One year as a working mom

Motherhood is a strange thing. Imagine the feeling of loving someone so much that the thought of anyone harming him makes you nauseous. Imagine that when you're away from this little person for only a few hours, you pine for him like it hurts. And when he smiles at you--light dancing in his eyes--the rush of adoration is indescribable.

Now, imagine wanting to get away from this tiny human, because he's a constant reminder that your independence is officially no more. This has been my experience as a mom: a confluence of emotions, ups and downs and the feeling of being totally overwhelmed.

Next week marks a year of being back at work post-baby. Dropping off Elliot at daycare was a confusing day. Was I doing the right thing by going back to work? What was best for him? What was best for me? And then going back to work; the guilt-infused freedom of sitting at my desk and surfing the web whenever the hell I wanted to. I never equated work with "freedom," but that's certainly how it felt.

I have to admit something that I'm not proud of: before I had Elliot, I looked down on stay-at-home moms. "What the hell do they do all day?"I often thought to myself. Well, Karma's a bitch, and maternity leave was not easy. An entire day would go by without any tangible "accomplishment;" and for someone like me, that's turns into a swamp of crazy.

Being a working mom is also a hard job. Like stay-at-home moms, your battery runs all day, and the idea of "me time" is truly just an idea. Sometimes, it's so overwhelming that the mere thought of bath time evokes anxiety and dread.

But more importantly, how do you reconcile the fact that you only spend a few hours a day with your child? What kind of parent are you?

n my case, I'm a better parent. Maybe in my case, the qualitative trumps (hate writing that word) the quantitative; however, until Elliot's a grown man, the inconclusiveness will remain limbo-like maddening.

As parents, we can all agree that facilitating our kids' happiness is pinnacle. How we go about it is a crap shoot; and I hope I'm making the right choices.

Oh hey, I'm gay.

Finally, I started referring to myself as "gay." I've struggled with this label because I never felt connected to the gay community, and stereotypes of lesbian women are so powerful that they deterred me from accepting who I really was.  Also, unlike a lot of LGBT people, Leslie and I don't have a huge circle of gay friends. For us, it's more important to have friends with whom we share other interests--we don't care who anyone's sleeping with unless it's good gossip.

When I was 35, I had what my friend Jill Layton described as a, "Gaypiphany." Ok, I always suspected I wasn't straight, but at age 35, I finally gave myself permission to love the way I wanted to. Logically, I turned to my group of lesbian friends for support, but felt like I had come up against a stone wall (ha!). Some of them thought I wasn't "really gay" and challenged me with questions aimed at determining the authenticity of my feelings (as if anyone has the right to determine this!). And some dismissed me as a typical "Jessica Stein," leaving me to wallow in feelings of loneliness and the pain of my first lesbian crush #FirstWorldGayProbs #PoorMe

But in defense of the lesbians, I also wasn't convinced I was one of them:

1. I don't like to camp. 2. Subarus. No thank yous. 3. U-Hauls. Never. 4. Beer. Never. 5. Home Depot. I'm scared. 6. What the hell is rugby anyway?

Stereotypes are really powerful because they can work to negate your true self: How could a jappy, french-manicured figure skater be gay? To me, it seemed unfathomable.

When Leslie and I started dating, I didn't formally "come out." Except for the fact that I now had someone to share my life with, nothing changed: I retained the same friends, my family still loved me and I benefited from the Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2015, which allowed Leslie, Elliot and me to be a legal family.

I've never marched in a Pride parade, I've never been done anything to raise awareness and thankfully, I've never encountered homophobia. For some, this might not make me as gay as they are, and I'm ok with that. I thank the gayer gays for fighting the fight I never had to, and for creating a society in which Elliot will grow up thinking having two mommies is the best thing ever. I am truly very, very grateful.

Six tips for sustainable weight loss

Several years ago, I embarked on a fitness journey that resulted in a 45 pound weight loss and a sustainable lifestyle change. Not only did this journey help me become healthier, but it also helped me understand that approaching things in steps is much easier than trying to do it all at once. It helped me to understand the importance of moderation. Sounds simple, but it wasn't; especially for someone in a romantic relationship with food. [embed]http://youtu.be/KShWGZyaizc[/embed] Looking back, I learned six important lessons that stuck with me and enabled me lose weight again after I had Elliot:

1. Find a gym or workout facility you like.

Yes, my workplace has a gym. But no one wants sweat alongside coworkers and have awkward, naked moments in the locker room. Towels are also very important, and the workplace gym doesn't provide them. So that's the reason this LB (little b*tch) joined the Arena District Athletic Club.  If you aren't a gym person, work out at home--it is possible. After I had Elliot, I did my friend Stephanie's 12 week fitness challenge, which helped me learn how I could work out anywhere, even in my son's nursery.

2. Drop the all-or-nothing mentality.

If you think you're going to go from Mama June to Jillian Michaels overnight, you're setting yourself up to fail. Any change is a PROCESS, and this is the hardest change you will ever make; so why should it be quick and easy? Remember, it took a while to put on the pounds, and it will take the same amount of time - if not longer - to get them off.

3. It ain't pretty.

If you aren't ugly and sweating, you need to work harder

5. Something is always better than nothing.
Your workout doesn't have to be a gladiator-like experience. Just walk for 30 min on the treadmill, to start. And on the days you don't want to work out, remind yourself that doing a little something is better than nothing at all.
6. Discover what motivates you.

For me, it's a good mix. Here's what I'm currently listening to during my workout:

  1. Chandelier, Sia
  2. Shut Up and Dance, Walk the Moon
  3. Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5
  4. Sugar, Robin Schultz
  5. The Sound, The 1975
  6. Closer Than This, St. Lucia
  7. We Got It Wrong, St. Lucia
  8. Back in the World, David Gray
  9. Everywhere, Fleetwood Mac
  10. Timber, Pitbull
  11. Enjoy the Silence, Depeche Mode
  12. Eyes As Candles, Passion Pit
  13. Things We Lost in the Fire, Bastille
  14. Dreams Today, Efterklang
  15. Black Water, Of Monsters and Men
  16. Time, Hootie & The Blowfish

Monday musing: Happiness

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When Leslie posted this picture of me, friends on Facebook commented that I looked happy, free and at-peace. I loved and appreciated all the nice comments; for, in that moment, that is how I truly felt. But I keep coming back to this photo because it captures a me that is so not me. It captures a whimsical, joyful essence that in my case, can probably only ever be fleeting.

When I was growing up, my parents always talked about the importance of "being happy;" how you could have all the degrees and trophies, but if you weren't happy, none of it mattered. All they wanted was for me to be happy, and at the time, I thought it was an underwhelming wish meant for a far less-achieving person. Little did I know that the struggle for happiness was (and is) the most overwhelming one I would ever face.

I think about happiness a lot actually. Maybe because it doesn't come naturally to me: I am not easily amused, and I have mucho de genetic factors against me. I come from a long line of depressive Debbie Downers; people, who without meds, would probably be labeled as "f-ing crazy." And, let's be honest, if I weren't medicated, I would too.

But even with the meds, happiness eludes me. I forget that it's something I have to work at. I forget that for me, it will always be a process, never a state of being. Also, I forget that thinking positively is more or less a superficial fix. To some extent it works, but it's often a bandaid that unintentionally invalidates negative feelings... and dammit, negative feelings are feelings too!

The truth is: happiness is a lot of work. Life might look effortless on Facebook, but behind all the effortlessly happy pictures of my wife and kid, there are struggles, fights and nights where I've laid in bed thinking that even Yemen is a better place than where I currently am.

We were at CD102.5 Fall Fest last weekend. Cool event. CHVRCHES played along with some other bands that I don't know as well (because I'm a nerd and fake music fan). I was chatting with an acquaintance, who said, "I love all your Facebook pics. You have such a great family." I should have just said, "Thank you," but instead, I replied, "Thanks. We work really hard at it." And that's the truth.

 

NYC: The High Line & the 9/11 Memorial

Leslie and I have been to NYC many times. In fact, I lived there for five stupid years when I was in my twenties. This time, it was my grandmother's 90th birthday that brought us to town; and although the party was in Greenwich, we decided to fly in a night early and hang out in lower Manhattan. Aside from the usual retail misbehavior, we did do two semi-cultural activities: The High Line is a very cool park that spans from the Meat Packing district to Midtown. It's built on top of old railroad tracks, and the path and gardens are scattered with outdoor artwork installations and sculptures. There are many vendors selling yummy bites, tees and art prints;  and of course, there are some incredible views. What really struck me was the perspective you get by being propped up at a height that's neither high nor low. Walking adjacent to a building's middle floors gives you the feeing of floating.  Or maybe I just had too much coffee.

The 9/11 Memorial is literally awesome. I hesitate to write that word due to its positive connotation and general over usage, but it is truly awe-some. The pools built on the buildings' footprints are stunning--the way the light reflects onto fast-falling water, and loud-but-soft echo it makes. I can't describe it, so just go there and check it out. We didn't make it to the museum because we had Elliot with us, but we'd definitely like to go next time.

Speaking of Elliot... I wanted to also talk to you about what it's like to travel to NYC with an infant. I could sum it up in one word {SCHLEP}, but I'll break it down to the three biggest problems navigating the Big Apple with a little bitty:

1. Taxis Unless you bring your carseat with you, be prepared to put your child in a totally unsafe situation: on your lap, in the back of the car with the seat belt around his waist and yours. Yup. That's what we did, and my brother-in-law, who is a pediatric surgeon, told us that it was extremely unsafe. He's absolutely right. What's the alternative? Schlep the seat. Would I do it differently next time? Probably not.

2. Steps If you go shopping (especially in SoHo), you'll find that a lot of store entrances have steps. If you're toting your child around in a stroller, it's kind of a pain. Then again, a deterrent to any store is not necessarily a bad thing if you're like Leslie or me.

3. Restaurants. They're often small and tight with little room to store your stroller. Prepare for awkward logistics and awkward moments in general.

Moral of the story: traveling to the city with a small child isn't ideal, and anyone who lives there and has kids is stupider than I am.