Tuesday, April 30, 2019


When I was an angst-y teenager, I came out to LA to visit my cousins who lived here. My Aunt was this seemingly free spirited hippy. She had long crazy blond curls, the highest cheekbones I ever saw, and a sing-songy tone to everything she said. Her 3 boys were a year older, exactly my age and one year younger than me. In my mind they were so "LA" - they all had long hair and used words like "rad." They had so much freedom and independence, and I was so attracted to the adventure they seemed to have in their day-to-day life. I took a liking to my Aunt, and learned that if she had had a girl, she would have named her Yosemite. I tried to offer myself to be the daughter she never had, but I never quite fit that roll for her.

It is fascinating to me what a few years of maturity will bring in the way of observing others. Just barely out of my teens, I was able to see that free spirit parenting really translated into absentee parenting, and that hippy style that I coveted, didn't always provide a sense of security a child needs. My cousins seemed to have freedom, because most of the time they were on their own. I never fit in as their sister, because looking back they were protecting me from getting too close.

Family is complicated though, and for all the bad we are aware of, there is always another side. There is the sometimes fleeting affection, or the once in a while "I love you" or an ability to forgive, that keep families somewhat together. Having just spent some concentrated time with my husband, my brother his children, my children and my parents, I can really understand how family dynamics can lead to explosive eruptions. My parents are not easy, in fact I would say at times they can be pretty hard going. They are aging, which in of itself is pretty uncomfortable for them. My mother is not comfortable with silence, so a long car ride can be challenging. They both have a tendency to worry, so going with the flow isn't a familiar concept for them. Add in some complaining and forgetfulness and even the most patient person can feel frustrated. My husband is the most patient person, yet I felt him losing his grip on that patience a few times on this trip.

I love my parents, and I am not sharing my experience with them in order to vent. I also have no intention of hurting them. I am writing because I think being torn between the family you grew up with and the family you made can be a painful game of tug-of-war. I also think it is relate-able to so many, yet when you are in the middle of it, you can feel lonelier than you have ever felt before. That is how I felt after a few days of being all together.

We drove back from beautiful Yosemite. It was my first time there, and it was a big family trip with my side of the family. There were no major outbursts or issues, just little annoying moments here and there, but over a concentrated few days, those little moments can build up. We actually had a wonderful trip, and Yosemite is unlike anything I had ever seen. I am sure the breathtaking views provided us with a sense of calm that was impossible to not feel. That last stretch home though, we all needed some personal space, and there was a question of what we were going to do for dinner. My husband just really wanted to finish the drive and get home. He had been a trooper and so flexible the whole trip, but he was done. When someone suggested we go to a market, he snapped back a little. This was nothing in comparison to the snappy remarks I am capable of making when I am annoyed with my parents, but because it came from him, I suddenly felt protective and defensive of both sides. I needed to be alone and I took a little space once we got home. I felt lost for a bit. I was upset with both sides, and yet understood them both too. I longed to reconnect everyone, but also knew some space and time would fix matters on their own.

Yosemite will stay with me. I long to go back again, even with this very same mix of people. We came home and watched "Free Solo" and seeing how that climber grew up, with his own dose of weird family dynamics, gave me a new-found appreciation for mine. I can understand the draw to this massive park, as there is something in it for all of us. I am glad my name is not Yosemite, and I am still proud to be a party of my crew, crazies and all.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Friends In Far Places

Friendships come into ones life in so many different ways. Who people connect with, and why, can determine a life long bond or not. Since becoming a parent it is interesting to notice how my time is spent with friends. There are times where I just crave a night with my close friends from the past, and times where I need people who understand exactly what is facing me in the present moment without having to fill them in. Such close friends are pretty special and I am so grateful for them. It seems though that very few of my closest friends live very close by.

New York is still home to my friends that I grew up with. Most of them have children of their own now, and once a year our families see each other. I love seeing our kids play. There is something magical to seeing history repeat itself in the next generation of friendships. Then there are the friends here in Los Angeles that I treasure, and once they have had kids they chose other parts of LA to move to. Friends whose apartments in our twenties were walking distance away are now on the opposite side of the city. Those friends, I see much less than I want to, but it is always so great catching up when we do.

It saddens me when I think of friendships that only lasted a moment in time. It is a part of life and I don't know any woman who cannot say they haven't seen a friendship or two that doesn't last. When memories of those friendships come into my mind, I have to replay in my mind what went wrong. Some relationships I noticed are not convenient anymore. Once one party moves away it takes two to keep the contact going. If I was the only one picking up the phone after while, I stopped calling. Some of us have grown apart, and some I notice when we are together they spend so much time complaining, or speaking so unkindly about other friends. Lately, my time feels so precious to me. When I sit down with a close friend, I really want it to make me feel good. Even if hard things are going on in each other's lives, I want to feel like we can build each other up in some way, instead of the opposite.

I spent the last few weeks with one of my closest friends. She flew in from London, and now not only do the two of us pick up where we left off so do our kids. At times, people used to joke that we were a bit too inseparable. Another friend of mine implied once that we spend a lot of time together and maybe it looked a bit co dependant. I don't agree, and I don't really care, because I am so glad I did, because now she is back in London, so whatever time I have with her is never enough. Here is a post from years ago when she just went back for a visit, and we missed her. http://www.twig-hugger.com/2011/02/london-is-calling.html. Now that she and her family are there for good, we soak up our time together as much as we can.

While she was here, we went down memory lane a bit. In addition to eating at some of our favorite places, we ran into some familiar faces too. We took the kids back to their old preschool to say hello to their teachers from six years ago. The kids played at the same playground where we spent everyday with them. We learned that it will be remodeled soon so I am glad they got one last time there. The years seem to be flying by, and looking back the time has been filled with many changes. I know houses, schools, and playgrounds are just things but they hold so many feelings and memories. It felt bittersweet to be there all together again in those places.

This visit our girls went away together on a camping trip. Two nights away without us, and with no contact either. They were brave and came home so happy. Our boys spent hours and hours together, swimming and playing. Our husbands seem to restart the same conversations and jokes from the last visit, and my friend and I continue to start many talks that bleed into the next, some that get finished, and some that don't. She lives further away than any other friend, and yet we are in touch just the same. We share recipes, face time, share clothes, and advice. It is never easy to say goodbye to her. Looking forward to the next visit. So are our kids.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

He Will Blow Us All Away

When I got pregnant with our third baby, I didn't care anymore what gender the baby was. I would visualize holding a healthy full term baby in my arms and didn't fully relax until that vision came to fruition. When we could find out what the baby's gender was we did, and it was a boy. We were all so excited, with the exception of our daughter who wanted a sister. When he arrived, I finally did exhale completely. Then I fell asleep from exhaustion. My hopes of never comparing my two children proved challenging. Regardless of gender, I only had my first experience as a basis for a guidebook. From the moment I looked at him, he was so different than her.

I didn't fall him love with him as instantly as I did with her. I had a harder birth, and out of the gate was exhausted, then he had a very hard time and needed medical care in the hospital for a few days after having him. I felt pulled from the get go. I did not want to leave this new baby's side, but I also missed the normalcy with my daughter. I wanted to get home and start our new normal. After a month or so I fell in love with him. Truthfully the adjustment to loving both of them wasn't an easy one, and not just for me. My daughter let me know then, she wasn't a happy camper. She loves her brother, and he idolizes her. She has a loyalty to him, and will be the first one who steps up to protect him when he needs her. This will be the last year of them in the same school together, and I will miss watching her walk him to his class, hand in hand.

She is a successful kid. She is friendly, outgoing, smart, and most things she sets her mind to come easily for her. As he grows older and more aware of her accomplishments, he can feel cold in her shadow. She got an award for poetry last week and was prized a trophy. He had to stay patient for an hour through the award ceremony. That was after we praised her for such a great report card that afternoon, as well as attending her piano recital. They both did a choir concert together, which was great, but this kid needed a win of his own. I felt it, my husband felt it, so certainly he felt it.

He has been taking dance now for a few months, and he is good at it. He is not the kind of kid who says goodbye easily and runs off into a new class. He took much convincing to try this class, and for the first 4 or 5 weeks he didn't want to go. He always ended up having fun, but initially, he was scared to walk in the door. When they started learning choreography for a recital, I was skeptical that he would preform. For a month leading up to the show, he would go back and forth. Some days he would come out of class saying it was so much fun, and he wants to do the show. Other times he would say "no way." He finally agreed and so we committed. Two days before he got cold feet again. I was really torn about whether or not I should push him to do this. It was out of his comfort zone, but if he was backing out because of fear, I didn't want him to let nerves win. My husband showed him videos of him in his dance class having fun. He explained that doing the show would be fun like class. We also may have told him we would get him a trophy. He has been coveting his sister's for quite sometime and really wanted to earn one himself.

Not only did he agree to do the show, but he also showed up and hour before, said goodbye to us, and rose to the occasion. From the minute he stepped foot on that stage, I was amazed. He knew every step, every move, and even smiled. He was having a great time, and I bouncing up and down in my seat watching him. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was so proud of him, and so impressed. I will never underestimate him again. He blew us all away.

Monday, April 8, 2019


I am taking pause. My breath seems to sneak away from me when I see the changes in my daughter. Never before did  I think that "Tween" was something that described my daughter. When she turned nine, and someone called her that, it didn't make sense. I thought it was just a branding term companies used to market to a whole new set of potential customers. Only now, a few months away from eleven, do I fully understand what a tween is.

My little girl, who is still so small for her age, is sometimes ever-so-slightly changing, and sometimes not so slightly. Her feelings are flowing in a tornado and she can't always explain why she is crying. She spends more time in her room, to feel, or to feel less. She speaks so well, carries herself with such confidence and is so mature, and yet sometimes, she is still a child who just wants to be silly.  She is now seemingly more aware of how people perceive her, and more concerned about how she is perceived.

She is embarrassed more often. She doesn't always want to play at the playground, and when her brother asks her to play with him, he doesn't understand why she won't. He comes and asks me, why she's in a bad mood so often. We are all getting lost trying to follow her these days. She herself, is confused by her feelings. This is the in between, not a little girl, not yet a teenager, somewhere in the middle. She pushes me away and then comes to me with her arms open, asking for a hug.

What I wouldn't give to hold her as a baby again. Just for a moment, to see her clasp her long baby fingers wrap around my hair and tangle us together. If I could feel the fullness of her cheeks. I can almost smell her downy wisps of hair, so I can't wrap my head around how she is ten going on eleven already. I can't comprehend, how she is changing before my very eyes. This little girl made me a mother, and I am so proud of who she is becoming, I just can't believe how fast we got here. I am taking pause.