Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tis the Season

I am Jewish but my husband is not. When we got married, he asked me if I wanted him to convert to Judaism. I, in turn, asked him if he wanted to be Jewish. He said not particularly. We left it at that. The only condition was that I wanted to raise our family Jewish. He was (and is) totally on board with that.

There are many perks of an interfaith household. While within the walls of our house, we celebrate the Jewish holidays only. However, on days like Christmas, Easter, First Communions and Baptisms, we get to join in the fun, too.

This year, Hanukkah fell on Christmas Eve. We went out for Chinese food as is my family’s tradition and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Then we came home and lit the menorah and exchanged presents. The next day, we woke up and headed to NJ to visit our in-laws to celebrate Christmas. It was a glorious day filled with laughter and love and a few more presents.

My daughter is three years old. She will be four in the spring. I was worried that she would ask why Santa does not come to our house or why her cousins say grace before the meal and we do not. Instead, she embraces it all and takes it all in and gets to enjoy all the nuances of all the days. I think that is pretty amazing.

I have learned in my life that there is no right or wrong. There is no my way or no way. Part of being alive and enjoying life is embracing what you know and love and letting others share their beliefs and traditions with you as well. What I worried was going to confuse my daughter is going to end up making her a very well rounded person. At least I hope.

As my daughter nears her next birthday, I am excited that she may be able to take part in the Passover Seder this year. Still too young for the Four Questions, she may be able to at least point out the elements on the Seder plate or open the door for Elijah. I also look forward to the Easter egg hunt she will have at my mother-in-law's house. She will run around with her cousins and squeal with excitement as the snow thaws and the eggs are discovered.

Is that the “right” way to raise a Jewish kid? I don’t know, really, But what I do know is that it’s not wrong. Not for my family.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rainbows and Unicorns

Allie was our sun. She was literally the brightness in our days. From her conception until her death, she was such a positive force.

At the fundraiser we held to raise money for our adoption fees, Gary and I sang, "Here Comes the Sun" (karaoke style) and there were not a lot of dry eyes in the fire hall. I still hear that song and think of my first baby and the joy that she brought us for the short time she was here.

When Miranda was born, she became our rainbow. That was not a name we came up with on our own. Any baby born after a loss is a rainbow. They are the colorful reward at the end of a storm. Since she was adopted and not born to me, I was not sure if she could still be considered a rainbow. I worried for nothing. She was and she is and now, almost four years later, she still loves rainbows and says that "every color of the rainbow" is her favorite color. Even on our worst, angst-ridden, sassy, trying days, she is the best thing that has happened to us.

I have met a lot of women (and some men) who have quite literally walked the same path as Gary and me. These parents all faced the excitement and anticipation of a new life only to learn that their child was not meant to live in this world. Some of us lost our children before they were born, some as they were being born and some shortly after they were born.

Most of the moms that I know personally have been able to welcome a rainbow baby after their loss. We have been very lucky.

One such mom welcomed two rainbows. Her second rainbow, just six months old, has a very rare genetic disorder and is not expected to live to her first birthday.

This beautiful baby is a unicorn.  Quite simply, she is too beautiful and too unique for this world. Her parents and living sister have spent the last several months in the hospital with her, tending to her every need. They have put their lives on hold for her and have not thought twice about it. Why would they?

How to I accept what is happening to them? I am physically not close enough to do anything to help (they live in Canada) and we only talk via Facebook. There is one thing, though.

The mom wants pictures of her fellow moms with unicorns. A bunch of us have ordered little stuffed animals that we can take with us and take pictures to pretend that this little baby is getting to experience all that we experience. I am going to take a picture of my unicorn lighting the menorah on Saturday night and I may even bring her to the Chinese buffet. I will then bring my unicorn to Christmas dinner at my in-laws the next day. My unicorn is very well rounded and multi-cultural!

When the time comes and our real-life unicorn is not here on earth anymore, I will send my unicorn to Toronto to live with her new family and offer some solace. 

This was not my idea but I love it. If you like it, too, take a picture when and if you can and send it to me. I will make sure it gets where it needs to go.

There is so much we cannot control in this world. We do not have all the time we want. We do not have all the time we need. We can, though, celebrate life and love and friendships and family and of course, rainbows and unicorns. Celebrate away. Celebrate now. Before it's too late.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Mother Vs. Mom

Yesterday, Miranda and I went to the movies. She was so incredible. The previews were a bit too long and loud, but she sat through without complaining until the Disney logo filled the screen.

As the music started to play and we both began to get lost in the story, I looked over at my not-so-much-a-baby-anymore and found myself grinning from ear to ear. I am a mom. This is my daughter.  I am happy. She is happy.

I often wonder what my life would have been like if Allie was still here. Way different than it is now, for sure. Lately, I have been thinking how Allie made me a mother. Absolutely no question about that. Miranda is the child, though, that made me a mom.

A mother, to me, does everything she can to make sure her child is safe. She loves unconditionally and gives completely.

A mom, to me, does the hard work. The feedings, the bath time, the bedtime routine. A mom knows the emergency number to the pediatrician with having to look it up. A mom knows what food her kid will pick if given an option. A mom knows what her kid is up to, often before the kid knows.

I missed out on being a mom to Allie and I wonder if that is why I try so hard to make sure I am a great mom to Miranda?

Maybe it has nothing to do with death and loss and grief. Maybe I just see this gift of child and know that she deserves it all, until the time when she can get it all and do it all for herself.

I do not want to overcompensate for what Miranda will never have. I do not want to shower her with gifts (some may argue this ship has sailed!) or try to pretend that life would be the same if her sister was here with us. I just want her to grow up strong and loved and confident and fierce. 

I love being Allie's mother. I love being Miranda's mom. I do not have to pick just one title or the other. Today I feel like I am both. From my experience, both is better than none any day! 

Lastly, I think that if I forget, a certain sassy little lady of mine, the one who told me I was hogging the popcorn yesterday, will remind me!


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Seize The Day

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."

" You must strive to find your own voice because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are going to find it at all."

There are are many topics that I write about often. Stillbirth, adoption, motherhood, to name a few. I also have written about Dead Poets Society more than once. It was a movie that I saw as a teenager and it stuck with me. The poetry, the message, the passion...I loved it all.

This past weekend, I got the opportunity to see Dead Poets Society in New York City. When I first started getting my writing published, Gary was so proud of me for "seizing the day" that he wanted to do something extraordinary for me. And he succeeded.

Gary got a subscription to the theater which consisted of six tickets. This allowed us to be flexible with when we wanted to go. Getting childcare for nine kids, arranging transportation, figuring out where to eat...it is not for the faint of heart. We did it, though, and it was worth every second of planning. And then some.

Driving up to New York reminded me so much the time with my dad. He loved that city more than any other and some of my best memories are of him sitting in the opera or at a show. I can still picture him sitting on his balcony, eating bagels and lox from Zabars and laughing with his head thrown back with wild abandon. I had not been back to New York since he died.

We all met up at the theater. Two of my best friends since what seems like the beginning of time and two of my family members that are family by marriage but friends by choice. And Gary and me.

The show was amazing. Jason Sudeikis starred as the Robin Williams character and he was mesmerizing. It was a small venue - I do not think there were more than 200 seats. We felt like we were in the production.

One hour and forty minutes passed at the blink of an eye. A standing ovation and lots of "woo hoo's" (mainly from me) and it was over. I felt the universe shift somehow while I was there and knew that I was going to leave the show slightly different than how I came.

The rest of the evening was spent with wine, whisky, calamari, Italian food, more wine and then some beer. Our last stop was at a bar where we were trying to dance and realized that we were a good fifteen to twenty years older than anyone there. We did not care. We danced anyway.

We eventually said our goodbyes and promised to meet up again. We were tired from laughing and dancing and drinking.

It is so easy to get bogged down in our day to day routines. I urge you all, if you are able, take a day to escape it all. Gather some people to help you celebrate. It will become less about you and more about the collective experience. An experience that none of you will soon forget. My dad was an expert at making time for him. I am slowly learning how to make that happen for me, too. But I could not do it alone. Nor do I want to.

Carpe Diem!





Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action!

I have always loved going to the movies. I love the anticipation. I love the previews. I love the smells. I love the feeling of getting lost, completely lost, for two hours (give or take).

My 30th birthday was an Oscar theme. All my friends and family dressed up as various characters from different movies and some were even interviewed for a personal E! True Hollywood Story for me. (Which reminds me that I really need to get that VHS converted to DVD one of these days.) At the party, I was awarded an honorary Oscar and we all had a memorable and exciting time.

The first year that Gary and I were dating, we went to a lot of movies. Some good, some bad. Some early in the morning, some late at night. It didn't matter. He shares the same love of the cinema that I do. One time we went to see all the Oscar contentions in one day. We broke for dinner, but otherwise sat through The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/NixonMilk and The Reader with nothing but popcorn and Diet Coke and Milkduds. Slumdog Millionaire won that year, but we had already seen it earlier so we were covered.

The first time I laughed after Allie died was when my sister-in-law Lauren and I went to see Bridesmaids. I remember laughing so hard that I was crying but it was the first time in months that I cried happy tears. We were both such a mess then - she was a new mom with a sweet baby at home who cried all the time and she was very much missing the niece that was supposed to be raised with her little one. I was grieving and sad but also hopeful that I would be pregnant again soon and that all our dreams would somehow still have a chance to come true.

One of those dreams came true yesterday.

Although our girls are now two years apart and not nine days apart, there is still so much joy that we share with them. Not like we originally planned, but I think one thing these past years has taught us all is that not everything works out as planned. 

Yesterday, we took our girls to the movies.

My niece had already seen Trolls. So had Lauren for that matter. But kindergarten was closed for the day and they both wanted to be there when Miranda first got to experience the movies.

It was amazing. Scared at first with her little hands over her ears, she quickly loosened up once the characters came to life. Munching on popcorn and beaming ear to ear, she was in heaven. And so was I.

I missed a lot of the movie because I was so focused on my daughter. She did not need me, but I wanted to be on high alert just in case. But with her cousin next to her and her aunt next to her cousin, plus me on the other side of her, she knew she was safe.

I am still smiling from the experience. 

We went out afterward and purchased little souvenirs to commemorate the day. They were not needed as I know it was a day that none of us will soon forget. However, it's always nice to have a little present...

Miranda now wants to know when we can go back to the movies. Soon. Very soon! Gary wants in on the fun, too. And I do not blame him one bit!



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 22, 1986

Today is the anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah. Thirty years ago. Where has the time gone?

If I could go back in time and tell that naive girl a few things, here is what I might say (in no particular order):

  • Always believe in yourself.
  • Never judge others. You never know what someone else is going through and you will be a much nicer person if you are tolerant and non-judgemental. 
  • Be kind to your mom. She is doing most of this alone. Cut her a break. She loves you more than you will ever know.
  • Be nice to your brothers. They are your family and know you in a way that no one else ever will.
  • Your dad is just a man. Do not give him too much power. 
  • Value your friends. Make the time for them. Make them make the time for you. There is nothing as terrific as a true friend who really gets you.
  • Don't hold grudges. They will make you nasty and mean.
  • Learn to forgive yourself for mistakes you make. Mistakes teach us what not to do again. This applies to dating, fashion, and so much more.
  • You are good enough. You are smart enough. You are pretty enough.
  • Treat your body well. You need it to carry you through.
  • You are not fat. 
  • Do not get bangs. They just don't work on you. 
  • All attention is not always good attention.
  • You will fall in love.
  • You will marry the most amazing man and he will be worth the wait.
  • You will grieve like you never thought possible.
  • You will experience happiness like you never thought possible.
  • You will make an amazing mother someday.
I have accomplished so much in my life but I still have so much more to do. 

One of the things I want to do most right now is create as safe space in which to raise my daughter. I want her to see the above list now and not at forty-two so she can  save herself some time. While some of the items I actually did, I do not think I saw the importance of them until I was older.

I want to explain to her that hate crimes are committed by ignorant people and they are not personal, even when they feel that they are. This is a tumultuous time in our history and I am scared. I am worried that my daughter might be the subject of ridicule when people find out that she does not celebrate Christmas. I panic when I think about her explaining that she is adopted and is of mixed race. I do not know where we are headed as a country and I am uncomfortable.

In the past, when I am uncomfortable about something, that usually makes me stand up and face it. I think the same applies here. Let's together stand up for equality, fairness and what is morally right. Maybe, we can impact some positive change. Worst case, I can at least set a good example for my family.

I am not today who I was thirty years ago. I am better. Aren't we all?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hallelujah

I was up most of the night on Tuesday, as was most of the country. I was checking my phone constantly and could not get a restful sleep. I was worried and anxious and scared.

Most of my fears had nothing to do with the Presidential election. You see, my nephew was on his way to being born and in my family, that is cause enough for alarm.

Leonas (Leo for short) was born and I breathed a deep sigh of relief. He is here. He is safe. I can go on with my life.

It was then that I had a chance to really think about the election. There is nothing I can write that has not been written, tweeted, Facebooked, spoken, thought, shouted, etc. in the last few days. Am I scared? YES. Am I even more scared as a minority? YUP.  Am I gonna freak out about it? Probably only in the safe comfort of my own home.

I do not know what this all means. It's so much more than the fact that my candidate lost. It's that so many millions of us lost our reason for hope and optimism. 

My dad was a very successful businessman in his day. I was just telling this fact to my mother-in-law last weekend. The thing is, my dad was not that smart. Barely a high school graduate and I know he never even thought about college. However, he knew who to surround himself by to get the job done and get the job done well.

I am not comparing our President-elect with my dad. Ha! No, not at all. I am just hoping that he will be smart enough to make the right choices based on the people with whom he shares his company. It's just a thought.

I am a woman. I am a Jewish woman. I am a Jewish woman in an interfaith marriage. I am raising an adopted daughter who is at least part Dominican and Native American. I can't afford to just sit back and wait for the future to unfold. I need to be a part of the movement to make sure America stays as great as it already is to me.

My sister-in-law was in labor at the polls on Tuesday. Active labor. Not one person let her move ahead in the line. That was before the results were in. Tuesday's election did not break us...much of us was already broken. Now it's time to fix what we can.

But I am gonna take a few moments off. I am gonna snuggle my baby nephew. I am gonna love him and cherish him and thank the heavens that he was born ALIVE. Not even that is a given, although we like to think it is.

For the sake of the next generation, let's be kind. Let's not give up. Let's sing a collective "Hallelujah".

Monday, November 7, 2016

I'm With Her

I am soooo with her. To me, there is no other choice. And yet, if you are not voting the way I plan to vote tomorrow, I will not unfriend you. That goes against my beliefs as much as all the bullying and hate talk that has been rampant these past few months. I will still be in your life even if you do not share the same beliefs as me.

I am not an overly political person. I doubt anyone knows who I have voted for in the past, although I never made a secret of it. My mom was always a Democrat and my dad was always a Republican and I think it was our choice as to what we wanted to be. At least in my mind it was.

I love voting. I love it because I am allowed to do it. If Miranda did not have school tomorrow, I would take her. I would show her how I stand in line, proudly show my ID, sign my name and wait. I would show her how to make small talk with the people at the polls and how to enjoy this luxury that we have. I would show her how awesome it is that I can vote and that she can someday, too.

I am not voting for her just because she is a woman. That makes no sense. I am voting for her because she is (in my opinion - and this is my blog so I am entitled to my opinion!) a strong, smart, passionate woman who will do great things for this country. My country. The country in which I live and love and am raising my daughter.

There is so much nastiness (yes, I know) out there and I do not understand why. Since when did it become a bad thing to speak our minds and our hearts? Since when did it become a personal battle when the person you support does something right or something wrong?

We are all flawed. We are all human. I just hope that we all remember that when we wake up Wednesday morning.

Vote how you want - I know I will. But be kind, please. For the sake of all of us and for the future voters we are raising.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What If?

I have been told by many people that the "what if" game is no good. If you spend your life wondering "what if" this happened or "what if" that happened, you can get lost in a world that simply does not exist. Those same people, and many more, in fact, urge us to live in the present and not spend time wondering what "could have been" or "should of been". This is not a new concept. I have written about it before.

I am coming off an emotional (and sugar) high from the last few days. Halloween was a lot of fun this year. Miranda embraced the holiday and we all had a great time. We went to several costumed events and I was sure she would want a new outfit for each one. I was wrong. All she wanted to be was Wonder Woman and each time she pulled up her boots and donned her headband, she really felt like she had super powers. When people commented on how cute she looked, she made sure they knew who she was and that she could save the world. The costume did not have a lasso for some reason and I actually thought about making one for her until I realized that I did not need to weaponize my child and I am not really sure how much rope is needed to make a lasso anyway.

We went on hayrides and we picked out pumpkins. We went on a scavenger hunt and Miranda made her way through a straw maze. We took picture after picture of time spent with cousins and friends. We even got in a visit with Miranda's birth mother and they went on a hayride together. 

The only thing missing from all the festivities was Allie. More so this year than last, although maybe I say that every year? What would she have been this year? Would she have wanted more than one costume? Would she like to dress up like a superhero or would she prefer a princess? Or would she be into something that I do not even know that well like Anime or something like that? I will never know.

It's the never knowing that hurts my heart. Then the guilt I feel when I realize that the daughter I do have is the most incredible child in the world. How can I want more than her? How can I not?

Grief is a strange beast. It rears its head when you expect it least. I have learned to acknowledge it, give it a little bit of attention, and then let it go. It's all you can do. Well, it's all I can do. 

Time to move past the "what if" and on to the "what now". Time to get up and go hide some of that candy that Miranda got last night before she comes home from school and wants to eat it all! 

And so the grief gets pushed away. Dismissed. I do not have room for it today. I wonder when I will see it again and will I be better prepared to deal with it? Only time will tell...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Duffel Bag

When I was pregnant with Allison, a friend of mine gave me a Vera Bradley duffel bag as a shower gift. Although it was soft and it had a lot of pink in it, it was not the typical shower gift I got.

My friend explained that this was to be a bag for me - and when I was ready to share it, it would be a bag for my daughter.

I know I had things in my mind that I would pass on to my first born, but this was the first item that was specifically meant for that purpose. I was touched beyond words.

That bag became my "go bag". It contained clothes for me and clothes for Allie. Headbands and other assorted trinkets, too, because we were not sure what we would need for our newborn photo shoots. I also packed a nail file and other miscellaneous things that had nothing to do with giving birth or staying in a hospital, but I wanted to be prepared.

When Gary and I walked into the hospital on April 21, 2011, we had that bag slung over his shoulder. We were too soon to have our baby but we figured she was coming so we had to be ready.

When the ultrasound technician glanced at us and said there was no heartbeat, the bag sat solemnly in the corner.

When the doctor arrived and explained, with watery eyes and a look full of sorrow, that there was no heartbeat, the bag was there.

When Allison was born still on April 22, 2011, the bag sat on a chair, untouched. There was simply nothing from it that I needed.

When we came home from the hospital with much of the same items still in the bag and a memory box in our hands and not a car seat, we were numb and empty.

The bag eventually got unpacked and the contents put away. I remember throwing out the nail file and laughing at how naive I had been. The maternity clothes were no longer of use so they went into storage, along with Allison's beloved clothes and other keepsakes.

When Miranda was born, I went searching for that bag. I dusted it off, filled it up with new outfits and new items and it became hers. It went to Delaware with us to meet her. It went to her aunt and uncle's house in New Jersey for her first sleep-over. A few weeks ago, it traveled to Virginia with us when we went to spend the weekend with my college roommate. It has been to the Poconos and back. It has been to Wildwood and Ocean City and this past weekend, the Great Wolf Lodge.

The sad bag has become a happy bag. It has become what it was meant to be...something of mine that is now my daughter's. It took us a long time to get here, but get here we did.

I just unpacked the bag now and tucked it back in my daughter's closet. I am not sure when she will use it next, but I know that seeing that bag will mean an adventure is before us and that good things will be on the horizon. That bag turned out to be a pretty great shower gift after all.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fat (a)shamed

The first time I remember being fat shamed was in high school. I was old enough to drive but not wealthy enough from working weekends at the local grocery store to have a car of my own. So I often borrowed my mom's.  During the summers, in particular, I would drive her to work so that I would have her car and then pick her up at the end of the day.

One hot and steamy day, I decided to go inside and let my mom know I was there as opposed to waiting for her in the car. She was a social worker at a nursing home at the time and I can still smell the antiseptic and the pudding that combined in the air to make a unique smell. To this day, I equate that smell with old people and it's not fair because that smell is really not at all what people of any age smell like.

My mom was happy to see me walk in and introduced me to some of the residents. Most smiled and nodded and some were even excited to meet me. There was one old cranky man, though, who did not share their joy. He took one look at me and asked how someone has small and petite as my mom could have such a chunky and fat daughter. I was crushed. She was mortified. I left in tears and my mom reassured me for months and years later that that man was just a miserable old human being and he lashed out at anyone and everyone and she begged me not to take his words to heart.  I do not remember his name but I bet my life that she does.

This past Friday I had dinner with someone I had not seen in a while. It was nice to catch up and relive old times. Then, as the wine was making its way through my system and I was getting a nice buzz and starting to really relax, this someone started to tell a story of his boss. His fat, mean, boss. Family Guy fat. Pretty big. Then this someone turned to me and said, "No offense." And he kept talking.

I shrugged. I was not offended. Unless...unless...oh my god...do you think I am that fat, a voice in my brain said? You think I am a gross, cartoon character of fatness?

I smiled and made it through the rest of the dinner. At one point, I excused myself to go to the restroom where I sat in the stall, lid still on the toilet, and wondered how I got here. How did I gain enough weight back that I could be viewed as fat again? How did I allow myself to be in a situation where I did not see the insult coming? What do I do now?

The first thing I had to do was pay the bill. The second thing I had to do was get home. The third thing I had to do is cry. I did not do them in that order. The tears came before I was home.

No one deserves to be fat shamed. No one deserves to be any kind of shamed. I am embarrassed but my weight and it has been my cross to bear since before high school. I struggle daily, whether people see it or not. I have an addiction to food just like some have an addiction to alcohol or drugs. I am working on getting the help I need.

I do not want to ever feel ashamed about my weight again.  More importantly, I do not want my daughter to ever live through the kind of struggles that I have had to deal with my whole life. Please, please, please...think before you speak, say what you mean but be kind and never ever think you know someone based on the face they choose to show you. 

Let's be kind to each other - if not just for us, then for our children. Then maybe some of the pain will be worth it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

And then we met...

Well, it's official! Jennifer Weiner and I are friends. 

I had the chance to meet her on Friday night. She hosted a little meet and greet at World Cafe Live for her friends and fans and I am happy to say I am now both.

We (my dear friend Kara and I) walked into the private room to the smells of pigs and blankets, pork and chicken dumplings and sliders. In other words, my foods!  There was an open bar and free copies of her new book, Hungry Heart, on a table in the back. There were also free canvas bags and some other treats.

Jen walked in and immediately said hello to everyone. She then talked a little bit off the cuff before reading an excerpt from her new book.  She was funny and engaging and relatable. I am paraphrasing, but she mentioned how important it is for women writers to tell the truth about women's issues. For women to be honest and share their lives. It gave me goosebumps. That is exactly why I do what I do.

She exited the room and invited us all to come and get our new books signed. I nervously approached her and told her my name and that I had written to her in the past. She stood up and gave me a big hug and then we made some small talk about the concert that night and she wanted to make sure I was having a good time. There was more, but I blocked it out in an attempt to not throw up on her.

After the photos, we went back in the room and proceeded to demolish what was left of the food and the drinks. I was on such a high that I do not know for sure that my feet were touching the ground.

We stayed for the Dar Williams concert. We planned to listen to a few songs and we stayed through the last encore. Jennifer introduced the show with more stories and another reading. It was magical.

I have been blessed with many great nights in my life. This one ranks up there for sure.

I am a writer. I have so many stories to tell. I know there is an audience for them and I can't wait to share my words with the world.

Jennifer is back at a local bookstore on Thursday. My mom and I are going to go this time. I do not need to get another book signed but she might. And maybe I will pop in and say hi to my old friend just because. You never know!

Here's to women empowering women, your mentors living up to your expectations and a bright and happy today and tomorrow.





Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mom Code

There is a code that applies to all people with the name mom. Young, old, natural, adopted, step, foster...it doesn't matter. If you have ever been called mom, you know the code.

When you see another mom struggling in the parking lot, trying to unfold her bulky stroller while a baby wails in her arms, you go over to help. When you see a mom trying to walk her tray of Chick-Fil-A nuggets over to her table with a toddler in tow, you go over and offer assistance. When you hear a baby screaming in a store and see the mom look flustered and maybe even embarrassed, you look at her with compassion and not frustration.
 

When Miranda was teeny tiny, I remember taking her to meet Gary for lunch. It was pouring and I was soaked, trying to block the water from our infant. A mom walked by and said to me, "I remember those days all too well!" and kept walking. 

I do not know what I expected her to do, but that was not it. Sleep deprived, cold and now drenched, all I wanted to do was burst into tears. That was maybe the day I learned the code.

I would NOT be that woman. I would not let any other mom every feel that way if I could help it.

Now that my child is not longer an infant, I have less control over her when we are out. She is often testing the limits and running away or trying to jump in place or generally just being silly. It's not as easy to walk over to another mom and obey the code when my kid is already half way down the escalator and may or may not be holding on tight. But I vow that when I can, if I can, I will be the compassionate mom and not the one too busy to help other moms.

We have to stick together. For the sake of our kids and ourselves, we must!

I rely on these same moms to help me when I am struggling. Often I turn to friends or family, but sometimes I find myself talking to a complete stranger because she is there, I am there, and our kids are in the same vicinity. There is a bond in our code and I love it. 

I hope that I am not the only one that has experienced the mom code. I also hope more and more moms learn to honor and follow it! That's the beauty of the unspoken code - you can join or adhere to the code at any time and any place. #time2momup 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Mom Life

I expected sleepless nights. I expected less "me" time. I expected it to be hard.

What I did not expect, was how great it would be, too.

Not always, mind you. In the public restroom on the Ocean City boardwalk, cleaning poo from Supergirl panties, it was less than awesome. Getting puked on with fruit punch Gatorade while wearing a white shirt was not a lot of fun. Arguing with a three-year-old over pretty much everything is pretty awful. Tears, a lot of tears, of frustration and doubt for all of us.

And then she smiles. Or says she wants to be a writer like me when she grows up. Or I ask her for a kiss and she runs over and plants a juicy love-filled pucker right on my lips. Then it's pretty great.

I did not know I could love another being this way. So completely, so freely. While my child is stubborn and strong-willed and hard-headed and determined, she is also genuine and honest and open and fun. She makes me laugh. Hard.

I have had several jobs in my life. Without a doubt, being a mom is the hardest, but it's also the most rewarding. By far.

I miss her when she is not with me. I am sad when she is sick. I am proud when she does something well.

I wonder what kind of person she will be. I wonder when she will pull away from us and start to want to do even more by herself. I wonder if I will always light up when talking about her.

I want to protect her from everything. I want to not make a single mistake. I want her to be as proud of me as I am of her. I know that is a tall order.

I think about who I was before her and it seems hard to believe that she was not always in my heart.

I am tired. I miss the "me" time. Yet, I would not change a thing. #time2momup

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

GWA 2016

I am still recovering from GWA. 

Here is how I described it in 2011:  

GWA stands for Girls Weekend Away.  About a decade ago, a group of us made a pact that one weekend a year, we would all go away.  It did not matter where, but it mattered that we always made the time for each other.  It used to be 4 days at the Delaware beaches. Then it became 3 days at the New Jersey shore. The last few years, it’s been one night at the house of a friend who owns a pool and a bar.  It seems that swimming and cocktails are two"must have's" for GWA. 

We are going on 15 years of GWA now.  And this year, instead of the beach, we went to the lake. On a campsite.  In an RV.

It’s a true testament to my friends that I love them so much that I was willing to camp. I grew up going to camp and loved the experience, but perhaps not the dirt and the mosquitos. I went camping post-college to a Bluegrass Fest and all I remember is being hot and yucky. So camping is not really my thing, to say the least.

Friends, though, are very much my thing. So off I went.

First of all, we were really glamping, not camping. We had running water and electricity and a full-size fridge. We wanted for nothing.

We spent the weekend drinking, eating, swimming, laughing, talking, giggling, and laughing some more. I laughed so hard that no sound came out of my mouth. I laughed so hard that tears streamed down my face. My sides hurt from all the laughter and at one point it was actually painful! I enjoyed myself so much that it was hard to believe I was ever resistant to the idea of camping. To spend 48 hours with girls who have known me for more than half my life is a gift. A true gift. They remember stories I don’t. They remember experiences that I have long forgotten. They knew the me before I was the me that I am now. They loved me then and they love me now.

We talked about everything and nothing at the same time. We met other folks at the camp site and everyone talked to everyone. It was so different than anything familiar to me and I adored it.

We swam in an old cranberry bog which was turned into a lake. We fell asleep listening to the sounds of nature all around us. I learned to appreciate the calm and the stillness and the bonds that we have worked so hard to keep strong. We shared stories about our friends that were not able to make it this year and kept them close to our hearts the whole time.

My legs still itch from my bug bites and my hangover is finally gone.

I am still recovering from GWA and GWA is probably still recovering from me.

I can’t wait to go again.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Teach The Children Well

For one brief semester in college, my major was Education. It had been English Literature and I was told that unless I wanted to become a writer, there was not much I could do with that degree. (Oops!) So I switched to Education. A semester later, I changed to Communications which is what I actually stuck with until then end.

You see, what I liked most about the idea of teaching was long breaks and summer vacations. And I knew even back then that those traits do not a teacher make.

My Communications degree has served me well. It opened up the right doors for me and allowed me to find my own path. My minor in English Lit has done very little for me, except give me cold sweats and nightmares about poetry, Medieval writings and other such topics that did not really interest me. I longed to be like Dead Poets Society and instead, was much more like a PG version of Animal House.

My daughter started daycare at seventeen months. She originally went two days and week and now she goes three days. We could not be happier.

There is a structure and a routine at daycare that Miranda cherishes. She has loved each of her teachers and had made many friends. She has learned more on her days there than we could have ever imagined. Now three and a half, she is a sponge to absorb whatever gets thrown her way and she is soaking it all in. 


The teachers that spend time with Miranda day in and day out, do it because they love children. Because they love to help children learn. They do not get their summers off and they do not get long vacations. I have always heard that daycare teachers do not get paid that well because of insurance premiums and because the overall cost of running a facility is so high. So they are obviously not in childcare to get rich!

When I stopped doing my freelance work, Gary and I discussed pulling Miranda out of school. It was a very short conversation. We knew she needed the time there to be with the other kids and learn and have fun and that I needed the time to be home and write my story.

This morning I dropped Miranda off at daycare, gave her a hug and a kiss and told her to have a great day. It was silly because I know that she will. I know that she will learn and be stimulated and be well looked after and there is a good chance that when Gary goes to get her tonight, she will not want to come home.

I am proud of the early start to her education that she is receiving and I am thrilled that she has such an amazing capacity to learn. Here's hoping it stays that way!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

No More Teachers, No More Books

This time of year, my Facebook and Instagram pages are flooded with images of kids heading back to school.  Smiling back from all my screens are new backpacks and sneakers and outfits and haircuts galore. The parents are mostly happy to get their lives back on track and the kids are excited for their new adventures. 

I remember the start of the new school year. Pouring over my class schedule in anticipation of what course would potentially change my life. Staring at the bus schedule and figuring out what time I had to leave my house and which corner I had to walk to that year.

My daughter is still in daycare and she is part-time. She goes all year round so there is no official start of the new school year. Last week was the last week of “camp” but all that means is that no bathing suit is needed to be packed for this week because they put the sprinkler into storage for the year.

My other daughter should be starting kindergarten this year. She should be getting a new backpack and sneakers and outfits and a haircut. But she will never have any of those things. She will never anticipate (or dread) a class. She will never ride the bus.

How do you go on with life when a life you were creating has stopped to exist? 

Well, you can buy a backpack for a child who does not have the means to purchase one. You can throw yourself into your living child and make sure she wants for nothing. You can reach out to other parents who have suffered the same agony as you and remind yourself that you are not alone.  You can take care of yourself, follow your dreams and start writing down your experiences and stories with the goal of healing yourself and others.  You can do all of these things to honor your child and the life she should have had. You can keep her alive in you. Yes, that is exactly how you go on.

Miranda heading to preschool

A Letter to My First Daughter

My Dearest Allie, It’s been a while since I have written to you. I find it easier to write about you than it is to write to you. ...