jake-a-tude-a-thon day 346: happy birthday mr. twenty

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I can’t believe I didn’t squeeze you to death as a baby. It was love at first sight.

To the smart, funny, wildly charming, and completely adorable Jakey,

Twenty. Two decades. You bid a fond farewell to the teens as of today, buddy.

But WHAT? Wasn’t it five minutes ago that you were running around our Davis Ave. condo, wildly taking books off the shelves in the hallway, tearing up Emerson Park, giant green eyes with foot long lashes that made people stop me on the street to tell me how adorable you were? Well, wasn’t it? Five minutes ago?

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Bath time. You were only like three months here, but already you loved being naked.

It seems a cosmic mishap that you could be this old, which of course, is really young. but you know what I mean. I just don’t get it. And where is that little version of you? Is he in another part of the world playing Legos? I really loved that little dude. I wish I could see him again.

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Yes, your eyes really were this big.
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In your room, art work and “your cow” in the background.

But I know he’s in you. I see him every so often, when you are charming adults, just like you did when you were a kid. How many of our friends said of you, when you were a little guy, “I wish I could have coffee with Jake.” How many teachers told us they could just teach to you, but they had other kids in the room? You have always been a force of adorable, a meteor of charisma, a dynamic presence.

 

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Rocking the overalls, Christmas on Elm Street.
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Yup, you on the Vineyard with your good friend Sophie. You’ve always been a show stopper.

 

My love for you is as big as the sun and as powerful as the gosh darn internet. It fills me up, makes me better, stays with me like a shadow. Sometimes I think about how you almost weren’t, about how hard it was for the egg and sperm to do their dance, on account of my faulty insides, And I think how different my life would be, how much less it would be without you. Our connection is deep and big and real. The way we know each other’s thoughts in a glance. The way our minds work. Lucky. I got lucky that things came together in just the right way for me to have you.
To know you. To love you.

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Switzerland,  fourth grade.

You are twenty. And intelligent, and incredible, and ready for everything. Take your time. There is time. Be a force of good. Be a leader. Go boldly, but wisely. Have fun, but be smart. Learn everything there is to learn. It will inform the rest of your life. It will make everyday richer. Take it all in. You are at the start. Be big, stay open, and laugh. Keep laughing.

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Barcelona, 2014.

I am so proud of you, Jake, like billboard-on-Hollywood-Boulevard proud. You’re good inside. You’re my most special thing (you and your sister), my best thing. You can be or do anything you want to do or be. I send you out there with my love embedded inside you, to remember that when you are tired, I can be your battery, that when you doubt yourself, when you mess up, my love will still be there. Right inside your heart.

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About to get your BHS diploma.

You are everything. Even more than everything. And you are twenty.

Happy birthday. I am so gratitude-a-thon grateful to be your mom. What a privilege.

Be amazing. Fight on. I love you.

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A boy and his mom. GOD, I LOVE YOU.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 435: voyeuristic high

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I never miss the tv show, The Voice. It’s a better version of the singling competition, American Idol, in that, the judges are turned away from the singer, so they can only hear their voice, and not see what they look like (hence the clever, little name of the show). There are four judges, and they hit their buttons if they like a singer. When more than one hits, the power is in the singer’s hands. They get to choose which coach’s team they’d like to be on. That little piece of brilliance is a great part of this show, because you get to watch a celebrity beg a regular person to be on their team, which is just a super fun turn of the tables.

Here’s the thing, I’ve decided that it’s good for you to watch people’s dreams come true. Many of the singers have a story. They’ve lost a parent, or they’ve had to quit music to help out their families, or they’re raising a child alone, or they were bullied, ignored, introverted, sick, living in poverty, or challenged in some profound way while they were growing up. Of course, some of the singers are just regular, too. But the thing is, they all know that being chosen to be on The Voice, will change their lives. And as I watch Adam Levine (who used to be my celeb crush), Pharrel Williams (my new celeb crush. This guy is a soulful, thoughtful, brilliant slice of pie), Gwen Stefani (I don’t love her, but you can’t have everything), and Blake Shelton (his Southern charm and sincerity is downright seductive) hand out dreams like they are handing out Halloween candy, I smile. I mean I really smile. Through the entire show. I have a grin on my face for 60 minutes. I can’t shut it down. And I’ve realized that the smile is about watching people get validated, watching them get the opportunity to do something they love as their work. And that isn’t just good for the person, it seems to be good for me. I feel better after watching this show. I’m serious. There’s something life-affirming that happens when I plunk myself down and smile. I’m telling you, I get a contact high from seeing these people get a meet and greet with their dreams.

New “feel good” information: watching other people have good things happen to them, is almost as good as having good things happen to you.

gratitude-a-thon day 433: scrambled eggs

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I waited to have kids.

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my vast skills (wrapping a nice gift, making an awesome poster) and when I finally did, I loved it, and wanted to focus on it. Pregnancy could wait. My mom had me at 41, I was in no rush. Nobody educated me on how fertility plummets like a skydiver with a faulty parachute, as you age.

Then I got a stomachache when I was 32. It was no ordinary stomachache, of course, it was Stage IV endometriosis. My inside organs were glued together; my ovaries were so garbled they couldn’t get the eggs home from the grocery store. It took a year to figure this out. And then it took another three years to solve it. And the view on the way to the end result was not like a fall foliage tour, but more like a tour of duty in Afganistan. Um, yeah. Infertility is not something to put on your bucket list.

Everything turned out more than ok. I have two children, and they are the best thing I have ever, or will ever produce. When I think that I almost missed this ride, I feel a deep sense of terror in my gut, because for me, it’s been like a PhD program in Giving, Ingenuity, Stamina, Grace and Pure Unadulterated Joy. But miss it, I could have. Easily. I got exceptional help, from a doctor who was one of the only kind in his field, and who was surgically able to use a microscopic tool to clear my insides like a farmer ploughs his fields before seeding. But I was lucky. Really lucky.

So, this thing with Apple and Facebook covering egg freezing has had me thinking a lot. Half of me is happy that we are finally getting real with the fact that fertility does indeed decline as you age, and that a woman’s eggs, once farm fresh, start expiring with every birthday cake she sinks her teeth into. See, this idea that a woman can have it all, is a Bernie Madoff quality lie. We can, of course, have it all.  WE JUST CAN’T HAVE IT ALL AT THE SAME TIME. So, women who want to have a career and put off having kids, often have fertility issues. Women who have kids before they begin their careers in earnest, have a harder time getting into the work force, because they’re up against all those woman who’ve been working instead of breeding. Women who try and do both, stress themselves into a juggling act the likes of which belong center stage at a 3:00 Barnum & Bailey Circus performance.

The thing is, only a female can give birth. Fact. Pregnancy and becoming a mom, affects a woman’s career at some point in time (unless her career is being a stay at home mom, in which case, GODSPEED, working is so much easier). Doesn’t this new egg freezing benefit ask women to get in their best years before they have kids? That kind of bothers me. Even though, at the same time, I am encouraged that at least this is a move that confirms the idea that there is a time limit on pregnancy (which for a while, it seemed like we were pretending, there was not). Many women, can of course, get pregnant at 40, but for a whopping number of them, it’s much harder, with less favorable statistics, and no time to re-think the decision to have waited.

Here’s what I’m thinking. Might it be a smarter, more innovative answer for Apple and Facebook to focus on childcare options, creating job sharing, and hiring women who are older, and have already had families, in addition to this new egg freezing coverage?  Might that be the truly progressive way to look at the dilemma faced by women all over the world who want to have children, and want (or need) to have a job, too?

Even though I waited, falsely thinking I could easily pop out a kid at 40, I got lucky (and it was by no means an easy, fun or enviable ride). Not every woman gets so lucky.  You know what I’d be grateful for Apple and Facebook? I’d be grateful for more options for mothers to be in the workplace, that don’t just include a way to put your eggs on ice for later use. You need maturity for this gig, but you also need energy. We need expanded opportunities for working moms. Apple and Facebook, and other companies, need to think bigger. Like, iPhone 6 Plus, bigger.

gratitude-a-thon day 432: october

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My October baby. God, I love him.

It’s been in the 70’s all week. Yup, October summer. I have been sweating like a marathoner. I thought I was having a heart attack a few times. I’ve even had the air conditioning on. But today is in the 50’s. There’s no sun, but it feels more right. This is what it’s supposed to be like in the fall. I’m going to climb into a big sweater and go to Ally’s soccer game. I will be complaining about the cold by tonight. This is what it’s like to be a human barometer.

October is close to my heart. It’s the month I became a parent. After a rocky, have-sex-on-demand, temperature-taking, surgery-laden, ben & jerry’s-eating three year odyssey of trying to have a baby, I finally did. We named him Jake. I forgot you could have a boy, because I grew up with all girls, so I wasn’t sure what to do with him at first, but it wasn’t long before I realized that this little guy with the enormous eyes would change me, mold me, demand me to be better at every turn. He was worth those three years of sadness and pain, tests, and agonizing disappointment. I would do it again and more, if I knew he would be the result. He is my sun, and my son. And he is October.

gratitude-a-thon day 431: small bites friday

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In five days, my son will be 20. I can hardly remember life without that boy, but tell me, WHERE DID 20 YEARS GO? Seriously, people?

I can’t help but think this new egg freezing benefit has an underlying “work harder, work longer for us, you won’t miss out on the baby thing” current. Am I overthinking it?

After my “potato chips with everything” diet, i am currently in calorie counting mode, but a girl still needs a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for dessert, right?

Donald Trump thinks Obama’s mentally ill. Money can’t buy intelligence, can it?

He’s adorable, I’d pick him, too.

BHS girls varsity soccer play under the lights at B.U. tonight! Go, Ally!

On the bunion front (or foot): I am currently in my sneakers, some boots I already had, and going to physical therapy. Sadly, I must report that it’s hard to walk. It hurts. But I am only in the beginning stages of recovery. I have seven more weeks to go. Patience is everything (arghhhhh).

It’s October. It’s 70 degrees. I’m not complaining.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 430: a moment

 

imagesI am up early. My window is open and a breeze I can only describe as tropical, is gently cooling me while I lay in bed. I like it because it reminds me of being in Hawaii. The last time I was there, I was with my mother-in-law, and she was doing the difficult work of dying. It was a very sad and deeply intense time. But everyday I would wake up to a sky that seemed bigger than the one Boston lives under, and air that feels like the stuff coming through my window right now. There’s something beautiful about this kind of soft wind, life affirming and grounding. I’m feeling grateful for this quiet moment, before the lights come on, and the sounds of the day ruin this backdrop of sweet calm.

gratitude-a-thon day 428: a great guy

 

 

 

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My good friend (and 50 year old) Charlie.

This weekend was my friend Charlie’s fiftieth. He is a superior example of a guy. He is one of my closest friends. He is really cute (who doesn’t love that in a man).

It’s funny how you can become friends with the girl part of a couple, and if you’re lucky, you’ll like the guy part ok. But I like Charlie, more than ok, he’s become one of my closest friends. He’s easy going, but deeply thoughtful. He’s smart, with the ability to really hash out a dilemma. He’s a great writer and story teller, and is always making short films to raise money for good causes, for people’s birthdays, graduations, and film festivals. He takes his job as a dad seriously. He is a do-gooder like no other, constantly helping with school events that matter, people in need, family and friends. He’s sly and always up for fun. He makes me laugh. He’s real, without pretense, or conceit.

He’s one of those people I feel privileged to know. Sometimes you just get lucky like that.