Friday, December 30, 2016

Dear Will - Eighteen Months Old

Dear Will,

You are eighteen months old today. 

This morning before I dropped you off at daycare, we were in the kitchen and you were eating Kix from your favorite cereal cup and you pointed up at our Amazon Echo and said "daddys," which is your word for "monkeys." So I put on the song 5 Little Monkeys, and you grinned at me as you bounced up and down and sang along with the words you knew and then asked me to play it again. And then twice more. And then you decided you wanted to hear the ABCs instead, that you needed to tip over your ball pit and go searching for a toy that had somehow found its way under the refrigerator, that you wanted applesauce instead of cereal, and that you definitely did not want to wear your hat, even though it was twenty degrees outside. 

This is absolutely you in a nutshell at a year and a half. Happy, curious, and brave, sure of what you want, defiant about what you don't, and thrilled with yourself and life in general. 

Eighteen months is my absolute favorite so far. As you have grown I have always been able to see tiny glimmers of who you might be, but over the past month you have really come into your own. You are sweet, loving, and fun, quick with your laughs, and generous with your smiles. You have an independent streak a mile wide, and a curious nature that somehow always leads you towards whatever happens to be the most dangerous thing around you, be it stairs, the open dishwasher full of knives, or the oven handle that you are about two centimeters away from being able to grab.

As always, you still love playing with toys. Your favorite thing to do is to stack blocks, legos, and magnatiles, and then knock your towers down. You are also a bit of a daredevil, climbing everything that can possibly be climbed, jumping off, and then turning around and doing it all over again. You still love books, the Llama Llama series most of all, but you like to read to yourself more than you like being read to. Music is your number one love, and with just a little bit of help you can sing almost the whole ABCs. You can do all the hand motions to Itsy Bitsy Spider and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, and you love wagging your finger and saying "no, no, no, no, no" when we sing 5 Little Monkeys.

You started saying words a couple of months ago, and just in the past week or two, you have started figuring out how to put the words you know together. In some ways, eighteen months is hard because you know exactly what you want, but you don't always have the words to tell me. It's frustrating for you, and often ends in an impressive tantrum, but it's also fascinating to watch you watch me while I try to give you the words you need and while you find your voice. You are learning so quickly, and I promise that soon, the frustration of not being able to communicate all the way will be behind us.

It's been awhile since I've written to you like this. For your first twelve months, you could find me at the computer on the 30th of every month, like clockwork, documenting your goings-on for the last thirty days. I was practically religious about it, about documenting your days, and your every milestone. Time was passing by so quickly that I had whiplash, afraid that if I didn't write it all down I wouldn't remember. That I would somehow forget those early days when you were small and I was learning how to be your mom.

But even with the best of intentions and the meticulous documenting of your days, I have forgotten things. I can't remember the exact date you started to crawl, or the day you said your first word. I don't remember exactly how old you were when solid food stopped being a curiosity and started being the normal way of things. I don't remember exactly when you finally learned how to use a sippy cup, and I can never, ever remember which vaccines you have had and when, even though the doctor writes it down for me every time.

But I don't really mind anymore that I have forgotten some of these things. Your first year was filled with cascades of details and it's impossible to remember every single one of them. Eighteen months into this parenting gig, I understand now that this is the way of things. Time moves quickly, things change and so do people, and the tiny details often get swept away in the busyness of our days, buried by the logistics of pick-ups and drop-offs and play dates and meals and baths and bedtimes. But every now and then I look at you and time freezes for just a second and I am reminded yet again what a privilege it is that you are here and so am I, and that I get to be your mom and watch you grow and help you become whoever it is that you will be. And these are the moments that stick with me. The ones that I will remember long after you are grown and these busy, exhausting, and beautifully full days are behind us.

Tomorrow is the last day of the year - your very first full year. And at midnight, when one year ends and another begins, before I crawl into bed, I will tiptoe into your room and watch you for a few minutes while you sleep, and make some quiet wishes for the days and months ahead. There are big things and little things that I will wish for you, but most of all, I will wish for more of this. More of these good days of happiness and health and family and friends. More smiles and laughter and music and fun. More time - as much time as I can get - to be your mom and to watch you grow. 

You are the very best thing, sweet Will. I'm so glad you get to be mine.

With love as big as the sky,


Thursday, November 10, 2016

On a Night that Wasn't

It took some time for me to find these words. I have spent the past 40 or so hours in something closely resembling shock, with a healthy dose of disbelief, and a sprinkling of fear mixed in for good measure.

This morning, for the second morning in a row, I woke up and for a second I didn't remember, and then I did. And I wanted to pull the covers over my head but my son was stirring, so instead I got up and lifted him from his crib, kissed his cheeks still warm from sleep, and carried him into my room. I settled him down on my bed and as I stood for a minute and watched him drink his beloved morning bottle, the words started to come.

As I write this, I am sitting on a train heading into Manhattan for my ninth day at my new job. A job I like very much and am thrilled to have started, but that I haven't been able to bring myself to write about here or even mention very much at all. All along the train platform people have been staring at each other with glazed eyes and shell-shocked looks on their faces.

"I can't believe this happened," they say to each other. "What do we do now?" they ask.

There were tears that sunglasses worn despite cloudy, rainy weather couldn't mask, questions that don't have any answers, and whispered acknowledgment that we are suddenly hurling towards a profoundly uncertain future. One that the majority of the pundits and pollsters and talking heads on cable news assured us over and over again was unlikely, if not out of the question entirely.

I thought the train yesterday, and my office, would be emptier than usual, people having chosen to stay home, to call in sick rather than face their daily routines on little sleep and under the specter of what had happened just hours before. But they weren't. People opted to come to work, to be in the world, to face yesterday in rooms full of people, processing it all in groups rather than alone.

Last night I had a big meeting at work, and at the beginning of the hour the head of the team stood up and acknowledged that most of us were probably having a pretty bad, exhausted day. Everyone nodded. He said that he was too, that he stayed in front of the TV all night and had only slept an hour or two. He smiled. He said he understood. He said we would get through this. At his direction and insistence, more than 200 people in offices across the United States stood up from their chairs, stretched their arms above their heads, and high-fived the person sitting next to them. Ridiculous, maybe, in light of the week's horror, but damned if for a minute or two after that we didn't all feel just a tiny bit better.

It turns out that Hillary Clinton was right all along. We really are stronger together.

It's a strange irony, and a strangely comforting one. She wasn't wrong, and we weren't wrong to believe in her, to embrace her message and to champion her vision of hope and love and diversity and inclusion. And in this new reality, that message might be more important than ever. We have always known this of course, and know it even more strongly after watching her graceful and courageous concession speech yesterday morning, but the voices on the other side are loud, and our exhaustion sometimes makes it hard to filter them out and remember who we are and what is important. But we must.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have not been a lifelong Democrat. I have written about it in these pages before. I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans, but the issues that I care most about have increasingly aligned me with the Democrats over the past decade. I voted for President Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. And I have supported Hillary since the beginning of this long, exhausting campaign, not just because she is a woman and not because she was the "least bad," but because she was experienced and prepared and perhaps the most qualified person to ever run for President of this country. And because her view of the world is one in which I would be proud to raise my children. I wanted her to be my President. Their President.

And so. Yesterday morning I got up early to vote. I wanted to go before I went to work, but more than that, I wanted to take my son with me to the polls. It was still dark outside when we parked at the elementary school a few blocks from home. The gym where we voted was packed with families, mothers and fathers who wanted, as I did, their children to be there to see us vote for a woman for president. A lot of our kids were little, but we thought that one day we would tell them how they were there on the day that history was made.

I caught the eyes of some of the other mothers in line, and we smiled and nodded to each other, members of a secret club, with full hearts, in quiet understanding of the weight of the day. With the acknowledgement that we were casting these ballots not just for us, but for our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who did not live to see this day, and for our children, some of whom were literally sitting at our feet as we voted, too young to understand what was happening, so that we might raise them in a world where they take it for granted that a woman can lead a country.

I was emotional as I filled out the ballot, my eyes filling with tears as I slid it into the scanner, walked back to my car, dropped my son off at daycare, started my day. I hoped that later that night we would watch Hillary Clinton give a long-awaited and much deserved victory speech under the great glass ceiling at the Javitz Center in New York.

By midnight, it was increasingly clear that that speech was not to come. And I was devastated. Am devastated. For myself, for my son, for everyone who feels less safe today than they did on Tuesday morning. For this country.

So many of my friends and colleagues worried over how to explain this to their children who are old enough to understand what happened. And to be completely honest, I'm relieved that, as the mother of a 16 month old, I'm spared that particular conversation right at this moment. But it didn't stop me from thinking about what I would say to him if he asked me. And thinking about it has helped me process where we go from here.

If he asked me, I would tell him that this is the way that a democracy works. Someone wins and someone loses, and it's ok to be sad that the candidate that you supported lost.

If he asked me, I would tell him that women and men are equal and that a woman can be just as good a president as a man can. I would tell him that in his lifetime another woman will run for President, and that one day, a woman will be the President.

If he asked me, I would tell him that we will spend the next four years working hard and fighting to make sure that this country stays a safe place for everyone who lives here.

If he asked me, I would tell him that it's more important than ever to be a good person, and to be kind, and to treat people who are different than we are with love and respect.

If he asked me, I would tell him that hate and mean words have no place in this house and in the world. I would tell him that I won't tolerate this, ever. That this is not who we are.

If he asked me, I would hug him tight and I would tell him that I love him and that he doesn't have to be afraid. I would tell him that it is my job to protect him and that we will be ok.

And we will. Because we lost, and we might be afraid, but we aren't powerless. I keep reminding myself that I am the same person I was yesterday, and so are my friends, and the people in my family and none of us want to leave for our children a country and a world steeped in hate and fear and stripped of rights. And there are millions of other people in this country, a majority in fact, who agree. I'm not alone. We're not alone.

This isn't the way this was supposed to go. So we let ourselves mourn the loss of the world we had hoped to wake up to yesterday morning, and then we get up. We hold our families close and surround ourselves with good people, and we let our anger and confusion and sadness spur us to action. We fight for freedom and for equality, and for the families and the people who have the most to lose over the next four years. We fight because we do not, will not, accept the descent of this country into a swamp of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and hate. We fight because our children are watching and they are counting on us to show them the way through. They expect no less of us and we should expect no less of ourselves.

This isn't what we wanted, what we hoped for, what we dreamed of. But this is where we are.

So now we get to work.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dear Will - Twelve Months Old

Dear Will,

It's your first birthday today.

Three hundred and sixty five days ago, at right about this time, I woke up in a hospital room from a quick nap that was my first real sleep in more than twenty-four hours. It was still early in the morning, and they had taken you to the nursery for a bath and a check-up. Not at all sure what I was supposed to do, I pressed the call button hanging from my bed. An unfamiliar voice blasted out of the speaker next to my head, asking me if I needed anything. "Um, my baby, I think?" I said in a tentative voice. "No problem hon," the voice said, and hung up.

Five minutes later the door to my room opened and a nurse came in, wheeling you in a plastic bassinet. She smiled, lifted you out, handed you to me, and walked out, calling over her shoulder that I should page her if we needed anything. I thought that I probably needed a lot of things, but at that moment I didn't know what any of them were, so I just let her go.

And there we were. Just you and me.

Sometimes it seems impossible that this all happened an entire year ago. I've written to you over and over again over the last twelve months about how time seems to be flying by, and I'm feeling that again today most of all because today you are one, but it really does seem like yesterday that the nurse handed you to me and sailed out of the room, leaving me to get to know you.

And I did. I do.

I know that you love to sit on the kitchen floor while I cook, but only if you have a spoon in each hand to play with. I know that the second you push your bottle away at night I have to put you straight into your crib or it takes you a long time to fall asleep. I know that you love corn and hate scrambled eggs. I know what cry means, "I'm tired" and what cry means something hurts. I know Mother Goose Club will keep you occupied for hours but Sesame Street isn't really your jam. I know you rub your eyes when you're a little tired and your nose when you're exhausted. I know that you hate pants with buttons. I know you like the blue ball but not the orange one as much. I know you never met a television remote or a smartphone you didn't need to grab, immediately. I know that when you really like something, your smile reaches all the way up to your eyes. I know how to make you laugh. I know what your face looks like first thing in the morning and right before you fall asleep.

You were mine the very second they handed you to me one year ago, even though I didn't quite understand it yet, and it's been my great pleasure to watch you grow.

And you are growing, fast and furious. This month, you discovered that books are good for reading, and not just chewing on. Your favorites are Where's Spot and Pat the Bunny, but really, anything with pictures and bright colors is just fine with you. I've started reading to you every night before I put you to sleep, and you sit on the carpet, legs spread, and listen with rapt attention.

You love to stand up, and you are getting so steady on your feet. You mastered pulling yourself up on everything from the bathtub ledge to the gate that we had to put up to keep you away from the stairs, and you'll take some steps if we hold onto your hands or if you balance yourself on your walking toy. I really love watching you figure out this new little slice of independence, and I'm pretty sure that you'll be toddling around in no time.

You are finding your voice too. Aside from "da da," which you figured out awhile ago, your first word, strangely, was "wow" followed closely by "uh oh," and, just yesterday, "see ya." I'm still holding out for "mama" though. Just humor me and get to it soon, ok?

Sometimes I just step back and watch you as you go about your business, still amazed a year later that you're here, and that you're mine. Amazed that the six pound baby I met for the first time twelve months ago is a smart, strong, curious little boy. Amazed that I had a hand in making you that way. And then you notice me watching you and you look up and grin and my heart grows wide because for all of the tough stuff and the exhaustion and the worry and the details, motherhood is miraculous, full stop, and these are the moments that remind me. That I have been given this gift - to raise you and to watch you grow - fills me with a gratitude so huge that I sometimes feel like I can reach out and touch it with my hands.

I spent a lot of time over the past year wondering when I would start to feel like myself again until I realized that the answer was, I wouldn't. Because you changed me the day you were born and you keep changing me, every day, in ways I see and in ways I haven't even begun to figure out yet. Motherhood, with its sharp edges and slippery angles, cracked me wide open and then filled me back up again. I'm not the same person I was a year ago, but I think that having you, raising you, loving you, has made me a better person. A little more open, a little kinder, a little more patient, more confident and comfortable with who I am and who I want to raise you to be.

One year ago today you came into my life, and over the past twelve months, you have made it shine.

Happy first birthday, my sweet, sweet Will.

With love as big as the sky,


Monday, June 6, 2016

Dear Will - Eleven Months Old

Dear Will,

You are 11 months old and my god little man, I can hardly believe it. It feels like two minutes ago that I was dressing you in the tiny newborn sized alligator sleeper that I bought for your ride home from the hospital and wondering if there was a size smaller than newborn because your not-even-six pound body was swimming in it. That alligator sleeper is about four sizes too small now and packed away in a memory box that lives on the top shelf of your closet, and a couple of days ago I started picking out stuff for your first birthday party that we're having in about a month.

Your first birthday party. How did that sneak up on us so fast? In between my excitement over themes and the outfit you'll wear and the big cake I'm baking for you to smash is the deep longing I feel to slow time long enough to make memories of these sweet summer days when you're not really an infant anymore but not quite a toddler yet either.

Because these days are my favorite ones so far. You are getting so big, and it seems like every day you discover something new. You are happy and curious and love to learn how things work. You are pretty fearless too, which gives your daddy and me some scary moments, like when you make a run for the steps faster than we can catch you, but secretly, I love this part of you and hope that it never goes away. This is the tough part about being a parent, I'm learning. Striking the balance between making sure you're safe and giving you the freedom to explore your world. I think this will always be hard because part of me just wants to want to hold you close and keep you small forever and ever.

Last weekend we went to visit Aunt Susy, Uncle David, Grammy Reet, and your cousins. You were a tiny bit hesitant at first with all of the new people, but you got over that fast and were soon chatting up a storm, devouring the cheese curls that Aunt Susy got for you, playing with everyone, and smiling and laughing away. From my perch on the couch I watched you and I was so proud of you. You were open and thrilled to be there, in a brand new place, in the center of attention, with so many people who love you to pieces.

For some reason I can't quite grasp, this weekend was a big turning point for you. It seems impossible that you would grow up so much in just four days, but that is exactly what happened. Over four days filled with family, food, and fun you came alive. It was like you had been growing up slowly over the past eleven months, and then it happened all at once and it was jarring and fascinating all at the same time.

It seems impossible that I would forget anything about your first year, and yet there are already parts of it that have started to blur around the edges. But there are also parts of this past year that stand out in my mind, memories that are in complete focus and full color, and I already know that this past weekend will be one of those.You aren't going to remember it but I will, and so one day I'll tell you about how we went to Maryland for Memorial Day the month before you turned one and you started to say "mama," and swam in a big pool for the first time and learned to clap at exactly the right time when Grandma sang "If You're Happy and You Know It." I'll tell you about how you stayed up past your bedtime to eat grilled cheese and french fries in a restaurant and then wouldn't go to sleep and how you really got to know your great-grandma whose husband's name is now yours. I'll tell you about how you laughed when you played with Poppy's mustache and decided that everyone's reading glasses were more fun to play with than any of the toys I brought for you.

I'll tell you about how, at 11 months old, you were silly and smiley and full of fun. How you kept me on my toes and brightened up my life. How every day, you make a mom out of me.

You are such a joy, my sweet Will. Just keep on being you.

With love as big as the sky,


Monday, May 2, 2016

Dear Will - Ten Months Old

Dear Will,

Double digits little man. I took this picture last night. We had just gotten home from Pittsburgh where we were for the last days of Pesach. There were suitcases everywhere, you had smashed blueberries in your hair from dinner, and you needed a bath and a bottle. But since we were away on the day you turned 10 months, nothing would do but that we take these pictures the very second we got home. So I laid out the blanket and arranged the blocks, and put you on the couch. You promptly grabbed all three blocks at the same time and made a quick work of escaping from your perch. I caught you before you took a header straight onto the floor, and managed to snap a few pictures before your patience with me completely ran out.

I'm laughing as I look at these pictures today because they capture the very essence of you, at 10 months. Happy and curious, smiley, silly, and full of fun, impatient with sitting still, and eager to get on with the business of whatever comes next. It's like you know that there is so much more ahead, and you just want to get to it already. 

I understand this because sometimes I do too. I can't wait to watch you take your first steps and all the other amazing things that come with growing up. But at the same time, I look at you and I wonder where my baby went, if he is still there somewhere inside the sturdy little boy you are becoming. You are growing and changing so fast that it sometimes steals my breath and I feel the conflicting emotions of motherhood more acutely these days than I ever have before; pride in how beautifully you are growing and excitement for everything still to come, all mixed up with nostalgia for the months and milestones that are already behind us.

And those milestones are coming fast and furious these days.

Last month you started scooting around, but this month you took it to a whole new level. You fly around the house, never satisfied to stay where you are when there are so many other interesting places to explore. You have started climbing up on your knees to get to things that are out of your reach, and last week you realized that, if you work just a little harder, you can pull yourself up to your full height. You aren't quite there yet, but the fierce look of determination that crosses your face every time you try makes me think you will be soon.

You are getting more and more verbal, and I see you watching us when we talk, trying to copy the sounds and words that we make. You are never happier than when you are sitting on the floor surrounded by toys and talking to yourself. You say "da-da" a lot, and we still can't decide if it's intentional or not, but we know that your first words aren't too far away. 

Seeing you discover your world these past months has been an incredible thing for me. Your eyes are bright and sharp and miss absolutely nothing. When it comes to toys and books and food you know exactly what you want and you can't be distracted, and your focus is pretty amazing for someone so little. Grandma told me last weekend that you remind her of me in that way, and that makes me really happy because I often find myself watching you, wondering what your daddy and I passed on to you, and what parts of you are uniquely yours. It's the pleasure of motherhood, I think, to look at your child and understand that they carry pieces of you that they will make into something all their own. 

In all honesty, the fact that you are ten months old just blows my mind because at this time last year I was still two months away from meeting you, wondering who you would be, what parenting would be like, and whether I would be any good at it. Time seemed to pass both rapidly and agonizingly slow, and I never felt quite prepared for whatever was coming next. Then you were here, brand new and tiny and needing me like no one else ever had before, and there wasn't space to think about that anymore. It took some time, but we settled into a groove, you and I, and I like to think I've done a pretty good job so far. There are times I wonder, but then you smile at me and let out a laugh, and I realize how silly that is. You are happy and healthy and full of fun and most importantly, you are mine. Just the way you're supposed to be.

You are the joy of my life, my sweet Will. Keep on being exactly who you are.

With love as big as the sky,


Previous Letters:

Monday, April 4, 2016

Right Where I Left It

I put the bottle of water on my desk Friday morning, but the day got away from me. Then I was rushing out the door and the bottle was still unopened. I was too lazy and my back hurt too badly to walk back around my desk to get it, so I left it there.

I figured I would drink it on Monday.

It was 4:17 on Tuesday morning and the sky was just beginning to lighten when the nurse handed me my newborn baby boy. He wasn't crying, which surprised me. His huge eyes scanned the room, observing his new surroundings. For a second his eyes locked on mine. "I have a baby now," is what I thought.

The traffic home was hideous, as expected. Ninety minutes in to what should have been a forty minute drive home I needed a snack and a bathroom. I really wished I had taken that bottle of water.

Heat was shimmering from the asphalt street when I walked through the revolving door of the hospital. Sweat seeped down my back as I sat on the bench with the car-seat beside me, waiting for David to bring the car around. I looked at my baby, swimming in the newborn-sized alligator sleeper that I bought at Target two weeks before, and wondered if he was hot. It occurred to me that he probably had to eat soon and that his diaper hadn't been changed in awhile because no one told me to change it. I was failing at motherhood already. I was tired down to my bones. 

It took two hours to finally get home. I used the bathroom and had a snack. I talked to my family on the phone and assured them that no baby had been born yet. I spent the rest of the weekend alternating between laying on my outdoor couch and my indoor one.

"I have to go," my friend said at the end of our phone call. "We're going to the Yankee game." Drowning in diaper changes, bottles, 3am feedings, and puddles of my own tears it seemed impossible that the world was still spinning, that anyone was still doing something as normal as going to a baseball game.  

I was dressed for work when I went to the doctor on Monday morning. I had a list of things to put in order before I went out on maternity leave. We parked in short term parking and I told my office I would be in by ten.

He was five weeks old when he smiled at me for the first time. His whole face opened up and I fell in love. I was a mother. They told me how it would be. They were right. Toys took over my living room. We all got a little more sleep. He grew and changed. So did I.

The doctor said something about low fluid and insufficient growth. The details didn't really matter. I was having a baby. Today. They sent me up to labor and delivery. David went home for my hospital bag. They hooked me up to an IV and I called my office. "I guess I'll see you in November," I said to them. "Sorry about that list." They laughed. I didn't.

I rocked my baby all the way to sleep before I went to find something to wear. The clothes hanging in my closet were foreign to me. I tried some of them on but nothing looked the way it used to. I felt tired, soft, unprepared. I picked the dress that looked the least bad and figured it was the best I could do. I watched him sleep in his crib and wondered if he would be ok without me. If I would be ok without him.

I stepped off the elevator and buzzed myself onto my floor. My key-card still worked. I was surprised. I walked down the hall to my office, trying to summon the lawyer that had lain dormant for four months while the mother became. I opened the door. There was the bottle of water, sitting on my desk.

Right where I left it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dear Will - Nine Months Old

Dear Will,

This morning at 6:45, I heard you talking in your crib. It's your morning routine these days. You start stirring around 6:30, and by 6:45, you are ready to come out and greet the day. So I went downstairs to get your bottle and then came to get you. I brought you into my room and you laid on my bed and fed yourself while I finished getting dressed. Every now and then you took a break from the bottle and you chattered to yourself while you looked around my room, happy with yourself and with things in general.

That's you these days. Happy and smiley and thrilled with all the new things that you are discovering. 

And lately, there has been a whole lot of new. Last week we packed up and moved to our new house. It was a little sad for me, leaving the house where we lived when we were waiting for you to be born, the house we first brought you home to. I remember that day so well. I sat in the backseat next to you for the thirty minute drive and I was more tired than I have ever been in my life, but I was afraid to fall asleep because the nurses and doctors in the hospital just let me leave with you and now it was my job to keep you safe. Grandma and Poppy were waiting in the driveway when we pulled in. They helped us bring everything inside, and then I sat with you on the couch in the family room and you were so impossibly tiny and it was hard for me to imagine you ever getting big.

But you did, of course. You are.

Our new house might not be the house that we brought you home to, but it is the house that you will grow up in. And it seems like you have already done so much growing up in the week that we have been there. You love playing in your new playroom, and you figured out quickly that our wood floors work really well for scooting. You sit up now, and use your left leg to motor yourself wherever you want to go, instead of crawling. It's surprisingly efficient and as a side benefit for us, really funny to watch. Before we all know it you'll be walking, and when I look out at our backyard I can practically see you running around, playing on the swing set we will definitely buy next year, and I know without hesitation that this house was exactly the right choice. 

Once day when you're older I'll drive you past our old house. I'll show you the place where I used to spread your baby blanket so we could lay outside in the sun together, and I'll show you the place on the deck where you would sleep in your chair while we ate dinner, barely taking our eyes off of you. I'll show you the place where we stumbled our way through the early months of parenthood, making mistakes but loving you in all the ways we knew how. I'll show you the place where we became a family. You won't remember it, so I'll tell you and then you'll know.

Sometimes at night I come into your room and for a minute or two I watch you while you sleep, always on your tummy with your arms tucked underneath you. You barely stir when I put my hand gently on your back and that's my favorite time of the day to offer up a prayer for you. Thank you for my baby, I say. Help me keep him happy and safe. And standing there in the dark while you're fast asleep in your crib I feel the full weight of motherhood, with all of its complexity and the startlingly simple well of love that runs through its core. 

Nine months old, my sweet Will. I know I say this all the time, but I can hardly believe it. You're getting bigger and sturdier every day and it's so much fun to watch you grow and change. But no matter what happens, you'll still be my baby.

Always, ok?

With love as big as the sky,

Friday, March 25, 2016

Empty Rooms, Moving On

I surprised myself over the past couple of weeks. Going through all of the motions to get our old house packed and moved, all of the details involved in moving a whole life from one place to another, I was surprisingly unsentimental and not at all anxious about it. Maybe it was the fact that we are moving less than a mile away or my level of excitement about the new house, but my reaction was markedly different from the first time we moved when I wanted to stake a for sale sign in the front lawn and go reclaim my old life as soon as possible.

It's no secret that change is not easy for me. And yet, in the face of this one, my attitude was less "what in the world are we doing?" and more "this is great, bring it on."

Even when I stood in the new house surrounded by boxes, holding my almost nine month old baby because there was not a single dust and dirt free surface on which to put him down to play, and texting my family pictures of the chaos with captions like "send Xanax," I was feeling pretty good about it all. I just put the baby to bed early, rolled up my metaphorical sleeves, and dove in.

Sure, we still have boxes all over the place, the movers did a crappy job, my whole lower level is basically an unusable dumping ground for another week or so until we finish up some work on the basement, and there are currently three TVs in my living room. But I love this house so much, and I can see past all of this, a couple of weeks into the future, when all of the odds and ends are finished and we get down to the business of living here - my little family, making this place our own.

But the thing about being excited to move forward is that it's better not to look back, at least for a little while. And for a couple of days, I did a pretty good job of that. Having to work all week meant I didn't have a front-row seat to the actual business of moving. I didn't watch the movers put my life into boxes, and I didn't see then haul those boxes away. I didn't see the moving truck and I didn't see the slowly emptying rooms.

Until I did. 

Wednesday night I went back to the house to do a quick walk-through, to make sure that nothing was left behind and that things were clean for the new owners. I went in through the front door and my footsteps echoed as I walked through the rooms, assaulted by memories, vaguely unsettled by the spackled holes on the wall where the TV once hung, the empty blue room where my tiny baby slept, and my beloved bookshelves empty of their usual abundance of romance novels. And for the first time, I was sad.

My job done, I walked out of the house for the last time and locked the door behind me, but I left something in that house. I understand now that when we live well we leave pieces of ourselves behind in the place where all the living happens. Behind that red door of 26 Overlook Road is where I brought a baby home and learned how to be a mom. It's where I felt for the first time the kind of grief that brings you to your knees and breaks you into pieces. It's where we loved and laughed and planned and made memories. The walls of the house tell our stories. We are there, even once we have moved on.

It's strange to think about a new family living in my old house, making memories that will exist alongside mine. But this, I suppose, is life. Change, moving on, looking back. Moments that are exciting and sad at the same time. Because there is also a new red door now and a new blue room where a not-so-little anymore baby sleeps, and other rooms that are just starting to fill up, where we will make our memories and leave pieces of ourselves. 

Where we will be at home.

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Kind Of New Beginning

Once upon a time, about three and a half years ago, we bought a house. After a seemingly endless round of construction and a hurricane that derailed our plans for a couple of days, we packed up the life we had made on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I said goodbye to the city that - in a very real way - grew me up and shaped me, and we drove twenty miles north, to our new home in the Westchester County suburb of White Plains.

It was rocky at first, as new beginnings tend to be, and it took some time before I felt like I was finally home. In my new house I turned thirty and thirty-oneI went through some very tough stuff. I turned thirty-two poised on the brink of enormous change. This past June, that change arrived in the form of a tiny little boy, and I turned thirty-three as the mom of that boy who is sweet and silly and smiley and not so very tiny anymore.

The walls of our house that were once a blank slate now hold a canvas of memories of the past three and a half years. Some good, some bad, all ours. Just the way it's supposed to be.

A few months ago we decided it was time to start thinking about doing the construction on our house that we had always known we would have do someday in the nebulous future. With a baby and out-of-town family, we needed more space, but when we started talking to the people who could make what we needed a reality, we realized it would be more difficult and expensive than we ever imagined to do what we needed to do, and it might make more sense to consider moving. So we started poking around the neighborhood to see if there was a house that might be better for us.

The thought of moving to a new house though, right on the heels of a new baby, filled me with horror. The whole process - offers, negotiation, mortgage, selling a house, packing, actually moving - seemed overwhelming enough to reconsider just staying put. 

But then I saw it. That house up there. It was a gorgeous fall Sunday when we went to look at it, and when I walked through, I knew I wanted it to be mine. I could see us there. I could see my baby growing up there, running around outside and playing on the swing-set that will undoubtedly grace the backyard one day. I could see how this could and would be our forever home. That this would be the place where we would raise our family. It was perfect for us, and I fiercely wanted it to be ours.

And now, it is.

As I made some calls this morning to book movers and plan the other odds and ends that go along with moving a life from one place to another, I thought I would feel sad, and a little nostalgic. But I don't. Not this time. What I feel, is happy. Happy to be making this move - undoubtedly one that is good and right for my little family. Happy to still be living in this beautiful community that we have made ours. Happy to be selling our house to a family that I know will love it as much as we have. Happy to know that the memories we have made will follow us home, and happy to know how many new memories live in the house that we are just about to make our own.

Big change is just over the horizon and for the first time, maybe ever, I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Dear Will - Eight Months Old


Eight months old, my little man. 

I took the first of these pictures of you when you were just one month old. You were too little to even be propped up on the couch, so I had to lay you down on the blanket while you looked around, wondering what in the world was happening. Yesterday afternoon, when I took your eight month pictures, I could barely get you to stay still for more than three second at a time. You knew exactly what was going on, and you were far more interested in sitting up and leaning over the front of the couch to try and find something to play with then you were in smiling for any sort of picture.

That's you, at eight months. You are busy and curious and a bundle of energy. You still love your toys, and as soon as you sit down, you always search out your favorites. I realized the other day that I don't have to put things right in front of you anymore. You can reach for what you want, and when you get it, you look up at me with a big smile as if to say, "hey, look what I did!" And when you smile at me, you flash your two brand new bottom teeth, and it's so cute I can't even stand it. Just this morning you were reaching for something and you toppled right over. For a second I thought you would cry, but you didn't. Instead, you just rolled to your stomach and pushed yourself up, kicking your legs and babbling away, as if that's what you meant to do the whole time.

You are, I think, about two minutes away from crawling. You can get up on all fours and rock back and forth, but then you always fall flat on your tummy, waving your arms and legs, trying so hard to move, and getting frustrated when you just stay put. I can practically see the wheels turning in your head, trying to figure it out. I'm waiting for the day when you finally put it all together though, because as soon as you do, I think you are going to be unstoppable.

More than ever, you are clear in the things that you like and don't like, and never hesitate to let us know. You love bananas and you hate peas. You love being in the car but could do without that pesky car-seat, thank you very much. You were enthusiastic about puffs, but threw those scrambled eggs right onto the floor. Seeing your tiny mouth trying to figure out whether to scream or grin when you try something new never doesn't make me laugh. 

As you get bigger, I sometimes look at you and I feel like I can see the person you are going to be in the baby that you are and it's just fascinating to me. As a mom, I sometimes just think of you as an extension of me. And that's normal, I think. Because after all, you came from me - literally - and because somewhere in the middle of bottles and diapers, of baths and bedtimes, of pick-ups and drop-offs and schedules, it's easy to forget that these days don't last forever, no matter how much it sometimes feels like they will. But when I sit on the couch with my book and my coffee and watch you play on the carpet, I remember that you are a person all your own, more every day, and how amazing is that?

It's hard to believe that two-thirds of a year has gone by since the hot, hazy day that we brought you home from the hospital. That in four months we'll be singing you happy birthday. I know that I've written this to you before, but I can't help but think once again that time is a strange and funny thing. Your first few weeks seemed to drag on and on in a blur of doctors and bottles, sleepless nights and exhausted days. But the bigger you get, the faster they go, and I think that's why I like to write to you here. I like to think that I'll always remember every detail about this time when you were little and we were figuring out this whole life thing, but I know I won't. And I want to be able to tell you how it was. How I sometimes made mistakes and didn't always know what to do, but that I tried my very best, and loved you in every way I knew how. 

How you, my sweet Will, were, and are, my very best thing.

With love as big as the sky,


Previous Letters:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dear Will - Seven Months Old


Seven months. How did we get here already, my not-so-little-anymore babe?

This was the month that you really came alive. For the first time since you were born, I looked at you and I thought, "kid" instead of "baby." You have started talking up a storm and your eyes lock on mine when I talk to you, and I can see your brain working, just waiting to make actual words out of the sounds. And I know it's early for this, but I can't help but wonder what your first real words are going to be.

You never learned to roll over, but went right to sitting instead. It was as if you didn't have time for that slow progression, but were eager to just get to the good stuff already. You can sit up all by yourself now, and you are happy to sit on the living room floor for hours playing with your toys. And you love your toys. You don't just grab them and put them in your mouth anymore. Instead you bang them against each other and shake them to hear the sounds they make, and when you really like one of the sounds you look up at me and grin your big baby grin and laugh a little, as if you can hardly believe what you just did. From my perch on the couch, I watch you while you play, and I already think that you are going to have a really good imagination - just like your daddy - and that thrills me because his imagination has brought him so much happiness and joy, and I hope that yours does for you too.

You saw your very first snow this month. Last Saturday morning we woke up and the whole world was white. I took you to the door and you stared out at the still-falling snow and you bounced up and down, excited by this new thing. When the storm was over I dressed you up in your blue snowsuit that matches your eyes and took you outside to play. We sat you down in the snow that was almost as tall as you, and you giggled and squealed while we played the stereotypical new parents and scurried around snapping pictures. And I was so excited that you loved it because snow is one of my most favorite things, and I was already thinking ahead to next year when you can walk and talk and I can take you out to play and we can share my favorite snow day treats and I can show you all of the magic that happens during a winter storm.

Six months ago, when I was elbow deep in your diapers and spit-up and still waking up all night long, I wanted to kill anyone who would tell me to "enjoy it because it goes so fast." But I feel differently now. I understand now that it really does go so fast that I sometimes feel breathless. On the one hand, I want time to just slow its roll, to give me the opportunity to imprint these days and these moments so that I can always remember how it was when you were little and I was learning how to be a mom. But I also know that there is so much more up ahead. This paradox of motherhood informs all of my moments with you, and I suspect that this is exactly the way it should be.

You fill me up with goodness, my sweet Will. I'm so happy to be your mom.

With love as big as the sky,


Previous Letters:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

This Is Thirty-Three

Sunday morning, on the day of my 33rd birthday, David got up with the baby and I slept until 10am; undoubtedly and by far the latest I have slept in more than six months. I woke up alone in my room to the light streaming in from the window. It was quiet. It was glorious.

Saturday morning, on the day before my 33rd birthday, I woke up at 7am to my baby talking to himself in his crib. When I went to get him he smiled his biggest morning smile, and we went downstairs for our Saturday morning routine. Diaper change, bottle, an hour of reading books and playing with toys, and a morning nap. While he slept I drank coffee and read my book for an hour until he woke up, and we started all over again. A little different from my pre-baby Saturdays where I woke up late, drank coffee practically as soon as my eyes opened, and read my own books all day.

This, I think, is thirty-three. I just went back and read what I wrote last year when I turned 32, and I laughed because I really thought my life would just keep trucking on in the face of such enormous, life-altering change, but, well, nothing about having a baby and becoming a mother has been anything like I expected it to be. 

Thirty-three is knowing the names of ten different kinds of bottles, understanding baby clothes sizes, knowing when it's time to switch to the next size diaper, understanding the difference between a cry because something is really wrong and a "I don't want to go to sleep, I want attention" cry and knowing that there is a difference between a crib sheet and a bassinet sheet and a portacrib sheet and why in god's name does every bed my baby sleeps on have a different sized mattress? It is realizing that you can, in fact, survive on just a few hours of interrupted sleep at night, but that when everyone told you that the sleep-deprivation that comes with a newborn is akin to the seventh layer of hell, they were absolutely, positively right.

Thirty-three is being frustrated by all the roaring opinions everyone seems to have about how to do absolutely everything associated with your baby, and even with yourself once you have a baby. It is realizing that motherhood is hard no matter how you slice it, and as long as your baby is fed, diapered, and reasonably well rested, and you manage to eat semi-regular meals and fit in a shower every now and then, you are doing just fine.

Thirty-three is realizing that no matter how much becoming a mother has changed me, the core of me has stayed the same. I still watch an unreasonable amount of TV, sing along to country music in my car, hoard romance novels, and love french fries. I still prefer staying in to going out, I still devour Entertainment Weekly, I still can't get into Mad Men no matter how many times I try, and if it doesn't have a happy ending, I still won't read it or watch it. And all of this makes me happy. Because even though I am now a person who has a minor panic attack when I see a mid-day email from the daycare director, barely bats an eye (or even changes my clothes) when my baby throws up all over me, celebrates when he manages to get food in his mouth and swallow without spitting it, and thinks that the Nose Frida is the most genius invention of all time, those details have managed to wedge themselves in between the parts of me that were already there.

I wanted to say that all of those things have fit like puzzle pieces, but aside from being horribly cliche, the change just hasn't been as seamless as that. Because thirty-three is also knowing that, however inevitable most of this change is, it is still impossibly difficult. It is feeling utterly unprepared for all of the newness and sometimes a little baffled that the hardest and most unexpected parts of new-motherhood are hardly discussed at all except in whispers, as if admitting that the new parent experience is rarely filled with sunshine and rainbows and the singing of the angels is somehow disloyal to this new person that we have brought into the world. But thirty-three also comes with considerable relief that, six months into this parenting gig, I think that I have started to find the new normal that works for me and I seem to be, finally, hitting my stride.

Thirty-three is trying to hold my friends and family closer than I ever have before. It is remembering how deeply my growing up years were informed by the extended family that raised me as much as my parents did, and how it continues to shape me as an adult. Thirty-three is wanting my own children to have exactly what I did - to grow up knowing that there is a village of people surrounding them and loving them as they make their way, and giving them a soft landing and a place they can always call home.

Thirty-three is being blessed with this kind of family - the one I was born into and the one that I have made. The kind that has opened their arms and their hearts, showered my baby with fun, and who have loved him like he is their own, because he is. I understand that now.

Thirty-three is constantly being a little startled by the fact that I'm the adult now because most days I still feel like I'm in college and should be sleeping in a dorm room and snacking on Cheez-Its and orange soda while my roommate and I listen to Eminem on repeat. It blows my mind sometimes that I have a baby, a career, six nieces and nephews, and a mortgage. It seems like that should be for other people, people who are older than I am.

But it's not. Thirty-three is starting to understand that this is my life and it's the only one I get, so I am making an effort to open my eyes, to really see what's going on around me and to make the best decisions I can for my family and for myself. I'm not quite sure yet exactly what I want out of this whole life thing, except that I know I want to be a good friend and a good partner, daughter and sister. I want to be a good and interesting mother and to raise silly, happy, imperfect kids.

Thirty-three feels like the beginning of something, somehow; like I have my toes on the line and I am just waiting for the starting gun to go off. And I think I'm ready now to grab whatever lies ahead, even if I can't quite make out exactly what it is. But whatever it is, it feels like a privilege to be here now - to love and be loved, to have family and friends that are mine, to have a baby who is happy and healthy and bright. It took me some time to get here, and I feel like I want to honor where I am now and, especially, the journey to this place. More than ever, I understand that this is what's important. That, at thirty-three, these are the things that matter.