i am tired

I don’t know how to explain just how tiring it is being a stay-at-home parent. Being a working parent is tiring too, but that is not what I am doing so I can’t say what that is like. All I can write about is my own experience.

I am tired. I am so much more tired than I have ever been in my life. Physically, emotionally, mentally, existentially.

What if I am not as good at this as I thought I would be?

What if I am not as good at this as my mom was?

I can’t ask her if she was this tired. I can’t ask her if there were moments (or days) of doubt. I can’t talk to her about any of this.

Other people give me advice or tell me I’m doing great, that everyone gets this tired, that my mom would be proud of me, but I don’t want to hear any of it.

I only want to talk to my mom. I only want to talk to my mom.

Really, please, do not respond to this with comments of advice, or compliments, or “sleep when the baby sleeps.” (“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is bullshit.)

I am not trying to get sympathy or advice. I am just sharing. Because maybe someone else will read this who is feeling the same way and there will be a tiny light in their dark room. Or maybe I don’t know why. Maybe just because I am the only one who can be me and so I am the only one who can tell my own story. Maybe because one day my baby will be a parent and I will be dead and he will wish he could ask me these questions. I hope I will be alive to answer them, to tell him that yes I was this tired, and it was okay, and I loved him in every tired second, in the joyful seconds, in the most difficult seconds. That being his mom is the best thing in my whole life.

I am at the brink of the limits of my exhaustion.

Or there might be further limits I don’t know about yet. I probably can take more of this than I think I can. Exhaustion will probably stretch me and bring me into deeper holes. I will go into them and I will be okay.

I want to savor and enjoy this time with my baby while he’s still a baby. It will go by so fast. It will be so short. But I am tired.

I am tired.

I am tired.

I am tired.

I am not asking for help. I am not asking for advice. I cannot repeat this enough. That is not what I am looking for. I am just sharing. I will figure this out for myself. Giles will help me figure it out. Greg will help me figure it out. But mostly I will find the way my own damn self, because that is how I am built. Even if it’s harder that way or takes longer, or I do things that seem wrong. I will find my own way to do this.

I am fine. I am okay. I am truly in love with my baby in a deeper way than I have felt any feeling before. With this deep and extreme love comes deep sad, deep tired, and deep longing.

Deep missing.

Deep doubt.

Deep dark circles.

Deep joy. Deep self. Deep deepness.

I am tired.



put back together

It’s Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish New Year. Time for letting go, time for leaves to fall. Time for shedding what is no longer needed.

As I start this new year, in a new body, with a new baby, in a new house, so much about me is different.

Some things are the same.

What do I need to let go of? My skin? My pre-mom self?

To be honest, I’m feeling pretty broken today. I miss my mom. I wish we could go down to the river together and throw pieces of bread into the water to take our regrets from the past year away. Maybe we’d ride our bikes in the cool fall air.

I feel something is just out of reach, some core thing that I keep forgetting. Or maybe it’s just one of those days. Maybe I should lean into it. Let go.

My baby is strapped to my chest in his carrier. We took a walk and looked at leaves. We played on the floor. He’s quiet, binky in mouth, looking up at me sometimes as I type. I think he will fall asleep any minute so I’m rocking back and forth in the chair.

He smiles so big when he sees me after we’ve been parted. Whether it’s morning and he’s seeing me for the first time that day, waking up and I’m right there waiting for him; or he’s been with his Nana for a few hours; or even if I’ve only left the room for a few minutes– he’s so happy to see me. We have a tether strung between us. I know I will feel him with me anywhere I go for the rest of my life. Even when he’s grown and off on his own adventures I will feel him in my heart like a physical pull. I just know this. My mom must have felt this way.

She wrote this poem:

The Birdhouse

Anna is leaving me again,
over and over.

Just like I left her so many times,
by choice and not by choice.

Teaching me to tolerate longer and longer absences:
Stretches of not hearing her voice
doing homework with a friend on the phone,

Or the sound of popcorn crunching along to a favorite movie.

I took her to her first movie when she was eighteen months old.
She ate my entire tub of artificially butter-flavored popcorn.
I felt
that she didn’t choke
and awed by the intensity of her concentration.

She says, “I love you” each time she laves.
And I am trying to photograph her face, her smile,
every time in my mind, afraid of having
so much less to take for granted.

I walk outside see the birdhouse
made in eighth grade shop class.
A father’s day gift for her dad–
she looks so much like him.

I stare at the birdhouse as a light rain
begins to kiss the back of my neck.
I am not cold, and I do not feel the wetness of it.

I realize that she is forcing me to grow up again,
to accept losing what I want to hang onto.
I hate that.

That birdhouse sits on the stump–
It’s maple stain color darkened by the moisture,

and my tears add salt to the raindrops.

Viola Moriarty

When I read this poem I cry. I was fourteen or fifteen when she wrote it, and I don’t remember where I had gone. Maybe on a trip with some friends. Sometimes I regret every time I left her because that’s time with her that I lost. I didn’t know the time was finite. At fourteen everything seems forever, even if your grandfather and pet guinea pig died when you were eight and so you know that everyone dies. It just didn’t enter my mind then that my mom could die. But I also know that we both had to live our lives which meant leaving each other again and again.

When will Giles leave me? How many times? Will I have to leave him? Will he still smile at me when we come back together? Right now his sleeping face is pressed into my shirt, long lashes closed, gentle breathing only just audible. Sweet baby smell.

My pieces are all over the place. My childhood, my heart, my legs, my soul, my art, my drive, my love, my hunger.

I don’t know where I am.

I’m in our house. On our street. In our town. In the autumn of the year 2016. My mom has been dead for three years and five months and 16 days. My baby is just two days shy of being five months old. My feet are inside my slippers. My head is inside my favorite knit cap.

It’s the new year. 5777. The Days of Awe.

This photo is from 2011, in the ER waiting room. I had fallen and hit my head pretty hard so my mom insisted we go to the hospital to make sure I didn’t have a concussion. They gave me an ice pack which I tied to my head so I didn’t have to hold it there. We both thought it was pretty funny, so my mom took a picture. Turns out I didn’t have a concussion. I was okay. Not broken at all.


birth story comic, part 1

I wrote out my full birth story a few days after it happened. I feel this need to tell and retell it. To work through the trauma of it. To understand it. Because it’s this big moment (a 30-hours-long moment) that changed me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Because I did this amazing, powerful, crazy, painful, rip-me-apart, blood-guts-and-poop, wrecking ball of a thing. So I talk about it to anyone who will listen. So I ask my husband to tell me over and over what it was like for him. So I look at the photos from that day, at my face before and after, at my sweaty hair, at the bed and the room and the sheets and the nurses and Greg and Phoebe and Bonnie and the IVs and tubes and at that tiny perfect human who pushed his way into this world through my body.

And I’m making some comics about it too. Here are the first four pages.






a is for activist

Age six, first grade. We lived in Denver and I took the bus an hour and a half across the city to my elementary school. Most of the kids I spent time with were not white. I was not aware of this, being only six-years-old and not knowing yet. One day I asked my mom to braid my hair like my friend Shannon’s. She obliged, making a bunch of tiny braids held with barrettes at the ends.

That morning at school a girl came up to me and said, “Why don’t you paint your face brown, too?”

I didn’t know that girl, and I didn’t understand what she said or why she was upset. She wasn’t any older than me, but she was aware of her color in a way that I was not. I was white and never had to be told it.

I told my mom what happened and asked her why the girl had reacted that way. I don’t remember what my mom said, I wish I did. But I do know that I came out of that moment knowing that I was white and that girl was black, and my friend Shannon was black, and it wasn’t appropriate for me to copy her hairstyle.

A couple years later we moved to a suburb called Broomfield. Something felt strange about the town, an unsettling vibe. When I expressed to my mom that something felt “off” in this new town she said, “That’s because everyone is white.” There really was something unnerving about being surrounded by almost 100% white people, even being white myself. I was the only Jewish kid in my class and I remember one day a girl came up to me and said:

“Isn’t it weird not celebrating your birthday?”
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“Because you’re not allowed to celebrate any holidays.” she said.
“Do you think I’m Jehovah’s Witness?” I said. “I’m Jewish.”
“Oh. Same thing. They both start with a J.”

The following year, fourth grade, a bully in my class called me a “dirty little Jewish girl.” One day that bully let me use her markers and gave them to me afterwards. I thought it was a kindness, but she told me, “I had to give them to you because once you touched them I didn’t want them anymore.”

What I’m thinking about as I write this, the reason I’m writing it, is trying to figure out how to teach my white male child about his own privilege, about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, how our government/society values certain people above others and how that is wrong. About police brutality. About Black Lives Matter. About speaking up. Using his own brain. Standing up for what is right, for other people, in situations that are not easy.

I’m trying to remember being a kid myself, and how I learned about these things. When did I fail? When did I not speak up? When was I aware and kind and brave? I’m trying to be my best self and set a good example and be aware of my words and listen and give him the tools to make things better. To be a better person. To be kind. To help. To be an activist/advocate/ally. To love. To be angry when bad things happen. To use that anger to make positive change. To vote. To live his life in a way that creates the world as it should be.



my body, 4.5 months

Four and a half months postpartum, my body feels strong but in a completely different way than I’ve ever felt strong Before. Arms and legs. Baby lifting above my head, squatting to feed the cats while holding that squirmy fifteen pounds against my chest. Pushing the stroller uphill. My breasts heavy with milk. A kind of heavy I couldn’t have understood Before. Before is my old country. Where I lived with a flat stomach and no stretch marks and only my own life in my own body.

My belly squishy and soft and proof that a baby grew in there. The linea negra a bit lighter now but still very much present. My hips back together but still a bit wider than Before, perhaps forever. My feet longer. My face more tired. My face more beautiful.

My hair is falling out, all the extra pregnancy hair collecting in the shower drain and on the bathroom sink and the pillows and sticking to my shoulders and everywhere else too. I get cramps in my lower abdomen, my period coming back already? I don’t know. Phantom contractions? Everything in my lower region feels just slightly different.

Heart full. A new heart, on top of the old one. More tears. More farts. More love. Deeper intimacy. More cracks. More light.



singing to you, the song my mom sang to me. in a sports bra and your dad’s sweat pants, in our bedroom, late at night. 

this is our life. us and you. “hello best friend” your dad says when he gets home from work and takes you in his arms.

my arms are full, so is my mind, so is my heart and all the secret tucked away places of my body that carried you and moved my organs all around and held more blood and more bones and where those extra cells of yours will live inside me forever.


love every minute



It’s not that I don’t love being a mom, I do. I love it indescribably. But people keep asking, “Don’t you just love every minute?” I never know what to say to those people.

There are minutes that are very, very hard. There are minutes that drive me crazy, or exhaust me, or bring me to tears. No one can be expected to “love every minute” of anything, no matter how wonderful.

Or, maybe I do love every minute, but I can love them and be sad/mad/tired/frustrated/unsure at the same time.

Yeah. Maybe that’s it.

Regardless, let’s stop expecting moms to be happy all the time. We are just human beings. Like the rest of you.

my mom

Giles is crying again. That scream-crying of yesterday, a sound we haven’t heard too much yet, in these four months of his life outside the womb.

So I walk him around the house and stroller him and nurse him and talk to him and sing and try and try to figure out what is wrong. Finally I sit down at the computer and I put on this video and we listen to my mom’s voice.

Giles falls asleep. I hold him, trying not to move.

My mom talks about the breast cancer playing cards she made. She talks about how there has to be something positive to come from the fact that one in eight women has breast cancer.

And then we watch this video.

What do you have and what do you need? 

Seeing me and my mom together both heals and breaks my heart. This video takes place at a really lovely time in our relationship. December 2012. A time I am so very grateful for and need to be reminded of.

I wish she could see the life I’m making now. Maybe she does, in her own ghost way. But I have to do it without her, with only the memory of her to guide me. Memories of my childhood. The photo albums, notes and emails from her, conversations that are only recorded in my mind and have faded and changed as I take them out again and again to examine and mine for her presence. There is so much longing.