JUST DANCE, GONNA BE OKAY

July 26, 2015

pool

Today is my birthday. I am 33.

This past year has been remarkable, in a very intensely personal way. From the outside looking in, it might appear as though nothing has changed from this time last year. I can tell you that is not the case; despite the fact that much is same, everything is different.

For starters, we’ve lived longer in this house than any other in all of the years I’ve been a mother. The kids and I have been at the same school and place of employment respectively for going on four years. We have created roots here in San Diego, and as much as I fantasize about moving to France, our life is here is splendid and relatively serene. We have made a home, one that is happy and often messy but always full of love. This is more stability than I have ever known, and it is good place to be.

Most of the internal tumult I have wrestled with since the devastating end to my pregnancy with one Roux Huckleberry Baker has been redirected, to a place so familiar and sacred I’d almost forgotten. Dance class, which, if you’re me, is another word for therapy.

I am a dancer as much as I am anything, and I’ve spent every week of the last eleven months reminding myself of this simple fact. It started with hip hop and ballet class through the local community college, and then transitioned to tap and jazz through Balboa Park. Now, I’m a bona fide regular dancing three days a week – ballet, tap, and jazz. Every single bit of me feels lighter and stronger, and I’m not even talking about my body.

When it comes to my body, though, there has been quite a shift in its processes, primarily in the form of the consumption of animal products, including some flesh, most of which had been absent from my diet for close to two decades. This abandoning of long-held belief systems in favor of evolution is perhaps the most tangible evidence of how I have grown: that I’m willing to reconsider everything – even what I had thought to be absolute truth – because if I’ve learned anything in 33 journeys around the sun, it’s that flexibility is crucial.

Fear is the opposite of flexible, it is rigid and relentlessly unforgiving, yet an oddly comfortable place to reside as it asks nothing more than for one to remain immobile. I spent a lot of time being afraid that I would never recover, and it wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t doing anything except being afraid that I finally found myself standing in first position at the barre. Every day since that first class has been a testament to my own resilience.

As I move into this next year of my life, my wishes are simple: to maintain this momentum I have found, to keep creating memories with the people I love most, to show a little more kindness to myself and to others each day, and to keep on dancing.

Oh, and riding my bike, which I just got as a birthday present!

Thirty three. It sure has a nice ring to it.

THESE ARE THE DAYS HE’LL REMEMBER

July 21, 2015

emettwelve

One of the first things we did this summer was to convert what was once my studio slash office slash baby’s playspace into a proper playroom for all three kids. My workspaces have been relocated, all the kids’ instruments have been corralled, Jade’s got her art station, Roux’s got an entire room to explore, and Emet’s got his screen.

Oh, the screen.

For nine years we’ve been without a TV in plain sight, and we did well without it. But my eldest is getting bigger, and as he ages he craves more connection with his peers. Even in our Waldorf school class, he is in the minority when it comes to kids with access to personal devices. Televisions are commonplace, as are phones and tablets. He had none of these things, and it was starting to create major friction. So we brought the TV out from the closet, set it up in the corner along with the PS4 Babe got as a gift last Christmas from a client, and purchased a couple games Emet had been talking about. While it hasn’t entirely eliminated the pleas for a cell phone, it has provided him a certain sense of belonging with kids his age that didn’t exist prior to this change in our home, and for that I am willing to reconsider my ban on technology. I mean, he is twelve.

Twelve! A certifiable preteen! My baby’s nearly taller than I am – if I were a gambling gal, I’d put money on him towering over me by the end of the summer – and what a delightful young man he’s growing up to be. Yet we are gradually sliding into arguably the most tumultuous developmental period, and I want to be prepared.

I won’t lie, kids this age are…intense. I remember vividly what it felt like to be twelve, all feverish with preadolescence, stuffed to the brim with an intoxicating mixture of hope, bravado, and naïeveté, wanting nothing more than for time to speed up so I could be a teenager already! That my sweet son has arrived at this point in his growth, the precipice of puberty, is as heartbreaking as it is exciting. The angst! It is real, and I remember it well.

I think it’s especially charming that he wants to “hang out with friends” as opposed to having playdates.

I’m trying really hard to embrace his desire to connect with mainstream pop culture, although I struggle with allowing him too much access because I find most of what’s available to kids these days to be overly sexualized and extremely insulting to their actual capacity for intelligent discussion. And the violence! Recently, I’ve gone on a quest to find characters in the media that are worthy of my child’s attention, and all I could come up with is Tavi Gevinson, who is quite literally a revolutionary young woman with a remarkable resume, a great sense of style, and an even stronger sense of self. Her movement, however, is skewed toward females the way Sassy magazine was when I was growing up.

I was an avid reader of Sassy back in the day and the fact that Tavi draws much of her inspiration from the early 90s is probably why discovering her work resonated with me so strongly – it is a nostalgic representation very reminiscent of the reconciliation of my own youth and the realization that I was no longer a child yet definitely not a grown up, those feelings still readily accessible, even as I approach my mid-thirties, feelings which are amplified by the fact that my very own kid is just beginning to explore the exact same dynamic in himself.

Only, when I was twelve, I had waaaayyyy more freedom than I allow my own child. I also had truly irresponsible and selfish parents, who mostly didn’t care what I did, and while there is a world of difference between liberty and neglect, I am beginning to wonder if maybe he should be granted more independence. I don’t really have any idea as to what this means practically, only an abstract train of thought I’m trying to better understand and hopefully translate into meaningful experiences for my rapidly growing first born.

So, dear readers. Allow to me ask you what you most remember about being twelve? What were your favorite things to do, and what did you wish your parents better understood? And while we’re at it, are there current media figures worthy of my child’s attention, and if so, who are they?!

COME HERE SPRING, LEMME KISS YOU

April 15, 2015

studiocitypalms

I made the fortunate mistake of watching the first episode of Daredevil on Netflix – fortunate because it was awesome, a mistake nonetheless because now I can’t sleep. Good news is that I got a decent nap in this afternoon, bad news is there’s no cup of coffee in my future and rooibos tea is nice and all, but it’s no freshly brewed French Press, let’s just be clear.

I’ve traded in some no-so-good-for-me habits, replacing them with ones that are a little bit more in line with where I want my life to go, as opposed to where it has already been. A lot of years have been spent in my head, thinking and rethinking and over thinking. I’m trying harder to plan, and do. I’ve given myself small, attainable goals in an attempt to begin to implement an entirely new routine around here. One that is simpler, but also more consistent.

This week, I’m focusing on these three things around my house:

1. A clean kitchen. This is a nice thing to wake up to, a clean slate from where to begin the day. Many things happen in my kitchen throughout the day, it truly is the heart of my home. I’ve taken to running the dishwasher each night + emptying it first thing the next morning, and am trying trying trying to clean as I go while I put my kitchen to good use. At the end of the day, before I unwind for the night, I do a final sweep, clearing any clutter from the counters and making sure our water filter is full.

2. A load of laundry a day. It’s really, really easy for clothes to pile up and then for the piles to pile up. Making sure at least one dirty load goes in and one clean load comes out per day has made a big impact in the way things can collect in places like the bathroom and next to the bed.

3. Vacuuming! Novel, I know. But we just invested in this vacuum and it’s literally changed my life. This little appliance might have been the catalyst to my new obsession with daily tidying.

Certainly nothing revolutionary, just good old fashioned housekeeping, which I’ve never really been any good at. There is something about approaching 33 as a mother of three that makes me feel like I should have this figured out already, so I’m attempting to play catch up. This exact same sentiment can be applied to a great many areas of my life – and it is! – which is to say, in simpler terms, that this is a season of active growth, of blossoming. Of working hard, of learning, and allowing for the possibility of new greatness to emerge.

THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF FIGHT LEFT IN ME YET

March 13, 2015

jennylewishollyandres

holly andres for the new york times

This has been one hell of a harsh Winter, which is saying a lot since last Winter was its very own kind of doozy. Maybe it’s a Winter thing? And I’m not even talking about the weather!

I’ve had a song on repeat as my own personal anthem, inspiring me to keep on keeping on even as the fires ignite faster than I can extinguish them. This has been a season of learning for me, great lessons I might not have learned any other way. I’m always grateful for the learning, it is so very good for my soul. Where there is learning, there is growth, is what I’ve come to think of the matter. Although, I’m more than ready to take a break from my studies, if you know what I mean. A full gap year, even, so I can put into practice all this new wisdom I’ve gained. Knowledge isn’t power if it isn’t applied, said a wise man once, which sounds about right to me.

Do yourself a favor, and find thirty minutes to watch this. Jenny Lewis is not only talented and beautiful, but she’s honest and kind of a bad ass when you get right down to it. I’ve loved her since long before the days of Rilo Kiley (HELLO, TROOP BEVERLY HILLS), and her music has provided an eerily fitting soundtrack for the last decade of my life.

And if you can’t watch the whole video, at least watch the live version of the track I mentioned above, which is part of the full interview.

PS: TBH is on Netflix right now, get on that!

ROUX’S ANATOMY

March 12, 2015

feverishroux

This week, it’s as though we’re starring in our very own medical drama, not just players of supporting roles in someone else’s story arc, but the central characters themselves. That sweet baby of mine can’t quite catch a break recently, having been to the pediatrician thrice plus a visit to the lab at Rady’s in the last three days alone. Not to mention the collection of a urine sample, which required a catheter, and a blood test that took one whole hour and two different phlebotomists just to find his vein. I’ve cried many mama tears in my day, but the kind that come from the eyes of a mother watching her baby suffer are the most painful ones to shed.

The good news is that we have a diagnosis, one that is common and relatively mild, a childhood virus that isn’t preventable by any vaccine thank you very much. That doesn’t ease the trauma of the last few days, but it does eliminate the worrying that comes with not knowing what is wrong, but knowing that something isn’t right. I managed to get a little sleep last night so I was much less bleary eyed at this morning’s doctor visit, what should be our last in this particular saga. As the anemia persists, he’ll have yet another blood test next week. And we’ll go from there.

I mentioned on Instagram that in a dozen years of motherhood, I’ve never had to consult a pediatrician on behalf of a sick child. My big kids have been remarkably, uncharacteristically, amazingly healthy. Of course I credit this with the attention we put into the food that we eat, and the fact that we do not ascribe the conventional paradigm of Western Medicine, which is to prevent illness. Instead, I believe in preserving wellness. Even having a baby as sick as mine has been these last few days, I believe in the healing power of the body more than I do any other treatment. Our doctor was so impressed that with fevers as high as his were running, he wasn’t dehydrated. He had maintained his sodium and electrolyte levels strictly through breastmilk, having nursed constantly throughout this whole ordeal. Extraordinary machines, we are.

He’s finally resting more comfortably, sleeping for longer stretches of time. He’s still very clingy when his eyes are open, which had his doctor a little concerned until she took one look at him today and proclaimed him to be in possession of a well honed flair for the dramatic. Wonderful.

This has been challenging for me, I don’t do well when I feel helpless or ineffective, which is about the only way I can describe the agony that is having to restrain your own baby during painful and invasive medical procedures. That stubborn Huckleberry has wanted only to be held + walked or bounced, not worn, not cradled, not cuddled, not perched on a seated lap, nothing other than his head on a shoulder in motion, testing my patience and tapping my strength til there’s not much left.

Oh, but how I grateful I am that he is well, that we all are well, and that things are finally finally starting to settle down for us. In general, across the board, which is quite possibly the biggest relief of all.

I’m really, really ready for it to be Spring.