10.13.2014

Motherhood, two years in.

Chris and I saw the movie Boyhood earlier this summer. If you haven't seen it, I really suggest watching it - especially if you're parenting a son these days. It's a beautiful story, finely executed and, of course, it made me anxious about raising a son, the trials and tribulations that await him as he grows into the man he is meant to be.

But the moments that made me anxious weren't what affected me the most. No, those moments just confirmed for me what I know is coming: I will not be able to protect my son from the journey that awaits him.

What affected me the most was a scene involving his mother, depicted by Patricia Arquette. As her son is packing his boxes for college, this strong character breaks down at her kitchen table. I just thought there would be more, she sobs.

I think she's talking about what it means for her last child to leave the house, to no longer be married, to be free of the familiar duties that were ground into her during the child-rearing years. The bottom drops out and she faces the next phase of life as a woman. Which is... WHAT, exactly?

I watched that scene and I cried because I felt her pain and confusion, but something inside me steeled itself as well during those moments. My life, while incredibly enriched by my husband and my child, remains my life. And I see these intense child-rearing years as a phase in my life, certainly the beginning of a new type of life as a mother, but certainly I feel there will be more for me after my children are grown. Of course I do.

I've been watching and reading lots from Elizabeth Gilbert lately and one of the things that most strikes me is her assertion that women have had SO many fewer years (and role models) for the hero's journey as compared to men. Dudes have been having hero journeys for centuries. Women's history reveals a much, much shorter list of names to inspire ourselves from.

And so on my son's second birthday, here is what I want to say to him:

My darling, my sweet light, Noah. I feel 1000% lucky to be your mama. I love guiding you through life and everything that entails. And, as you have an entire life journey ahead of you, I'm only 33 years through mine! So our paths will continue on together for a while yet, but at a certain point it will be natural for you to find your own way... and it will be natural for me to find new twists and turns as well. I hope that modeling that a woman has a hero's journey too will inspire you and shape your understanding of what's possible for all of the women in your life.



 There's more, ladies. There's always more, no matter what.


Happy birthday to our dear boy. xo

6.19.2014

Big and small.

One day, hopefully when I am very old, I may write a memoir of my life. In this book, I may reduce years and decades and hundreds of thousands of minutes by writing sentences like "We lived in Brooklyn for several years after we got married" or "In the early days, I wasn't quite sure what Plucky was." And maybe that seems kind of sad.

But, actually, anticipating the reduction of episodes of my life relaxes me. One day, "the early days in Berkeley" will be the most boring part of the story. One day, "the toddler years" will be fuzzy and warm, hazy with memory of the smell of baby shampoo. One day, the anxieties of sending my first Plucky proposals will be softened by the charm of having been a rookie.

And so, whatever feels big today will be small tomorrow.

This is true for most things.

*

Last night after taking myself out to dinner, I checked my email on the way to the car and discovered that I just signed a significant deal for my business. I nearly cried. I am just so grateful for the work, for the chance to do what I believe is the reason I exist, for the ability to support my family with it. 

This morning someone asked me where I thought I'd be in 3 years and I said I had no idea, but that I have a goal for 30 years from now. Sometimes we must think large. Sometimes we must carve out an entire universe and get to work creating it. Amid the to-do-list apps, picking Cheerios off the floor and responding to email, we must remember we are BIG. We live long. We can do a lot. 

And so I try not to get distracted too much by the small these days. When I am frazzled at 5pm and wonder how to assess the day's success, I think about 30 years from now and I ask myself if I moved anything towards that goal. And if the answer is yes, I pick up my son at daycare and sit down to dinner, content.

*

Big and small. Mature and immature. Rookie and pro. Stumble and sprint. These are not starting and end points; these are two points on continuums that we bounce along our whole lives. We grow for 18 years and then we're designated adults, but this means almost nothing. 

The point, it seems to me, is to get better at forgiving yourself for sliding back and forth. No one has it nailed. We're all growing. Every single day, every single year, every single chapter in our memoirs reduces the growth but it's there behind everything. 

So keep moving. 

6.15.2014

Happy Father's Day!

Happy day to all the dads out there. Not a lot of time to write here lately, but here are images from our special morning together at the Berkeley Marina. Hope you all had a good one!










5.18.2014

Be like water.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about death. My own, specifically. There were some days a couple of weeks ago that felt so joyful, so strong, that my immediate reaction was to wonder which Prius was going to run me over in a Berkeley crosswalk later that day. Because life can't be so joyful, can it? Because blueberries can't taste THAT redonk and my work with Plucky can't possibly be THAT fulfilling and my son's amazement at a squirrel can't continue forever.

Right?

Then, two days before Mother's Day, I got the news that a friend from High School died of cancer that returned 25 years after he'd fought it when we were kids. His daughter is a couple months older than Noah. He lived a few blocks from us in Brooklyn and we used to run into each other from time to time on the street; we talked about pediatricians and nanny shares and introduced our spouses.

So for two days leading up to Mother's Day I was weepy, just horrified really. The death that comes at a sweet pinnacle of one's life inched closer.

*

I spend more time in nature these days and it provides such perspective. This morning I threw the kid in the car and we spent an hour poking around the Berkeley Botanical Gardens before his nap. There's a little stream that flows from a pond with lily pads and we watched the water move for a little while. Water doesn't double back. It keeps going, flowing, finding spaces and places to occupy. Sometimes it soaks into the ground and other times it evaporates into the air but I find it especially compelling when it pools and waterfalls down a steep hill.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

I think that's the cycle I'm in right now. Hell, that's probably the cycle we're all in. I listen to Pharrell and Katy Perry while I cook Noah oatmeal in the mornings and I feel like we can do anything. And then later I stumble on this gem when washing dishes and suddenly I'm sobbing over the sink.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

A few weeks ago, a friend confessed that turning 40 has turned him into a sap. He tears up at the slightest thing.

I'm not even 40. So what does it mean when you're 33 and already everything, the pristine goodness of the world and the ugly unfairness, reduces you to your own salt water?

*

I love our life in Berkeley. I feel faceless in Berkeley. I haven't seen flowers like these ever before in my life. Other than my husband, I don't have almost anyone to hug me. The blueberries are incredible but they are $7.98 a pound and I spent $40 on fruit last week, which is (clearly) unsustainable. They collect compost here. We have hundreds of fruit flies inhabiting our kitchen from the compost. My son's daycare spends more time outside. My son's daycare spends less time on arts & crafts. I have more time to cook here. I'm still a crappy cook, though.

"How was the move?" people ask. "How's Berkeley?" And I don't know how to answer. The physical move happened, but the emotional move is still happening. It occurs to me that maybe some people settle someplace for the rest of their lives because they get tired of the cost of transitional periods, the cost of settling in, the months it takes to find routines and make friends and hang paintings. 

 In the meantime, we regroup. And then we freefall. And I try not to think about my death so much. I remember that Brene Brown says that, in moments of imagining the worst (because you feel such joy), you should reject the fear and instead feel gratitude. 

So I'm grateful. For the new opportunities, for the sunshine, for the redwoods and the flowers. For my family and the number of people who love us back home and for my life, that for now continues on, my own swift adventure down a steep hill.

5.16.2014

Some days are great and some days are...

... like today. It's only 10:30am. I know there's a lot of day left. (Ohhh, how I know.) But it's a tough day today so far. We are all so tired.

I don't get a lot of time to myself these days, which explains my absence on the blog. When Noah takes a nap, I generally try to shower or send work emails or drink a cup of coffee. The pain these days (for me, anyway) comes from having ideas and big dreams and the motivation to do them... but a lack of time. Sometimes this is about work stuff, but just as often it's about going to a new place or reading a new book or running again.

I just don't know how to rejigger our schedules to make time for these things.

Then I think, "well that's just this period of our lives, we have to sacrifice our individual interests for our family at the moment" and then I think about maybe one day having a second kid and I realize this period might be longer than I'm promising myself. And that feels pretty tough.

There are fulfilling days in parenthood, but there are also many days that feel like compromising potential. I hope that doesn't sound rude. Obviously I adore my son. But I, too, am a person on a journey.

I look for ways to slow down. Sometimes we look at flowers together, or dig with small sticks and pebbles. These moments are important, the slowing and the being present. I feel we're doing more of this in California, most definitely inspired by the nature around us.

But what if sometimes going fast isn't the worst thing? What if the thrill of conceiving of a project and fulfilling it is *also* being present? Because I think it's an important part of what I love about the world.

I don't have an ending. I have to go make a long to-do list, which may make me feel better. In the meantime, I send you blips from our radar. We're alive and we're making it, but today we're tired. And I hope you - all of you - are making it too. xx

5.06.2014

Announcing a new mom project



Every once in a while I find a moment of culmination in my life, an opportunity or a conversation or a project that brings a bunch of random threads together and says "yep. THIS is where things have been leading."

Today I'm so excited to announce the latest of these moments... performance reviews for moms!

I had this idea a while back, probably while unloading the dishwasher. (This seems to be my most grumbly chore.) While I do get a lot of appreciation from my work life, I thought about how being a mom - the HARDEST JOB EVER - is the silent full time job in my life. And one of the things that has always fueled me in my career has been the feedback, the moments of appreciation and a desire to keep doing what's great and grow ambitiously from what's lackluster.

Then I thought about some mom friends of mine who are at home full time, who aren't getting the opportunity for positive feedback from another job. And I kinda wanted to send them all a thank you card, no joke, each one saying something like "thanks for wiping the counter when no one sees it" or "thanks for scooping the litterbox, even if the cat doesn't thank you," or "thanks for putting the books back on the shelf even though 14 seconds later they'll be out again."

Since I work in technology, I meet a lot of technologists. (Ha.) I met Craig Bryant at a conference in Portland about 5 weeks ago and he runs a product called Kin, which is HR software for small businesses. We talked about being parents and HR and humans and decided to collaborate on a project for Mother's Day. So The Department of Family Appreciation was born!

Go check it out. Fill out a review for your mom or your wife or your friend/sister/aunt/niece who is a mom and who could use some positive vibes to keep her going all year long. It's free. And it's one small way we can assure that lots of moms wake up on Sunday morning with a big pile of gratitude in their inboxes...

Which, I think, is how we make the world a little bit better. xx

4.23.2014

Berkeley, day 5


"Text me when you get off the bus," I tell Chris and when I get his text I put our shoes on. I grab a ball and Noah and I putter around the flowers and small yard (that belongs to the downstairs neighbor who doesn't seem to live here) to wait.

This evening I caught a picture of Chris coming up the walk while Noah played. There were a lot of good moments today, but that one was a highlight. 

In the garden I spotted hydrangeas and roses, lettuce and ivy. When they talk about San Francisco as a foggy place, they cannot mean Berkeley. So far Berkeley has been sun and flowers and delight. I know it's early days, but Chris said it best earlier.

"I feel like we just got a life upgrade."

Indeed.