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Transition, Work & Motherhood: A Moraga Mom’s Family UN – Sydney, Siena, Paris – And An Australian Named Austin


Ed: Sydney Chaney Thomas is a Moraga-based writer and businesswoman with three books to her name, all currently available on Amazon. She is also co-founder of a sustainable sailing apparel company called Ocean SF, and operates a nonprofit that works to reduce plastic waste called the The Trident Project.

Sydney teaches entrepreneurial marketing at UC Berkeley in their International Diploma Program and, in addition to this column, she writes a popular lifestyle blog, which can be found at sydneychaneythomas.com.

Transition, Work & Motherhood
Moraga, Calif. 
April 23, 2018

My daughter is finishing her first year of college next month. She was home over the weekend because she is at the Model UN conference in San Francisco.

When I pulled up at the Southwest terminal to get her she was standing curbside in a cream colored fur coat and a pair of clear orange sunglasses. Her body language and demeanor prove that she is a strong and powerful person in her own right now, and obviously no longer a baby in any sense of the word.

I’ve watched her over the past year demonstrate tremendous strength and determination. I wish I could say that I’ve seen major strides as she’s faced adversity, but honestly, she has always been this way. A person of fine character, confident, smart and beautiful with a powerful intellect and sense of justice.

She is a political science major, a model UN delegate and a member of the student government at her college. She is definitely on her way, and the hard work and commitment required of motherhood is now paying off and proving worthwhile afterall.

When my daughter went to college I had this idea that my life would open up and I would have countless hours to work and write and dive into the many hobbies and interests that I put off during the very busy days of motherhood. Yet, the day after I left Los Angeles leaving my eldest to her own devices, my younger daughter injured her knee in a soccer practice, tearing both her MCL and her ACL. This incident resulted in my 16-year-old daughter needing ten times the care of my two daughters combined the year before. This proves that we never really know what life has in store and the best laid plans can change in an instant.

Over the fall and winter I was distracted by doctors visits, two separate knee surgeries, countless physical therapy appointments and driving my daughter to school again. Because of this the transition of life without my older daughter was softened.

However, I did missed her very much and I even missed her boyfriend Austin, appropriately named after a city in Texas no less, even though he’s Australian. My girls and I share city themed first names, thanks to my late husband, who grew up in Dallas, Texas. He chose the city names and was adamant about them. When I resisted, he would offer alternatives like: Brenda, Karen or his favorite Billee-Joan, the combination of both of our mother’s names, he even threw out the name Nellie-Pearl after our grandmothers. Eventually, I acquiescenced to the city names, but for the record it was not my idea. The nameology suits us now that we don’t go everywhere together acting as a walking geography lesson. However, we were Siena, Paris, Sydney and Austin over the weekend as we together attended the pre-party for pictures and a dinner with friends after for Siena’s Campolindo Junior Prom.

Yesterday, I drove my daughter back to the city for her conference. She was wearing heels, a silk blouse and a suit jacket with slacks. As she walked away, I realized for the first time, in a real way, that she truly does have a life that I am no longer a part of. My role is now of the consultant as they say, but my love for her is never changing and she will forever be my precious little girl and no matter how old she is, I will continue to see the child that resides behind the woman.

She has essentially not changed a whit since the first day of preschool when the other little girls wouldn’t let her play house with them. She told me at the time that she didn’t care because she wanted to be President of the United States instead.

Hold fast to your dreams…


  1. Nice to have the kids back home isn’t it? My bestie was over the moon for days — cooking, planning trips. Hopefully they’ll always know they can come home!

  2. @Marcus I’m expecting that in the future. She’s studying in London in January. After that I doubt she’ll have an interest in Moraga. But you never know.

  3. @Bob I was thinking I could have a St Mary’s student take her place, but wanted to hold the space open for her for a little while until she’s good and launched!

  4. As much as I love having the little ones around I look forward to the future when the responsibility of motherhood are less. I hope to travel and devote myself wholeheartedly to my professional projects. But for now I love encouraging their hopes and dreams and being a support system.

  5. I can always tell they’re back because the washing machine is always going. It’s like a doorbell for me.

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