Coffee Buddy

posted in: Motherhood, Parenting, Scrumplet, Second Child 69 comments

“Fish! Fish!”

Toddler looking at fish

His little boy hands pointed excitedly at the tanks. Fish of every shape and size. 

Then, his little legs carried him to a group of older children, clearly on a school trip to the local aquarium. And I melted into a puddle as I watched my little boy get social. When did he get so big? When did he realize he loved being around other kids?

“Flower! Tree!”

Toddler pointing at flowers

He’s learning new words every week. His curiosity is unbounded, as is his great need to explore. 

Toddler in a field of flowers

In the vast spaces of playgrounds and parks while on vacation, it became painfully clear to me that in daily life, my little boy is mostly stuck at home with me, confined to the square footage of our apartment, with the nearest playground downstairs of our apartment, hardly big enough to contain the many children living here. The weather here is hot and humid, and the skies are polluted. Every square inch of greenery here is being ripped apart to build more apartments, more shopping malls, more office buildings. There is nowhere to run and roam. 

It also became clear that I’m a poor play companion. As much as we spend hours together cuddling, playing with blocks, drawing, reading, and by the grace of God, napping, I’m not enough for my 16.5 month old toddler. 


Yesterday, this happened.

Toddler drinking from coffee cup

We were out for an early lunch, before preschool pickup. I put my empty coffee cup aside, and he picked it up, ‘drinking’ coffee. It was like a glimpse into the future.

Today, we had confirmation from his brother’s preschool that they have an opening in their play school group for him on October 1.  He will be going there for half days, every week day. 

My little boy will be with his peers, learning new things from the teachers I’ve come to know. The teachers who I know for a fact, love all the kids in their care. Instead of standing on the outside of the gate at pickup, he will be on the other side, waiting for me, next to his big brother. He will have opportunities for new experiences, and new friends. There will be running, roaming, exploring.

I am at once thrilled for him, and for my soon-to-be-child-free-mornings – and a little sad that my children are growing up faster than I can comprehend.

I’m going to miss my coffee buddy.

What do you do when your kids are at school? I’m planning to er, nap? Read? Clean?

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • September 19, 2013 Allie

    It’s hard to let go but they definitely need their own space and have to start interacting with people their own size. It was really hard for me to have BOTH go to preschool but also comforting that they had each other. Mine only go 3 times a week for 3 hours. It’s just enough time for a run (10 miles or more:-), shower, second breakfast and then go pick them up!
    Allie recently wrote…10 Years Ago I Called Off My WeddingMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I have 4 hours every morning, so I hope to accomplish a lot! Like do some yoga, drink some coffee, write and read blogs. πŸ™‚

  • September 19, 2013 Tracie

    My daughter does school at home, so I don’t exactly get the free time you will soon be getting. But now that she is ten, a large portion of that school time she is working hard doing reading or writing by herself, and I use that time to read (while sitting next to her ready to answer questions or help out with any difficulties). That is a freedom feeling to me when I think back to those early school years when she needed me every second.

    Enjoy your time. My advice is to read in bed – that way you might get in a chapter and a nap!
    Tracie recently wrote…Art In The ShireMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Ooh, good advice!

  • September 19, 2013 Nicole

    My girls have been in full-time daycare/preschool since they were 4 months old. It was hard to take them when they were really little, but once they hit a year, I realized that they absolutely needed the social interaction and were thriving! The place I take my girls is less than 2 miles from my home office, so while my girls were still nursing, I would go down 2-3 times a week for one of their feedings. Saved me from yet another session with the pump, plus it was a great way to break up my work day and spend time with them. And, oh how I wish I could incorporate a nap into my work day!!
    Nicole recently wrote…Race Recap: Bays Mountain 15-MilerMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      That was a good way to break the day up!
      Fortunately, the boys’ school is just about a mile and a half from home, so it’d be super duper easy to get them to and fro, and I’ll still have plenty of me time. I’m so looking forward to allthethings I can do! πŸ™‚ And the fun my little one will have.

  • September 19, 2013 Kerstin

    He is so sweet! And wow – that’s very sudden and soon, October 1?
    I think it’s great for kids to be around other kids, so this will be awesome for him.
    (You? I would start with the nap, that seems ambitious enough for now πŸ˜‰ )
    We live in a small town and walk everywhere. Even though I would love to live in Vancouver, I know my kids would be more confined there. Vancouver is pretty awesome for roaming as well, but small-town living is unbeatable with kids. Joining a playgroup is the next best thing, though – my kids both did when they were very little and had experiences there I could have never given them (or would have had the patience to give them. Ahem.)
    Kerstin recently wrote…FocusMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      We put him down on the waiting list about 6 months ago, and have been waiting for him to be old enough to join the play group. So it does seem sudden because time flies and OMG he’ll be 17 months in October, and the new term starts then. You’re right, it’d be good experience because he will be in an environment doing things I can’t give him. He’ll love it.

  • September 19, 2013 Julia

    I felt the same way when my son was about that age. It took me another 6 months to get him into a school program and we are both so much better because of it. He really needed that time with the kids and I just wasn’t enough of a playmate for him. Enjoy your time to yourself. My son is in school as I read this and I’m enjoying coffee, a donut and catching up on blogs.
    Julia recently wrote…Everything Special To MeMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I will enjoy my time, and will probably be doing the same thing you are πŸ™‚

  • September 19, 2013 Kimberly

    When I get to the end of the day, I’m all “What the fuck?”
    And then I go back to bed.
    I do laundry.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Golf Balls And Man ColdsMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Laundry doing is strangely satisfying.

  • September 19, 2013 Amy

    I can totally relate. My first was in childcare from 4 mos on. She thrived in that environment. My second is home with me and at 20 mos, even though we do some playgroups, I am having this exact same realization – she could stand more outside stimulation. And hey – maybe it’s a chance for me to have an adult coffee buddy every once in a while? πŸ˜‰
    Amy recently wrote…Long time no seeMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Amy, I think yes, go for it. 20 months is a great time to start playgroup! (and me time for Mom? YES PLEASE.)

  • September 19, 2013 Tamara

    I usually chase after Des when Scarlet is in school. His nap isn’t until she’s already home so I tend to do my work while he’s napping and she’s watching a show or two. (sometimes three!)
    I never really socialized Des the way I did Scarlet. I know it’s still so early and I haven’t ruined him at all. He has his big sister and she didn’t have that. I just used to take her to baby things a lot. I may start bringing the poor lad to the local parent’s center.
    Tamara recently wrote…Test Shots.My Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Same here – I haven’t made as much of an effort with #2 as I did with #1 with the socializing bit, since I figure, they have each other. But, my little one is far more of a social animal than his big brother, so I think he will thrive in a peer environment. And I think Des will do just fine!

  • September 19, 2013 Susanna Leonard Hill

    Aw, such a cutie your coffee buddy is! πŸ™‚ How wonderful that he’s going to have a chance to learn and play! And as for what to do with your free time (which will not end up being as much time as it seems like!) WRITE, Alison, WRITE! That’s what I do πŸ™‚
    Susanna Leonard Hill recently wrote…Would You Read It #105 – The Superhero Rejects (MG) PLUS The August Pitch Pick!My Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      πŸ™‚ Yes, I will most definitely write, Susanna!

  • September 20, 2013 Kim

    It is good for children to be around other children. I am excited for my youngest who started preschool this week. And I confess, I spent the first hour of the first day watching him in the classroom. (He couldn’t see me.) But yesterday, when I left him he was happy! So I went and got a coffee. And wrote. And because I knew he was having fun, it was… sort of lovely. πŸ™‚
    Kim recently wrote…New HeightsMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      It’s good that everyone’s thriving, Kim, so glad to hear it. πŸ™‚

  • September 20, 2013 Amanda Jillian

    My kids are constantly stealing my coffee, and by coffee I mean my quad shot lattes lol.
    Amanda Jillian recently wrote…Pinterest Style {Daily Mermaid}My Profile

  • September 20, 2013 melissa

    Between your vacation (and my mini one) and your posts on other pages it feels like forever since I visited your blog! what a sweet post. Kids grow up so fast and always end up surprising you with what they can do. That little boy is the cutest. Well along with your other one of course.

    Those cheeks just get me…..
    melissa recently wrote…18 weeks updateMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Time does fly, and they do grow fast. As do pregnant bellies, as I saw on your blog! πŸ™‚

  • September 20, 2013 Nina

    Alison! My little Nate is often stuck at home is also starting a program at our synagogue three mornings. (He’s almost 2.) He’s young but there’s a whole class for kiddos his age. I feel just like you do–that he’ll love having little playmates. Meanwhile, the class has already started, but he’s been sick and has only been able to go ONCE. I know these transitions are bittersweet. But more sweet than bitter. That’s how I look at it.
    Nina recently wrote…Why Couple Friends MatterMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Oh, definitely more sweet than bitter – mostly because I KNOW he will love it, and it’d be right for him. Yay for Nate, but sorry about the sickies!

  • September 20, 2013 Keely

    Oh man, that is AWESOME. For him, for you, for writing time, for decompression…

    And it’s also slightly sad. But mostly awesome. Seriously.
    Keely recently wrote…Lying To The Neighbors At La Bodega.My Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I’m going with awesome. πŸ™‚

  • Sometimes I wonder if growing up is not harder on the parents than it is for the children…
    That picture with the mug is so adorable! And I really like the mug too.
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…A post full of minor eventsMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Oh yes, it’s definitely harder on us than them. Sigh.

  • September 20, 2013 My Inner Chick

    A bit bittersweet without your coffee buddy, but also liberating in a way
    because you will be able to write more! πŸ™‚ Xxx Love to you, Alison Lee.
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…The Poem I Read At Your FuneralMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      It will be liberating! xo

  • September 20, 2013 Adrienne

    Oh my heart. This is making me cry! He is going to love it! Girl, he’s going to be running that place and bossing people around in no time. πŸ˜‰ Great shot of him with that coffee!
    Adrienne recently wrote…Fifteen Years AgoMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      No doubt he will most certainly be bossing people around πŸ™‚

  • September 20, 2013 Natalie

    I can’t believe how fast since time has gone and that he is this big already!
    Natalie recently wrote…Protectors of InnocenceMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I know, that’s how I feel when I read your updates about Nolan and Conley. πŸ™‚

  • September 20, 2013 tracy

    I have just 2 mornings w/o kids…so I think I do laundry…and eat peanut butter out of the jar. xo
    tracy recently wrote…You Just Call Out My NameMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      You are my hero. xo

  • September 20, 2013 Stevie

    Aww your coffee buddy. I’m sure that child-free time will fill up pretty quickly. It’s amazing he is getting so big. But also, how wonderful he will get that experience, and with teachers you trust and love.
    Stevie recently wrote…God as I Understand HerMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I’m so looking forward to it in many ways πŸ™‚

  • September 20, 2013 Maureen

    Oh Alison, he’s super adorable, your coffee buddy!
    Also, I feel the sentiment about living in a polluted not enough park big city. I miss big clean parks and watching my boy play freely. Sigh.

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      We really need to move out of Asia πŸ™‚

  • September 20, 2013 Arnebya

    On days that I don’t go to work and I’m home without them, I fall into two categories: clean or nap. There is no in between. Funny, Z has been asking me for the past week if I want to go to the coffee shop and have doughnuts with him. We’ve never done this. I’ve no idea where he got it but the idea is absolutely delicious.
    Arnebya recently wrote…Just Write: ThinkingMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Doughnut dates with the littlest are the best.

  • September 20, 2013 Maggie S.

    I can’t believe he’s already this big. Today, my daughters are at their homeschooling co-op, and their brother and I get a break from teenager world. At 9, I covet opportunities for him to connect with other ‘dudes’.

    Their school time is a time for me to check out a blog or two and see if I can do a few things to keep this household running.
    Maggie S. recently wrote…Tenderly Torn; Exquisitely ShatteredMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I think that’s likely what I’ll be doing – household stuff/ errands and some blogging πŸ™‚

  • September 21, 2013 ilene

    My hearts a tiny little bit because I understand that toggle of coveting that free time but missing your baby! Many, that coffee cup photo is adorable!

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I am hoping the missing him feeling will eventually taper off!

  • September 21, 2013 just JENNIFER

    Honestly, I often spend GUILT FREE time on the Internet when I’m home alone. Doing all sorts of things, but mostly concentrating on blogging, when I can and not feel like I might be neglecting something else.
    just JENNIFER recently wrote…I WalkMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      You know, that is very likely what I’ll end up doing – writing my blog, writing my freelance articles, my consulting work, and maybe an errand or two here and there.

  • September 21, 2013 Christine

    He really is the cutest. That’s exciting that he’s going to start a playgroup. I realized too that I wasn’t a good enough playmate for my kids. They are such sponges and I knew that they need more stimulation and socialization with their peers. And they’ve thrived in school/preschool so far. Doesn’t make it any easier to let go. As for the “free” time? I nap.
    Christine recently wrote…Sunrise Surf, Yoga Sutras and MantrasMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I know it’d be hard. But it’d be tempered with the fact that I know he will love it.

  • September 22, 2013 Greta

    I take care of the youngest when the kids are in school. Sigh. πŸ™‚ I’m not ready for him to go yet, though. But we do go to a storytime once a week, and he LOVES it. I’m pretty sure he would love it if it was every day. He has his built-in friends, with his siblings. Which is different than his peers, I know, and involves more bickering, but still. I understand how you feel, but it sounds like, in your situation, it’s the perfect solution. He will thrive.
    Greta recently wrote…I Finished. #iPPPMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I hope so. Wait, I know so. He will love it!

  • September 23, 2013 anymommy

    This is gorgeous and such truth. My unasked for advice? Don’t plan much. Mornings fill so fast and go so much quicker than you imagine. Naps are good.
    anymommy recently wrote…Something rightMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I will probably plan to nap! πŸ™‚

  • September 23, 2013 Kathy Radigan

    I remember the day I sent my last baby to a 2 year old program. All the babies were crying, and so was my son. The only difference was that all the other children cried when their mom dropped them off, Peter only cried when I picked him up!! Lol! It is very bittersweet, because you are so happy that they are having a good time, and making friends, but at the same time you miss your babies!! As for how you will spend your free time, it feels great, but it goes by so quickly!!! πŸ™‚
    Kathy Radigan recently wrote…The Joy of BakingMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      Hah! That’s adorable. πŸ™‚
      I’m pretty sure my little guy would stay all day at school if he could.

  • September 23, 2013 Lady Jennie

    I spend most of the time on the computer, in varying degrees of productivity. Naps – yes, if I can. Cooking for sure and gardening and cleaning, only because I must. πŸ™‚
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…On Blog ChangesMy Profile

    • September 23, 2013 Alison

      I’m looking forward to naps. πŸ™‚

  • September 24, 2013 Mirjam

    I can’t believe he’s growing up so fast.
    You’d be surprised how quickly those child free mornings are filled.
    I have some sort of a schedule, some days I clean, do groceries, other days I blog, craft and sometimes I even watch a movie.
    Mirjam recently wrote…My life is a sitcomMy Profile

    • September 24, 2013 Alison

      A movie! How awesome.

  • September 24, 2013 Michelle

    I’d love a nap. I could say I’m spending my time cleaning, but I’d be lying. I prefer to write and of I have plenty of work to keep me busy…cleaning unfortunately does not pay bills. I did get a run in this morning after everyone left though!
    Michelle recently wrote…Use Your Influence to Make Money Blogging — with SverveMy Profile

    • September 24, 2013 Alison

      I hope to do some working out too πŸ™‚ (and maybe a nap after)

  • September 26, 2013 Andrea

    I have created my own schedule of tasks and leisure time. Each year that my kids are in school, I feel like I have less and less time to do all of the things I think I should do or want to do. The time flies by every single day.
    Andrea recently wrote…Blog Roll, Part 3: The Marrying Kind and the Bible ThumpersMy Profile

    • September 26, 2013 Alison

      I imagine so! 4 hours sounds like a lot to me now πŸ™‚

  • October 11, 2013 Runnermom-jen

    I love those coffee shots…so cute! And yes, he is so big!!! Seriously, how does that happen so quickly?
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…I’m Back!My Profile

    • October 12, 2013 Alison

      I wish I knew. I think I blinked or something. πŸ™‚

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