, miraculously, for the big day. We’ve eaten our cereal, brushed our teeth, we’re dressed. Even Baby Sister Sara Clare—all of two—has her play clothes on. I write “we” not to imply that I am in any way together, much less ready for work, but because I still think of my kids as part of me.

I peer out over the front stoop, making sure the bus isn’t at the stoplight, though with a screen door full of transparent glass, there’s really no way I could miss it. I keep looking back at Luke to make sure he’s still there, still my little boy.

Then, he announces he wants eggs.

My God, his wheatie O’s must not have cut it because clearly I’ve not given him a good breakfast. To the pan! No time for whisking in a separate bowl that makes the eggs light and fluffy! Milk goes right in skillet on top of the sunny-colored yolks. Five minutes later, both children have scrambled eggs, buttered toast and more milk in their cups. But at 8:25 with the bus due at 8:30, there’s no time to actually dine at the kitchen table, yards away from the full-on view of the road.

“Special treat!” Mama uses the code words that capture their attention quicker than our fat cats jump at the sound of dry cat food ringing in porcelain bowls. “We’re going to make egg sandwiches, guys! On the stairs!”  In front of the door.

Anything that smacks of a picnic brings the troops to prompt attention. The kids toddle to the steps, plop down and attempt to fold a single piece of bread over their scrambled eggs. A mixed success, yellow morsels fall over the carpeted stairs and, of course, begin to grind their way in.

The kids looooovvveee eating those egg sandwiches on the steps. Big brother helps little sis by cramming tiny pinches of bread into her mouth and they’re giggling. I’m having fun, too, though I hover over Luke’s spanking-clean school clothes, all the while keeping an eye out for the bright-yellow kidnapping machine that will interrupt. I now hope it will roll merrily by.

Eggs finished more or less, we go outside. Sara immediately runs into a neighbor’s yard, out of my reach. Luke begins to dismantle a dead butterfly.

“Look, Mommy! His legs!” Luke holds up sad bugs appendages. The kids drift further away physically, but in other ways too. I try to put a positive spin on this realization and figure that with Luke’s dissecting abilities, he’ll ace biology.

Anxiety crowds in. Maybe it’s because somewhere in the recesses of our minds, mothers will always be preparing their children for the next step, though unsure about how the hell to do it. I don’t know how my little guy will react when the bus pulls up. His preschool is in our church so he’s seen his classroom, but this is different. New teachers, new kids, new smells, new structure.  Though he’s only three, school implies expectation and I don’t know if I’ve prepped him well enough to compete or thrive with his peers who will have minds and three-year-old agendas of their own. And I can’t decide if it matters.

I check the sky, actually hoping for a sudden downpour. Luke has developed a sudden fear of water and yesterday a monsoon had moved in. “It’s getting deeper!” Luke wailed at the gushing water and clung on to me. We don’t know why water scares him. I hear that toddlers develop irrational fears without warning and I pray school’s not one of them. But, here on his first day, there’s no rain. No excuse to keep him inside in my cocoon.

When the bus comes, chills run down my damp back, which always seems to have a layer of permanent sweat these days. The miniature bus looks like a third of the size of school buses I remember, with twelve tiny toddler seats, belts dangling, their buckles clacking. I love it, I hate it.

My big boy climbs on, big as you please, with Mommy escorting him, per bus rules.

“I do it myself, Mommy.” He buckles up the belt with no help from me.

Snapped in place, he smiles so big my heart crumples into a million bits. His excitement is palpable—and hopefully contagious because the other kids looked kind of dour. I click a few pics for the memory book.

Sara Clare climbs on too, and plops in the seat opposite her brother. Getting her off the bus is no easy task. “Sara go to school!” she insists.

“Next year, baby.” Or maybe never.

As the bus pulls away, I hold her on the sidewalk as we look through the small windows and see a silhouette of Luke’s curly blond hair framed in the window. His hand is waving, he’s looking straight at me. He grins like Candy Land is awaiting him. And who knows? Maybe that’s how he sees it.

At least, that’s what I’ve told myself every day since.

Carol Kaufmann regularly shares her “Mama Tricks” with The Well Mom. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest,National Geographic, The Washington Post, and in the anthology, A Woman’s Europe.  She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, two children and two obese rescue cats.

CK&Luke

First appeared on thewellmom.com, January 6, 2010.

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Iron Mom

Filed under: Mama Tricks — carolkaufmann @ 10:22 pm

By Carol Kaufmann, Mama Tricks

I stood in front of an upright ironing board, glaring at the basket load of button-downs, clean but wrinkled. Mother of toddlers, working professional, schooled and world-traveled, a credit card holder, a second-time homeowner.  And I am… ironing my husband’s shirts?

This is not who I am.

Like many 30-somethings who entered the work world during the age of excess, I formed a certain ideal of what life would be like once my career was on a roll. I saw examples of the good life flourishing in the D.C. metro area: Manicured lawns done by gardeners, regular help cleaning the house, spiky, animal-skinned shoes, lunches on white tablecloths, black-tie charity events, and vacations at places with names like Guanacaste and Essaouira.  I heard the stories. Sometimes I even had a taste of them myself.

But last fall as the national depression sank in and sparked our fears, my American dream spiraled down the potty along with the country’s economic outlook. Now, I’m happy to have a job, given the front-page Post stories of massive layoffs, spiking unemployment and two-parent households with not a job between them.

I know my job and my husband’s are guaranteed only by the thinnest wisp of commitment from our companies. These days, we’re very replaceable—at least that’s how our employers think.  The reality is if our jobs go, we’re a few missed mortgage payments away from financial Armaggedon.  Every month, our bank account creeps dangerously close to negative numbers, thanks to a preschool deposit, a sink that backs up on a Sunday, a spot on my arm that needed removing or any variety of home/child/health crises.

Yes, when it comes to money, control seemed just beyond my grasp—except what lurks within the four walls around me. And within this lair, I find opportunities to save bucks everywhere and  battened down our hatches.

Hubby, who’s up first, makes bag lunches so we don’t waste cash at our favorite sandwich haunts. We’ve weaned our addiction to lattes. I learned to like natural-colored nails instead of manicured ones, eliminated most dinners out, and now think of vacation not as a trip to the beach but as absence of work.  I even enjoyed my frugality, now in full force. Doing more with less has become a game, an exercise in creativity to find the best deal, amass the most effective combination of coupons.

But ironing?

Shall I also don an apron while I assume the classic position of a 50s housewife?  Watching the hyper-inflated suffocating predicaments of every female character on the 1960s-based drama Mad Men is enough to drive me screaming down the block. Now, I felt like one of them, a slave to the times. (Only not as nattily dressed.)

It’s not as if I’m a spoiled, holier-than-thou princess (OK, maybe a little) who doesn’t know how to roll up her sleeves and do the hard work. But my work, I thought, was to use my brain to create content and read Beginner’s Dr. Seuss, not pushing metal to and fro over seemingly permanent wrinkles.

I remember so well watching my mother, a child of parents who saved pieces of aluminum foil and reused jars during the Depression, diligently pulling out the ironing board, creaking the lever into an upright X, and tackling the laundry basket of Dad’s work shirts. Even before age 10, I realized Mom was enduring a necessary evil.

As I grew, Mom continued to iron. She’d drive right on by the fairly convenient dry cleaner, even though she was as busy as all get-out raising kids, teaching school, volunteering for this and that, taking covered dishes to new neighbors and shut-ins. I’d ask why she didn’t just drop off the laundry and save herself a little time? “Because I can do it myself,” she’d tell me. “Why waste the money?”

The more I learn to discern the fragile moment between a perfect crease and an iron imprint, the more I understand her question. Why spend the money, indeed, when times call for using it for more important purchases—quality fruits and veggies, college accounts, credit-card debt reduction—and in these days especially, a few bucks for someone who could really use it.

And why do all important lessons seem to come from our mothers?

As it turns out, I like seeing a line of freshly pressed shirts hanging along our furniture, a visible, tangible reminded of a job I can do. My husband, who takes his turns at the board, is tickled—even thinks it’s hot, for some odd reason—when I press the shirts and pants he’ll wear that week.

I had grown too big for my britches, as Mom would say. I had forgotten a basic tenet of good living that my hubby and I swore in our wedding vows we wouldn’t lose sight of—that it’s the simple things, after all, that provide a quick jolt of peace. So I iron because I can.

Hard times purify. They force those of us who think we’re above little details, to get over ourselves and put some muscle back into work.  They remind us that being able to take care of ourselves because we’re capable of doing so is a gift.

Copyright 2009 Carol Kaufmann

CK&LukeCarol Kaufmann regularly shares her “Mama Tricks” with The Well Mom. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, The Washington Post, and in the anthology A Woman’s Europe. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, toddler, newborn, and two obese rescue cats.

First appeared on thewellmom.com, September 7, 2009.

 

The Real Sex

Filed under: Mama Tricks — carolkaufmann @ 10:15 pm
Mama Tricks: The Real Sex

By Carol Kaufmann, Columnist, “Mama Tricks: Wrapping Your Head Around Motherhood“
As every woman age 45 on down in America knows by now, Sex and the City, the film, opened a few weeks ago. Judging from box office sales, I was one of the few to
not see it that opening weekend. And I’m glad. But not because I don’t love high heels as much as the next gal.

I had the ideal opportunity. I was in Los Angeles, movie-city, onbusiness. I was sans children. And I was with one of my oldest anddearest, The Well Mom herself, Heather Cabot, whose husband had volunteered to watch her kids so we could have a girls’ night.  Knowing I’d be there, Heather and I practically erupted over the timing of my visit. The premiere of Sex and the City? Just us girls? Could the world be more perfect?

When it came time to get the tickets, Heather found that about a million others had the same idea, too. I wasn’t at all disappointed. And the reason why is also
the reason why I’ve seen every episode of the iconic HBO series at least three times – including the edited versions on TBS.

Much (way, way too much) has been made of the show’s/movie’s stream of designer fashions, $500+shoes, closets that could serve as evacuation shelters, the quartet’s self-absorption, and quest for meaningful (or not so much) pairings. I believe all
the articles, editorials and talking heads have missed the point.

True, our larger than life characters lead glamorous lives that constantly seems to be whirling out of control.  But the center for Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha is each other. The one constant throughout the show’s six seasons is
iron-clad friendships and – here’s the kicker – TIME to spend on them. Many nights as I sat watching, I didn’t get pangs of jealousy for Carrie’s latest stilettos,
but pangs of nostalgia for a time in my life that these four embodied. A time when my friends and I talked about the messy terrain of relationships, the
struggle with careers, and nothing in general. Perhaps we weren’t clicking Cosmos at the latest trattoria, but certainly there was a margarita or two involved.

I love high heels as much as anyone, but really, does anyone care that much about what those four are wearing? And does anyone really think that Carrie
earns enough from those columns to afford such a wardrobe – even with her maxed out credit cards? (Not on a writer’s salary!) We know this show is fantasy. But
what rang true is something that is undeniably real, and often lacking, in the lives of us newish mothers with our soiled diapers, chronic fatigue, and steady
stream of Visine: The nurturing of girlfriends. The show made me heartsick for a time in my life where lunches at a diner and meandering conversations claimed a significant percentage of my week.

Heather and I went out for dinner that Friday night. We had several glasses of wine (or maybe that was me) and talked for hours about our kids, careers, husbands, problems and hopes. Instead of watching what we craved in a darkened theater, we lived it.  No trick involved.

Copyright 2008 Carol Kaufmann

Carol Kaufmann regularly shares her “Mama Tricks” with The Well Mom. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, The Washington Post, and in the anthology A Woman’s Europe. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, toddler, newborn, and two obese rescue cats.

First appeared on thewellmom.com, June 14, 2008.

 

Looking Back on Early Motherhood

Filed under: Mama Tricks — carolkaufmann @ 10:13 pm

By Carol Kaufmann, Columnist, “Mama Tricks: Wrapping Your Head Around Motherhood”
Since I had so much “free time” while I nursed during my daughter’s first few months on the planet, I tossed the book Eat, Pray, Love in my cart at Target one harried Saturday during a diaper run. Oprah said every woman in the country had read this travel memoir (except me, evidently) and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I’m glad I did read the book, albeit in fits and starts while Sara Clare was nursing, for one sole reason.

In the Italy/Eat section, the author is musing about her new-found home, Rome, and says she wants to be like this city, regally self-assured, grounded, “amused and monumental,” when she’s an old lady. At this hectic point in life, my aspirations aren’t so grand, but her analogy did give me an idea for a Mama Trick.

Imagine yourself older, say, the age you’ll be when your kids move out of the house. Imagine older-you remembering current-you right about now. Right now in the midst of stinky, never-ending diapers and toddler gibberish you wish you could interpret.

Ask yourself this: How do I want to remember my first years as a Mama? The question is about YOU – not how you want to remember your kids. (Hopefully, the answer to that is fully and completely, though with the sleep deprivation, slim chance without the saving grace of modern digital camera and video recorders.) Ask yourself this because sometimes it’s just not enough to make it up as we go along. Sometimes we need a little vision.

I’ll bite: How will I remember me as a new mom?

When I first tried this type of “projection assessment,” I imagined older me tried and tested, thus wiser, savvier, more together and finally organized. (I’m a true optimist).  Older-me looked back on myself with kindness and compassion because that’s how older-me looks at young mothers who don’t know what the hell they’re doing. Still, I didn’t like everything that I saw.

Certainly, I took a huge amount of pride in my new family. But I also felt regret. That all-encompassing feeling of fatigue descended over every muscle and fiber when I mentally reviewed the beginnings of my children’s lives. Visions of an exhausted, stretched thin, strung-out nutbag came to mind. How much time did I lose wondering if my energy was ever going to return? (It did). Can I never get back the time I spent complaining to my husband and girlfriends about stubborn baby weight and nonexistent personal time? (No, silly question). And how many hours did I spend mourning the loss of the old me? (The new one’s better).

But there were also glimpses of a woman who smiled much more than she used to, in a deep, very genuine way. I saw scenes of me turning tantrums into ripples of giggles by making funny faces. I knew very well my ridiculous poses were an entree into the epicenter of my children’s comfort zone. They were the precursors to hugs that banished the sting of scraped knees and hurt feelings. And the hugs would eventually lead to soft strokes of the face that would put them to sleep. I knew this is the Mama I wanted to remember.

Now, at times their cries are like little stabs of pain and I pull the blanket  further over my head. But when I think of older-me remembering current-me, I have much more incentive to pad down the hall into their rooms and morph into those silly looks that I know make my wee ones explode with laughter.

I know what I want to remember most: The sounds of their cackles and their pure smiling faces, the essence of children that cameras can’t ever capture. So when I am that older, wiser dame and think back to these days, I hope I picture a smiling, though admittedly tired, woman gazing at her kids with a ridiculous look on her face, trying to memorize every gesture.

©Copyright 2008 Carol Kaufmann

First appeared on thewellmom.com, April 9, 2008

 

What Was I Just Doing?

Filed under: Mama Tricks — carolkaufmann @ 10:11 pm

By Carol Kaufmann, Columnist, “Mama Tricks: Wrapping Your Head Around Motherhood”
I swear – the following paragraph was not intended as a clever way to start this Mama Trick. doing

I kept meaning to write a column on Memory Loss, but I kept forgetting. New moms know I’m not lying. The notebook where I scratch out all my rough drafts was, somehow, never near my computer. And when I did remember where I had left it – the notebook, not the computer – in the time it took for me to get the laptop and fire it up, I forgot what I was doing. I also had many things to say about how children can zap your memory bank, but I also kept forgetting to write them down. Anyway, this topic is long overdue.

Since Day #1 of living in Kiddietown, I’ve been forgetting. All day long. I forget the simple, easy information I’ve known all my life and simple, easy information necessary to function in the modern age. Like the year. It happened when I was writing a check. It wasn’t January, or even February, when it’s permissible to slip up. This brain freeze happened in SEPTEMBER. Was it 2006, or 2007? I stood there, pen in hand, staring at the check made out to the hospital (for my never-ending C-section bills – what else?), and honestly didn’t know.

But at least this happened in the privacy of my own home.

A week later, I was running errands on an exceptionally beautiful fall day and choose to walk from store to store instead of driving. Fresh air is good for the soul! The walk is the beginning of the path back to physical fitness and normal weight! I can feel like me again! Hey, I’m looking good! But my euphoria evaporated when I was in a jewelry store getting my watch repaired. I peered behind the counter at the horizontal mirror there and noticed that my shirt was on inside out, the tag protruding ungracefully out of the bulging side seam. I had talked to many people that day.

The next weekend, my mother was visiting. Appropriately, she oooed and ahhhhed and would barely let anyone else hold new baby girl. At one point, I noticed she was no longer holding the baby. Confused and somewhat alarmed I asked, “Where’s Sara Clare?” I then realized Mom had given the baby to me and I was nursing.

Then, shortly after, I was compiling a list of my friends who have kids so I could tell them about the launch of The Well Mom site. I put my friend Heather on the list. Heather is The Well Mom.

I’m not even going to mention all the items we’ve lost because they remained on the roof of the car while we drove off down the road. Those are a given. And fortunately, we’ve never pulled a Raising Arizona and driven off without one of the kids. Still, the flirtations with insanity are daily reminders I’m losing control over something that, unlike my body, time, physical space, energy, is exclusively mine. My mind.

And while I really don’t like not remembering my ATM pin and the reason why I drove to the grocery, I do manage to feed my newborn daughter, laugh at my son escaping from a diaper change and streaking through the family room, and, on most days, shower (though often have to use bar soap on my face because I’m always forgetting to buy facial cleanser.)

Food, laughter, cleanliness. I win.

As for the other stuff, I vow to reduce my mental inventory since the ol’ mind just isn’t what it used to be. Plus, I have a job, one in an office where I have to commute, wear dry-cleaned clothes, and rely on firing synapses. A co-dependency with a caffeinated beverage of choice will just have to do.

Copyright 2008 Carol Kaufmann
doing
Carol Kaufmann regularly shares her “Mama Tricks” with The Well Mom. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, The Washington Post, and in the anthology A Woman’s Europe. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, toddler, newborn, and two obese rescue cats.

First published on thewellmom.com, February 15, 2008.

 

Your Own Personal Daily Show

Filed under: Mama Tricks — carolkaufmann @ 10:09 pm
By Carol Kaufmann,  Columnist, “Mama Tricks: Wrapping Your Head Around Motherhood”

I’m grateful for The Daily Show. As Jon Stewart turns the absurdity of current events into a joke, I turn to Hubby and say, “Thank God for them.” Stewart and his talented crew get it – in a way you know is spot-on, but you, in your sleep-deprived existence could never express. Powerless to stop the constant stream of headlines that makes me slap my forehead in incredulousness, at least I feel not so alone each night when we press play and watch our beloved Show recorded from the day before.  Sometimes all you can do is laugh.

daily showAnd this, fellow mommies, is what gave me the idea for another Mama Trick.

Think of all in your life that now just doesn’t make much sense – all that is just a wee absurd, which is, admit it, is most of it. I can tick off a few choice items without much thought:

My toddler threw up exactly where one of the cats did which required more color-zapping stain remover on the navy blue carpet. Speaking of cats…

One also threw up in my purse.  And it’s hard to get off hairball detritus with a baby wipe when you’re late for work. Speaking of work…

I fell asleep this week at my desk, sitting up, reading a perfectly interesting article. Even better…

I got lost five times going to the office yesterday because, I guess, my automatic pilot is in permanent “off” position. And…

I was gloating that I made it to the gym during my lunch hour until one of my nursing pads flew out of my jog bra during a male-led, male-attended Butts, Guts, and Guns body sculpting class. Then…

I forgot to put infant diapers in the go-bag so Precious Baby had to wear her two-year-old brother’s size 6, like an actress wearing a fat suit.

I mean, can we make this stuff up?

daily showWhat if, at the end of each day, we could insert our own events into a Daily Show dialogue and rewind them in our heads, like a cerebral TiVo?  Imagine a mini Jon Stewart perched on your shoulder, ticking off all those motherhood incidents that bring you to near tears and laying them out there for a laugh. A personally tailored comedy routine would help us feel part of a greater community, happy to know that others get the joke, too.

daily showThere is, in fact, a whole group of creative talent with a deft understanding of the inherent absurdity in mommyhoodland. You have a team standing right behind you, nudging you to throw up your hands and laugh about it all. Though we can’t see them when reading a column on the internet, they’re all around us – the thousands of mothers who have been there and done that, and, after much practice, mastered the art of laughter through tears.  If we listen closely, I bet we can even hear the chuckles.

Copyright 2007 Carol Kaufmann

Carol Kaufmann regularly shares her “Mama Tricks” with The Well Mom. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, The Washington Post, and in the anthology A Woman’s Europe. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, toddler, newborn, and two obese rescue cats.

First posted on Thewellmom.com, December 5, 2007.

 

Wrapping Your Head Around Motherhood

Filed under: Mama Tricks — carolkaufmann @ 10:06 pm
Mama Tricks: Wrapping Your Head Around Motherhood

busy momBy Carol Kaufmann
I had the chance to go on a retreat for work. It was to be held at my boss’s weekend house, with promises of creative brainstorming (which I love), socializing (which I love), and good drink (which I could use). A further bonus: helpful hubby encouraged me to go, thought it would be good for my career, and was willing to go two-against-one with our bundles. Problem was – it was a three-day trip and my baby girl wasn’t yet three months old. Aside from the obvious problem all nursing mothers have – pumping and storing milk – I had a bigger one: Precious Baby doesn’t like her bottle, no matter what’s inside it.

When it comes to trips, I go. A weekend jaunt, a last-minute air deal to London, trekking in the Sahara – I’m there, suitcase packed, passport ready. And I’m a relatively ambitious career gal who would never minimize the importance of meeting colleagues face-to-face, especially since all my bosses are in New York and I work in a satellite bureau. To them, I’m a one-dimensional picture on our phone directory. Passing up any trip, especially one like this, would have been unheard of two, three years ago. Then again, babies have a way of redefining you. The best decision was to stay home. Fortunately, my boss understood. But the subsequent guilt over bypassing this chance to be an adult stung.

This recent decision highlighted a gnawing life trend that I know has grated on many moms since the advent of two-income families and streamlined personal technology that only makes your life busier. The pangs of choosing.

No matter what I’m doing, I question whether I should be doing something else. If I’m with my kids, I feel the tug of work. If I’m working,  “irresponsible mother” eeks out my pores. Then, once that balance is as good as it can get, I start thinking of other deserving life-priorities: phone calls to friends, visits I owe extended family, exercising, buying healthy food, (then there’s fixing the healthy food) and saying yes to my exhausted husband who’d love for us to actually make it through a whole movie before falling asleep.

All good choices. But it kills me that there MUST be choices and I’m never comfortable making any of them. I’m not comfortable always being torn.

I was expressing this frustration to my hubby for the 64th time. He told me F.Scott Fitzgerald once defined genius as being able to hold two opposing views in their minds at once. Hmmm.

Genius I’m certainly not. And with the permanent effects of sleep deprivation, I’m sure few new-ish moms would make such a claim. But we can dare to emulate the intellectually gifted. Why couldn’t we hold the idea of being a full-time mom, full-time professional, full-time friend, volunteer, daughter, medic, housekeeper, and fill-in-the-blank at the same time? Why couldn’t that imagery always be present in our minds, available for recall at a moments notice.  Isn’t believing also being?

Imagine yourself a fully functional mom, a professional who can bring home bacon, and whatever other identity you value. You are these people all of the time, whether or not you’re wearing that particular hat at the moment. While you’re fully engaged holding your infant or rescuing a toddler from a tumble off the sliding board, your dormant professional is still there ready to take up residence when called. So is the loyal friend, house nutritionist, the amateur athlete. One identity is on and the others work subconsciously. Just like a diamond – no matter which facet of the stone is in the light, the whole gem shines.

So while I missed the brainstorming retreat, I did come up with a few new ideas for work that weekend. It happened when I least expected it, during a full-mom moment at home, sitting on my juice-stained couch, while my toddler was streaking through the kitchen and I was feeding Precious Baby. I also figured out what we could eat for dinner. Genius, indeed.

Carol Kaufmann will regularly share her Mama Tricks with The Well Mom. Her work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, The Washington Post, and in the anthology A Woman’s Europe. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, toddler, newborn, and two obese rescue cats.

First published on thewellmom.com on October 17, 2007.