Monday, December 30, 2013

Sunny Days and Buried Thoughts

We are sick and cold and remembering sunshine-filled days from springtime. 

And I need to fill my head with pretty thoughts and pictures because Sabine is seemingly not tired enough to take naps during the day anymore. For the past eight months or so, both girls would sleep from 1:30 to 4:00, and sometimes longer. Losing that two or three hour break, that time alone so I can have whole thoughts and not the staccato ones that read like my own Twitter feed, makes me want to shove the pencils I don't use anymore into my frenzied and tired brain.

But I love them: Sabine and Zadie. I would never choose any other job over this one. I wrote this post recently about working and wanting to work and wanting Sabine to think of me as something other than a stay-at-home mom. The truth is, a stay-at-home mom is the best thing I've ever been. I've never been happier and smarter and more challenged and more accomplished. I don't want anyone else taking care of my kids on a regular basis except for me (or their dad). I don't want to miss a step, a bump, a word, a smile, a moment. I want to be the one to encourage and comfort them during the day. (Plus, there was that time I taught preschool after college and watched the director and one of the teachers go into the bathroom and do crystal meth every day during nap time so I don't trust anyone else.). I want to be there for every single moment that I can until they go to school. I read something this morning that went like this: Your child is a newborn for a month; an infant for a year; a toddler for two years; a preschooler for two years; a child for five years; a preteen for two years; a teenager for five years; and then he/she is an adult. I will never get this time back.

And then there's also the fact that I'm entirely neurotic and overly sensitive so that me being with them instead of a caretaker is the only choice for me so I don't have a heart attack. It's part of the reason we moved to Baltimore. I'm lucky we can afford to do this here and for the moment. I know plenty of well-adjusted adults, who had a caretaker other than their mother. This includes my husband. It would just never work for me, unless I didn't have a choice. And plenty of people don't.

Part of my writing this today is my own need to understand my feelings on the matter: working vs. staying home with my children. I had a few friends verbally mention they were happy that I was planning or thinking about going back to work. I'm not until Zadie goes to preschool when she is three. She deserves as much of me as Sabine had. But I am making some money from this little blog and I will do some freelance writing/editing as soon as I can and as long as it doesn't take me away too much. I'm tired and it's hard to have so much less of me, but it's the best thing I've ever done.

I realize now that I wasn't worried what Sabine will think of me. She will just know how loved she is. And she now knows and tells everyone that her mama is a writer and an editor. My real worry was what other people think of me. I hate the perception that women who have been home with their children are not as smart or fashionable or current as their counterparts, who go to work. And I hate that my wanting to stay home makes me dumb or boring or provincial in the eyes of some other women, as well as men.

It's an old conversation that I've had with others and with myself a thousand times. I'm tired of the conversation because it's not that staying home or working is better. It's doing what works for you that's better, and not giving a f*ck what anyone else thinks. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Right Before Christmas

Last Friday, I was hyping the idea of Santa Claus and grocery shopping with Sabine and Zadie. We were smiling at candy canes, bows and red-and-green everything. Christmas was perfectly exciting because it hadn't happened yet. We were almost finished and standing in the parking lot at the trunk of our car, loading the groceries when I heard a soft crying and a scraping-the-pavement sound behind me. I turned around and saw an old woman sandwiched between the asphalt and the rear bumper of a mid-size car. The vehicle was reversing out of its parking spot and the woman was being pushed by the back tires as the car moved along, scraping the entire left side of her 76-year-old body along the craggy surface as if she were an empty fast-food bag.

I was motionless but screamed what felt like a hollow yelp for the driver to stop. He did. I told Sabine and Zadie not to move and ran to the woman. I held her hand and told her that I knew she was scared but that I thought she was going to be okay. I called 911. She asked me not to let go of her hand and not to leave her. I was ten feet away from my four year old and my 19 month old, who was siting in the basket. I kept telling them not to move, while smiling at the woman and trying my hardest to keep calm so she wouldn't crack. I'd just watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy and knew she should be kept as still as possible. The 911 operator asked me her name, her age, if she was pinned. I was trying to get all of the answers right while making sure my child-filled basket didn't move and that my four-year-old's feet stay planted to the same spot.

Another woman had come over and asked the old woman if she could call anyone for her. She asked her to dial her friend Emily but to please not call any of her family because she didn't want to worry them. I looked back to the bumper of my own car and saw Sabine standing there with her kid-size blanket and holding it out for me. She said it was to cover the lady so she wasn't cold.

The woman on the phone in the gold Honda parked next to me had climbed out of her car and was standing next to my children. She started to lift Zadie and said, "I'm going to put your kids in the car." I yelled at her not to touch them. I knew if they couldn't see me, they wouldn't be okay after seeing what they just saw.

An ambulance and two police cars finally arrived. They asked if I was the old woman's family member. I said, no. They told me I had to let her go. I felt guilty and relieved. I went to Sabine and Zadie and grabbed a box of kitchen trash bags I'd just bought to put in front of the grocery cart wheel. The guy driving the car with the lady underneath it, asked me what happened. I told him I heard crying and turned around and saw his car pushing her body along the pavement. He said he thought it was a big cup or trash behind his wheel. Then he asked me where her cart was. He said he thought he'd bumped something and assumed it was a shopping basket. I told him, again, that was her body. He started pacing, lit a cigarette and called his boss to tell him he would be late coming back to the office. Sabine kept asking me if the lady was going to be okay. Zadie was quiet and expressionless. A policeman requested my I.D. and asked me exactly what happened.

After I told him what I saw and after the ambulance drove away, I strapped the girls into their car seats and drove away, my hands shaking on the steering wheel.

I've always been terrified when walking through parking lots with my daughters. I hold their hands, but think it's too easy for someone not to see us as they're reversing out of a spot. I was right, except that it was that poor old woman and not one of us. I can't stop picturing her body being dragged along black asphalt by a car. Sabine woke up from her nap that afternoon and told me she dreamed about the lady. She drew a picture of her underneath a car on the back of her place mat when we went out to dinner that night. And the next morning, the first thing she asked when she woke up was if I thought the lady was okay. So I guess she can't stop thinking about her either.

I wish we could close our eyes and see black instead of that woman's rag doll-like body. I am buckets of grateful that I heard her cry and could scream loud enough to stop that car from moving another inch. And I am painfully relieved that each person in my little family--however sick, ungrateful, grumpy and cold they are--is alive, whole and unhurt on this snowy Baltimore day after Christmas.

via Observando

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Them Pretty Bones

Sabine is obsessed with The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline. She also loves skeletons, witches and this animated series called Ruby Gloom. Halloween has always been her favorite holiday. 

But with that edge, comes a serious sweet tooth. She covets everything that my mother loved: pink, tulle, princesses, sparkle, tons of icing and happy endings.

I love that she's brave and sugary all at the same time. She's complex, my bittersweet girl. 

And she's dying for this dress from H&M. It's so her that I have to get it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When I Grow Up

Sabine asked me the other day what I want to be when I grow up. Then she said, but you already are a grown up. But what do you want to be? Well, what are you?

Her limited perception of me completely freaked me out.

People have asked lately what SHE wants to be when she grows up. Her first answer: A waitress. I encouraged her to dream a little bigger. Her latest answer: A veterinarian or a chef.

Then I explained to her that I'm a writer and an editor, but I'm taking a short break from that for the most part to take care of her and Zadie.

Being their mom is the best job I've ever had. But I'm not sure I would feel that way if I hadn't done other things before doing that. I want Sabine to be other things--just for her things--before she chooses to be a mom, if she chooses that.

And I desperately want her to know that I am other things, too.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Have you guys seen this photograph of Gisele Bundchen breastfeeding her baby while being made up? I wish I saw more pictures like this. Breastfeeding your baby is natural, practical, necessary, not sexual. So many women are still self conscious doing it; so many people are still uncomfortable seeing it. It's only amazing.

Happy Cozy

I recently discovered this amazing New York City shop called Thomas Sires. They have amazing women's clothing and accessories, home design items and paper goods, but they also have some super adorable children's stuff. I'm especially in love with the note cards, the totes and the kids' t-shirts--most of which are available in the gifts under $50 section. I'd check them out if I were you.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Birds, Bees and Trees

The best part about living in Maryland is the greenery. California has about one twentieth of the trees, grass and flowers that I see here. It's so beautiful. I traded it for the Pacific Ocean, my first best friend. And like the sea, all of this green lets me breathe and put everything into perspective. It also lets Sabine and Zadie climb, crawl, crouch, hide, disappear and imagine.

Sometimes I really miss California and the pink and orange sherbet sunsets, turquoise swimming pools, crooked palm trees, and navy blue and emerald green ocean. But I don't want to do one thing for most of my life. I know that landscape. Now I'm getting to know a new one. And there's nothing like seeing something for the very first time.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On the Road

We moved from Los Angeles to Baltimore County in April, 2013.

We moved AGAIN four months later to Baltimore City.

Turns out, boxes are all the toys they need.


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