working MOM

11 May


Motherhood makes you ferocious. ~ Pat Benatar

Mothers come in all varieties. I happen to be a What-Do-You-Mean-There’s-No-School-Today? kind of mom.

It’s true. Because I juggle self-employment with motherhood, stuff falls through the cracks. Little details, like my son’s school schedule. When Gray was small, I often stood in his Pre-K’s empty parking lot staring at the locked door in disbelief. Now that he’s older (eleven already!) he generally tells me when school is out. But it’s embarrassing, showing up on the wrong day, or at the wrong time, for parent-teacher conferences and what have you. His teacher smiles but she can’t fool me, I know she is resisting the urge to raise an eyebrow.

Just this week, I couldn’t find a note that Gray brought home—something about needing money for a school picnic. Maybe I remembered reading that this was a cash-only operation. (It said that, right?)

I don’t carry cash. When notes from school come home requesting paper money, I have to remember to get cash back during one of my daily trips to the corner grocery store. Only we moved a thousand miles away from our friendly neighborhood Publix in August, and equally far from our long-time bank. Now the nearest market, a ten minute drive at least, is a mob scene. It’s hostile, quite frankly; completely devoid of Southern hospitality. I avoid it. And for some reason or other I never got an ATM card from our new bank. So even if I resumed my habit of frequenting the grocery store, cash would still be kind of a problem.Gray

Gray remembered needing six dollars on his way out the door to catch the bus. “I have to have it today, Mom.” He had that desperate look. A quick scan of house and car failed to produce my still-sleeping husband’s wallet, so I did what all mothers do: I dug deep. Remembering the stash of quarters I keep for NY State bridge tolls, I grabbed an envelope from my studio, filled it with coins, sealed it, and zipped it into his backpack next to his lunch, all within the span of fifteen seconds.

Problem: solved.

Shooing him out the door, I started the day’s work, taking hourly breaks to fold a thousand pounds of laundry, walk the dogs, and devise a dinner plan that did not involve a trip to the menacing grocery. I didn’t give the quarters another thought until Gray came bursting in at 3:30, his pockets jingling. A comedian like his dad, smiling nice and big, he exaggerated his steps so that I would hear.

“Dollar bills ONLY, Mom. But Mrs. H will take a check. She said, tomorrow is fine.”

WatertowerHis teacher thinks I am insane, but hey, Gray and I have a good thing going. We love, and he understands my predicament. In fact, he is a budding illustrator himself, and is quite prolific—we have an entire closet devoted to his lifetime body of work. A scrappy free-lancer, Gray scored his first paid assignment from my publisher Duopress at the tender age of eight, creating art for on-line activity pages in conjunction with some of the books I was illustrating at the time. Click here to see his stuff for Doodle New York, and Doodle Chicago, the latter which he made when he was nine (scroll down to the bottom of the Chicago activity pages to see Gray’s work).


No matter what kind of mom you are, you deserve a break. Hop on over to the free stuff page at There are tons activity pages to download and print, all for free. Become a fan on facebook and sign up for duopress’s newsletter for more fun ideas. Set out the markers and crayons, and getcha some tea and cookies. Motherhood is tough, and so are you! You are also loved, Mom, and you are not alone.

6 Responses to “working MOM”

  1. Connie Smiley May 16, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    I don’t know how you manage it all, Violet. That’s so cool that Gray is already published! Please give him my congrats.

    • violetlemay May 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      I will Connie. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Margie May 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Love this. Your scatter-brained mothering is not so different than mine. Just today Sarah reminded me I haven’t written a note about keeping her out Monday (she was sick) and until then, it’s an unexcused absence. You would think this should concern me! So I simply smiled and said, “Thank you, I will!” and am getting on that note right now.

    • violetlemay May 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      Margie, thank you for calling my mothering “scatterbrained.” 😉

      • Margie May 16, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

        Oh, gosh. Hope you didn’t take that the wrong way! I’m always the one who forgets the money, the permission forms, the weekly-payment-when-the-girls-were-in-daycare. Teachers laugh and say, “Don’t worry about it!” But it’s why I can’t do PTA anymore. No one needs someone like me having to pay the bills…(or forgetting to).

      • violetlemay May 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

        Margie, I was just kidding. You are amazing, and I say that with some authority because I think we are a lot alike. ;^)

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