From Full-Time Mom To Full-Time Me?

From Full-Time Mom To Full-Time Me?

Happy times in my happy place.

That’s all I could think of to caption my Instagram posts for the ten days that my family of four was sleeping under the same roof. That, and #ilovemykids. And #summertime, and #tahoelife.

The last ten days have been the best out of the entire summer because my entire family – the four of us – has been together.

Together at Happy Camp - Squaw Valley, CA.
Together at Happy Camp – Squaw Valley, CA.

This is the first summer that my daughter hasn’t lived at home for even part of it. Since 2005, both my kids usually spend a chunk of summer ski race training at Mt. Hood, Oregon, and then for the last four years Lily has worked as a camp counselor there, too. But this year is her first year with two ‘real’ jobs in her college town, and she decided to rent an apartment and stay there.

This summer has been so different. This is the summer I’m really feeling the big shake-up happening between being full-time mom to full-time me.

It’s not really just that she hasn’t come home and put things away in her dresser; it’s not even that I had to go to her apartment to hang out and have sleepovers.

I think the different part of this summer has been how it’s gotten me thinking about how much it is the first summer of life transitioning away from what I’ve known for the last twenty years, away from me being a full-time mom to two and towards being full-time me.

That’s so very different.

full time mom

Before I was a mom, I was a wife and a teacher – but not for very long. I’d only been teaching for five years, married for two; I hadn’t really settled into either identity. When Lily came along I just added ‘mom’ to that identification, and quickly found – as most moms do – that the label of ‘mother’ far superseded any other.

Add in another baby, and twenty years later I’m sitting on the deck in my happy place, feeling tired and slightly sunburned from a long hike, listening to the wind blow through the pines while she sits, curled up across from me, and trying desperately not to think about tomorrow morning when I drop her at the airport and four becomes three again until Thanksgiving. Trying to live in the moment, in my happy place.

Hiking to Five Lakes, Alpine Meadows, CA
Hiking to Five Lakes, Alpine Meadows, CA

Watching my two on the trail today, climbing side by side next to the mule ears and Indian paintbrush, my heart swelled with love. Snatches of their conversation drifted back to me as they plotted their next adventure together (hiking in Wyoming) and I realized that life has a way of transforming different into normal so gently sometimes I don’t even notice.

So this is the next stage, the new normal of raising teens-turning-into-adults. I’ll be catching glimpses of the adults I’ve hoped they would be. I’ll be watching them from behind, noticing the lessons being put into place. I’m sure the identity of full-time mom will gently transform into full-time me, with countdowns on the calendar until the next time we’ll all be in our happy place together and full-time mom can rise again.

primark

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Bike Ride With Me: Along the Truckee River from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley

Nearly every winter weekend I’m in the Tahoe snow. November through May my ski racing kids, my ski coaching husband, and my ski mama driving self spend lots of family time near Tahoe City – but it certainly never looks like this.

Truckee River

Tahoe in the summer is an entirely different place, with a huge variety of activities. As much as I love Tahoe in the snow, it’s a nice change of pace to abandon the boots and grab a pair of running shoes and hit the beach and trails.

This weekend we decided to get up early to beat the 4th of July tourist crowds and hit the bike trail between Tahoe City and Squaw Valley. We headed off from the west shore, about 2 miles from Tahoe City.

The Truckee River in Tahoe City, just below the lake outlet. We’re the only ones around. For now.

Truckee River

No matter what sport we do, I’m always bringing up the rear.

along the Truckee River
along the Truckee River

The first of a series of bridges across the Truckee River – some in much better shape than others.

wooden bridge

The bike path is an easy ride…fairly flat, and very close to the water. I found myself getting lost in the scenery usually covered in snow.

River rock view Truckee River rocks

I love how easy it is to stop along the river and get up close and personal. I couldn’t help myself. It’s a lot colder than it looks – remember, it’s Sierra snow we’re looking at!

Truckee River Truckee River rocks

I love thinking about who has gazed at these rocks, this river. My ancestors journaled about them in the 1800s- they must have looked identical to today. In fact, these rocks were actually formed by glaciers millions of years ago. Just think about the generations who have witnessed their majesty.

formed by glaciers

My husband’s family has been coming to Tahoe for generations. We stopped here, at blue bridge, where he remembers fishing with his grandfather. Thirty-five years later, the bridge has deteriorated and is now closed off as a ‘hazardous area’.

the blue bridge and fishing rock
the blue bridge and fishing rock

The river flows out into a meadow-like space, smooth and gentle.

Truckee River meadow

Turns out my husband is incredibly patient with my bike riding strategy. I’m s.l.o.w…not only am I looking side to side instead of straight ahead, I’m like a two year old, constantly stopping to take a closer look.

waiting along the Truckee River

So he sat and waited.

I tried to get him to take me out for breakfast, but he insisted we keep pedaling.

River Ranch
River Ranch

River Ranch, located at the entrance to Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, is also the landing place for river rafters. We beat them…but not for long!

fallen tree along the Truckee

I had to get pretty close for this shot…from here on out, the Truckee River is much rougher.

rough Truckee River

A couple miles away from Alpine, the bike trail cleverly crosses under Highway 89 just before Squaw Valley.

bike trail across Truckee

The Olympic flame burns 24/7. The path ends here, 7.1 miles from our house. Time to turn around and head back.

Squaw Valley

Half-way done! Still smiling!

mamawolfe along the Truckee River

Wish you could see the baby wood ducks swimming with their mama…just out of camera range. Sigh.

Truckee River

Unfortunately, we just missed wildflower season..but there were still a few brightening the trail.

mule flower
mule flower

Despite the busy weekend, we were able to escape most of the traffic, but the rafters always come…

first rafters on the river

I stopped a few more times on the way back…not that I was tired, mind you.

it's not a weed
doesn’t look like a weed to me

Looking up river on the last bridge…

Truckee River rafters

And down river…

Truckee River rafters

I think we finished just in time.

What a beautiful morning on the Truckee River bike trail. 14.2 miles…and I didn’t miss the snow one bit!

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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A Wish For My Children: May We Live Simply

Mother’s Day at Lake Tahoe, CA: A wish for my children

 May you live simply.

May you remember the basics.

May you resist the urge to overcomplicate life.

Simply breathe and move

and speak with care,

offering all the good you hold in your heart.

And then let go,

in love,

with faith and an open hand.

Let life bloom in its own sweet way.

And trust that

all will be well.

~ C. C.

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Finding My Muse: Searching In Tahoe Snow and Pine Trees

Along the way via mamawolfeto2
Along the way via mamawolfeto2

I set out to find my muse today. Long dormant under piles of paper, loads of laundry and unwashed dishes, her elusiveness is starting to wear me down. Like the moment when you realize your body doesn’t react they way it did twenty years ago, panic begins to take over. Perhaps she’ll never return? Is there something I’m doing wrong? Maybe it’s just not meant to be this way.

Certain she won’t be found within the four pine paneled walls of the cabin, I zip up my vest, grab a camera and head out. The perimeter of the lake is blessedly free of snow, and as I walk I feel the rhythm return. The roads are quiet, the birds have returned, and the sun hovers before dusk. I can breathe deeply, matching the pace of my boots along the pine cone and broken branch strewn path with the breath in my lungs.

Snow art via mamawolfeto2
Snow art via mamawolfeto2

To my right I see the sun glistening through the pines, casting sparkles on what remains of the winter snowpack. It’s fading fast around here; trickles of run-off moisten the path beneath my feet. It’s funny how nature creates such unintended art. I’m fascinated by the randomness of it all; some places deep with ice, others down to the bare earth that will remain until next fall.

Something tells me not to go in my usual direction; she’s not there. I turn left instead of right, past the sign declaring to all that this is not a through road. There is no outlet. Stubborn, I continue.

Love via mamawolfeto2
Love via mamawolfeto2

Someone has created a bench out of cast off logs. Sitting on the edge of the meadow, I imagine returning next month. I suppose I’ll find mule ears just beginning to poke through the muddy dirt. I notice nature’s destruction next to me-it looks like love in my eyes.

The wind whistles through the pines, calling to me. I stop, intent on hearing her words. What does she want me to know? Stop teasing me…I’ve been waiting too long for this.

Pine tree
Pine tree (Photo credit: GaggieITMI)

Making my way to the end of the road, forced to turn around and retreat, I heard it. The whispers again. This has got to be it. The perfect place. Stopping to listen, wait, and absorb her message. In the trees, on the earth, all appears as it should be. Tangled branches push through, waiting for the moment to leaf out. Dusty brown leftovers of something long ago bloomed bend in awkward posture from the weight of the snow. Lime green spikes of grass poke up, the afternoon sun bringing them back to life.

Crossing the road towards home, I continue to see signs of life amongst the schizophrenic ground. Strength shows in the patches of sunlight. It’s there somewhere. I see it. I hear it.

I know it.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Marco Sullivan Rocks

Volkl skis
Volkl skis

I spend a lot of time with ski racers. Growing up, I loved to ski for fun, but when I fell in love and married a ski racer, I had no idea what was in store for me.

It wasn’t so bad in college-he raced, and I did my thing. It didn’t much effect my life.

And then we had kids. And he taught them how to ski.

And, believe it or not, they loved it. Especially when they could ski fast and straight down the hill. Starting them on race teams was a no-brainer.

Over the years I’ve gotten used to being a race parent-the early mornings, the gear, the soggy socks, the constant supply of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hand warmers for jacket pockets, and the equipment. The older they get, the more skis they seem to need. It’s kind of out of control.

But one thing I didn’t expect was how amazing the people would be. Ski racers are tough-and so are their parents. They don’t coplain, they work hard, and they are seriously goal driven.

And they know how to win, and how to lose.

I’ve also been amazed at how the pro racers really give back to their communities, or the sport in general. Each year my kids have had the chance to meet U.S. Ski team and Olympic ski racers, and they couldn’t be more kind, friendly and down to earth.

Marco Sullivan and mamawolfe
Marco Sullivan and mamawolfe

One of my favorites (besides Mikaela Shiffrin, who I wrote about earlier this week) is Marco Sullivan. Every year Marco comes back to his home mountain, Squaw Valley, to hang out and support racing programs. He started out just the same way my kids have-training in Tahoe, working hard, and loving the sport. He worked his way onto the U.S. Ski Team, where he’s been for the last 13 years. He competed in the Olympics in 2002 and 2010. He’s a speed skier, which means he likes to go fast and straight down the hill.

Maybe that’s why I like him so much.

Actually, I think the main reason I think Marco rocks is that he’s just such a nice, friendly guy. When the crowds were swarming Mikaela Shiffin, Marco was hanging at the finish line watching his girlfriend, Anna Goodman, who ended up winning the race. Like Mikaela, he took the time to talk to my son and me, and made me happy to think that my son looks to him as a role model.

To support Marco as he works towards his third Olympics, you can become an official Marco Sullivan fan (like me) and get his cute “Marco Rocks” hat by clicking here.

After all, who wouldn’t want to see a nice guy keep working towards his dream?

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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