Monday, August 24, 2020

Musings on writing

The other day I was thinking about my girls and this blog.

I'm not sure how, and I'm not sure when, but I feel the need to go public when Samantha is older, and has more agency.

On some days I feel incredibly removed from the experiences I catalogue in this diary. The literal pain of Asherman's. The anguish of losing Celine. The anxiety that comes with taking an enormous leap of faith to bring Sammi into the world.

On other days, I look at where I am now, and realize that getting here is in itself a story of enormous hope fulfilled. But I want to be careful. My happy ending wouldn't exist but for a well-timed home equity loan.

But as I get more comfortable with Sammi's origin story, and view it in the prism of my loss story, I realize that maybe we could share it more widely.

So a few nights ago, I realized in the shower (where all my best thinking happens), that this blog needs to be a book. As my ability to update here on this site dwindles to about monthly, I see now that I have a story arc. There is a beginning and there is an end.

I've attempted to write books before. And failed spectacularly because writing is a full-time job, and I already have two of those. But somehow, someday, I'm gonna take another crack at it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

rolling along on a random blerghsday

How is everyone?

My parents and I reached a common family style detente, where no politics or policy or even acknowledgement of the world on fire outside our windows exists. It's a strange way to live, and I know how privileged I sound to say that when for my entire life I've had friends live this way with their families/spouses. I'm navigating what it means to stand on your own beliefs and not need to convince anyone else around you why. Not a normal state of being for a lapsed lawyer and lifelong activist, but this is what I'm going to call growth.

I think I realized that I'm sort of in a state of grief about all of it, as if I've lost my parents to a weird conspiratorial universe where our country is a bastion of freedom and wealthy white Americans are victimized. A few years ago they were financially supporting Occupy protesters in Zuchotti Park. Today they're railing against people taking down statues of Columbus. It's been a whiplash filled ride in my brain.

My children are safe and healthy. Niblet is one of those learners that I refuse to spend too much fretting about in the coming school year. She'll figure out whatever math she needs to learn online, she'll also retreat into her novels. My husband and I are both gainfully employed, and we're all retreating into a world mad up of the boundaries of our backyard. I think I've spent more money on inflatable pools, sports equipment and outdoor toys than I ever imagined possible.

But my state's COVID numbers are ticking up again. I'm worried about the workers my union represents. And our PPE supply.

And here at home, our circadian rhythms are completely jacked up. I've been a less than successful parent at getting the kids to bed at age appropriate times. I'm regularly up until 2am and then back up again at 7:30. Gray hairs are peeking through and Niblet is comically appalled at how vain I am about them. ("Who's going to see you Mom? It's the Coronacation. You swim a lot anyways, that would mess up any dye you use").

One bright spot is I have our nanny back for a few hours a day, a few days a week. She spends 2-3 hours outside with Sammi, allowing me some precious work time. It's been something of a game-changer.

Another bright spot is we have the money to take a trip to the middle of nowhere for a week. A cottage in a wooded neighborhood, five minutes from a quiet beach (sans boardwalk and restaurants). Wild ponies. Who doesn't want to imagine their 2 year old's face, squealing (hopefully in delight?) at the sight of ponies?

Monday, June 22, 2020

an off topic meltdown

So my parents are the loves of my life, imperfections and neuroses and all. The good and the bad shaped me into who I am and shaped my life accordingly.

I usually don't discuss this dynamic on my blog. It's not the space, it's certainly not what my readers visit here for. But it's a pickle and sorry folks, I have to write it out.

I've had difficulty putting into words at times the issues we've faced as a family of three. There have often been stretches where they stop speaking to me. They didn't like my boyfriend of many years, who later became my partner. That was one time. They freaked out on me when my wedding ceremony - an actually very light on the bible interfaith ceremony co-officiated by my husband's childhood pastor and a cantor - caused them to believe that I would have them "kneeling before a cross" at my wedding.

I am also the only child *and* the only family member that they speak to. I place no judgment on my mother's detaching from her remaining abusive toxic family members. My Dad from his (much less toxic to my untrained eye)? Sadness, but not judgment. They don't have a close circle of friends.  They have only each other. They had me until I left home for a city they hate. They had my older daughter until she turned around 7 and everyone realized wasn't demonstrative with affection, and snarky and didn't like to give hugs. They took solace in the snuggles of the baby, a natural cuddler if there ever was one. But they are both prone to depression, deep deep depressions.

Since college I have had a fairly good understanding of how difficult this relationship could be. What it meant to be the sole source of your parent's happiness... Gee, maybe this does fit into my blog. Because I've written before about wanting to not to put that weight on my own children. Not wanting either of them to feel the intensity of the emotional whiplash I sometimes feel with my own parents.

Over the years these freeze outs have gotten more frequent, the result of political divisions. They have become fierce believers in the American dream, followers of patriotic symbols and fearful of lawlessness. A total mind fuck because I was raised to believe that america was a place where everyone but the most wealthy was a paycheck or disaster away from homelessness. The politics that shaped me, through public school, law school and a career organizing workers into unions used to be something I shared with my parents. Explaining how they shifted to where they have shifted to is a whole other essay (one that I may write one day).

The a few days ago, I said something I regret. Here's what I said regarding the removal of statues of Christopher Columbus:

"Imagine how it would feel to view statues of Hitler or Geobbels."

Well, that was that.

I've been given the freeze. I apologized. Profusely. I texted promises to no longer send them data supporting positions I take that they disagree with. They accused me of accusing them of fascism. "How dare I."

Law school training gave me an unfortunate tick in the ways I make arguments to those never subjected to the Socratic method.  I'm way too keen on asking probing questions to try and detect logical fallacies. I know. I have to stop. I know it's intended to make me come off as the bigger person but to someone who disagrees with me I must be a twat.

On the other hand, conversations with my parents as of late also leave me forced to bite my tongue in silence at some of their beliefs.  There is no moral, statistical or experiential authority to appeal to them to reconsider their words. There is nothing to be done.

So I wrote a text of apology:

"I am so sorry. what I said was wrong. I believe that Columbus committed the same atrocities as Hitler. that's what I was trying to say, badly. You are not fascists and I was trying trying to say that night that it's in my opinion that everything I have in this world - including my children - is because f you. because you are my parents."

Right now I merely pray that the anger they're feeling towards me abates. I'll take all the rest of it if it eliminates the unsettled-ness, the world-off its-axis feeling when your parents shut you out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ripping the band aid off

Niblet and I have been watching The Office.  Hundreds of episodes. I somehow forgot about the Michael Scott's loony girlfriend Jan had  baby via sperm donor storyline? Well, only in my brain would watching this unfold signal "what a great way to discuss your baby conceived via egg donor" - no follow me here, I have never wanted this conversation to be a memorable event where we all sit at the dinner table and discuss. It honestly seemed as good a time as any.  I have been talking to S about the knd lady who donated an egg so we could have her. She's actually somewhat interested in the story, and I mean, fuck, it does sound like a sort of cool story when you really break it down...
So, yes, I finally shared with my crazy smart, too precocious 11 year old that we used DE to conceive her sister. She knows everything there is to know about reproduction we've been reading books since she was 4. Why not use this sitcom to discuss in a very matter of fact way that many of us needed help to conceive babies?

"So, I need to tell you, using a donor to make a baby is really common, not just for sperm. You know how we needed to use IVF to conceive your sister? well, I needed a donor egg to make that happen." 
Let me say that at first it this went TERRIBLY. 
So terribly I thought I made the biggest mistake in the world. Niblet said some stuff to me that sounded horrible, stung really badly. "Oh so she's only my half sister, I'm not related to her at all... you're not her real mom, you're her step mom...I wish I never knew this..." She even at one point questioned whether her sister was even Jewish, asking me if the donor was (whew chile). I used all the strength I had to stay calm about it, and also remind myself that she, my own egg daughter, is always pretty dramatic to begin with.
So, forcing myself to allow her space to feel everything she needed to feel,  I explained that 
1) In my most humble opinion we should never keep secrets, 
2) I have no intention of keeping this secret from her sister, 
3) I am absolutely her sister's mom, in fact I'm her biological mom, a donor provided the puzzle piece we needed to conceive her, 
4) this isn't actually as huge deal as she's making it out to be, it is waaay more common than she realizes, and 
5) it would feel MUCH much worse if I never talking about it with her until she was an adult. In fact I know her well enough to know she would feel very angry, betrayed even.
She sat quietly and stewed with the information for about 5 minutes, saying she didn't want to talk about it. I said absolutely, okay, and let her know that she should come to me with any questions at all that she might have. 
Then she sat next to me on the floor and we finished watching the aforementioned Office episode, watched three more and then bonded over how I was going to introduce her to the X-Files next because she loves Stranger Things. And we made a plan to have a girls day the following day, one where we work on redecorating her room.
And that was that. It has been a week. She has alternatively snuggled and then yelled at her tiny terror of a sister, as she does.  She has not mentioned any of this conversation to me. 
Perhaps one day she will raise more questions? Or she may never bring it up at all? Who knows? She's 11 and in puberty and already erratic and coping with a pandemic where she's in social isolation. She's going to be reading books about DE with her sister, she had to learn about this sometime. Part of me wonders whether this ripping off of the bandaid was appropriate, while another part of me is relieved that she finally knows.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A writing spurt

I am sitting down to write at nearly midnight. 

I have been up since 6:30am, teleworking/supervising homeschool/wrangling a toddler since around 9.

My health is good I suppose. I force us all to go on daily walks for our vitamin D and fresh air. We drive to a fancy nearby neighborhood and walk around and ogle other people's houses and yards (while I excel at keeping children and cats alive, plant life not so much).

My life is as structured as I can make it, with many standing meetings and calls and work obligations.  Representing healthcare workers who are literally begging for PPE and hazard pay at hospitals and nursing homes really shakes some life into your job-related urgency.

Samantha is on what s basically a functional nap and sleep schedule.  I gave up on potty training while teleworking on Day 1. Like, I looked down from my laptop and said, oh hell no, I am not doing this too.  And that was that.  More diapers on the list? Check.

I do most of the cooking and cleaning too. The division of labor is not so neatly divided, but Viking is also in the thick of his work right now. In a few weeks his schedule lets up a bit and he's gonna be responsible for more meals.

Niblet is over zoom classes.  So over them. Her type-A personality will not allow her to skip her assignments, but this kind of learning is sucking the life out of her.  Mostly I order her books and she retreats to her room or a tree swing in our yard to read them.  Watching her swing every day puts a pang in my heart like nothing I could ever imagine. "Mom," she said, "this summer I imagine I will be a lot like Anne of Green Gables, wandering around a daydreaming." Jesus Christ Kid.

If anyone out there is reading my midnight ramblings, PLEASE comment below on how you're holding up.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

what is time

The weeks between my last post and this one feel like a cavernous gap in time.

Today I have technically been sheltering place with my kids since March 18. 

Today Sammi will continue to watch way too much Sesame Street episodes.

Today Niblet and I will try to make the best of homeschool and virtual learning.

Today I used a day of personal leave so I can cook some matzo ball soup for Passover. We won't be doing our own seder, we will be zooming into a friend's family seder which would be infinitely more true to tradition than mine anyways.

Today Viking is in the attic, where he stays and works from about 7am to 5pm. He emerges to help when I plea for it, but I'll be honest, there's a lot of single parenting going on here. I tend to try to do most of my work after the tiny one goes to bed around 7:30pm.

Today I will get Sammi out for one of our daily walks where I have to physically restrain her from running over to people.

Today the cat will lie for hours on the old laptop I've given to Niblet.

Today I will thank my lucky stars that we are all still healthy.

Today I will continue to have nagging worries about my parents, who are in NYC in a Bronx apartment building with a bunch of COVID 19 cases.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Justonemore Rona edition

EVERYONE. Everyone.

How are you all my lovelies?

We are holed up in casa de justonemore taking pandemic life day by day. We have food. We have a house with a cozy finished attic. We have a backyard with a giant tire swing. Things could be so so much worse.

Viking and I are both working from home (in said attic) doing zoom meetings with visits from Princess the cat, while our Nanny comes to keep our girls alive each day.  Niblet is baking cakes and taking walks (practicing social distancing) and doing some really boring worksheets. I've been trying to set her up with some online classes and video chats with her friends.  She's also watched the 5 hour Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice DVD set a few times (that's my girl all right).

Sammi is being a lunatic 2 year old with all of the screaming, running and sleep regressions she can muster. I'm kinda happy that no one really sees what I'm looking like these days, though I've been reallu keen on showering and getting dressed each day.

Our cousins who live ten minutes away down the road just brought their newborn daughter home from the hospital two weeks ago. We had hoped to be snuggling a newborn these days but oh well.

Honestly I am shockingly calm about the potential long-term lockdown.  Being an anxiety-ridden PTSD survivor my brain has been training for this for years. Like, this isn't as bad as the terrible thing my brain has conjured up for so many decades.

That said I do have some worries. I worry that our nanny will get sick because she has some pre-existing conditions (we're being as careful as possible but). If anyone gets a fever she's not coming here - for HER protection. I'm prepared to pay her regardless of whether she's here or not because I still have a job. Nevertheless, this is pretty uncharted territory for all of us.

I finally took an online ballet class which felt great (well, technically it felt painful), but it was good for my brain.

Feel free to comment on anything that strikes your fancy.  I am also sending a special shout-out to any mommas out there who may be expecting. Sending you all the strength and love in the world right now.