Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Almost Done

Last week my friend and I took a prenatal yoga class together. At the start of the class, the teacher goes around and asks us how far along we are, and how we are feeling. When it was my friend's turn, she said she was 37 weeks and she was feeling done. The teacher asked if the nursery was ready for the baby at home, and my friend replied "Oh, this baby isn't coming home with me." My friend is a surrogate. She and her husband have a son together who is almost eight. She was never sure if she wanted another baby. She did know though that at some point she would like to help someone who couldn't have their own baby, and carry it for them.

Years ago, I remember being at my friend's house and meeting a couple there. She had twins, and when I asked about them she began to tell me that she didn't carry them. She was very forward about this, and I realized later this woman may have been the inspiration for my friend. Any day now, she will go into labor. It remains to be seen how handing over this baby will impact her, but so far it has been interesting to watch the range of feelings that have come up.

At first, we talked about how this would help her decide if she herself wanted another baby of her own. Within the first trimester her answer to that question was that she was done, and too old for this. As her belly began to grow and her 8-year-old son took interest, he asked if he could have a sibling after they have this baby. She began to ponder if she could do this again. As the due date got closer and closer, more logistics and questions come up. The parents of the baby would love it if she could pump breast milk for the beginning (which she was happy to do. But when they asked her if she would be comfortable nursing the first day or two, that wasn't something she could answer as quickly.

One night when she and her husband were eating ice cream, she asked for a second bowl and her husband joked that she will fatten the baby. Her response was that it wasn't her baby. Even though it is another woman's egg does the fact that it is living off of her mean there is any of her DNA in this baby? Some studies say yes. Not a lot, but some. Is that possibility of a shared biological connection mixed with the oxytocin that comes when she nurses going to make the bond between them grow? Will it make the goodbye difficult. She is prepared that she might feel a range of different emotions in the next few days, weeks, and month.

When I found out nine months ago that she was going to do this, I was jealous of the couple that had the means to use a surrogate. I have such difficult pregnancies and yet was so certain I wanted another baby. I felt my friend would have been such a great surrogate for me. As I write this, now nearly in my sixth month of my own pregnancy, I know that what she is doing is no small thing. In addition to being an amazing gift to give, it is also a complicated one. She has handled it with grace and I am proud of her. When I ask her now about having another baby of her own -- without hesitation, she says if they have another they will adopt. Give one, get one I suppose.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Come On Over!

My daughter started preschool in September. It is almost January, and although I have been sick creating her a sibling for most of her school year, I haven't made any "play dates" happen. First off I hate the words "play date" -- they just seemed to come from busy working parents who have to fit it in to their busy live. I don't ever remember using the term when I was younger. I just remember saying we were going to some one's house to play. Play date sounds so formal.

My friend and I send our daughters to school together so she has always been playing after school with her little friend, but I hadn't thought beyond that. When I was busy throwing up my friend started bring her daughter to play with new kids from the class. Once I felt well enough I figured I should step outside the box. We were invited to join my friend on a play date to the twins house. We had never really talked to the mom but our girls were very taken with the sisters. Fraternal sisters that were a year older than our girls, and very different from one another. We went a few weeks ago and formal it was, maybe not to any of the kids involved but to us.

My friend would be described as edgy. She has several tattoos , a shaved head, and wears lots of skulls. In reality though she is one of the most loving souls I've ever met. The mother of these girls is straight laced, neatly put together, almost always in a dress, and has a wreath on her mom van for Christmas. Then there is me. I suppose fitting somewhere in the middle. I'd like to say I lean more towards skulls but I don't think that would be very honest. Especially since my friend left one of her gold skull bracelets here once and I wore it for all of five minutes before feeling it just wasn't me. You won't find me in a dress that often either though, and please do an intervention if you ever see me driving a mini van.

When we walked in to this house though the differences continued. It was more like a mansion, and the snack that was set up for the kids was more like they had been invited to tea. Neatly cut fruit with yogurt in small identical cups. The twins had every toy a little girl would dream of playing with. While the girls giddy with joy played, the three of us tried to be social. It was not easy work getting this women to chat. At the end my friend and I left without having anything negative to say, but instead feeling like we were visiting someone abroad.

My friend is now home in London, so last week I realized it would be rude if I didn't return the offer to host the twins. They accepted and the mom and her girls came over yesterday. In preparation, I cleaned my house a little, baked muffins and hoped for the best. Twig had been asking for them to come over side we left their house so she was excited. When they first arrived everything had gone smoothly. The girls played and had a snack. Then my daughter had round one of three meltdowns while they were here. First she was upset the girls didn't want to do something she wanted to. Then she got into a tug of war over a toy with one, and then fell into a tantrum over a play doh today not working, I should have known better then to say yes to messy play doh. It ended badly for all. Twig was pissed about having to take turns, and when I tried to reason with her, or even try to calm her down she just wailed off ignoring me.

At one point the mother even said to her girls that maybe this is just too much for Twig, she seems to be having a hard time. I was embarrassed. I have a lot of confidence in my parenting skills but yesterday it appeared I had no control over my child. I was very surprised today to get a thank you email from the mom and an invitation to her house next. I wrote back and said thank you for the invite. I apologized for the tantrums, to which she nicely described as a "bad day." It was indeed just that. Rare form for Twig to fall apart that much, but either way we are going to take it slow with play dates for a while. I don't want my schedule to get to full.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Big Sister

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I decided to wait to find out the gender. My husband was more eager to know but since I endured seven straight weeks of vomiting he let me call the shots on the big reveal. We both wanted a girl, but would only admit this to each other. We both had a ton of nephews and really wanted to experience a little girl. I was also afraid on some level that maybe our families could only have boys and so if I had a son I would certainly have a son second time around, and at some point I really hoped for a daughter. In any case we knew it was win win, but the waiting had me spending time imagining both, and it was fun to swing back and forth. We did have a terrible time with boys names, and had a girl's name set since we were dating so on some level that pushed me to imagine a girl more.

On the day my daughter was born, the last thing I was thinking of was her gender. As I labored through one contraction after another I felt more present than ever. I remember at one point my midwife saying at the end of this all I was going to be holding a baby and I couldn't fathom it. I was so busy getting through the labor that there was nothing else to think about. When it came time to push I got excited and driven. I was going to meet our baby very soon. I just had to push and all I worked for the last nine months would be in my arms. My determination was on overdrive. My doctor would ask if I could give two pushes and I was giving three. I was ready and within minutes I pushed out our baby. They put the baby right on my chest and all I could think about was how real this was. My hand went immediately to an ear and I kept touching this ear marveling that this was our child and it came out a real person with a face and an ear. It was a powerful few minutes of amazement. Then a Russian nurse said "Daddy, What is it? Is boy?!" At this point we weren't sure if she told us what we had just had or was asking, and in my wide eyed under of having just pushed out a person I forgot all about gender. My husband looked and said, "No, it's a girl!" I think in that moment we screamed, we were so excited. First, we got a baby, and then found out a girl. Score!

I am now eighteen weeks pregnant with our second child. My husband and I agreed that this time we would find out the gender. My husband had at one point mentioned that it would be nice to have a boy too, but for the most point he was excited either way. This time I secretly hoped for a boy, just so I could experience that too. I knew if it was a girl though that a sister for our daughter would be great. Either way my imagination wandered once more. This time for a lot less time though. Interestingly though we couldn't find a girl's name we like this time. We loved our boy's name and even had a few others on the list, but not a single girl's name we loved. I tried not reading into that a some sort of sign, and just tried to be patient. It was actually harder to wait for the day the doctor could tell us, then it was for me to wait until the end of the pregnancy. I was also concerned that it would be somewhat anticlimactic after the last time with a newborn in my arms. I was anticipating feeling a little less excited.

We decided that instead of finding out in a doctor's office that we could make this fun too. I had the doctor put the gender in an envelope. When he did this I could tell he was having fun too. He had us hide our eyes and teased us a bit while he looked. The baby had it's legs closed so this took a while. We left the appointment with a sealed envelope in hand. Our friend wanted to be involved in this big surprise so she met us at the office with two little silver boxes wrapped with an orange ribbon neatly tied on each. Nervously she opened the envelope and handed us the correct box. She then said she needed to check the envelope again, and then confidently she said we had the right one. She gave my husband the envelope again, and then we started giggling. I couldn't believe she knew what I was having now and I didn't. She said she had to leave before she slipped and said something. It was exciting, but slightly nerve racking too.

With the box in hand we waited for our daughter to be done with preschool. At three years old we decided to wait to tell her I was pregnant, but now we can see she has begun to sense. It is also getting to the point that I am showing and so it is rude when someone comments to her and she isn't in on it. We decided that we would tell her about the baby and then let her open the box. Then we would all be surprised together. I had no idea though how difficult waiting that last little bit would be for me. By the time my husband and I picked her up I was giddy. We sat down on a blanket at the park and explained to her that mommy has a baby in her belly and that she was going to be a big sister. She very seriously asked us "Is it a girl or a boy." We told her we don't know yet, but since she is the big sister she was getting to tell us. We handed her the box, she undid the ribbon and what seemed like forever she tried to open the box. I helped a little and then let her open the tissue paper. She then pulled out a tiny little bunny rabbit wearing blue diapers. Indeed in that moment I became just as fuzzy as I had the moment after I had my daughter. Could this be real? A son? "Wow" I heard my husband say. I didn't believe it and asked to see the envelope from the doctor and there very clearly were the words "It's a boy" and a very clear picture of vey clear boy parts. My husband and I were thrilled, but my daughter said, "but it's a girl, I want a sister." Within an hour she was over it and now tells everyone her baby brother is in my tummy. It was the coolest way to find out the gender and since she is old enough to be in on the fun I am glad we found out this time. Especially since I would rather her say she wants a sister now then on the day we bring this little guy home from the hospital.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Counting Blessings

We all know people with stories that can make you shiver. Tradgedy striking small children, pregnancies gone wrong, divorce, illness, infertility, job loss, they have affected us and or people we know. I feel like as I get older I am hearing more of these stories. Maybe it's because I know more people with children or having children, or we have aging parents now and are experiencing issues of aging. In any case it has made me take inventory of all the good we do have.

The other day I was catching up with a friend I hadn't talked to in a long time. We talked about kids, work, and just life in general. I basically got the idea that she had nothing she was over the moon excited about, but things were status quo. At the end of the update she summed it all up by saying this was pretty much the worst year of her life. I did not expect to hear that. She is a grass is always greener type, and never seems content, but she seems to be managing and I wouldn't say she is depressed either. She just always seems bored. This conversation was last week and I can't get it out of my head.

Since that call, I have talked to a few friends who shared their lives with me. A friend's close friend just found out her unborn baby has water on the brain, another just got her period after over a year of trying to conceive, my friend moved into a new house only to get robbed the next night, and my friend's mom got diagnosed with Lymphoma. That is all since that call so I can't help but be confused by what she said. Depression is another issue and if that was the case I take all this back. You could be Ms. Happy Happiness and if depression comes your way no alarm system will help you. It can make the best scenario turn into the worst year, but she says she isn't, and that she just doesn't love her life right now. Her life with a great guy she loves, two beautiful kids, and everyone is healthy. I'm not saying that being a stay at home mom to two children isn't worthy of pulling your hair out sometimes -- but the worst? If I could offer some advice, which I wouldn't dare, but if she asked I would say take a deep breath and a close look at what you have and count your blessings.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Sleepover

Saturday night we had dinner plans with our close friends. Our daughters are best friends (yes I guess there is such a thing at three) and they live just down the street. We decided it didn't make sense to get a babysitter since the girls really just want to be together and they had a sitter our daughter knows as well. We prepped them days before explaining what a sleepover was. We had planned to drop her off in pajamas, let them play, stay up late, and sleep in the same bed. When we were done with dinner we would take our daughter and transfer her to bed. She protested that idea and said she wanted to sleep next to her friend until the morning.

The whole dinner my friend and I checked in with the babysitter and the girls were having a blast. They didn't stop chatting and finally fell asleep close to ten. After they had been asleep though our daughter woke up and started asking for us. She said it was too dark and wanted to go home. She woke up her friend and together they helped each other fall back asleep. When we returned to take her home we thought it had gone successfully.

She woke in her own bed at 6 am, then again at 7 then played for a bit with my husband before saying she was tired. She fell back asleep until close to 9. The day just went down hill from there. Every single thing that upset her turned into a massive meltdown. She flat out ignored us and was a whiny mess most of the day. She wasn't up for napping since she slept in so late, but by 5 pm was fried, and my husband and I couldn't wait to put her to bed. We tried several times to reason with her throughout the day but ultimately came to the conclusion that 3 is a little too young to party out late. She was so thrown by the night that when she fell asleep last night at 7:30 she slept until 8 am today. She said to me yesterday, "Mommy, I am so glad you brought me back with you, it was too dark there."

There's no place like home!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I recently brought a bag of food and a baby gift over to a friend. I had meant to drop it off and leave but her father in law answered the door and insisted I come in. My friend and her husband had just gotten home a half hour earlier with their first born. I am sure my face wasn't what they wanted to see at that moment. They had just come from an five day stay at the hospital after an unexpected c-section. Their exhaustion was thick, and I could feel it when I walked in.

I was happy for them, don't get me wrong, but I left feeling like I had kept a huge secret from them. Of course it wasn't my job to inform them of what they were about to go through, and even if I had, there's nothing I could say to prepare the, so what's the point? I just looked at them, so new and optimistic, and wondered if they even knew what tired was. They would soon find out. I also wished them a big congratulations but left out how life as they once knew it will never be the same. Amazing, new, exciting and joyful but NEVER the same as when it was just the two of them.

I am guessing this is coming off as negative, and I don't mean it to be. I personally felt the restart button was pressed on my life when I had my daughter, and so does my husband. We also feel that a reservoir of love opened up in our hearts that we didn't even know existed. There is just no denying though that you will never quite feel the same about yourself as you once did. It comes with joy, wonder, excitement, and an amazing feeling that is beyond words, but it also comes with a new set of concerns. A list that goes on and on. I so admire people who enter parenthood and seem to be easy breezy about the whole thing, but for most the new sense of responsibility is grand. Never again are you completely and fully at peace when you are not in the same place with your child.

It is a whole new chapter of a whole new book, and nothing I could possibly tell them about the story would prepare them, so I just dropped off some food, a onsie, and said "Congratulations!"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tantrum Tango

Yesterday we met a friend and her baby at the park. Her daughter is one and Twig really loves being the bigger kid around her. She is gentle, and caring, and loves showing the young baby around. The day was going great, we went to the library, had a picnic outside on the grass, and then played at the playground. Toward the end of the day, I told her that we were going to be leaving soon, and she should pick her "last thing" to do. She seemed to get it, but when we all got our things and said, "Let's go", she let me have it.

It started with a pout, then gradually a whine. At this point I knew I was doomed -- there was no way to turn the tide. I could see a tsunami heading right for me. Then the tears followed by a scream: "I WANT TO STAY MOMMY!" I haven't had a ton of experience with tantrums but lately I feel I have been thrown into a crash course. This was the first time in public, and I had my friend there to witness the whole thing. I couldn't help but notice her jaw on the ground when she watched. She even said she has never seen anything like this. She offered to help me hold her but I knew that might even take this to another level. There I was with a mini Linda Blair, and all I could do is try to walk as she pulled on me. I couldn't pick her up because she was kicking, I couldn't reason with her, so all I could do was walk and say, "I am sorry you are upset."

After finally getting back to the car, she calmed down enough to get her in her car seat. She was finally down to a wimper when I asked her if she was ready to talk about it. She said when she got home she would. When I got out of the car, she said, "I am sorry mommy." When I asked her what she was sorry for, she explained, "I kicked and screamed because I didn't want to leave." I explained how she could do it differently next time. That she could tell me she was upset or disappointed without the kicking, screaming, crying and whining. She told me that she will be really good at it when she gets older.

I came home and took out a big 'ol parenting book and looked up tantrums. It said they are saved for those they love the most. How sweet! It also seemed I was doing everything right. I have an individual, and a pretty amazing one when she isn't doing the angry dance. Just like all the other glorious phases of parenthood, I will try to gracefully glide in and out of this one with two left feet.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Big Mint Dress

The moment has arrived in my three year old daughters life where what she wears has become of great importance to her. Some of my friends with little girls have gone through this even earlier, so perhaps I should be grateful she has this much variety to her wardrobe to date. Now though, it's a battle. She has one dress in particular that she loves. It was given to her by my cousin whose daughter wore it thirteen years ago. It is a cotton green and white gingham dress that Twig has named "my big mint dress." If she could wear it everyday, she would.

Recently there is a debate shortly after waking up about what she will wear. Even if the dress is dirty and in the laundry hamper, she'll debate as to why it's ok for her to wear it. If it is cold, she will plead to wear it over tights and a long sleeve shirt. If she has picked out a nice outfit with pants she will demand that she wears it over the rest of her clothes. Today she wanted to wear it to gymnastics and tried to convince me that she would pick it up when she runs.

I suppose there are worse things to be concerned about. I know at four, a lot of girls refuse pants all together, saying pants aren't pretty enough. I'm glad that at the moment this issue doesn't have anything to do with how she looks. If it did she wouldn't want to wear it all the time because trust me -- when she wears it under different layers of clothes and colors, pretty isn't what comes to mind. The fact that she dressed herself now is clear for all to see and she is proud. I'm just glad she will still put on a pair of jeans from time to time. Even if they have to worn under the "big mint dress."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Not Anymore

I used to watch all different kinds of movies, and read all different kind of books. Not anymore.
I liked being brought into a story that would make me feel what the characters in the story felt. If it was a true story even better. I could live in their shoes and experience there joy or pain with them for a moment in time. Not anymore. If it was scary, I loved it even more; if it was sad, the pain I felt was real for them. Not anymore.

I didn't notice this change right away. I remember when I had my little three month old in my arms and I took her to a mommy movie of Changeling. One of my friends wouldn't go because she said she couldn't watch a movie about a boy being kidnapped. It didn't affect me that way though. First off, I thought Angelina Jolie was way too modern looking to be believable in that time period, but secondly, I was able to feel her pain and still separate myself. Lately, I can't. I am reading "Sarah's Key" right now. It is a well-written book about the French Jews, specifically children, taken to camps during the Holocaust. I am really into it, and mostly don't want to put it down, but there is a part where the children are torn apart from there parents, and suddenly I felt a little too "in it." I began to cry, and the pain of imagining my child watching me pulled from her arms forever physically hurt. My mind spun out on how screwed up this world is to let things like this happen. Today still, there is more of this madness happening.

I am not ignorant to it, and I don't turn a blind eye, but as a parent there is a certain level of selfishness that comes. I don't want to walk in everyone's shoes anymore. I don't need to feel that much pain for something I hope and pray never happens to us. I am grateful though for the amount of freedom and safety we have. I do think I often take that for granted. I will continue reading this book, but as for 20/20 specials on kidnappings, 60 minutes with Jaycee, Duggard, or following missing Baby Lisa -- not anymore!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

"The Wizard Of Oz" has become a big hit recently at our house. Twig hasn't even watched the movie yet, just many many clips on YouTube. She even decided to be Dorothy for Halloween, which was a welcome change from what she wanted to be before (a cash register or a yellow dump truck). I am all about being "outside the box", but how would I even cut a box to make it look like a cash register? So when she decided on Dorothy, I ran with it.

As she gets more into the videos though, we had some explaining to do. My husband and I stumbled on "Ding Dong The Witch is Dead," and played it for her while we cringed. She didn't ask, so we didn't say anything. The lyrics go on about how Dorothy killed the witch, and the song is such a big celebration of death. It all felt wrong. Now as a kid I watched this (a bit older than my daughter is now) but I remember being a little spooked by the image of the dead witchs' legs under the house. As I mentioned in an earlier post, death is not a subject I am avoiding with her, but celebrating the death of a "bad person" is something I haven't even figured out yet.

This past week when bloody pictures of Kadafi were everywhere, I was disturbed. Yes, this man needed to be stopped, and his death represents the possibility of freedom for people he controlled for years, but seeing him dragged along with cheers sits strangely with me. As I write this I have to remind myself that "The Wizard Of Oz" is only a movie and she hasn't asked about Kadafi. I hope I have a few more years to think about how to respond to those kinds of questions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cling Wrap

My sensitive, delicate little flower turns on a dime. She can be a happy, adjusted little three year old on moment, and a pouty, needy kid the next. I never know when this switch will take place, and once it happens, how long it will take for her to shake it. Most nights she goes to bed no problem. I say, "Sweet dreams," and she says it back. Last night she hugged me tightly and said, "Mommy, I love you and I don't want you to leave. I want to be with you." At this point I am backed into a corner. I can try to comfort her, and leave, which never works. Or I can say I'll come in and check on you when you fall asleep. That works sometimes, but then she calls out asking when I am coming back in.

I have gone to the books on this issue and let me tell you -- they don't work! Every kid is different and general solutions don't work on my kid. She is tricky and extremely persistent. We fix a undesirable habit of hers and it reappears again. She goes off to school great for a while, then suddenly one day won't let go of me again. She sleeps through the night without calling out, then five days later it starts again. It's frustrating but not abnormal. Patience just doesn't seem my strong suit lately. My husband seems much more skilled at ending a tantrum or turning her mood around lately. My tricks don't seem to work that well right now. Plus I think she has an added reserve of stamina for her mama.

Trial and error, as always. As awful as it is for both of us when she grabs to hold on to me, I have to remember that it is sweet how much she loves me. That need of wanting me physically close is only going to be around for so long.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Candy Girl!

It seems we have an addict here.

Anything with sugar and this kid is all over it. The day starts with her asking for a waffle ("with a LOT of syrup!"), then on to gummy vitamins (which I am pretty sure is candy disguised as vitamins), then snack, a treat after nap, and if she can squeeze in time for an ice pop or frozen yogurt -- she will. I try not to make a big deal about it all and I don't want it to be taboo. I remember my mom hiding treats from us, and I'm pretty sure that's why I have the sweet tooth I have today. With Twig though, I make it available. What I hoped would happened hasn't though.

My friend's daughter (I know, don't compare to others) takes two bites of a sweet and puts it down. She saves her lollypops forever, whereas my daughter will demolish a lollypop in five minutes. She has even had nightmares about wanting a lollypop. There is only so much sugar I can let her have. I say yes, but rarely does one treat a day suffice. I don't know what we did wrong.

Every tantrum she has these days revolves around her wanting a sweet. She will ask for a snack before dinner, or candy with breakfast, or a jelly bean before nap. We don't give in on these. She has had some pretty bad meltdowns, and as awful as they are, I can say she is starting to see that the whining and crying doesn't work. Unfortunately, bribing her with a lollypop has been something I have sunken to lately. I think we are all a little sugar-whipped now. Three isn't that easy. If I can't get through to her on the candy, maybe her first trip to the dentist will make an impression on her.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Golden Books

Yesterday my parents and I were at Costco and we saw a box set of books. We were trying to make the decision between getting Curious George or Dr. Suess when Twig spotted the Golden book set. It had "The Pokey Little Puppy" in it and she thought he was really cute. I remembered this book from when I was little, so in my moment of nostalgia we bought the set. Also included were "The Rainbow Kittens", an elephant book and an animal orchestra book. The drawings looked like a vintage throwback, so I was kind of excited to read them to her.

We read two before nap, and much to my chagrin they were so overwritten. "The Pokey Little Puppy" was not at all how I remembered it. The Pokey one keeps disobeying and wanders home late, letting his siblings take the blame for his mischief. We read it and Twig said, "That was a naughty book." Then I read her the elephant book, which was all about a young elephant who hides because a bird tells him he is wrinkly and his features are too big. He almost gets eaten on his way to a safe hiding spot, and is saved by a group of other elephants that he is shocked to learn look just like him (not exactly the message I want to send her). The other two books are okay but so long. So much for my sweet memories of them. I am sure my mom must have paraphrased as she read. I try to do that with Twig, but if she hears it once the right way she corrects me the next time.

I should have probably gone for Curious George, but I took a chance. So sad to get things you were excited about as a kid only to find they aren't as you remembered. She is perfectly happy with them, so until she stops asking, I will continue to read them -- just slightly edited...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

My daughter doesn't stop moving.

About a year ago, when I saw her hanging upside down from a bar at a playground, I decided to take her to a gymnastics class. She loved it, and we have been going ever since.

We started in a mommy and me class. Later this year, she was old enough to try it without me. I struggled with the decision because of her slow transition to preschool, but the decision wasn't entirely up to me. She wanted it, as did the coach. So she's now a Mini Flipper.

I explained to her that unlike before, I would watch her from the side. Not only did she go off willingly. she loved it. She was up on the bars, the beam, learning cartwheels and a lot of other cool looking flips I don't know the names of. She loved the two other girls and couldn't wait to return for week two. The next week she got to wear a leotard like the other two and she was stoked.

Today when we got there she was the first one there. I brought my parents with us, since they are visiting. When the coach wanted to start before the other two got there, Twig froze. I saw the face: shy mixed with fear, and on the verge of tears. She wouldn't say a word and wouldn't move. I asked her if she wanted to wait for another girl and she barely nodded a slight "yes." Once the other little girl arrived though, Twig was still unhappy. All morning, the only thing see wanted was to hurry up and get to gymnastics. She kept saying, "I want it to be now," yet here we were and all she wanted was to go home.

As a parent in this moment, I tried a few options. She would say she wanted to go home and I would respond by saying, "We aren't going home, but if you want me to come with you for a little bit, I will." When that didn't work, I said we could stay and watch together. That lasted a little bit, but when she asked to leave again, I slipped and said, "We aren't leaving, we paid for this class and it's expensive." Note to self: she doesn't care. Finally I said, "It looks like you're scared, and if you are uncomfortable, we can go. But if you want to watch a little longer, that is okay too." That is what did it. Together, we watched the other two and within two minutes she joined them. And within five, I was back to sitting and watching.

There really is no clear answer. I had to try a few things before something worked. Perhaps she wanted the option to leave and then needed to make her own decision. I remember going to London in college and freaking out when I arrived. I called my mom in tears and asked her if I needed her if she would come. She said yes, and suddenly I was fine. She said later that there was no way she was flying off to London to rescue me, but she knew I needed to hear that she would. It helped.

Today, I was torn about leaving. I didn't want to be a pushy mom who makes there kid do something when they clearly aren't enjoying themselves. But I also didn't want her to give up on something because she was scared. We all get scared, and most of the time we have to figure out how to deal. I was proud of her, and the outcome, today. She loved it again, and at the end my mom was there with reassurance once more and told me the best way to handle this is to not talk about it with her. She worked it out on her own, so now she is done with it.

We shall see what happens next week...

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Visit

Last night I took Twig to go see my friend and her daughter that flew in from New York for a few days. This friend is not just any friend, this is my best childhood friend. From second grade on, we were attached at the hip. We grew up walking distance from one another and spent so much time at each other's houses. She now has a daughter as well, and she is about 10 months younger than Twig. When we are in NY, we see them, so here and there, our girls have gotten to know each other a little bit.

We met for pizza and then took them out for an ice cream. Watching them sit side by side with their scoops and spoons, I got nostalgic. Both our girls bare a resemblance to us and it is evidence right there in front of us how much time has passed. People grow up and make other people, but I keep getting surprised that I am one of those grown ups now. The fact that we both have girls is so sweet too. We know the likelihood of them being super close like we were is slim, since we live so far, but it is so touching to see them get along when they do see each other.

Twig had a little plastic frog to share with her friend, and we both forgot how much this little girl loves frogs. She was so excited! At one point she got up to dance in the pizza place, and then Twig joined in. Soon we were all up on our feet "shaking our booties" as Twig says. It's amazing how ridiculous we were willing to look for our kids. I know my friend and I did some crazy things when we were younger, but if you told us we would be dancing in a crowded pizza place with our daughters one day, we would have told you we would never do that to them.

As long as they still want us to though, we will.

My Mistake

Ooops! My daughter had a cough for two weeks and although I called the pediatrician, it took me a while to bring her in. My doctor is expensive. They don't take insurance, which sucks -- but we like them, so we bite the bullet and hope against hope that we'll be fairly reimbursed by our insurance company (ha, right?!). The situation does make me hesitate to take her in for things like a cough, though. Over the phone, the nurse and I determined she had croup, and there wasn't much we could do.

After another week of a barking cough and no sign of sleep for any of us we decided it was time we brought her in. She has bronchitis. Now she is taking an antibiotic and I feel like a negligent mom. But soon, we will all return to full nights of sleep.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To Jew Or Not To Jew

When I first moved to LA over 10 years ago I was faced with a big question when the high holidays came around. Would I participate? Now that I was on my own, did I want to? My whole life it wasn't an option to not celebrate Jewish holidays. I was with my family and that is what we did. At twenty three though I wasn't a child anymore, and had to decide for myself what being jewish meant to me exactly. With a lot of thought and some guilt tossed in I suppose, I decided I wasn't ready to stop caring about traditions. What I did realize though is that I wasn't sure how religious I felt.

Traditions were what was important to me (and still is) but how I am "supposed" to feel about G-d and following very specific rules in order to be accepted never resinated with me. My connection lies with being part of a lineage that has sung the same songs and eaten the same festive meals year after year. Holidays have rituals and I like the meaning behind them but I don't always believe that because a book said "it" happened that it is so. I still like the stories though, and I love keeping something going and finding new ways as well.

My husband is not Jewish. He felt very strongly when we first met that we could run into problems down the line if we didn't map out how we would raise our kids one day. We went to speak with someone about it and together we agreed that religion was for adults and traditions are for children. It made perfect sense. The things I look back on in my childhood during holiday time were the festivities, the music and the food. So when we had our daughter that is how we decided to do it. For the most part it has worked, but every Jewish holiday that comes around I feel the responsibility to keep it going. With Christian holidays everyone celebrates them, schools are closed and families are together. It's not that easy when it comes to Jewish holidays, it's up to me if we do anything. I have started my own traditions here with friends and the same group of us usually gather at my house. This week is Rosh Hashanah, the new year, and with all of us being sick I wasn't so sure I wanted to do anything. In the end I am glad as always I made the effort. The togetherness feels good, and making challah with my daughter makes me think of my grandmother making bread with her mother. She also beheaded her own chickens and swung them around the kitchen, but traditions need not go that far for me to feel connected to the past.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All The Single Parents

All the single parents: I applaud you. I am in awe of you, and although I am sure you love raising your children, I know it's not easy doing it on your own.

This weekend I was alone with Twig. This wasn't the first time, but this time we were both sick. Trying to take care of someone else in the middle of the night when you have the chills and are throwing up yourself is just plain awful. She wanted her mommy, and I wanted mine.

There is no question that having another person to support the weight of raising a human is helpful. Not to mention an extra set of hands. I know women whose husbands travel for work and are away weeks at a time. It is so challenging. When they come home, it isn't exactly easy either. Everyone has to readjust to the new dynamic.

But with two peoples comes opinions -- sometimes competing ones, too. The other day my daughter got a splinter and I explained to her that we needed to take it out. When we got home and my husband tells her it's ok, it will come out on it's own. We both strongly believed we were making the right decision by her. In the end we called out pediatrician and he agreed with my husband and now it is indeed gone. The downside: a minor moment of humility. The upside: an additional hands-on parent.

My husband gets back today and I am so happy. It's not like she and I aren't on our own most days anyway, but usually one of us is feeling okay. I am going to take a good long nap and shut down (which I know is virtually impossible for a single parent). I had always thought if I hadn't met the right person by a certain age that I would still want to have a child. I think that I would have done it, because I knew I always wanted to be a mother, but boy would it have been different. I was so ignorant. Even with a degree in education, years as a camp counselor, babysitter, and teacher -- none of it prepares you for the real deal.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What To Say

A few months ago a friend of mine wrote a story about her daughter asking about death. She explained how difficult it was to discuss the topic with her then two year old. The subject came up because the little girl had asked about her grandpa and where he was if he wasn't here. My friend carefully explained that he was in another world. I remember feeling relieved that I didn't need to field such questions and that I probably had years before my daughter asked me. Oh how I was wrong.

When we were away last month at my parents house in the country we discovered a little frog. He was hanging around the front porch and seemed willing to have us look at him up close. We stayed out there with him for a while. The next day, much to our chagrin, he was still and clearly not alive. Just like that, the topic of death arrived on our doorstep. Thinking fast my husband and I decided to be honest. We explained that these things happen sometimes, and that he is resting now.

She asked a few questions and then the subject was pretty much dropped. I read recently that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is what looks to the future. It's the slowest part to develop and so when small children learn about death they can't fully understand that it is forever. They might seem to understand but secretly they believe it will change. We have all heard the stories of children losing a parent and for months afterward they wait in hopes they will come home. I've concluded from reading this that I must be slightly immature. When my Aunt got sick and everyone else knew she was dying I held out hope that in the eleventh hour something would save her. I did it with both grandparents, and I am doing it now with a friend who is sick.

Death is so difficult for me to comprehend how can I possibly expect my three year old to get it?  I just wonder if I am setting the tone correctly. When she drops something I hear her say "it's okay" to herself. She has clearly heard me say that to her when she falls or spills something. If she loses something we do our best to replace it, but maybe we shouldn't. We didn't pull off a sit-com ending with the frog and show up the next day with a new one. She learned the real lesson that day and maybe I try to sugar coat things more than I should. I don't always know what to say, but I do know that she has done okay so far with my responses to her questions. I think I will just keep up with the honesty and hope I don't have to explain anything epic anytime soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Rat

Today Twig and I were walking at a local outdoor mall when we saw something black and furry scamper in front of us. We were walking down some outdoor steps to the main level when she spotted the little animal. With such excitement she shrieked, "A lizard!" It didn't take me long to realize it was a rat.

I have to admit this was not an easy sighting for me. Totally gross little creatures with long tails and beady eyes right in from of us, but I couldn't bare to take away her pleasure in that moment. I explained that it was either a mouse or a rat -- she decided it was a mouse. She said, "Mommy, how exciting -- a mouse!"

Everything is new to this kid. Even seeing a live mouse only feet in front of her is a thrill. I played along. After all, I did have pet mice when I was little. It was later, when I had a cat that brought me a dead mouse, that I stopped liking mice. When we got down the stairs, the mouse/rat ran in from of some tattooed Russian guy -- he jumped and freaked a little. I laughed (inside, because he was potentially scarier then the rat) at how that big grown-up was so afraid of what was such a sense of wonder for my little girl.

Twig is big on "why" these days, so when he jumped she questioned why. I made a quick decision to shrug off his jumpiness. There will be plenty of time in her life to take on other people's fear. For right now, I want to keep her wide-eyed innocence intact just a bit longer. I am all about honesty, but not at the cost of her imagination. A few weeks ago, she asked me when she was going to get a baby brother or sister. I told her a baby can take a long time to make. She paused to think and then asked, "Where do we make a baby? In the kitchen?"

I just smiled and replied that some people do. Some of us are more imaginative than others.

Friday, September 16, 2011


So the first day of school has passed, but Twig's dry face was short lived. The following days were harder, and she isn't exactly excited about her educational pursuits. Today she woke up with a fever, so she can play hooky, but I feel her ambivalence. This is such a crazy time of transition for her and for me. For the past few years I have really wanted some extra time here and there for myself, and now that I will have it a few days a week, I am struggling to figure out how best to use it. I have a list of work to be done, and yet if I run one errand it's seems to be time to pick her up already. For her, being on her own with new adults and new children around her is very different from what she has known her whole life. For some kids, it seems such an easy adjustment; but for her, she is truly overwhelmed.

I do wonder how much she picks up on from me, as well. I can't seem to get much past her these days. If I even try to spell something out to my husband, she asks what I am saying.  Although I never said anything to her about having been pregnant, she brings up wanting a baby a lot. The other day in Target, she said she wanted to buy some clothes -- something for her, and something for the baby. When I asked her what baby, she said, "The one you are going to have, mommy." I tried not to get upset and just explained that having a baby can take a long time. It was very strange though having her voice the exact same desire that I have been obsessing over, myself. She has just simplified it a million times more though.

My head spinning is a bit out of control these days, and she is probably just on to me. I want to have another baby, but I am terrified. Emotionally I don't know how I will rest easy until I get past the point where I miscarried last time. Physiclly, I don't know how I will endure weeks and weeks of vomiting again. I am hesitant and rightfully so. Recently when I explained to a friend that I was so nervous responded by saying, "Of course you are, you have every reason to be." It helped me realize I was "normal." Knowing I am normal though doesn't make it any better when you feel crazy.

I do know this: there are only certain things in my control. I can't control if and when I will get pregnant, how I will feel, what will happen, how my daughter feels at preschool, and I can't save her from her sadness. I can only do my best to be available to her, and be calm for us both. This isn't the easiest time for this family: I am looking for what is next and my daughter is looking for me. This isn't the hardest time either. We have an amazing life. We are healthy (despite my daughter's fever) and we have each other.

And if that is all we ever have, we still have a lot.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The month of September will never come around again without thoughts of 9/11. Here we are again -- it certainly doesn't feel like it has been ten years. Everyone can remember where they were, and how they heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. That Tuesday morning will forever remain the day that changed the sense of security we feel in this country.

Having grown up in NYC, I remember feeling very stranded out here in Los Angeles. All my friends and family were still in NY. When I heard the news I immediately went through all of my friends who worked near the area. I started to make calls but no one was answering. Then I thought of my dad, who sometimes purchased merchandise downtown near the towers, and I kept calling and calling. The circuits were busy. It would be hours until I heard that he, and everyone else I had concerns about, was safe.

My friend Melissa comes from a long line of firefighters in her family. It wasn't until a few weeks after 9/11 that I got a call from my mother telling me that Jonathan had been killed. Her brother, Jonathan, was all I could think about when I was sixteen. I had a crazy crush on him and spent all my free time at their house hanging out with Melissa in hopes that he would notice me. When I learned that he got his seventeen year old girlfriend pregnant, I knew he was out of my league. He and his girlfriend expanded their family and went on to have two sons -- all before he was 30. On September 11th, along with his Squad 288, Jonathan entered the World Trade Center, and never came out.

From the moment I learned he died, September 11th became personal, and will remain about Jonathan for me. A lot of people probably questioned him and his girlfriend having children so young, but now I think it was meant to be that way. Albeit briefly, he got to know his children and that is gift that some people don't ever get. In order to really see that ten full years have past I need only to look at the children now that are 11 years old, and talking about the parents they never got to meet. Jonathan's younger son was probably too young to really remember him, but his family has done so much to keep the memory of him strong. Now that I have a child of my own I look at that day so differently. If it were to happen now, there isn't anything I wouldn't do to protect my child.

Although there were so many heroes of that day, and we saw real human kindness towards one another, the event itself shows that unfortunately, not all of humanity feels that way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day Hooray!

She did it! Like a trooper my little Twig went off to school with a hug and a kiss and no tears. Wow!

I went to the DMV to renew my drivers license. Her new teacher told me to make sure she knew I wasn't doing anything fun when I dropped her off. Just to stay true to my word I chose the most boring errand I could. Then I went to Target where it got a little more exciting. I tried to enjoy this new found freedom but I really did wonder if she was okay. I had the number to the school in my phone but I was going to be strong, and not call to check in. I don't want to be known as "That mom"

It probably didn't help that the things I was shopping for at Target were for an emergency kit they require you to pack for your kid. Should there be a natural disaster while she is at school she will have snacks, a flashlight, drinks, tissues and band aids. That way she should be all set EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT I WON'T BE WITH HER. My mind should be at peace though that she will have extra granola bars. Forty five dollars later, my time was up and I had to go pick her up. I planned on coming in a little early and when I got there Twig was coming back from the bathroom when she locked eyes with mine. She looked startled to see me and then burst out crying. She ran over saying "Mommy!"

This wasn't exactly what I expected at pick up time. I understood if she was afraid to say goodbye but I was coming to get her. The teachers explained that I had just walked in at a sensitive moment because she was washing her hands and the bathroom suddenly got too crowded with other kids. When she tried to say exude me to the others they didn't understand her and she got frustrated. Then I walked in. So I didn't have the best timing today but other than that she had a good day, and thankfully no earthquakes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Preschool Payback

I caused my parents some real angst when I was growing up. I was a needy little kid. I had terrible nerves and took separation anxiety to a whole other level. I had the worst gag reflex and if I was nervous, it pretty much meant I was going to throw up. In preschool, some girl named Naomi held my hand, but it felt a little wet so I threw up. I remember seeing it on the ground, so I threw up again. Strong was not a word anyone used to describe my personality as a child. Or my stomach.

Back then, I worried a lot too. I didn't want to be left without my parents when I went to school. Since my brother and sister were older and got to go to school together, I felt left out, all alone at preschool. I remember being in trouble for drawing on something I shouldn't have done, and was resultingly put in the corner. I suppose it's only recently that it got a nicer name: a time out. In the corner I stared at the tiny bubbles in the paint and imagined I could see my dad's face in them. I would then have an imaginary conversation with him and ask him if he could pick me up and take me home. I realized pretty quickly that the wall wasn't magic and eventually I just began to attempt escape. I would come up with runaway plans but I would just get in more trouble.

This week my child starts preschool. The real deal. I have been so focused on her feelings, that when a friend asked me today how I feel about her going, I didn't know what to say. It has been a crazy summer and I feel like she is ready to be with someone other than me all day long. But how do I feel? I started to really think about it and got a little sick to my stomach. Will I be a little sentimental? Of course. Is my girl getting bigger and more independent? Yes. Am I afraid she will be a little like me and cry? You bet I am. She cried everyday I dropped her off at the pre-preschool summer program I enrolled her in back in July. She did great but everyday on the way begged me to stay with her. When I started telling her about starting school soon she said, "Mommy, I don't want to go. I want to be with you all the time."

When my husband wants to piss me off, he will say something like, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." There may be some truth in that, but I think it falls far enough. If I have learned anything from my childhood, it's that it wasn't worth all the worry. When I allowed myself to chill out, I figured out how to enjoy things. I did make my parents job very difficult and am aware of the possibility that my daughter has that potential to do that to me in the next few days, weeks, and OMG years. I'm just trying to do a kick ass job of pretending that there is nothing to be afraid of, and that she buys my front because payback isn't pretty.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I feel lucky when my daughter does things like this:

Kisses me when I haven't asked
Says please and thank you
Tells me she is "dipappointed" that she doesn't get something instead of throwing a temper
Pretends to talk to her friends of the phone and I get to listen to her conversations
Falls down and a kiss from me is all she needs to feel better
Says "It's OK mommy, don't be sad, I am here" when I am sad and that's all I need to feel better
Helps clean up her toys
Does something the first time I ask
Takes a good long nap
Plays independently for more than 5 minutes
Tells my husband to drive safely as he walks out the door
Says"I am so excited about that" when she is looking forward to something
Tells me she likes something I cook for her
Lets me snuggle with her
Dances on the street without any concern of who is watching her or what she looks like
Sings at the top of her lungs
Goes to sleep at night without calling out
Is kind to babies and makes them laugh
Does yoga with me in the morning
Eats her vegetables
Lets me do fun things with her hair
Smiles when I want to take her picture
Laughs hysterically with her best friend
Comes over when I call her
Is reasonable
Out of the blue says, "Mommy, I love you"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Simmer Down Now

It is hot!

There is no doubt in my mind that the heat makes all of us a little bit more edgy. I have noticed that with the thickness in the air not only am I uncomfortable, but I feel pissy. I am trying to get a lot done these days. Perhaps too much. And as usual, I feel a bit overwhelmed. Twig is not in school yet, so my free time is limited to when she naps.

I have a list going in my head of things to accomplish at all times. Work on the projects I have started: a documentary, this blog, a yoga book (that was started before I gave birth), study for two exams I have to take before October 1st, and now clean my entire house of clutter. Somehow in my head I think I am capable of accomplishing a little of all of these in one short hour long nap. When I hear her yell, "Mommy, is it wake up time?" I will inevitably be in the middle of something. I then have to put my pencil down (so to speak), and head back into mom mode. The frustration of not being able to finish things is making me testy, and this heat isn't helping.

All I want to do is take my daughter swimming at the houses of friends that have pools. Sometimes I think I want to go in more than she does. It just takes the edge off, and plus it contains her to one small area. My husband and I share this love of getting in the water. If there is an opportunity, I'm in. I feel so at peace and suddenly it doesn't matter what is piling up. It is really a dream that someday we will have a pool. I don't know any other adults who want to get in the pool as much as the two of us.

In the meantime we have enjoyed our friends company as well as their aquatic centers. I don't know how I survived summers in New York. Perhaps it explains why people are a lot more angry there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Freedom Fry

So I guess respecting other peoples decisions as parents is something that hasn't quite spread to the masses yet. It seemed pretty obvious to me, but apparently word hasn't hit the news stand yet that you need to ask a parent before giving certain foods to someone else's child. I suppose it also isn't known to all yet that fast food is not the healthiest. Apparantly, there is not enough out there yet on that one.

Yesterday my husband was holding Twig at a neighbor's house and the neighbor had in-laws there. She kept asking about Twig's weight and commenting on how petite she was. Twig does get her nic name because she is little, but she also is completely healthy and I don't need her getting a complex at three. While she was talking, the woman's husband came in with a bag full of McDonald's. The Golden Arches are holy for some, and I do not judge others religious or dietary choices, but I would never eat there. I know one day my daughter will, but as long as she is little, it's my decision. Or at least I thought it was.

This woman, after commenting on Twig's size more than twice, decided she needed some fries. She shoved the shiny red box towards my girl and offered her a bunch. My husband, who was shocked and at a loss, said, "Oh, that's okay...thank you" but she insisted. Holding Twig, my dear husband said she could take one (much to my chagrin) and she right then and there had her first piece of food that never disintegrates. The ingredients are horrible in McDonalds fries. The oil they use has TBHQ in it (which is illegal in Europe, largely because it never breaks down in our systems). They also contain Dimethylpolysiloxane. For anti-foaming. Yes -- anti-foaming. I didn't know fries foamed. Oh, and beef flavoring. Yum.

Okay, I can come off my high horse now and say that she only ate one. No big deal. It bothers me, but she will survive. What gets me upset though is that this woman not only didn't ask if it was okay, but also insisted she take more. Thankfully by then, my husband walked away, but her assumption was jarring. It is my job to say what she can eat, and thank goodness I have the freedom to choose from a lot of amazing choices. Why didn't this lady get the memo that she needs to defer to us? Now I have to make my kid more precocious and require her to ask her mommy or daddy first.

I'm so glad she likes In and Out fries better.

Monday, August 22, 2011


For the past week and a half, I was away with my family in New York and in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Family Vacation always feels like an oxymoron to me. There are not a lot of relaxing moments involved with my family. Every time I spend time with my family I try to not be surprised by the tension, yet every time I am surprised at how surprised I am.

There are a lot of characters in the group, and despite the chaos we all keep coming back with a strong desire to be together. Our visits always come with stress, and the fun does come but not always very easily. A typical loud New York family, we are often yelling at each other. This was something my husband has never seen before. When he witnessed it for the first time early in our relationship, his jaw was hanging on the floor. Still now when he comes into the mix I am embarrassed about what he sees.

There are no boundaries of space when we are home. My dad gets frustrated and loses his cool easily, and my mom is scattered and spontaneously says things that make my eyes pop out of my head. My brother has a temper and can argue at you until you want to run away. My fifteen year old nephew was also there this time, and although his behavior is pretty typical of that of a fifteen year old, I was still baffled at it at times. I didn't know whether to laugh or hide when at a Friday night dinner with my sister in laws parents he came to the table with his IPod and said that the app on his phone said that his fart was in the key of a perfect A minor. Classy table talk.

Every family has their share of craziness. Some more than others. This trip though I could see that Twig was watching it all with very little going over her head. At one point she said "Don't talk to me that way" Which is exactly what she heard me say to my brother. Here begins the fuel and fund for her future therapy sessions. Ah well, I went through this family and came out okay I suppose. My husband sang circus music in my ear whenever mayhem broke, and I only had to run out of the house once, so overall it was a pretty good trip. We just got back and all I want to do is plan a real vacation now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Faux Pas

There are unspoken rules about what you can and can't say to a pregnant woman.

Saying things to a pregnant person's closest friend is a different story. If only I could wear a sign stating which topics were were off limits, maybe I could prevent emotional outbursts to random people when they simply try to ask me a question. Or perhaps with a little time, I won't be so hyper-sensitive and cry or feel the earth drop from under me.

It is hard enough to lose a baby when two of my best friends are pregnant and due exactly when I would have been. It takes time to be able to watch them grow without jealousy and envy. It took me a few teary weeks to be able to be with them and accept the fact that we are on different paths. Hopefully I will join them soon.

In the last month I have had my ups and downs with coming to terms with my loss. Last Friday was particularly difficult. I took Twig to gymnastics, where my friend and her daughter, were going to meet us. She was running late and we had been texting earlier in the morning and she knew I wasn't in my best mood. When she walked in, I was helping Twig roll down a ramp. As she ran after her daughter, she gave me a sympathetic look which in one second communicated to me how well she knows me. And that she understood. She gave me a hug and the first thing I felt was her growing belly against mine. That part is hard for me, but it's getting easier each day. She also looked amazing in a cool dress with a Harley Davidson belt just under her belly, so it was hard to look at her without seeing how cute she is -- baby and all. I went back to help Twig navigate through the obstacle course when a woman whispered in my ear "Is your friend pregnant?"

An innocent question, but I didn't see it coming at all. I was so caught off guard that my response came out of my mouth without thinking. My mood earlier in the morning was due to how off my cycle had been since my D&C and how long it was taking me to regulate. Even if I wanted to try again for another baby, my body just wasn't ready yet. This poor woman didn't want to assume anything and ask my friend if she was pregnant, so she chose what she thought as the safer bet. I wasn't the only one to notice her growing belly, and so just in case she was wrong, this woman tapped my shoulder, at the worst possible moment, on the worst possible day. I turned around, looked at her (possibly with a touch of insanity and desperation) and said, "Yes -- and I am not."

I was shocked at my own response to this woman whose name I don't even know. I quicky glanced at my friend who noticed the interaction but couldn't hear, and suddenly burst into tears. I left my daughter with my friend and ran to the bathroom to sob. It was a mess of a morning, and I needed to pull it together, but not before falling apart a little more in a stinky bathroom stall. I went back told my friend what happened -- she couldn't stop laughing. When I finally saw the humor in it myself, I went to over to the woman and apologized. I explained as quickly as I could why I was so sensitive, and that I didn't mean to respond to her innocent question that way. She was awesome about it and said that she understood. She looked over at her son and told me that it took her eight years (thats right, eight) to conceive her son. When she said she understood, she really meant it. I guess no matter what we women go through we all ask innocent questions to each other at the wrong time. Just in case though, I am going to be really carefull how I word things from here on out. You just never know.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Practicing What I Preach

Today was a moody mess for me. I am hormonal, impatient, anxious and obsessive. My head is busy over-thinking the future and fantasizing about things I can't control. I fell into a hole, planning things in which only mother nature has a say. Today I cried at the flip of a switch and I turned to others to make me feel better, instead of just taking a deep breath and remembering that everything will work itself out.

Today was a moody mess for my Twig. She woke up wanting a short order cook and the one she found just wasn't working fast enough. She didn't feel like talking to anyone and ignored friendly chatter when anyone approached her. She was disappointed when her friend didn't play a game the way she wanted, disappointed she couldn't swim as much as she wanted, and disappointed when she couldn't have a third treat of the day. She cried at the flip of a switch, and turned to me to make her feel better, instead of taking a deep breath and being reassured that everything will work itself out.

I don't get everything I want and I am glad that my daughter sees that. I realized today, however, that it's not a bad idea to let her see me get upset about it sometimes. She doesn't have to see me kick, scream and throw a fit, but witnessing me shedding some tears is only going to help her see how I deal with my feelings. She can see that it's okay to be upset -- and that there is a beginning and an end to it.

There isn't a tantrum that goes by that I don't wonder, will she will ever stop crying? No trick I have up my sleeve, or that I have ever read about, has ever worked to quell her. She needs to take what seems like an epic long time to get through her frustration. If I could reward myself for every tantrum she threw today I would have a glass of wine, a massage, and the Eames rocker chair I've had my eye on. It doesn't work that way in grown-up land, so I should be careful when I offer her consolations to just stop crying. I ask her to just go with it, say "oh well, or in Hebrew "En Ba Yah" (meaning, no big deal), but do I do that? I see myself over-thinking a misplaced sippy cup, or hair clip. I actually imagine what better uses I would have for fifty dollars as I am writing a check for a parking ticket. I feel the need to let people know when they piss me off, and I'm not the quickest to wait for something I want.

I am trying to get her to go with the flow, when frankly I suck at that myself. I have been fighting the urge my whole life to pout when I hear the word "no." I can't expect her to bounce back from her disappointment so easily. Things are not always fair, and she is learning that exact lesson a bit more everyday. I just want to make sure that she can see the light at the end of the tantrum tunnel without me helping her through it every time. In the meantime, I will reassure her that it's there and that even her stubborn mama forgets that sometimes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Several times this week my daughter has driven me to an excruciating state of frustration. I feel my shoulders tense up when I have to say no to something. I flinch in anticipation of the tantrum that often follows her disappointment. The hair on the back of my neck stands with the sound of her whining. I feel I have a low tolerance for the frequency of her breakdowns, and feel pushed beyond my ability to respond rationally to her. I start out as patient as I know how to be, but when she begins to kick and scream, I temporarily envision myself jumping ship.

I hear myself throw out threats, disclaimers, and conditions in an effort to curtail her downward spiral. I saw myself get physically close to her face and felt my lips furl and my finger point. I can hear myself say things I never wanted to say to my child. It sucks even more when a couple of days later I hear her say things like, "You may not talk to me like that, mommy" -- right back at me. This is the reality of three though -- it's not all adorable. A lot of it is pretty freaking amazing, but this part is not easy.

A few days ago I was trying to get work done and she was supposed to be napping, but instead she was calling out to me from her bed about every two minutes. I finally went up and the reality hit me that I wouldn't be able to leave her room until she was allowed to leave with me, and I got so mad at her. I wasn't at all sensitive to the fact that there was no way she could have fallen asleep since there was construction going on right outside her door. I was just pissed I didn't get enough time without her, and I misplaced all my anger and told her I was upset and needed a break from her for a little bit. She was beside herself, and I could tell I hurt her feelings. I took a second, pulled it together and then pulled her in close. Again, this is all new to both of us and we have to be careful not to push each other too far. We are both learning on the job.

Today she hit the ceiling again. This time, she was hysterical because we forgot to take Baa (her favorite stuffed sheep) to her check up to introduce him to her Doctor. I could see she was really disappointed. She asked me to please turn the car around and go back home to get him. I explained that we couldn't miss our appointment and that we could tell the doctor all about Baa, but she wasn't having any of it. Twenty minutes of screaming and wailing (all while she was strapped into a car seat) was hard for her to feel, and hard for me to listen to. Even with all the compassion in the world, I still had a hard time feeling sensitive around the fiftieth attempt to reason with her.

Feelings can be so strange. Today, watching the news, I saw Mubarak in a cage in an Egyptian courtroom. He was an evil man who caused so many deaths and so much suffering. Lying there today I felt compassion for him. I am confused and conflicted when an elderly man turns out to have been a Nazi and finally gets jailed in his eighties. I know he is not worthy of his freedom, but he looks so vulnerable now. It's all part of humanity, although I am sure these men I speak of would never have been sensitive to who I am, as a Jewish female, but still I can feel sad for them. At the same time that I have feelings of empathy for sick, twisted, horrible criminals, I look at my daughter like she is nuts, and it scares me a little. Even as I write this, I can't believe I have put my daughter in the same sentence with any one so horrible. But that is my point, I am human, and she is human and sometimes we just feel what we feel.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Different Folks

Once every couple of months a beautiful thing happens in my house: it gets cleaned by a housekeeper. This is a luxury that I don't take for granted. Some of my friends don't have them at all, while others have them once or even twice a week. As a child, my family never had someone clean for us, and we didn't know anyone who did. When I think of what I saw around me compared to what my daughter will see around her -- well, it makes me take pause.

I love Los Angeles. The weather is incredible, compared to NY. You get a lot more for your money, there is so much more space, and for a kid there are countless activities. It's a great city. With any place though, it has its cons, and the big one here for me is the intense focus on image. As I wrote in earlier blogs, when I first became a mother I fell into the wrong group of women. Not unlike when I first moved to LA and chose a couple of bad friends, just because I had a few things in common with them. When I became a mom, I chose these women simply because they were new moms too. I still get down on myself at times for being such a poor judge of character at the old age of thirty something (blame sleep deprivation).

The women I befriended quickly became a group, a clique, a club, and although I was in it, I knew I didn't belong. I have a lot of fantastic friends, and I don't have everything in common with all or any of them, but at their core I know they are good people with the intent of being a good friend. I can't say the same for some of these women. I can honestly say their intent was to look better, be richer, and seem more together than the rest. It was junior high all over again. Having a daughter made me realize all the quicker how the example these women were setting was so off and away from the ones I wanted to set. They weren't all bad, but overall it was a bit too pretty in pink for me.

I learned a lesson from that time, and know now that I don't judge anyone who has more money that me, or has a nanny, or their kid goes to the "best" preschool. But I do raise an eyebrow if they aren't passing anything on to their kid besides a sense of entitlement. I know it's not easy to avoid here, compared to other places, but I want my daughter to have an awareness that things don't simply fall into her lap. In this economy, it's seems like LA still has a lot of pressure to keep up the facade. I was pleased to see my daughter cleaning the shower with a rag the other day and say that she was helping to clean. I'm glad she sees that it needs to be done, and that her parents have house jobs just like she does (she puts her dirty clothes in the hamper -- I am not working her to the bone at the age of three, so don't call Child Protective Services on me...yet).