She Not Me

56332937_957671817f_zLast summer, I had lunch with a former law clerk of our firm – let’s call her “She Not Me” – as part of my re-entry to the local legal community after coming back from Texas.  We had actually offered She Not Me a position upon her graduation many moons ago but she turned it down in favor of a judicial clerkship.  At the time, BossMan groused that she was making a poor choice, which I didn’t understand since in my limited experience a judicial clerkship was quite the plum assignment given only to those in the top of the class and were very marketable later on.

During my Texas exile, BossMan had kept in touch with She Not Me through community service stuff and had told me at the time that he thought she had had a miscarriage in the last few years.  Fast forward a while and we find ourselves in firms working right across the parking lot from each other.  I was eager to catch up with her, especially if she was a fellow miscarriage survivor. I remembered her as being a pretty fun person.  We finally got past the waving hello stage and set a date to have lunch.

Within 5 minutes of being in the car, though, I knew it was going to be a difficult lunch.  She Not Me was not who I remember.  She was swearing like a sailor.  While I am a fellow sailor, this was a Deadwood-level of gratuitous swearing. I at least try to be judicious with my swearing, especially around people I haven’t seen in several years.  In between swearing, she was telling me all about swaggering from job to job and becoming a partner.  Kids seemed on the distant horizon for her. She only mentioned that she and her husband were going to have a lot to learn about having kids – and weirdly, about how she almost bought a car that wouldn’t fit a car seat.  No peep or hint of any difficulties or miscarriages.  She also didn’t ask me much about myself or what I had been up to for the last 10 years.  She certainly didn’t ask about my kids.  I was very disappointed.  I was really looking forward to having a girlfriend around for lunch or the occasional hilarity.

A few days later, She Not Me drops the bomb on Facebook: she was pregnant and already in her second trimester.  I was pissed off.  The girl knew when we were having lunch that she was going to have a kid and soon, and essentially lied about it to my face.  Granted, we didn’t know each other that well and she was under no obligation to share her joyous news with me (although looking back on it, I had this feeling that she might be but then said, “Nah.”), but her way of handling it did not do anything to raise her credit limit.  I totally get the desire not to divulge a pregnancy until it is safe, but in that case, don’t talk about kids, period. Let’s talk about interesting cases, bosses, whatever, but not kids. I can have that kind of conversation. I have a life outside of my children.

I remained friends with her on Facebook, anyway even though every single post made me roll my eyes in a dramatic teen fashion.  I was still pissed off about the pregnancy announcement.  It got worse with the baby sonogram, shower pictures and eventual “we’re in love with our new baby” picture.  I was  beginning to feel that my angst towards this girl was not so much about her lying, but something deeper so I finally decided to try to figure out why this girl had gotten under my skin.

It came to me while I was making dinner a few weeks ago. Are you ready? It is this:  She is who I thought I would be and don’t think that I am. How is that for a mind f*ck?

My biggest career regret is that I didn’t pursue a judicial clerkship.  At the time, I didn’t think that I was good enough and so I didn’t try.  I wasn’t on law review and thought that would sink my chances.  I also wanted to know for certain that I had a job that was relatively permanent before I started studying for the bar.  I got my wish. I was hired by the firm I am still working at – relatively unheard of in this day and age – and heard many times from my now boss that clerkships are useless.

She Not Me, of course, clerked for a justice on the state Supreme Court.

And, there is also the little issue of how freaking long it took for Mr. X and I to have Rex.  I thought, given her rumored previous miscarriage, that She Not Me and I had some common ground.  I gently floated some of the troubles that we had had and she didn’t bite at all.  Now I know that She Not Me wasn’t going to bite because she was already pregnant. And, it turns out that she didn’t suffer my pregnancy-related depression or anxiety about whether or not I was even going to have a live baby. She sailed through her pregnancy on a haze of happy Facebook posts and gauzy baby shower pictures.  So far, it doesn’t appear that she has had an inkling of post-partum depression, or at least nothing that she’s copped to on Facebook.  By the time Rex was 4 weeks old, I was all over Facebook practically begging for comfort from people I hadn’t heard from in years.

In short, She-Not-Me appears to be sailing through this motherhood thing already.

I feel like she is my alternate, more bad-ass and accomplished self and she is sailing through the same wickets of life that I kept getting hung up on.

The problems with this conclusion are many.  The first is that I am assuming that what she is telling me is accurate and that her Facebook persona is even a marginal representation of her real life.  The bigger one, though, is my notion that I am not as bad-ass or accomplished as she is.  I don’t think this is the case.  I have to be bad-ass on a daily basis with this crazy life o’ mine and I bring it, every damn day.  I may not be as accomplished in the resume department, but I have a job that enjoy and am good at it.  It also affords me the flexibility that I need while raising two small children with a husband who works long hours far away.

In fact, she is actually probably jealous of me. Imagine that.

Requiem for a Dog

Our beloved G has left us.  We said goodbye to him on Friday, after having been his family for over 4 years.  He saw us through two IVFs, two kids, postpartum depression, a new job and a move to a new state.  He kept his sweet yet stubborn disposition until the end even though he was having issues getting up due to degeneration of his back muscles and arthritis.  He began pooping in the house and it got progressively worse and worse until the point where he would poop while laying down and not even realize it.  He also seemed really tired all of the time and didn’t have the same get up that he had even a year ago.  We estimate his age to be about 12-13, certainly nos doggie spring chicken.

We really struggled with the question of when we should let him go.  Should we do what we could to give him an ok quality of life for another few months even though he wasn’t able to do the things he really loved?  Was it just putting off the inevitable? Should we put him through another move and before that more time when he would be home alone all day because I no longer work at home? We decided that we couldn’t. We wanted to give him rest while he could still enjoy his last car ride.

Mr. X took him in to the vet. I knew that it would be too hard for me. I assumed that since G was really my dog, Mr. X wouldn’t be as affected.  I was wrong. The only time in the 13 years we have been together that I have seen him cry was the day that he took G in for that final appointment.  Not even the birth of our children prompted him to cry, but saying goodbye to our old boy did.  I loved him even more because of that.

There is a hole in our home now where he used to fit. But, we also know that it was time and he was ready after having had a great life, at least with us. He brought a lot of joy to a lot of people and will be remembered for a very long time.

My (So-Called) Purpose Driven Life

If you had asked me before we had Rex whether or not having a child would give my life purpose, I would have answered with a resounding YES with multiple exclamation points.  But, if you would have looked closer, the yes would have had a giant asterisk next to it and underneath, in small print, it would have read: “Note that above statement is based upon experiences of others and the author in fact has absolutely no clue whether or not this will be the case for her.”

Via Creative Commons by Steve Snodgrass

Now that we’ve had the much awaited and longed for and wanted child, I feel more of a completeness than I have in quite a while.  But, utter and total fulfillment? Nope.  And I want you to know that this is ok.  For you and for me.

But, it got me to thinking.  What would make my life fulfilling because apparently, being a mom and a wife and a lawyer is not completely doing it.  Which lead to the even more loaded question of, what is my life’s purpose?  Perhaps due to the cosmos’ perverse sense of humor, it was exactly last week in fact that I spent the better part of four days meeting with many different people who all had found a very specific purpose for their life.  While I didn’t share this particular purpose, I still was in awe of the fact that they had found something that they believed in and they dedicated their lives to it.

I know women who feel that way about mothering.  I know women who feel that way about lawyering.  I’m sure there are even who feel this way about being a wife.  But, what would make me feel this way?  What would make me go to the ends of the earth to know or do because it is my purpose in life? Unfortunately for you, dear Reader, I’m going to try to figure it out here.

In advance of this intense navel gazing, I give you a pass to skip this entire series of posts.  Really, don’t thank me.  Go find your own purpose.  Better yet, tell me about it when you’re done.  I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

Honey, Hand Me the Vinegar

I had heard that the first year of a marriage after a child is born can be tough.  I didn’t give it much thought at the time.  We were too busy trying to have the kid, so I wasn’t going to worry about what would happen when we had the kid.  I also figured that our marriage had already been Tested by so many things – a full house renovation, a hurricane, two kittens, five years of infertility, two miscarriages, a rescue dog – that having a baby, something that we wanted so badly, couldn’t possibly put us asunder.

Then we had Rex.  And my husband went from being my partner to being  another child constantly needing something and not helping.  At least, that’s how it felt at the time to my PPD-addled severely hormonal whack jobbed brain.  As the sleep deprivation and depression worsened and the laundry and dishes piled up, what had worked in our marriage before as an equitable distribution of the chores turned into an exercise in score keeping and endless events in the Most Tired Olympics.   It drove me crazy that he would come home from work and go on and on about how hard his day was and (I perceived) wanted my sympathy when I had been taking care of our son all day, which was the hardest thing I had ever done in my entire life, thank you very much.

Via Flickr Creative Commons by alsjhc

I see now that we were both thrown for a terrific loop when Rex was born which should not have come as much of a shock as it did.  We dealt with the curve ball in our own ways, which for all other major tests had worked fine, but for this one didn’t work at all.  One problem, of course, is that I wasn’t coping hardly at all with the loop and Mr. X was left trying to cope for both of us.  When I did try to cope I turned to keeping score on who did how many chores, how many hours of baby care, how many night wakings, etc. so that I didn’t feel like I was the only one doing anything.  I would build these ‘babycare points’ and try to redeem them for chore duties such as taking out the trash (yay! something easy that doesn’t scream!) or grocery shopping just to be able to do something that I knew I could do and do well.  I also desperately wanted to feel normal, at least for a little while.  How awful is that?

And, I felt like Mr. X was contributing to the problem, not helping.  I began impersonating a snapping turtle when I was around him.  I had an over abundance of frustration, anger and just sheer angst fueled by PPD and sleep deprivation that I would take out on him.  I couldn’t (and never had even a whiff of desire to) take it out on Rex.  In the 20/20 rear view mirror, I see that he did the absolute best that he could considering he had a hormonally challenged wife suffering from PPD, a job to hold down (including a job transfer that was foisted on him the day he got back from his paternity leave) and a newborn who did the usual typical baby things like screaming, explosive pooping and erratic sleeping.  And, bless his heart, he loved me anyways.  He must have been just as frustrated as I was but he kept holding us afloat.

Even in those dark days, though, I never told Mr. X how I felt.  I could see nothing good coming from that and I knew deep down in that tiny little sane place in my brain that I was really, really out of whack and not seeing things as they really were.  But, I did a lot of thinking and soul searching.  I addressed a lot of my long standing issues, issues that had been around long before Rex arrived on the scene but that I could ignore and still have a relatively easy life.   Now, though, everything was on the table, including how I would treat Mr. X.  I decided to make a conscience effort to just be kind to him.  No matter what.  No matter what question he asked, no matter what he messed up, no matter anything.  And, it’s been working.  It’s also been coming back to me.   I can tell he’s thrilled to have his wife back.  I’m so glad I could get back to him too.

Confessions of An Introvert Mom

I am the introverted daughter of a librarian.  This means that I like books more than people.   (Not you, of course. Just everyone else.)


jbwan via Flickr Creative Commons

Being introverted also means that I require a lot of time to myself to recharge.  A lot of time.  If you are thinking that this is likely incompatible with an infant, you are correct (see why I still prefer you to books?).  In fact, it seems like I require even more time than I did before Rex was born which is probably a direct proportional response to the amount of time that Rex deserves and requires.

Because Rex, being human and all, is a person who requires heavy interaction and entertainment, two things that easily drain my battery faster than your average person to person contact.  I’ve never been good at entertaining someone else for long periods of time – even adults! So, entertaining a baby for long stretches has been really hard for me.  Rex, bless his heart, is becoming every day more and more of a joy to entertain, though.  No adults I know give me such huge smiles or giggle at the simple things like he does.  Granted, very few would also probably let me tickle them.


I can always tell when I haven’t had enough me time.  I begin to get cranky, even with Mr. X’s company.  I feel physically and emotionally exhausted and want just to go somewhere quiet for a while to be alone.  Of course, with a baby, that’s not always feasible.  I refuse to short Rex time with me because of my need for ‘me-time’ but negotiating away me time is also not an option.  The solution?

I take it where I can find it.  This has meant getting creative about fitting it into my day, especially since I’m still working to pay for those diapers and the SimiCrack (not to mention socking away cash for the ballooning college education expenses).

I’ve become more disciplined about how I spend the time that I do have allocated.  Gone are the days of aimlessly surfing the net.  I read, sew or (gasp!) work on my book (aren’t we all?).  If I find that I’m feeling particularly drained in a day and don’t have any long stretch available in the near term, I will take a quickie 5 minute break and read a trashy novel.  Works like a charm every time.


I’ve also allowed Mr. X to help me.  Yes, you read that right.  I’ve come to realize that more often than not, I was not letting him help mainly because it was so much easier for me to do whatever it was that needed to be done.  The down side of this, of course, is that I was doing everything.  Stuff was getting done, but I was slowly losing my mind because let’s face it, folding the laundry, while productive and useful, is not a substitute for recharging time.  I realized that it was ok to let the clean laundry sit around until Mr. X got around to putting it away.  The world would not end, and it turns out that his schedule is not terribly later than mine.  So, rather than spend that time folding laundry or any number of things that need to be done but not right at this very moment, I will take that time to peruse a magazine, or play with the dog, or just be.

I’ve been able to squirrel away enough me time for now so that I feel normal again.  I’ve also recognized that I need me time like diabetics need insulin.  It’s what makes me work, makes me be able to take the daily onslaught with a modicum of grace and humor.  I also know that I can always find five minutes and I’m allowed to take them, if I need them, to recharge.

All Linked Out

I’m a somewhat half-hearted member of Linkedin.  I say half-hearted because I have literally a dozen connections, two of which are with co-workers.  I haven’t used it to its full potential by any means.

Nan Palmero via Creative Commons

I recently got an invitation that I’m pretty certain will not help me realize LinkedIn’s full potential either.

It was from none other than Dr. Salsa.  My RE. The man whose face I gleefully peed in, who harvested my eggs twice, wanded me more than a TSA agent, and finally impregnated me.  That Dr. Salsa.

My first inclination was ah, no. No, not even with a cherry on top.  The man has seen my private parts way too many times for me to be able to accept his invitation without blushing.  He saw me at my most vulnerable, on multiple occasions.  He literally has a map of my uterus.  How can I possibly be publicly linked to him?

It took me a few days to realize that a) it’s very unlikely that anyone who sees that we are linked would assume that the only reason was because he was my doctor; but b) even if these facts weren’t advertised on Linkedin, I would know. I would know everytime that I saw that we were in the same network that the only reason I know him was because he helped me to get pregnant.  I’m not embarrassed by this – I tell people all the time that we had trouble conceiving Rex.  I just want to be able to have that conversation – or NOT – at my choosing, not because a prospective client sees that I am linked to an RE.   Would they necessarily assume that’s the only connection? No. There are several other legitimate reasons why I might be networked to Dr. Salsa, but there would always be that question in their minds.

I’m all for being friends and sharing, but as Nancy Regan taught me, I think I will just say no this time.


Thankful to Feel Thankful

I’m a little late for a thankful Thanksgiving post, but I was rather occupied over the holiday overeating and chasing after the now vigorously crawling Rex (“no, not the fireplace, Boo Boo!”).  And, I had a hard time summoning the blogging mojo after all was said and done.  But, I wanted to share with all of you lovelies who still indulge me.

I have so much to be thankful for, but you know what I am most thankful for?  I am most thankful that I can feel thankful.

Via Creative Commons by Kyle Steed

Because, there was a time not so long ago when thankful was the last thing I would have felt.  Overwhelmed, sad, tired, tired, trapped, anxious – these were all things I felt.  I was so afraid that I had made the biggest mistake of my life becoming a mother.  I didn’t recognize my life anymore and I longed for earlier days when life was boring and predictable and, yes even infertile, because at least then I wouldn’t have to deal with such constant uncertainty and upheaval.  Yeah, really.

I had no perspective on my life, no measure to determine if I was really foundering as much as I felt.  I thought I was a terrible mother to Rex.  Sure, I met his needs, but I wasn’t as much fun as daddy or as loving as his grandmother.  I was pretty certain that he didn’t like me very much and I realized that I agreed with him. I didn’t like me very much either. I could not see how Rex could love me since I didn’t see anything really worth loving.

I made a decision – I could continue down this road of being my own worst enemy or I could slowly begin to love me for me.  I took baby steps in the beginning – no more nasty thoughts about myself, no more worries about what other people thought about me.  In the end, I don’t have to live with them for the rest of my life, but I sure as shit have to live with myself, so why not get along with me?

And I began to feel such peace.  Peace with me, peace with my life.  I accept my life now, all of it.  I embrace it, warts and all.  I see the joy in it and I also see the mundane.  And both are ok.  And, I’m becoming friends with me.  I like myself more.  I put that nasty little voice in a box and sit on the lid. And at the end of each day, I sit back and go over my day thinking about the highlights – good hair day, wonderful moment with Rex, good conversation with Mr. X, delicious glass of wine, and savor those moments.  I congratulate myself on successfully navigating situations that would have earlier brought me nothing but angst.

And, I feel thankful. Thankful for my wonderful family, for this beautiful boy who I grew and nurtured and now get to watch every day interacting with the world. Thankful that I persevered through the dark times to get to this light.  Thankful that I made the conscious decision to be present.

To Rex, On Your 8 Month Birthday

Dear Rex:

Eight months ago, we met you.  They put you on my chest and you looked at me with the most priceless “What the F***?!” look I think I have ever seen.  It was so appropriate, too.  You had quite a journey to land there and then what do you see? A very sweaty, teary lady with the exact same expression on her face.

Marcus Ramberg via Flickr Creative Commons

We have been through quite a lot since then, you and I and your daddy.  A learning curve so steep it sometimes felt like we would fall off into the abyss.  Numerous comparisons to raising animals, including the unfortunate habit of saying that we were taking you to the vet instead of the pediatrician.  Sleepless nights.  Sleepless days.  Hard work, which was play for you and work for us.  Lots of crying – mostly you, but some me.

And now, finally, joy.  You, simply, are a joy.  Your laugh is easily one of the most wonderful sounds I’ve ever heard and you smile with your entire face.  You are babbling now, saying “mamamama” and “dadada”.  I could really care less which becomes your official first word because I’m holding out for “dog”. It is amazing watching and hearing you acquire language.

You are beginning to crawl – that stomach scoot that is perfected in boot camp by army recruits.  You are inextricably drawn to the most dangerous objects on the floor and make a regular beeline for the animals.  The dog, for one, is becoming more wary of your little grabbing hands since they typically grab for his tail.  On the bed, you immediately head for the edge or the nightstands with their sharp, wood edges.  I can’t tell if its because you are a boy or that they are sending out some high frequency siren call that only you can hear.  You are moving us into keeping-us-on-our-toes territory.

You love to play cowboy on Grandpa’s lap and continue bouncing even when he stops.  You watch what we eat very intently and frequently make a grab for something that appears appetizing.  You love paper.  You love to crinkle it, to wave it in the air and to eat it, especially the light paper they put on the exam table at the doctor’s office.  Daylight savings time has wreaked a little havoc on your wake up time, but otherwise, you are a good sleeper.  You now sing when you wake up and can do it for up to an hour before you get cranky (we know, we’ve timed you).  When we do go in to get you up for the day, you do the worm out of sheer joy at seeing us and shoot us megawatt smiles.

These first eight months of your life have not been easy for you or for us.  But, thank you for being patient with us as we learned how to be your parents.  We’re still learning (and will be doing so for the next 18 years) but you are a joy to learn on.  And, while there are still days when I miss my old freedoms (Teen Mom marathon? Sign me up!), you make us laugh or display a new skill and I can let go of that former life without as much difficulty.

I am so excited to watch you grow, my little man.



Do I Know You?

In those first few years after Mr. X and I were married, there were times when I would find myself looking at him thinking, “Who is this guy and how did we get here?”  For as much as I knew him, physically, emotionally, intellectually, he was still sometimes this strange person in my house who I didn’t recognize from my former life.

Peek A Boo

If I had those moments with a man who I knew for three years before I married him, then you can only imagine how many of those moments I am having with Rex.  Let’s just say lots.  Part of the difficulty is that I have a hard time seeing me in him.  He is the spitting image of his father at this age.  I knew even on the 18-week ultrasound who he took after in the looks department.  Seriously.  The chin, the profile, it was Mr. X, which of course prompted a little IVF humor – at least we know they didn’t use the wrong sperm!

Even now, at almost 8 months, Rex is a bit of a mystery to me.  I’m still having a hard time reconciling the baby I knew for 9 months on the ultrasound screen, and then later through the belly Olympics to the one who is starting to crawl and wants to eat the dog’s tail.  He is his own little person who is slowly, but surely, developing his own personality.  The good news is that it looks like it’s a wonderful personality that is a joy to see emerging each day a little more.  And, he is starting to have a sense of humor, playing peek-a-boo or giggling while being tickled (his baby love handles are a particularly fertile spot for giggle induction).  I’m also starting to see me in him, particularly the eyes.

While this getting-to-know-you phase still sometimes makes me panic – oh my God! I’m sharing my home with this little strange alien creature who shrieks and emits foul smells and it feels like it’s going to be this way for the next 17 1/2 years! – I’m making a concerted effort to take a more positive spin on the situation:  he’s like a gift that we are slowly unwrapping; a flower blooming; a volcano erupting (er, or maybe not).   Each day, we find something new.

We are getting to know each other as people do.  I have to remind myself that he is getting to know us (and all of human kind at the same time), too.  So far, he’s doing a pretty darn good job of it.  I know that sooner rather than later, it will seem as if we have known each other forever and that was the way it was always meant to be.