The photo above was taken last month at Ludlow House, on the Lower East Side, for my sister’s pub day party. It shows a little bit of sparkle. And makeup. And the cool updo. And glitter. Gotta get my glitter back.
I couldn’t have scripted this any better.
This morning, I woke up and I lingered in my bed. It helped that my four-year-old was snuggled up with me, pressing his little body against mine, giving me a smile, every time we caught eyes, that started at his mouth and then spread across his entire face; his crystal blue eyes twinkled.
“Today, I am going to write,” I told myself.
And I meant it.
The morning was a typical summer morning on a camp day. I got the kids fed and dressed. I carefully applied their sunscreen, arranged hair clips and did ponytails & gelled side parts, and (quite literally) ran up and down the stairs and around my house to track down glasses, a dress, water bottles, a soft pretzel. Beau got sunscreen in his eye and I helped him to flush it out. Belle did a spectacular slide and crash combo as she hurried through the kitchen and slipped on the hardwood floor. It got dramatic.
Then, we danced on the driveway, the bus came to pick them up, I boiled water for my tea, I grabbed the laptop and my phone rang. It was my kids, from the bus, using a counselor’s phone.
“Mom?” Belle beckoned me. “Beau is hysterical. He is crying because the sunscreen is still in his eye.”
I then took 3 subsequent phone calls about his sunscreen-in-eye situation, asking if the bus counselor had a first aid kit or a tissue or a towel to put a compress on him.
No. No. Maybe.
I searched the internet for “sunscreen in eye” data and saw that crying was a good remedy.
Finally, with my tea steeped, my glasses on and my strength mustered, I sat down to write…
And WordPress was down. I am typing this now into a word document, hoping to be able to copy and paste it into a post at some point today because now that I have decided to write it feels like I cannot possibly publish this post soon enough. [Editor’s Note: 3 hours later and it is back…for now!]
But through it all, do you know how I feel? Do you know what I think about the things that I have done this morning or what I am doing in general or what I am capable of at this very moment? The words that keep playing through my head on repeat, just like when I’m having a technical difficulty with my record player (which, I guess is otherwise known as “a broken record”)?
It’s not enough.
I have now had this blog for 8 years and one month. I have blogged consistently and on this site I have shared some of my most personal stories; my triumphs and my trials. Throughout the years one thing has remained constant: when I have been slow in my writing – taking a “wriatus” as I have called it – it is typically because it is too hard for me to write. Not that I do not have the material; often times it is the exact opposite. It is because it is too much. There is too much and I do not know where to begin. Or, like at this very moment, there is so much to say but to try to do so would take a level of skill that I do not currently have.
I am not enough.
It has been a while since I’ve really dug in on here. Now is the time to change this. I am going to get super honest and super real. It is not always pretty, it’s not always glittery (or, in my case, studded), but it is authentic.
During this time I have had many exciting things happen, personally and professionally. As an author I have been given the chance to share my book and my message in ways I could never have expected; I have traveled to do book talks and signings, I spoke at March for Moms – in front of the US Capitol in DC, I coordinated programs for women and facilitated events for families, doulas, physicians and psychologists.
I did podcasts and tv appearances and magazine interviews and got to spread the word about perinatal anxiety and depression on websites and in new pieces of my own. I got to actually meet people, real people, who I know have read my words, but whom I never get to actually see. I got to hug them and take selfies and videos of me signing their books. It has been a dream come true more than I could ever, ever convey. It has been a gift like no other.
As a blogger I was, so generously, awarded Best Parenting Blog by Main Line Today for the second year. It means so much to me to be recognized for the honest content I try to provide. But, every time I see the banner for this honor, I feel a pang of guilt. Because, as of late, I’ve been an awful blogger. I write, but I have not posted consistently. Even the photos in this post are 98% iPhone snaps. Amateur hour. Authentic, but I feel like they’re not worthy. Not enough.
I have gotten to dive back into music, in a way that has been more rewarding than ever. I’ve gotten to stretch my musical muscles, literally and figuratively, and just performed a fun and fulfilling concert with my longtime band partner. It was 92 degrees, we played for an hour, outside, and it was simply awesome. Since our gig we have been starting to write our own music. I am writing music again. And, I started to play the guitar. I love it so so so so much.
My friendships are solid. I make time to connect. I am the recipient of a great deal of generosity and kindness from my friends and I try, whenever I can, to give back. My family is wonderful. My parents and I are in a really good groove (it is hard growing up, by the way!) and we are communicating better than ever before. My sister has continued to amaze me, as her book came out last month and it immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. On the day of its release I travelled to NYC for her book party, thrown by Vanity Fair, and got to speak to some of the biggest names in journalism and publishing, all there for my little sister; it was beautiful, surreal and my heart bursts when I think of it (by the way, the night is described here in this NYT article, by Maureen Dowd, and I like to think that when she speaks of the “well-coiffed” “elite” she is referencing my awesome fishtail braid up-do courtesy of Dry Bar, thank you very much).
My marriage has continued to evolve, as we have worked really hard at our partnership. I use that word deliberately. For so long, our dynamic was a constantly swinging pendulum between who needed more, who was caring for whom, and who was hurting most. In this present-day-phase, my husband has thrown himself into work in a way that I admire wholly and that means that I have to take on a lot of the responsibilities that we had previously shared.
Sometimes, because of this, I feel like I am giving him the Becca dregs. He gets the part of me that is tired after a long day of parenting and meetings and my trying to deal with my own intense and complex emotions. Last night, for instance, I got really angry with him because he ate my dark chocolate. It was a silly fight to pick, but at the time, it seemed big to me. There was a little bit of the dark chocolate left for me to eat, but – wait for it – not enough.
But, the one area in which I feel as though I am really able to give it my best is as a mom. I feel like a new version of myself when it comes to parenting.
On one hand, I am stronger and braver than I thought. And by that, I kid you not, I mean that I take them out more. I take them for more meals, errands and adventures than ever before. These are things that I perceive other parents doing with ease, but that have always been harder for me. Doing them has been extremely rewarding, as they are happy, I feel virtuous, and we all have fun.
Kenny had to travel a lot last month and that provided a new dynamic for our family. He was away for most of the middle of June, including over Father’s Day weekend, and I was counting down to his trip with mounds of trepidation and dread.
Well, We. Rocked. It.
On our first night solo after he left, the kids and I went to Parks on Tap with our dear friends, which meant I got to drink sangria and beer while staring at the beautiful city skyline on a perfect evening. The next day, I took the kids to the pool ALL BY MYSELF. Again, I realize these are things that the other moms just do. Which is why I appreciated this more than I could have imagined. We spent the entire day outside, as I watched them swim (I do not go in, thank you very much) and we took breaks for things like burgers and chipwiches and snuggles. We went back the next day, for Father’s Day, with my parents, and I could say things like, “yesterday we hung out here so I know that we need to ask for lids for our drinks over there” and while it seems so small, it was enriching and exciting and big for me. During this time both kids were off of school and so I made sure we did at least one fun thing each day. We were spontaneous. I stayed calm, always. I kept my house clean, mostly.
Even the hard times mean something to me.
The parenting challenges are always changing, the rules are perpetually shifting, and the worries don’t lessen or heighten, they just look different.
I do not have to worry about Belle choking on 9-month-old baby food because I want to give it to her when she is only 8 months old. I have to worry about her navigating relationships, understanding the difference between “bullying” (which she did experience this past year, but I am not going there right now) and “someone is just being unkind for a moment.”
Beau is so physically tough that I can sometimes take his safety for granted – like last week when he told me his ear hurt and I blew it off, only to realize THE NEXT DAY that his ear had been cut, was black and blue and swollen. I also now know that he doesn’t always choose to play sports NOT because he is not inherently talented and NOT because he does not like them and NOT because he is not competitive, but rather because he is uber competitive. He only wants to do things that he is good at and at which he can win. Whether it is a game of “Guess Who” between us or a game of catch with my dad, he wants to be the best. These new challenges are hard but also exciting.
I have big kids, now. And, I realize, that – god willing – I will look back at this in a year or five years and say, “Oh my goodness, Becca, you had NO idea. You thought they were big at eight and almost five? Ha!”
But, to me, they are big. They don’t need constant supervision. They can play outside by themselves. They can fix themselves snacks. They don’t need me as much anymore, or at least not in the physically demanding way.
See below to witness the badass-ness.
And, I love them with all of my heart and soul and they are the perfect kids for me and I feel so lucky to have them…
But they now both leave me at 8:20 in the morning, get dropped back off to me at 4:20 in the afternoon, and I am by myself the entire day, with less work to do than I had before and, if I am being really, completely, brutally honest, it is not enough.
I feel as though I am not contributing enough –
to our family’s income, to the people I love and to the world.
I feel the intense desire to write more (I would love to write another book) and at the same time feel stuck; lost. I knew how to tell my own story and, even when it was hard, I pushed through. Now, I do not know what to do. So I tell myself that it is OK, that it is summer and that because my book came out on January 8 I spent the first half of the year doing a lot of promotion and hard work and we switched our daughter’s school and so I was mom-ing hard, so I am taking a well deserved break(ish).
But now, I am a blogger who hasn’t been blogging, an author without a new project, a mom whose kids are gone most of the day and it feels yucky. Sometimes it really gets me down.
It is hard being so honest right now because you are seeing my vulnerability in a different way than I have shown it before. Before, I was struggling with postpartum depression, and I feel like that “wasn’t my fault” and it was something I tried very hard to help people to understand. As the site grew more and more and the book became a “thing” I felt as though I could speak about maternal mental health with authority, but also that I was part of this tribe – a sisterhood of sorts – of women who had also experienced prenatal or postpartum depression. That I was not alone.
But now, five years later, I feel like a little bit of an outsider in that way. I am no longer depressed, nor am I in the postpartum period. I am still an active advocate for mental health, and I fully stand up for any woman (or human) doing what he or she wants to do with his or her life.
But, look, it is hard for me to say, “What do I want to do with my life, today? Well, in theory I want to give back to the world and to do all of the errands that are on my list and cook a dinner that all four of us will eat AND come up with the perfect new book pitch for my agent. Buuuuuuut, I think I’ll give myself a little break and talk to my friend on the phone for an hour and then work in my greenhouse and then get my nails done and then eat avocado toast while I watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix for the 11th time, is that cool?” because I don’t think that other people do that. And, if someone else did something similar, but to which I could not relate, I would not judge! I would celebrate it! I am just judging myself. I am not doing enough or being enough or working enough or contributing enough or knowing enough or succeeding enough or recovering enough. I do some of all of these things.
Just not enough.
Today, like I try to do on most days, I am going to commit to doing one thing. Today, that thing is this. I am opening up about how I feel and why I am quiet and how I don’t know exactly how to get out of this rut. I know that I want to continue to write and blog and play music and be a great family member and daughter and sister and friend and wife and mother and human and not in that order. I just do not know how. If anyone has a manual, I will borrow it with loads of gratitude!
Oh. That reminds me. I am trying to have more gratitude. To acknowledge it regularly. And, I do. Just not enough.
Today, I wrote a hard post. Not the hardest by any means, but one that makes me look less glittery and more…
I don’t know. Meh?
The kind part of me wants to say “honest” or “vunerable” but I also feel like the thing that was once more glittery that has now lost its luster. And now it is time to try to get it back.
So, you know how in Rent when Maureen is doing her big protest against Cyberland and she stands on stage and gives an impassioned performance about integrity and not giving in to “the man” and its amazing and even if you don’t know what I am talking about can you just humor me, here? So, you know how at the end she implores the audience to “moo” with her? “Moooo with me! Moooo! Moooo!” she bellows (and “she” is Idina Menzel so “she” is amazing and makes “mooing” look beautiful).
That’s what I am doing, proverbially today. I am trying. I’m going to try to get my glitter back.
Let’s get our glitter back. Shine with me. Sparkle with me.
You don’t have to stand on a stage and shout it (or don a cat suit or moon an entire restaurant, though, to each her own) BUT if you can relate to my feeling in any way – if you feel less than or like you’ve been beating yourself up or, perhaps, not enough – then I’m here to say that you are not alone. And if you cannot relate, then I hope you have a little bit more insight than you did before reading this. Now excuse me while I go try to get glittery, again…
…after Dr. Bailey marries Ben on Grey’s. For the 11th time.