My Kids Won’t Stop Getting Older

IMG_5270I had a baby 21 years ago today. My second. A girl.

She came two weeks early and easily, swimming out quickly into the world like a good little Pisces. She joined her older brother, who came 17 months earlier and was so naughty, you’d have thought I’d have done anything that I could to prevent having another baby so quickly.

But when you get a night out alone with your husband and college friends and drink one-too-many Mount Gay and tonics, you find that your decision-making skills have become impaired. The booze softens the memories of engorged, leaky breasts and raw umbilical cords. It tempers just how helpless one feels alone watching QVC at 3 a.m. with an inconsolable infant. Or how long the days can feel stuck in a house with a toddler and a cabinet full of Barney videos.

So I got knocked up when my weepy first baby was a mere eight months old and while he had evened out by the time his sister came along nine months later – by then he had stopped crying all the time and had become a sweet little toddler – I had my hands officially full.

I was 27 and had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Not that I’d actually planned any of it, obviously. But while most of those college friends were building their careers and enjoying the freedom of being young and single in Manhattan, I was learning the words to Raffi songs and cutting boiled hot dogs into tiny, chewable pieces (this was back when hot dogs were still a highly-acceptable food staple for little ones).

And I’ve thought about it a lot, about whether I’d change things if I had the chance to go back in time. Would I be smarter about birth control? Some of those questionable hair styles? Would I even have gotten married?

But I spent a lot of time paging through photo albums this morning and picking through the shoeboxes that hold the photo overflow, the B rolls that didn’t make the photo album cut. And I’m reminded looking the kids in their Halloween costumes or opening Christmas presents or covered in bubbles in the tub that even though so much of it was hard – not to mention boring and thankless – I wouldn’t change a thing.

I mean, maybe I wouldn’t wear a scrunchie out in public or overalls the second time around, but I’d pretty much like to go back and do it all over again.

I’d really savor every second of the little voices, the little bodies, the little problems.

It’s hard to believe that that same little girl who I met late that night 21 years ago is now closer to my age that I was when I had her than I am. It reminds me of A: How old she is and B: How young I was and C: How old I have become.

She’s coming home this weekend for spring break and I’m looking forward to seeing her in person. To having a glass of wine together out in public and getting her to myself for a whole week. And even though she’s a good six inches taller than me now and by all accounts, a legit grown up, that girl will always be my baby.

Sure, she can buy cheap booze legally now, but she'll always be my little baby.

Sure, she can buy cheap booze legally now, but she’ll always be my little baby.


Sign up to get all my posts sent directly to your inbox. Just plug your email into the “receive new post in your inbox.” 

You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter, which will be fun since none of my kids will let me follow them.








What I’ve Learned in My 21 Years as a Mom

I wrote this essay last year in honor of my oldest child’s 20th birthday but aside from the additional year, all of the sentiments remain the same. 

0511-1010-0812-3638_Compass_Rose_Boating_Navigation_Equipment_clipart_imageTwenty-one years ago today, I bought a car. Or at least, I started the day buying a car and ending it having a baby. It all happened so fast.

My husband at the time and I, babies ourselves, were about to have one and having just moved to the suburbs, were in the market for a second car. I had already started my maternity leave – unable to cope with the long train ride in and out of the city each day – and he was off for the Columbus Day holiday.

And so, much like Columbus whose journey brought him to an unexpected destination, we set sail in search of an extra set of wheels and ended up with me barfing up a giant meal in the hospital before giving birth.

Here’s what I discovered on that day all those years ago: Being a mom is hard.

For months, I had envisioned all sorts of happy scenarios as I rubbed my growing belly and religiously devoured “What to Expect,” but none of it prepared me for the reality of actually having the baby. I had been so focused on the actual birth that I was not prepared for the day-to-day slog of parenting.

And so I had my truly excellent natural childbirth, bringing my 7-pound son easily into the world, and then everything went off script. He couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t expel the pesky placenta. We both labored until he was whisked off to the neonatal unit and I was wheeled into the operating room.

I ended up on the sad-mommy floor, the section of the maternity ward that shielded moms whose pregnancies had gone awry from all the happy families cooing over their newborns with rooms overflowing with balloons and doting grandparents. It was like being in the Land of Misfit Toys, where for one reason or another, our square-wheeled babies couldn’t come join us for a snuggle in our hospital beds.

The baby’s health was so unstable that the hospital had a nun come and perform an emergency baptism on Day 2. Talk about grim.

For many years afterwards – long before I had to end my marriage or had a child slip into the darkness of depression – the hardest thing I ever had to do was leave that hospital five days later without my baby. I had to leave him there, alone in an incubator with tubes running down his throat and wires attached to a shaved patch on his tiny head, and that, my friends, sucked.

I remember standing on the curb in front of the hospital with my mom and my mother-in-law waiting for my husband to come pull the car around and trying not to totally lose it, when the mother-in-law, probably trying to help take my mind off the dire situation, asked me how much weight I needed to lose.


And of course, the rest happened so fast. The baby quickly recovered and in less than a week, he was home and crying all the time, making me wonder what the hurry was getting him out of the hospital in the first place. While he was there, I had been religiously pumping breast milk at home so that when he could finally be fed, I would be more than ready to accommodate his little thirst. We immediately began passing thrush back and forth to each other, which for him meant a little yeasty white patches inside his pink mouth and for me it meant searing pain across my left breast. Like it was on fire.

So, here’s what I learned 21 years, three more kids and one less husband later: I was reading the wrong manual all those years ago. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”? That’s completely misleading. Moms-to-be should read something like, “You’ll Never Know What to Expect Parenting” or “Never-Say-Never as a Mom.”

Because we all set sail into unchartered waters when we become parents. We think we are clever, with our course clearly mapped and plugged into the GPS of our lives. But kids are tricky and bring with them lots of variables, their insecurities and emotions are the winds and tides that can blow you off course in a heartbeat. So we often end up standing on the shores of some strange land, not where we expected to be, much like Columbus ending up in the Bahamas rather than Asia.

But here’s the thing: as much as I was sure 21 years ago that my life would follow a certain trajectory, I’ve discovered that it’s better in the Bahamas.

photo (3)