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The Year of Lost and Found

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Originally posted on The PopCycle:
  Miles and Noni, May 1986 This has been a year…a year of me losing things…my mind, people and weight. There are such things in life as lost opportunities, “missed boats”…when the timing just isn’t…

Mom job

Here is your new job. You are a mom. Get ready. It’s an ongoing, open-ended, unpaid, on-call, open 24/7 nurse job with only 20 minute breaks here and there. Add doing it in 4 degree weather with bronchitis and a bad back…(that means when your three-year-old says “carry me” you wince because the idea of it makes you wince but you do it anyway and cry later) much later, like when they finally go to bed at 10 p.m. By then you are so tired you are seeing tracers…But even then, at the end of the day when you are saying goodnight…you know that it’s the best job in the world =). Take that you “I got a poetry meeting and seeing plays….pitching a producer.” I’ve got stuff like that too, believe me, I do….I somehow wrote a TV pilot…and stuff is happening…I think I have a play reading coming up, a few other projects…etc, etc. But I do that stuff in my free time…Ha ha…what free time? The above list is my day/night job. And guess what, if I need time, I have to pay for it — every minute. I’m on the clock right now. While I am diddling away a 30 minute break, my kid is creating a masterpiece.

The smile

Maya’s picture

Remember When I was Wild?

skiingnonGot to watch “Wild” last night thanks to a DVD copy from our friends. Great movie. I’m so happy that Reese Witherspoon produced the film so more people can know about this woman’s crazy story. When I was 14, I spent 28 days in the Central Cascades doing Outward Bound. That experience at such a young age really shaped my life. As a teenager and young adult I became avid backpacker and counted the peaks I had climbed. At 18 I climbed to the top of Mt. Witney in one day with my dad.  I dreamed that one day I would hike the Pacific Coast Trail. My friendships revolved around crazy backpacking adventures. I worked so I could buy Tevas, a stove, a better pack, the perfect bag. Given how I live these days — in a high rise building in New York City with a doorman with a husband who loves fancy hotel stays,  I guess I’ve changed a lot since my wild “walking” days. I also have a bad back, so I doubt that will ever hike the PTC. There was some point in my life when I could sleep anywhere, and I did — on trains, futons – ha ha — on the ground, upside down…instead of inside a hotel, in Athens, I slept on a hotel rooftop in my sleeping bag. I was the opposite of  luxurious. Why would I stay in a fancy hotel when I can sleep in my tent? Why would I drive a car when I can walk, ride a bike or if I have to take a bus? That was my mindset all the time. That’s who I was until….I got interested in playwriting,  and shortly after that, I started working in advertising…and started to meet more sophisticated people. I can recall the people I worked with in advertising never worked before the age of 22. I’d been working since I was 15. At 26 I got my nails (and toes)  done at a salon for the very first time.  These days I get my mani-pedi once a week. A luxury. I made fun of people who got their nails done when I was wild.

Despite my lifestyle changes over the years, I will  never completely change. I’m considering getting my groove on for some Snowboarding today. I grew up here, near the mountains. My friends were big into boarding and skiing and I often came along for the ride when they were off on their “Black Diamond” runs and I was stuck in some snow hole. But a manufactured glide down a crowded mountain, however beautiful, was never totally my thing. I was never super great at skiing or snowboarding. But as backpacker, I soared. I love a good hike, the fresh air, the view, the challenges, being one with nature.

And all of sudden my baby is turning FIVE!

Maya at her ballet performance, 2014

Maya at her ballet performance, 2014

“That’s right, mom, in four months, I’ll be five, then I’ll be six.”

Me: “Can’t you just be happy being four for awhile?”

My kid: “No, I can’t wait to grow up!”

My younger kid (who is two): “Me too!”

Me: “That’s it, no more growing up!”

My older daughter: “Mommy, it’s okay, if I didn’t grow up, I could never start kindergarten.”

Nothing is more exciting than the moment you are growing your family. Nothing. From just the two of you to “baby makes three” and then the remarkable moment that “baby makes 4.” For a long time you will be marveling at the creation of these little people, who grow while they sleep, who show up in the morning one day — both of them — running, talking, laughing, fighting — pushing you to “get you up.”

Need a change of pace, a change of stasis? Try adding a person to your world. When you have a baby you are adding a person to this earth and it’s a miracle.ImageImageImageImage

It’s a miracle. It’s remarkable — and it goes quite quickly, so quickly you will barely have time to marvel at it….you are so busy cooking them dinner and buying them new shoes. Take the time my friends. Hold them close. Cuddle and love them, even in those angry moments (me — every single day – ha) — and “be not sad that the baby time is coming to an end, but be happy that it happened in the first place, or at all. “This is a quote from my good friend and wonderful actor, Amy Dickenson. I think this just about sums it up. Many of my friends have kids going into kindergarten. Our babies are turning five this year and we can’t stop the tears, they just flow in those moments when, for example you walk in to pick up your little girl from her very last day of pre-school…forever. You know it, the teacher knows it but your daughter, it will take weeks to sink in fully. You exchange a look with the teacher and you see that the she also has tears in her eyes as she has watched these little kids, who were toddlers still when they arrived, turn into such smarty pants. Maya talks about things that I never would have dreamed of at 4. “Mommy, is that person speaking French? We never speak French anymore.” I didn’t even know the word “French” when I was four – unless we were talking about French bread. Maya has a favorite planet. She mixes colors. She speaks Russian “better than mommy.” And sometimes, I catch a glance of her to my right, out of the corner of my eye, and I’m shocked at how grown up she is already is. I see long, slender legs…and her beautiful little face. Sigh. What hell is coming to us? I await.  For now, I will still relish in her little-girl-ness. I’ll enjoy her tea parties and “cooking” and her utter excitement with the world.

To all my friends who are having babies this year, remember that it goes fast. You will barely be able to recall them as babies in a few years. It’s just the way it goes. Take a lot of pictures and savor the moment. I did. I do. By the way, I still have a two-year-old, but she thinks she’s four, but she’s still two. She’s still silly in the way that two year-olds are silly. Still wakes up at 7 just to “get in mommy’s bed.” I’m actually tired at 7. I’m not awake yet, but it’s okay, my little one. You can be next to me.

Missing My Mentors

I miss my mentors. I miss my old friends. As we get older, we will start losing people. Two of my mentors passed away last year — Le Wilhelm, who I loved with all my heart. He was so supportive of my work, and he was just such a heartfelt, real person. He produced my first play in NYC. But even when we weren’t working together, I enjoyed his Face Book political rants. He was very opinionated and Southern to his core. He was gay, but very Right and in the theater in New York….so he was pretty funny. I miss seeing those hilarious comments pop up on my feed. They made me smile. Carolyn French, who was an agent at the Fifi Oscard Agency also past away last year. I sat next to Carolyn when I worked at the agency and we became great friends. She begrudgingly became a fan of my playwriting too, even though she really wanted to me to become an agent. In fact, Carolyn invited someone very important to one of my plays years ago, and this person loved my play and invited me to “submit more material.” This was a TV executive. This was a very big deal. I wasn’t ready for TV at the time, so of course nothing more happened (mostly because of me)– but all these years later, this TV executive is back in contact with me again. Carlolyn was not my agent — and as I said, really didn’t give a hoot about my plays. But she saw my play, liked it and made a call for me. Perhaps it was “the” call of my life. Anyway, she’s been gone now for eight months. I think of her often. I still think that we will go meet up in Bryant Park for lunch, and I just miss her. A compliment from Carolyn or Le meant the world to me for different reasons, but the same reasons. One of the last things Carolyn ever said to me was to tell me that she thought I was a wonderful mother. I brought baby Maya to see her one day, now four summers ago and she couldn’t get over the change in me: “Oh Laura, you’ve found yourself. Just look at you.” Of course, this was both pleasing and frustrating to me as you can imagine. “No, no, no…I’m more than a mom. Ugh. This mom-thing isn’t finding myself, ” I thought to myself. But maybe, what Carolyn and others were seeing in me was a Zen that rises up within us as mothers. We are bigger than anything else, even our own ambitions in that moment. We are mothers.

How A Child Can Brighten Your Day

Tonight as I was putting my youngest, Lilly Poo to bed – “Mommy, you happy?”
She asks me this a lot, and it’s always right when I’m feeling not happy.
Me: (through somewhat gritted teeth, it had been a challenging evening) “Yes, of course! I’ve got you and Maya.”
Lilly: “And Daddy.”
Me:”Yes.”
Lilly: “And Gommy.”
Now I’m smiling wider.
Lilly: “And Gompo, and Katie and uncle Curt…”
Me: “Yes…”
Lilly: “And dragons!”
Feeling grateful, happy and strong because I’ve got dragon power, l kiss her and say, “Goodnight, Lilly!”
Lilly: “Night, Mommy!”

A Journal entry from my life six months ago

It’s hard to believe that this little munchkin is about to be four! As a mom, it’s challenging to stop and smell the roses and “pause.” I’ve been pushing a stroller and changing diapers and breaking my back and wearing my hair in a bun and barely showering and eating the wrong foods at the wrong time and forgetting to take my vitamins and not sleeping properly for nearly four years. One of these days I will fit into my pre-baby clothes and wear some other type of shoes besides thongs in summer and Sorrel boots in the winter. I will feel sort of important again and take myself seriously. Stop referring to myself as “Mommy.” Maybe I’ll even make $$ again. And return a phone call. I know us moms vanish for a few years when we have kids and double that for moms who have two in as many years. I feel like wars have happened, gun violence has taken over, my friends are getting really, really successful and loved ones have gotten married, had babies, turned up sick and are dying and/or have died already and I have barely looked up. I’ve been so busy. Life takes us all on our journeys and parenting is up there as the most important one. As one of my sweet parent-friends put it, it’s the most “present” you will ever be in your life…to your children. Maybe you are present for your children, but you are pretty out of it as far as everything else is concerned. Just try sleeping while your baby has the stomach flu. And imagine being okay that you asked her to barf in a bowl and she barfed in your mouth instead? Ah huh. That’s my life. And I get up and start all over the next day, and lots of the time I am having fun. I am, totally. I’m not lying about that. I’m just tired. I don’t look so good anymore I’m the first to admit. If it isn’t my broken out, dried out skin, or my yucky hair or my fat ass, or my suddenly size D boobs (I had B cups until I had kids) it’s something else. I realize that when my kids are mid-sized kids and my stroller and diaper days are over, my looks and my sanity might be gone too. If I was younger, I would say…maybe I’ll be back, but I’m not sure.Image