Hi! Hope you’re having a great start to your Sunday.
I want to start off by thanking every single one of you who donated to a mama in need earlier this week on IG! It AMAZES me how much small communities on IG can pull through for one another. It makes me so teary too. This mama was able to make her preschool payment AND then some. If you didn't see my stories, here are the cliff notes:
A mama who had been following me for a long time reached out to see if she could be a part of our private group on Substack for free, and when we got to talking, she mentioned that she’s been having a hard time. Her sister-in-law passed away from an overdose, and on top of grieving, she suddenly had to take on caring for her sister-in-law’s four children, on top of her own kids. She is receiving zero financial help from anyone and has been struggling to make ends meet.
With so much generosity, we were able to send her $3061.68... STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET COMING THROUGH FOR EACH OTHER! GUH! ALWAYS MAKING ME CRY! Thank you, thank you!
Speaking of strangers on the internet, for those of you who follow me on IG, thank you for your very raw and honest answers yesterday regarding COVID, the vaccines and the mandates. It’s given me A LOT to think about and you can expect an article from me published on here soon-ish.
Down below are four short stories. You can think of these as stories from my “notes” app on my phone, or longer IG captions if you will. And also, a list of reasons why I’m not yet done with summer. How the fuck is it fall already?! And for that matter, 2022! I’m still mentally wrapping my head around 2020. Anyone else?
And lastly, for this week’s Mom Tingz, I talk about how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s been *tough* over here. Though I’m feeling *much, much better* after opening up to Kevin and friends earlier this week, just know mamas, you are never alone. <3
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
This week, paid subscribers got access to the first edition of my monthly ASK ALEX column, a safe space where I answer your burning questions. In case you were interested in joining our group, below are all of the questions I answered, as well as a couple of great quotes from the comments section!
1) Advice on finding that place in the world that feels like home
2) How to juggle family drama? And when (and how) to set boundaries?
3) How do you parent and make space for your creative endeavors?
4) Do you ever feel selfish or guilty for bringing a child into the world given the current climate?
5) Advice on coping with toxic family members / people
6) How has motherhood changed you?
7) What is your morning routine?
To send in your questions for October’s ASK ALEX, click here.
Any topic, all questions welcome. :)
The only thing that matters in my life is that Tom and Greg will be back on screen October 17th. Also, just finished season 2 of DAVE and we LOVED it. A lot darker than season 1 but man Lil Dicky is so, so talented.
FOUR RANDOM STORIES
Do you remember your first home?
I had a stomach ache the other day, well before we met our godsent babysitter, so I laid in bed with Rocky after she woke up from a nap. While I rested my eyes, she used my body as an elliptical course. Up and down, side to side. Occasionally, she’d stop to tap on my breasts, her way of asking me to lift up my shirt. She continued on with her excited self while my body laid in bed half alive. I felt a lot of mom guilt for not “doing things” with her post nap, and resting instead, but as I watched her continue climbing and descending over my body, I could see how happy she was, and the guilt immediately lessened. At a certain point, after endless minutes of loudly climbing around our bed, she was down by my knees, and she stopped what she was doing to look up at me. “Hi!” I said to her, and she responded with a big smile. She made eyes with my boobs, as my t-shirt was still up from her last feed, and she darted for them. When she reached my belly, she noticed my c-section scar, and stopped in her tracks. She continued to pause and intently grazed her tiny hands over it. I was taken aback by how gently and meticulously she studied the scar. She looked back up at me, softly smiled, and then gently rested her head on my belly. My hands instinctively brushed her hair out of her face, and as we just laid there, silently and calmly, I could feel my stomach cramps easing. The weight of her head helped alleviate the internal pressure I was feeling. As though my organs remembered the shape of her and were relieved by her presence. We laid there for what felt like forever, but it was just a small moment in time, and one I’ll never forget. As I continued running my hands through her hair, I softly asked her, “Do you remember your first home, sweet pea?” She looked back up to me, smiled as though she was nodding yes, and made her way over to my breasts. We cuddled the rest of the afternoon, and by the end of it, my cramps were nearly gone. I’m not sure she remembers her first home, but I’m forever grateful to this vessel that made me a mother and gave my daughter a home that I hope she’ll always remember fondly.
Can you have it all?
I watched Kim Kardashian speak on Ellen the other day, and I was annoyed by a statement she made when Ellen referenced a bikini photo she posted on Instagram: “I believe you can have it all.” I’m paraphrasing, but she essentially said you can have an empire, kids, go to *law* school, and still look hot in an unattainable body. The body stuff is one thing (I’m forever eye rolling about the Kardashian-Jenner clan’s inability to be honest about how they obtained and maintain their physical appearance), but the “having it all'' statement is what bothered me the most, especially since becoming a mom myself. Our society has taught us, women especially, that we can (and should) have it all. But in reality, becoming an adult is a wide awakening that most of us don’t have it all—and so then it feels like on some level we’re always failing, or at least one part, or several parts, of our lives feel aren’t living up to the expectations we had in our minds. So when Kim doubled down on the notion that women can have it all, without making mention of the chefs, the nannies, the assistants, the tutors, the surgeons, the dermatologists, the coaches, the trainers, and of course, the ability to spend unlimited funds on anything you desire at any given time…. Well, it makes my blood boil. As an eternal optimist, I also feel like we can have it all, but not in the same way we’ve been sold the idea. Like, let’s lower the expectations of what “it all” really means. Is it running an empire while having four kids with a documentary crew filming your family while becoming a lawyer? Probably not. The reality of life is that some things will always fall short of expectation, and that’s okay! When I am super-focused on my writing, and prioritize being in a creative state and away from my phone, I’m not being a terrific friend or partner, and sometimes, not even a great mother. We only have so many slices of ourselves to give to things, and the more energy you give to one *particular* thing, the less attention you are able to give to the other parts that need you. And this should be celebrated, instead of making us feel shame or guilt for not “achieving” things in the same way. We aren’t failing. We aren’t unsuccessful. And maybe I’m particularly sensitive because it feels SO hard for me to do just about anything these days. Most of my time and energy is being spent on Rocky, and I wish I had more to give to many other projects, especially the ones I am really excited about. I wish I had more time to call my friends, to check in with family, but that’s not the current reality of my life right now. And I shouldn’t be made to feel like a failure because of it. So if you for whatever reason feel pressure to have it all, STOP. RIGHT NOW! You are crushing it. Even if you are laying in bed all day long. You’re here. And that’s all that matters.
The vulnerable experience of being observed.
Our babysitter comes three days a week for a couple of hours. Today was her third time in our house, and when Kevin asked me how it went later that night, I expressed concern that she might be bored. Perplexed, he looked at me and asked, “Babe, why would you be worried about her being bored? That makes no sense.” I’m not sure why, but I’ve been entertaining quite a few thoughts (too many thoughts) about how she perceives our family. I didn’t know who she was a couple of weeks ago, and suddenly, my mind is constantly asking what her thoughts are of us.
For years, I babysat other people’s kids, and I had thoughts about their families. I remember once noticing that the husband didn’t say goodbye when he left for work, and I wondered if they were arguing. Or other times, when I noticed how the kids behaved whenever the dad came home: a loud, active home suddenly fell eerily silent. I no longer live my life according to other people’s opinions of me, and yet here I am, completely concerned if a 21 year old is making the same observations I once did. Does she think we’re nice? Does she think we’re good parents? Do I hover too much? Does she think I’m a good mom? When I thought about why I was so consumed with what her thoughts are of us, I realized that she has access to our family in a way no one else does. Not even our closest friends have seen the way our household runs on a daily basis. In this setting, she is an observer of my household. She is an observer of me. The most intimate moments in our house, ones that would go completely unnoticed by us, are visible to her anytime she walks through our door. And that’s when I realized she’s entering my safe space; the home I live in with the people I love the most. And being observed, especially in your safe cocoon, feels really exposing. It’s a vulnerable act and I’m self-consciously still getting used to that feeling. What a trip!
Do men only care about women after they have a daughter?
Our landlord sent someone over to fix our upstairs bedroom window the other day. He looked to be in his mid-50s, and if I squinted hard enough, I could picture him being quite handsome in his early days. “It goes by so fast,” he said as he watched me play with Rocky. He proceeded to tell me about his 22-year-old daughter and her recent engagement to “a fine young man.” By the end of his story, his eyes watered and I could see how he was suppressing his emotions. “It sounds like you really love your daughter,” I said, my way of showing him I’m no threat to his emotions, a concept clearly quite foreign to this burly man. “I’d fight anyone for her,” he proclaimed. With a shocked expression on my face, he continued telling me a story of when he dropped her off at her co-ed dorm in college. “She introduced me to a couple of her guy friends, and I immediately knew what was going on,” he said while raising his eyebrows at me. “I asked my daughter to grab something from the car, and when the dorm room door shut, I turned around and yelled, “ALRIGHT, WHO IS THE RING LEADER?” His raised voice startled my 8-month-old daughter staring up at him from my lap. He went on to tell me that when the guys seemed confused by what he meant, he said he “knows how this goes down,” and that if he were to ever find out anything happened to his daughter, that he’d be back with a shotgun. “You wouldn’t believe the look on their faces,” he said, chuckling. I nodded, and awkwardly smiled, clearly unimpressed by his story. “So ya, I guess you could say I love her alright,” he concluded. When he left, I couldn't stop thinking about how many men have denied and mocked the realities of being a woman, and yet suddenly, once blessed with a daughter, the need to protect her from ordinary men in our society, the ones that were previously “no big deal,” skyrockets to violent levels. How easy for men to care about the safety of women only once they have a daughter.
A list of reasons I’m not done with summer:
I haven’t once said “I should probably cool it with the Aperol Spritz.”
I haven’t worn any of the summer outfits I was excited to wear.
I haven’t seen any of my friends, or once felt infinite in the way only summer with your friends can make you feel.
Can you really say you experienced summer if you haven’t eaten barbeque?
I have never been more pale.
I haven’t read any of the books I’ve purchased for my summer reading (though that might not exclusively be a summer issue).
I haven’t questioned the meaning of life under the stars.
I haven't debated why I thought it would be a good idea to go see an indie artist at a sweaty nightclub wearing JEANS.
I haven’t found my summer jam yet. And how can summer possibly be over without a very clear and defininable anthem for summer 2021?!
I haven’t done any mild drugs and debated whether or not aliens are real.
I haven’t been on a boat or dipped my toe in the ocean.
Most importantly, I haven’t once felt a hot girl summer moment and that deeply saddens me.
MOM TINGZ: Is delayed postpartum depression a thing?
A few days ago, Kevin walked into our dining room and found me sitting in a chair, crying, while watching Rocky play by the window. Everyone warned me about the newborn stage. “It’s the hardest part,” they’d say. Or “once you make it through the newborn stage, you’re golden!” But that hasn’t been my reality at all. If anything, the newborn stage was borderline easy for us. Not easy like a walk in the park, but not nearly as hard as I had prepared for. My body healed pretty quickly, my breastfeeding journey was smooth, my baby was relatively happy, and my partner was supportive from the very beginning. Fast forward exactly 8 months later, and it’s a completely different story. Maybe it’s because I no longer have the same hormones keeping me going, or because I’m trying to freelance again, or because the no sleep thing is finally catching up with me, but lately, it’s been H-A-R-D.
“Is it just that you need a breather when Rocky is being annoying?” Kevin lovingly asked me, trying to understand how to help. And like a defensive mama bear, I responded “Rocky isn’t annoying,” and didn’t go on to express any of the things I needed. The reality is that she really isn’t annoying. We have a pretty content baby on our hands, and yet still, she demands so much of me. She is getting heavier and heavier, and I’m starting to feel her weight increase on my body. And emotionally, she is asking so much more of me. “Even when I’m not with her, I am spending my time endlessly Googling or preparing for the next thing for her,” I finally explained to Kevin. And it’s true. My mind never stops thinking about all the things I have to do. Google both comforts and terrifies me on a daily basis. “It really isn’t one thing,” I continued with tears streaming down my face. “But I’m just so overwhelmed.” Moments earlier, I nearly broke down in the grocery store parking lot because I could barely lift her car seat back in the car. Simple tasks, like going to “quickly” grab cat litter, suddenly feels so daunting. I wasn’t emotionally prepared to lose that type of freedom, one I’m often jealous Kevin still has, no matter how much of a team we are. And then there are the feelings of guilt I’ve been experiencing that I can’t talk about without crying. I am so incredibly grateful to have childcare, but it’s also been a lot to emotionally process. The notion of Rocky crying without me being present to immediately comfort her breaks me into a million pieces. All of the numbers, stats, and stories of generational trauma and emotional neglect I’ve read over the years immediately race through my mind. Will Rocky think I’ve abandoned her? Does she understand that I will be back? Will she remember this, even if only on a cellular level?
“Maybe I have delayed postpartum depression or something,” I confessed to Kevin. I’m not even sure I do, or if that’s even a thing. I’m just so…overwhelmed. And this, by far, has been the hardest part of my motherhood journey. Like all things in life, I felt immediate relief the moment I uttered all of these words to both Kevin and a few of my friends. I’m not very good at admitting I’m not okay, but one thing I’ve learned through my life experience is to share my feelings sooner than later. It ALWAYS helps. My friends said all the things that made me feel like a super human for making it this far without zero support from family, friends, or childcare. To have people understand the struggle, and sit in the discomfort with me, has healed some of my overwhelmed bits. But anyways, this shit is hard. And this is coming from a mom who previously proclaimed motherhood to be the most natural thing I’ve ever done. So if you’re going through it too, you’re not alone. We’re never alone. So speak out. Tell a friend. Talk to your partner. Share with strangers on the internet even (hi!). The clouds will lift. <3