The hectic life as a mom, wife, daughter, + writer equates a continuous and simultaneous running of all cylinders.

There are two kinds of people in this world when it comes to balloons…

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As a parent, it’s only natural to seek out the identifying behaviors of each of our children, comparing them from one sibling to the next in an effort to discover the individual patterns and diversities among them. Listen in on any Mommy and Me class anywhere in the country, and you’ll find parents reminiscing about how ‘Johnny slept through the night at 8 weeks, but Matthew still is having trouble making it through the night at a year and a half’. Or how ‘Katherine wouldn’t ever take a pacifier, yet Rachel won’t go anywhere without one.’ The art of comparing your children is a very normal way of recognizing their own innate personalities, which start very early on in life.

This fascinating and instinctual tendency is somewhat akin to that of our primal intrigue with watching television shows based on wild animals in their natural habitat. I often imagine the hushed narration from British Broadcaster, David Attenborough in the background, as he surveys the distinct behaviors of the children: ‘watch as Tommy stealthily moves about, frustrated at the inability to find all the balls in the yard, meanwhile Lucy appears perfectly content with just the one ball, keeping it close at bay.’

Since my children were young, I’ve found it captivating to watch them play alongside one another. Both boys who evolved from the same subset of genetic makeup, raised in the same household with precisely the exact same individuals as influencers, yet, despite the individual situation or scenario, each child will inevitability respond dramatically different. Hudson carefully evaluates situations prior to enacting his tactical approach, and would rather appear somehow apprehensive or standoffish as opposed to impulsive and without a definitive plan. Hawkins, on the other hand, is always eager to jump right in, acts first and thinks later, and often is seen as the risk-taker and thrill-seeker. 

There are truly two kinds of people in this world; those that pop balloons and the others that couldn’t stand the thought of it.

During a relatively routine afternoon of playing in the yard, my boys asked that I blow up balloons for them to play with. After handing them their balloons, I was especially blown away (no pun, intended) by how they choose to engage the balloons in play. Hudson immediately started drawing faces on each one, morphing them into diverse characters given their happy or menacing smiles. Hawkins, on the other hand, and with much dismay from his brother, decided to test their general durability, or lack thereof, seeing what objects and with what amount of force, would invariably result in the balloon popping. This first-hand glimpse into the kaleidoscope of human behaviors truly had me intrigued, leading to my conclusion that there are truly two kinds of people in this world; those that pop balloons and the others that couldn’t stand the thought of it. 

This otherwise mundane exercise seemed to represent a larger, more pervasive notion in anthropology showcasing individual’s desire to effect change, despite the unpleasantries of doing so. Hudson cringed at the idea of hearing the POP! sound and therefore didn’t choose to participate, whereas Hawkins looked beyond it to get to answering the internal question he set forth to answer: what does it take to pop the balloon? 

I know that as my children mature and learn more about the world around them, so too, will their ability to discern cause and effect and challenge their boundaries. My hope is that they both continue to challenge those notions, helping to be at the forefront of their own path to learning, with perhaps a few less deflated balloons in the process. 

Caps for Sale

Whether new or seasoned, all moms can agree on one thing; motherhood requires that you wear many hats, simultaneously. And while the majority of us are used to the demanding pressures of juggling multiple projects or carrying a caseload of clients concurrently in our professional lives, the multi-tasking that motherhood requires is an entirely different beast.

I too had the severely naive notion that due to my competence in keeping several plates spinning in the air at one time, somehow prepared me for — and dare I even say — overqualified me for, the task of raising children. Yikes! That, quite possibly, could be one of my more grave miscalculations thus far in life.  There’s no easing into this transition either. Nope, no CLIFF-NOTES for this bad boy. We’re sucked into (no pun, intended) the dizzying world of multi-tasking from the moment we meet our little buddies of joy, when breastfeeding becomes the first order of importance and doing so comes with a laundry list of how to’s; hold the baby’s head like this, lean into them that way, offer them the breast from this angle, make sure they’re latching on from this way…

The list just grows from then on out. Think about it, when was the last time you actually went to the bathroom alone and weren’t asked to get something or do something or find something or make someone else stop doing something? Probably before you had kids, right? It’s almost as if the moment you enter into a possible scenario that glimmers with the hope of 30 seconds of alone time and the fleeting possibility of actually accomplishing one simple task of your own, your toddler decides he must have his shoes on that minute. I mean, the act of peeing while putting on a toddler’s shoes actually requires a lot of talent! So much so, that it’s occurred to me to add it to my list of skill sets on my LinkedIn profile.

Or let’s take the mere undertaking of leaving the house. We don’t actually just leave the house. We prepare to leave the house by grabbing tissues for one kid’s runny nose, by reminding another child to grab his book bag (including, but not limited to, his library book which needs to returned to school for library day), by making sure everyone has on matching shoes, has gone to the bathroom, and that your dog hasn’t also now gotten into the car given the fact that someone has left the door wide open. And then somehow, by an absolute miracle, we collectively make it out of said house. It’s really a good thing that we’re designed to function relatively well doing 12 things at one time, or things would get really messy. And in honor of all the moms who play so many roles, I’ve compiled a short list of those jobs or traits we also embody while being a mom (watch our hats grow taller and taller).

HIGHLY FUNCTIONING HYPER-VIGILANCE. This ain’t your run-of-the-mill, average watchful eye. That’s amateur hour. This is a highly honed skill by which all moms perfect as our children grow. I can spot a choking hazard disguised as a 2mm bead in the corner of a room faster than most people can say ‘no’. Again, adding to LinkedIn.

HERDER OF SHEEP. This requires neither explanation nor further description. Let’s gooooooo!

ANNOUNCER. Except for the fact that no one is listening, and therefore you find the need to repeat yourself way too many times than you’d like to admit. Are you listening to me?

REFEREE. Akin to that of any major league professional sports ref minus the whole respect thing and the end verdict doesn’t actually matter because they haven’t stopped bickering long enough to hear you. This may only apply to mom’s of multiple children, however, somehow I think that kids are so adept at creating quarrels, that even an only child might figure out a way. Stop pulling your brother’s eyelids!

TEACHER. It’s not enough that children have exceptional teachers ready and willing to educate our children 5 days a week, but we too must remember how to figure out the square root of 965. Awesome.

LIFE-COACH. Gone are the days of children just figuring certain things out on their own. No, we as parents must instill in them, the knowledge of how everything in life works and operates. Trial by fire died in the 80’s, guys. This Q and A session, by the way, is typically initiated at bedtime just as my exhausted finger is poised over the light switch.

COOK. Short-order, line-chef, sous chef, gourmet and pastry chef all-in-one. And some days it’s just broccoli and grilled cheese.

It’s a lot of hats, some of which on certain days, I’d very much like to sell off and delegate to someone else. However, at the end of the (long) day, knowing that you are their absolute world and that without us, theirs simply wouldn’t be as happy, is enough to make it all worthwhile. And while the task of being everything for someone else can be daunting and exhausting, it’s because of this deep love and support we that exhibit, that signifies our unwavering support. We are their safe place, their rock, and we wear it all. We’re Moms.

The Fall of Anew

Fall is readily approaching, biding adieu to the long, hot-filled Summer days that already seem like but a distant dream. I can tell by the crisp, dry air that conceals the slight lingering of cool as it draws across your face like that of a hot pepper masking its intensity, an aftertaste catching you by surprise. The leaves, while still attached, have started to curl, showcasing their breathtakingly vibrant colors that light up in sun’s warm glow. Fall is almost here. The acorns have fallen, adorning the sidewalks with their fanciful magic — a parting gift to nature’s last hurrah.  The branches dance in an ever-present sway, a rhythmic rocking that lulls daylight to a close, ushering in the admittance of an early evening moon.

There’s something enchanting about the change of seasons akin to that of a magician who tricks the senses. It’s a change in what we’ve come to know, and the unspoken wonderment of what’s yet to come. The opportunity for anew; the mind and body raptured in a sweater crocheted of excitement. Our taste buds change as we look to appease our craving for the satisfying; the warm and indulgent. The intoxicating smell of a warmly lit fireplace lingers in my noise as it puffs out its sweet pillows of hickory incense into the air. I long for the cozy nights spent reading to my kids as I envelop them in an oversized blanket. We look to the metaphors to describe our state of mind as we forge into unchartered territory with a clean slate. Our desire for restored order and routine comes back into view, like that of an old friend passing through town.

Fall has always been, and will remain to be, my most coveted time of year. My body undergoes a change that fails to be translated into words, an indescribable feeling that buzzes throughout like the injection of caffeine. So with this, I move past to the dog days of Summer and welcome back a new season into view— and one which is welcomed with open arms.

A Guttural Instinct

I met my husband while on a girls trip to San Francisco alongside two of my best girlfriends. At the time, the three of us all lived in Chicago and two things topped our list of prerequisites: warm weather and good wine, making SF and wine country the perfect destination. After a dizzying and life-altering encounter, my now-husband and I became inseparable and our love grew almost immediately. After about eight months of dating long-distance which included routine trips back and forth to visit one another, the time came to make the move. While short on resources but so full of love, together we combined our paltry eclectic assortment of belongings, along with our newly acquired pup. What we lacked in size, we made up for by being starry-eyed in love in our shoe-box, albeit, charming and quaint Victorian apartment. And as meager as things were and as tight as our budget was, we would forever dream of one day, owning our own home in the Bay Area.

Fast forward nine years, 2 kids, and several jobs later, we’re finally living out our ultimate goal of homeownership, and yet I can’t help but feel like the bubble will presumably burst at any minute. Around any corner now, the inescapable harsh realities of life will come crashing down and expose the realism that so often unfolds. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider myself a pessimist, but rather more a realist with the expectation that both good and bad things occur all the time. Rainbows form and so do rain clouds. Butterflies flutter and bees sting. But why is it that I’m always waiting for the ubiquitous other shoe to fall?

Maybe my thoughts of impending doom like that of a seedy character lurking around a dark corner, is a way of lightly peppering the good in a tactic of self-preservation. This innate mindset might be a way to decrease the likelihood of feeling bamboozled when things go south. It must be engrained in me from somewhere, although its distinct coordinates and precise whereabouts are still unclear. Perhaps it points to the alphabet soup of ill after-effects of being a child of a divorced family, or as a result of the unfortunate, and yet all- too common reality of being a woman in a male-dominated world. What I do know, however, is that the inability to fully live in the moment and enjoy the truly happy times in life, doesn’t seem to be relegated to just myself. The notion that once you’ve met your current quota of happiness and things start to feel too good to be true, there you are again, at that dark intersection you know all-too well.

I’m sure this is one of the many limitless reasonings for why therapists are part and parcel to our somewhat functioning society and why they’ll forever find abundant job security. Life seems to throw us a lot of curve balls when we’re least expecting them, and so perhaps instinctively, my thoughts of upcoming ominous circumstances are my way of creating a buffer to lessen the impact. Either way, life is good—for now, anyway. And in this current moment, I’m housing happiness.

I’m a fraud

I pretend I’m the perfect parent, that I have all my ducks in a row, but I’m so far from it. I project that I have it all together, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I present myself as having everything in order —all of the time—but I’m sorely misrepresenting things. Afterall, I’m a real parent, with real flaws and very common shortcomings with an even bigger dream of keeping it all afloat. But what remains a mystery, is why we feel the need to pretend that everything is simultaneously achievable when we all know damn well that it isn’t. It’s impossible to keep all the plates spinning when those said plates include overseeing our children’s well-being, a career, a household, friendships, our children’s social calendars and rare, but necessary interspersing of some personal care from time to time. It’s simply not feasible to be on top of it all at all times because unless I’ve missed the big announcement, being in more than one place at one time, still isn’t physically possible (although, I’m sure a Mom will invent how to make this happen sometime soon).

What I wish is for all moms to let go of the notion that this is what we should strive to be; something unattainable. Can we learn to rid ourselves of the guilt associated with not feeling worthy unless all our responsibilities are satisfied before we lay our head down at night? Don’t get me wrong, it feels great to check things off the ubiquitous ‘to-do list’ and have a satisfying day of abundant accomplishments, but we shouldn’t define our self-worth by our ability to do so. Giving the dog a bath while on a conference call with dinner in the oven and laundry in the dryer isn’t what makes us ‘good’ parents. In fact, I’d like to argue the opposite, in which doing less is actually much more. So often at night when I read my kids their bedtime books, I’m not focused on the words or their reactions to them, rather, I’m running down my endless mental checklist of things that I still need to do or emails that I need to write or people who need to be called back or lunches that can’t make themselves or dishes I should clean or the impending articles that need to be written. I’m simply.not. present. And the enemy of multi-tasking and its assumed forefront position it’s taken on our lives, is to blame. The only way I see this changing is if us, as a society, to change our perception on what it truly means to be a succeeding parent.

I don’t expect this shift in societal views to happen overnight, if at ever, but that doesn’t mean a positive shift can’t occur within our own individual lives. Let’s start by being real; with ourselves; our friends; our partners. Let’s stop pretending to uphold these impervious lives that don’t really exist. Parenthood is hard. Really hard. So maybe if we can come from a place of honesty, life would feel a lot less of a hurdle and much more of an achievable goal. Perhaps I’ll put that on my list of to-do’s.

Grow, but stay this way forever.

My Mom whom always takes splendid, transcendentalist moments out of her day to absorb the beauty of her surroundings and to basque in the glory that is nature, always thought it important to instruct my sister and I to do the same growing up. In fact, we still have a running joke dating back to childhood when she would tell us to ‘Look at the sun!’ and then immediately follow that up with, ‘but don’t look at it!’ Meaning, take in the beauty, but don’t stare directly at it for fear you’ll burn your eyes. It never ceases to amaze me just how powerful a distant memory can be, imparting a lasting imprint on our lives. For me, the essence of this memory woefully sums up my feeling of parenthood.

“…the guttural instinct like that of a wave precipitating its former…”

I washed and worried for that little umbilical cord to finally fall off to showcase my son’s perfectly adorable belly-button.  I waited intently for him to master the skill set of lifting his head on his own. I couldn’t wait until sitting was a viable possibility. I eagerly awaited with much excitement, at the prospect of being able to finally introduce solids. When will he learn to walk?  Will he soon be running? I anxiously anticipated actually engaging my little human in real conversation. Is he ready for school yet? When will he be able to write his name? Read? You get the picture…

But what happens immediately following those thoughts is the guttural instinct like that of a wave precipitating its former; to immediately rescind and counteract the wishful propulsion. These milestones serve to signify his growing and maturing; his body transforming from baby to toddler and beyond, and I find myself most anxious about whether I’m truly ready to move with the same momentum. Am I ready to see the chubby infant days full of cuddles nearing to an end, as I witness with such bittersweetness, his growing confidence?

It’s an excruciating juxtaposition wanting them to become the best version of themselves, which includes celebrating newfound capabilities, while mourning the loss of their baby selves— and their inevitable need for mom. And this especially holds true with my second —and last— knowing full-well how quickly these first few years fly by. I won’t ever again experience these early celebratory milestones and so souring past them with such fervor becomes the double-edge sword.

So why then do I do it? Why do I perpetually wish for the next milestone to be reached? For the greater accomplishment to be conquered, or for the bigger milestone to be undertaken? Part of me thinks it’s due in large because once they exhibit a certain capability, I internally put my mind at ease regarding their ability to do so. I stamp the ubiquitous ‘check mark’ off my never-ending mental list of things they need to learn to do. In addition, I am well aware of societal pressure that’s bestowed upon parents. On a daily basis, I’m inundated with no less that 25 articles telling me where my child should be at this exact, finite moment in his development. And, of course, there’s always that parent at the park who swears her little gifted one has already master fractions at 2.5…’Um, your’s hasn’t?’ It’s everywhere and it makes it incredibly challenging to live in the moment, contented with where you child is at that moment in time. Not looking to the next, not worried about what’s coming, just being.

This notion to grow, but stay little, to conquer, yet still need me, will always plague me as a mom— to some degree. And I’m fairly certain I’ll never figure out that magical equation for how to accomplish this perfectly, however, for now, I’ll shift my focus to celebrating the milestones as they come, while relishing in the day-to-day life every day.

Epic Proportions.

You know what’s kind of amazing and slightly magical about parenthood? We have the power to make our children believe that even their smallest acts are something of epic proportions. Take yesterday when my son enthusiastically showed me no less than 900 times how well he was able to hop on either leg. ‘Amazing!’, ‘incredible!’ ‘so good, dude!’ I proclaimed over and over again along with a litany of other enthusiastic adjectives to showcase my happiness in seeing him relish in his own gratification of this skill set.

“We retain the power to help them —brick by brick— build their self-esteem”

Now, I know what you’re thinking… tell me again what the hudson on bikebig deal is about jumping on one leg? To which I’d reply, ‘absolutely nothing!’ But what I’ve learned as a parent, is that we retain the colossal, ever-important power to help them —brick by brick— build their self-esteem, solely based on how we react to the things that make them feel good. We can single-handedly instill in them, the message that what they have to say or do is worthwhile, and that their accomplishments are truly something to celebrate. And why wouldn’t I want to make him feel overjoyed at the fact that he can count to 50 or put on his own underwear or give me the lengthy discriptions for why each magnatile spaceship differs from one another?

It’s all important stuff if they think it is. It all matters if it matters to them. So even on those days when I can’t bare to watch yet another lap around the playground while he rides confidently on his bike, lap after lap after lap, what I need to keep in mind is that while it might be exhausting to give attention to all those things our children display, every time I do, I’m helping him stand a little taller and create a happier world in which he lives.

The ‘B’ Word

It occurred to me the other day, while surrounded by brimming piles of overstuffed laundry baskets, thousands of teeny-weeny pieces of legos strewn across the house like sprinkles atop an ice cream cone and a laptop whose cursor was condescendingly blinking back at me, just why, as a working mother, balance is so difficult to achieve — something by which finding the Holy Grail or the ever-elusive Fountain Of Youth might be more easily attainable. But to answer this question, it’s imperative to take a stroll marathon back down memory lane.

Once upon a time, when kids were a mere dream and my own comfort and happiness were an actual consideration, I had what I would have considered, a really balanced life. I worked hard and I played hard. I allotted ample doses of ‘me’ time as well as time for my friends and family. I focused on my professional achievements as well as personal ones. I read, watched, and wrote till my heart was content. I was for all intents and purposes, content and balanced, living a life peppered with variety and harmony.

But looking at that former life, however, it’s become blatantly obvious why my life is so out of balance now… I’m attempting to apply the same subset of expectations to a life that doesn’t even begin to resemble to my former one. I’ll never again exist in a world steeped in such freedom or solipsism. So why then, am I looking to it for answers on how to achieve it now?

Just as my role and responsibilities have changed drastically with the addition of each child, so too, does the need for my expectations in an effort to fully comprehend what balance actually looks like within the confines of such framework. Over time, a seismic shift has occurred, by which most of my day is spent tending to the needs of my children. Therefore, balance can’t mean having as much freedom as I do obligation, or dedicating as much time indulging my own desires (or even the occasional solo trip to the bathroom) as I do those of my children’s. The scales will always be tipped in the direction of my kids, and after all, that’s what parenthood is all about, rendering the theory of balance to be truly what you make of it and not at all about the actual evenness of reality. Motherhood catapults you into a new balance which while certainly does not favor me, overall, I favor it.



You Are Here.

Have you ever noticed that there’s no sense of contentedness when you’re a parent? You barely make your way home from the hospital before people are already asking you when you’re planning to have your next one. I can distincly remember comprehending the ridiculousness of such a question, and the fact that I’d just dedicated the last 10 months to growing a child and more recently, at that point, the last 22 hours birthing said child, yet I too, still fall victim to the continuum model of motherhood. It’s this ever-present parental momentum that seems to plague me throughout each stage of kid’s childhood. And while I’d love to be focused on the truly astounding characteristics my children are currently exhibiting, basking in the gloriousness each stage brings, I feel this nagging pressure to be constantly looking forward to those things my child should be doing next, keeping me from being —and enjoying—the present.

Take for instance: crawling. A truly imperative milestone in and of itself and one with which has been proven to increase brain functionality, stimulating those areas which help with memory capabilities, better reading comprehension, and lifelong hand-eye coordination. Yet, instead of celebrating this crazy talent that my little one had so proficiently mastered, I set my sights to the next stage: walking. How insane is that? I mean, let us take stock of the fact that a mere 6 months ago, he were more a stationary object than anything else, akin to that of a decorative pillow over an actual human, and by all intents and purposes, he just sat there eating and pooping. But alas, he’s mastered a fundamental skill all by himself and I can’t even give him enough credit to let him just do that for minute? What a jerk he must think I am. I mean seriously, can you imagine such pressure? What if adults were expected to learn at such lightening speed? ‘Ohh, you just learned quantum physics? How cute! Now, teach yourself how to perform brain surgery.’

You Are Here.

Yet, I can’t take total credit for the complete and utter sabotage that I place unto myself. It’s also part and parcel to the fact that as parents these days, we’re inundated with milestone reminders that tell you exactly where and what your child should be doing at that exact, finite moment, similar to those mall directories that give you the ‘You are here’ coordinates. And so, if perhaps your child is not ‘right there‘ and say, ‘over here‘ instead, they give you this artificial cause for concern and so starts the cycle of constant trajectory thinking and your time for relishing in the beauty of today’s talents, are thrown swiftly out the window.

So, in an effort to satisfy the ubiquitous resolution in the new year and preserve a bit of sanity for myself and wonderment surrounding my children’s childhood, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to shut off the continual mile markers and establish my own coordinats for happiness. And so instead of measuring my child based on are you here?, I’m starting to think in terms of how happy are you here?

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