Home Local Voices Transition, Work, And Motherhood… The Transition Part.

Transition, Work, And Motherhood… The Transition Part.


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. 
October 8  , 2018

My apologies for keeping everyone in a state of suspense regarding my beautiful family home in Moraga. I had it on the market for a hot second and then I changed my mind. As many people in my situation on the brink of being empty nesters know, we are making decisions for our future selves and after spending decades holding the course, this is never easy!

Today, I ran into an old friend of mine. Mary is a recent empty nester. She was buying things to send to her son at USC for Halloween. I realized that I am the ultimate empty nester. I will have no children and no husband. I don’t even have an ex-husband nearby. And, sadly I have no parents to care for either.

I had a very busy summer. I continued working on Ocean SF and my three part time jobs. Even though I broke my arm, I literally did not skip a beat. I had my daughters home all summer and Austin Clark for three weeks. It made it hard to imagine ever living here by myself.

My beautiful swimming pool, that sits under a grove of a dozen 120 foot redwood trees, decided to be the problem of the summer. Anyone who has dealt with the pool people know that they are an elusive and extremely expensive group of folks. They also operate under their own set of rules.

For whatever reason, the pool people I employed over the summer insisted the green algae was due to the California fires. I didn’t necessarily believe this, but I thought throwing more money at the pool would certainly fix the problem fires or not. This proved unfounded. We are talking not hundreds, but thousands of dollars later. Interestingly, my entire family became pool experts and could pop the top off of the pressurized water filter with ease. My girls and I know our way around a wrench thank goodness. None of this is bad. Every friend of mine helped in some way over the summer to keep the pool a lovely light blue, as it did not take a village, it took an army. After many months we discovered the problem which was fixed via a u-tube video. More on this later, but you might want to set the pump timing yourself.

As autumn approached I thought I can’t do this again. It’s time to move on. I began to dream of how lovely it would be to live in a hotel. I went to L.A. for work and stayed in a beautiful hotel. At the pool I was handed a towel not a net with a pole at the end. There was music playing, and a peaceful waterfall. I ordered room service from my phone as I sat in the hot tub. What was not to love?

Of course we love what challenges us the most. I came home and listened to the crickets in the creek. My pool with the lights illuminating the redwoods is something no hotel can offer. I also have an amazing fire pit and a beautiful tree house.

My garden is full of repeat blooming roses and every variety of lavender. My lemon tree that I have cultivated for a decade is laden with fruit. My dog sleeps in the green grass. My neighbors walk past and say hello.

I love my quiet creekside location, the tulle fog that comes over the ridge, and the birds that wake me up each morning.

It’s tempting to dream of living in a hotel after so many years of caring for my husband and kids, and everyone else’s kids for that matter. The idea of being a guest sounds delightful.

Yet, Moraga is my home and I’m not alone in holding it close to my heart. It appears that many people have a hard time leaving Moraga. My next door neighbors were here decades before we moved in. My predecessor lived here well into her eighties. I can definitely see why.

My youngest daughter graduates from high school in June. I have many options and opportunities to consider and the possibilities are endless…

Luckily, I’ll still have the dog.

Sydney Chaney Thomas


  1. Learned to go do it urself when the washing machine guy tried to sell us a whole new circuit board and other gear. Turned out we needed to clean the filter. Saved about six hundred and have gone to You tube for a bunch of home fixes since. Pools can be pricy!!

    • Yes, I love to do things myself. I’m very handy and always have been. I bought a new pump for efficiency and the tech set it for winter temps! Working great now! I love the pool. It’s like a lake in the forest beneath the trees. It’s so pretty.

  2. This is happening a lot and you are not alone. So many things can change in the blink of an eye that send us down different paths. I don’t know you’re story but you’re obviously going through that process. I hope it all works out.

    • It’s been a journey and many friends of mine are making major changes. I remember feeling like this before, knowing it will all work out, and being excited and scared at the same time. Thank you for your kind words.

  3. Above all else, if you are ever to find peace, you have to find it in yourself. Your children’s happiness, success or failure, is essentially theirs. You fixed their sails and put them on the water with whatever you had. Alone again, find yourself. Three part-time jobs sounds like unhappiness to me unless you are working to save the world which sounds like unhappiness to me. Spend this time with your friends. It’s not about the pool.

    • I’m feeling more peaceful about things and allowing good things to happen. I have more than three part time jobs, but they are all fun and enjoyable. I look forward to my time with my students and co-workers many who are also entrepreneurs. I’ll write more about this in my next article.

  4. I was where you are about five years ago and it is really tough I know. Luckily you seem really strong which is good, some people lose their strength of will when it comes to loss of a home or family change and many I know have succumbed to a series of poor choices. I’m sure you will be ok but your situation sounded so similar to mine — down to learning how to do things for myself for the first time — I had to drop you a line! Youtube can be a valuable friend! Not everyone out there is.

    • I remember reading the most important thing to teach our daughters or children is to tolerate anxiety. Fear of the unknown is the killer of dreams. I think if you let go of the attachments to the past you have everything to gain. I love reading Benjamin Hardy for dealing with change.

  5. Sometimes it seems the system as it stands wants us to leave California – which is hard for us Californians. Change is not always good. If they want a state inhabited by transients they can charge at will people lose their connection to their home and begin to feel manipulated and cheated. I have friends in the city who would like to leave except they have good jobs and families. I for one can’t understand why we are committed to driving Californians out of California but there is a lot going on right now I don’t get.

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