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simmering

On the bus, 4:43pm, a sunny and windy afternoon. I’m still a bit weak and dehydrated from a round of stomach flu yesterday… There is nothing to make you grateful to feel good than a day of nausea. So lucky that my sister was able to pick E up from school.

After our recent visit to Chicago, I’m doing a lot of comparing/contrasting with SF and, honestly, SF is not winning. I never want to trash talk my beloved and incomparably gorgeous city of almost twenty years, but we are no longer a very good match. I’m tired of hearing myself complain about the high cost of child care. About how if we ever lost our apartment there would be no affordable place to go (not to mention zero hope of ever owning property). About competitive preschools and street parking and this sense that the skyrocketing prices are just A-OK with the techies coming in with gigantic salaries.

I don’t want to go on about that or the complex school lottery system or the families getting evicted or the impossibility of this hamster wheel because honestly I have that conversation with everyone I know who is still living in the Bay Area, all the time. So let’s look at the Chicago suburb where my sister lives.

Child care approximately half the cost. Housing same. Amazing schools. Awesome community for families. Economic and racial diversity. Next to an incredible city. Some great old friends! Four seasons. My parents across Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan! I could go on.

But the biggest click for me was seeing the cousins adoring each other. And talking to my sister about how we could back each other up. This is family!!

There are huge downsides. Namely, winter. And giving up the year-round outdoor opportunities of the incomparable Bay Area–the trees, the smell of eucalyptus, the trails, the ocean air, the vast wilderness. And of course -sob -my sister B! My friends! My mama community!

But something’s gotta give. I yearn to put down roots, to build community in a place that doesn’t feel so tenuous. Where life is a little/a lot easier. To be able to envision E’s trajectory into the future, full of opportunities and tons of love.

I know that contemplating moving home or close to family or to the suburbs when your kid is 2 is not exactly a new idea that I just invented. There are great reasons why people scale down. For me, being in the most expensive city in America PLUS being a solo parent feels like unsustainable squared. Or at least would require a level of struggle I am less and less willing to take on.

So, I’m simmering on this. And I already have been forever since before getting pregnant. Meanwhile, I had E, the cost of living in the Bay Area shot up, and I thought… I’ll see how long I can last.

And now he’s two, and mama wants a plan.

[Fast forward five days:]

After I wrote that on the bus, I went home feeling sick again. Like the bug I had earlier in the week circled back on me, and then E got sick that night, and we took a sick day. It was like a week-long bug!

Now we’re feeling fine. E is napping after a fun 2nd birthday party of one of my mom’s groups with 20 or so kids. Sunny, hot, on Potrero Hill with stunning views of the city, great friends and connections, so much what I love about being here, so many conversations about grappling with all of the above… (Not just me!)

Also grateful for the freedom to contemplate big changes and try on the possibilities. We’ll keep living to the fullest in the meantime- simmering, thinking, weighing pros and cons, crunching numbers.

And contemplating lists like this one: Onion Ten Best Places to Raise a Family

One more point of gratitude: for my online community. I get to take you with me everywhere!

Xo

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a week in the life

Dangerous to start a blog post halfway through the afternoon nap but I’m feeling lucky!

What a week. My parents left on Sunday after a wonderful two-month stay. It’s so interesting to go back and forth between co-parenting and solo parenting because I see many pros and cons of both sides. Of course when they’re here, they’re so helpful with dinners and laundry and keeping stuff organized and house projects and child care and more. I love bouncing parenting decisions off of them. There’s also more housework to be done with more adults. And I get that hazy feeling about who’s doing what because now I’m no longer doing 100% with a comprehensive birds-eye view.

After such an extended visit, I dreaded their departure and wondered how long it would take me to get back on track. I felt rusty and worried about taking on our new school dropoff without backup and also we of course miss them when they’re not around. I was sad about E asking where they were and feeling sad to wake up to an empty house.

Monday morning, it was go time. I prepped to the nines of Sunday night, would not be defeated by the naysayers (in my head). We got up Monday and the house was quiet. E asked about Mimi and Chacha and I reminded him they went on the airplane. We got dressed and had breakfast and I even took a video of him reading a book out loud on his own while I drank my coffee. A blessed, perfect morning.

Until we got into the car. I was putting E in his car seat when he pointed up and said, “light!” I looked up to see an interior light we had inadvertently left on; weak now two days later. My heart sunk. I knew the battery was dead and the car wouldn’t start.

And it didn’t! Best laid plans. I didn’t flag anyone down, which maybe I should have, but it was 8:30am and I didn’t want to make people late for work, would have to study up on jumper cables (which I do have), and the too-much part would be trying to do all that with a toddler in tow. So I called AAA who took about an hour to show up, and we just went up and down the street on a beautiful morning, checking out the choo choo train in the glasses shop window and singing songs. I got in to work at 10:30am but didn’t miss much.

The next day, I started the day not feeling well, digestion-wise. It wasn’t too bad until I got on the train and then I thought I’d made a mistake. Nothing like fearing that you’re going to have to puke in public. I made it to the office without incident and just couldn’t imagine that commuting home and then back to pick up E later in the day would be that much better than just toughing through the work day, which I did. I laid down in the conference room for a while. Picked E up and went home to a dinner of saltines.

The next day I decided to work from home, which was lovely. I was starting to feel better and eating again and could run the laundry and the dishwasher. My sister B and her girlfriend came over for a burrito dinner and it was one of those errant hot summer days in the city- I was on the upswing again.

Every single night this week, E has fallen asleep on the way home from school. It’s about a 15-20 minute ride home through Golden Gate Park. He stayed awake each time to enjoy the two major highlights of the trip: the buffalo in a big meadow and the tunnel (which is actually just where the road goes under 19th Street). BUFFALO! TUNNEL! and next thing I know, I look in the rearview mirror to his mirror (he’s still rear-facing) and his peepers are closed. Each day, I woke him up to bring him in and he was understandably irritable, nursed him when we got inside, and he went back to sleep. I would say that with the exception of the night that B and J came over for dinner, he went back to sleep and stayed asleep through the entire night. So- he slept roughly 6:30pm-7am four out of five days this week. I was starting to miss him! This schedule only requires an hour and a half of parenting per day!

His teachers say that he’s running around all day, barely napping, eating a ton (good because he’s missing dinner each night and barely nibbling at breakfast). He’s growing and processing language and making friends and learning songs. It must be so tiring!

Every night this week I’ve been staying up late working on a freelance marketing project I took on- I know! As if I have time. But I’m REALLY excited and passionate about this project and learning a lot. Regular work is going well too. Seems like the only place to find more time is giving up sleep.

Today was LOVELY. The cherry on top of a challenging week. We had a pretty lazy morning and then drove over to North Beach to meet dear friends C and her 2yo daughter L, and my sister B. We had coffee and treats at a cafe while the kids colored and played. Then we went to the playground for a bit and there were zero kids there because it was sprinkling. E wanted to try the really long slide and it was totally wet. Why did I think that would slow him down? He raced down the thing at I don’t know how many mph- he went so fast that he was immediately on his back and shot off the end, continuing to slide on the soft astroturf for about 15 feet! I was so taken by surprise but it was over so fast and he was OK (a little stunned!)–my sister and I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Note to self: sopping wet slide = MUCH FASTER THAN USUAL.

Then our regular swim class with L and C, half an hour of floating around and jumping off the side and kicking- way more laid back than LPB and E likes it better (so I do too).

Then home- my amazing sister agreed to stay with E while I went for a much-needed wet trail run. I came back, got him down, showered, and here I am with time to blog. See. Still sleeping- the good luck continues.

So, that’s the week. Next week promises to be amazing because I took time off to go to Chicago to visit E’s cousins! (and their parents!) (and my parents for one night!) Yay. When E woke up today, he said, “Chacha,” and smiled. Then, “Mimi,” and smiled. I said, “Yeah. Chacha and Mimi.” and he said, “Airplane.” And I said, “Yep, they went on the airplane. But next week, we’ll get on an airplane and we’ll see them in Chicago!” and he said, “Jacket.” (as in- let’s go!)

More from Chi.

Hope your weekend is ridiculously fabulous xoxoxo

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