05 May 2006

next best thing

I am dreaming of being dropped off at the airport. I am dreaming of boarding a plane that will take me north. before I check in, I will stop at the newstand to buy an overpriced fashion magazine and some candy for the flight. I will fumble with the correct change and the cashier will smile vacantly at me. after I check in, I will sit with the others who are waiting. I will pretend to be bored and annoyed like everyone else, I will pretend to act like I hate airports and that I would rather be anyplace else but secretly, I love airports. everyone is going somewhere, everything is in motion and I find that ridiculously exciting. then again, I rarely fly anywhere so what do I know? still, I'll sit with my expertly packed carry-on and watch all the people until they call out the appropriate seat numbers. there will be the usual array of businessmen and older couples. there will be a girl in obnoxiously trendy clothing who will be on her cell phone. she won't care that everyone around her can hear her conversation. of course, there will be a woman traveling with a child (or two) and I will try to catch her eye and give her the secret motherhood nod. if I'm lucky, there will be some minor drama to witness or someone so engaging and odd that I'll have to stop and jot down the details. then it will be time to get on the plane and I will barely be able to contain my excitement. this will (no doubt) totally blow my cover as super-cool seasoned traveler but I won't care.

I'll sit next to the window because I always do. I always ask for a seat next to the window. it will be a packed flight but I am well versed in the ways of polite avoidance. I will bury myself in a book that I've already read seventeen times. I'll close my eyes and pretend to sleep but I'll be thinking of the people I love. I'll be thinking about the streets I'll be walking in just three short hours. occasionally, I'll look down at the patchwork of tiny houses and wonder where my home is in the context of it all. I'll take a photo of the clouds but it won't look just right. the flight attendant will offer me a beverage and I will gladly accept and request a diet coke. I will regret not asking for a regular coke. ice-cold coca cola is one of my guiltiest pleasures. at some point, I will use the pull-down lap tray because I love the pull-down lap tray. I will rummage through the carefully organized contents of my purse and pull out my moleskin and try to write something. but everything I write will sound corny and sad so I'll stop and go back to reading my book. or I'll read the useless articles in the magazine I bought and inwardly laugh at how stupid most celebrities are. this won't last long, this self-righteousness. I'll think of my own vanity and wonder why I feel the need to be so judgmental. as we prepare to land, I will eat the last of my candy and nervously apply lip gloss.

at la guardia airport, I'll meet my brother von at baggage claim. I will have forgotten to tell him that there will be no baggage to claim but it won't matter. it's as good a place as any to meet. when I first see him, I'll feel a little like crying. too much time spent apart and he will look older to me. he'll call me andy and we'll hug and then someone will make a joke. we'll contemplate taking the bus into the city but in the end, I'll decide to splurge on a cab. it will occur to me that I may later regret that decision. I will think of how that cash could've been blown at h&m or the fleamarket. it will feel good to sit in the back of that cab, though-- I will note random details of the interior as von and I make small talk. perhaps the seat will be ripped or the smell will be of something I'm unable to identify. we'll be jerked this way and that and as the city comes into view, my heart will sing and I will let out a long slow breath.

we'll tell the driver to drop us off somewhere around union square, with no particular plans in mind. the minute I step outside, my senses will come alive. the air will smell vaguely like garbage and roasted peanuts, sweet and sour and so familiar. I will be surrounded by people and sounds and something inside me will scream GO and I will feel intoxicated. we'll start walking south and talk for blocks and blocks and that will feel good. we'll buy cherry-dipped ice cream cones from the mister softee truck on the street. we'll sit and try to eat the cones before they drip all over the place and make our hands sticky. von will ask me what I want to do and I'll tell him, oh nothing... whatever, you know. there will be a slight pause in the conversation and I will retract that statement. all at once, the words will come tumbling out of me, everything I want to do and see and hear, everywhere I want to go. von will tell me about a couple of bars in brooklyn he wants to take me to. I'll tell him about a great performance at dance theater workshop that I want to see and will offer to buy his ticket so that I'll have someone to talk it over with afterwards. we'll remember the last time we went and we'll talk about how fantastic it was. I'll remember the name of the company (johnjasperse) but von won't. he'll go on to say that he'd never seen anything like that before and we'll talk for a while about the show-- about how uncomfortable it was to have the dancers performing on platforms located within (and practically on top of) the audience. I'll talk for way too long about modern dance and von will let me. then my eyes will glaze over at the thought of taking a class at dance new amsterdam. I will have already checked the schedule online and will tell von when my class is. again, I will go off on a tangent about dance, about how great the class will be, how much I've missed moving, how much I need this and again, he'll indulge me.

I'll mention something about just letting the weekend unfold. but could the unfolding please include a trip to the newly relocated 26th street fleamarket? could the unfolding also include a trip to h&m? to pearl river to buy goodies for ava and ezra? to the soho adidas to drool over new sneaks? to moto for dinner? and a trip to a photobooth somewhere? and a museum or gallery or two or three? and a movie? (I will already know what's playing at the angelika). I will ask if we can wander around the lower east side some as I will be dreaming of all the shots I will take. and we will sit there in silence, hands sticky from the mister softee ice cream cones. I will take wipes from my purse because I am a mom and moms always have wipes. von will laugh at this but it's true. and I'll realize that we won't even be able to come close to doing everything but that will be okay because I will have three days, three days to do whatever. and I will gladly take that, I will.

I won't think about how guilty I'll feel about wanting to have this time to myself. I won't think about how much I will miss them, about how I've never been away from ezra for more than 24 hours, about how badly ava wanted to come along and how she cried when I told her she couldn't make the trip. and I know it will be there, that uneasy feeling-- a combination of worry and fear and guilt. I'm pretending that I won't cry on the plane as it takes off, that I won't clench and unclench my fists over and over until I am calm. and right now, I'm not thinking about how deep down in this fog I am. I'm trying not to think about how sick I am of cleaning up messes, messes that never stop, monumental messes that keep regenerating like an amateur science experiment gone horribly wrong. I'm trying to forget the comment I made this morning about how mother's day should really be called maid's day. I'm trying not to worry about this child who has a horrible cold and feels unusually warm to me, who is nursing with sudden frequency and draining me of both milk and energy at alarming rates. I'm trying not to think about the weaning process and if I'm on track with it like I planned and all the various disciplinary methods and if I am spending enough quality time with my children. I'm trying not to think about how tired I am and I'm trying not to feel angry now that ezra is not digging our daily walks. the walks, they were my saving grace and it could be just a phase but today, I needed that walk. yesterday, the ez screamed at the top of his lungs for one whole block. that kind of screaming was one block too many for me, so no more walks for now. I'm trying to ignore the fact that it's lunch time and we are both still wearing our stinky pajamas, that ward and I had a terrible argument this morning and that my hair is the dirtiest it's been in a long time. I'm trying to pretend that this trip I am dreaming of will happen sometime in the near future but it probably won't. I'm trying to pretend I don't feel this deep down way that I do. but I do.


  1. I have read your blog for a while now and have never commented. I don't know why I felt compelled to today, I just hate to hear you so sad. From what I have read you have a beautiful life that has some truly wonderful people in it. You are in some kind of funk and it will get better. It may be cliche but raising good people is on of the hardest and most selfless jobs in the world. It always helps me to know that other people sometimes struggle with it. It's okay to be down sometimes, it doesn't mean we are ungrateful.

  2. perhaps comments aren't required or even wanted. I just wanted you to know that somewhere cross the country there is a girl in Los Angeles who loves checking in on your world, who got teary reading the last paragraph, who sends you a big virtual hug from over here and who will throw my 2 cents in the pot of manifestation so that you can get those three days away - or a least a damn good walk and a real long bath.

  3. Oh Andrea, my thoughts are with you. I wont even begin to say I understand the complexities of caring for two kiddos. I cherish my nephew and can never get enough of him, but I marvel at how my sister (and mothers everywhere) must find the strength to do every single day - every minute of the day.

    And I do hope you venture to NYC at some point, for my own selfish reasons :) I would be honored to visit a PB with you.

  4. Andrea,
    I know I haven't been a very good "reunited" friend with no good excuses except maybe my own personal struggle with the selfless commitments of Mommydom and keeping a home. I do so enjoy checking in with your blog. I am sorry that you are experiencing this yuck right now. Just know that this "fog" will lift soon and you will be seeing blue skies ahead. I have always admired you (even in High School) for your positive outlook and passionate spirit.

    I recently read an article called "June Cleaver Had it Easy" and it was about how we are evolving into a "child-centered society" which is inevitably a good thing, but boy does it put the pressure on us Moms! Now we are not only responsible for keeping a clean house and putting dinner on the table, but also the "well-being and personal development" of our children. The article really resonated with me.

    It helps me to know that you are not superhuman (because I so admire your productivity), and I will pray that you find your joy again soon. Maybe one of these days we can arrange a "Mommy-Getaway" together. :) Let's talk soon! Lots of love, Tiff

    PS. You have probably already tried this, but I have beat the "Stroller Resistance" a few times by putting lots of little treats on the snack tray when we leave home. I know you are not supposed to bribe-em with food, but I also NEED that daily walk so much!

  5. oh andrea.. this post has really touched me.. brought my to tears even. i can so relate with you.. not specifically, but some of the feelings. thank you for being honest and sharing with us. you're an amazing woman. i do hope you can take the trip one day very soon. hugs to you, my friend.

  6. your last paragraph brought tears to my eyes too - not because i don't think you will get beyond this crummy funk, but because of your honesty. call a baby sitter, get out of your house and do a few things for yourself , possibly an appointment for some pampering that includes at least one glass of wine? - you deserve it - for being exactly who you are. thank you for that.

  7. oh girlfriend i do too...and i would love to join you on this little trip...well, at least i can join you in the dreaming, and the voicing of a mama's experience, and the writing it out to get it out and connect with others who know just what i mean...

  8. I was right there with you on your trip. The details were so vivid and real that you had me reading a magazine in the terminal with you. I am sad to hear that you are having a hard time. I was in a similar funk yesterday - well, except I am not sleep deprived, I have no kids, and I can take a walk alone if I want. I mention these things because when I am in the funk I was in yesterday I think of people like you - moms with kids - beautiful creative, smart women with so much going for them, and so much to be responsible for... I thank God for you, I admire you and I snap out of my self pity as much as I can.
    Hugs to you today.

  9. your words are touching people.
    remember that.
    you may not be able to get in plane and travel today but your words are traveling around the world....so in a way ....you are a traveling too, because they are a part of you. those words are a gift, an inspiration and life to my tired eyes.

    thank you for sharing this little trip. i was so right there with you and now i want to go so badly too. i don't have children, but i do have a million other strings tying me down preventing these flights of fancy. thank you for sharing your flight today. i hope you get to go on a real trip very, very soon.

  10. Bad days suck....bad weeks suck worse. Bad moods that cling and fights that linger and kids that need and need and need. For what it's worth - I think you are effervescent and sparkling and the kind of mom I hope to someday be - even when it's tough. I like you.

  11. SUCH a good post, precisely because it is so honest. I have nothing but mad love for people who own all of their emotions. You're rad. This will pass. As you know.

  12. Your post filled me with so much delight and such sad reverie.

    You have such an amazing gift for words. Do you know that?

    And I love what Zabs said about you. "I love the way you appreciate things." It's so true.

  13. everyone deserves some time to themselves.

    and as i was reading and imagining your flight, i was thinking how on the plane, the flight aattendant instructs you to put your own oxygen mask first, before you save anyone else.
    andrea, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first. maybe ezra is a zen monk and knows you need to go on your walks alone. you deserve to have walks alone, creative life affirming walks with vision and balance.

    you deserve some time to yourself.

    regualr scheduled weekly time all to yourself, even if it is only an hour or two a day, or four hours on a saturday. when you fill your own well, you have more to give others.self care. sleep, water, vitamins and nourishment....and
    solitude. we all need them. you cn model this for your children, how to negotiate time for themselves.

    you deserve it.

  14. Oh i went so many places with you in my mind during this post. And now I'm crying! but i needed it. I needed the sisterhood of mothers. I needed to know I'm not alone, we're not alone. that though we are so soooooo blessed it is okay to feel this way sometimes.

  15. knowing you, i hope you know I giggled when I read the "mother's day should be called maid's day" line because it is soooo Corrona : ) and also because it is just such a great line.

    oh andrea, we really must get out again soon. and you must let the kiddies stay home with ward and take the trip. you must. you have been talking about it for months, and the time is right. the piles will wait, the kiddies will live, you will not be a bad mommy for leaving--you will be doing something that benefits you and takes care of you, and that also benefits the kids. it will be tough, yes, but sometimes the the things we need to do most are the toughest. i fear that if you do not go, you will only begin to resent that you cant. the time is right, seize the moment and make it a reality. you have earned it. being a free spirit your inability to be free leads to you feeling trapped and overwhelmed--nate is the same. you must have some sense of freedom, and that is very limited at home all day with a nursing child and with another one that needs a different kind of attention, with only one car, and with a monotonous lifestyle (which is unfortunately what having kids is all about when they are little.) PLEASE do it. Do it FOR your family. Do it FOR you. Do it FOR your parents ( you know they worry about Von up there on his own : ) do it FOR Ward, because he would love for you to go. Even do it for ME, and all the other moms who just cant do it and who often live vicariously thru your blogs. dont let the worry stop you. start planning, make the lists (you love the lists) and then write an amazing blog about the trip. now i must get back to the dishes....

  16. oh andrea.... what can we do to help? i wish i was your neighbor....

    pretend i'm pouring you a big big cup of tea, taking eva and ezra for the weekend and handing you 2 vouchers for plane tix to NY.... and lending you the D50 to snap away....

    big big hugxo

  17. oh girl.
    if i could...i would gladly babysit and let you run free.
    you could drive to nyc and drop the kids in baltimore for the weekend! : )

    deep breaths.
    please...know you rock.

    b.b.s.h. to you.

  18. once upon a time, a girl used to leisurely ride the F train and read an entire NY'er article from beginning to end. she used to stop into daffy's or loemann's or h&m and browse, not looking for anything in particular, just b/c it seemed like a nice thing to do. somtimes, she and her husband would meet for a drink somewhere after work before returning to their cute, minimalistically decorated one bedroom manhattan apartment. they'd head over to tkts some nights to catch a show at the last minute, would meet up with friends in the east village to take in some music and beer or would spread a blanket across sheep meadow and marvel at all the beautiful people.

    i long for your NY too, andrea. and i live here for cryin' out loud!

    for once i want to go to target with my kids and NOT have to deal with the slimy car service drivers outside of ours here in brooklyn who always try to rip me off when i am schlepping bags full of crap i never knew i needed. or wouldn't it be great to pile my kids into a minivan and let them scream as loud as they want or sing to a cheesy veggietales cd without having to worry like i usually when we're on a sweaty, crowded subway or bus? or, sheesh, how much of my life do i have to spend reorganizing toys that never get played with and clothes that no longer fit anyone so that our little but ridiculously expensive home feels somewhat habitable?

    argh, motherhood! atlanta, NY-- it's all the same. it's really, REALLY hard. and sometimes, frankly, i just want call it quits.

    but i see their soft round faces in the moonlight that barely makes it through the little window in the back of our apartment and i breath in, this is my NY now.

  19. I never comment either, but I hate to hear you sooo sad!!! It'll get better. Things always kinda do...you'll see :) No matter what you are feeling right now, from what I can tell, you are a great mom...just hang in there!!!

  20. sending you love, a massage,a journal, a cupcake, some cool new art supplies, and a posh hotel to stay in on your trip to new york. i am manifesting it for you.
    you deserve good things. it is okay to need a bereak. i call it "Too much world syndrome". give yourself a retreat and you will recharge. just remember that there are people you have never even met who care for you and we are praying for you and wishing you well, your invisible tribe. your bee people. we love you.

  21. Ohhhh, I remember those days [mine's 15 now, which is a whole set of other, but the intermittent screaming just goes on and on ;] and...I absolutely would not have made it through if my mother and sister and a few unbelievably good friends didn't step in and take her off my hands once in awhile. Sometimes they offered but most of the time I had to ask, and -- I have never been one to do that, and there is something about being a mother that makes you feel that much more like you have to be responsible for yourself because if you can't then how can you be responsible for someone else?

    In retrospect that is the most ridiculous thing, it is the most impractical burden, this belief that the simple fact of motherly love is enough to take care of everything. It isn't. There is only so much you to go around, and if you are devoting yourself completely to others, there is nothing left for yourself, and if you don't take care of yourself...

    Motherhood is 90% drudgery and 99% giving yourself up for a very long time and recognizing that doesn't make you selfish. Admitting you are exhausted because you are doing what several average people together could not does not make you incompetent. Admitting you need a little time off once in awhile from the most difficult, challenging, thankless job in the world does not make you a bad mother.

    (And if you really must have the but-what-about-the-children angle: Your kids will not grow up to be psychopaths if you are not with them 80 hours a day until the end of time. There is, however, a good chance that if you, their primary example and role model, are showing them that there is no space for independence in this role, if you are solely working and working and working for them and make no time to be your own independent adult self, if you are giving up all your creativity, your personal goals, etc., then they will grow up believing that this is what parenthood is, act accordingly when they have kids of their own, and be just as overwhelmed and miserable as you are now.)

    You *have* to make time for yourself, give yourself a break regularly, even if it is not the daydream trip just yet -- take a dance class, go on walks alone with nothing to think about but whatever you feel like thinking about, have a leisurely lunch with an old friend, sit in your yard drawing without someone asking for something, go on an old-fashioned date, whatever it is that makes you feel most like you. Make a list of everything you're not doing that you want to, tape it to your mirror, and start checking it off. It's not really the act of doing those things that makes the most difficult times easier -- it's *knowing* that there will be a little time to be something besides simply Ava and Ezra's mom, that 1% that is pure Andrea is still in there and it is the core of everything good about you and what makes everything else bearable and you have to take care of it. You *have* to give yourself something to look forward to.

  22. sweet lady, this is an amazing post and when you get back here to visit, i'm gonna make sure i get to meet you......i'm sorry for your day, i'm sorry that being a mama this week has been so hard and things will turn around.

  23. Ditto what amstar said. I have tears in my eyes, but I am thankful for the honesty.

  24. oh my goodness. i am a first-time mom of a three month old and i feel like this often too. as my due date got closer i resolved that i would never sugarcoat my experiences as a mother, that i would always be honest with myself. otherwise, i was afraid i'd slowly grow resentful of things. it's okay to feel this way. i hope you're feeling better and i hope you get that solo trip to new york soon! :)

  25. i completely understand the way you feel, i could never have said it so beauifully.

  26. Whew - I feel for you sweetie. You have more fortitude than I for raising kids, that's for darn sure. I can't imagine it...and I know it doesn't mean much coming from someone who's never had kids, but I think you're an awesome Mom. You deserve a break! I'd love to grab a sandwich with you if you ever did come up here.

  27. I just read this and don't know what to say. Except I hope things are better. I don't know if it helps that a stranger in Chicago loves reading what you put out there, the good, the bad and the ugly. *hugs*

  28. oh, i just read this today and i've been wishing for that same trip (only i dont dance and i have no von, just art galleries i would love to see and friends and a craving for food from a street vendor because we dont have enough of those here...)
    and then i saw that you were running away as much as running to and i just wanted to give you a hug and tell you how amazing you are.

  29. This was my first time reading your blog and I found myslef relating to everything you wrote. As the mom of a 2 and 4 year old I have often felt like I needed to run for the hills, if not for good than at least for a few days. It always made me feel so quilty to want some time to myself. In august I will be boarding a plane to nyc for 3 nights with friends. It will be the first time I am away from my kids (other than hospital stay for baby 2) for over 24 hours. I am already choosing NY shoes, bags and skirts. I never thought I would be able to let someone else care for my kids for three days, not even dad. If you can get away, go. Just planning this trip has made the daily grind eaiser.

  30. there must be somthing in the air, or the stars, or just kids lately, 'cause i feel the same way. i love these kids (i have daycare kids too) but my god. i just want to cry all the time!

  31. Andrea, I have been a reader of your blog for a few years, dodging in-and-out, and I don't think I've commented before (can't remember, in this fog of child-rearing, which after reading this post, I know you can completely relate to.) I found this post when I was trying to find Ward's "love tickets" (the ones he did in pen and ink that were wonderful) and somehow I came across this post. I know this was written in 2006, but I wanted to reach out and tell you that what you wrote was so beautifully honest and I was there with you, with every description, and yes, it should be called "Maid's Day," dammit. When we are caught up in this thing of motherhood, it can be brutal. By the comments left here, you know that you are not alone. It's strange, because all of our kids are older now, and maybe we'll look back on this overwhelming phase and laugh about it.....or cry.....because it IS hard. And we are the roughest on ourselves. I do hope you have had a chance to get back to NYC more than a few times....come to LA and bask in the sun (I know you're a fan of Palm Springs...it does a soul good.) Thank you for sharing this....there may have been a stressed-out, overwhelmed mama out there who read it and it saved her. I wish I had found this post on some of "those days."