Last time J was here visiting, we went over to help my sister pack as she prepared to move in with her girlfriend. As he gleefully packed her kitchen in the space of just 1.5 hours, I realized that of course I would need his help with my move as well. This is a guy who is masterful with anything related to order, symmetry, spatial relations, and general meticulous organization. I bought him a ticket from New Orleans to SF with miles and he arrived Monday.

One thing I’ve noticed since deciding to make this big move is how I’m missing having a partner for the first real and deep way since E was born. There are many things about having a partner that I have kind of been surprised about not missing or craving–but when it came to making all these big decisions, I miss having someone to talk them through with. Someone who was equally invested and able to process with me on a daily basis. I specifically am missing that as I’m processing the emotions of all of it.

Where should we move? When should we move? Which apartment should we take? Which school should E go to? Which mover should we hire? What about the piano mover? The car shipper? Should I bring the couch? Should I sell the couch? Should I give away the couch? What does everyone have against my couch?

I’ve leaned heavily on family and friends in recent weeks as I work through all these decisions, and everyone has been incredibly helpful. And- I don’t want to speak too soon, but this move feels like we’re seriously dialed in to the flow of the universe.

But back to my couch- everyone has a different opinion. I bought it 12 years ago, which of course seems like last weekend to me. I bought it new, which means I spent a lot, and bought it right in the showroom, for full price, and so clearly on some level I believe that I must keep it for the rest of my life. It’s literally the only piece of furniture I’ve bought new outside of Ikea. But, beyond that, it’s just been a comfy and constant presence in all my places since then. It’s light yellow with messy pillows and outstretched armrests that want to give you a hug. It’s huge- people can easily stretch out and sleep on it. I thought I should bring it. My whole family said an emphatic no. J said, absolutely no. (My sister D said to bring it but she hasn’t seen it in a couple years.) I asked J, “What do you have against my couch?” J does not mince words, “It’s dirty.” I looked it over and he’s right. It’s kind of dirty, and old, and slightly worn. And a huge thing to move. I went to Craig’s List and realized that all the free couches pretty much look like mine.

So, I’m giving it away free. If I am so lucky! J has his doubts. And this is just one of so many decisions.

I could not ask for a better friend, brother, and decision partner than J. He’s close with his older sister who is also a single mom- so he knows how to step in and be monumentally helpful. And he loves to help, loves to be efficient, loves to check things off the list. He BARTed in from the airport and I met him in the Mission where we bought boxes, caught an Uber, and picked up E. Each day last week, we went to work (we work together), came home, made or ordered dinner, then he cleaned up and started packing while I got E to bed. Yesterday afternoon, we finished up work, got my car washed, bought more boxes, installed a new windshield wiper, and picked up some groceries before getting E. Today, I had E with his former nanny almost all day and we both worked hard for six straight hours and basically got it done.

At several moments, I caught J whispering, “Damn, I’m good,” as he perfectly laid the final object into a box like the last piece of a puzzle. He used rugs to wrap fragile mirrors, he was giddy when he found leftover plastic bags with zippers that perfectly held the right combo of stuff, and he was distraught when we realized that my iPad had been missing for several days and likely got put into one of the boxes by mistake. (He called my phone while I turned on my dog hearing and went box to box until I heard it, ringing nestled in a box of books.) The guy takes the whole thing really seriously, and at several points during the week had a crisis of confidence that we would never get the whole job done before he had to go. He was way more stressed than me. (In part because it was really all I could do to get through our regular daily routine and I kept barely helping and going to bed early.) His brain simply works differently than mine in this respect and I’m so lucky that I could even dream of summoning that kind of help.

As I write this, an email just came in from someone interested in my free couch, and she has a truck, and she can pick it up tomorrow. My heart just started pounding. I’m having a bit of a hard time letting this one go as I’m in blogging mode with my back against one of the outstretched armrests, this couch has been my friend. I almost cried when a fellow single mom picked up E’s kitchen today…

E is not missing a beat. I wondered if he’d start noticing stuff was gone, like his kitchen, but we seem to have left out just enough toys, just enough books, and just the RIGHT toys and books (so far, the ones he’s asked for have all been the not-packed ones). Other than vying a bit for my attention while J was here, he’s just himself. He thinks a little more about Chicago, and his cousins, due to my prompting (he wants to go to the train restaurant). He just started saying “OK” as much as the rest of us. He refers to any semi-obscured space like under the couch as “behind the jungle.” He has such a great sense of humor. We quickly develop series of inside jokes like, “It’s a what?” “It’s a boing boing.” “It’s a what?” “It’s a what?”  “It’s a boing boing.” “It’s a hippopotamus?” “No, it’s a boing boing!” Then it doesn’t come up again for five days, and out of the blue he goes, “It’s a what?”

I really do think I’m calmer about the “where” because my “why” is coming with me.

We have something like 42 boxes packed, movers booked, plane ticket bought. We left out a few dishes, pots and pans, utensils. The amount of toiletries and clothes that you’d have on a 2-week trip. A few odds and ends. Probably the amount of possessions that Marie Kondo would say is optimal. No rugs, nothing on the walls. It’s so freeing to be so uncluttered (and, ultimately, this is probably the most organized I’ve ever been in my life).

Tonight, J, E, and I bundled up and headed out for pizza into the thick fog, E on his trike. It was such a normal night in SF, and yet everything is about to change, and yet not really.

Tomorrow my couch goes. And E and I will enjoy these last ten days in a way that I’ve never been able to enjoy such a big transition.

Ready.

Thank you, J.

xo

con jorge

 

Egads, it’s been over a month. This will be a bulleted post. Here’s what’s been happening:

  • I’m on the couch in a rare moment of evening quiet, listening to foghorns in the distance. I feel like I haven’t stopped moving or working or planning or thinking for the past six weeks.
  • We found a new place in Chicago. It has lots of space, a deck and enclosed backyard (!!!), two bedrooms, laundry, dishwasher, parking, hardwood floors, high ceilings, lots of light, tons of closets/cabinets, vintage details. It’s a ten minute walk from my sister’s house. It’s 4 blocks from downtown and trains. Landscaping, snow shoveling, storm window installation, and heat are all included. I had been tempted by a thoroughly-modern urban downtown place (no parking or outdoor space), a tiny single family home (too expensive and weird kitchen), and a just-OK and potentially truly not-great save-money-for-a-house option (important to be happy when we get there)… And this was out of probably 15 places I saw! The primary downside to our new place is the glass top electric stove. And my dream of an open kitchen will have to get shelved until our next move. But I’m getting a grill for the deck and wow did that overall work out well. Thanks to my sister D and bro-in-law S for child care and helping me work through the problem over four intense days.
  • Coming back after vacation and diving back into our regular routine, I have many mixed emotions. I notice my tendency to get more negative on this place now that I’m on my way out (makes it easier!), more frustrated in the frustrations. (UGH the fog. HOW did I ever manage this tiny bathroom sink. I HATE my commute. Etc.) I also notice how much my current apartment feels like home.  I notice the teachers at E’s school giving him many more hugs and kisses on arrival and departure. I notice the impermanence of all the objects in my apartment, at this very moment sitting right where they’ve always been. I feel all the moves that lead up to this one. I dreamt last night of an old boyfriend. I’ll wake up one morning and SF will be in my past.
  • A friend emailed me and asked for my three primary emotions at this stage. I thought about this for half a day and wrote back:
    • 1. peaceful. This decision took a while to happen but once it was done, it was so obviously right. It doesn’t surprise or shock me anymore, it’s just the evolution of our life. It will not be perfect but it will be great.
    • 2. expansion. This is not an emotion but there’s a feeling that we can grow in our new space- especially knowing I can fling open the back door and be outside on the grass (or snow).. E will grow there. And me too.
    • 3. anxiety about everything I’m about to have to do. All I have to do is imagine moving a big family with a whole house and I realize that my move is super tiny and simple. But, still, juggling purging and sorting and organizing and packing and reserving a mover, piano mover, car mover, and then camping out with boxes and camping out without boxes- all with E and a pretty crazy month work-wise… It’s normal to feel nervous. I know we can do it.
  • I’m starting to feel more disengaged, like a ghost floating through the city, no longer looking for new connections. No one is investing in newer friendships with us now either. It’s normal. This is is why it’s better to leave soon after making the decision to leave, since otherwise you’re just waiting. It’s like breaking up when you still live together. In fact, it is that.
  • National and world news has been unbearable. As soon as I can, I’ll be devoting time to helping elect Hillary Clinton.
  • Flying back on Sunday, I realized it was my last time flying home to SF. I thought about how much I have loved flying home to SF. And I’ve done a lot of it in the almost 20 years I’ve been here.
  • I chopped my hair and turned 43 and bought rad silver Birkenstocks.
  • I got into the Oak Park River Forest Symphony. Rehearsals begin August 31!
  • I ran every other day on vacation, 3-4 miles, and felt like a human being again. I can’t wait to build this into my new schedule.
  • E can sort of differentiate San Asisco from Chicago and knows there’s an airplane that separates them. Mostly, though, he knows his family, and he knows that they show up all over the place.
  • We’re home wherever we’re together.

our new backyard

I suddenly realized I was late picking up E so I posted that last post without reading it over… And only now see that “therapist” was autocorrected as “star rapist”- geez Louise! I couldn’t live with anyone thinking that I think those words go together in any context, much less in my blog, so this is my zoology- see it just happened again- APOLOGY! To anyone who was stunned and/or confused by that. This would be the down side to blogging by smartphone. xoxo

Hello readers, I have been MIA with mucho happening on all fronts and here I am to report back from the bus!

Oh dios mio, where to start? OK #1 we are moving. We are moving! Across the country! I told you I was thinking about it. I think I had already decided when I told you that but, as with all big decisions, I made it before I “officially” made it- it’s just nice to dwell in that officially-undecided space a little longer to let it all solidify and become real. The decision is made. It feels real. It’s happening!

We’re moving to Chicago. Specifically, Oak Park. As someone who has been a proud city resident of SF, NYC, DC, and even Paris, I will now be a suburbanite. I sort of never thought it would happen and then I had a kid… It’s a well-established transition. I get it now. I feel like I’ve spent the last couple of years of new-motherhood preparing for this move and massive identity shift- life has gotten smaller and slower and now I super duper crave for it to get easier. I have often thought, “I can stay home every night in a much less expensive city.” And when I park my car on the street two hilly blocks away and carry a sleeping 30+ pound boy and four bags back to three flights of stairs to my apartment I think, “There’s got to be a better way.” I spend 2.5 hours a day commuting.

My official and concise and most truthful answer about “why” is that we’re moving to be closer to family. The cousins will grow up together. My sister and bro-in-law will back me up and vice versa. My parents are across the lake that feels more like home to me than any other place.

But once I took on winter as a hypothetical (and, believe me, this was a BIG stretch as I have REALLY enjoyed a long hiatus from the freezing cold and estrangement from the sun), so many benefits leapt into the picture- the ease of life. The affordability. The family-oriented community. The schools. And then my company said yes: work from Chicago, it sounds like a great move both personally and professionally.

That’s when it got really real because there’s nothing else holding me back. And it felt: peaceful.

I have a hard time talking to friends here about my move. Of course I’m not happy to leave dear friends. And I will not bad mouth the city itself- I don’t blame San Francisco, we’re just no longer a match. I have LOVED it here and will miss many people and many things (hiking trails, burritos, mild winters…). And I have a sense that I no longer need to be in the center of the action. I want to be just a little off to the side where we can do our thing with a parking spot and new friends and a train-themed restaurant where a little train brings your dinner. And family dinners and lawns and changing leaves and real summer. And put down some new roots.

Two people have congratulated me on my courage, my therapist and my sister B, and it made me realize that I had a narrative going in my head where I was giving up or bailing out or betraying my teammates in city living. That I was giving up for the easy out. Especially the moms I’ve become close to- we’re all trying to build community and it sucks to pull away from that. But I realize now that of course we need to go where we will thrive, and that choice is different for each individual, and that place for us has made itself really, really, REALLY clear!

We’re going next month to find a place and we’ll move a month after that. Meanwhile, I’m lingering on the sweet details of this season of life, where the drive to school every day includes a waterfall and buffalo and Golden Gate Park and a fire truck. And the way the golden early evening sun angles through my kitchen as I prep dinner. I couldn’t have hoped for happier times and I have faith that the next chapter will be lovely in a whole new way that is welcome and wonderful.

We will especially miss Aunt B and her girlfriend Jenn and I rely on their world traveler statuses to get them to or through Chicago on a regular basis. And we will be back to visit… I love that everyone is so present online and I love that I’ve been in better touch with my friend E during her year in China than when she was here… I hope it will be like that with many newly long-distance friends. And especially the single mamas who are chilling out post 8pm and want to FaceTime…

So soon it will be farewell to “San Acisco” (which is what E calls the Golden Gate Bridge).

Lots of love,
K

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We were having a lazy morning and all of a sudden it was 10am with no plan- so I decided to take E to the zoo. I guess that recent gorilla incident had me thinking about the zoo and we hadn’t been since E was a baby and way too little to appreciate it. Interestingly, when I asked him which animal he wanted to see most, he said “gorilla.” They were fun to watch, especially one that was spinning like a whirling dirvish. It would be virtually impossible to fall into their enclosure due to floor to ceiling windows from the viewing areas. (I must say, though, that for marginally supervised kids, there are a gazillion ways to get into serious trouble in most areas of the zoo. I think it’s kind of like Yosemite- much more “at your own risk” than you might think.)

This weekend, I’ve been pushing nap time and he’s been successfully transferring from the car! Lucky me- he is snoozing away and I just chopped all the fruit in the house and started the laundry. Now I can catch you up on night weaning.

I’ve been hemming and hawing about weaning for a while now, feeling paralyzed, resistant, unsure. Yet having the sense that at two years old we could stand to dial it back. Advice coming from a variety of trusted sources didn’t resonate. I set up a dinner date with my doula. Through pregnancy, she encouraged me to trust my intuition that I know best and don’t need to turn to books and experts. Yet I was struggling to get the right frequency on my intuition. It’s hard to get all the answers from within- to know what you need and what your kiddo needs…probably even more so without a co-parent. Sometimes you just need someone to reflect back what they’re hearing from you.

So, we went out for sushi, with E who really liked it. He let us talk while he worked on his chopsticks (aka drumming) skills. I laid it out for her- and I heard myself saying that I’m a natural mama, I’ve always breastfed on demand, my impulse is to just roll with it. I don’t want to impose limits on this or force him to slow his roll. I heard it. I heard it more the way she heard it, or the way I wasn’t hearing it, and it really helped.

I paused, and she said wisely, ‘K. In parenting, there are going to be many times when you’re going to have to say “no” and E isn’t going to like it.’

Lights went on in my mind. But I was a little defensive, like, “I know, totally, yes- I’m good at saying no! In other areas! Just not… this one. This one seems different somehow.” But even as I was talking, I realized that it’s not all that different. He’s not nursing for survival anymore. And I do get a vote here.

The most helpful thing she made me realize is that this isn’t just about withholding- I’m helping him learn to sleep through the night. And, let’s be honest- I really would love to sleep through the night. She said, “You wouldn’t let him wear Velcro shoes forever- you would help him learn to tie his laces.” I’ve been believing that nature would or should handle this, and it does for some kids. But this kid is going to take full advantage as long as the buffet is open.

I didn’t start right away. I ordered a book called “Nursies When the Sun Shines,” which is good for co-sleeping breastfeeding moms of toddlers- beautiful watercolors, simple messages about nursies going to sleep when the sun goes down. There is a dad in the bed too but he doesn’t factor into the actual words, interestingly. (Maybe I’ll write the one for co-sleeping breastfeeding SINGLE moms of toddlers- although something tells me this would be quite the niche market.)

I started talking to E about light/daytime and dark/nighttime, not knowing if any of it was getting through. I tried to read him the book- he sat through it once and now will have nothing to do with it. Truth be told, I think he totally gets what I’m saying and wants to ignore it! He’s never said no to any other book.

Friday night was Night One. I was nervous. I went to sleep with him at 8pm and woke up around 2am. I laid there thinking, “What are the chances that this is the night he sleeps through?” and, of course, it wasn’t. He woke up and, as usual, asked to nurse. The second he got denied, he cried hard, saying “no, no, no, no, no.” I don’t know if this is because it’s the first time I’ve outright denied him (I’ve definitely paused before) or because he was disappointed that “the nursies were sleeping.” I listened closely, analyzing to see if the cry was different from, say, when I don’t allow him to bring his tricycle in the car on the way to school. It was. It was a more soulful cry. Or maybe he was just sleepy. I didn’t cry. I felt like a scientist, watching and waiting, trying to soothe him different ways. He rolled to the other side of the bed for a while, putting space between us. Then he came back and figured out how to snuggle with me with our heads together, quiet with his eyes open, eyeball to eyeball. It wasn’t easy but it definitely wasn’t the end of the world. I told him a story. He relaxed and went to sleep. He woke a few hours later, whimpered, and went back to sleep in two minutes.

Last night was Night Two and I felt so much more conviction. Once you invest the work you don’t want to undo it. This doesn’t feel as sad as I thought it would. I’m teaching how to sleep through the night. He woke again around 2am and went in and out of whimpering (never full-on crying) for maybe 15-20 minutes with snoozing in between. I think that was it. He was on the boob like white on rice in the morning. I think he’ll get the daytime/nighttime distinction quickly.

Nursing to sleep at bedtime isn’t working well lately. He keeps saying “other side” eight times over the course of an hour and then sits up and tells me something about excavators, diggers, and bulldozers in a fully awake voice. And cement trucks and crane trucks. He needs to learn how to fall asleep at bedtime too- but we’ll take this one step at a time.

Like everything else! xo

nursing

 

 

So I went to UCSF last week to get my uterus checked out. It’s the saline sonogram and test transfer where they blow up your uterus (slightly) with a balloon to make sure that everything looks good. I’m getting all the tests and appointments out of the way now even though I haven’t yet devised a weaning plan and hombre is still nursing a lot.

When I made the appointment, they told me to take 800 mg of ibuprofen an hour before (I honestly don’t know why since it wasn’t painful either time), and a pregnancy test. I was supposed to tell them the date of the negative test.

Now, I’ve taken enough negative pregnancy tests in my life that I’d rather not take one just for fun. I told the nurse on the phone that there was no way I was pregnant, like no way, and she kind of stumbled but said OK, just let them know.

I forgot about it. I don’t stress about these situations- mostly I want to keep the other person from getting terribly uncomfortable. I am comfortable by now with doing this on my own.

A nurse with an accent, maybe Russian, came to get me from the waiting room. I was getting settled in the exam room when she asked me about the pregnancy test. I said, perhaps a bit emphatically to reassure her of the impossibility that I could be pregnant, “Oh no- there is zero chance I am pregnant. I haven’t had sex in A REALLY LONG TIME.”

She blinked and I knew I had given way more information than she needed. She said, “Oh, OK, you’re not here for fertility reasons but to check your fibroids?” She looked relieved like she had figured it out.

No, I’m here for fertility reasons.

Oh, OK- now she was legitimately flustered and flew out of the room. I made a mental note that I don’t need to alienate people with so much information and resolved to dial it back.

The doctor then came in with another doctor visiting from Switzerland, and a different nurse. They were friendly and chatty and we talked about the gorgeous new building with the stunning views of the bay.

The main doc asked me about the pregnancy test. This is when it would have been totally fine to say, “Yes, it was negative.” Or even “I date women.” But I’m weirdly unable to lie even when it’s helpful and innocuous. So I said, “No, but there is zero chance I’m pregnant.” Which only left them to pry a bit and remind me that sometimes bleeding can be misconstrued as a period when its actually not, which is why they require the pregnancy test. And I was thinking- here I am laying the groundwork to get pregnant, so if there actually was a chance that I was, and that the pregnancy would be endangered by this saline sonogram, YES I would take a test. Of course. I wanted them to know I wasn’t ignorant.

So I opened my mouth and the whole story came tumbling out about doing this on my own etc. That’s how I roll. (You know that, because you read my blog.)

So they got it and moved on and the Swiss lady asked if I had weekend plans and I said YES, my son’s second birthday party! And then I had to explain that he was also conceived and born at UCSF and etc etc etc.

So, I guess that’s me being discreet or low-impact with people who don’t expect a solo mom… The whole story comes flying out. It’s about putting them at ease by showing that I’m at ease. The Swiss Doctor wished me luck.

I rarely get asked about E’s dad but I did get asked last week by an IT guy I’ve known for many years- he was sitting at my desk working on my computer while I stood next to him. He said something like, “I see pictures of the baby but none of the dad!” Gesturing around smiling, implying that the dad was sorely underrepresented. The right answer was something like, “Oh, that guy? Yeah, it’s all about the baby now.” But instead what came out of my mouth was, “Oh, that’s because he doesn’t have a dad.” Which is what I think we all agreed is NOT what I was intending to say- I wanted to say, “Our family doesn’t have a dad” but I did go on to explain that I chose to have a baby on my own. Maybe the answer was, “That’s because I had him on my own.” He said that was brave, and then he got quiet. I felt like the whole office was listening. Live and learn.

It doesn’t have to be awkward, but I suppose it is because people innocently stumble into a very personal conversation. One thing I’ll never do is pretend he has a dad for the sake of making people more comfortable. With the exception of someone passing by in the airport who asks his age and then says, “His dad must be tall!” No point chasing them down to set them straight.

E himself is starting to try to make sense of who has a daddy and a papa. We had a conversation in the car yesterday that went well. He was saying Papa and I said who do we know who has a Papa? He listed some friends. Our family doesn’t have a Papa. Who do we have? He said Mommy. And I added Mimi, Chacha, his aunts, his uncles (S and J!), and his cousins. He repeated all these back with a smile. He’s totally satisfied with that. I know that, for a while yet, the awkward one in that conversation is me.

We have a book called Love is a Family which I super loved until I realized it doesn’t include gay families! I only realized it after I recommended it to a two mom family. Ugh! The point is that there are single moms and dads, step parents, adopted kids. But no two dads or two moms… Disappointing. I’ll search for more truly inclusive books.

Still, the message is good: love is a family. Love is all you need.

Love you guys!

xo

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Ever since yesterday morning, the day before E’s birthday, I’ve been tracking the hours of labor. A long day at work was only 1/3 of the total labor time. I got home and had dinner and though, wow. I was just getting into the thick of it. Last night, E was kind of agitated, waking up more than usual. It felt like an echo of the night before he was born, reminding me of how much time 28 hours really is.

And then, this morning, the light. When daylight started creeping over the horizon that day, I finally had the urge to push, and the sun rose with my triumphant pushing that baby out with every ounce of strength I had. And I recognized that light, being in the same city at the same time, only two years later, I had a muscle memory for how that day felt, and I felt it again.

E woke up giggling. He definitely doesn’t understand birthdays but does know the song and sings it for anyone or anything he likes. One time a cashier gave him stickers and the whole way home he was singing, “Happy birthday, Target!”

I let him know it was his day and he understood in the way toddlers understand things, which is to say deeply but not logically. He got blueberry pancakes on a Thursday. He got to watch “Baby Shark Doo Doo Doo” while I took a shower. He said, “No school, Mommy. Playground.”

But, yes, we have to go to school! I made two gluten-free, nut-free zucchini breads and you need to celebrate with your friends.

Driving to school, I looked up at UCSF on Mount Zion, visible from all the neighborhoods around it. The light. The day. We were within an hour of his birth time. I glanced back at this long boy sitting in his forward-facing car seat and remembered that new, never exactly little but much littler, baby. And that incredible joyful high.

I dropped him at school and the director suggested I stay to sing happy birthday and do candles right then. E sat framed by lots of kids sitting obediently and watching the festivities. He wore a party hat and looked very serious. P lit the candles on the zucchini bread and we sang Feliz cumpleaños and I encouraged E to blow out the candles, which he didn’t (so I did). Then each kid gave him a hug. He was concentrating hard, trying to figure out what was happening, and probably mostly puzzled about why I was still there.

It was his birth time. I was crying. P hugged me twice and said she understood. I said- I just didn’t realize how much the moms feel it!

And all day today I felt it.

At the end of the day, the teachers gave me an art project that all the kids made for E today- their colorful handprints, each with a name next to it. In the middle, it says “Feliz cumpleaños, E” and the teachers signed “con amor.”

Then we went to the windy playground, since that was his wish. With burritos. Then we facetimed with family and ate ice cream on the kitchen floor.

As he fell asleep tonight, I thought about our first night together after his birth, in a little room looking out at a forest of beautiful trees. I had no idea that a little creature could keep you up so much of the night. I didn’t think there would be so much nursing before the milk came in. I thought the bassinet was there to hold the baby but he was having none of that. And the hospital bed didn’t feel safe for cosleeping. So I found myself laying awkwardly at the foot of the bed with him perched, sleeping, on my chest. The doctor came in at some point to check me, and I thought she would reprimand me. She gasped and said I looked like a birth goddess.

They kept asking me if I had any pain, and I kept saying, “No, I’m just so happy!” Like the kind of happy that makes you forget your pain.

And life flows on. What a gift. So many wishes for his life and gratitude for all that we have.

Happy birthday, cuckoo bird! More partying on Saturday with a bunch of two-year-olds! xoxoxoxo

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chalet

 

On the bus, 4:43pm, a sunny and windy afternoon. I’m still a bit weak and dehydrated from a round of stomach flu yesterday… There is nothing to make you grateful to feel good than a day of nausea. So lucky that my sister was able to pick E up from school.

After our recent visit to Chicago, I’m doing a lot of comparing/contrasting with SF and, honestly, SF is not winning. I never want to trash talk my beloved and incomparably gorgeous city of almost twenty years, but we are no longer a very good match. I’m tired of hearing myself complain about the high cost of child care. About how if we ever lost our apartment there would be no affordable place to go (not to mention zero hope of ever owning property). About competitive preschools and street parking and this sense that the skyrocketing prices are just A-OK with the techies coming in with gigantic salaries.

I don’t want to go on about that or the complex school lottery system or the families getting evicted or the impossibility of this hamster wheel because honestly I have that conversation with everyone I know who is still living in the Bay Area, all the time. So let’s look at the Chicago suburb where my sister lives.

Child care approximately half the cost. Housing same. Amazing schools. Awesome community for families. Economic and racial diversity. Next to an incredible city. Some great old friends! Four seasons. My parents across Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan! I could go on.

But the biggest click for me was seeing the cousins adoring each other. And talking to my sister about how we could back each other up. This is family!!

There are huge downsides. Namely, winter. And giving up the year-round outdoor opportunities of the incomparable Bay Area–the trees, the smell of eucalyptus, the trails, the ocean air, the vast wilderness. And of course -sob -my sister B! My friends! My mama community!

But something’s gotta give. I yearn to put down roots, to build community in a place that doesn’t feel so tenuous. Where life is a little/a lot easier. To be able to envision E’s trajectory into the future, full of opportunities and tons of love.

I know that contemplating moving home or close to family or to the suburbs when your kid is 2 is not exactly a new idea that I just invented. There are great reasons why people scale down. For me, being in the most expensive city in America PLUS being a solo parent feels like unsustainable squared. Or at least would require a level of struggle I am less and less willing to take on.

So, I’m simmering on this. And I already have been forever since before getting pregnant. Meanwhile, I had E, the cost of living in the Bay Area shot up, and I thought… I’ll see how long I can last.

And now he’s two, and mama wants a plan.

[Fast forward five days:]

After I wrote that on the bus, I went home feeling sick again. Like the bug I had earlier in the week circled back on me, and then E got sick that night, and we took a sick day. It was like a week-long bug!

Now we’re feeling fine. E is napping after a fun 2nd birthday party of one of my mom’s groups with 20 or so kids. Sunny, hot, on Potrero Hill with stunning views of the city, great friends and connections, so much what I love about being here, so many conversations about grappling with all of the above… (Not just me!)

Also grateful for the freedom to contemplate big changes and try on the possibilities. We’ll keep living to the fullest in the meantime- simmering, thinking, weighing pros and cons, crunching numbers.

And contemplating lists like this one: Onion Ten Best Places to Raise a Family

One more point of gratitude: for my online community. I get to take you with me everywhere!

Xo

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Dangerous to start a blog post halfway through the afternoon nap but I’m feeling lucky!

What a week. My parents left on Sunday after a wonderful two-month stay. It’s so interesting to go back and forth between co-parenting and solo parenting because I see many pros and cons of both sides. Of course when they’re here, they’re so helpful with dinners and laundry and keeping stuff organized and house projects and child care and more. I love bouncing parenting decisions off of them. There’s also more housework to be done with more adults. And I get that hazy feeling about who’s doing what because now I’m no longer doing 100% with a comprehensive birds-eye view.

After such an extended visit, I dreaded their departure and wondered how long it would take me to get back on track. I felt rusty and worried about taking on our new school dropoff without backup and also we of course miss them when they’re not around. I was sad about E asking where they were and feeling sad to wake up to an empty house.

Monday morning, it was go time. I prepped to the nines of Sunday night, would not be defeated by the naysayers (in my head). We got up Monday and the house was quiet. E asked about Mimi and Chacha and I reminded him they went on the airplane. We got dressed and had breakfast and I even took a video of him reading a book out loud on his own while I drank my coffee. A blessed, perfect morning.

Until we got into the car. I was putting E in his car seat when he pointed up and said, “light!” I looked up to see an interior light we had inadvertently left on; weak now two days later. My heart sunk. I knew the battery was dead and the car wouldn’t start.

And it didn’t! Best laid plans. I didn’t flag anyone down, which maybe I should have, but it was 8:30am and I didn’t want to make people late for work, would have to study up on jumper cables (which I do have), and the too-much part would be trying to do all that with a toddler in tow. So I called AAA who took about an hour to show up, and we just went up and down the street on a beautiful morning, checking out the choo choo train in the glasses shop window and singing songs. I got in to work at 10:30am but didn’t miss much.

The next day, I started the day not feeling well, digestion-wise. It wasn’t too bad until I got on the train and then I thought I’d made a mistake. Nothing like fearing that you’re going to have to puke in public. I made it to the office without incident and just couldn’t imagine that commuting home and then back to pick up E later in the day would be that much better than just toughing through the work day, which I did. I laid down in the conference room for a while. Picked E up and went home to a dinner of saltines.

The next day I decided to work from home, which was lovely. I was starting to feel better and eating again and could run the laundry and the dishwasher. My sister B and her girlfriend came over for a burrito dinner and it was one of those errant hot summer days in the city- I was on the upswing again.

Every single night this week, E has fallen asleep on the way home from school. It’s about a 15-20 minute ride home through Golden Gate Park. He stayed awake each time to enjoy the two major highlights of the trip: the buffalo in a big meadow and the tunnel (which is actually just where the road goes under 19th Street). BUFFALO! TUNNEL! and next thing I know, I look in the rearview mirror to his mirror (he’s still rear-facing) and his peepers are closed. Each day, I woke him up to bring him in and he was understandably irritable, nursed him when we got inside, and he went back to sleep. I would say that with the exception of the night that B and J came over for dinner, he went back to sleep and stayed asleep through the entire night. So- he slept roughly 6:30pm-7am four out of five days this week. I was starting to miss him! This schedule only requires an hour and a half of parenting per day!

His teachers say that he’s running around all day, barely napping, eating a ton (good because he’s missing dinner each night and barely nibbling at breakfast). He’s growing and processing language and making friends and learning songs. It must be so tiring!

Every night this week I’ve been staying up late working on a freelance marketing project I took on- I know! As if I have time. But I’m REALLY excited and passionate about this project and learning a lot. Regular work is going well too. Seems like the only place to find more time is giving up sleep.

Today was LOVELY. The cherry on top of a challenging week. We had a pretty lazy morning and then drove over to North Beach to meet dear friends C and her 2yo daughter L, and my sister B. We had coffee and treats at a cafe while the kids colored and played. Then we went to the playground for a bit and there were zero kids there because it was sprinkling. E wanted to try the really long slide and it was totally wet. Why did I think that would slow him down? He raced down the thing at I don’t know how many mph- he went so fast that he was immediately on his back and shot off the end, continuing to slide on the soft astroturf for about 15 feet! I was so taken by surprise but it was over so fast and he was OK (a little stunned!)–my sister and I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Note to self: sopping wet slide = MUCH FASTER THAN USUAL.

Then our regular swim class with L and C, half an hour of floating around and jumping off the side and kicking- way more laid back than LPB and E likes it better (so I do too).

Then home- my amazing sister agreed to stay with E while I went for a much-needed wet trail run. I came back, got him down, showered, and here I am with time to blog. See. Still sleeping- the good luck continues.

So, that’s the week. Next week promises to be amazing because I took time off to go to Chicago to visit E’s cousins! (and their parents!) (and my parents for one night!) Yay. When E woke up today, he said, “Chacha,” and smiled. Then, “Mimi,” and smiled. I said, “Yeah. Chacha and Mimi.” and he said, “Airplane.” And I said, “Yep, they went on the airplane. But next week, we’ll get on an airplane and we’ll see them in Chicago!” and he said, “Jacket.” (as in- let’s go!)

More from Chi.

Hope your weekend is ridiculously fabulous xoxoxo

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This morning, I wondered three different times if I’m getting it right with my parenting decisions and assumed there’s a book I haven’t read that says I’m absolutely doing it wrong and setting myself up for future trouble. The wondering was:

-I wonder if there’s a proven and acceptable way to introduce your child to his toddler bed that doesn’t involve jumping (and I wonder if allowing the jumping actually sets you back because now it’s a trampoline instead of where you go night night)

-I wonder if it’s actually unsafe and sets a bad precedent for your kid to walk/run around at breakfast, eating cereal out of other people’s bowls

-I wonder if, by continuing to night nurse, I’m holding my kid back from a happy and independent sleeping career

I think that if anyone has easy answers to these it’s probably BS but notice the impulse to question myself and believe there’s some other authority more important than me.

We are in the midst of transitions that have no beginning or end because I’m an easygoing, natural mama who resists structure and other people’s arbitrary rules when it comes to parenting through these phases of development. But the toddler bed is set up and seems like kind of a fun new thing. It’s in my room. Maybe he’ll be intrigued and interested? I’m realizing that night weaning could be great for both of us. He can learn to sleep through (and me too) and perhaps I can occasionally get up early or stay up late which I would greatly look forward to. Aiming to do this after my parents leave. Maybe it won’t be so bad? Maybe he’s ready hahahaha

My parents have been here for 6 weeks and we have 2 left. I have grown dependent on them, especially the dinners, the laundry, and the cleaning. Not to mention the occasional school pickups and evening child care! And adult conversation, someone to talk through decisions, and co-witnesses to E’s daily development. Also they are my parents.🙂 I always get back in the groove after they leave but am not on my A game in the initial days.

The other night, they went out for dinner. I had gone out of town for the day for work and got a late start coming back- it took 3 hours instead of 2 in crazy Bay Area traffic. I was half an hour late picking up E, then we stopped at the store for food and Walgreens for ointment to put on his irritated bug bite (he for some reason resisted putting it on and we got it all over everything). We had dinner of leftovers and he poured water everywhere (as he does nightly). My period was super heavy and I was barely containing things when I realized that E had a blowout the likes of which I haven’t seen since he was an infant- the kind where the only option is the bathtub. I was rinsing him off in the tub and he was screaming. My parents walked in the door and I felt like the babysitter!

Mostly I laughed because there are just those days when you can’t seem to keep things from flying out of control.

You’ve just gotta laugh and believe: I’m as on top of this as possible.

xo

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