Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Year Ago Today

Dear Gilly,
One year ago today, in a hospital in Manhattan, at 10:18 a.m.,
on what had to be the coldest day of the year (though I’m too lazy to look it up),
you were born.
It was the best day of my life.
Mostly because for many years, I thought I couldn’t have you
but there you were
half daddy, half me,
but 100 percent your own.
I suddenly felt this incredible responsibility to somehow do you justice.
We brought you home on New Year’s Eve in a snowstorm,
feeding you as the ball dropped hazily in the background.
And all throughout the year
there were really high highs (smiles, crawls, steps, words)
And really low lows (nursing woes, mood swings and have I mentioned the baby weight?)
Moments that made me beam (“Does she EVER get fussy?”)
Moments that confused me (Did we pick the right doctor? The right daycare? Are vaccinations evil?)
Moments when I had to admit that perfection was not an option (jarred baby food is ALMOST as good as homemade, RIGHT?)
And moments when I once again realized that your dad really rocks (“Sleep, honey…I’ll get her”)
There were times that made me feel like a baby myself (“but I don’t WANT to go back to work yet”)
And times when I realized that it’s OK to be who *I* was born to be (“Wait, I kinda LIKE being back at work”).
We saw you go from a little swaddled burrito
to a bye-bye-waving, “uh oh” saying, cabinet opening, dancing-and-singing, almost running walker.
I think it’s pretty fitting, Gilly,
that you were born at the end of one year and the dawn of another.
A time that makes everyone reflect on how they can be a better person
because you’ve certainly done that to me.
Happy first birthday to my little girl
(Cake is on its way.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


A lot’s been going on since my last post, and most of it pretty stressful. Gilly’s daycare center decided to suddenly—and unceremoniously—close its doors for good due to “the economy,” giving parents only two week’s notice to find new arrangements. This would be bad enough on its own, but dealing with it in the middle of a shopping, wrapping, baking, card-sending and party-attending holiday frenzy? Let’s just say I’m in need of some vino.

After calling pretty much every daycare center in Queens, I quickly realized that not very many accept babies under two for liability reasons. And the ones that do are booked solid and can offer a spot on a waiting list at best. Oh, and daycares in Manhattan near our offices? $2,200 a month MINIMUM, which is a bit hard to swallow. So it looks we’ll be doing a nanny share for the rest of the school year, and enrolling Gilly in an AWESOME school in the summer that’s willing to accept her into their 2-year-old program at just 18 months. She’ll have to get used to hanging out with older kids anyway, as she was born just two days shy of the December 31st kindergarten cut-off date, meaning she’ll start kindergarten at age 4 and always be one of the youngest in her class.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This new school is sort of quirky and artsy and looks like it comes right out of a storybook. It’s a little bit further out of the way for us, but it oozes good vibes and history. The kids look genuinely happy to be there, the teachers are friendly, and everyone seems to care about kids and families. Oh, and did I mention that the toddlers were singing “Jingle Bell Rock” while wearing dangerously adorable sweater vests as part of their holiday party? It was almost too much to take, really. So that’s the plan. For now.

In milestone news, Gilly has gone from tentatively walking to outright running! She’s super active and always on-the-go, constantly looking for a drawer to open, a door to slam, a paper to rip, a toy to grab or a Cheerio to throw on the floor while saying “Uh-ohhh” in a singsong voice. She’s super curious about everything and doesn’t want to miss a trick. Lately, she likes to stick by my side whenever I’m cooking, which sort of makes my day, to be quite honest. Her bye-bye wave is both outrageously cute and totally oddball…reminiscent of a British matriarch.

I’ve tried to transition Gilly from formula to milk, but she downright refuses—at least for now. While incredibly good natured, she certainly makes it quite clear when she doesn’t want something. Like, um, forcefully pushing it out of her face and staring you down like you’re WHACK. She loves Olivia on Nick Jr., and even mimics the theme song in a baby babble sort of way. She also seems entranced by The Backyardigans (especially the musical numbers) as well as The Wonder Pets…or maybe that’s just my husband. He’s become a TOTAL Nick Jr. convert. I can't tell you how many times I've been subjected to this little ditty.

Other than that we’re just gearing up for Gilly’s first Christmas and—of course—her first birthday! Which is a whole 'nother post unto itself, people.

Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

As corny as it sounds, nothing is more inspiring to me than seeing someone make their dreams come true. The trouble is, most of us get sidetracked and discouraged by everyday challenges, whether they be financial, health-related, or simply of our own making (i.e., “I’m not good enough to be successful at X,Y,Z, therefore I’m not even going to try”). We all know someone who’s exceedingly—almost maddeningly—gifted, but chooses not to do anything with their talents. Others have a vague idea that they want to do something “creative,” but no clue how to actually make it happen in a tangible, saleable way.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life purpose since Gilly’s birth, and even more so as her first birthday approaches and I reflect back on her arrival. From the first second I held her, I saw her not as a fragile being, but as a fearless one with her own unique calling. I realized in that moment that I would do anything I could to help her achieve what she was put on this earth to do, nurturing and supporting her without ever pushing her.

Interestingly, my “provider” instincts were ignited, setting off a surge of ambition unlike anything I expected to feel as a new mom. Suddenly I was filled with an intense responsibility to create a comfortable life for Gilly, even if it meant more time at the office than I would have liked with a new baby at home. I suppose this “provider” mindset is a typically male one, but it didn’t happen to my husband. It happened to me. Subconsciously I wanted to establish optimal conditions in which to cultivate Gilly’s purpose, enabling her to explore hobbies of interest, see sights, take classes, etc.

Another “new mom” development? A pressing desire to help others figure out and achieve their own purposes, which has always been a passion of mine, but not quite to this degree. I suddenly found myself encouraging friends to pursue their creative work, helping people land jobs, or wanting to mentor junior colleagues at my office. These acts are all maternally-related for sure, but they feel like more than that. They feel like part of my own calling. Being a mom has given me a new layer understanding about myself, about my marriage and about the world—another gift that Gilly has bestowed upon us without even knowing it.

I recently read this quote in Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star, and it’s too good not to share:

“Babies show up knowing the truth: Each of them is an utterly lovable, beautiful creature, with a unique mission in life and all the equipment necessary to fulfill that mission.”
I think we would all do well to go back to the pure place of innately “knowing” that we can and will fulfill our dreams and live our truth. It’s just a matter of believing it.

(Above photo taken in Union Square Park when Gilly was 8 months.)