Sunday, April 29, 2018


Marriage (and pretty much my entire relationship with Shawn, if I’m honest) has been…easy. My history with relationships was that they are hard, requiring constant tending to and nurturing and negotiating. So when I met Shawn, it felt almost jarring how simple and uncomplicated it all was. It’s not that we haven’t faced moments of adversity or argued over something mundane. It’s just that I’ve always been proud of our ability to communicate, the way we are able to work together. I naively thought that the effect of a new baby would be minimal, just a blip on the timeline of our life together. An adorable, squishy and significant blip— but certainly not the homemade explosive it has turned out to be. 

Being tired makes me unreasonable. It magnifies my emotions, my expectations and my disappointments. I wasn’t even really sure what my needs were in those early weeks, but I was pretty certain that they weren’t being met. I refused to accept any help and then inwardly scoffed that Shawn wouldn’t somehow insist on helping anyway. In short, I expected my husband to be both a mind reader and a martyr. 

Life has gotten easier as Everett continues to grow. I’m still not sleeping but I’ve reached some kind of hybrid zombie human state that is manageable, if not exactly ideal. The fog has lifted and I now have the capacity to consider things outside of the realm of ‘baby'- personal hygiene…laundry… I even sometimes remember that there are television channels other than Bravo. 

But I have a secret that I am weirdly shameful about. I am terrible at prioritizing time for my relationship. I often feel genuinely confused when I see new parents doing the very normal thing of dropping off their babies with a grandparent or other doting relative (who is usually actually salivating at the prospect) and escaping for a few hours. I encourage my own friends with new little ones to take time for themselves and my logical brain recognizes the value of it. But for me, personally…well, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone and having to come up with a plan and thaw frozen milk and pack up a bag and admit to our laid back non-scheduled parenting style and apologize for the fact that my baby doesn’t nap…frankly, it often feels like too much work. Which is not to say I’m not madly in love with my husband. In fact, I love him more at this moment than I ever have in any other point at our relationship. He is my best friend, my consummate partner and fits into every last cheesy cliche. 

Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of him in my peripheral vision in the middle of a mundane parenting task and my heart threatens to explode with joy and gratitude. His over abundance of patience with Grace has saved not only my sanity but probably my relationship with her, too. When I come back to bed after feeding the baby, he always reaches out to me and squeezes my shoulder in a sign of sleepy solidarity. He does the dishes every night, navigates school pick up almost every day and is the first to encourage me to work towards goals especially when I’m feeling uncertain. I also sometimes want to strangle him because WHY IS HE BREATHING SO LOUDLY AND ALSO WHY CANT HE READ MY MIND, but this seems pretty typical. So, I’ve honestly been surprised at just how bad I am at putting myself (and therefore my marriage) first. When Grace was a baby, I was prioritizing survival and figuring out how to be a grown up. My relationship just never felt that significant. Now, I’ve got the grown up thing slightly more under control but it feels so daunting to try and carve out the necessary slivers of time to connect with my husband in a way that doesn’t involve playing pass the baby or switching off bedtime duty. And still, I have this pervasive fear of looking up eighteen years from now and discovering that Shawn is essentially a stranger. 

Like so many other aspects of parenting, it’s a balancing act. And I’m not very good at balance, as it turns out. 

When I was trying to get pregnant, every month that it became obvious that I wasn’t felt like a small tragedy. As I was lamenting to a good friend about the abject disappointment I was feeling she said that she was glad that I was in a place where I wanted something so wonderful to work out so desperately. At the time, it seemed like an overly optimistic spin on the situation but now, I find myself returning to this idea. That it is a privilege to have something beautiful that is worth working towards, where you care so much about the outcome. How lucky I am to have a marriage that is worth protecting and prioritizing.

So today, I sat with my husband in a darkened theater in the middle of the day on a Sunday. I ate overly buttered popcorn, frequently pausing to wipe the grease off onto my jeans (the same pair I had worn the day before). I reached over and hooked my pinky finger into my husband’s and nuzzled my head into his shoulder, my body feeling palpable relief akin to coming home again (I also hid behind that same shoulder more times than I would like to admit- but I think I subconsciously chose a horror movie to capitalize on this exact situation). The entire date was over in a flash— my in laws didn’t even believe that we actually had been away long enough to watch an entire movie but even that small amount of time was like coming up to the surface for giant gulp of air. 

I’m learning to take that rush of oxygen where I can get it. Sometimes it will be a stolen hour or two on a random Sunday, sometimes just a favorite TV show and sweatpants and ice cream on the couch after the kids go to bed and sometimes (maybe someday?) it will be an elaborate and meticulously planned weekend away. 

And in between the breathing in and out, the world will continue to spin just the way it is supposed to. 

Monday, April 16, 2018



I feel like I have said this before, but this has been a big year for you.

Two months to the day after your 8th birthday, your little brother was born. You were the first person who got to know if your new sibling was a girl or a boy. You not-so-secretly were wishing for a sister, and when Shawn leaned down to whisper in your ear, your entire face fell and your shoulders slumped perceptively, giving away the baby’s gender without saying a word. 

 But you then walked over to peek at the new bundle snuggled against my chest and as soon as your eyes met his, it was almost as if I could actually see your doubts and disappointment disappear in an abundance of love and adoration. You immediately made us promise we wouldn’t mention your preference for a sister again, because you didn’t want to hurt your brother’s feelings. 

I feel a little guilty starting your birthday letter with an anecdote about your brother but if I’m being honest, that’s how a lot of this last year has been. There has been so much energy and focus siphoned into your brother, with our days revolving around his schedule and needs. I often travel through my days in a sleep deprived haze and I know you aren’t getting the very best version of me- I want to apologize to you a thousand times for this. Maybe its been character building? I'm going to go with that. I am so proud of your seemingly easy transition into the role of big sister. You have handled all these changes with a poise and compassion that feels far beyond your years. Most days, you are eager to help and often change diapers and prepare bottles. You seek out your brother immediately as soon as you get home from school and are proud to show him off to everyone you know. At school events and birthday parties, it feels like you are auditioning him to be the official mascot of the third grade. Watching you blossom within this new family structure and seeing the relationship between you and Everett grow has been an unbelievable gift to me. Thank you for that.

You also started a new school this year, I worried about taking you away from the safety and security of the school you had been at since kindergarten, but as it has been with most things, I shouldn’t have worried so much about you. You navigated the beginning of the school year with not even a single hiccup and we all enjoy how much closer we are to your school and being able to get involved with your school community. You had your first “school” birthday party this year and we marveled at what a lovely group of polite kids showed up (even at a wild trampoline park!). You struggle with organization (you got my genes on that one, kiddo) but still excel in school. The third grade recently put on a wax museum and it might have been my favorite school event yet. You had a hard time choosing between portraying Abraham Lincoln or Serena Williams but eventually settled on Serena because you figured that you looked most like her- since you both have curly hair and own tennis rackets. 

You’ve gotten infinitely cooler and continue to curate a set of interests totally separate from mine. You love to watch cooking shows and have started to add your own educated commentary on each contestant’s strategy. And although you’re always ready for a dance party in the comfort of our kitchen, car dancing requires a lot more cajoling (in case anyone catches a glimpse of our sweet moves). You embarrass much more easily which is low-key one of my favorite things (probably because it reminds me of my own experiences growing up- teasing is our official family language of love, I think.) And you no longer default to finding Shawn and I automatically hilarious- we’re not always the coolest people in the room which is surprisingly bittersweet. You’ve started to discover musical theater and absolutely love Hamilton which warms my heart and reminds me so much of my own childhood hours singing along to songs I really didn’t understand, being transported by the music and magic of it all.

I feel like I’m watching you change before my eyes. You’re entering into the part of childhood that’s just in between, not so little anymore but still not a dreaded teenager…the last single digit year. I’m not even sure how it’s possible. You hate when I dance in public, but still want to snuggle with me on the couch. If I let you, you would follow me around the house constantly and some of my favorite moments are when I give in to your pleas and crawl into your bed and giggle with you at the end of a long day. You still ask me for hugs and hold my hand in public. I am constantly trying to remind myself to cherish this sweet time because I am going to blink and just like that, it will be over. 

You have always felt emotions in a big, bold way and that hasn’t changed. It has instead become amplified in ways that are both impressive and challenging as your experiences in the world have become more complex. I worry that I’m not doing the best job of helping you figure it all out, but I’m trying my hardest. 

You are immeasurably kind. When children are really little, kindness feels like sort of a default setting. They have no understanding that the world is anything other than unicorns and rainbows and ice cream. But as you grow older, I am realizing that you somehow manage to make kindness a priority, that it is an integral part of who you are. You choose to sit with a new student at lunch so she’s not sitting alone. You choose to hide a sweet note for me to find in the fridge. I can’t take full credit for this part of your character, but I certainly admire it. 

The bigger you get, the more I am filled with this overwhelming and somewhat suffocating desire to protect you. I want to hold fast to every little bit of your innocence for as long as possible. I’ve got the giving you roots part of parenting down— but the whole idea of also giving you wings terrifies me. 

Someone recently pointed out to me that we’re entering “the second half”. In another nine years, you will be (in some respects) an adult. The first nine years were about keeping you alive & generally happy. The next nine will be spent helping you figure out how to live— and probably making you mad. I hope you always want to dissect every moment of your day with me and that you remember you can talk to me about anything, no matter how uncomfortable or strange. You are going to make mistakes but…so am I. And they will probably be bigger than all of the ones I’ve already made so far (like when you spent an undetermined amount of time this year topping your breakfast cereal with sprinkles without me even noticing). 
As your universe expands and you begin to assert your independence- please remember that you will always be the center of mine.

I continue to be endlessly proud of you— and you will always be the very best thing to happen to your Mama. 



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Life in the "hard season"

Today has been a day. 

I had a disagreement with my parents about something that was relatively minor but in the moment felt catastrophic and it took a lot of mental energy to engage with them about it in a way that didn't make me feel like I was being a petulant teenager (a state I think we all often naturally regress to where our parents are concerned). The baby has had three consecutive days and nights of less than stellar sleep and while this is unfortunately the norm instead of an exception, this weekend it feels like it has worn me right down to a bundle of exposed nerves, ready to misfire at any teeny annoyance. I'm feeling anticipatory anxiety at the thought of my annual performance review at work next week, even though I work for a supportive and empathetic boss and it will be fine-- I just don't want to engage in any professional self-reflection or goal setting right now. In turn, I feel hugely guilty about not being more actively involved in the process or more inherently invested in the career I worked so hard to achieve. 

Then, my husband quietly and respectfully expressed frustration about the disastrous state of our laundry room. A room that he had kindly spent an entire weekend organizing and that I had, in my perpetual hot mess state, undone in a matter of days. So frustrated with myself and suddenly hugely overwhelmed—that is when I lost it. 

I stormed off while holding the baby (much like the petulant teenager I was trying to avoid reverting back to) and hid in my closet (that's what grown ups do, right?) and cried hot angry tears while the baby chuckled and cooed in my arms, probably thinking we were playing an elaborate game of peekaboo. I hastily texted a friend a series of incoherent texts that basically amounted to "I CAN'T ADULT ANYMORE".

I have been floating for a while in this uncomfortable space that I know a lot of mothers (and human beings) can relate to. Where I feel dragged in so many simultaneous directions that nobody is getting a complete or competent version of me. I feel a complicated cocktail of guilt, resentment and sadness about this as well as a touch of "what else am I even supposed to do right now?!".

I know this is a "hard season" of life. But I also know (because every well meaning person over 40 says it to me constantly) that these days go by so fast and to cherish them. How do I do that? How do I knuckle down and figure it out and get through it and also savor each moment and be present?

There is a lot of talk about "losing yourself" in motherhood. I don't feel like this is true. If anything, I think becoming a parent amplifies who you really are- the good and the bad. Being a mother to a fresh, vulnerable and needy child has put all of the pieces of me into bold font and then jumbled them up into a heap that I feel like I'm constantly laying at other people's feet- my husband' children' colleagues'... my family & friend's. And saying "Here you go. It's kind of a mess but maybe you can pick through the wreckage and find something that you can use".

I've been forced to acknowledge pieces of myself that I don't really like. Like that I am someone who has to work very hard to keep a clean and organized home and frankly- I don't always want to make it a priority. That I really need sleep and when I don't get it, I am often emotional and reactive in situations I could otherwise easily brush off. That I really struggle with establishing a work life balance (even though I only work a few hours a week) and that I want to actually punch the person that ever claimed that women could have it all square in the face. 

But I can also identify things that I'm proud of, too. I am a really good mom. I consistently put my children first- but struggle with figuring out how to do that in a way that doesn't impede on my own sanity or marriage. I can be endlessly patient- with a crying baby who needs to be comforted, less so with an overtired eight year old who doesn't understand her math homework. I love people in my life fiercely and never give a second thought to pouring myself into their lives and their problems. 

I am also struggling with my identity as a "working mom". Because I only work (very) part time, I feel precariously unbalanced with one foot in stay at home mom territory and the other in the working world. Going in to work often feels like a party that I was only invited to as an afterthought. People are glad to have me there, sure, but I am never quite in on all the jokes and I always feel woefully underdressed (both metaphorically and also literally because honestly I don't even know if I own pants that aren't leggings at this point). I have so much respect for my many friends who work full time with young children, out of choice or by circumstance. I feel a strange sense of lingering disappointment in acknowledging the fact that I cannot be that person. I'm not even sure that I'm meant to be the person that I am right now (working part time) but for some reason I am clinging desperately to that part of me and consistently ignoring a tiny but persistent voice that is whispering to me that it might be time to let go. This makes me feel decidedly like less of "I am woman, hear me roar" and more like some kind of defective Stepford wife who is very bad at housework. Which circles back to that very untrue and horribly unfair notion that women can somehow have it all- but I still haven't worked out my feelings about that enough to write about it at length. 

The mental load of wives and mothers is something that's also talked about a lot and I am here to say that it is very real.The constant running commentary in your head about what needs to get done is relentless and it is heavy. I am so lucky to have a supportive husband who does a lot of things- laundry and dishes and school pick ups- but there are just things that automatically default to me. Big things like remembering doctor appointments and little things like clearing off the baby's high chair after mealtimes and keeping a constant mental tally of where we are at in everyone's daily schedule. I know my husband would gladly help with more if I asked but the idea of spelling out everything that is so inherently obvious to me feels just too exhausting. 

But at the end of the day...this is life, right? It is messy and hard and complicated in the exact same breath that it is rewarding and beautiful. As I type this, I have a peaceful snoring baby laying on my chest who will wake soon and gaze up at me with beautiful eyes that take up 75% of his face and a sweet little knowing smile that seems to somehow say "Oh good, I knew you'd still be here". 

And that's all I can do. Keep showing up and trying my best and embracing my flaws and all the cliched reassurances we tell ourselves to make it through the day. And if baby smiles, unabashed and exuberant hugs from my third grader and appreciative kisses on the top of my head from a hard working husband are my daily reward, I think I'm doing ok. 

And remembering that "ok" is a perfectly fine thing to aspire to these days is probably the kindest thing I can do for myself.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Breast is best....except for when maybe it's not.

A few days ago, I was desperately nursing Everett in the front seat of my car. I was late to pick up Grace from my dad's office, where I had stashed her so I could tackle my six 
week OB-GYN follow up semi solo. I was sweating and flustered and I must have been emanating "hot mess express" because a sweet older lady peered into my window and gave me a smile and a thumbs up.

I appreciated the gesture, the implied solidarity of all mothers who have chosen to nourish their children in this way-- the #breastisbest army. But it made me pause. Because what this well meaning woman didn't know is that following this less than blissful feed, I would be mixing up an ounce or two of formula to "top off" my little guy. And I had a sneaking suspicion that if I had been spotted bottle feeding my infant in the library parking lot, I wouldn't have gotten any encouragement. At best, I would have been ignored. At worst? A judgmental side eye or unsolicited opinion about my feeding choice. 

Everett's birth was far more serene than I had expected for a c-section (which is another post for another day). He was placed on my chest immediately and wasn't removed for hours. He breastfed successfully within the first hour. Every nurse and lactation consultant who watched us feed (and trust me, there were a lot) complimented me on his "beautiful latch" and voracious eating. At only 6 pounds, he surprised me with his energy and enthusiasm for food. 

I was so relieved. My daughter did not take easily to breast feeding. She was jaundiced and sleepy, often needing to be stripped bare  and her tiny little feet flicked to elicit a few measly sucks. There was nipple trauma and so many tears. I left the hospital with a nipple shield and zero clue what I was doing. I was able to breastfeed her for about six months, but she was always a tiny baby who was slow to gain weight. It was not an experience that I look back on fondly, and I gave it up entirely when I started grad school and couldn't get it together to pump enough milk for her to have when we were apart. 

This time, I was so committed to making breastfeeding work. I was older and unafraid to access resources or ask for help. Everett lost far less than the accepted 10% of his birth weight before our hospital discharge. When our visiting nurse came a few days later, he had even gained an ounce or two. I was so proud. I felt like a warrior mama, a champion breastfeeder who was continuing to sustain life. It somehow eased the transition from pregnant to not and helped replicate the closeness and bond of the rolls, kicks and flutters that had kept me company all those months. 

A few days after that, we went to his first pediatrician appointment. He was down an ounce from when the visiting nurse had been there. And in subsequent weight checks, he continued to lose until he hovered dangerously close to 5 pounds. To say I was devastated wouldn't even begin to describe the despair I felt.  

Cue frantic calls to lactation consultants, home visits that spanned several hours and palpable heartbreak every time a well meaning friend or relative peeked at Everett and said "Oh! He's so tiny" or a nosy stranger asked me if he was premature. 

I started a strict regime of nursing, supplementing with a combination of breastmilk and formula via 10cc syringe (to avoid the dreaded nipple confusion) and then pumping. This entire process took at least an hour. Newborns eat every 2- 2 1/2 hours. Typically by the time I finished pumping, Everett was so irate about being put down for more than seventeen seconds that it took me some time to settle him back down. You can understand how this routine was less than conducive to any type of reasonable sleep. It was a daily ordeal that left me feeling so raw and vulnerable that even responding to well meaning text messages just took too much energy. 

I took all the supplements and bought overpriced "lactation" cookies and brownies. I choked down multiple cups of Mothers Milk tea even though I absolutely HATE the taste of licorice. 

From July to August, Everett gained a pound and a half. It was a decent gain but not reflective of all the hard work I'd been doing. My life had become completely consumed with feeding him. If he fell asleep after eating, nestled beautifully against my chest (one of the best parts of the newborn days) I only could allow myself a few minutes to enjoy it before moving him so I could pump, or wash pump parts or stuff food into my own face while I had two hands to spare. I couldn't leave the house without feeling stressed and overwhelmed. If I fell asleep during a nighttime feeding (or slept through it entirely), I berated myself for hours. Grace got to spend no meaningful time alone with me and my husband ended up on the receiving end of countless snide comments brought on by lack of sleep (and lack of autonomy). I did the math and I was spending almost eight hours a day with a baby or breast pump attached to me. The internal pressure was so great that during a trip to the ER following a terrifying stint of vertigo, I found myself pumping and nursing from a hospital bed, attached to an IV. All this work, and I still felt like I was somehow failing my son.

At Everett's six week appointment, we were told that I had to continue supplementing for the foreseeable future. My husband gently suggested to me that something had to change. I knew he didn't like seeing me like this, measuring my worth in ounces gained and ounces pumped, chained to our couch. But I had never stopped to consider how this crazy crusade of mine might be impacting our marriage, my relationship with my daughter and even my ability to bond with my perfect baby boy. I was singularly focused to the point of madness.

I met with a second lactation consultant to try and figure out if there was a way to keep breastfeeding but not lose my mind. We figured out that Everett was transferring a decent amount of milk, but that it was only enough to maintain his weight, not gain. He has a mild tongue tie and my supply (based on my pumping output) isn't exactly robust. We had a host of factors working against us. The lovely LC gave me permission to ease up on the frantic pumping schedule, to enjoy my baby and to do whatever iteration of combination feeding actually worked for my family. 

I left that appointment and knew I needed to give myself some space to mourn the breastfeeding relationship I desperately wanted but was never going to have. I suddenly understood why days before, in the midst of "World Breastfeeding Week", I dissolved into tears during a 2am feeding session while pouring over beautiful curated images of mothers feeding their children (who had gorgeous fat rolls and robust double chins) on Instagram with hashtags like #liquidgold. I saw nothing that reflected my reality, of exhaustion and tiny full term babies in preemie clothes, of pumps and syringes. 

Every time I worked up the courage to be honest with someone about my struggle, they always responded with "me too" or "I had a friend who went through the same" or "I quit after two weeks". Nobody was surprised to hear how hard breastfeeding was. Every exchange like this was a salve to my battered ego and broken heart. And yet- nobody ever really talks about it. Which creates this vacuum where breastfeeding feels tremendously isolating and allows mothers to continue with the false narrative that if breastfeeding is not working out quite right, you're a failure. 

While I can certainly get behind initiatives like World Breastfeeding Week, I feel pretty confident in saying that the majority of my parenting peers know that breastfeeding is the gold standard. But what about when breastfeeding takes an unhealthy precedent over helping an older sibling acclimate to a brand new family dynamic or over the mother's health and sanity?  What about when the success of breastfeeding feels so wholly important that every stumbling block feels like abject failure? 

As mothers (and as humans) we need to be better about supporting each other and being kind to ourselves. We need to talk about how HARD the first few months postpartum are and how feeding is a huge part of this. When a passionate breastfeeding advocate posts yet another article about the benefits of extended breastfeeding, perhaps she could pause and examine whether the article contains a subtle subtext that shames the mother who formula feeds, by choice or by circumstance. It is difficult enough to quiet the internal pressure and judgement without fighting it from the outside in. I'm all for having intelligent and passionate opinions, but also figuring out how to express them in a way that is respectful and kind. 

I still don't know where our breastfeeding journey will end up. For now, I'm trying to be gentle with myself and cut myself some slack. I'm less chained to a rigid pumping schedule, but still feel committed to continuing to nurse in some capacity as well as providing Everett with as much expressed milk as I reasonably can. But I feel equally committed to actively enjoying this newborn stage, to refusing to shamefully mix up formula in secret and to reinvigorating my relationships with my family, my husband and my daughter (and giving them the opportunity to fall in love with Everett too). 

Can we all just agree to support each other and share our hard experiences? You'd be amazed at how hearing a "me too" often feels like a lifeline. Having a new baby is truly one of the only experiences in life that is equal parts awful and miraculous, both exhausting and invigorating- and we owe it to each other (and ourselves) to be honest about that. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Dear Grace, 

Eight. I honestly cannot believe it. I’m certain I say this every year but truly…eight feels so old to me, so grown up and impossible. 

You are flying through second grade. You’re learning how to write in cursive and read with a fluency and fervor that continues to impress me. You get frustrated with math and your imperfect penmanship and are quick to claim you are not good at either subject, which breaks my heart a bit. But with a little coaxing, you are able to see it through. I hope I have the patience to continue to build your confidence because kiddo, I truly believe you are capable of doing anything. 

You are so kind. Recently, you ran in your school’s annual 5k and after the race a friend of mine pulled me aside and whispered “She could’ve ran much faster, but her loyalty to her friends is impressive”. I am so grateful for the countless times I don’t have to remind you about doing the right thing. 

You absolutely love to make people laugh. You immediately sense when something you’ve done has made someone smile and amplify it to one hundred, even if it means being unbearably silly. 

You have a fire in you that is challenging. You still throw tantrums bigger than I thought humanly possible and are unbelievably stubborn (which is completely infuriating 100% of the time).  You push me in ways that have led me to shut and lock my bedroom door and dissolve into angry tears on the other side of it. I am completely terrified of when you are a teenager but try and remind myself that this strength and self-assuredness will someday serve you even if it kills me first. This is the constant contradiction I have found while raising a daughter, wanting you to be sweet and kind but also strong and sure. 

Someone recently, after briefly meeting you, referred to you as an “old soul”. They mentioned that you had a polished, self-contained quality about you that isn’t often seen in second graders. That you were articulate and confident. Sometimes I worry that I keep you woven in too tightly with me, try and control your experiences too closely and that maybe I’m denying you some sense of a more carefree childhood…but that comment made me radiate with pride. 

You may be growing up faster than I would like but you’re still full of that crazy exuberance that only comes with being little. You have an imagination that is astounding, inventing outlandish scenarios for your imaginary friends and your entire army of stuffed animal “children” who are often suffering a multitude of broken bones due to the ineptness of your mostly absent husband. You are the leader of a super secret spy crew and often interrupt me mid-conversation to take very important phone calls from your boss about a variety of nefarious villains. Shawn, Kali and I have all been inducted into this crew but we aren’t allowed to talk about it so I’m still not exactly sure what my role in the whole thing is. That’s probably for the best. You are currently obsessed with Ed Sheeran and we start many days with very serious dance parties to his latest album and I never tell you how grateful I am for that reminder to give in to joy. 

This is the first year that we’ve been apart on your birthday. It’s your weekend with your Dad and if I’m being honest, it has been harder on me than I expected. I’ve been on the verge of tears all day, even though I know you are being celebrated and spoiled and loved. But maybe this is a lesson for me, to loosen my grip a little bit. The time is rapidly approaching when most of your time will involve experiencing the world without me and learning to appreciate the times we are together will become even more vital. 

When I kiss you good night I often remind you that you are the best thing to ever happen to your Mama. Recently, you’ve been asking me “But what about the baby?”. The first time you asked it shocked me into silence because yes…what about this new baby?

I feel this self-inflicted pressure to make these last few months of you being an only child the most perfect months ever. To fill them with the best memories. I am so worried that you won’t be able to recover from the way your whole world is going to be turned  upside down by a choice that I made. You have taken the news of becoming a big sibling in stride, feeling excited and sure everything will be wonderful even though you know that babies cry a lot and that it might be a brother even though you’re longing for a little sister. I’ve been struggling to find the words to explain to you how it is that you and this baby will both be so loved but that it is also so distinctly different. 

This baby was hoped for, prayed for, planned on. But you? You were something else entirely. You were a marvelous and terrifying surprise that pushed me farther than I ever imagined I was capable of. You gave me a strength that I was sorely lacking from the moment you burst into the world and we did a whole lot of our growing up together, hand in hand.  For so long we were a team, taking on the world together. With some quiet and careful hesitation, I slowly opened up our tiny world to include other people, people like Shawn. And in doing this, the love and happiness in our universe just continues to expand. It honestly keeps getting better and better. I reassure myself constantly (because you truly don’t need reminding) that this is what will happen with your new sibling, that the love and joy will just double.

So, I told you that this baby would be the best dream I ever dreamed and that you would remain the best thing to ever happen to your Mama. 

And that will always be the truth. 



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Happy Seventh Birthday

You are officially twelve days into seven. By now it should come as no surprise to you that this birthday letter is a whole lot of days late. The right words have been harder to come by the bigger you get. 

We’ve had another banner year kiddo. We moved (again) to the home you will grow up in and move out of to start your own adventures.  Shawny asked me to marry him while you were singing and twirling around us and then immediately asked you for permission to be your “other dad”. In case you forget when you’re a sullen, fuming teenager—you were totally thrilled at the prospect, face timing everyone you knew to tell them all about it. You currently are wandering around missing your two bottom teeth, much to my dismay. It is a tangible reminder of just how grown up you’re getting. You have thrived in first grade and genuinely love going to school.  You’ve scored a 100 on every single spelling test except one, where you got a word wrong because you got distracted and forgot to finish writing it (apparently we’re related after all).  

This has also been the year of the distracted Mama. Between wedding planning and working and just general life responsibilities I spend so much time in my day telling you “just one minute” and answering your questions through a fog of a thousand other thoughts and to-do lists. I worry constantly that I’m not giving you enough, that you’re feeling neglected. That 10 years from now you’re going to look back at this time in our life and remember me crying about invitation envelopes or fuming about seating arrangements and not remember the February vacation we spent doing something fun every single day (ice skating and beach walking and bookstores and museums).  Or that you’re going to remember all the times I told you there was no time for a bedtime story and not the nights that I let you read three books to me in a row. 

Your family birthday party occurred the day after my bridal shower. I was exhausted, frazzled and completely wracked with guilt that there was not one ounce of Pinterest evident in your celebration. But you see, you’re always surprising me.  You spent the day with a giant grin plastered on your face and at bedtime you told me that your favorite part of the day was not presents or cake but spending time with your friends and family. Another valuable life lesson orchastrated by you.

Shawn and I got you a swingset this year. It was installed the day before your birthday and when we got back from a celebratory dinner with Mimi and Grampa, you and I leapt out of the car and sprinted to the backyard. We dove on to the swings and tried out every last feature together, giggling amid shouts of “Come see!”.  Shawn looked at me with a sly smile and said “I’m not sure who is more excited”. 

This is what parenting has been like this year for me.  So many moments of worry and guilt and arguements and tears followed by moments of pure, exhilirating joy. The kind of happiness that you feel in the tips of your toes and to the very top of your head. 

One night last week, you invited me to come swing with you. Inititally I said no. The kitchen was a mess and I still had work to do and…the list is endless. But watching you swing in solitude from the kitchen window tugged unexpectedly at my heart and I realized with a jolt that before I knew it you wouldn’t be asking me to do anything with you any more. I knew my position as playmate in your life is tenuous at best.  So I joined you. As we were swinging lazily side by side, you talked incessently. About how beautiful it was in our backyard, about how excited you were for the wedding, about how special it was that Shawn chose to love you when he didn’t have to, about how Shawn probably tried and tried not to love me but finally couldn’t take it anymore and just had to give in. Having this unfiltered view into your mind was something pretty special. Because with each day you become less an extension of me and very much every inch your own, independent person. 

My days start with listening for the sometimes shuffle sometimes speedy patter of your feet coming down the hall and then having you slide into bed between Shawn and I for some early morning cuddles. At the end of my day, before going to bed, I sneak into your room to marvel at you, for just a minute (the amount of pictures I have of you sleeping on my phone are probably a little creepy) and plant a kiss on the top of you head with a whispered “I love you".  In between, there may be raised voices and exsasperated sighs and slammed doors but my day always begins and ends with you. Being your mama is what I measure every other experience in my life against. 

No matter what kind of craziness life may bring to us my girl, you will always come first. 

Happy 7th Birthday to the very best thing to happen to her Mama.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Wedding Woes...

I’m getting married in 39 days.

Or, if I consult the countdown app that I downloaded because I’m a total masochist- 1 month, 7 days, 23 hours 35 minutes and rapidly disappearing seconds.

When we started planning our wedding a little more than a year ago, I was convinced that a full years worth of wedding planning would be a practically unbearable amount of time. That the days would drag and linger and I would be left just twiddling my thumbs and waiting.

Like most of my ridiculous assumptions, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This year has flown by in a flurry of decisions (not my strong suit), tears (both of the happy and the absolute irrational meltdown variety) and a moment or two (or 5,253) of “why the hell didn’t we just elope”. I’ve bored just about everyone I’ve encountered with incessant wedding chatter and have developed actual opinions about things like wedding bands and photo booths.

Suddenly, people who I barely knew began sharing their thoughts about my wedding without even a second of hesitation.  I have become fluent in a language I didn’t even know existed- of linens and letter pressed stationary, calligraphers and seamstresses and so much etsy.  Wedding planning turns rational, kind human beings (myself included) into insane monsters with toddler-level emotions and coping skills.

Sweet, well-meaning coworkers and distant facebook acquaintances were constantly minimizing my stress level, insisting that this should be “the happiest time of my life”. To which I would dryly reply “dear god. I hope not.”

I have this awful habit of trying to do everything and doing none of it particularly well. I had been working long days, doing the mom thing, getting up at 5 am to work out in my basement in the name of “self-care” (aka being totally anxiety ridden at that thought of 250 people seeing me in a wedding dress) and balancing my laptop in my lap while “relaxing” in bed, placing orders for various wedding “essentials”. Two weeks ago, I reached a level of exhaustion that I didn’t know was possible. I called in sick from work and slept. For an entire day. I got up, ate dinner with my family, and went back to bed and immediately back to sleep. 20 hours of sleep and I began to feel moderately human again. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, other than perhaps I was actually dying.

That Friday, I left for my bachelorette party. I knew nothing about our agenda, except that were were heading to Newport and that most of my favorite people would be in attendance.

That weekend was magic.

I didn’t think once about the minute wedding details that had been ruling my life. I didn’t think of the unfinished pile of paperwork sitting on my desk at work. I didn’t think about my 6 year old for more than the time it took to FaceTime and say a hello and I love you (she was having the time of her life with her grandparents, as usual). I didn’t think about what Shawn was doing, except when he checked in with me at 11pm on a Saturday night to tell me he was exhausted and would rather be falling asleep on the couch with me.

I was happy.

I was surrounded by this amazing group of women, by my friends and Shawn’s friends and my soon-to-be sisters in law. Any worries I had about how everyone would get along dissolved instantly. We played silly games, laughed more than I have in a very long time, helped each other with our hair and makeup and ate our weight in junk food. We danced. For hours. (And for one glorious 10 minute period, to the best Beyonce mash-up I have ever heard. I’m pretty sure that DJ is STILL rolling his eyes) We had a private wine tasting with this actor-turned-wine expert named Kevin who complimented us for leaving our penis accessories at home and gave us much more than your typical tasting pour whenever his boss wasn’t looking.  I took a late night cab ride to a very exclusive hot dog stand that turned out to just be a 7-11 and I ate the hot dog anyway. I don't even like hot dogs and it was still delicious. 

I felt loved and supported and buoyed by all this positive energy.  A sense of excitement and anticipation started buzzing within me, replacing the “how am I ever going to get all this stuff done” dread that had been weighing heavily in the pit of my stomach. I missed Shawn fiercely, sending him a barrage mushy texts after last call. This was a marked improvement over the week before when I was not-so-silently fuming at him for the way he was stuffing invitation envelopes and irrationally thinking “oh no is this really what I’m going to be stuck with FOREVER !?!?”

That weekend was a gift. One I will be forever grateful for. 

It provided me with an essential bit of perspective. That the whole point of this wedding nonsense is to be surrounded by people who love you, who have watched you flounder and grow and flourish and to celebrate. To be happy. Since that trip, I’ve been able to consciously chose to not worry about every little detail ( a rather impressive accomplishment, seeing as I’ve encountered a way too small flower girl dress and several invitation snafus in the last 72 hours alone) and to let myself just be excited.

Engagement and wedding season is rapidly approaching and I have this unsolicited piece of advice for all brides-to-be. Accept that you will, no matter how laid-back or organized or decisive you are- momentarily lose your mind. People who you love and admire may also join you in temporary insanity. You will have at the very least one 20 minute period where you cry uncontrollably- and the catalyst for this will be entirely unrelated to your wedding and very confusing for your fiance. You will become a distant (at best) or terrible (at worst) friend and a moderately distracted employee. But also know- it gets better. You can make the choice to let it go and just look forward with excitement and joy. Accept help, delegate tasks and realize nobody cares as much as you do (or as much as you think they do. Except for maybe your mother. She probably cares, a lot). 

On May 7th, I’m not going to be worried about the quality of my table linens or if the white hydrangeas compliment the meticulously selected yellow roses. I’m not going to care if there was enough Advil in our bathroom baskets or if our guests are scraping the Gorgonzola cheese off of their fillets. I am just going to be happy. To be surrounded by all the people who have loved me throughout the course of my life while I proudly commit the rest of it to a partnership with the very best person I know.

And I’m going to be dancing. For hours. Preferably to Beyonce.