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donor sibs

Hi! I’ve been on a little blog hiatus while working on my book, among other things, and will be back soon to tell you about all of it. Meanwhile, I wanted to pop back to talk about a topic that I bookmarked a long time ago: donor sibs.

Last year, I joined the Donor Sibling Registry to see if I could find other families who conceived babies with McPiercy as their donor. On the site, you pay a $75 fee and then you can search on your donor’s number to see if anyone is registered with any info.

E just woke up sneezing and stumbled out with big messy hair to join me on the couch. He climbed into my lap and said, in all seriousness, “Mama, do you remember that I have a lot of cars?” Why, yes, I did remember that, looking around the living room at the display of vehicles. Now he’s watching a fire truck video beside me, under the blanket.

I emailed the three families that were listed. The problem is that after people connect in their first year, they often let their membership lapse. So maybe two of them got an email saying that they had a message waiting and would have to renew to read it. But at least one was active, thankfully, and she referred me to a private facebook page where they had all congregated.

There are four families besides us- one in Marin (4yo girl), one in LA (6yo boy and 4yo boy), one in Alabama (5yo girl), and one about an hour outside of Chicago (5yo girl). Ages are approximate! They’re all fantastic kids- healthy, adorable, smart. I’d say that they all look related. It’s really fun to see photos and hear about how they’re doing- many with soulful brown eyes, strong and active bodies, and spirited and quirky personalities. All the moms are lesbians except me.

We all feel indebted and grateful to McPiercy. Someone filmed the video of his interview and posted it to our page. It’s a special kind of admiration. Thanks for providing your genetic material, dude, because we got just the right kids!

About a year ago, we met one of the moms of the LA boys, in town visiting with her new girlfriend (without the boys unfortunately!), and the whole family from Marin- both moms and their daughter, L. We had everyone over to my place in SF and my parents happened to be visiting at the time. We had lots to talk about and it was fun to see E and L playing together.

What does it mean, really? I mean- genetics are one component of things, but, in a way, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything beyond biology. As in the case of adoption, when there is no genetic relationship, the familial connection is no less strong. Same goes for many gay parents who are not the biological parents of their children. Also women who conceive with donor eggs. The list goes on. A genetic connection isn’t necessary to create a loving family.

But it is something. My child is related to me and my family, but got half his genes from someone we’ve never met. If nothing else, it’s a curiosity, and fun to find out about these kids who are technically half siblings. It feels like there’s only upside potential. These are friends with whom E will have one big thing in common: being a donor kid, with the same donor. If that reality ever feels confusing or weird, he could have someone to talk to about it, who is in his exact same boat. And, given that they have an actual bio father in common, perhaps there are other things they’ll have in common. Who knows? It feels like a low-stakes way to see if there are any nice connections that we’d want to maintain. And, if not, no harm done.

A few months ago, we drove an hour west to Geneva to have dinner with another donor family. They have a teenage daughter from a known donor and then 5yo L. They also invited another lesbian couple and their two kids (unrelated to our donor). All the kids played together while we chatted at the table and, honestly, by the end of the evening I felt like I’d known them all for years! E and L became buddies and she offered him her light saber to take home.

All the moms are talking about planning a vacation together in the next couple of years. I love the idea of these kids knowing each other. And the moms too!

Here are E and L together in SF a year ago:

And here are E and L together in Illinois a couple of months ago:

When I tell people about this, they smile and shake their head and talk about this brave new world. I know it’s a new thing to get one’s head around. Yet it feels like only potential to expand the love. So I can’t wait to see where it all takes us!

lots o love xoxo

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new day

I’d been feeling on top of my game for weeks, and then a few things happened. Two late-night sleepovers over the weekend, daylight savings, a boatload of snow, and catching up on a few doctors appointments which is crowding out exercise. I feel logey. Is that actually a word? I had several meet-ups over the weekend and I was at least somewhat late to all of them. I’m laying in bed for twenty minutes after the alarm goes off. And, instead of nimbly leaping from one task to the next, I feel like I’m doing the breaststroke in jello.

I also found out that I gained at least five pounds at a recent doc appointment. This is unusual for me- I tend to stay right at my stasis point. But I think it was the weaning. I stopped nursing and didn’t change my food intake, so maybe it caught up with me. Metabolism shift. That’s what it seems like- my body is in a transition period.

Plus, you know, aging. As much as I believe that I am grateful and lucky to have the chance to age, I, ahem, don’t like these changes. I know that nobody does. I wish that being intellectually at peace with it was the same as actually being at peace with it. Formerly perky parts of my body are responding to the call of gravity and my skin is looser everywhere. I caught a glimpse of my face in the locker room mirror after swim class the other day and my face looked a thousand years old, like a tired elephant. It was not the most flattering of light.

I’m writing this out in the hope that I’ll get back on track. When I did The Desire Map last year, I settled on one word to describe how I want to feel: “juiced.” I want to feel that sensation you have after a tough workout, with sore muscles  and the tiredness of having expended energy. I want to feel physically and creatively stimulated. I want to produce.

I’m working on my book. I mind-mapped it, organized the mind-map, and created an outline. Next step is to start the actual writing. Tomorrow. Lately, E is getting up super early during my precious morning time. Yesterday, he woke up at 5:30 and called out in a scratchy morning voice that he was “very hungry.” So I gave him an apple and got him back to sleep. Today it was 5:45 and he needed the potty. Again, I managed to get him back to sleep (hooray!). Many days, though, he runs out here at 6:00 and wants a video. And we’re getting to bed too late- I blame daylight savings right now. My writing schedule may need to change but I hope not- I love the getting enough sleep part. As much as I do miss having anything like reading or watching TV time. It will come back someday.

As I chatted with my new doctor on Monday, I remembered a key market for my book: people who don’t know anything about SMCs. My doc was a lovely woman, perhaps late fifties early sixties, perhaps Haitian although I could be wrong as she had a very light accent. She was fascinated by my story and kept asking questions. She just about fell over when I told her about donor sibling families. And at the end, she said, “You seem like such a sweet person. Did you really try to date?” O lady. You’ll have to read the book.

POTTY UPDATE: He’s doing awesome. There was that one week of resistance and then he found his way back to the joys of using the potty again, both at home and at school. He’s had no accidents at home recently. He can really hold it- can go for an hour after waking up before he’s ready to go pee. But at school something happens where he gets his pants wet while sitting on the big toilet. I feel like the teachers should be paying more attention to helping him point is penis in the right direction but I also realize that there are lots of kids in there at once. So, we (or they) will keep working on that part, but I’m feeling confident that we have a lot of the work behind us. He is proud and I am proud too.

And he has a new love of the snow- the trip from the house to the car takes half an hour. The only limit on his snow time is that he insists on wearing knit gloves instead of snow gloves so, you know, there is a point where it becomes painfully cold. I’ll try to reason with him today. 🙂

Sun is coming up and the birds are chirping. Happy new day xo

evan snow

 

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katie v. katie

The doppelgänger story about me and the other Katie aired over the weekend on Snap Judgment! Check it out HEREkatie-v-katie

It was a fun experience. I knew it that the story was going live on Friday afternoon but around 11am that morning I got a text from my sister B, “I AM LISTENING TO YOUR VOICE!” The podcast had already deployed to subscribers.

Sure enough, the podcast had landed on my phone. I stopped what I was doing and played it on speaker. Pacing laps around my house. I loved it.

And then, at the end, Glynn Washington said the name of this blog, something I thought would be buried in my bio on their website. OMGGGG! And then I listened again.

The show was posted mid-afternoon to the WNYC site and I posted it on facebook. Then it aired over the weekend in public radio stations around the country. I got texts like “I just got into my car and heard your voice!” or “My husband thinks he just heard you on the radio!” Emails from strangers that said, “You won!” Twitter mentions, Facebook messages, comments on the blog. I got invited to do a magazine interview for a regional magazine. Blog traffic skyrocketed.

Most interesting for me has been to hear our story mirrored back with everyone’s ideas and interpretations about it. I heard from the other Katie’s friend from summer camp and her neighbor and her SMC friend in New Jersey. I heard from high school friends and colleagues and SMCs. I emailed with the director of the national SMC organization. A bunch of friends on Facebook theorized that the other Katie is a classic introvert. I don’t know. I still don’t know her at all and I didn’t think the story provided any more of a window into her emotional experience of this than her essay did. As one friend put it, “earnest is not her thing.”

But it was a great story in the same vein as so many Snap Judgment stories- they do a fantastic job editing, pacing, adding the music. It had an arc. It was compelling and surprising. It’s also a harmless story of coincidences in a time of awful daily news.

I was so proud and happy that they left in my mention of the “amazing, kick-ass women” of San Francisco single moms by choice. It seemed kind of extra to throw in that personal detail but it fit into the conversation seamlessly and was met with admiration. Of all things for me to plug on national radio, I’m thrilled that it was SMCs and my blog.

Over the weekend, we met another donor sibling! And I owe you a potty training update. More soon.

Lots of love to blog followers old and new!

xo

 

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potty party

I’m up early. We’re having a warm thunderstorms- not exactly your typical weather for Chicago in February. When I moved here last summer, people couldn’t wait to tell me that we were due for an epic winter- massive snow, subzero temperatures. The people were wrong and we haven’t had real snow since December!

Inside the house, we’re in a weather pattern that is not at all going the way I expected either.

For months now, I’ve asked E if he wanted to sit on the potty. The prevailing mom wisdom was: “Don’t try until he’s ready.” I was in no rush. My kid doesn’t have to do things first. But he always said no, except for a few random times. So, what does “ready” really mean? Maybe, I thought, while he may not be “interested,” he’s actually “ready.”

As the warm-weather long weekend approached, I decided to do potty training weekend boot camp. I didn’t read any books. My friend V googled a few pointers to me over the phone. My idea was: pants-off weekend, roll up the carpets, get some yummy drinks, and post a sticker chart. One sticker per something in the potty, and one lollipop every ten stickers. A  huge pile of enticing handed-down undies with sharks, trucks, airplanes, and dinosaurs in Santa hats. What could go wrong?

The first three days were almost perfect. This is where parenting will take your hand and lead you down a beautiful path and you actually think to yourself things like, “Other parents must be doing this wrong!” E happily  went to the potty with me every 20-30 minutes, peed or pooped almost every time with a proud twinkle in his eye, and celebrated his sticker win, happily pulling up his pants, washing hands, and going back to playing. We played T-ball in the backyard (pants on), I cooked a lot, I set an alarm with Alexa for every 20 minutes, and he did his business. He had a few accidents, which seemed good too, for additional reinforcement. He even wore undies overnight and stayed dry! We facetimed family members to share the good news and solicit more cheering. As I packed a bag of extra clothes and undies for school on Monday night, I basically felt like we were done.

Some friends asked on Facebook how it was going and I gave smug answers that now I need to go back and amend.

He went to school on Tuesday and I chatted with the teachers, who all oohed and aahed over E’s progress and congratulated him on his undies.

When I picked him up at the end of the day, the first thing I noticed was that he was wearing the same clothes I dropped him off in. Could it be that he had no accidents???

Yes! But he also didn’t go ALL DAY until ten minutes before I got there. See? A curveball I didn’t know was possible. They said they took him to the potty many times, but he cried and refused. Only now did I realize that it was a regular big toilet only, which must be a massive transition from the little plastic potty with your mom and the sticker chart at home.

We got home and he spent the evening dancing around not wanting to use the potty at home either. Total 180. He wanted nothing to do with it- it became the typical power struggle we have about everything with toddlers: eating, sleeping, getting dressed, brushing teeth, getting in the car… A lot of “NO!” and the more I pushed it, the more adamant he became. If I offered prizes, he just got so frustrated because he knew in his heart there was no way he would ever sit on the potty again. He went only the tiniest bit out of desperation and also had an accident. In the middle of the night, I was googling the dangers of holding it too long and feeling my anxiety thermometer rise.

On the second day, the teacher texted me that he went pee three times in the morning. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I felt euphoria over this, like I was on drugs. Mom brains are wired for this stuff. But he didn’t go all afternoon. And then he didn’t go all evening. And then all night. In the morning, I was freaking out again.

In the middle of that night, I found a research paper written by a doctor who recommended stopping the suggesting/nudging/urging- this is what creates the power struggle. Just drop it. Don’t bring it up at all. Let the child know it’s his body and he can decide when he needs to go. That rang true to me. So I dropped it.

In the morning, he was so uncomfortable but resolute. I almost had to admire his dedication, even if it was making me crazy. He was still drinking and eating, had no other symptoms of anything wrong, but was struggling both physically and emotionally. You just can’t rationalize with a two-year-old. He may understand what’s happening but rational argument can’t touch it.

I called the nurseline, and the nurse had never heard of a child who could hold their pee for that long, talked about possible obstructions… I also read online that 95% of kids can’t hold their pee. Do I have a kid in the 5%? Should I be proud?

I decided that it was more important to make sure he could relieve himself than to try to be consistent… so I put him in a diaper. And he did #1 and #2. (Again, the euphoria but tempered with wondering if I just started us back at square one.) Then back to undies.

Yesterday at school was the same: peed only in the morning and not all afternoon. In the evening, we had swimming lessons, so I feel like it’s safe to assume he peed a lot, as all kids must do. (Pools for kid swimming lessons must be so saturated in pee but let’s not think about it.) At home, he had an accident. I’m hoping for accidents now. Who could have predicted?

Partway through writing this, I heard, “Mom?” coming from the bedroom. I set my laptop down and went to the bedroom door, opening it into the dark room. I saw this little shadow person standing at the foot of the bed drop to the floor, saying, “noooooo!” My brain cycled through the possibilities- is he wet? And then he said, “I WANTED TO DO IT!” Lately, in the morning, he’s been coming out the other door and then running through hall and dining room to reach me on the couch. I had messed up his morning tradition. This is such a good example of a two-year-old.

I sat back down on the couch, awaiting his dramatic entrance. He came out the other way (the bedroom has two doors) and ran out with a mad expression on his face. He leaped into my arms. He was dry. I asked if he needed the potty and he said no. He requested fire truck videos and I said yes.

I officially don’t know what I’m doing now. But we’ll keep doing it!

xo

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mountain

This morning, I got up and did a morning meditation by Tara Brach. It was called Sitting Like a Mountain. I had a giant blanket around me, the exact shape of a mountain. A mountain is stable, it’s strong, it’s vast. And many things play out on its surface- wind, weather, light, darkness- yet it maintains its stillness and mountain-ness. The sense of being deeply grounded in the face of so much chaos in the world is what we all crave.

I was in the last few minutes of the meditation when I felt a “click tick tick” around my eyebrow, obviously not possible for anything to move at that moment after 20 minutes of stillness without some agency of its own. So, un-mountain-like, I pawed at my face and caught sight of a large bug that dropped to the blanket- I jumped to my feet and fumbled with the phone to pause Tara’s calming voice, suddenly so at odds with the scene unfolding. I looked at the bug. I’ve never seen a bug like this- sort of a molbugdy pumpkin seed beetle, with long legs. I caught this photo just before she took flight with a loud, low buzz and landed on the arm of the sofa.

I’m not phobic about bugs but, you know, a big one by your eye when you’re extremely unguarded isn’t awesome. Also, how did she sneak up on me like that without any telltale buzz? My house was cleaned yesterday. It’s winter. I’ve never seen any bug in my house. Random giant bugs are not allowed to sneak up at 5:30am.

I ran for a small jar and a pocket Constitution (I have a bunch from the ACLU if anyone needs one). I got the jar over the bug easily and then sat down to finish the meditation, hoping for no bug cousins to appear on my head. Then, while she walked up the jar, I slid the Constitution underneath and walked out into the oddly warm morning air. The sky was just beginning to lighten. I left her out there in the upright jar, leaving her to find her way home.

I came back inside, feeling my mountain-ness return. I had written one paragraph of this post when I heard rustling in the bedroom. Then the door slammed open. Then- the latest thing- E ran out here with a big smile, fully one hour too early. He jumped into my lap and snuggled with me under the blanket and almost but didn’t quite go back to sleep. He enjoyed the bug photo and requested fire truck videos.

I have a long way to go in becoming a mountain, considering how many creatures are slithering and digging and trotting across its surface all day and all night… but considering that I’m human, I thought I actually handled that one pretty well.

Hoping to stay grounded as we embark on potty training this weekend!!

xo

 

 

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sunrise and fire trucks

This morning, I woke up two minutes before my 5:15 silent Fitbit alarm, surprised to feel better after body aches and a pronounced one-sided sore throat the night before. I laid there for a moment, noticing a remarkable upgrade in mental health since trading in NPR for jazz over the previous 24 hours. Not a total news fast- I know we all need to stay politically aware and active and fight our behinds off. But I realized I wasn’t doing anyone any good if I ended up sitting under my dining room table in a tinfoil hat. So I set some limits.

I was deep in a project on my laptop when I heard my roommate call for me, a good 45 minutes before his usual wakeup. This was not the usual, plaintive cry of “Mom, how could you abandon me all alone in this giant bed,” but a defiant, incredulous, “Mom. MOM! MOM!?!?! What the…??”

So, my me-time cut off, I returned to the bed where he said yes, he was OK, and no, he didn’t want to go back to sleep. “Will you play with me?” I tried to explain that Mommy gets up early do get some things done, so he can get up but he’ll need to play by himself. My explanation was not accepted.

I thought I’d start with letting him help me with the laundry. His eyes lit up, remembering that his favorite fire truck shirt was dirty and might now be clean. If he could wear this shirt every day and every night, he would. I’m OK with a kid in a dirty shirt, but it hits a point where you do start to wonder about the mom.

Of course the fire truck shirt was not in the load I’d already started, so we embarked on a long journey of laundry to get that shirt clean and and dried before school. He had not counted on a multi-step process, so there were some moments of deep disappointment resulting in tears and laying spread-eagle on the floor.

On the way back upstairs, we stopped to look out the window of the back door. I pointed out that the sun was coming up. He paused, deeply taking in the sunrise. I said, “Hi, sun.” He smiled and said, “Hi, sun. Hi, sunny!” Then he waved to it. Then he said, “Do you have fire trucks for me? With ladders? And a crane and a backhoe?”

We ate breakfast while we waited for the wash: fried eggs and toast and a banana (for him) and coffee (for me). We heard the washing machine buzzer and went downstairs to put only the fire truck shirt in the dryer. He was super distressed at this point that the shirt wasn’t ready.

We came back upstairs and played with fire trucks a bit. I noticed that while he has at least ten fire trucks of various sizes, plus other trucks and cars and trains and dinosaurs and tools, he doesn’t have any people, other than his almost life-size Baby Matthew. We’re having to anthropomorphize the fire trucks themselves, as if there are no firefighters. Mental note to ask the moms what’s the best type of mini-humans to order on amazon. I told him to keep playing while I quickly dressed myself. This was not approved.

We ended up in the basement, hanging out by the dryer, waiting for that damn shirt to stop being damp.

He went to school in a fantastic mood, in his (really almost dry and definitely clean) shirt.

So that’s us today: mostly fire trucks and laundry with some highs and lows.

(photo from a different day because I didn’t catch one today. Notice the pile of fire trucks.)

XOXO

evan-and-fire-trucks

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love letter

Yesterday was dark. I overheard someone in yoga class say that it was the 10th or 12th day of no sun, which I had only vaguely noticed. But yesterday was so dark that you wanted to turn the lights on. And string quartets. And shut out the news.

It happened- the new president was sworn in, and he made a dark speech to very few people congregated to celebrate him. The most unpopular incoming president in history, who actually lost by 3 million votes. Obviously, I didn’t listen- I wouldn’t give him the ratings, but I really never want to hear the man’s voice. What an incredibly cynical, vain, thin-skinned, bully buffoon. The opposite of our dear Obama whom we took for granted over eight years, thinking it was more or less the end of racism. Now is the painful awakening. We can’t heal unless we see the full extent of our illness.

I also felt this tiny relief that we got here, like when you’re dreading an approaching date and it’s a little better when it just finally arrives and you can start working through whatever it is. At the end of my yoga class, we realized we were all on the same side of disgust over the inauguration and these women were in disbelief, angry, willing an impeachment to happen sooner rather than later. I feel the movement building- now the journalists and watchdog groups dig in, and the citizens will get politically active beyond anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. Seeing planeloads of women in pussy hats headed to DC warms the heart.

I’m heading to the Chicago march, and it’s going to feel good to scream.

You kind of feel like we’re in this surreal alternative reality where anything could happen because we have no way of predicting anymore. There was a plane flying in the sky above NYC yesterday that said, “We outnumber him! Resist!” We are powerful and we are incredibly numerous. And love always wins. The good guys always win. Don’t these caricatures of evil know that??

I received a letter in the mail last week from my friend K, a dear mom friend in San Francisco. How lucky I am to know this mama. When I first saw the envelope, I thought- oh no, she sent me a duplicate holiday card, ha ha, I’m sure I’ve done that.. But when I opened it, it was an actual handwritten letter, a rare thing these days. Her letter began, “I’m just writing to let you know that I find you inspiring…In this season of confusion and disappointment, I’ve found it hard at times to stay feeling connected and driven. So I’m taking a moment to pause and remember the women in my life whose tenacity and strength I admire.”

The letter goes on to say incredibly nice things about me and single working motherhood and how she’s “excited to meet the man E will grow up to be.”

So this is just the bottom of page one, and of course I’m sobbing. K says that she enclosed four stamps so I can write letters to my inspirations and “start a little trend of love.”

This taps into my life’s mission, as stated in the About Me section of this blog, written quickly but I return to it again and again: “The only thing that matters is love: create it, surround yourself with it, grow it.”

This act of resistance of my friend K is so powerful and so far-reaching and fills me with inspiration to not only share her act but think of similar acts that I can do myself to inspire others. What is more important? Shouldn’t we all be writing each other letters telling each other how amazing we are? Hey, you know what? You are unstoppable. You are brilliant. You are enough. You have unique ideas that must be brought forward. And you can do anything: run for office, start a nonprofit, write a book, spark a movement, build build build the love that fuels our lives and our country.

Now I need to prep my signs for today (see below). But I might make one more, that just says, “Love is love is love is love is love.” I feel like that covers a lot. In fact, it probably covers everything.

It didn’t require a stamp, but this was my letter to you. I love you.

Pass it on. Love ’em up. May you be safe out there as you add your gorgeous voice to the marching masses. xoxo

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weaning

Breastfeeding is the best. I was raised hearing my mom’s blissful stories of nursing us in the middle of the night in her LaZBoy chair and streetlight pouring in, falling asleep there until morning, how it was a nearly religious experience for her. So, although clearly many moms don’t get the chance or things don’t go as planned, I really had my heart set and every ounce of my being determined to make it work.

It turned out not to be an issue with my baby born two weeks past his due date- he just latched on and that was it. Even in the early days of nursing him every couple of hours, the I looked forward to nursing sessions when I could just sit and hold my peanut and do nothing while single-handedly nourishing a new human. And getting a rush of relaxing hormones and eating big plates of food. What’s not to love?

I went back to work at 5 months. I pumped three times a day to keep my supply up. It worked. I baked lactation cookies that I still make because they’re so delicious- wheat germ, oatmeal, nutritional yeast, flax seed. None of it is proven to work- neither is beer. But I did it all anyway, and it worked, or something did. We normalized breastfeeding in restaurants, cars, parties. Not one person said anything or made me feel uncomfortable. He started signing for “nurse”- the little hand squeezing a cow’s udder.

A year went by. I had always planned on “at least a year,” not knowing how it would feel at that point. I heard that some moms were hating it, and so over it, and that’s totally valid and their experience, but I couldn’t relate. It felt like the gift of all gifts- total nutrition, relaxation, stops the crying, gets them to sleep, and gets them back to sleep in the middle of the night, soothes after vaccinations and during illness, I mean this is a miracle that our bodies can do this.

We kept going. at 18 months, it started seeming like I “should” think about weaning but it didn’t feel like the right time yet. We were still in it. We went to a group two-year birthday party of one of my mom’s groups and still-nursing moms gathered for a nursing photo. There were only 4-5 of us out of 30 or so. I was the only one who hadn’t night weaned.

The following month, I finally night weaned E, and it wasn’t that bad. A little crying and then back to sleep. Then we slept through the night except for that tricky 5:30 nurse which I was pretty lax about right up until the end. A little wiggling and then a little whimpering and then a tragically thirsty “nuuuurse?” and I could not turn him down (and I didn’t want to get up and deal with the crying). Get in position, pop the boob, and go back to sleep. A lovely built-in solution.

Then it seemed like I should see him through our move- why take away this comfort during a time of potentially high stress? We were pretty solidly moving away from nursing in restaurants and on airplanes. I discovered the redirect. He was pretty easygoing about it. As we eased into our Chicago routine, he was nursing after school, at bedtime, and upon waking up.

This fall, I procrastinated. I gave in a lot. I wasn’t totally committed. I gave myself to the end of the year- I could tell he was ready! But was I ready?

The final push took about 6 weeks to the end of the year- I cut out the after-school nurse (substituted by activities, Halloween candy, videos), then the morning nurse on Christmas Day. Easy enough to jump out of bed and get something going.

I was always emotional contemplating the Last Nurse. The second-to-last one was naptime on New Year’s Eve, and I could tell my supply was down to almost nothing, E nursed gently as he drifted to sleep and tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt so grateful and sad all at the same time. My baby isn’t a baby anymore, and he’s strong and healthy and well attached and ready to disconnect from me in this way that connected us every day of his life thus far.

In the less than a week since then, he’s gotten more cuddly. He backs up to me so I’m spooning him and asks me to “close the door” which is to put my arms around him. He created a new song that goes, “Your BOOBS! Your BOOBS! Listen to the boobsies!” And sometimes he just wants to touch them for a minute, to know that they’re still there, that I’m still here. He’s transitioning just fine. And he’s eating about three times as much food.

My body is winding it down too, it’s painful and I have cabbage leaves and do hand expressing in the shower every day but my boobsies are quickly getting the message. Very curious how this will change my (enormous) appetite, metabolism, and mood. I’m now at a conference for three days so lots of distractions here, and a hotel room to myself where I sleep fitfully, searching for my boy.

2 years, 7 months!

xo

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new year

Happy New Year from Scottsdale!

I was asleep at 9 on New Year’s Eve. This certainly sets a new record for me and could have been even earlier if my sugar-crazed youngster hadn’t been spinning like a whirling dervish around the house as I tried to corral him toward bed. I was up early yesterday morning refining my 2017 thoughts and goals (like hella early), and then did an intense treadmill run with my uncle, then a trip to the Hall of Flame fire truck museum (recommend), then a family party. I was beyond ready to experience the changeover from the lush perspective of sleep.

I’ve always gotten reflective around New Year’s and, as an adult, have almost always set goals (“drink more water”) and/or come up with themes or mantras (I remember one angry year was, “I am not responsible for other people’s shit”). Then I would go out to several parties, drink massive amounts of champagne, and end up going home with that guy who always seemed like a great idea at the time.

I’d wake up sick. Many New Year’s Days were spent in bed, mourning the choices of the night before. It just seemed like part of the deal- this is what people do, at least it’s what my people did. But I was also aware of the paradox of waking up already having broken all the resolutions in the wee hours of the morning, feeling like the year was already jinxed.

And it was, in so many ways. I later learned how to take better care of myself but jeez Louise I’m 43 and just starting to get the hang of it. These are the things that give me pause about being a parent- is my child going to make dumb choices well into his thirties? Can I spare him in some way? I know that answer is no. I can warn him. We all make the dumbest dumbest choices in younger years. I may look back later on dumb choices I’m making now, but I already feel so much better. I don’t exactly regret it all because I had to go through all that to get here (and obviously there were some good times) but yes: youth is absolutely wasted on the young.

This New Year’s, the state of our nation may get even more 2016-y before it gets better, but I sense more hope now. I sense more rational people standing up, a more committed and sincere army of love fighters rising. Love always wins. Everyone knows this. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. That’s my hopeful position. (I’m a little nervous that what we thought was 2016 will turn out to be our new reality although I’m a little puzzled by all the celebrity deaths… that can’t go on this way, can it?)

Today, my silent Fitbit alarm went off at 6am so I could get up for my one hour of meditation and writing. This is new. I tried it last year at this time and it didn’t work at all. E awoke within ten minutes, discovering my empty side of the bed. This ends up being worse than not even trying because then you’re up early with a not-sleeping kiddo. So, I ditched that plan within three days.

Last year at this time, I was consumed with the problem of where to move. I had crunched some numbers and I knew I needed to leave SF, but it was not clear to me where to go. I had a short list of cities. I spent much of my mental bandwidth in the spring working that problem, finally realizing that it would be idiotic to go anywhere that I don’t have family, deciding on Chicago, visiting in April, returning to find a place in July, moving in August. Then we spent a few months getting settled- buying furniture, hanging pictures, getting the household flow figured out. The arc of the year delivered us to Arizona for Christmas, settled and ready to think about new intentions.

Long ago, I set myself an end-of-year deadline to wean E, and I did it. I’ll write about this later because now E is up and watching videos next to me on the couch, under a cozy blanket. It’s pouring rain and starting to get light.

My new morning routine will go like this: get up an hour before E to meditate and write. And I’ll also join the Y, where I’ll work out after dropping him off at school a few times a week. That’s pretty much it. It’s going to change my life.

Of course, today we’re on vacation, so we can just sit here and look at videos like this one.

Wishing you the best year ever. Don’t get sucked in by those “New Year, New You!” magazine headlines- you can and should and will remain the old, beautiful, you.  xoxo

hall-of-flame

 

Uncategorized

life in these times

And then the world turned upside down.

Glancing at today’s date, I realize it’s actually been a month since the election. It’s been a slow-motion nightmare. With moments of hope or at least distraction. On the night of the election, I indirectly watched the results coming in by monitoring my facebook feed, allowing the night to be curated and reported by whatever friends had the energy or wherewithal to post. Kind of like the way I watched horror movies, back when I ever would have the occasion to watch a horror movie, which is to say through my fingers. It was excruciating. As I lay awake for most of that night, with my innocent toddler sleeping beside me, I felt horribly responsible for not doing more to fix and protect our broken society. I felt so deeply fearful for all the children.

I do already think about life before and after November 8 as being completely different eras- remembering the glowing, warm, fall days of autumn colors and pride that we were about to elect the first woman president. All of us confidently wearing our pantsuits. The relief that the election nonsense would finally be behind us. The idea that government would carry on.

Ah, how naive we were, how out of touch. Well, now we know the truth, as painful as it may be. And the circus is actually playing out as the cabinet is assembled. I still have hope that something will derail this presidency before it begins, but I/we are mobilizing in the meantime because it’s clear that we must fight and continue to fight for the rest of our lives. I just read a dialogue between Noam Chomsky and Harry Belafonte on Democracy Now that left me feeling quite hopeful tonight. It comes and goes but we are certainly nowhere without hope. And gratitude.

It’s Sunday night and I sense that I’m writing because I yet again worked through a full cycle of houseguests, Thanksgiving, new furniture, and a business trip, and just caught up with myself again. The stuff is put away, the living room rearranged, the cleaning ladies came on Friday. Many, many to-do items checked off the list. I’m sitting on my new couch, with my feet up on the new ottoman, next to the sparkling Christmas tree, as snow falls outside my window.

These first snowfalls are so lovely. Peaceful, quiet, white and fluffy. It hasn’t been too cold yet. E will get his first real playtime in the deep snow this week. He’s curious about it and excited. He goes outside every day with his classmates unless it’s below 15 degrees.

E is super stimulated by school. When I pick him up, he is buzzing and lately wants to play a game of running away from me screaming and laughing while I’m trying to get on his hat, mittens, coat, and boots (not a game I enjoy). The other day, he informed his good friend A’s mom that A was coming with us to the train restaurant, which was not our plan nor something we had discussed. He also insists on getting a cup of water (or four) before we finally get out the door. He really seems to like being there.

Once I walked in a little early and they were doing Zumba. Unfortunately, it only ever takes him about four seconds to realize I’m watching- I would love to be a fly on the wall. But they clearly are having a ball bouncing around. It always seems like he has a lot of girlfriends, even older ones from other classes. It’s crazy to think that they already have a private social life at two and a half.

He is also super jazzed about being with his cousins. He flips into a totally different mode when they’re around. When it’s just the two of us, he is either begging me to nurse or watch videos or he’s climbing precariously on furniture or coloring his hand or emptying a shelf, quietly by himself. (Sometimes he reads a book, which is obviously my favorite option.) Once in a while, of course, I sit down and do an activity with him, but when we’re home I’m usually making food, cleaning up, or preparing to go to bed or leave the house. When E and S are here, they are immediately inventing entire imaginary games, doing laps, and fiercely disinterested in whatever the adults are doing. The adults can actually relax and have a glass of wine. E sits down to eat 2-3 bites of food and then is called away to continue his busy itinerary.

It hit me over the past couple of weekends that I don’t really have friends yet in Oak Park. I have two great friends in Chicago, and some great moms I’ve met at the school or through my sister or through local facebook groups. We had a housewarming party and it was lovely. I have some mom crushes that I hope turn into friendships. But it takes time. I’ve realized, even while still in SF, how important it is to have the same plan-making “style” as other moms if it’s going to work. For example, I won’t last long with someone who’s flaky. I can do either planning far ahead or super-last-minute spontaneous stuff, but not everyone can. I also need to get out of the house at least once a day unless one of us is sick. I have a bad habit of assuming that partnered moms are unavailable on weekends.

I went to the SMC Chicago holiday party today and am going to pursue local SMC friendships- yet again, I remembered how much these women kick A. There’s nothing like a friendship between SMCs (especially with kids the same age).

Two final anecdotes about videos and nursing. The other day, E said, “ho, ho, ho!” and I thought- where is he getting this, I haven’t said anything about Santa. I’m not even sure we’re doing Santa. I said, “Who says ho, ho, ho?” and he said, “Father Christmas!”

I asked his teacher about it and she said, no, they hadn’t covered that. It gradually dawned on me that he got it from Peppa Pig. He LOVES Peppa. It’s British and cute but not especially educational. It’s not harmful either. I think Daniel Tiger is probably better content though. I tried to get him on Winnie the Pooh today and he loved it for fifteen minutes and then wanted Peppa. Continuing to try to strike the balance- I absolutely need him to be occupied sometimes. But I can’t stand the whining the rest of the day. Sometimes it seems like he lives to “watch bideos.”

And, his other favorite pastime, nursing, is finally winding down. I took a business trip that caused my production to decline quite a bit and now we’re down to only bedtime and waking up. I think most of my dragging my feet on this is not wanting to rock the boat on routines that work. How will he go to sleep? I don’t know. I made a picture book for him tonight called, “Evan Says Goodbye to Nursing.” It starts with him nursing as a newborn and ends with how he’ll always get all the cuddles from Mommy that he could want. He was coy about it and pretended not to understand. My self-imposed deadline is the end of 2016.

Since my house is now furnished AND the cleaning ladies came by AND the light was pretty, I took some photos to share. This is our place! Please come visit us.

PS I can’t find a good recent photo of the two of us, so it’s going to be New Year’s photos this year or nothin’. You’re all still on the xmas card list. xo