Next Steps


Here’s what I love about Vermont.

I have told a few people over the past few days that I’m ready to go back to work. Me, as in the person outside of mommy, is ready to send her children back to school and preschool so that she can do something other than be home with them. My statement wasn’t about the need to go back to work but the want. The desire to have independence and a life outside of my children.

And my fellow Ver-mommers? No one has batted an eye or even quietly sucked in her breath in response to my statement. No one has judged me.

Me, the mom who stayed home for some six years and was co-organizer of the Fairfield County Attachment Parenting Group. Wanting to work. Ready for the next cycle. Ready for more.

Summer? It’s been fun. Awesome, really. One of my three children went to camp for four days. Other than that, it’s been us, exploring, baking, laughing, visiting our NJ family, basking in all of summer’s glory. It’s been nothing short of amazing.

But here’s the thing. Part of the brilliance of summer has been knowing that it has to be savored.  Yeah, these last few days will be delicious. We’re going to the Champlain Valley Fair tomorrow and will indulge in everything fried and fast-paced. We will go to Lake Iroquois as a family, one last time. We will walk down to Archie’s for a final before-school creemee.

We will BBQ the most amazing and enormous bacon and cheese stuffed burgers from Shelburne Meat Market and delight in watching our kids sloppily devour their new favorite summer treat, buttery grilled corn. I will watch my five year old do her best to scrape the kernels off with her missing top teeth and wait patiently for her to finally give in and ask me to cut the corn off into a bowl for her.


 Summer home with my kids for the past few months has been all about giving in. Giving in to the sweet, batter-licking indulgences.

batter licking

Giving in to later bedtimes and more TV. Giving in to putting dinner off for an hour because the kids are  having so much fun riding their bikes through the afternoon storm’s puddles.

Puddle biking

Giving in to the fact that the mountains of laundry are still there because it’s just more important to have mountain-sized snuggle sessions instead.

We have given in but like the parents who by mid-April are totally spent on everything end-of-school, I’m now end-of summer. I know I can’t make it much longer with all of this giving in. The kids can’t either.  Although it’s been glorious, we’re all ready for the next step. A cycle of morning rhythms and evening preparations. A cycle of menu planning and bedtime stories. A cycle of budding readers and excited car-ride home stories from the school day. A cycle of more expectations but also of knowing what comes next. And yes, a cycle of figuring out how to fit in both the mountainous laundry and the snuggles.

Last fall I did not go back to work by choice.  I spent far too long dwelling over the non-choice. But now, after the summer of giving in, I realize how excited I am for our next steps. My middle daughter is beginning kindergarten and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid so ready and enthusiastic for the next step. She’s embracing it, in all of its newness. It’s hers. She owns it. She’s taught me to own my next step, to embrace the cycles of our family’s days.

Last summer was one of intense, fearful anticipation of what was around the corner. Now? I can’t wait to gather around the dinner table at night, talking about apple picking and going for early Sunday morning trips for cider donuts. I can’t wait to rake piles of crunchy autumn leaves just to destroy them in flying leaps. I can feel the eager anticipation of the first snow-day, dancing together when they call off school. I feel it like I am still a kid myself. And knowing that just when we’ve had enough snow, when we cannot take one more trip to the sledding hill, when we’ve picked up our final soggy sock and we are spent trying to remember every last mitten, hat, boot and lunch, that spring and all of it’s jacketless, budding next steps will be cycling in, just around the corner.

spring blooming

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Tricia Van Vliet
Although I am a Jersey girl at heart, Shelburne, VT is where my family has planted our roots. I’m a mama to three: Sean, Fee, and Maggie. I work in special education by day and can be found reading, running or eating cheesecake after the kids are asleep. (Sadly, I have yet to discover a way to combine all three of my favorite hobbies.) I love food, eclectic fashion, morning coffee in my favorite mustache mug, and am passionate about all things local and Vermont. Although I have yet to learn how to ski, I'm your girl if you need some gas pumped.


  1. I like the part about owning your next steps. Sometimes I over think myself into a state of confusion or indecision. Good word, thanks 🙂

  2. Tricia-

    I’m not sure where you’re thinking of working or what field you’re looking for work in, but The Arbors in Shelburne (where I work) is currently hiring part and full time shifts. We’re looking for someone to help out in the activities department part-time and also senior companions to hang out with our lovely seniors that simply want someone to take a walk with them, read to them, talk with them, etc. Their number is 802-985-8600.

  3. Tricia, this was so beautifully written. Almost spoken directly from my heart. I love how you describe summer as a season of “giving in”. I need to learn to give in more and loosen up a bit. Thank you for reminding me that these seasons are to be savored sweetly.


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