Saturday, January 16, 2016

Quality over Quantity

We’re roughly 15 minutes into 2016 and it already feels like it’s flying by. The days feel short, and not just because it gets dark at 2:45 PM. There’s no doubt about it, time is passing. it’s fleeting, and it’s precious.

In one way or another, we’re all guilty of not utilizing our time well. Some people procrastinate. Some people spend more time on fun things than on work things. I’m awesome at both of those things, and I’ve also been known to give too much time and energy to too many people. I like the majority of people I meet when I first meet them. I’ll talk to them. I’ll add them on Facebook. I’ll say we should meet up for coffee or cocktails and I’ll really mean it.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the problem is that time is something I lack right now. I’m working a lot, and I’m trying to fill the minuscule hours when I’m not working with things like sleep, exercise, my spouse and my adorable daughter who has sprouted from tiny infant to freakishly strong toddler overnight. Things like creative writing and reading books are rare guilty pleasures. This already leaves me less time than I’d like to spend with my closest friends, never mind casual acquaintances I’d like to get to know better. But several recent wake up calls have made me realize I need to simplify and prioritize.

The most recent of the recent wake up calls happened just after Christmas. I’d recently scanned my Instagram followers to see who was following me….I hadn’t done it in a very long time, and I was curious. I discovered someone I used to be casual acquaintances with in Eastern Washington was on the list. This woman had deactivated all other social media accounts, but there she was, on my followers list. I requested to follow her back. She accepted. We “liked” a few of each other’s photos in the months that followed, but Instagram is typically not a place where you directly interact.

But then one day I did interact. I noticed she’d posted a picture of her two sons, who were basically babies when I moved to Seattle. Needless to say they’re ginormous now because babies grow up in 5 minutes. I have witnessed it happening. I left a comment about it, adding that it was nice to see them. No big deal.

Except apparently it was a big deal, because a few days later I noticed this woman had blocked me on Instagram. At first I was confused, because she’d been following me the entire time I had an account and I’d only recently followed her back. But I soon realized that either she hadn’t realized who I actually was or she was the kind of person who just wanted a peek into my life without allowing me a glimpse into hers.

To my surprise, I was flooded with relief. I realized that I honestly did not even like this person. I didn’t dislike her either...she’d always been nice enough to me, and we’d gotten along the few times we’d interacted. But we have nothing in common. We have no mutual friends, no mutual interests, no shared beliefs or values. And, to be brutally honest—and I’m not saying this to be hurtful—I find her a bit dull and weak, a far cry from the fierce, strong, badass women I tend to surround myself with. She’s not a bad person, she’s simply not my kind of person. Apparently I’m not her kind of person either. And that’s OK.

I’ve long ago accepted that not everyone on this Earth is going to like me. I’m very much OK with that. But what I hadn’t really convinced myself of is that I don’t have to like everybody, either. I’ve kept so many people in my life that I don’t really like or dislike because I don’t want them to feel hurt or rejected. I don’t want to seem mean.

But I’m tired of wasting precious hours, minutes and even seconds on people who just aren’t my type. I don’t expect people who feel that way about me to acknowledge my existence, so why in the hell have I been acknowledging theirs with my precious few moments? What good am I doing for any of us in this situation?!?

I promptly went to Facebook attempting to do a friends list clean up. I didn’t get too far. I removed the most obvious people, like the utter dumbass from my hometown I was never friends with in the first place who keeps posting shit about how Obama is a Muslim who single-handedly destroyed the country in only 8 years and that all Muslims should be killed. No matter where you stand politically, you’d have to be a complete fucktard to believe that. But I couldn’t bring myself to remove a few people that I never talk to but still kind of care how they are in general. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

2016 is going to be about quality over quantity for me, in every way. I want to spend more time with my good friends and less time with people who drain me of energy. I’d rather savor a glass or two of good wine than chug a bottle of the cheap stuff and eat a few high quality chocolate truffles instead of a huge slice of cheap chocolate cake*. I want to invest in a few designer pieces for my wardrobe rather than a closet full of crap that will fall apart in 3 months. You get the picture.

Quality over quantity. It’s simple, really. And that’s what I’m focusing on these days.

*I would still consume all of those things in one night.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Here we are again...

What a difference a year makes.

Some years it seems like not a whole lot changes. And some years, like 2014, everything changes and you’re left on New Year’s Day 2015 wondering what the hell happened.

Last year at this time I still had a dog. I still had a living grandfather and a living uncle, an uncle who was such a strong, vibrant being I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that he’s gone. He was the only family member (to my knowledge) to read my blog, and it pains me to know he’s left his last comment.

Last year at this time I had no idea I was very newly pregnant and that my life was about to change drastically forever. I had never felt the Earth-shattering fatigue, the “morning” sickness, the butterfly flutters, the kicks and the in-utero hiccups of pregnancy. I’d never watched my belly and the scale numbers grow drastically, never experienced the intensity of childbirth, never breastfed a human. What a difference a year makes.

I always thought that at some point my life would stop being a giant question mark, that at some point I’d “settle down” and stay the same for awhile. Getting married certainly didn’t make me settle down. Buying a house had the opposite effect, causing me to rebel and travel as much as possible to escape the suffocation and chained-to-the-bank feeling I felt when I was “home.” Moving to Seattle brought more and more adventures and changes. And just when I’d adjusted to the fact that life would always change, I had a baby. Surely that would settle me down, right?

In some ways, it has. Sleep deprivation will do that to you. I didn’t even consider getting a babysitter and going out on New Year’s Eve, not only because I truly didn’t want to leave my baby girl (she’s actually quite delightful) but because I knew I’d be exhausted the moment I arrived at any public destination. I’m honestly looking forward to a few years of staying in more. I want to get better at cooking, get more efficient at meal prep, decorate my home with beautiful things and do more in-home entertaining.

But today, life is just as much of a question mark as it ever was. Once again we’re faced with moving since we can’t justify the crazy expensive Capitol Hill rent now that we’re not going out a lot and enjoying it. I don’t know where we’ll be living in a few months.

And while I spent the first couple of months of motherhood in the postpartum coma everyone told me I would, my work started to dry up. This is the life of a freelancer—contracts come and go. Except this time it’s different, because I haven’t had the time or energy to replace them before they’ve ended. Not only that, but I’ve got another human to consider. I’ve got to strike a balance between work and caring for the baby, or land a large enough client to justify the expense of leaving her with a nanny all day.

I’ve got ten pounds of baby weight that are hanging on for dear life plus an extra five from the holiday season of 2013 that were still hanging around before I got pregnant. This isn’t a huge deal… I’ve lost 15 pounds before, I can do it again. But I’ve never had to do it after I’ve turned 30, after a baby, when I average five hours of sleep a night in 2-3 stretches and it’s cold outside and all I want to do is hide under a blanket and eat pizza. In the meantime, I’m stuck with a tiny “in between” wardrobe with a few pieces of clothing I can’t wait to burn one day (in all honesty I’ll likely donate them, but you get my drift).

And then there’s the wanderlust. While I was in said postpartum coma, my friends went out and lived their lives. They networked and grew their businesses. They landed new jobs. They moved….and they traveled. They traveled a lot. And I sat nursing with one hand and scrolling through their Instagram feeds with the other, watching. I didn’t get jealous or bitter...seeing them happy makes me happy, and it’s not like I’m not where I want to be in life, for the most part. But it did nothing for my wanderlust.

So basically, I’m sitting here at the dawn of a new year, adjusting to all the changes. I’ve got a bunch of puzzle pieces at my feet that I need to figure out, and I need to figure them out fast. I need to figure out how to balance work, motherhood, fitness and health, and being a wife and friend. I need to increase my workload immediately or face financial doom (no pressure). I need to figure out the next neighborhood we’ll call home. And most importantly, I need to figure out how I can still travel, both with and without my little family. Traveling not only gives me life, but it will greatly enrich my daughter’s.

And then there’s the fact that there’s this little book I started writing four years ago that I had to put away for awhile, a book my now deceased uncle was always getting after me to finish and won’t ever get to read, that’s dying to get finished, escape my laptop and be released to the world….

But the difference between January 2014 and January 2015 is that I have complete faith that it will all work out. That’s something I’ve been working on for years. It might involve letting go of certain outcomes and releasing control, and it might not work out the way I’d imagined. But it will work out. It always has in the past, even when fate has waited until my darkest hour to step in. It took a lot of loss and change for me to realize everything will be OK. I have no reason to believe I can’t put this puzzle together.

What a difference a year makes.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

With All My Heart

When my daughter was three hours old and Mr. W and I had been wheeled into our recovery room at the hospital, she started making some noises from her bassinet. She wasn't hungry or wet, and she wasn't crying, but something was clearly "off" in her little world. I wasn't sure what to do, but my husband instinctively picked her up and placed her across my body with her head resting on my heart. She sighed, looked at me for a few minutes, fluttered her little eyes and went right to sleep.

"She just needed her mama," Mr. W said. "She's used to hearing your heart beating, so she's comforted now."

I melted. I've never been needed like that in my entire life. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about having something so tiny and so dependent on me when I'm used to being able to detach from any situation easily (the astrologically minded would call it an Aquarius thing). But feeling her snuggle against me was the most natural thing in the world.

No matter how prepared you try to be, the first few weeks with a newborn are hard. They're REALLY hard. I had no idea how demanding, time consuming or emotionally difficult breastfeeding would be. We've dealt with a light case of jaundice and postpartum hormones and other curveballs life decided to throw at us. It's been as rough as it has been exciting and I've cried more than the baby has, I think.

But as I've been told by every mom I know, this phase is temporary. Eventually we'll adjust and get into a routine and it won't be long before she doesn't need me so much anymore. So despite all the difficulties, despite the fact that I'm confined to my apartment while my friends are out living life, I'm cherishing these moments because I know they're fleeting. It won't be long before my little girl is crawling, taking her first steps and talking. In a very short time she won't fit on my chest for her naps anymore.

Every single day for the last three weeks that sweet baby girl has fallen asleep with her head resting against my heart at some point. And every time she does I force myself to slow down, check my fears and anxiety and just enjoy the moment. Because I can't control the future, but I can appreciate the here and now....and even with the stress, hormones and sleep deprivation, the here and now is incredible.

Friday, October 3, 2014

So, this is motherhood....

I thought I was prepared for this simply because I knew how unprepared I was.

Everyone tells you that parenthood is hard, but it’s worth it. And I knew they must be right. I mean, why else would anyone sacrifice so much time, energy, money, sleep (oh God, precious sleep) for a tiny little demanding human that is too reliant on you to function? And why else would any woman ever go through childbirth?

Childbirth is something I’d been dreading and anticipating since Mr. W and I decided years ago that we did eventually want to breed. It’s another experience you don’t understand until you live through it. I knew that, which is half the reason it was so scary. And as it got closer and closer, I told everyone “It’s like waiting for a bad car accident knowing that if you survive it, it will be Christmas morning.”

Maybe one day I will write my birth story, but not here and not now. But I will say this: that’s pretty much how it was, a bad car accident with a Christmas-morning-as-a-young-child level reward. It could have been a lot worse than it was, that’s for sure. I didn’t have a 37 hour labor like I’ve heard about. I didn’t have a C-section. I waited until late in the game to get an epidural, but I didn’t wait TOO late like some poor, poor women do.

God bless the women who consider labor and childbirth a “spiritual experience,” who do hypnobirthing and birth in the water singing Kum Ba Yah and don’t take so much as an ibuprofen. Really, power to them. I am not one of those women. It was awful, painful, ridiculous, humbling and stupid and I’m incredibly glad Mr. W and I decided long ago we only wanted one. I have yet to feel the “amnesia” women get that makes them forget their labors and have more babies. Screw. That.

I was prepared to be unprepared for labor. I also prepared myself not to feel that instant love and connection to the baby like I’ve heard you’re “supposed” to feel, just in case. Sometimes it takes awhile to kick in, so I didn’t put any expectations on myself in that department. No need to make myself feel like a failure as a mother the minute I stopped pushing.

Maybe that’s why I was so unprepared for what DID happen the moment my precious daughter finally emerged from me, which was a fierce and crazy love so powerful it felt like a completely different kind of contraction. They placed that tiny little body on my chest, and I wrapped my arms around her and stared at the little baby that had been kicking me and making me crave mac and cheese for months. She stared right back at me with her piercing blue eyes….not crying, not squirming, just staring at me. It was like we both were saying “Oh, there you are.”

Then she looked up at her daddy, reached out and grabbed his finger with her hand, bringing him into the moment. And I was so overcome with emotions more intense than anything I’d ever felt before. My heart exploded. Everyone was right. You just don’t understand until you’re there. And that’s OK. It’s not necessary to understand it until you’re in the middle of it. It’s part of what makes it all worth it.

This week has been a whirlwind. I have been typing this post one-handed for several days. My midwife suggested a no visitors for 2-3 weeks policy while I heal and adjust and learn to feed a little person with parts of my body that were previously reserved for fun times and sexy Vegas dresses, so it’s pretty much been just the three of us aside from a few doctor appointments. Mr. W has been home and he has been so incredible, I may tie him up and forbid him from returning to work on Monday. In between feedings, which are as frequent as every hour (say what you want about breastfeeding, but it is NOT easy, kids), I take vitamins and eat and shower and occasionally nap and just hold my baby girl.

For the next month, my full-time job is to get adjusted to this. I’m already anxious about jumping back into work so soon even though I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home and I have amazing clients. I’m anxious about my first day entirely alone with her. I’m anxious about money, I’m anxious about our impending hospital bill (she didn’t come won’t be cheap) and I’m anxious about my poor childless friends who are probably wondering why I’ve suddenly gone braindead even though every single one of them has been beyond amazing and understanding.

But when I see how incredible my husband is as a father, when I realize that yes, I CAN function on two hours of sleep every ten hours (if I’m lucky), when I look at my parents and in laws holding the baby and realize I finally “get” how they feel about us, and when I snuggle my precious little girl in the early morning light and she falls asleep with her head on my heart…. I realize that I can’t possibly have anything to be anxious about at all. Nothing will ever be the same, but we’ll have a new normal. And honestly, it feels as if she’s been part of our family all along….she just wasn’t physically here yet.

Everything “they” say is true. Having a baby is hard, scary and intense, and it’s definitely not for everyone. But it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reflections of a Mostly Pleasant Pregnancy

There’s really no way around it: the final month of pregnancy is extremely uncomfortable. You can stay active, watch your weight, eat right, stay hydrated and chant mantras until you’re blue in the face (I did very few of those things, but I’m just saying….you CAN). But in the end, the hormones, the swelling and the muscle and joint pain will get you. They will get you.

Once I realized how busy my summer would be, I made a deal with my baby: let’s hold off on all the unpleasantries until July is over. Sure enough, I had the energy to drive to (and ALL OVER) Eastern Washington and North Idaho for a long weekend of weddings in late July (at 32 weeks pregnant, by myself) and have “stuff” going on almost every single day of that month (I think I had two days total where all I had to do was work), only to wake up on August 1 nauseated and aching from head to toe but smiling because she kept her promise. 

Now suddenly I’m in what could very well be my final days of pregnancy, my final weeks for certain. Despite the fact that it seems like I’ve been pregnant forever (especially when I think about the fact that my last martini was in JANUARY), to say that went by fast was an understatement. It’s like I blinked and I grew a human. A lot of life was lived this year. The only consistency has been change.

I consider myself very lucky because I’ve managed to avoid some of the more unpleasant side effects. No gestational diabetes, no pre eclampsia, no HG (morning sickness too severe to drink water), no high blood pressure and, knock wood, no visible stretch marks yet (though I keep hearing there is still time). I have not cried over food, I have not lashed out at friends or strangers, I have not wanted to murder my husband.

But that doesn’t mean it has been a walk in the park. No pregnancy ever is. There have been swollen feet, nausea, fatigue, fogginess, “pregnancy brain,” anxiety, stress, body aches, rib pain, popping and cracking of joints as they expand, moodiness / wanting to kill strangers, road rage and a brief encounter with something called a PUPP rash which is not as cute as it sounds. Pregnancy is not for the weak, and I remain absolutely convinced that a lot of people couldn’t handle it. In fact, no one should ever HAVE to handle it that doesn’t want to….but that’s another post for another time.

Still, even as I sit here with a big old belly, a fat face and swollen everything trying to stay awake because I no longer sleep more than two hours without getting up to pee or roll my giant self over, knowing full well I’ve always wanted to do this just once and it’s almost over, I know I’ll have times when I miss it.

I can’t explain what it is like to grow another life from the first heartbeats to the final kicks and punches on the way out. It has changed me profoundly in ways I never expected...not in the stereotypical sanctimonious “Life is sacred from conception! Babies are blessings!” annoying bullshit ways, but in others. I am humbled and I am in awe at what my body is capable of doing. I see it not only as a superficial thing but as something I need to respect. I am much more wary and paranoid on the streets now. Unfortunately my neighborhood no longer feels safe to me, and as much as it will break my heart, we will leave it when our lease is up. I trust strangers less as a whole, but I also value human kindness of strangers more. I know a lot of women hear some really shitty comments when they’re pregnant, but I’ve received more smiles, compliments, kind words and gestures than I ever have in my life. I’m extremely grateful for that.
A somewhat  creepy but very cool image sent by a dear friend.

And while I’m so very excited to meet this little girl who has been kicking, punching and rolling in me for months, whose hiccups stop me in my tracks with their cuteness, and show her the world….I know I need to cherish these last few days or weeks where it’s just us. I haven’t been weirded out by people touching my belly or talking to her because I’m excited to introduce her to others. I want her to see it all, to experience it all, to know the world. I don’t want to be one of “those moms.” Sure I’ll cry on her first day of kindergarten and worry myself to death while she’s on her first date. But once that umbilical cord is cut, it’s cut. I owe her, and myself, that.

But for the last nine months I have been the one solely responsible for her life and her safety. She has been with me every step of the way during this emotional, difficult year, and I know I’ll have days where I’ll miss those little reassuring kicks and punches. And the hiccups. Seriously, baby hiccups in utero are the sweetest things ever. No joke. 

This year has been full of difficult lessons, but one thing I’ve learned is that I need to release my need to control an outcome. I can’t fully control when I’m going to have more than enough writing work and when I’m going to struggle for it. I can’t control what happens to my loved ones. I can’t control how my friends will, or won’t, accept me as a mother or even how I’m going to be as one. I couldn’t control when Dexter got sick or stop him from dying in our arms. I couldn’t control when my grandfather decided he’d had enough of this life and it was time to move on. And I can’t control when this baby will make her debut.

So basically, until then, life remains a giant question mark. I wake up every morning knowing I might be full of energy or in too much pain and too fatigued to do anything. I clean my apartment, just in case. And then I sit down at my laptop and get as much advance work done as I can possibly do, knowing that I need the checks to keep rolling in even while I’m figuring out how to care for a new tiny human and can’t work. 

And in the meantime, I cherish every kick, punch and hiccup.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Diary of a City Girl on Vacation

Day One

As your car gets further and further away from the city skyline, the permanently tightened muscles in your neck and shoulders slowly begin to unwind. You press your nose to the glass and you just can’t believe how green everything is...the trees, the grass, the rolling hills. You lean back in your seat and push the “busy” thoughts from your mind. The work deadlines, the pressure, the people on the street constantly begging you for money, the permanent background noise, the sirens—so many fricking sirens—get put away into a mental file you won’t have to access until Monday.

Each little coastal town gets cuter and more charming. You stop for a Seaside lunch and you find parking within a few minutes...and it’s free. You reach your destination at the end of “rush hour,” but there’s no rush hour to speak of here. You park in the big parking lot at your resort, completely free of charge with no swarming valet attendants awaiting their tip to park your car badly in a cramped lot for $35 a day. Your suite is the size of a studio apartment and faces the ocean….the beautiful ocean with the rolling waves making a soft, soothing sound. You can never get enough of this sound.

It’s a different sound than what you constantly hear from your apartment windows in the city, a mixture of the hippies at their art collective home making art projects and “music,” the shouts of the tormented men who have been dropped off to detox at the recovery house up the street, and the sirens (SO MANY FRICKING SIRENS). There is none of that here. All you can hear is the sound of the waves and the cries of hungry seagulls and condors.

As you lean into your husband and gaze into the water, you both catch the unmistakable big, black tails and blowholes of whales. WHALES. You’ve been here fifteen minutes and you’re seeing motherfucking whales. No, this does not happen in the city. Not ever.

You walk the seven blocks to a brewery on the bayfront, where the server slips you a tiny taste of beer even though your bulging pregnant belly is very visible. You savor those few sacred sips of delicious amber ale, and you and your husband laugh at the bad dinner service you receive because, oh, this server must be SO overwhelmed by all these busy 4th of July tourists. This is such a quaint little beach town and the swarms must be too much for these places to handle. The service is quite terrible, but you tip 20% anyway because he’s just brought you the best clam chowder you’ve ever had in your entire life and you’re from the city. A 20% tip is your standard.

You walk to the boardwalk to catch the firework show and you and your husband treat yourselves to an ice cream come. You order single scoops on a waffle cone and you get the equivalent of a carton of ice cream. Both gigantic cones cost the same as one small organic preservative free hippie cone in the city. Yes indeed, you could get used to this.


You walk back to your suite, laughing at the simplicity of the lack of sidewalks in this quaint little beach town. No one has to walk here, unlike the city where walking is much easier than driving half the time. You don’t have to carry your keys in your hand to be used as a weapon if need be like you always do at home.

You fall asleep to the sound of the ocean and you sleep better, longer and harder than you have in months.

Day Two

You awaken slowly and leisurely, without the blaring of an alarm clock. The sun is shining down on the beautiful ocean waves, which is the first thing you see as your eyes open. You sit, sipping coffee and eating toast from your in-suite toaster, chatting with your husband and taking in the view. God, this is nice. The permanently tensed muscles in your neck and back are now just a distant memory.

Later on as you stroll through the beautiful Nye Beach area hand-in-hand with your husband, you will spot real estate listings and you won’t believe your eyes. So affordable! But in your mind you have already envisioned how it will be when you move here. You will own a little beach house mere steps from the shore….not in the heart of the tourist district, but within walking distance to all of the cute little shops and restaurants. You will decorate it with all the beachy decor from these darling boutiques, and you will pay your mortgage by writing great masterpieces from your oceanfront patio as you gaze into the waves and your daughter and husband frolick in the sand. The ocean will magically fuel your endless creativity, and you will live to be 120 because you will be so relaxed and at peace.

In the afternoon you and your husband decide to grab drinks on a bar patio—ginger beer for you, of course, but he has decided to try several concoctions on the menu. But he just can’t seem to get the server’s attention. In fact, you receive even worse service than you did last night. Being a former server yourself, you know your standards really aren’t that high. When your husband’s beer glass remains empty for 30 minutes, you give up and demand a check. You tip 13% (the equivalent of spitting in someone’s face for you) and leave a little miffed, thinking of how rare that is in your service-oriented city, where your glasses always stay full of brew. Why is it so damn hard to find good help in a touristy beach town in the summer?

You retreat to your suite, getting lost in popcorn and a movie, and suddenly it’s after 8 PM and you’re hungry for dinner. You freshen up, thinking you’ll just enjoy a nice meal at the onsite restaurant. It’s such a quaint little beach town, so there’s no need to make a reservation here. But when you step inside the restaurant at 8:30, you see every family in town with all of their little snot-nosed children, cranky from spending the entire day running through the sand. Rather than wait two hours for a meal, you decide to look elsewhere.

It is then that you discover that damn near every restaurant in this “quaint little beach town” closes at 9 PM. You go back to the bayfront, hoping for some more of that Best Chowder Ever that you had last night. You drive this time, because no idiot here knows how to let a pedestrian cross and there are no damn sidewalks. Your hopes of chowder are dashed when the same idiot server, who clearly doesn’t remember you from 24 hours before, cards your 35-year-old husband, who has forgotten his ID back at the hotel. You can’t get into the brewery, which is probably just as well because you’d punch that prick server in the face if you had to endure his shitty service again.

After a futile search for another spot you end up eating a sullen meal at 10 PM at the onsite restaurant, which has now devolved into a pile of breadcrumbs, screaming kids and grumpy, tired staff members, and you eat the last of the kitchen’s food as the stench of hours-old seafood permeates the air. You point out that at home, you can have any damn thing you want at any time of night, and half the time you can have it delivered to your door.

You pass out, exhausted from the search for food, and still sleep harder and better than you have in months.

Day Three

You’ve come to accept the truth: it’s amazing to get away. It’s incredible, refreshing, rejuvenating. Hell, it’s necessary. But you are a city girl at heart. As annoying as those beggars for money are, as jarring as the sounds of the sirens are and as silly as those damn hippie neighbors can be, they are your people, and you are a part of that culture. It is as ingrained in you as the bullshit is ingrained in the drivers of all these god damned minivans with the bumper stickers telling you who to vote for, what to believe and what to do with your own fucking body. And if you see one more fucking stick family bumper sticker with 15 little stick children, you’re going to break that Dodge Caravan’s window.

You enjoy a peaceful stroll to breakfast with your husband, which miraculously has plenty of sidewalks and turns out to be an incredible and reasonably priced meal served on a sunny patio. Finally, at long last, you get wonderful service. You walk the mile back to your suite directly on the beach, and once you’re inside you plug in your laptop and you type away as you stare at the surf and the sand. It really is a beautiful little place.

Tomorrow you will return to the smug hipsters, the traffic, the perfect coffee, the organic non-GMO food and the filtered water of home. And you will embrace it, for that is your life. But until then, you take in every peaceful moment on your getaway, and you resolve to eat dinner by 7 PM.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

On Father's Day

Physically, it’s pretty damn easy for a man to father a child. I mean, really, it is. I know that now more than ever, from experience.

The harder part is being a father. It’s being just the right balance of disciplined and loving, of strict and fair. It’s imposing a good set of values on your kids without imposing your own preconceived judgments and other opinions that might negatively affect their growth and development. And more than anything, it’s showing up…. not just for baseball games and dance recitals, but for everyday life. For the first steps, the bad days at school, the broken hearts and skinned knees.

Not long after I learned we had a bun in the oven, I received a Facebook message from a friend that broke my heart. She was out of town with her fiance to celebrate his birthday, and she’d gotten emotional when she saw a father and daughter enjoying themselves in the restaurant together. Clueless, I asked why. She explained that, many years after her own father abandoned her family, it’s still a little hard to see fathers being good to their daughters. It makes her emotional.

For some reason, her dad decided one day that he couldn’t handle being a husband or a dad. So he left them. He left her even though she was a kid and she needed him.

And that’s when it hit me….and I mean, really hit me….that the little girl I’m carrying is so damn lucky. Because my husband isn’t capable of that. He will never leave her.

I’d like to believe that Mr. W and I will last forever. I mean, it sure looks that way….we’re about to celebrate nine years of marriage and despite a metric ton of crap the world has thrown at us, we’re still going strong. But I know that nothing in life is guaranteed. I’d probably bet on us on the tables in Vegas, because I like our odds, but I wouldn’t, like, bet my life on it or anything because that’s just silly.

But I do know with great certainty that, no matter what happens with us―even if we fall out of love, even if he decides he can no longer tolerate my utter craziness, if I decide one day that his epic rants and skewed world view are more than I can bear, or if he falls in love with some sexy stick thin bombshell named Celeste and decides to be with her (that fucking bitch, Celeste)―he will never, ever abandon our little girl. Not ever.

I realize that’s pretty ballsy of me to say, especially after saying that nothing in life is guaranteed. And this is, of course, barring some unforeseen catastrophe like mental illness or something even worse I can’t think about. But my husband, in his right mind and of sound body, would never, ever abandon our daughter. That’s something I WOULD bet my life on.

Perhaps it’s because he has spent every day of the last 13 ½ years loving me, cherishing me and respecting me. When he has fucked up, he has admitted it, and he has learned from it. He has always been especially respectful of women, from his mother to my mother and every single one of my friends. He has supported my dreams, even when they have been crazy. And even when he could have, he has never given up on me. I know he’ll be that way with her.

In some ways, he’s already a father. He was a great daddy to our dog for eleven years, even when he didn’t think he was. The first thing he said to me when I tearfully showed him my positive pregnancy test was, “It’s OK. We’re in this together.” He spends every evening with his hands on my belly so he doesn’t miss a single kick. He takes an active role in discussions on how we will and won’t raise our daughter because he cares. He already understands the important role fatherhood will play in bringing her up, and he’s ready to take it on full force even though I know it scares the hell out of him.

I have worried and stressed about a lot of things during my pregnancy, even though I promised myself I wouldn’t. But unexpected things have come up since January that have drained my energy, my emotions, my bank account and my positivity. It happens, and I’m doing the best I can to recover. But I have never—not once, not even a little bit—questioned the man I chose to be the father of my child. That is one area where I know I did the right thing. And I can’t think of a bigger blessing than that. Knowing that he will always be there for our little girl, knowing that she will grow up having a father who loves her more than his own life, is the greatest gift I could ever receive, and it makes everything else seem just a little less terrifying and stressful.

Mr. W thinks I have the hard part because I have to endure pregnancy and childbirth. And I admit, there are days when I would kill to eat a dozen oysters, drink a dirty martini followed by a bottle of wine, go out and drunkenly dance my ass off until 2 AM and pass out on my stomach without once waking up to pee. And I won’t even get into the terror of labor. But honestly, after thinking of my own upbringing and how my father being so present in my life affected the way I turned out, after witnessing the sadness my friend STILL feels after her father abandoned her as a child despite the fact that she’s done so much to heal herself, and after reading up on just how much a father’s role matters—I kind of think he has the hard part.

But he’s going to nail it. I know he is. And that’s why I will spend every Father’s Day from today until I die honoring him, cherishing him and reminding him of how much he means to his girls. I hope I will do this every day, of course. But on this day, his day, I will never forget.

But seriously, if you see that bitch Celeste, tell her to step off.
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