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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