diary.

mother’s day gift-o-mania.

mother's day gift-o-mania.

 

mother’s day is upon us, friends. i am a person who not only dislikes but dreads my birthday, gets exhausted just thinking about christmas and no longer qualifies for administrative professionals or national boss’s day, but i do kinda love mother’s day. it’s the one holiday i agree with, because mom’s are in the shit. every damn day. we deserve a day. we really do. so here’s 15 mother’s day gifts that i for onsies would like to be the receiver of, from hecka pricey to el cheap-o and in between.

  1. so after years of avoiding tracy anderson (because part of me feels like her and her band of snobby celebrity clients are the root of all evil), i finally decided to give it another shot. i have to admit that her cooky fakakta moves are legit, even though it feels like the most insane ridiculous shit ever while doing it. this subscription program for $29 a month keeps the workouts rolling in.  i’m hipcentric, if you were wondering.
  2. i heart this sweet little hanging wicker basket all the way from france ($12).
  3. speaking of wicker baskets, these circolo totes ($125) are gonna be the next big thing in wicker handbags, trust.
  4. look at this little set of beautiful ceramic magnolia creamers ($30).
  5. how about a nasty heart charm necklace ($44)? 25% of proceeds go to planned parenthood!
  6. this is about the prettiest fake plant ($47) i ever saw, because mom’s have to worry about keeping babies alive, don’t expect us to not kill plants too!
  7. because every mom could use another coffee table book, here is one with photographs of marianne faithfull ($31).
  8. linen sheets ($229) are still on my list. three years running. hello?
  9. little sachets of moon dust ($24) aka mother’s little helper. because what a drag it is getting old.
  10. here is a gift set ($100) that includes a bottle of rose, pink soap and bath salts, and a candle. because who doesn’t love a drunk bath? seems like a no brainer.
  11. i love a simple gold bracelet like this gia cuff ($28).
  12. have i mentioned the kate somerville as good as gold kit ($130)? about a hundred times? because i’m trying to manifest it into my life.
  13. pretty pretty maryam  nassir zadeh palma sandals (on sale for $316+ another 10% off!).
  14. here is the perfect little yellow wrap dress ($72) for when your kids only give you 5 minutes to get dressed but you still want to channel your inner carrie bradshaw.
  15. last is a fancy polka dot swimsuit, like this beauty from lisa marie fernandez ($541) or this more affordable version from j.crew (on sale for $69+30% off!).

the end.

diary.

on getting dressed.

there’s something about getting dressed. i never realized how much time i put into the process of outfit selection until i had a baby. suddenly not only the amount of time that i had each morning but the amount of time i had alone became non-existent. the pressure of having someone in the room while getting dressed, asking for your attention can make putting together an outfit feel impossible. i believe this to be the culprit behind moms in sweatpants everywhere. getting dressed is a luxury that many women don’t have. the thing is that i always felt that it was a luxury, and one that i enjoyed even when i drove myself crazy with indecision or self-loathing over what i saw in the mirror.

giving up getting dressed was part of a loss of identity that came with motherhood for me, and looking back it’s interesting how much is involved in losing and re-finding yourself after giving birth. postpartum bodies are soft and stretched and re-arranged and things are out of place. some of them (okay most of them) never go back. pre-pregnancy clothes rarely fit after birth and you spend so much time nursing and dealing with baby fluids and insomnia that it feels pointless to get dressed anyway. the newborn phase, the first year even, is this sort of liminal period between your pre-baby self and your new self. emotionally and physically. it’s only within the last year or so that i’ve started to feel not like my old self again but like my new self. i have always thought a lot about clothes, but having a baby made me realize how much i identify through clothes.

there was a period where i didn’t know what to wear, where i reached for things that i could hide in. this is something that i have always done, at times where i felt particularly bloated or depressed or even when i had to be in business meetings or work situations where i felt i needed to be…shielded or protected in some way. my son having autism has made it really clear when i do this. having to deal with different therapists, case workers and doctors on a daily basis has made me stop to think about what i am wearing. days where i deal with a difficult person or where i feel particularly vulnerable i dress in those ways: ways where i can hide or appear blank. days where my son has no therapy or days where i get a break, i dress differently.

what women wear when they feel like shit is something that interests me a lot. as does what women buy or consume when they feel like shit. there are periods where i buy things that i don’t even particularly like, because i feel some need to disappear: to disappear into a uniform of blankness. of baggy tent dresses made of crappy stretchy synthetic non-fabrics and elastic waists and cheap acrylic sweaters that are shapeless. or something incredibly trendy that has no practical use in my life because i want to feel present or relevant or cool again.

i find the cycles that we go through of cleaning out our closets and then not just re-filling but over-filling them again really interesting. this year i have been trying to pay closer attention to those cycles. because i certainly have cycles of cleaning out my closet, vowing a life of minimal conscious dressing and then i have times where i just want to hit the mall. lose myself in 3 floors of tightly packed brightly colored items. times where i feel a real need to have more stuff, and times where that “gotta have it” feeling overcomes me. and that is a feeling that i enjoy. i’m trying not to beat myself up so much over those times, the times where i want to get rid of everything and the times where i want to buy everything. and to realize that those times are tied to moods which are most certainly fleeting. they come and they go.

part of connecting to myself as the woman that i am now: 3 years after having a baby, after leaving my career and committing to a life of caregiving, has been spending some time in my closet. being at a point where i can take a little time to get dressed has felt like getting something back that was lost. taking the time to stand in my little closet and dig around and pull things out and try them on does feel luxurious, and fun and exciting, even when it’s disappointing.

the mother hood.

yesterday was one of those days that kicks my emotional arse. my three year old son has autism spectrum disorder, and there are moments, every once in a while, that knock me down and leave me sort of paralyzed with fear. i can tend to get caught in our little bubble of various therapists who offer encouragement and keep me focused on his progress (as it should be). my son recently started pre-school through the public school system- a special education pre-school for children aged 3-5 with developmental delays. he has done incredibly well as far as enjoying going, and being away from me for the first time in his life. he’s happy to go, five days a week.

yesterday when i picked up my son his teacher asked me if my son plays with toys at home. this felt like a strange question, which i replied to with a suspicious yes. she asked what toys he plays with. i replied that he plays with play doh, trucks, blocks. she frowned and said, “all of the stuff that we have here, hmmm.” and looked at her teacher’s aide with a raised eyebrow. “we have a hard time getting him to play with anything. he just doesn’t play with the toys. and he is constantly opening and closing all the doors in the classroom.” i felt an overwhelming flood of emotion over this, from shame to sadness to anger (because as my husband put it, “isn’t that exactly why he’s in special ed?”).

part of autism is having difficulty with what is considered “normal” play. my son lines things up, he takes things apart. he spends more time playing with household items (and doors) than he does with regular toys. given a toy truck he will examine it, open and close the doors repeatedly, spin the wheels over and over. after months of therapy he has begun to actually put trucks on the floor and push them around, but there is no “vroom vroom” or pretend driving. he doesn’t play like other children play. instead of wanting to watch frozen or paw patrol, he obsessively watches my workout videos. he will ask to watch them over and over, all day long. prior to exercise videos it was one specific episode of seinfeld, over and over. the only time that he speaks in sentences is when he is repeating lines from videos or shows that he watches. he doesn’t have conversations. he repeats things. he speaks in one or two word phrases. he has made incredible progress over the last year, he amazes me daily. but there are days when i am reminded that he is very different. and that fills me with worry, about how he will develop, and how others will treat him. i wonder if he will ever talk, really talk. or if he will ever become independent, and have a life where he can take care of himself and have fulfilling relationships and a career.

yesterday as i was wallowing in feeling like my child is so different that even a special ed teacher doesn’t know what to do with him, feeling like my husband and i are on an island with him, i decided to meditate. a couple of things popped into my mind. i had spent the day in my own fog of self-pity, but i recalled that as i was leaving his classroom after the teacher had made those comments, i saw another mother with a boy from my son’s class. she was walking her son up a crowded staircase, which was full of older children rushing to leave. her son was crying and refusing to move because he was upset that it was raining outside. he was dragging his feet, refusing to move. his mother looked fully exasperated as she sort of shrugged at me and let out a big sigh. later at the grocery store i heard a baby screaming, angrily. it was impossible to ignore, the type of enraged screaming that usually comes from children in doctors offices or babies with colic. as i got to the checkout line i saw that it was a little boy, maybe 2 years old, in a shopping cart screaming as his mother frantically tried to pay for her groceries. as i walked to my car i saw her slam the car door on the screaming as she let out another exasperated sigh. as with the mother in the school hallway, i gave her my most sympathetic smile.

these two mothers reminded me that every mother deals with enormous challenges. every child has moments of being difficult, and not acting as we all would like them to. every child has tantrums and acts out. every mother feels like they are failing in some way or another. what i was too caught up in my own head to notice was that they were right there in front of me, looking to me for acknowledgement and sympathy, which i gave without a thought because of course i understand what that feels like. even when we feel alone, we aren’t. the motherhood is large, and sympathy is all around us.

feeding three gluten free on $150.

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one of my seemingly annual new years resolutions is to get an actual grip on my money and start meal planning and making shopping lists. every year i resolve to do this and every year i seem to fail. over the past couple of years i’ve managed to cut out a lot of impulse buys as far as clothing is concerned, but i do still feel like i make a lot of impulse buys at grocery stores, and i feel like i have to run to the store several times a week because i’m always out of something crucial.

i realized that part of what makes grocery shopping lists and meal planning so arduous for me is that i eat unconsciously a lot. the chore of grocery shopping gets rewarded by little impulse buys, which i eat secretly. my 3 year old son has a habit of snacking instead of eating meals, and i have to admit that i do this as well (proving once again that children are the biggest mirrors to all of our unconscious bull shizz).

i figure there is no better way to really look at where my money goes than by keeping track of what i buy. i felt like outing myself on the internet/public humiliation was the only way to go, so, i decided to chronicle my spending. this was an actual yikes, but it kept me in check and made me pay attention in a new way. after a couple of weeks of this, i kinda feel like i have it down. i am able to plan out the week and make 3 shopping trips (mostly to go where the bargains are, cause i’m a pro shopper yo). below is an example of a pretty successful, lean week. one where no alcohol or fancy meals were purchased (but we did get to eat out on saturday night). i did have things like oils, spices, quinoa & rice in my pantry, but other than that everything was purchase and used in the same week. for the three of us, it came out to $150 for the week.

monday: breakfast: instant oatmeal. lunch: peanut butter & banana sandwiches & apples. dinner: purple sweet potatoes with thai sauce, frozen pizza for my son.

tuesday: breakfast: frozen gluten free waffles. lunch: smoothie of spinach, bananas and almond milk & a lara bar (the boys snacked on trail mix, pbj oat bars, gluten free pretzels & grapes). dinner: black bean & sweet potato chili, turkey sandwich for my son.

wednesday: breakfast: toast with peanut butter. lunch: chips & hummus. dinner: roasted chickpeas & sauteed spinach with tahini sauce for me, oven fries for the boys.

thursday: breakfast: chia pudding. lunch: quinoa topped with avocado (my son will snack on yogurt, granola bars & an apple). dinner: moroccan lentil soup, eggs for my son.

friday: breakfast: instant oatmeal. lunch: smoothie of spinach, bananas and almond milk & a lara bar (the boys snacked on trail mix, pbj oat bars, gluten free pretzels & grapes). dinner: roasted chickpeas & sauteed spinach with tahini sauce for me, frozen tamales & steamed rice for hubs, turkey sandwich for my son.

saturday: breakfast: toast with peanut butter. lunch: snacking on apples & peanut butter, lara bars, chips & salsa. dinner: vietnamese: spring rolls, pho & five spice chicken with a fried egg & rice.

sunday: veggie burgers for everyone!

shopping list:

trader joe’s: chickpeas, tamales, almond milk, gf bread, vegetable broth, black beans, canned diced tomatoes, instant oatmeal, salsa, mirepoix (chopped onion, celery & carrots to use in soups and rice/quinoa dishes), eggs, sweet potato, oven fries, pbj bars, granola bars, chips, hummus, tahini sauce, grapes, chia seeds, apples, peanut butter, spinach, bananas, yogurt, trail mix, frozen pizza= $78

target: gluten free pretzels, lara bars, gf frozen waffles, turkey lunch meat, milk= $26

sprouts: cilantro, green onion, purple potatoes, red onion, avocado, veggie burgers= $16

dinner out: vietnamese= $30

total: $150.

observing mind.

yesterday i found myself in a familiar spot. after making my way through a local thrift store as quickly as possibly with a bored toddler, i picked out a turtleneck, a cream colored sack dress with 3/4 length sleeves, and a pair of gray jeans and paid for them. when i got home, i tried on the jeans only to be met with my usual jean problem: once they hit my thighs they were stuck. despite the label stating that they were what i’d consider a size or two too big, they failed to make it over my thighs, and forget about my hips.

while jeans that do not fit is a recurring theme in my life, that’s not what made me think. every winter i seem to go into a sort of cold weather coma and every spring i wake up to find myself heavier than when winter started. i don’t think that it’s uncommon to gain weight in the winter, but what i find exhausting is the inner conflict over this. because it’s not as if i treat the winter months as a free for all and go on a wild pizza and donut bender. i fully beat myself up over each pound gained and then labor torturously over losing each pound. apart from this cycle (which is a whole other ball o’ wax), what comes along with it is what to wear during this time.

this has been a particularly rough winter for me. i have been thrown into what equates to a full time job in managing my son’s various autism therapies. every day feels like a roller coaster, some days i’m happy and amazed, some days i am angry, many days i find myself in tears. i am way, way out of my comfort zone. i’m tired. and add that to my usual vitamin d deficiency/SAD winter blues and it’s not a pretty picture. so with that, a few pounds have come. and all of the beautiful pieces of clothing that i’ve acquired don’t see the light of day much. i find myself looking for clothes that make me disappear. lately i am looking for something that i can disappear in.

i find it interesting how much our clothing choices are tied up in our emotional state. we use clothes to express our confidence or lack of confidence, our sadness or joy, our playfulness and our seriousness, our sexuality and our childishness. yesterday when i found myself having brought home a pair of boring gray, ill-fitting jeans that i would typically never buy, and was left to donate them right back to another thrift store, i had to shake my head. here i go again.

each winter i find myself getting into a particular kind of shopping habit. it’s like a junk food binge: fast fashion and thrifted fast fashion. my drawers fill up with bulky sweaters, sack dresses, stretchy, poorly made clothes that inevitably go into the “what was i thinking?” pile once spring arrives. last spring was the first time that i ever really took a look at my closet, took inventory and organized it but i have to admit that despite those efforts, here i am again. the impulse buy crappy jeans are now in the corner of my closet with the other things that most definitely do not “spark joy.”

when i step back and look at this i have to admit that it is tied up in a pretty deep coping mechanism, one that involves food and drink and money and a lot of really major stuff. i can look back on tough times in my life, long winters or depressed periods, periods where i was struggling or in a bad place, those are not the times where i was wearing my favorite clothes. the clothes that make my heart effing sing. the pretty, well made, smart outfits that say something about who i am. those were the times where i found myself impulsively trying to disappear.

i can’t say that i have the solution or that this will ever change for me. but this, this is the thing that i think of when people say that fashion is fake or frivolous or that clothes don’t matter. the next time that i see a woman hiding under sweats or flaunting her body in something skimpy i might take a minute before i judge. she might be trying to tell us all something.