routines · schedules · slice of life

Recalibrate Upon Re-entry

Processed with Moldiv“How did you feel when Mommy went away last week?”

“Sad,” Isabelle replied.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because, I missed you.”

“But Bubbe and Zayde came to visit. They took good care of you while I was away, right?”

“Yes. But I still miss you.” Isabelle admitted.

“I know,” I said as I put my arms around her.  “But mommy had to go away.  To work with teachers.”

“I know.”

“But you didn’t like it?” I inquired.

“No. I not like it,” Isabelle shook her head.

“Because you were sick or because I’ve been away lot lately?” I asked.

“Boff (both).”

I nodded my head. “I have been away a lot lately. I will be around a lot more for the next couple of months. You’ll probably get tired of me and wish I were going out of town.”

Isabelle shook her head.  “I miss you when you’re gone.”  (Taken straight from Pitch Perfect’s “When I’m Gone.”)

* * * * *

In the past six months, Isabelle has been in the care of at least one of her grandparents for a day or more eight times.  That’s right, eight times. Some of the trips were short: a train trip to NYC and back in a day. Most were overnights, with the longest being four nights away to write.  While the typical mom response is to say I feel guilty about my absences, the truth is that I don’t.  I’ve done speaking engagements and spent time nurturing my writing life. I even spent a couple of nights away with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  If six months is approximately 180 nights, then I’ve been present for 160 days of wake-ups, tuck-ins, and everything in-between.  That means I’ve been here almost 90% of the time! That’s nothing to feel guilty about!

What I do feel badly about is the way this weekend’s re-entry process has gone. Typically, Isabelle is delighted by my return.  This time she has been ignoring my questions and arguing with me every chance she’s gotten. By this morning, I felt as though she was pushing every single button I had, which is why I drove the two of us to the Hotel Hershey after my allergy shots.  It was a recalibration, of sorts.

You see, Isabelle loves hotels. She especially loves the Hotel Hershey.  (It is a four star, historical hotel. What can I say? The kid has good taste!) The two of us spent some time in the lobby where she did her artwork on their fancy memo pads with their pens.  Next, we went to the Cocoa Beanery where she got a cookie and I had a much-needed latte.  Finally, we went upstairs to the Fountain Lobby where we played “kitchen,” a game she invented a few rainy days ago.  (That’s right.  This is my go-to spot for rainy or super-cold days when we find ourselves with downtime in Hershey and don’t have enough time for a more kid-friendly activity.)

By the end of our almost two-hour mini-vacation, the two of us were getting a long better.  We had had a heart-to-heart (i.e., the conversation written out above) and enjoyed each other’s company.  While she still “wiped off” the kiss I gave her in the car, she was more pleasant towards me on the way home. Perhaps our trip to the Hotel Hershey will be a turning point as we attempt to get back to our daily routine. After all, I’m not going away overnight for the next two months. In other words, she’s stuck with me.

Head over to on Tuesday for more slices of life.
Head over to on Tuesday for more slices of life.



22 thoughts on “Recalibrate Upon Re-entry

  1. Yep, sometimes the children have to also figure out they’re stuck with their parents (that will come more often in later years, Stacey). Fun ending! I think Isabelle is the typical kid who tests to see if, since you were away, you still loved her. Even students do this, the ‘attitude’ to see if I’ll still be there for them. It seems that going somewhere fun & neutral was a good thing to do. Hope those next months go well (SOLC included).

    1. And that, Linda, is why she’s stuck with me for awhile. I don’t like to go anywhere during March since I like to stay on-top of things with the challenge. We have one family weekend away for my niece’s birthday party. However, the three of us will be together so that’ll be good!

  2. Stacey, your story of Isabelle this week is aptly phrased. She is just a little one trying to find her place in life when Mommy is away. Your mini-vacation sounds like a bonding time for girls. How wonderful that you and she can wisk away to find a sweet spot of comfort. Recalibration is always a good process to begin anew. May each re-entry bring you two closer to a strong mother-daughter relationship.

  3. You are a wise mama. It is good that you have your life and the wonderful life to come back to with Isabelle. It is good that you don’t feel guilty, and you deal with her particular type of sadness. She is a special girl, and it seems that will test you throughout you loving relationship.
    Love reading about her.

  4. I love reading your insights on parenthood. You so eloquently give words to thoughts so many of us have! This is a beautiful story on the power of the time we do get to spend with our little ones. Thank you for continuing to share Isabelle with us!

  5. The life of a working mom is a delicate balance. But it sounds like you gave her what she really needed! What a creative idea for getting out on a rainy day.

  6. I love the recounting of your conversation with Isabelle. I am sorry the reentry was hard- but how clever to change up your scene and recalibrate! You are a great mom and one of the best things you are doing is nurturing your writing and professional life. Your writing is always so honest Stacey. I love that.

  7. I love reading about these beautiful interactions between mother & daughter! I love that her favorite place is hotels. That makes me smile!! What an interesting place to spend time!! Now, I’m thinking about finding a beautiful hotel nearby and doing the same thing! Brilliant!!!

  8. Always love these pieces. I never stopped feeling the guilt of not being there for every moment, but now my kids are 13 and 15 and I am so glad they know I have a passion in my work. I see how they understand life is a balance and pitch in when needed. I think it also sends a message that we believe they are okay without us and that is so important. Enjoy you mini-vacations!
    Clare and Tammy

  9. Keeping things in perspective is so important. In order to be a good mother, you also have to true to yourself. Isabelle will be stronger for it in the long run.

  10. Although Isabelle misses you, I am sure that she is learning an important lesson in life – we all must take the time to do what we are passionate about. How lucky she is to have you as her mother and a life teacher.

  11. I have always been of the belief that a bit of distance every now and then is a good thing for both Mom and kiddo. It’s hard now, when Isabelle is young, but when she’s a bit older she will tell you (as mine have) that it was empowering to have a mom who had interests and work of her own. That is a lesson she will carry into her own life, and she will be the richer and happier for it.

  12. I enjoyed the format of your post from sharing a glimpse into the conversation and then shifting to the background story. I especially remember your posts about your writing retreat and it seems like it was so valuable for you. I am glad that you are thinking about ways to nurture yourself, while also being creative about how to make those transitions back and forth with Isabelle. I will be going to a conference over spring break and am torn about the experience for me and the time away from family, but I have been planning ahead all term in order to try to alleviate stress the week before and the week after so that I can focus on them more. I will have a few days of the break with them as well.

  13. Our children always tell us like it is, don’t they? Your story made me smile for several reasons. I remember similar conversations with my children when they were little and I love your mini vacation. You are a wise mother to be tuned into your little one’s needs and addressing them in a way that you both enjoy.

  14. So much to love about this piece. Your conversation with Isabelle. Your time away together. It is hard to balance being a working mom. I admire that you feel that need to get away for you — and in the scheme of life (or 180 days) that time away means so much more to you and your health! (I need to do more of this …) Thanks for sharing this glimpse of your life!

    BTW – look how tall Isabelle looks!!

  15. Love the ending to this piece, Stacey. And I love your title. (You did it! You wrote a great title! 🙂 ) I appreciate you writing about your lack of guilt for being away on business/learning/writing trips. I felt a little guilty at NCTE for not feeling a bit guilty! Oh vey.

  16. Stacey, love this glimpse into your time with Isabella and recalibrating! I like her taste, her answer, “Boff,” and your patience with this time required for re-entry!

  17. I’m the opposite. I’ve hardly been away at all, most likely because the grandparents are too far away to be babysitters for us. However, at the end of January I went with some friends for a night. I laughed so much and had so much fun. I returned feeling renewed. You’re right…I shouldn’t waste time on the guilt.

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