Wednesday, March 31, 2010


If you were to look behind my bedroom door, hung there is a giant shoe organizer. Beautiful high heels, in an array of colors. There is also some really pretty flats. Some stilettos, and a few Mary Jane style shoes. Purchased before kids. Purchased during another time in my life. I worked, and had zero responsibility. When I say that, I mean my responsibility was to be a law abiding citizen, a good person, and a contributing member of society. That would pretty much cover it. I worked and when I was not at work, I thought about me. I thought about my finger and toenails, and actually got a manicure and pedicure, once a week. My hair was so shiny and well maintained. I indulged in really fancy shampoos, and salon visits. My closet was filled with beautiful designer clothes, and really great vintage pieces, that I scoured the city for, to mix and match with my higher end duds. I had great bags, to match. I really enjoyed getting dressed, and thought I had really great sytle. Actually, I did. I always looked great. Those clothes still hang in my closet, presently. The shoes and dresses, pocketbooks, and scarves. All that of a uniform of a girl, that I no longer am. Three children later, and a decade more, these clothes are not only not relevant or appropriate for my daily life...they are flat out, out of style.
Why do I hold on to these things. They clutter my already tiny home. They take up space that I could otherwise use for the things that I actually use. I do not think I will ever be a size 2 ever again. In fact, I can say that with certainty. Yet, there they are. Behind the door, shoes no longer worn. Hung in the closet, a sleek suit that will never grace my body again. My husband tells me I am a hoarder. I have seen those shows on television. The people who don't throw garbage away, and can no longer use their home, as a home, because from floor to ceiling, there is just, stuff. Junk. Those people are hoarders. I feel that I have a reluctance of letting things go. I have a need to hold, or see something tangible, some sort of proof of a memory, that I have in my head. I not only need to remember how great I looked in my Gucci shoes, and Chloe dress. I need to hold it. I know that sounds mad. Maybe it is. Maybe I am. That desire has now begun to stretch it's sticky little fingers into the lives of my children. They bring home from school, these most amazing creations. Beautiful paintings, and drawings. Adorable writings, detailing their day at school. Milestones, and accomplishments, all on paper. Proof of their successes, and growth. Proof of them.
There are now piles of artwork, and doodles that I find too precious to part with. Mounds of yellowing paper, fading colors. But images that just astound me. Babies that came out of my body, able to draw, and translate the world they see, onto paper. How could this be thrown away? Would it not be like throwing part of their memory away? I struggle with this, as I know I cannot keep each and every creation. It saddens me to discard some of them. I feel like I am somehow negating all of their hard work. Like I am throwing away some piece of them. Like I would be throwing away a part of me, if I were to throw away my uniform of a girl, that is here no more. Would it vanish from my memory as well?
I hold my baby tight. I sniff her neck. The back of her neck, in that sweet little fold, where her neck ends, and her back begins. The scent is heavenly. I look at my daughters hair. The color is amazing. It reflects the light, and has a rainbow shimmer to it. I listen to my little girls never ending tales of adventures with monkey, her imaginary friend. The conversations we have together in the car. The songs they sing quietly, when they think that no one can hear them. How will I remember these. I cannot hold any of these things in my hands. I cannot put them all together and store them in a bin, with a label on them. I cannot bottle the smells and sounds that are my babies. Fleeting. All fleeting. Every memory cannot be crammed into my brain, as hard as I try. I can't remember my older daughter's baby smells. I can't remember the sound of her giggle. I see her now. How she is. A young girl. The baby within her, gone. I will never be able to take that baby out, and hold her. I cannot hold that memory ever again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just in case.

I have always had the habit, or compulsion, of being overly prepared. I use the word prepared, because I know of no other word that would describe the way I "plan". When I went on Olivia's outdoor adventure with the Girls Scouts over the weekend, mind you, it was a three hour long planned event, in the woods, which were located about five miles from our home, but I prepared for the event for almost an hour. Not only was I concerned about the temperature, and what should be worn, I had to take into account the possibility of getting hot, and uncomfortable. This meant layers, for both Olivia and myself. I also had to take into account, style. I wanted both my daughter and I to look "outdoorsy" yet casual, and not look like we were trying too hard. Footwear, and accessories, all taken into consideration. Even the way my braids were done seemed casual.  Like I was "roughing it". I also made sure that I had tissues, and antibacterial, some band-aids, and water, because you never know...we could have gotten lost, and at least I would have been able to keep my child hydrated. Even stranger, I also always feel confidant in the knowledge, that presently, I am nursing my baby, so at least, in the event of an emergency, or some terrible catastrophe, I am a food source, and could keep my children alive. I am not sure my husband would want to partake, but the option is there. 
I have also taught my children, as we live in bear country, how to react, if faced with a bear. They have been instructed that they are not to run, they are not to make eye contact with the bear (oh my gosh...could you even imagine!!) and they need to make themselves appear taller than what they are. They are to make noise as well, to attempt to scare the bear off. I also taught them that sometimes, a bear will try and bluff, and charge at you, in an attempt to scare you, and will most likely, not actually attack. (again...oh my gosh...can you even imagine!!!)I told them to remain perfectly still and allow the animal to run at them, because chances are, nothing will happen. (gulp!)  They are also aware that if an alligator is chasing you, you must run in a zig zag motion, as alligator's can only run straight, and you have a better chance of escape if you use this method of fleeing. My poor 4 year old, Charlotte, constantly asks me if there are alligator's in Pennsylvania. She is always looking over her shoulder when we are outdoors. The girls also know how to keep safe in the event of a lightning storm, they have had their phone numbers and addresses drilled into their young skulls as soon as they could speak, and we have even established a family secret password, in the event that someone, other than David or I , pick them up from school. All this in preperation for God know what. You just "never know".
This "need to be ready" feeling within me, started young. I remember dragging 3 stuffed toys and a pillow with me, to my mother's chiropracter appointment, "just in case", and I also vividly remember how I annoyed my mother by doing this. I recall going to spend a week in Brooklyn, at my cousin Jennifer's house, and I packed meticulously, complete with small Steno notebook pages, illustrating what top was to be worn with what shorts, and accessories. I had drawn every outfit, in colored pencil,  and labeled each with the day of the week that I would be revealing it. Overpacking was the only way I knew how to pack. I did, and still do, pack, taking into account, every, and any possible scenario that may arise. When I lived in NYC, I would go out to the Hamptons almost every weekend in the summer. I have lot's of friends there, and all weekend plans were always left to the last; what sounded like the most fun. There were parties, and bars to go to. Clubs, and beach bonfires. Each of these all requiring vastly different outfits, and shoes, purses, and jewlery. My bags were so stuffed when I departed to the bus stop, for the journey out of the city each Friday. To lug it from my apartment and up my block to a cab, was a Herculean feat. I had to literally bring everything  I owned, "just in case". I remember packing an Irish knit sweater, in August, because I thought that in the event of a beach party, and the temperature suddenly plummeted, I would look esspecially adorable in it, fire side. 
This "just in case" mentality also spread into acquiring housewares. I lived in a glorified closet, when I resided in Manhattan. It was advertised as a one bedroom. Yeah right. If you enjoy watching TV next to a stove. You literally had to "shimmy" between the wall and the sink, to get into the shower. It was claustrophobic, and cave-like, but it was all mine, and I loved it. When I moved into it, I went to Pier 1, and purchased wine glasses. I had this idea in my head that I was going to have a small gathering. An intimate cocktail party. Just thinking about it makes me crack up. The word intimate would have been an understatement. Someone would have had to stand in the bathroom, and a few people could have stood on my futon. I had 12 wine glasses in my apartment, that never got used there, "just in case". 
           I was in Pottery Barn one day, on 1st or 2nd Avenue. It is no longer there. I was window shopping. I spotted a butter dish. I thought it was beautiful. I could picture the butter in it, and the breakfast table it would be placed on. I could see the fresh fruit in a pretty bowl, and the orange juice, in a pitcher, complete with matching juice glasses. Pretty folded linen napkins, and lovely Blue Willow china plates. There would be sausage, and a stack of pancakes, with syrup dripping down the sides of them. Maybe even some croissants in a basket, wrapped in a gingham dish towel. Fresh flowers in a vase, and light streaming in from the abundant windows. I could see it. I could smell it. I could almost taste it. I needed this butter dish, for my future life. Even though it wasn't here yet, I knew it would come one day. I knew this with every cell in my body. I knew this "just in case" would come to be. 

And it did.    

Monday, March 29, 2010


My mother never played with me. Ever. I used to wish she would get down on the floor with me, and play Barbies. Or run around in the backyard with me. It never happened. She was a good mother, all things aside. Except for her alchoholism, and her inability to be demonstrative, she did a pretty good job. We always had dinner prepared for us, and wonderful breakfast's. She even sectioned grapefruit for us, as that was always the first course of our meal. I hated grapefruit. She never let us sprinkle sugar on it, to cut the awful sour punch. We had orange juice as well, and a small pile of vitamins. The main course of breakfast, was always centered around an egg. An omelette (the dreaded chicken liver omelette...need I say more), or her version of an egg McMuffin. Sugar cereal was banned in our house, and only something I got to have on a sleepover at my friend's house.  Oatmeal was also another breakfast, inserted in every few days, to break up the large quantities of eggs we ate. I was never a fan of oatmeal. My mom tried to make it appealing. She made a raisin face, and brown sugar hair. I ate the hair first, and always wished my oatmeal face had longer curlier hair.
When I fist moved to NYC, the first time, I was just 18. I was a freshman at FIT. I couldn't believe that after years and years, my whole life actually, up to that point, was spent abiding by my parent's rules. I had a curfew, and I had to eat dinner with the family, unless I had permission to eat at a friends. I had to still eat a healthy breakfast, every morning. I had to take my vitamins. I had to have a job. I had to clean the house. I had a lot of rules. A lot. Now, my parents were dropping me off, to my dorm, in friggin New York City!! They were setting me free!! It was unbelievable. They pulled away, and the first thing I did was set up my room. I put all of my posters up, and made my bed with my fancy new bed-in-a-bag, and put all of my shower stuff in my plastic basket, that I would have to take to and fro with me from the bathroom, down the hall. After the room was set up, I realized, I could SMOKE IN MY ROOM!!!!!!! I lit up a Marlboro Light (that is what I smoked then) and I sat back on my newly made bed, in my new room, on the 8th floor of Nagler Hall, and relished in the fact, that I could not get in trouble, I had no rules to follow. What an amazing time in my life, I thought. I smoked my brains out, and listened to the traffic on 7th avenue. It was better than the birds chirping, outside my window, of my childhood home. It was the sound of freedom.
The cafeteria at FIT was yet, another new discovery for me. I could not believe the choices offered. And coffee. I decided I was old enough to drink it, and drink it I shall, even though the taste was not really all that great. The sugar cereals were abundant! They were all in large dispensers, and with the twist of a knob, a serving would drop in your bowl. I liked to mix several different kinds. I had never had such access to Captain Crunch, and Fruit Loops, and Apple Jacks. Freedom. Cigarettes. The whole city as my playground. What an exciting time.
Yet my mother's healthy breakfasts and stringent rules always haunted me. I felt that along with my morning bowl of sugar, I had to accompany it with at least some fruit. I even drank grapefruit juice. I still took vitamins. These things were imprinted into my very being. These rules that I had lived by for 18 years were so hard to shake. My mother had told me once, that if I was doing something that maybe I thought I shouldn't be doing, I should just try and visualize her there, and would she like to see what I was doing? I cannot begin to tell you the amount of inappropriate times my mother's face would appear in my mind. Would she ever just leave me alone???
I helped my girls make a shelter yesterday. My daughter, Olivia, went on a Girl Scout day trip on Saturday. I went along with her. It was an outdoor adventure. They learned how to make fire, and how to get water, and how to fashion a shelter for themselves, out of found items in the woods. She loved it, and wanted to build a shelter here on our property. I was kind of excited that I learned how to build a shelter as well, and wanted to help out. We looked for sticks, and tree limbs, bark, and leaves. I have not "played outside" with my girls, I don't think, ever. I played store with them one time, and I swear to God, they still talk about it. It was two years ago, and they still say, "Remember that time you played store with us...that was so great". How sad is that? Have I become that mother? The one too busy making chicken liver omelettes, and worrying about money and bills, that I am letting the sand just flow through the hourglass that is their childhood. Will they one day, flee our home, and feel sad about the mother I could have been to them, and not remember happily the mother I am to them? Will they fill themselves up with proverbial  bowls of sugar cereal in foreign cities, in some sort of silent revenge toward all the things that I never was to them?
I watched their faces as we made that shelter. They were excited. They were talking in almost, shouts to one another. They almost seemed shocked that I was in the thick of it with them. I had to hold back my tears just watching them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I miss my washing machine.

In November, my washing machine broke. Rather, it died. It was a front loader. Purchased for us as a housewarming gift, ie; "oh my god Mom, we can't afford a new washing machine, could you buy us one"????? We are a family of five. For a time, actually for over 3 years, we were a family of 6, but that is a story for another day. I usually do two loads a day. I must, to keep on top of it. The girls clothes, my clothes, the baby's constant outfit changes, and David's work clothes really add up quickly. Add to that, towels, washcloths, dish towels, and pajamas, and it never stops. I get it done, and I look in the hamper, and it is full. I have mounds of clean laundry, yet to be put away, in every bedroom. (That too, is a story for another day) No different than anyone else's life. It is just daunting, and it has become one of my least favorite chores to do.
I came home from running an errand in November, and David met me at the door. It was as if he were going to break some tragic news to me, and wanted to shield the children from my hysterical response. Like he was delivering me the news of a loved one's death. I took in the information he was telling me. My immediate response was to swear. And the second thing that always happens in these situations is my questioning of humanity, and the forces of nature, God, and Jesus, my place in the universe, is this some sort of kharmic punishment, why me, and then a sense of pity. This series of emotions has washed over me more times than I care to remember. Like the time that we had no money, and just wanted to get out, with our new baby, and take a ride, and our car died, on the side of Route 80 and we had no cash, and no cell phone. Or the time that our car started leaking gasoline on our hot engine, while driving on the Cross Bronx Expressway, with all of the kids in the car. Or the day that my husband checked the subfloor of our basement, under our bathroom, because I thought I smelled mildew, and he came up and informed me that there was such a massive leak happening, and the subfloor was so waterlogged, it was actually dripping. Or the time when my husband called me, and informed me that he was getting laid off from his job, and I was 8 weeks pregnant. These emotions are not new to me, unfortunately. Shock and awe is a feeling I have become familiar with. Everyone has hard times. Everyone has devestating news to handle. When you are broke, however, it becomes worse, because, you have no way to solve the problem. It becomes painfully compounded, and I swear, it makes it that much more devestating.
A broken washing machine, I felt, was not that big of a blow, considering all winter, I worry about our ability to heat our home, and the possibility of that large machine needing replacing. (I hate to even write that, as I fear I might be tempting the Gods). It was broken, and to repair it would cost the same as replacing it, so that was the end of a washing machine, for now, in my home. Luckily, I had a friend in my neigborhood, who moved away to Germany, and actually left the very day that the washer broke, so she gave me permission to use hers, until her house was rented. It was like appliance kismet! My current stress over the broken appliance passed, only to be replaced with my new long did I have until the house was rented. Oh please, for me, let it take months!! How awful though. Let it rent soon, so my friend would be freed of this financial burden. I was torn. Think of her? Think of me? Quite a moral quandry I was in.
When I lived in Manhattan, I had no washer or dryer in my apartment. I actually would hestitate to call what I lived in an apartment. It was more like a room. I had to take all of my dirty clothes to the corner, every Sunday, and wash and dry them there. It was part of life in New York for most. The wealthier folks had washers and dryers in their more spacious apartments, but a lot did not. I knew uber-wealthy people who either sent their clothes out to be cleaned, or had their houekeeper do it, in the basements of their posh Fifth Avenue apartments. I was young, and really attractive, and it was almost a social thing to do my laundry. In warm weather, everyone hung out outside, and smoked, and talked. If you did it later in the day, some people got beer, and it became not a chore, but yet another facet of living in New York City. Everybody did it.  My whole neigborhood was full of single people. There was always plenty of exchanges of flirty glances, and folding your G-string panties and sexy little bras for one and all to see was just another form of flirting. There was no shame in going to the Laundromat. I don't want to sound like I am romanticizing the chore. Maybe I am . But it didn't make me feel low, and poor. Not like it does now.
So the house rented, and my time with my friend's washing machine came to an end. Now my fear was coming to fruition. I would have to go to the Laundromat.
3 kids later, and more pounds than I care to say added onto my frame, have caused the G-strings to become a thing of the past. Nursing bras, my husbands boxers, dirty onesies, and little girl panties have replaced the size 2 jeans I used to wash, the last time I had to use a Laundromat. Luckily, my dryer still works, (it is squeaking lately, so just by writing that, I am ensuring a future post about a broken dryer) so trips to the Laundromat have not been as painful. But they are different. In the suburbs, it seems to be that if you must use a Laundromat, it is because of some sort of class division. It is because you don't have enough. It seems the people in the Laundromat have no where to go. No one is hanging out outside, talking, and laughing. Actually, when I go there, everyone seems angry. I too feel angry sometimes. Maybe that I don't have the money to replace my machine just yet. Maybe because it makes my day that much more difficult, having to drag my kids with me, and hoist all of the laundry in and out of our car, and in and out of the machine's. It sucks. It is a chore. It is not the social, flirty thing that it was in my twenties. Maybe it never was. Maybe I was the social, flirty thing. Maybe life, and everything it had to offer was so new and exciting to me, that even the most mundane, everyday task, was exciting to me. Was I just more positive, and more excited about the possibility of my each and every day,  
and not so bitter?
 I do know, that I prefer the piles of my laundry today, than the laundry piles of my single days. The  baby clothes that I fold, and little girl panties, and my husbands boxers. I have a family. That laundry to me, is what I have been waiting for my whole life.
I would like to have the size 2 jeans again, though.  

Thursday, March 25, 2010


When money got real tight, (I am not sure when it was loose) I panicked and I knew I had to get a part time job. I also knew that I would have to do this job when my husband was home, so he could watch the girl's, as we could not afford childcare. I thought about waiting tables, and quickly remembered how I had tried that before. In Southampton, at a restaurant on Main Street, that my friend was managing. It was also my hangout on my jaunts home from NYC. I was laid off from my job, and collecting unemployment. My friend was willing to pay me under the table. My first day of waiting tables was my last. Someone needed ketchup, and tugged at my apron strings from behind me, while I was taking orders at another table. Let's just say that I didn't give off the impression that I was willing to accomodate this particular customer. I was immedeately put upstairs into the office, to do the books, and keep my distance from paying customers.
OK, so waiting tables was out. I considered working at our local hospital at night, but questioned wether I could still carry out my daily duties on no sleep. I saw an ad in the paper. Housecleaners wanted. I called. The owner of the company was looking for "professional" cleaners. What did that even mean? I knew how to clean. I cleaned my house everyday, for free. I talked him into it, and he said, "he had a good feeling about me". I got the job.
You think that I would have been happy. You think that I would have been excited to begin earning money that we so desperately needed. I was not. I felt humiliated, and I felt filled with dread. I felt ashamed. I didn't want a soul to know about this. I made the decision to do this because it was necessary, but inside, I felt that cleaning someone else's home was beneath me.
When I worked in Manhattan, my boss at the time had a housecleaner. Her name was Wanda. She lived on like, 199th Street, somewhere so high up, into the Bronx, and so alien to me. A foreign country. A place I had never been. She was extemely ugly, and short. Her teeth were awful. She almost resembled one of those pug dogs. Her eyes bulged out of her head like that. She cleaned my boss's apartment, and did all of her laundry, and ironing. Even put the stuff away. If you even mentioned to Wanda that you had a problem, or didn't feel good, she would make everyone stop what they were doing, and gather into a circle, and make us hold hands, and pray to Jesus. I thought she was nuts.
 She cleaned slowly. She was being paid hourly, and she really took her time. Some days she left when I was leaving, and I would see my boss pay her. Cash. A lot of it. More than I had made that day. Way more. It dawned on me that I was the idiot. I was working at a fever pitch pace all day, dealing with clients, and sewers, and design problems. Making phone calls to our cashmere producers in Italy, who spoke no English, and I spoke no Italian. Dealing with fittings, and running back and forth from the garment district, to clients' mammoth apartments on Park Avenue, delivering their gowns in time for another Hampton weekend, and I made less than Wanda, the pug??
My first housecleaning job was nerve racking, to say the least. It was a cabin, on a dirt road, beside a stream. I approached the house, and I swear to God, I thought for sure, this was where I was going to be raped, and left for dead. I found the key, and entered. It was cute. Someone's vacation cabin. It was dusty, and there were spiderwebs, and dead bugs on the floor. I had to clean it, in preperation for the owner's summer. There was an envelope of cash on the table left for me to collect. My "boss" said that I was to keep half of what was in there. He got the other half. There was $200.00 in the envelope. It took me an hour and a half to clean that tiny cabin. It would have taken me less time, but I felt I had to do a really good job. At least a hundred dollar job. I got into my car, and drove away thinking, I just made $100.00 for 90 minutes work. That is more than nurses make hourly. That is so much money. Cleaning people's homes beneath me?? What was I thinking? This was going to be great!! I could clean houses, make extra cash, A LOT OF IT, under the table. This was a dream come true.
Except....not all people trust a housecleaner to be alone in their home, and insist on being there, when you clean. The first time this happened to me, I felt a little bit awkward, but I could do it. I gathered up my supplies, and knocked on the door. The woman opened up the door. I gave my best smile, introduced myself, and proceeded to talk to her. I noticed something strange. She didn't look at me in the eye, once. She interrupted me, and told me how she liked her house cleaned, what she wanted me to really pay "special attention" to, and told me, very sternly, "start upstairs". I was actually offended. I realized at that moment, she thinks that I am beneath her. She thinks that I am just the cleaning lady. She would be more willing to talk to the person next to her on line at the supermarket, than me. I was here to clean. I kept thinking that she must think that I am dumb, or uneducated. She must think I live in a trailer, or that I am a single Mom, or maybe I have a loser of a husband. I remember becoming so angry. I thought, she doesn't know who she is dealing with. She doesn't understand who I am. This isn't what I want to do. This is what I have to do. For now. It wasn't always like this, and I hold onto the hope that it won't always be.
I remember leaving her home that evening. She "loved how I cleaned". She threw me an extra $20.00. She said she only wanted me to clean her home, from now on. She asked me how long I had been doing it. I lied. I told her that I had done it for quite some time. I told her that the money was just too good, that the hourly wage I made was so much, it was a no brainer. I had just cleaned her home, and my take was $140.00, plus she gave me an extra $20.00, and I made that money in less than three hours. Her eyes popped out of her head. She worked full time. She commuted Monday through Friday, had her one child in day care, and all of a sudden, she looked envious of me.  Me.  The " cleaning lady".
I had a lot more experiences like that. People talking down to me. People feeling sorry for me. I even cleaned houses while I was pregnant. The looks on people's faces when I showed up to their doors. Oh god, they were priceless. But they tipped me even more. I guess out of pity. I didn't mind. I took it. If it made them feel better, great. It sure made me feel better. 
I enjoyed being away from my kids for a while. I enjoyed being paid so highly for doing a job that no one likes to do. Scraping strangers fecal matter off their toilet's isn't a dream, don't get me wrong, but it was no worse than my friend Nichols' job. She was a nurse, in the ER, and the stuff she told me she had to do, was out of control. This was nothing compared to that. Nothing.
And I thought Wanda was nuts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Waiting rather than living.

Some weeks ago, a friend and I, were talking on the phone, comparing our days, and all that we had on our plate that particular day. She had food shopping to do, and house cleaning. I had the same, as well as a few other stops, and had to take along the baby, and my 4 year old, Charlotte. Dragging kids around with you while running errands always up's the level of difficulty of the task at hand. You may or may not accomplish everything you have set out to do, but you must make the attempt. My days are all a variation of the same day. A constant repeat of tasks. Feed the girls breakfast, shower them, get Liv to the bus, provide snacks for Charlotte, nurse the baby, try and guzzle coffee, nurse the baby, take a 3 minute shower that does not include hair removal, nurse the baby, give Charlotte lunch, give the baby lunch, unload the dishwasher, re-load the dishwasher, try and tidy up, and "clean" the house quickly, decide what errand I am tackling first, and if that includes food shopping, (which it does, EVERYDAY) decide on dinner and make a list, nurse the baby, in between all of this, I have forgotten to throw in there, changing diapers, and then I proceed to get us out the door, which is exhausting in itself. The errands are usually not fun. They need to be done at precisely the right time. The baby has to be well fed, and nursed, so she will sleep, and Charlotte has also needed her fill of meals and snacks, and just the right amount of liquids, so we can insure both a quenched thirst, and avoid not having to visit too many public bathrooms during these errands, which really upsets the momentum of the day.
The day rushes onward, in a constant forward motion. The goal: get it all done, as quickly, and effeciently as possible, taking into account, the quickest routes, as not to use too much gasoline, as that is another stress of mine. I probably have such an increased heart rate during this time of the day. I have my eye on the prize. Make it to pick Liv up from school, and get home, and now begin the evening portion, or the last leg, if you will, of this daily race. The rest of the day is a blur. Dinner preperation, loud screaming kids, LOUD, SCREAMING BABY. Trying to get dinner on the table, because my girls might drop dead right before my eyes, on the slate kitchen floor, due to lack of food. I like to compare this dinner time preperation to cooking with a fire alarm sounding. I love to cook, but dinner during the week, while David is still at work, is not a joy to prepare. It is a necessary evil that needs to be done as quickly as possible, taking into consideration the food pyramid and my kid's health while doing so. Sometimes, I wish we were more like snakes, and just needed to eat every few months, instead of the 3+ meals a day that I must chef up. Did I mention that the baby pooped, and needed to be nursed, and Charlotte pooped and required assistance wiping her butt, while all of this was going on?
Dinner is served, the nightly glass of milk spill takes place, (my husband's inappropriate anger rears it's ugly head, usually about this time) and then there is clean up. David usually takes care of this, because he knows how to "properly load the dishwasher". Thank god I have him. I don't know how I got along all these years without him, considering all of the filthy dishes I have apparantly eaten off of. (That would be sarcasm, as I don't believe I have introduced that side of myself yet.)
Girls are put in P.J.'s and teeth are brushed. Beds are readied to get into, the last bit of mind numbing Disney Channel is viewed, baby is nursed, and then finally, the moment we have been racing for the entire day. The end to it. Girls are put to bed, and baby continues nursing, and everyone is full, and asleep. Then, David and I go to bed. That's it. The day is done. The forward momentum finally comes to a rest. And we will rise in the morning, and do this again. We are constantly in a rush to get it all done, only to do it again. Everyday. Every single day.
When I was living in Manhattan, it was much the same. The day was far more hedonistic albeit, and self indulgent. The day began with a 30 minute long shower, and watching the news, picking something fabulous out of my gorgeous wardrobe to adorn my beautiful body, complete with matching bra and panties, and then extensive grooming, and careful makeup application, finished off with the scent I felt appropriate for that particular day. First Camel Light of the day, a stop at my favorite little Milanese style espresso bar for my morning cappucinno, and off to my job on Madison Avenue, where I looked at swatches and patterns all day. Examined samples, trecked down to the garment district to yell at the Korean sewers, and then have a delicious lunch, that usually included a fifteen dollar panini, and multiple cigarettes, and a lipstick re-application. The momentum, or prize of my day, was all directed toward what lovely little place I would be meeting friends for drinks at, and what bistro we would be dining in. That was my day. Throw in a few shopping trips, and multiple mani and pedi's, and that is how I rolled.
I mention all of this, because even then, in my delectably selfish twenties, I was always waiting. Waiting for the next part of my life to start. Waiting for my single days to end. Waiting to meet Mr. Right. Waiting to be proposed to. Waiting for the wedding. After I reached those milestones, then there was more waiting. Waiting for the baby. Waiting for the house to come. Waiting to move. Waiting for the better job. Waiting for the next baby. Waiting for more money. Waiting for the bills to somehow pay themselves. Waiting for my husband and I to get along. Waiting for his baggage to go away. Waiting for unemployment to end. Waiting for yet again, more money. Waiting for it to be five o'closk, or even four, so I could have a glass of wine. Waiting for a bigger house, or at least a cleaner one. Each and every day, I am waiting for it to be over and begin another. Waiting for a better tomorrow.
Did I enjoy all those fabulous, wonderful years in NYC? Am I enjoying these precious few years with my very young children now? When it all ends, will I actually be able to say, that was fun, I am sorry that I rushed it all, and always wanted more. What am I waiting for? Why am I waiting? Life is happening all around me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Two weeks ago, my daughter, Olivia, who is six, came into my bedroom at around 1:30 a.m. She asked to come into bed. I told her she needed to go back into her bed, and took her hand, and led her back into her room. She said to me quietly, "I already made my bed Mom.". Indeed she had. I looked up at her top bunk, and her comforter was smooth and tightly tucked around her mattress, and her pillows were neatly stacked, complete with the same three animals she places upon them everyday. Lining the bed, all neatly arranged, were all of her little animal friends. It was made as she makes it everyday. Painstakinly detailed. Obsessively done. She makes her bed like this as soon as she wakes up. Before she uses the bathroom, before she climbs down the ladder of that top bunk, everyday, made perfectly, as neat as a pin. I didn't have the heart to make her climb back up the ladder, and un-do all of her hard work. I took her into our bed, and tucked her in, and lay next to her, listening to her inhale and exhale, thinking about her silently making her bed, in the still house, as we all slept, and I quietly cried.
My daughter Olivia, I fear, is trying so hard to please her Dad and I. She see's a lot. She hears a lot. She takes it all in. She rarely complains. She is a smart, joyful child. Since the moment she was removed from my body. A joy. A light. She is a gift. But her parents are two stressed, worried, short tempered people. My husband stresses, and keeps it within himself, only to have it emerge in inappropriate anger, and frustration, directed toward the most begnin situations, ie; the dishwasher not being loaded "properly". I catastrophisize everything, from a knock in the car's brakes, to dwelling, and obsessing about every unpaid bill, and the zero balance in the checking account. I see a girl who, I believe, if she just tries hard enough in school, and just keeps her little amount of space that is all hers as neat as possible, and looks after her two baby sister's while I am cooking, and looking obviously unhappy, she just might make everything better. I believe this, because she is me, and I am her, and the little girl I see before me, is me at age six. The girl who was left home with an alchoholic mother for 48 hour long stretches, because her Dad was a NYC firefighter. My mother let us know each and every day how broke we were, and what a hardship it was to care for us all. I too did dog and pony shows in the hopes of "cheering my Mom up". Maybe if I was quiet enough, and maybe if I cleaned the bathrooms, and attempted to dust the house, she would magically smile, and never look back. She would never worry about money, and her and Dad wouldn't fight, and we would live happily ever after.
I must remember that little girl, more often.

Monday, March 22, 2010

East Hampton

It's Monday. I am drinking my coffee, the baby is eating pears and pancakes in her little chair, and Olivia is getting dressed, while watching Full House re-runs. She is really into that show. I think that is funny. We had a long weekend. We went to East Hampton. That is where David grew up, and my parents live. David and I met, and fell in love, and got married there. We lived in a little cottage by the bay. It had no heat. No heat. It also had no insulation. It also had the kind of fuses that screwed in. The place was a tinderbox, waiting to happen. We had a tiny wood burning stove. We worked all day, and came home, and the first job was to light a fire. That was David's job. He was the firestarter. I would prepare dinner, and open the wine, and light candles. We ate, and sat by the fire, and drank copious amounts of wine, listened to records, and told all of our stories to eachother, and played Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, for hours. It was magic. Pure magic. The house temperature probably never got above 50 degress, but we didn't care. It was the Winter of 2000, our Winter of Love.
David proposed to me, with his Grandmother's ring, that Spring, on the deck of that cottage. We ate pizza, and drank more wine, and called everyone we knew, to tell them of our wonderful news. It was such an exciting time. Everything was new. Life was on the verge of starting upon a new journey. Love made it all the more sweeter. Anything was possible. 
We lived in that house, on 25 Rutland Road, until 2003. We spent our wedding night there, had amazing dinner parties there, and late night gatherings, all with copious amounts of wine. (I am starting to see a theme here) We coneived our first child there. We brought her home from the hospital there and had sleepless nights where we all wanted to cry, right along with her. We packed our life up and moved to Pennsylvania. I cried the day we left 25 Rutland Road. It was the end of something so huge, and life changing, and romantic, and warm, and beautiful. It was a home to us. It was a home to our love. It's where it all began. 
We went back this past weekend. David's best friend, Craig, and his wife, Anita, purchased 25 Rutland Road when we decided to move out of it, and pass on the offer to buy it. I wanted to stay home, and raise our child. If we had bought the home, the mortgage would have been tremendous, and I would have had no choice but to work. It was a no brainer to pass on it, but a painful decision to leave our life in East Hampton, and our love shack behind, and head into the unknown. 
We have been in Pennsylvania since 2003. We moved here when Olivia was just 2 months old. David had no job, we had no health insurance, we knew no one here, and just thinking about that first year I shudder. It has been a journey of epic proportions here, in that time. It has been a struggle. It has had it's terrifying moments, and it has had it's joys. We welcomed two more beautiful baby girls into our family, and into our home. We have had many a night filled with copious amounts of wine. We have had Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit games by candlelight, with records playing. We have had dinner parties and holidays. I played Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy here. Cleaned up more vomit and poop than I care to say. Cooked meals, cried, screamed, threatened to walk away from it all, watched my babies take their first steps. Had birthday parties, and quiet New Years eve dinners, cleaned up boo boos, soothed fears, paid bills, didn't pay bills, ignored 800 number calls, perfected Chicken Picatta and Fritatta's. Cried over a miscarriage. Learned how impatient I am, and questioned my marrieage, and my purpose on this earth here. All here. in my home in Pennsylvania. 
We spent the weekend at 25 Rutland Road. Always strange going back there. The house is un-recognizable. They gutted it. Added a second floor. Tore off the deck that David proposed to me on. Replaced every fixture, and window, and floor board, doorknob, and sink. When you stand in it, and look around, it is not the Love shack anymore. Not even a little. But when you close your eyes, the sun still streams in just as it did the Winter of our Love. The birds in the trees still chirp their lovely songs, and the smell of the bay can be detected on the breeze. Their is a presence of us there. It will always remain.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Direct deposit happens at twelve midnight. The fruit of my husbands labor for the last two weeks, quietly deposits into our checking account while we sleep. However, before my feet hit the ground in the morning, and I have even had my morning coffee, David has already been up for an hour and a half, paying bills that have let us know in a very urgent manner, that they need paying, quickly. By the time I take my morning pee, we are already down $600.00. Not much left to live on for the next two weeks. And the girls need Spring and Summer clothes, and the baby needs new stuff, and I keep being asked "when can we start ballet class??" Gulp....
I purchased a handbag for $850.00. Yes, indeed I did. $850.00. And I paid for a bike messenger to bring it to me, from Bergdorf Goodmans, to me, at my job, on Madison and 69th street, back in 1994. While I sipped a cappucinno, and carefully unwrapped the lovely silver box, and it's pretty tissue paper, I gave not a second thought that $850.00 was quietly removed from my checking account. Didn't care. Had plenty more. And I really needed that Gucci purse. It was Spring, and I had to pull together the entire Spring and Summer wardrobe I had carefully crafted all Winter long. This was the cherry on the top of the sundae. I would look stunning. I could carry my Camel lights, and lipgloss in the high style they deserved.
This Spring, I will be dusting off my Target purse from last year for myself. I will somehow whip up a wardrobe for my three litle ladybugs, and in the back of the closet, the Gucci sits. I see it. It is still smashing. Still lovely. It breaks my heart to see it sometimes. It represents a level of self indulgence, and disregard, that I never knew I had in me. It also makes me shake my head in shame, and realize that, I probably wouldn't like that girl if I met her today. Although I would have loved her look.
And it pisses the shit out of me, because I could really use that $850.00 bucks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So if we bought a house we couldn't afford, you could help us?

My husband, David, came home yesterday, and informed me that the help we thought our mortgage company would give us, the help we so desperately need in order to keep our family in our home, would not be coming. When he was laid off for 6 LONG months, we were paralized with fear. When you lose your income, it is like having the floor fall out from beneath you. Literally. We were afraid we would lose our home because we were unable to support our family, and pay our bills, on unemployment. Impossible. When we were first looking at homes, back in 2002, we went to a real estate agency, which, conveniently enough, had an in-house bank, right there, in the office, to assist you in your mortgage needs. Great, right? We thought it was. The guy in the suit, behind the counter, with the giant logo above him, looked very official, and professional. Our credit was a bit shaky. David had a previous marriage, and some of his ex-wifes' credit card use was still showing up on his (ugh! a whole other nightmare story), and I had some student loan debt. We really didn't think we would qualify for a mortgage. Oddly enough, we did.Actually...strangely. And we were told, we could start looking for homes that cost more than $300,000.00. WOW!!
We decided to be responsible for once in our lives. I was pregnant withour first child, and felt a divine responsibility to stay home and care for her, and stop working. We knew it would be terribly hard to live on one salary, but we were determined to do it. We bought a home for $120,000.00. We don' t use credit cards, and we really do not have too much debt. We clip coupons, live on a budget, don't go out to eat, don't take see where I'm going with this. We have a checking account. No savings. We live paycheck to paycheck. Hand to mouth. No nest egg, no 6 month emergency plan. I could point to every piece of furniture in our home, and major appliance, and tell you how it was aqcuired, who gave it to us, what garage sale it was bought from. The couch in my living room was the couch in my home growing up. I laid on that thing with chicken pox...eeeew...anyway, we chose this life, in order to have me home with our children. I am not complaining, but making a point that when the one income goes away,the word devestating does not begin to cover the situation. We didn't want to lose our home, so instead of NOT paying the mortgage, we took the amazing offer of assistance, from my father-in-law. He knew my husband would become gainfully employed soon, and did not want us to be on the street. He paid our mortgage on time, each and every month, for all six of them. He helped us in a way, that we will never be able to thank him enough, or re-pay him for that matter. Not now at least.
The point of all of this, is that the entire time we had no income, my husband kept calling, and calling the mortgage company, and kept begging for help, telling them he was out of work. THey kept saying that there was nothing they could do, because the mortgage was current. The mortgage company actually told us in order to get help, STOP PAYING THE MORTGAGE!!!! We listened, and they came calling right away. We finally had their ear. They offered us help through Obama's program, and we were elated. My husband got a job, with the goverment!! Double elation!!! 
Now, even though my man is employed, with the goverment, no less...he had to take a HUGE pay cut. We were just getting by before. Now...scraping by. We have had to help feed our kids with food stamps. I had been cleaning houses for extra money, but in this economy, the cleaning lady is the first to go. Our mortgage company just informed us, that there is really nothing they can do for us. We don't qualify for the program. My husband makes too much. How they came up with that, I will never know. We qualify for food stamps, but not help with lowering our mortgage payment???It is nuts. And the kicker in this whole thing??? They told my husband that if we had more debt, and owned a home that we couldn't afford, maybe around the price of the original numbers we were given, when we decided to not listen to the bank, and borrow far less, yeah, those numbers, we would be able to be helped. So, being responsible and not borrowing more than what we can afford, has actuall hurt us. I am so glad my husband knocked on doors last winter, during his unemployment, and asked people to vote for Obama, because we were hopeful that our family, and our home could be preserved.
No money in the bank, $65.00 left on my food stamp card. Pay day is tomorrow. In one hand, out the other. The hamster wheel that my family cannot seem to jump off from.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Tooth Fairy has no change

My daughter, Olivia, had her talent show audition after school yesterday. I was more nervous for her than she was. She thinks she has an incredible voice. Like an American Idol, or one of those cute Disney stars she watches. She practices in front of the mirror, or anything that reflcts, and has perfected that warbling, tremor. She got wind of the school talent show, and announced that she was going to sing the school song in it. I really thought that she might be setting herself up for a fall, and was not overly encouraging. I feel terrible after attending the audition.I feel terrible that I did not have more encouragement for my confidant child, and instead, silently discouraged her doing this because I was fearful she would fail, and feel pain.I realize that all of the children were between Kindergarten and 2nd grade. "Talent" was a term loosely applied. There were other aspiring stars. An Indian girl singing Hannah was comical when in her thick Indian accent, she was singing deadpan into the microphone, "Everybody makes mistakes...everyone has those days..." And the kid "break dancing" to "Bust a move". Each performance so commendable in both it's innocence, and exhuberance. It was breathtaking.
When Olivia got up to the microphone, she marched. I saw her do it. Her head was high, her chest out. She was excited. Not the dread, and nervousness I was feeling, and would have been feeling if I were her age. She stood there, and with no music, sang it clearly, on key, with a smile on her face. Her classmates cheered! No joke! I saw the excitement in her face. The thrill of having an audience respond to you. I never had that before, and for a moment, felt a tinge of jealousy at what she might have been experiencing.
When we pulled into the driveway, her tooth popped out of it's socket. It had been loose for some time. She was overcome with yet, more excitement. Another milestone for her. A little bit closer to getting "bigger". My first thought....Oh crap, I have no money, and have already pilfered through their piggy banks. Thankfully, my parents had sent St. Patrick's Day cards for the girls, complete with two crisp dollar bills. Aaah....the luck of the Irish.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I need diapers.

Broke as a joke. Payday is not for another 3 days, and we have $40.00 bucks in the bank. And I have to get diapers. And I have to feed us all. And I have to somehow do this, and seem to appear unstressed in front of my 3 girls. Just another day in the life. We had a long period of unemployment, six months to be exact, and it was utterly painful. My stepson was living with us at the time, which was a living hell, and is a whole other story. I was pregnant. We found out we were having another baby in September of 2008, and then, my husband lost his job a month later. We lost our income, and our health insurance, all in one day. I was terrified, and I felt irresponsible. I had two small children and a teenage stepson depending on us, and then, to be pregnant on top of that was just too much. I had to apply for Medical assistance for all of us, and food stamps. The humiliation of having to send the county assistance office proof of pregnancy was really hard. I had not always lived like this. I didn't always stress about money. This period in my life was, and is new to me. I married for love. Total and utter love. THe kind where birds are tying ribbons in your hair, and I am happy I did. But love does not pay the bills. It might get you through stuff, but the living through it part is just unbearable at times. I used to sit, and think that if I could just have a date to mark on my calender, of when all of the stress, and misery, and the joblessness would end, I could get through it. The uncertainty of the situation, along with kids depending on you, was just the most terrifying aspect of it.
Fast forward to now, and we are indeed employed, but my husband was finally forced to take a giant pay cut, and we are still painfully broke, and unable to pay bills, or our mortgage. We are waiting and waiting for a loan modification, still depending on food stamps, and still just barely scraping by. Frustrating, stressfull....I need to know that date...I can get through this. Breathe..