Today, I celebrate my first Mother’s Day.  It was a long time coming.  We began our quest to become parents in 2007.  Now it’s here.  I’m a parent.  It still feels surreal, though B is quite real.  And quite charming.  He was particularly affectionate and sweet all weekend long, almost like he knew it was a special day.  I wondered how emotional the day would be and I kept it together pretty well.  Today, I:

  • woke up to a hot cup of coffee
  • got some good morning hugs and kisses from B
  • went for a 3 mile run (somehow I’ve lost the ability to run a step beyond 3 miles)
  • received some lovely Mother’s Day texts from friends
  • met friends and their two boys for a kielbasa scramble brunch (thank you local restaurant for offering the 11am glass of wine)
  • did some writing (you read that right)
  • called my Mom
  • got some good afternoon hugs and kisses from B
  • received a beautiful bouquet from shrubs/trees in our backyard
  • spoke to A’s mom
  • took the long way back to the city, driving through gorgeous countryside

I didn’t do too much contemplation about motherhood today.  Maybe because I didn’t want to spend the day in my head, maybe because I didn’t want to spend the day in tears.  I will say my attachment to B is growing.  I see real progress.  And I think it’s growing for him, too.  We’re learning who each of us are, which makes the attachment more meaningful.  I love him.  I’m a lucky mom.


Bodhi's Birthday 020

He’s 3 today.


We celebrated with a new train set, a trip to the Bronx Zoo (where we saw elephants, tigers, lions, turtles, goats, bears, deer, snakes, bison, prairie dogs, owls, eagles, chickens, peacocks and NYC pigeons), pizza, and ice cream sandwiches.  We raised a glass to his birth mother.  It felt bittersweet.  He was happy – though hyper, as he’s on some new medications.  The past few days have actually been quite stressful as he’s been having ongoing asthma attacks that we were (unknowingly) mistreating.  He’s got a new regimen that includes a nebulizer, an oral steroid, a new inhaler, and an upped dose of his Singula*r.  Welcome to spring in New York.

But it was a good day.  A beautiful day, in fact.  The weather was spectacular and none of us had been to the Bronx Zoo before, so it was a family first.

I’ve definitely been struggling with the need to give B a picture perfect birthday.  I broke down in tears last night when I accepted the fact that he wasn’t going to get a homemade birthday cake.  I grew up with homemade birthday cakes.  It’s what I wanted my children to have.  Especially given the fact that it’s his first birthday with us.  But between work and a trip to Boston tomorrow that I’ve been preparing for – it just didn’t come together.   Ugh.  We’re throwing a small party for him this weekend that I’ve also been stressing over.  Here’s an area where I vehemently DISCOURAGE you to visit pinterest.  Just don’t go there if you’re planning a birthday party.  You’ll feel like an utter failure.  I had all these grand ideas for the party and even ‘repinned’ them to a birthday board.  I look at that board now and laugh.  Puh-lease.  Leisurely pinning away the hours while waiting for a passport in India is one thing.  Desperately searching for birthday ideas on your three-minute lunch break is quite another.  In the end, B will get a pretty cool art activity (thank you Etsy!), but there will be no fancy cake or magazine-worthy buffet spread.  The decor will not cohere into a a clever, pre-planned theme, and as for our terrace (which is where we’re throwing the party) with its mismatched furniture, Hurricane Sandy battered-fence and sad-looking plastic planters, well, it is ‘thrown-together-chic’ at best.

But in the end, our friends won’t care.  Especially as we’re serving margaritas (the party is on Cinco de Mayo).  And the weather forecast is another spectacular day.  Bodhi’s friends won’t care, either.  They’ll just be happy to be running around together, shoving chips and guacamole (yes, homemade!!) into their mouths.  So why am I beating myself up so much?

I just want to give him special memories.  I want him to feel like he’s the most special boy in the world.  I know he doesn’t know a homemade cake from a store-bought one.  So this is my challenge: to let go of the self-judgment.

Everything else is good.  I know I’ve been negligent in posting, and I blame it all on work.  It’s a very, very, busy life right now.  Some days it feels completely right, and other days it feels like I just want to lift our family up and plop us down in some other, slower-paced town.  Other than this recent asthma scare, B is progressing well in all areas: language, attachment, physical and cognitive abilities.  We just finished six weeks of swimming lessons.  Parenthood is still an adjustment – maybe it will forever be an adjustment – but I think on the whole, our son is happy.  That’s something we didn’t see when we first met him back in October, but it’s not something we attribute to us/our parenting.  We believe this happiness is his true nature, and we’ve just provided the conditions to let that shine.

Happy birthday, baby.  Thank you for giving me those big hugs and kisses every day.  Thank you for giving me a chance to prove I can be a good mom.  Thank you for being patient with me.  I’m so proud of who you are and can’t wait to see all that you become.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I love you.

I saw a play last night about adoption.  International adoption, actually.  I was pretty nervous going into it – I read some of the advance press as well as the review (I say “the” like there’s only one review, and in NYC, there is only one that counts) – so I had an idea of how the subject was going to be covered.  The gist: white couple decides to adopt after struggles with infertility, chooses Ethiopia after backing out of a domestic adoption, gets some minor blow-back from their black lesbian friends, cue the waterworks.

It turned out to be a non-waterworks event for me.  Sure, there were a few emotional doozies (the infertility rant, the sadness of not seeing your child’s first steps/words/smile, the ‘who’s hurting more’ spousal arguments), but I actually found myself shaking my head more often than wiping my eyes.


The playwright told the story in very neutral way.  There was a situation, then there was a complication to the situation, and then the situation was resolved.  They were a nice, artsy couple with nice, artsy friends.  Adoption was a good thing.  They were going to be good parents….if they could just find that special child out there waiting to be theirs.  They did receive a photo of a girl who could turn out to be that special child, but she was a few years older than they expected (the ‘complication’).  It did get resolved, and rather painlessly.  In fact, any moment of awkwardness or discomfort in the play was either quickly resolved or cut off by a scene end or character entrance.  It was an accessible play.  Maybe this is a good thing for those without a direct connection to international adoption (which I’m guessing was the majority of the audience) but I was unmoved.

This playwright told a truthful story with moments of humor, struggle and yes, emotion, but I wanted a different kind of truth.  I wanted the messy truth, not the kind that resolves itself in two hours with an intermission.  I wanted the awful waiting.  The fears that you won’t love your child.  The grief of infertility that grips you even after seeing your adopted child’s photo.  The fears that your child won’t love you back.  The blame you place on your partner, on yourself.  The hurt when friends and family treat your path to parenthood differently, and the hurt when they treat it just the same as everyone else.  The endless what-ifs.  The fantasies.  The false expectations.  The education – all that reading!  The money.  The guilt.  The birth mother.  The genetic unknowns.

Am I some kind of masochist?  No.  I just think I was the ideal audience member for this play – I was ready to be taken back to those dark places, I was on their side – and it let me down.  I do believe a story about international adoption story can be told in two hours with an intermission, but at the end, even if the couple has decided to proceed with adopting that little girl from Ethiopia, they still may not be on the same page.  Even if the nursery is ready with newly painted walls and a crib, that crib may stay empty for another twelve months while paperwork goes through.

But we didn’t get that.

Was I then not the ideal audience member for the play?  Perhaps.

One final thing: the writer chose Ethiopia as the country the couple is adopting from (a natural choice as it is where she adopted her two children from and coincidentally where the lead actress adopted her two children from).  As such, there was a secondary storyline about the AIDS epidemic.  The turning point in the play where the couple decides that, yes, they will adopt this child despite their concerns about her age, actually hinges on a monologue about a local African doctor taking orphans in because they had no families anymore.  The monologue suggests a moral responsibility to not saying no to an orphaned child.  This confused me for a few reasons.  1) I don’t believe adoption is/should be a humanitarian act and the playwright had not indicated anywhere else in the play that she believed it is a humanitarian act, either.  So why was she hanging the climax of the play on this kind of ‘save a life’ moralism?  2) A character who goes from deciding not to adopt any child (by the second act, the couple were not only saying no to the 4-year-old girl, they were saying no to adoption altogether) to agreeing to adopt a child they previously had great reservations about is a questionable leap.  I can understand if the age of the child spooked them about the process, but then they should regroup about what they’re comfortable with.  Deciding ‘no kids’ and then ‘but this 4-year-old needs us’ just doesn’t sit right with this audience member.

And yet: more plays about adoption, please!  There are lots of stories to be told and lots of ways to tell them.  Hopefully this is just the beginning.

Has anyone read the reviews that are coming out for Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In?  Have you seen her 2010 TED talk or 2011 Barnard commencement address?


Maybe because I’m a sucker for media hype, maybe because I work in publishing, maybe because as I get older my feminism becomes more personal, but I’ve been thinking about buying Sheryl Sandberg’s book.  My feelings about her didn’t start out so great.  A few years ago, I read an article about her in the New Yorker that left a bad taste in my mouth.  Not so bad that I didn’t forget about it within a few weeks, but still.  I haven’t seen her TED talk, but I did just watch the Barnard commencement speech and I was surprisingly moved.  Yes, she’s super-rich and super-successful, but she’s also likeable and she’s got some things to say about gender and success that regular women like you and me can relate to.

Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we all read the book and then had a blog book club discussion about it?

[insert sounds of readers chuckling to themselves while shaking their heads]

I know, I know: reading a book.  It sounds so easy if it weren’t so impossible.  I’ve got a stack on my bedside table that haven’t been cracked in months.  I’m a year behind on my New Yorkers.  What are the chances that Sheryl Sandberg is going to change any of that?

Yesterday I was listening to a Slate podcast (’cause that I can do while doing other things) that was discussing Sandberg’s book.  The commentators were mixed on Sandberg, but did agree with her thesis that what holds women back today is not entirely the institutional roadblocks, it’s also the internal ones.  Namely, our inability to take rejection.  One of the commentators is a book review editor who is attempting to hire more women reviewers, but hasn’t been successful.  He explained how whenever he turns down a pitch from a woman, but likes her writing so asks her to come back with another pitch, the woman rarely, IF EVER does (!).  Whereas the men he turns down ALWAYS come back with other pitches, so they are the ones who ultimately get the assignments.  The takeaway: men can be rejected left and right, and they don’t take it personally.  Women, on the other hand, tend to “nurture the hurt’ (I think that was the phrase one of the commentators used).  We want to take care of our emotions, so we don’t put ourselves in situations that might be hurtful.  And being rejected is hurtful.  I sat there listening to this story with frustration and disbelief.  I couldn’t believe how those women writers got in their own way!

And then I realized that is exactly what has happened to me (get ready, ’cause I’m going to make this about my writing career now).

Women get rejected from things and they retreat.  They are less likely to come back and try again.  I was rejected when no off-Broadway theater was willing to produce my two measly plays.  And even though they liked my work and SAID TO CONTINUE TO SEND NEW STUFF, I didn’t/haven’t gone back and tried again.  In fact, I stopped writing altogether.

When did I become that woman?

When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t care about rejection at all.  I shrugged when I opened a rejection letter – in fact, I SAVED my rejection letters because I wanted documentation of the fools who turned me down when I later became successful (oh to be that self-confident again!  Whether I was actually any good isn’t even the point – I thought I was awesome!  A point Sandberg makes in her Barnard speech)  Only as I reached my 30’s, did rejection start to slow me down.  I began to think: “what am I doing?  Even if I have faith in my writing, no one is willing to produce it.  So what the hell am I doing this for?”  (This is also the time we started trying to have a family, so I was feeling rejected on all ends.)

I guess this is just to say there might be something in Sandberg’s book I could learn from.  How not to undervalue myself, or retreat, or take things personally.  How not to make excuses about not being young enough, edgy enough, or talented enough to continue writing plays.  All of these thoughts are like mental daggers.  And over time, they’ve paralyzed me.  No, I’m not a silicon valley big wig, but I am a woman who had a path, and lost her way.  I always assumed women opted out of their careers solely for the institutional reasons: lack of affordable day care, lower salaries, no paid maternity leaves.  Or even for the cultural reasons: women are still expected to take on the lion’s share of parenting and household responsibilities.  It never really occurred to me that there may be something intrinsic to women that has held us back.  It never occurred to me that we might be getting in our own way.  That we are part of the problem because we don’t value ourselves the way men value themselves.  Okay, I won’t speak for all of you.  I’ll just speak for me.  Rejection is a big part of the creative world.  If I want a career in it, I’ve got to learn how to shrug it off again.  How to, ahem, lean back in. 

Last call on takers for the blog book club….

Well, folks, B has a preschool.  The angst is over – and boy did we get sucked into the angst this past week.

Most schools in NY are part of the Independent School Admissions Association of Greater NY (ISAAGNY), an organization whose mission is to ensure everyone is following the same set of admissions guidelines and time frames.  For preschools, this means that school directors are required to notify parents of their children’s admissions status on February 28.  They do it by email or snail mail (or both).  Parents, in turn, have one week (until March 8) to make their decisions.

What makes the 1-week decision period tough for some parents is the guesswork you have to do if you’re waitlisted (shorthand: WL) at one of your top choices.  Say a parent applies to 5 schools and their child gets into choice #3, but is WL at choice #1 and #2?  Does the parent play it safe and say yes to school 3, forgoing the possibility they’ll move up the WL and secure a spot at choice #1 or #2?  OR does the parent bide their time, hoping their #1 school is another family’s #2 school, and that this other family will release their accepted child’s spot, making room for families on the WL?

It’s a high-pressurized waiting game.  Some people call the schools they’re WL on to see how close they are to the top of the list, or how much movement they can expect over the decision-week.  It’s a chess game that every preschool parent in NYC is going through over the same exact week.  You’re waiting for other families to make their decisions in the hopes it opens up a spot at the school you really want to go to, but are WL on.

Now, some schools reject kids outright, but not any of the schools we applied to.  In the spirit of community, or fairness, or simply not being jerks to 2 and 3-year-olds, many schools just waitlist every kid they don’t accept.  How many waitlists you’re put on, how long each waitlist is, and what position you’re in on each waitlist is all part of the angst eating away at parents of preschoolers in NYC from February 28 – March 8 (parents of kindergarteners have their own angst – but thankfully we have two years before we experience that).

A couple of qualifiers:

1. We didn’t have to send B to preschool next year.  We could have opted out of the angst and keep him home with the nanny or put him in day care until he was 4.  Heck, we could’ve opted out of preschool altogether and just waited for kindergarten.  But after some thought, A and I decided that we wanted B to start school in September.  I say school loosely.  None of the places we considered are curriculum-based.  They’re play-based.  So B won’t be sitting at a desk learning to write.  No, he’ll more likely be sticking his hands in clay or collecting different shaped leaves, or leaning how to measure flour.

1a. Not that we don’t love our nanny.  We’ve really come to realize how lucky we got with her.  She’s so engaged and playful.  I can’t think of two better qualities for a nanny to a toddler.  She and B play cars and puzzles and read books all day long.  She takes him to story time at the library and a free weekly art class and to play dates with other kids in our apartment building.  It will be hard saying good-bye in September, but we feel that a slightly more structured day with activities and music and other kids learning the same things will be good for him.

2. We are sane people determined not to be crazytown about preschool.  We didn’t even know what the word exmissions meant two months ago let alone what ISAAGNY stood for.  We don’t need B to go to a “TT” (top-tier) school.  We need B to go to a nice school with educated teachers, a diverse student body, and a relatively easy commute.  We live sort of close to a university, so these kinds of preschools aren’t terribly hard to find.

So what made our week so angst-y?

1. Number of schools. Last week I started trolling this website where NYC moms post everything about schools: where they applied, how and when they were notified, and whether they got in (I know it’s the kids who are the ones getting in, not the moms, but the parents are the ones applying, so I forgive the use of first person).  This website is evil for reasons I won’t go into (are women more openly hostile, competitive and snarky in NYC than anywhere else?  I’d put money on it), but it had me second guessing the number of schools we applied to.  We applied to 3.  On this website, I read people applied to 5, 10, FIFTEEN preschools.  Now, I’m not crazytown, but 3 suddenly seemed like a stupidly small number.  What if we got in nowhere?

2. Number of spaces.  We found out quite late in the admissions process that my #1 choice school had virtually no spots in their 3’s class (where B will be).  This was disappointing to learn, not only because it was my #1 choice, but because it only left us with 2 others.  Our #3 choice had a few more spots, but also had an unexpectedly high number of applicants, so our chances weren’t hot there, either.  My #2 choice (which was actually A’s #1 choice) seemed to have the most reasonable number of spots, but it is also the most reputable of our 3 schools, so that didn’t bode well for our chances.

The angst was not mine alone.  Somehow preschool came super-important to both of us last week.  A woke up a few times saying, ‘hey B!  Where are you going to school next fall?’  At a neighbor’s party, I caught him talking to some other parents about it.  In fact, it was A who reminded me that we were going to find out last week.  I had actually forgotten what the notification date was.

I don’t need to tell you I was glued to my email on Thursday (notification day) and Friday.  As it turned out, we were notified by snail mail by all three schools, and all three letters arrived on Friday.  Here were the results:

My choice #1 / A’s #2: Waitlist.  No surprise, they had practically zero room.  Their letter said as much.  Their letter ALSO misspelled A’s name – it was typed incorrectly, and then CORRECTED WITH A PEN.  They didn’t even have the decency to re-print the letter after they discovered his name was spelled wrong.  I was so insulted – obviously A was too – that they immediately dropped to my #3 position.  So glad we didn’t get in; those people may have a great music program, but they’re classless morons.

My choice #2 / A’s #1: Got in!!

Our choice #3: Waitlist.  This school started as our backup plan – though the more time we spent there (3 visits throughout the admissions process), the more we were charmed by it.  It would’ve required a subway ride there and back every day which would’ve been a huge pain, but the director was super committed and the other parents we met were not crazytown and several of them worked in media (like me).

So, the school which has now become both A’s and my #1 choice (due to the stupid pen-correcting-A’s-name), is where B will be going in September.  We do not have an anxiety-ridden week of waiting ahead of us.  We’re done.  We’re happy.

What can I tell you about this preschool?  It’s lovely.  It’s in a historic church (though it’s a secular school).  It has an art studio, a gym, a library, and 2 playgrounds.  The lead teachers all have masters degrees in education.  It’s diverse.  It’s international.  Children of faculty of the university attend, as do neighborhood kids, as do those slightly further afield like us who are willing to walk 10 blocks for a good school.

by Heather

  • October, 2012: while in India having just met my son, I have a career freakout, then another.  I begin to seriously consider switching my ‘day job’.
  • Thursday, November 15: I return home to NYC with B.
  • Friday, December 7, 2012: I arrange our very first babysitter so I can go to two interviews for other positions at my company; a large, reputable publisher that will soon be all over the news for several not-so-good reasons.  I sneak in and out ’cause I don’t want my boss or friends to see me.
  • Monday, January 14: I return to work after 3+ months of maternity leave.
  • Wednesday, January 16: I have a phone interview with a luxury online retailer.  It would be a super cool job but I don’t have the right credentials (yet).
  • Thursday, January 17: I have a second (third?) interview with one of the internal groups at my company.  The guy I would work for tells me I’m his first choice.  I email A a list of pros and cons of leaving my current job.  The biggest con: I love my boss.  He’s an industry veteran and believes in me.  Biggest pro: my job is boring most of the time.
  • Wednesday, January 23: HR tells me I’m required to notify my boss about the other position even though I don’t have an offer yet.  I angst for a bit and then bite the bullet.  My boss is sweet – gives me a lot of ‘I KNEW this would happen!” and “of COURSE you’ll get it!”  He offers to put in a good word with my potential future boss.  I feel relieved.  Maybe I made the right choice.
  • Thursday, January 24: My boss pulls me into his office first thing to say he’s thought about it and actually he’s not going to just let me go, he’s going to fight for me.   I have no idea what ‘fighting for me’ means, but I tell him I didn’t do this to try to play one job against the other.  He says understands and then says he’s going to play the guilt card because “I just had to get by without you for 3 months while you were on maternity leave.  I have a lot invested in you and I’m not going to sit back and let you leave.”  I realize that phone call putting a good word probably isn’t going to happen.
  • Monday, January 28: I have coffee with a senior exec at my company who tells me I’m going to get the offer from other group.  We speculate about the coming layoffs.  When will they happen?
  • Monday, January 28: I return from coffee to find an email from a contact at our company’s biggest competitor: they have a position they’d like me to come in for.  I tell them I’d love to, but I’m expecting an offer from my current company any day so time is tight.  They schedule the interview for the same week.
  • Wednesday, January 30th: 6% of my company is laid off, which comes to about 500 people.  I am safe, but some friends don’t make it.
  • Thursday, January 31st: I interview with four people over three hours at the competitor company.  I’m getting confused about what I’m doing.
  • Monday, February 4: I get the offer from the group at my company.  I request a night to ‘think it over.’
  • Monday, February 4: After work, I meet my contact from the competitor company for coffee.  He is enthusiastic and lays out his vision for his group.  I get more excited and more confused.  I tell him I got the internal offer.  He says his door is always open.  I go home and A and I decide it’s better for me to stay at the current company.
  • Tuesday, February 5: I tell my boss I’m accepting the position.  He is heartbroken and asks for a month’s transition.  It seems like a long time, but I accept.  Half of my division finds out by the end of the day.  It’s real now.
  • Tuesday, February 5: I tell my new boss I’m accepting the position.  He is thrilled and starts sending me boatloads of emails and meeting requests even though I don’t technically work for him for another month.
  • Wednesday, February 13: Someone leaks news that our company is for sale.  WHAT?!  It’s all over the papers within hours.  Our parent company is selling off some of the titles, and keeping the rest.  In my new position, I’d be part of the group that stays with our parent company.
  • Thursday, February 14: Happy Valentine’s Day.  Everyone’s restless, anxious – even a little angry.  Were the layoffs part of a larger plan to make us look attractive to potential buyers?  What happens to those who work for the groups that get sold off?  What happens to the centralized groups?  What happens to those who work for the groups that the parent company wants to keep?  Is anyone safe?
  • Friday, February 15: My new division calls a meeting to address the rumors.  Turns out they’re not rumors at all, but no one seems to know exactly what’s going on.  Stay tuned for more information over the coming weeks.  Oh yeah, and try to stay focused at work.
  • Monday, March 4: I start my new job.  If there’s still a company left.

I left out the three preschool visits (we’re only applying to three schools, yet each school requires 2-3 visits each), the social worker visit, the major snowstorm and the month-long life coaching class.

I know what you must be thinking: Did I get any work done during this time?  Not really, to be honest.  It’s been a very distracting month to say the least.

You’re probably also thinking: How can I function in any capacity with all of this going on?  The answer is: it’s a very fine balance.  A part of me thrives on this kind of energy – the whirlwind meetings and phone calls, the possibilities, the unknowns, the idea that my life could go a number of different directions RIGHT THIS MINUTE.  After the news of our company’s sale, however, it became something much bigger than just the excitement of switching jobs.  It became the dread of going down with the ship.  To say the Titanic would not be overstating the size of this ship.

I took a step back yesterday to remind A and myself that the stakes aren’t really that high.  It’s not like it’s a dream job.  The dream job is the one I’m working with the coach to try and resuscitate.  If the worst case scenario happens and I lose my job altogether, it won’t be the end of the world.  I’ll start up the interviews again.  I’ll find another job in another field.  Or I’ll move out of the city and open a store in a small New England town.  Just kidding.   Not really.

This will be a mostly B-free post, so if you’re looking for updates on preschool or the nanny or attachment, you’ll have to wait until the next one.  I don’t have anything major to report on those fronts.  I’ve been back at work full-time for three weeks now.  You may have heard that a major NY-based publishing company laid off 500 of its employees last week.  That would be my company.  I made it through the layoffs fine, but I’m leaving my job nonetheless.  Yes, I’ve taken another job – within my company.  The timing with the layoffs is pure coincidence though a bit awkward.  Some of you know I had started to look for something new in recent months – my time in India prompted lots of professional soul searching – and while this move doesn’t get me any closer to figuring out what I’m doing with my playwriting, it’s certainly more creative than my current job.  I did consider some opportunities outside the company, but decided the change in my commute, schedule and benefits would not be worth it right now, however good the job.  It’s a nice promotion, but I’m not feeling rah rah about it at the moment because I love my current boss and I hate the idea of leaving him.  He’s the best boss I’ve ever had – I honestly consider him like a second Dad.  I put off telling him about the other job as long as I could but today I had to break the news.  I teared up.  He got fake mad and then kicked me out before he started crying himself.  So, there’s that.

I’m also taking an online life coaching class.  I was sorta embarrassed going into it and I still kind of am – but it’s pretty anonymous and only lasts four weeks.  I’m in the last week now.  It’s turned out to be a bit touchy-feely for my taste – just what I was afraid of – but I really like approaching the Big Questions in a methodical, assignment-y way.  Most of the women in the class are trying to figure out how to pursue their dreams, and I’m the bozo trying to figure out if I should give up my dreams and find some new ones.  I’m considering working with the woman one-on-one for another month just to see if I can crack some of this stuff.  I think she’d be willing to bring the airy stuff down to earth for me, and I’d like to keep the momentum going.

I’m trying to do yoga more regularly so I tried a class in my neighborhood a week ago and it was a disaster.  Worse than the bikram nightmare.  This was a supposed ‘beginner’s’ class, but there was nothing beginner about it.  It was Ashtanga yoga.  I have no idea what Ashtanga yoga is, that’s why I signed up for the beginner class.  Sure, I know a few basic yoga poses, but I couldn’t tell you what defines one type of yoga over another.  So I showed up to a room filled with, what else?  SUPER ADVANCED REGULAR YOGA PRACTITIONERS.  No one was a beginner.  I thought I was actually in the wrong class.  Nope.  Okay, fine, maybe they’re just diehards and go to every class offered on a Saturday.  The teacher came in, chatted with a few folks, and then jumped right in with instructions on moving from this pose to that.  She didn’t show us how to do any of the poses.  She just spoke and everyone immediately started moving.  I literally had to copy the girls in front of me, FOR THE FULL HOUR.  Now, I’m not a super insecure person – I go to the gym, I’m pretty comfortable with my body, and like I said, I know a few basic yoga poses – but this was a joke.  I was the ONLY beginner.  I wanted to stop and say, hello?  Can you SLOW DOWN?  Also: would you mind telling us WHAT THESE POSES ARE AND WHAT THEY MEAN AND HOW WE SHOULD DO THEM?  The instructor came by me once, maybe twice for a total of about two seconds in the course of the hour.  I had no idea if I was doing anything right – and I got angry.  I mean, I could’ve seriously hurt myself.  And how could she just assume I’d know this stuff when it was a beginner class?  And then it occurred to me, of course she’s going fast and assuming everyone knows this stuff, because EVERYONE DOES KNOW.  Everyone but me.  I don’t give a crap if an experienced person wants to take a beginner class, but the class should still be beginner, even if there’s only one beginner in it!  At the end of the class the teacher invited us to join her at a demo she was giving at lululemon, a high-end yoga clothing store downtown.  That turned me off.  She didn’t take the time to make the beginners feel comfortable in her beginner class, but she was more than happy to run downtown and model Ashtanga poses in a storefront window for strangers on the street!?  So I came home completely pissed off.  I ran into my neighbor in the hall and vented.  He in turn emailed the owner of the yoga studio (I didn’t know they were friends – the owner is not the woman who led my class) asking why her beginner class is not for beginners.  She got defensive.  The emails got testy (our neighbor forwarded them to my husband – at this point my neighbor was more pissed than I was).  She asked him not to talk to her about classes he hasn’t personally attended.  He said as a business owner she should want this kind of feedback because other beginners (like him) aren’t going to want to attend a class that says it’s for beginners but is filled with advanced students and is conducted like an advanced class.  She asked him to have me contact her directly.

I didn’t.

I honestly don’t have the energy to explain myself to her.  What’s she going to do – change her class and risk losing all those advanced people?  No.  I’d rather find another yoga studio.  Which isn’t going to be easy in my neighborhood, but I’ll manage.  Maybe I’ll find some place near my office.  In the meantime, she friended me on Facebook.  Uh huh.

One last bit of adoption news: we are in the process of getting B’s NY state birth certificate.  It should take a few months, but the paperwork went smoothly.  His Certificate of Citizenship on the other hand, came with his name misspelled.  I’ve already applied to have it fixed, and my application was returned because I left off his height.  All 33 inches of him.  Sigh.  We can’t file for his SSN until we have a correct Certificate of Citizenship, so this may delay our taxes.  Nothing too crazy, just more hoops to jump through.

Oh and Thursday is our 3-month post-placement visit with the Social Worker.  I can’t believe it’s almost been 3 months since we’ve been home!

Oh, hello there 2013.  Have you really been here two weeks already?  I’ve been avoiding the blog.  Not intentionally.  For the past few weeks, everything in my life has either been escalated to High Priority or pushed aside as I readied our household for my departure.

I went back to work yesterday.  After 15 weeks of maternity leave / vacation.

It’s fine.  It went fine.  As I told a friend last night: B didn’t mind me leaving, and neither did I, so we’re kinda on the same page.

Sigh.  There’s more there.  I’m wrestling with it – but also trying not to think about it too much as it’s still early.  B is 32 months old, but his ‘family age’ (see Patty Cogen‘s amazing book) is only 3 months.

He continues to impress us with his transition.  While there’s some whining and inconsistent bathroom habits, we’re scratching our heads (and thanking our lucky stars) at just how ‘easy’ he is.  I don’t say that lightly.  And I’m not in denial.  The boy eats anything we give him, sleeps 12 hours a night with no interruptions, is affectionate, opinionated, bright and obedient.  He doesn’t hit, doesn’t cling, doesn’t hoard, doesn’t run wild.  Trust me, I look for every little behavioral tic, expression, mood change – anything that would be consistent with the education we’ve done about transitions of newly adopted toddlers.  And it just isn’t there.  It wasn’t supposed to be this easy.

I know, I know.  There’s a honeymoon phase.  This could all change tomorrow; he could wake-up defiant, angry, and distrustful for all I know.  But for now, we feel very lucky.  We’re getting a routine.  We’re introducing him to our friends.  We’re working on his English.  We’re providing him structure and boundaries.  We’re finding him childcare, good doctors, friends of his own.  Basically laying the groundwork for him to feel safe and thrive.

So why am I still not sleeping?


Like I said, I’m trying not to think about it too much, but the truth is, I’m thinking about it too much.  Because while B gets a solid 12 hours of sleep most nights, I’m lucky if I clock in 6.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m concerned that he’ll mistake the nanny for his mother.  He’s spending 50 hours a week with her, after all.  And as much I have to work and feel better about working, I’ve got major guilt about spending 50 hours a week away from my 3-month old in ‘family years’ son.  I am trying to work from home 1 day a week which will bring the hours away down to 40.

I’m also concerned that he shows equal affection to all people.  He doesn’t discriminate – whether you’re the doorman, the doctor, the mother or the nanny, you get a good-bye hug and a kiss.

So that’s him.  Then there’s me.  My attachment.  As any parent – heck, anyone in a relationship – knows, attachment goes both ways.  And while I’ve read that it’s going to take time, I wasn’t prepared for this feeling.  Or, lack of feeling.  How could I not feel it?  I’ve got an amazing boy!  If he was difficult, or struggling, it might make more sense to me.  But I’ve got a super kid and yet I still feel like his babysitter, not his mom.  I don’t want to say more – because it’s not fair to him and because it’s still early.  Part of what makes it tough is seeing how easily A has let B into his heart – it makes me feel like I’m behind.  And it makes me angry that I’m not a ‘better’ mom.  Even if it’s true that the feeling will come – just maybe not for a little while – then why aren’t I better at faking it?

Here’s what else:

  • I applied for B’s NY State birth certificate
  • We completed our preschool tours and sent in all but one of our applications.  The next step is group play dates where they evaluate how well he stacks blocks and shares toy cars!
  • B sleeps in his own room now – didn’t skip a beat when we moved him
  • I am continuing to apply and interview for jobs
  • I signed up for online career coaching!  It’s a little touchy-feely but I’m excited about it and hope to have some clarity about my writing come January 31.
  • The nanny is great.  Really great.

Let me start this post by saying that crazy people who push unsuspecting Indian men to their deaths in the NYC subway really piss me off.  Really, crazy lady?  You “hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers”?  Where do I begin to tally the gross misinformation?  Okay, so I can’t expect logic from a crazy person.  Even if this 31-year-old woman had her facts straight – about the man on the subway platform OR 9/11 – it would not excuse her heinous act.  She committed a hate crime.  And she will pay for her crime.  NYC has its fair share of crazies.  I’ve lived here for over 20 years; this is certainly not the first grisly hate crime to occupy the front page of the papers, nor will it be the last.  What really pisses me off is that I have to hear this story on NPR as my Indian, Hindu son plays with stickers at my feet.  What pisses me off is that this woman’s ignorance and racism has now touched my life directly, not to mention my husband’s and my son’s.  Newtown remains somewhat abstract – it was close by, but it was random.  This act was not random.  It was targeted hatred.  And now I have to live with the fear that my Indian son might some day be the target of someone’s crazy racism.  And that is not fair.

But I won’t dwell in this negativity, because for now, my son is safely applying mushroom and bell pepper stickers to my leg.

Merry Christmas!  It was merry, family dramas and snowstorms notwithstanding.  B received way too many gifts – so many that we actually kept a few wrapped and will probably keep them that way until his birthday in May.  We didn’t even open the ‘big’ gift – a train set.  He was so smitten with the separately wrapped train that goes with the set, the tracks themselves seemed superfluous.  We enjoy spending Christmas in New Hampshire – my Dad’s house is cozy and comfortable, they serve a big roast, homemade fudge and raspberry ribbon pie and it inevitably snows, evoking Norman Rockwell and all that quaint stuff.  I don’t think Norman Rockwell had the alternately repressive and passive-aggressive dynamics of my family in mind when he painted his iconic scenes, but I don’t think I’m alone in that.

We continue to chug along, the latest news being that B failed his Early Intervention evaluation.  Failed is the wrong way to put it – he technically passed with flying colors.  What I mean to say is he failed to qualify for the service.  Our adoption doctor predicted this would be the case.  I’m supposed to be happy about that – it means the evaluators feel B’s speech and development are not greater than 33% delayed, however I really did want him to receive some speech therapy in his first months home.  For one, it’s free (NYC provides free EI services to all kids under the age of 3 – the therapists come to your home/school/wherever you choose for an hour every week – I was ready to sign B up from the moment I heard about this service), but I also feel he could use a specialist’s help with some of his sounds and cognitive skills.  I know I’m not supposed to compare him to kids who are the same biological age, but my nephew is two months younger than B and his vocabulary and expressive language skills far exceed B’s.  Two weeks ago we had a play date with a 18-month-old who spoke more clearly than B.  I know, it’s barely been 3 months.  I get it and will shut up about it but as his mom I can’t help but be concerned.

Here are some of his latest tricks:

  • fake crying – this one has a big future ahead of it
  • saying ‘cuse me’ when he burps or needs to get by someone
  • somersaults
  • pretending he’s a dog and barking madly
  • shouting ‘LOOK MAMA!’ whenever he does anything new.  The past few days it’s been spinning a bell tied to a ribbon around his finger.
  • calling me Babe, Honey, or Heather.  Just like his Daddy.
  • saying ‘No more ‘puter, Mama, music!’  I’m not sure where the computer/radio correlation comes from, but somehow when I’m on the computer it means I can’t also turn on the music.  I’ve disproven this theory, to no avail.

Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask: B is a big thumb sucker.  Thoughts on this?  I know it’s a self-soothing thing, but do we discourage it?  If so, how?  Other than saying ‘don’t suck your thumb’ as we take it out of his mouth?  He only does it when sleeping or falling asleep but my gut says redirect.  I speak as a chronic nail biter who started at age 5.

I still haven’t finalized my back to work plan.  I actually delayed my next paycheck because I didn’t notify my HR dept. what the heck I’m doing in January.  Which is in two days.  What I really need to do is sit down with my boss and see what he’s willing to do to accommodate my need to be home more over the next few months.  I can’t imagine he won’t be open to it, but ‘it’ needs to be defined.  So I’m going to meet with him this week.

We’ve had two lovely snowstorms over the past five days here in upstate New York, and have spent a good portion of it snuggling up by the fire, eating Indian food, Mexican food and copious amounts of chocolate, and racing through episodes of Breaking Bad, which I vote thumbs down so far.  New Year’s will be celebrated with a let’s-get-this-party-started 5:30pm dinner – we’ll do our best to keep B’s bubbly water to a two-drink minimum.  I myself plan on at least one glass of the real thing.  I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season!


That Norman Rockwell thing.  Once the people sit down, it becomes a bit more Ordinary People/The Ice Storm/Home for the Holidays/Long Day’s Journey Into Night.


Getting ready for sledding.


Mama stayed inside to take pictures…

I’m turning to the blog on a good day (shocker!).  I just feel great.  First, I have amazing friends.  Friends, do you know you’re amazing?  ‘Cause you are.  This is what I missed so badly when I was in India.  B and I spent the morning with a friend and her little girl and it felt SO GOOD to just sit and gab.  Sharing the good, bad and crazy thoughts spinning around my head with a friend who has no judgment, who is supremely supportive and who even makes gentle suggestions (I’m not one of those girls who dislikes advice – if you’ve got it, I’LL TAKE IT!) that help me consider things from different points of view is like a tonic to me.  It’s like my mother’s milk.  Restorative.  Refreshing.  Nourishing.  Calming.  Throw in a yoga class and I’m done (that’s pure speculation, I’ve actually never done yoga with a girlfriend, apart from the hellish bikram yoga in India and I’d only just met that woman).  Also LISTENING to a friend share her OWN goings-on and being the best kind of support I can be feels good, too.  Then I came home to two packages from two dear friends that just warmed my heart.  Really, guys?  You’re going to be that thoughtful?  I’m already feeling super guilty that I didn’t have the time or energy to buy the handmade, this-is-perfect-for-x gifts I usually buy so I relied on Amaz*n instead; that I haven’t sent out the Christmas cards that I ordered too late and then they turned out terrible so the company is reprinting them; that I haven’t made play dates with everyone I want to before going back to work; that I haven’t even responded to all the welcome home emails sent three weeks ago now!  So to receive the love at these moments when I’m feel like I’m pulling up the Christmas rear is just really nice.

A and I visited a preschool yesterday.  The nanny that I sort of hired came to babysit so we could attend this tour – the last of the year.  We’re way behind on the preschool application front – many places in NYC have deadlines in the fall.  We found a few places in the neighborhood that accept applications until early January – and this school was one of them.  We loved it.  LOVED it.  It’s in a great location (though a little bit of a schlep for us), it’s super diverse, the classes are child-led (as opposed to teacher-led – there are no lesson plans; the teachers follow the students’ lead and guide them as necessary), and the facilities are unreal.  Unreal, people: the size of the classrooms and the amount of LIGHT in this place is unheard of in NYC.  There’s a music room, an art studio, 3 PLAYGROUNDS, a gym – and this is just for kids 2-4 years old!!  It’s not super fancy, it’s not super expensive (though that’s all relative – EVERY day care/preschool/private school in New York is expensive), and it just feels like us.  Needless to say we applied and hope to get in.  We have one more tour to do in two weeks – it’s a school not far from this one that we’ve heard great things about, as well.  I have very mixed feelings about the whole NY-school thing – people who live here know how insane it gets once your child hits kindergarten – the lengths parents must go to to get their child into a decent school would make you laugh if you weren’t already crying from the amount of money you end up having to spend because there are so few decent (I don’t mean above average – there aren’t even many AVERAGE) public schools and everyone wants to live in those neighborhoods with the good public schools so what you pay to live there ends up being what you’d pay for private school anyway…it’s just a mess.  Further complicating things is the fact that I always expected my children would attend public schools.  Why should we pay for private school when our taxes go to public schools?  There are great teachers at public schools.  A and I are both the product of public schools.  I could go on, but if we remain in NYC then public school just won’t be an option, so really, we’ve got a year and a half to figure out where the heck we’re going to send B to kindergarten.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Right now, we’re just focused on preschool.  We have a great option, and will know if we got in by February.  While we were at this school yesterday I thought about Newtown in a way I haven’t since I heard the news Friday.  Frankly, I’ve been avoiding everything about Newtown.  It’s upsetting.  It’s abstract.  It’s unfathomable.  So A and I haven’t discussed it much.  I haven’t read too much about it, either, other than an article or two in the NYTimes.  I’ve taken a time out from FB because I found all the gun control comments overwhelming, and I’m a gun control advocate.  Also: I can’t really believe it happened.  It actually doesn’t seem real to me that 20 children were shot to death.  I’m pretty good at avoiding/repressing/intellectualizing very real, very emotional stuff, so Newtown has remained at the periphery of my head and heart.  Until yesterday when I walked into classrooms filled with 2, 3 and 4 year olds.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I actually stopped – turned to A with a panicked look and whispered, ‘I get it now.  I get it.’  It was real.  Those kids were all wiped out in a span of minutes.  The children I was looking at, eating goldfish and raisins, it was them.  Sitting at school, and then dead.  I took a breath, and then pushed the reality back to the periphery.  I wouldn’t have been able to complete the tour if I hadn’t.

Anyway, A met the nanny yesterday and reassured me that he thought she was great and I made the right decision.  So the plan remains: I go back to work the second or third week of Jan, and she starts full-time the first or second week of Jan so there’s overlap.  I’ve been interviewing for a few other jobs in my field (some even at my company), but I’ve also been thinking about my parachute.  While Christmas shopping the other day on the ever-personal Am*zon, I added a book to my order about winning your creative battles.  It came yesterday and I finished it an hour later.  I’m feeling fired up – not necessarily about writing, but about figuring out where writing fits in my life.  Am I a writer or a victim?  A writer or a procrastinator?  A writer or a rationalizer?

This was meant to be a happy post.  I’m feeling good, after all.

You know why else I’m feeling good?  I’m eating Christmas cookies.  I’m eating the sugar cookies that I made, the peanut butter chocolate cookies that our neighbor made, and soon I’ll be eating the Indian treats my dear friend just sent us.  Christmas cookies can nourish the soul, too.



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