And The Band Played On

As with all chapters, as one closes another one opens. And with any closing chapter there is opportunity. Opportunity for renewal. For redemption. And for new beginnings. It’s so hard to put finality to some chapters, though. Some didn’t get the closure you expected. Some leave you feeling disappointed. Blindsided. As life proves to us time and time again, we are not in control. We’re often not even in the passenger seat. We plan and plan. And have ideas. And visions. And then something or someone pulls the rug right out from under us. And you’re left reeling. Uncertain of which way is up. Or down. Confused as to what your next step is. Or should be. Do you listen to logic? Or your heart? Do you take a leap of faith, or go with what’s comfortable? Do you accept complacency or do you risk it all knowing what’s at stake? As my father reminds me time and time again. None of us has a crystal ball. No one knows what’s next.

I’m often so worried about how things are going to work out. And I’m reminded that they always do, in one way or another. Last night my cup runneth over. I had friends from near and far visit to mourn with me. Celebrate life with me. Commiserate with me. It proved to me that in loss comes love and kindness. That community is just so important. And that you truly get what you give. As I continue to mourn I also want to be sure to reflect. To look deep deep within me and take stock of it all. What lessons have I learned. What can I take with me. What will I never do again. What is truly important (to me) in this crazy ride we’re on, life.

I love you Dear Grandma, you will be forever in my memories. Forever part of who I am. Forever part of me. Living in my heart. And in my soul. In life and death you taught me lessons. Lessons that I will learn from. And live from. I cherish our time. I wish we had more. I’m broken. And devastated.

Though this chapter may have come to an end. It does not mean the story is complete. And I believe. I need to believe that I can choose my own ending.

Don’t Wait

So much of life is waiting. Waiting for the first day of summer. Waiting for the weekend. Waiting to meet your soul mate. Waiting for baby. The job. The house. Waiting for the right year, right month, right day, right moment to do that thing you’ve been “meaning” to do. It’s human nature.

But while we wait, life passes us by. It’s not intentional. But during the waiting game other people are living their lives as well. Their moments, days, months and years are passing by too. Passing them. And you.

I’ve had an incredibly blessed life. Born into a family with three great grandparents. Four grandparents. And two loving parents. For much of my life – into my 20s, I had all of my grandparents. And I saw them often. During childhood I’d spend weekends at my Grandparents Manhattan and Hamptons homes. During the week the other set would come in for dinner. I was surrounded by family and by love all the time.

I was lucky enough to fly to Florida – where they all ended up moving – up to six times in a year. We had quality time. Just us. As I said, I’ve been unquestionably lucky.

I was the first grandchild on both sides. So by default I had a very special relationship with my grandmothers. I had an extra five years with them before anyone else was born. Through college, through grad school, through my twenties and well into my thirties I would speak to my grandmothers multiples times a week. They’d call me. I’d call them. We would connect. Catch up. We’d talk about nothing. And everything. They were always there to answer. And listen to my sorrows. Or achievements. Exciting dates. Broken hearts. And they’d always be there to pick up the pieces. Or share with me the joys.

Then life happened. And I got busy. And I got engaged. And planned a wedding. Then was on a fertility journey. And got pregnant. And worried about the pregnancy. And couldn’t visit because of Zika. Then I had a newborn. And still couldn’t visit. Then pregnant again. And couldn’t visit again. Then had three babies under two, and life was too busy. Too complicated. And the time between calls was less frequent. And the missed calls weren’t always returned. I meant to. But something inevitably came up. And I’d wait to call. So the years went by. And though the love was always there. The time and effort weren’t.

This year I turn 40. And today, I’m still able to count 3 Grandparents. Beyond beyond beyond lucky.

Earlier this year my Grandmother moved back from Florida. She moved home to Westchester. So she was close. And I’ve been meaning to visit. But there was always a reason I couldn’t. Didn’t. Haven’t. And she was a phone call away. And yet I just didn’t pick up the phone that often. Though I thought about it.

Last week she had some version of a heart attack. She was in the hospital for her 91st birthday. I called her the day after her birthday, because I just got “too busy” to call on the right day. My uncle answered. But as he did, he was getting another call. As he hung up I quickly said “happy birthday grandma”. But he didn’t hear. No one heard. I made a mental note to call back later that day to speak to her. Directly to her. And then I waited. And never made the call.

This past weekend I realized there may not be a lot of time left and vowed to visit her more frequently. At least call more frequently. Like I used to. Like she was used to.

Then I got the call yesterday. She’s had another heart attack. A stroke. Lost consciousness and partial movement in her body. And then hours later the words I was not at all prepared to hear. She has hours or days.

Hours or days. To live. For me to see her. Or not see her. She’s unconscious and on morphine. I’ve waited too long. There are no more moments. Or days. Or months. Or years. I cannot call. I cannot visit. I cannot share my joys. Or sorrows. Life passed us both by. And now it’s too late.

I’m sitting in a car. In traffic. Trying to beat the clock. Desperate to hold her hand. To see my Grandma. Tell her how much I love her. How thankful I am for her. I know it’s for me now. Not for her. For us it’s too late. I waited. And now my heart is irrevocably broken.

If you have anyone in your life you’ve been waiting to call, to visit. To tell you love them. To remind them you have not forgotten what they’ve done for you. Who they’ve been to you. What they mean to you. Please. Please. Please. Don’t wait.

The Idea Of Him

It’s incredible what 6 years can do to love. The shape it can take. What you feel love is in the early moments, early days – and then the transcendent truth love becomes.

6 years ago today I was going on a first date. A first date that I truly felt was going to be different than all the first dates before.

Not unsurprisingly I was sick. I had strep. An ear infection. And was on antibiotics.

Clearly the makings of a true love story.

But I had been talking to a guy. A special guy. It felt right. It felt natural. Dare I say, it felt meant to be.

Numbers don’t matter, but let’s just say the amount of firsts I had been on prior to this one – a movie could have been created from.

All that said. This was not going to be that. I could feel it deep, deep inside.

I loved the idea of love. But truth be told, my history wouldn’t show it. Flings too numerous to count, but nothing meaningful. Nothing that proved to me that love exists. I had been craving it for so long but was becoming certain it might not be mine to have.

Often discouraged, frequently disappointed – I questioned whether it was worth the effort, worth the struggle to keep searching.

And then I met him. And the flutter came back. And the hope came back. And the dream came back. It wasn’t just the idea of him. It was him.

So strep and an ear infection, ailments that debilitate me far too frequently were not keeping me from this date. This date, that the mystery man didn’t realize, was Valentine’s Day.

I often think about the movie sliding doors, I’m not sure I’ve actually ever seen it. But the concept at least. The concept that any step or any misstep or any different step can and will alter the course of your future, rings all too true to me. I was not going to risk what could happen if I didn’t take that step, that day, that moment, with this guy.

So just like Gwyneth Paltrow – as she stepped off the subway platform, and onto the train, the doors shut behind her; on February 14th, 2013 I stepped onto the M14, heading south, unable to swallow, deaf in one ear and the doors closed behind me.

Closing the doors on my history, and my worries, and my loneliness. And opening doors to a world that never in my dreams, never in my wildest fantasies – would I believe would be mine.

Not Good Enough

For the first time in a long time I had a full day where I felt wildly productive.

Felt good about the work I put in and proud of myself for what I accomplished.

And then, it all turned. As it can so quickly.

I had a moment tonight.

A moment where in the course of 60 seconds it was glaringly apparent that I am a failure.

I had three concurrent interactions that made me feel like I am not good enough.

My ideas are not good enough.

My actions are not good enough.

This all happened leading up to dinner time for my family. I was warming up a pre-cooked meat meal for my children that passed its expiration date. I tried not to respond to the messages while getting teary eyed looking for frozen vegetables (the only kind I ever have/feed my kids) that I knew weren’t there, because we ran out two days ago.

I was also fighting back tears while responding to suggestions on my Facebook post – where I asked the community how to do a basic, simple project for my kids, a project that literally anyone could do.

But I can’t.

I just can’t get my shit together.

And I don’t know how to do better.

I also didn’t remember that parent teacher conference is tomorrow.

I know I’ve written about it before – but sometimes I look at the life I’m providing my children and feeling devastated that I’m not able to do more for them. Is everyone around me really able to afford/cook/give their kids the luxurious perfect life it seems? I can’t even make a fucking Valentine’s Day card in time for the holiday.

Nathan came home with the kids, and his work challenges. I tried to offer empathy, sympathy, whatever I could. I was trying to put on a brave face at dinner, but when I reminded Harper that I’d be leaving for work shortly, she started crying.

“Mommy, don’t go.” Bottom lip trembling.

I lost it.

And cried in front of everyone.

I couldn’t stop.

I was sad.

She asked me if I was happy.

I told her I wasn’t right now.

She asked.

“Why are you sad?”

I said: “Sometimes it’s hard being a mommy.”

And she said. “Sometimes it’s hard being a mommy”.

It really is guys.

It’s really fucking hard being an adult.

A wife.

A mom.

A colleague.

A friend.

A business owner.

An entrepreneur.

A daughter.

A sister.

A cook.

A cleaner.

A human.

I know I’m not a failure. I do.

But sometimes, it’s just really hard being a mommy.

The Question

Five years ago today began like any other day.

Well that’s not entirely true. I was about to take my first real vacation with my boyfriend. A vacation, I believed, that was going to be the beginning of our history. This man – the only true real love, the only one I knew I could spend my life with – was going to ask the question we wait our lives to hear. I didn’t know for certain – but why else would you go away on a vacation together almost a year to the day from when you started dating?

Not a morning person, I giddily popped out of bed. Headed to the shower. Pondered the last day of work before this super special vacation with this super special guy. I got out of the shower, opened the bathroom door as steam billowed it’s way out, carrying me on a cloud with it. I was about to walk into my room and noticed the door was shut. Confident I had not closed the door behind me, my mind began to swirl. I just knew something big was about to happen. I opened the door and there in front of me was a glass table, a circle of candles dancing before my eyes, and Nathan, the love of my life, down on one knee.

He asked the question.

The question I had an answer for since the day we met.

Five years ago today changed everything.

I adored him then. I adore him now. But in so many more ways. So many deeper ways.

I knew he was one of the good ones. I knew he was kind, thoughtful, generous, caring, quietly emotional, unconditionally supportive. I knew our complements then.

Today, five years later, I fondly recall what days, nights and mornings once were. But I wouldn’t trade them for what they are now.

(Mostly).

Happy engage-eversary Nathan. You are the light in my life. You hold my heart. I still have to catch my breath around you. You move me deeply. I love our life with a passion I can barely comprehend. I’m thankful every single day for the person you are, and for the moment our lives touched.

I am not one for fate. But I truly believe we were destined for each other.

Mom Guilt

It’s inevitable. If you’re a mom. You have it. It can be about the smallest things. Or the largest. The food you feed them. Or don’t. The amount of TV you let them watch. Your job keeping you from them. Or your job raising them. Playing with them enough – or looking down at your phone too much. Giving them individual attention. Letting them have an imagination or giving them too many toys.

No matter what it is. It’s not good enough.

It can be so overwhelming that it takes a significant portion of your brain space. And as soon as you give yourself a pass – something else comes up. And you go down the rabbit hole. Accepting blame. Transferring blame. Where did it stem from? Your childhood? Your mom? Her mom. And down you go. Spiraling out of control.

Most recently mine has been about illness. I truly cannot fathom how it’s possible. But my children have been sick since the last week of June. With a slight reprieve in August for a summer break. My first was sick frequently, her first year of daycare. But, daycare frequently – like – snotty noses. A little Hand Foot Mouth here and there. But this year. With the twins. It’s been nothing short of unbelievable. I feel defeated – and it takes a lot for me to get there. We have been at the doctor – at least once – every single week since September 18, sans a single week in October. Today is December 29th.

That is not normal.

We used our entire FSA within four months.

Is it my fault? Is it because I’m not a germaphobe. I half ass the whole “washing hands” thing? Is it because I don’t feed them well enough? Didn’t give enough Breast Milk? Ate dairy while breastfeeding? Don’t bathe them frequently? Use bubbles when I do? Is it because I’m too relaxed about everything? Should I not be? Is it because when they were born I got an infection during labor and I “let” the doctors” give them both antibiotics on day one “in case” they maybe got the infection. It is because they couldn’t delay cord clamping because there were two of them? Is it because I didn’t do enough research to know my rights and demand what I should have – mere moments after pushing two humans out of my vagina?

It’s obviously all my fault. So what is there to do?

I don’t actually have an answer. And I don’t really think it’s my fault. I more am desperately sad for my kids who weekly hit a temperature of 103.

I’ve been looking forward to this winter break for months. And of course, instead, there has been sickness, medication, temperatures, pain, sadness every single day. We’ve barely left the house – outside of doctor visits. I just wanted everyone to enjoy. And of course. I have guilt and disappointment that we didn’t.

And now to top it off the fucking dog is sick.

I know Mom Guilt is real.

And unavoidable.

And also an unnecessary stressor.

We deal with enough, hopeful in 2019 energies can be better spent. I have a business to build.

A business focused on helping moms avoid mom guilt.

The Picture of Perfection

Interestingly, in the last few weeks I’ve been contacted by many different women for one reason or another. They all want to talk to me.

One is a twin mom, whom I have never met. She’s overwhelmed. Her friends’ picture perfect lives are making her feel inadequate. An old friend, with whom I hadn’t spoken in years – has been struggling with her fertility journey and has now chosen a new avenue to grow a family and wanted to pick my brain. A student of mine from years ago reached out after reading my blog about following your heart and dreams. And another, a model from one of the Facebook groups I run – has a unique opportunity to share with the world about infertility – and the long road, isolation, emotional and mental stress, and so much more that comes with it – and wanted to run some thoughts by me.

I just wanted to firstly thank you for all approaching and trusting in me. I don’t know for sure why I was who you chose. But I am honored and humbled. I only hope I can help you on your path.

But more importantly I wanted set the record straight.

So many of us are looking at our lives, and wondering what’s missing – based on other people’s specifically chosen social media persona.

Those personas are not reality.

Peoples’ lives are not perfect.

Admittedly I’ve been counting other people’s money recently. Which is such an unattractive thing to do.

I’ve been questioning how the hell they can afford it all. Been watching the meals they prepare for their children and wonder what piece of my brain is missing – that I can only figure out how to use a microwave. And often get that wrong. I see the vacations they’re on. The clothes their children are in. The fancy restaurant in which they enjoy a leisurely Tuesday evening meal.

And wonder how I’m paying rent next month and, still, September’s daycare bill. And if I’ll ever be able to live that lovely, and easy, of a life.

I just wanted to put a reminder out right now. Especially during this holiday season. When people are struggling. With life. With funds. With emotional states. With carrying more than they can. With job stressors. With fertility struggles. With loss. With the every day.

What you see is not perfection. It’s not even reality. We don’t know what people’s struggles are. We know social media is fabricated and only captures and shows the exact second and shot we want the world to see.

It’s hard to not look. Not judge. Not question. Not wonder. Not dream. That’s all just human nature. I only hope we – very much me included – can focus on what we have. And not what we don’t. Not worry about what others do or don’t, either.

During this holiday season in particular I’m working on being more mindful of what I put out there.

So ladies, I remain here for you. During my rough days. And yours. Through my messes and your uncertainties.

Just know.

Here’s a picture of my life.

Right now.

Because it sure as shit ain’t perfect.

We all have our cross to bear. But more importantly – our lives to live. Let’s do our best to give ourselves a break.

Sure you may see my cute kids. Me carrying one, pushing two and walking a dog. You see me and Nathan smiley on a day off my parents gave us.

Here’s a picture of what you – generally – do not see.

Gentle reminder. Nothing is perfect.