• Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley smile in yard on last day of school
    Family & Friends

    The Last Day of School

    At the end of every school year, I have to create an individual report for every student in each of my classes. I write things like, “Jack has shown strong growth in historical writing this year, as shown by…” They are sometimes dry, though I try to show the parents of my students how much their kids have learned by using specific examples. Still, I know it’s really only part of what they learn in my class. Do they know how to support their argument in writing or analyze the Constitution in a debate? This stuff is important. But it’s not all of what I do in class. Trying to…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's children eat with neighbor family at counter
    Family & Friends

    How My Son Found Family Across the Alley

    My eight-year-old, Austin, has always held his feelings close.  When his father died last January, I worried about how he would fare in the world without the man who understood him best.  His older sister talked openly with me about her emotions and his younger brother cried any time I left his sight. But Austin’s grief was quiet.  I only knew he was sad whenever I found him curled up in our recliner looking at family photos. I was worried about my son, but I was also consumed by my own grief, and that meant that I could not organize all of the play dates and other activities my children…

  • Marjorie Brimley's daughter Claire does homework in their kitchen in DC
    Family & Friends

    Field Trips, Open Houses and Other Events I Can’t Attend Anymore

    The other day I was sorting through the kids’ paperwork after school and came across a permission slip for a field trip for Claire. I signed it, and then was putting it on my calendar when Claire came over to me. I asked her about what she thought she was going to do on the field trip, and she told me. Then she turned and looked at me with hopeful eyes and asked, “Can you chaperone my field trip, mama?” I sighed. There was no way I could take off. “I can’t, baby,” I said. I tried to keep my voice even. “I have to work full time now and…

  • Shawn Brimley and his three children hugging in front of their DC home

    CNAS Tribute to Shawn (Part 2)

    Below are the remarks I gave on October 29, 2018 at the CNAS event honoring the life and work of Shawn Brimley. Thank you all so much for being here to honor Shawn. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say to you tonight. Shawn was a brilliant, funny, thoughtful man, and I have many good things to say about him and his impact on the world. It’s hard to choose the best Shawn story or fully describe the impact he had on his coworkers, friends and family. Instead, I decided I would speak about what Shawn valued as his greatest lifetime achievement: being a dad to Claire,…

  • Brimley family on a walk after Marjorie became a single mom

    Austin and the Kittens

    A few weeks ago, I took Austin out to dinner. Claire had a play date and Tommy was home with Grandpa Tom, so it was just the two of us. I let him choose the restaurant, and he decided that we should get pizza. It was a beautiful night, so we picked a table outside. We sat down and Austin looked at me without saying anything. I started to ask him about school. “Do you like the other kids in your class this year?” “Yes,” Austin said, simply. Then, I waited for him to say more. Instead, he just looked at the sky. “Well, are you learning interesting things in…

  • Marjorie making breakfast with Claire before becoming a widow
    Things That Suck

    Why Being a Widowed Single Mom is So Hard

    I realize the title of this post could be an entire book.  There are like 1000 reasons why being a widowed single mom is so hard.  Today, however, I think I may have narrowed it down to one. The day started out like many days have started out in the past 6 months.  I woke up before the kids, came downstairs for some coffee and to prep the amazing amount of things that my kids need for their days.  My kids have learned to help each other, because they get that mom cannot possibly do everything they need.  So Austin went and got Tommy his clothes for the day and…