The Reckoning Week 46: My Empty-Bucket Ring

January 26th, 2021

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I recently got my hands on an Apple watch and have joined the sheeple desperate to close my rings every day. My daughters have noticed my fixation and asked me to explain it. Thereafter, Eliza has continued to check in and see if I have closed my rings, which she refers to as:

  1. Energy

  2. Standing up

  3. Burning out

As in, “Did you close your ‘burning out ring’?”

But for real, that would be a useful ring. At the dinner table: “Bad news guys, my burning out ring closed, so I am unavailable for further whining about what I cooked until tomorrow.”

Me on a Zoom call: “Sorry, folks, my burning out ring just closed. Gotta run.”

Sometimes I tell Eliza that she has it wrong, and that the red ring is my “bucket is getting empty” ring and we are all in danger if she doesn’t fill my bucket back up.

I wake up with a rather empty bucket that can only be filled with coffee and time. But in an inverse relationship, Eliza has been siphoning off it with whining and obstinance. Getting ready for school is chipping away at my will to go on.

I made a pretty grave parenting mistake the other day and tried bribing them: 

Whoever gets in the car first gets a lollipop on the way to school.

I can’t express how sorry I was to have made this proclamation when, moments later, Eliza was sobbing because she knew she couldn’t win. I had to immediately amend it to:

If you both get in the car by the time this timer goes off, you both get a lollipop.

That’s how both of my kids ended up with a sugar stick in their mouth on the way to school at 8:30am. 

My bucket has been low lately.

We typically slide into school just under the wire, but it’s stressful and cacophonous every morning. We pull up to their beautiful, harmonious Montessori campus where, masked, I try to act like a calm mom who has mastered this shit. I suspect I’m not alone in this ruse.


Striving to close my burning out ring today, I left for school pickup in the middle of a critical Zoom call. My mercurial internet connection had already dropped the call twice mid-thought, and as I left, I had to connect yet again from my phone instead of my laptop. I sped to school on the windy country roads of Southern Vermont, the sky gray-heavy with inevitable snow, as tech talk from around the world flickered in and out on my bluetooth. 

A, in Australia, weighs in on her thoughts. J, in San Francisco, shares his. I pray they don’t ask me what I think, as I am busy trying to avoid black ice and wondering if we’re going to have a snow day tomorrow. 

Just as I pull up to the circle, we get off the call, and my phone automatically switches over to a nice reggae tune from out of nowhere. The girls get in. “They’re ping pongs today,” warns Cheryl. 

I head into town with the ping pongs, and set them up on the couch in my co-working space, sedated with snacks, screens, and — yes — more lollipops, so I can finish up the work that’s due today.

Kids: Safe and healthy

Burnout ring: Very close to closed for the day

Bucket: There’s a hole in it, Dear Liza

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What I’m reading:

Imagine America Is a Teenage Girl — So, so, so good, a must-read for parents of daughters

Fleishman Is in Lockdown — How did I miss this when it came out in July?

Fran Lebowitz’s One-Star Amazon Reviews on The New Yorker — many, many laughs, some of them at myself

What I’m listening to:

Dustin O’Halloran – An Ending, A Beginning

What I’m watching:

For this week’s movie night, we watched the lovely animation WolfWalkers by the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, which makes genius (hand-drawn!) kids movies bereft of princesses in high heels walking around ice castles. WolfWalkers is the third in a trio of movies about animal folklore and it was gorgeous. Great article about these artists in The New Yorker recently, by the way,

What I’m working on:

For the nonprofit SaverLife: Beyond the Check: How the Second Stimulus Bill Will Benefit You and Have You Received Your Second Stimulus Payment Yet?


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