Recent Posts by Annmarie Naples

June 11, 2017

How I Ended Up In Both Charleston and Nicaragua For Spring Break

“…my children are not truly mine. They don’t belong to me; they’ve simply been entrusted to me. They are a gift life gave to me, but one that I must one day give back to life. They must grow up and go away and that is as it should be.”

My mind is a big old scramble right now.

Queue the tears, right?

This excerpt is from The Passion of Parenting.  It was the piece, from just before a certain weekend, in a certain year, that absolutely wrecked me as I was processing how, exactly, being divorced from the kids’ dad was going to ‘work.’  The kids were 1, 3 and 5 years old.  I was a stay-at-home mom that had given up a great career to be ‘that mom.’  I had rarely spent a night away from them – only to give birth to their siblings!  But part of what divorce means is shared custody….for better and for worse. (You get the joke, right?)

The Passion of Parenting genuinely touched me. It broke my heart and gave me hope simultaneously.

Letting go is hard for me to do. I must let go, but my heart feels hollow. I can’t imagine me without them.

That freaking hollow is just so relatable. To all of us, for whatever the circumstances: divorce, work, responsibilities, life, kids growing up – all of it.

I’ve only been at this parent thing for nine years now. But I’ve been at it for nine full years, the first six of which were non-stop day-in, day-out, no breaks and I liked it like that.  And then I made a choice for my own life, one that effectively created this seemingly gigantic void where every other weekend I am physically without my kids, without my heart.  And Thursday nights.  And half of all holidays and vacations.  And they are without their mom. And that?

Just sucks.

I remember reading once that you get less than 1000 Saturdays before your kids leave for college, so use them well.  I checked the math. It’s true.

That’s just not that many.

And I cut mine in half.

What the f&%# was I thinking???

Hollow is a word that I think describes well how that makes my heart feel.

And yet…I read that NYT piece and thought, ok…maybe this is an opportunity (or at least I better make it one).

First, make them count.  Cliche, right?  But when you can actually assign a numeric value to time – and you appreciate that there isn’t much of it – holy moly does it become exponentially more meaningful.

And then: own this crazy notion (from NYT author’s brilliant mother) that my kids don’t belong to me. Own that it is simply my job to do the absolute best I can while they are with me, and then to let them go.  And DO IT.

Next: spend my hollow/off time so well that I am the absolute best person I can be both without them and when I am with them….and genuinely engage in being their mom – with the determination and focus I gain from whatever I do in the hollow.

And finally: APPRECIATE that I will get 500 practice tries at turning them out before I have to actually do it when they go to college or life or wherever they go. Maybe then, it won’t feel so hollow. (That’s just the optimist in me.)

The realist knows it’ll still suck.

So almost four years into this self imposed void of divorce and custody sharing, I’m trying. I genuinely make it count when I am with the kids and I also try to genuinely make it count when I’m not. Which is how I landed in Charleston, South Carolina and Nicaragua last month, for spring break, without the kids.

Ten Days without kids. Can you imagine? EVERYONE – like every single one of my girlfriends – has a DIFFERENT response to that idea, ranging from full-on horror to dream-come-true. The custody schedule says spring break every other year, last day of school through return to school and so I had a gigantic, first ever, 10-day-hollow-void to fill and so:

Romantic weekend getaway to Charleston, South Carolina, and a Girlfriends Adventure in Nicaragua.

Done.

And absolutely A-MAZING.

Continue Reading…

By June 11, 2017 6 No tags Permalink
June 4, 2017

When Three Moms Fly To Southbeach, Miami….

On L (left): La Blanca Top
On M (middle): Cocoship
On A (right): Salinas Bottom Salinas Top

I see you new moms out there.

And I feel you.  Genuinely.

Do you have a boob group?  Or a new mom group?  Or an infant play group?

Best new mom survival tactic ever.

Those…first days with your first child.  THOSE are the ones where you need other women, going through exactly what you are going through, spending their time exactly as you are, living your very same life, for the sake of sanity and support.  In general, I am not a ‘groups’ kinda girl – a more seasoned girlfriend basically signed me up as a ‘gift’ – and gift it was.  My group saved my life in those long, clueless days (and longer sleepless nights).  We found the laughter in the tears, and figured out how to care for babies, how to get everyone to eat, sleep, and exist – together.  It was just so much more rewarding because it was shared, both the great and the really challenging.

Mom groups:  our modern day ‘Red Tent.

While there are plenty of new groups in our city now, at the time I had my first child, there was one in our neighborhood:   Hall Mercer.  The next great place that opened here in Philadelphia, Nest, came after my third child was born, but was also such a wonderful place of support.  And of my original, first child, graduating class of moms that lived through the thick of those first months with a first child with me, I’m so lucky for 5 of us (actually 19 of us:  5 moms, 4 dads, 11 kids and counting), continuing, 9 years later, to still have dinner once a month (or every six weeks because, well, interference), life celebrations shared, an annual family tent camping trip, and…wait for it…our annual Moms’ Weekend Away.  Our kids consider each other ‘frousins.’  We consider each other sisters.  The hubs have come to love and laugh and adventure with the whole crew of us.  And once a year we take it on the road, or sometimes on a plane – just the moms!

This year was Miami.  With 2 missing for the first time ever:  Zika.  Enough said, you do the math.  So then there were 3.  And here’s how 3, advanced-maternal-age-9-years-ago-when-we-delivered moms do Miami:

Continue Reading…

By June 4, 2017 9 No tags Permalink
May 29, 2017

Rock with Me (All the Best Rocking Chairs, Inspired by Travel)

Hot off my trips to Charleston, South Carolina and 4 cities in Nicaragua, there’s this one wonderful idea left in my mind, heart, and spirit:

Rocking Chairs

All us mom people, we all need rocking chairs. For real. All of us.  Right.  Now.  Sit a spell and and I’ll tell you why. (ps.  Look up – do you see that belly on her???)

All Love.  For Real.

In Charleston, my favorite discovery were the long, opposite of the sun, secret entrance, shade and garden-facing, hidden porches.  And their rocking chairs and joggling boards.

The same idea was true in Nicaragua, especially in Leon and Grenada. Long covered porches in public spaces, plenty of shade in the squares, near the churches, in the convents. And ‘false’ front entrances to homes, that typically were iron gates, and then a covered, open-air ‘room’ full of…yup.. you guessed it: rocking chairs. Lots of them. Made of beautiful woods and wickers, all facing one another, full of family, neighbors and friends passing the hottest of the late afternoon time, together, rocking.

Continue Reading…

By May 29, 2017 0 No tags Permalink
May 11, 2017

Tick Tock, You Don’t Stop…

Pause. Or go.
I honestly don’t know which.
Right this hot minute.
This is what’s on my mind: Time.

Have you ever spent time in a hospital? Or with someone in the hospital? Or days on end, for the umpteenth time with one of your three kids? The one with the chronic disease?

I know you have. I know that too well. And I know you know this:

Time.
Stands.
Still.

Continue Reading…

By May 11, 2017 16 No tags Permalink
April 13, 2017

Spring Kicks for Girls

S asked if I would round up girl sneaks.
She also asks occasionally if I’ll round-up kids.

Other than home stuff, those are probably the other two things I’m the girl to round-up: kids and kicks.

Kids and kicks are just quintessential FUN in motion and such a gift! Heck yes I will round-them-all-up! Always!!!

Continue Reading…

By April 13, 2017 4 No tags Permalink