On Living in a Pandemic with an Almost-Toddler

The world has changed since I last wrote. Right now, we are two months into quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic and I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined our lives going this way just a few short months ago.

So, uh… let’s catch up?!

In January, I returned to work full-time, Maya started going to daycare, our family adjusted to our “new normal,” and I could not stop stressing about the work/life balance: how was I ever going to be a good mom when I was spending so much of my day focused on work? And was I bad person because I liked my job?

I had barely let myself settle into those feelings before our “new normal” become something entirely new when on March 13, 2020, my employer announced it would be going remote.

I was one of the lucky ones, able to shift to working from home relatively “early” in the process and fully able to do my job from home. That week, Maya was out of daycare because she was sick, for which I was secretly grateful because Bill and I didn’t have to make the tough decision regarding whether we should send her in. Days later, her daycare closed, too, and Bill’s job went remote, and suddenly we were all three home again and our dog, Obi, was like, “THIS IS THE GREATEST EVER.”

Two months, many stresses, a few meltdowns (from me and from Maya, let’s be real), and soooo many bottles of wine later and here we are: surviving. Obviously I am tremendously lucky, and I know this. I’m not sick, none of my immediate family members are sick, I still have a job, I am able to care for my baby, I’m even working on an abbreviated schedule right now (10 hour days, M-F, though I do still work my two weekends per month as well). My husband is working with me. Our dog is living the freaking life. We have food and clothes and shelter and water.

Buuuut this is an emotional time, a scary time, a stressful time, a trying time, and I’m not immune to that. Like everyone else, I miss my life. I miss my family and friends. I miss going out to dinner with my husband. I miss exploring. I miss buying overpriced iced coffees. I miss not being angry at a society that prioritizes profits over people and its members who won’t wear a mask or stay home because it’s “annoying” or “boring.”

And this whole raising an almost-toddler while my husband and I are working full-time, too? Not easy! Some might say this is why things like daycare exist. Crazy. Most days I am just happy to collapse on the couch by 8 p.m., wine glass in hand, and recognize that my heart is still beating. Another day done. CHECK. Glug. Rinse. Repeat.

And, yes, I said almost-toddler, because that’s the other thing—Maya is suddenly on the brink of toddlerdom and I’m not happy about it! When did that happen?! And where did my tiny little baby go?! At 10 months old, Maya is a daring adventurer who loves to eat dirt (literally) and climb and fight naps and steal your food. She is FAR from being a baby. Where is the complain department? Time went by way too fast.

So, in that way, it can be kind of nice sometimes. Not the pandemic thing, obviously.

But if we’re talking silver linings, looking for things for which to be grateful? I’ve got to say, getting to watch my kid grow every single day is pretty incredible. Sneaking in extra snuggles is delicious. Playing extra games of peek-a-boo and pretending to eat her little hands and chasing her around the house are all things I’m so grateful I’ve gotten to do. Plus, date nights with my husband, extra belly rubs for my dog, not having to wear a bra. All great.

The world may be pretty bad right now.

But right here, in this house, with my little family, it’s pretty good.

I hope you can say the same and I hope you’re all surviving okay. (And if you’re struggling, please know that’s okay, too.)

xo.

The End of an Era (Maternity Leave)

As my maternity leave hurtles to a close, I find myself more nostalgic than ever.

Remembering those early days when Bill and I were up every two hours to feed Maya, and the world was dark and asleep, and it was only our little family awake, bleary-eyed, exhausted, but happy.

Tucking my black robe away in the ottoman and smiling at how, some days, I was so tired that was all I could manage to wear (or how, on other days, I’d been covered in spit up so many times the robe was all that was clean).

Finding a leftover size 1 diaper and marveling at how it ever could have been possible that she fit into it.

Getting Maya ready for a nap in her crib and remembering how she used to be neatly tucked inside of her swaddle, nestled up like the tiniest, most delicious burrito. Then opting not to put her down for a nap in a crib and instead, letting her settle into my chest, watching her tummy rise and fall, and savoring every single second of the quiet naps on me.

There is so much.

And I am so lucky.

These last six months have been, without a doubt, the most beautiful, challenging, enriching, fun, emotional, delightful, and messy time of my life (she types, having just taken a quick break from eating her salad to clean up a barf spill that somehow escaped her). They have shown me that I am a stronger, better person than I ever thought. They have reminded me of the parts of me need work, but that I am full of love, and my heart is good.

The phrase, “The days are long but the years are short” has never seemed to ring more true. Some days I felt like I barely scraped by. Other days I was on cloud nine, high off the scent of baby lotion and the feel of baby skin and the sound of baby giggles. Sigh.

If I was a sensitive, emotional, sentimental person before (and I was), motherhood has amplified it. I am obsessed with making sure I savor everything, now, this moment, that moment, the upcoming moment, that! I never thought I’d be a good mom and I certainly didn’t think I’d be this kind of mom, the feeling kind, the type suddenly drawn to things emblazoned with “MAMA” and who has a necklace with her kid’s name on it and who buys matching mother-daughter outfits and whose phone is wall-to-wall photos and videos of her kid (and to my friends who I promised I’d never change, I’m sorry)—but here I am.

And I am so happy to be here.

This long leave granted me so much I wouldn’t have been able to have otherwise. I got to know Maya so well, learning her little intricacies, figuring her out, realizing what she liked and disliked (all of which changed the SECOND I thought I had it figured out, but it kept me humble, you know?). I was able to explore so much with her, taking her to museums and out for food and to bookstores and to shop and for long walks. We got to do a ton together just as mother/daughter and that felt really fucking special. I got to watch her grow and learn and change right before my very eyes. I got to see so many firsts. What a serious privilege.

And being home meant I could document that for Bill, too, who I have an obsessive habit of talking to all day long because I liiiiike him. Which was everything! Truthfully, my biggest fear with having a kid was that my relationship with my husband would change—that we wouldn’t be us, that we wouldn’t find time, that we’d fight, that things would feel off. But things are somehow even better and more magical. He has been so gracious, generous, and loving, in all the ways he always was (giving me back rubs and pep talks when I had a hard day; tucking me in every night even though he, too, is bone tired; listening to me talk about all my feelings) and in new ways, too (surprising me with mornings to sleep in; baking after she’s asleep and I’m tired but dying for some chocolate chip cookies; telling me I look pretty even when my body still doesn’t feel quite right; extending endless patience just when I need it).

And, now I get to watch him share all of the incredible parts of him—the things that made me fall in love with him—with our kid, and that’s everything. Seeing his face light up when she gets excited as he walks into a room. Watching him get on all fours and teach her to crawl. Their special moments together in the morning, when the world is juuust waking up, and it’s the two of them (plus Obi) and I walk in after my shower and get to catch a little glimpse. We made a family built off of this love. Like, damn. That’s on another level.

Bonus: we also get to watch our first baby, Obi, be cute and snuggly and sweet with our new baby, Maya, and my goddamn heart bursts all over again.

Though I’m excited to return to a job I love and for Maya to make all kinds of new friends in daycare, to expand the village of people who love her, and to learn a bunch of new things, I’m sad to say goodbye to the craziness of being in it 24/7.

I will go back to work in less than three weeks. Maya will go to daycare. Bill, who only got a paltry two weeks with us (ayyy, fuck the U.S. government for not making six months of paid maternity leave available for all parents), will continue on. Obi will go back to holding down the fort at home on his own. Things will settle and we’ll get comfortable in our brand new kind of normal.

But I will always look back on this time in my life as the most incredible gift.

Thank you, Bill, Maya, and Obi, for making it everything.

What I Did (and Wore) in April 2019

Let’s be honest: the last few months have been wrapped up in All Things Baby. Even before I got pregnant, I told myself I wouldn’t let myself get so wrapped up in having a baby and becoming a mom that I’d forget about myself, my hobbies, and my life.

Though I haven’t done anything of those things, I did slightly underestimate just how much time goes into getting ready to have a baby. There’s a lot to do to get ready and I worried I’d hate it or feel like it didn’t fit in with my life at all or that it would be hard, but the transition has felt surprisingly… right.

As a natural planner (and overanalyzer, overthinker, etc.), I’ve liked making lists and having concrete things to work on as Bill and I have prepared to welcome a baby into our lives. But I guess I hadn’t realized how much things have shifted until I’ve looked back on what I’ve been up to and realized that much of it was centered around this new little life.

Bill and I have had lots of conversations together about how we want to make sure that we maintain our identities, both as individuals and as a couple, even after we add a new person into our family. We’re so excited to meet her, but also don’t want to completely change the life we were already really, really happy in. I can already feel the collective eyerolls from some parents: “Well, just you wait!” But we’re trying to look at having a baby not as something that will change everything about the life that we had before, but as something that will make the amazing life we already had even better, richer, and fuller in ways we hadn’t imagined before.

Obviously a lot of our time will be focused on that little thing called “raising a child.”

But it’s also important to us that we exist as people outside of our parental identities. I think that’s important not just for our sanity, but for hers, too. She should have two fully realized people as parents, who have interests and hobbies and friends and full, robust lives so she can determine what she’d like her full life to look like, too.

It’ll be an interesting balance as we forge ahead.

Especially when April was a month where our activities were pretty heavily baby-focused:

  • Took a “babymoon” to NYC
  • Buying myself a “push present” (AKA just spending money on myself) in the form of a beautiful new Nikon camera
  • Teaching myself to use said beautiful new Nikon camera
  • Feeling baby move regularly for the first times and capturing it on video
  • Taking some new headshots for my author life 
  • Getting a fresh new haircut
  • Desperately trying to teach myself how to do a salon blowout at home—and failing
  • Setting up the nursery
  • Savoring Beychella AGAIN with the release of the Homecoming documentary (love you, Bey)
  • Working a lot
  • Celebrating baby with a baby shower! 

The babymoon ended up being a blast. With me in my third trimester, we didn’t want to venture too far, but we also wanted to have a nice little weekend where we could focus on the two of us and get away from all things baby. (Sorry, boo thang.) We settled on New York City because I really wanted to take a trip down memory lane at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The story goes like this: Bill and I were friends before we dated. Senior year of high school, we shared a mutual friend, an English class, a gym class, and an art class. In art class, senior students traditionally took a field trip to NYC to check out some of the museums there, so sometime in the spring, he and I were part of the group of students who traveled up to the city. We found ourselves at the Met, where we were given an assignment (pick a piece of art to write something about), and we eventually ended up exploring part of the museum together.

I still remember what I was wearing—a white tank top, a pink stripe shrug that tied around my waist, some jeans. It was chilly inside the Met. I made a comment as such. He offered me his jacket.

I like to say, “And the rest is history,” but the truth is this: I turned him down on wearing the jacket, but I feel like a little piece of my heart opened up that day to the possibility that, hey, this cute guy might like me.

At some point, he asked me to hang out with him and his friends and go see a movie (Mission Impossible 3, in case you were wondering) and we had a really, really fun time. So, I got brave, too, and invited him to my birthday party, where we spent quite a bit of time chatting that night and having a good time.

Days later, with our senior year winding to a close, we swapped yearbooks. I wrote a totally boring, run-of-the-mill, “stay sweet” over the summer kind of message, but when he handed me my yearbook back, he told me not to read it right away.

When I worked up the courage to check out his passage, it turned out there wasn’t a message at all, but lyrics to a song by my then-favorite artist John Mayer:

Your phone was really broken
I tried your number twice
And if you need confirmation, baby I understand
It’s alright if you want me to…

The next line, left unwritten: Tell you you got my only heart.

RIGHT?!

And then, over AOL Instant Messenger, Bill asked me if I’d ever seen the movie Hustle and Flow. When I said no, he asked if I’d like to see it. I said yes. We set up a date for June 17—which is now our wedding anniversary, too, and could also be the day when we said hello to our little coconut. (My due date is June 19.)

So, yeah, it was nice to be nostalgic and take that trip down memory lane at the Met, even all pregnant and swollen as I was.

We also spent our baby moon with stops at the American Museum of Natural History, Hayden Planetarium, Levain Bakery, and Shake Shack (obviously). It was a really nice weekend.

As for some of the things that I wore, you’ll notice I started taking less body photos as my body has grown to accommodate the baby bump.

Sigh. Obviously part of that is feeling uncomfortable in this New Body.

And part of that reason is because I’m in the same 5-10 outfits over and over again because that’s all that fits!

We do what we can. 😉

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Outfit details

  • Scarf: Payless (I think?)
  • Tank tops: Old Navy
  • Cardigan: Forever 21
  • Leggings: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Shoes: Nike

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Outfit details

  • Tank top: Old Navy
  • Cardigan: Old Navy
  • Purse: Marshall’s
  • Necklace: 25 Central
  • Leggings: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Shoes: Nike

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Outfit details

  • Dress: LuLaRoe
  • Cardigan: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Dress: 25 Central
  • Shoes: Payless
  • THAT. HAIR. THAT. BLOWOUT: Ochoa Salon in East Longmeadow

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Old Navy
  • Hair: Ochoa Salon

xo.

What I Did (and Wore) in March 2019

Last I wrote, I’d just taken a trip to California. It was great to see my parents in their element and to spend some time in the sunshine, which I desperately craved after an already long winter.

And now as I write this it’s like, summer, dudes. Because apparently I can’t keep up with hobbies!

But I am super grateful for phones at this point in my life because I can look back on March and see what I did, and it was a pretty good month.

Anyway, what was I up to a few months ago?

  • Traveling to California to visit my parents before Baby names her debut
  • Seeing “Queer Eye”’s Tan France live at Smith College (yes, he was just as lovely and good looking in person as you imagine!)
  • Getting a 3D ultrasound of Baby (these things are kind of freaky, right?)
  • Planning the nursery
  • Celebrating our first baby Obi’s 7th birthday—Bill and I tried to give him an extra special day, as it’s his last birthday before he has to be kind to his baby sister, so we were a little extra (see pics below)
  • Seeing the first signs of a baby bump
  • Nabbing the newest iPhone
  • Celebrating some fun news with my husband
  • KonMari-ing the crap out of the house after binge-watching the Marie Kondo series on Netflix
  • Spending quality time with friends and my little nephew, O

 

 

(Side note: WHY do the circular image galleries look all stretched out on WordPress?!)

What a great month, y’all! And I captured almost NO outfit photos. Here are a few, though some are not the traditional mirror selfies.

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Outfit details

(Probs needed an undershirt beneath this tank top, but oh well.)

  • Leggings: Old Navy
  • Sweater: Old Navy
  • Tank top: Target
  • Shoes: Nike

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Outfit details

  • Leggings: Old Navy
  • Tank top: Target
  • Sweater: Mom’s closet, duh
  • Shoes: Nike

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Outfit details

  • Tank tops: Old Navy
  • Cardigan: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Nike
  • Dog: Rescue — adopt, don’t shop, y’all

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Outfit details

  • Scarf: Hearst Castle
  • Cardigan: Old Navy
  • Tank top: Old Navy
  • Leggings: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Shoes: Payless

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Tracking a small baby bump!

Outfit details

  • Maternity top: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Maternity jeans: Burlington Coat Factory
  • Shoes: Payless (RIP)

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Outfit details

  • Top: Marshall’s
  • Dress: Forever 21
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Shoes: DSW

Also, shout out to my goddamn phone for helping me keep track of what I’ve done with my life and when. Remember when you used to have to keep track of everything by journaling? Or, like, remembering? Now, I feel like my phone and its photos offer such an in-depth look at my life—at what I was doing, wearing, feeling, experiencing, and exploring—that I rarely need to write, which is good and bad because writing is kind of my first love.

Photography seems to be one of those things you can just kind of do. Writing is one of those things I have to actively make time for.

So, when things get hectic, guess which one falls by the wayside?

Don’t worry, though, writing. I’ll always come back to you.

xo.

Things I Did (and Wore) in February 2019

Thank baby Jesus that February is done and gone. I could deal with the winter if it was just, like, December and January. But that it extends into February? The AUDACITY!

I have serious pregnancy brain, too, meaning I can hardly remember what I did in the month. (Can still feel the harsh cold on my numb cheeks, though.) Thankfully, there are iPhone photos to remind me that I actually had a lovely time:

  • Celebrating Galentine’s Day with friends
  • Celebrating love on Valentine’s Day with my husband at our favorite tapas restaurant, Bocado (and, yes, we did take tons of photos of that food)
  • Enjoying Wormtown Brewery (beer for Bill, watching Bill drink beer for me)
  • Organizing the baby’s room and all of her magnificent clothes
  • Receiving the best gift ever for baby from a friend/colleague in the form of a Backstreet Boys hair bow (I’m just modeling it, I swear)
  • Fawning over our OG baby, Obi
  • Peeping up at the giant Super Wolf Blood Moon

Here’s what I wore, which was mostly just shades of the same thing…

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Shein, a place I actually do not recommend purchasing from because they cannot get proportions right and the sleeves on every single thing I purchased where a nightmare.
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Boots: TJ Maxx

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Outfit details:

  • Dress wif pockets: 25 Central
  • Leggings: Kohl’s
  • Boots: DSW

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Target — dreamysigh. I just love this dress.
  • Cardigan: Target
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Boots: TJ Maxx

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Old Navy
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Boots: TJ Maxx

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Outfit details

  • Top: Shein (again, DO NOT RECOMMEND)
  • Tights: WeLoveColors.com
  • Boots: TJ Maxx

And what I did through pictures!

BTW, I’m digging myself out of a backlog of posts, so expect a few in the next couple of days.

xo!

Things I Wore (and Did) in August 2018

Things have been interesting — a mix of good, bad, and stuff in between. At work, August was one of the busiest months I’ve had as it led right up to move-in weekend (arguably the most hectic weekend of the year for marketers in higher ed!). At home, Bill and I have done a little bit of travel, but we’ve been working really hard to get our finances in order — and KNOCK ON WOOD it’s working. Yay!

In August, in between all of the work (and there was a lot), I had lots of fun. Bill and I went to see Queen Bey and Jay’s On the Run II show, which was incredible. We’ll ignore the fact that we were stuck in traffic to and from the venue and that we missed our beloved Chloe x Halle’s performance because of it, but the show itself was everything. Obviously. It’s Beyoncé! (And Jay Z.)

We also visited Cape Cod for the first time, spending a weekend in Provincetown and Wellfleet, both of which we loved. Originally, we booked the trip because we had tickets to see our favorite drag queen, Trixie Mattel, perform her stand-up show. Unfortunately, Trixie cancelled on a few shows, including ours. We’d already booked the hotel, though, so we just enjoyed ourselves in the Cape. It was so much fun! It was raining when we arrived but held off for the rest of the weekend so we could explore the area. We especially loved the Cape Cod National Seashore (the views were beautiful) and everything about P-Town. We’d love to go back.

The next weekend, my cousin, Adam, got married and we had so much fun at the wedding. It was great for Bill and I to spend time with my close family and let loose. I also think Bill liked watching me get super drunk and dance terribly and now he has video evidence which he can blackmail me with until the end of time! Also in August, Bill and I visited the Plainville Hot Air Balloon Festival, a staple of our respective childhoods (we both grew up in the same time) but an event we hadn’t been to in years. It was a blast and great to be back in our old stomping grounds.

Here’s a look at some of the outfits I wore throughout the month!

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Payless

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My Beyoncé outfit! It was 90 degrees out in the evening and I wanted to look cute without dying from the heat.

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Outfit details

  • Body suit: Rainbow
  • Shorts: Rainbow
  • Shoes: Amazon
  • Earrings: BrunoMars.com (not a joke!)

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: Old Navy
  • Shorts: Rainbow
  • Shoes: Converse

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Fashion to Figure (when it was still really good!)
  • Shoes: Payless
  • Giant-ass ring: Norwegian Cruise Line

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Outfit details

  • Dress: Faces
  • Shoes: Amazon

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Outfit details

  • Dress: LuLaRoe
  • Shoes: Payless

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Outfit details

  • Shirt: 25 Central
  • Skirt: Forever 21
  • Shoes: Payless

Here’s what I did through photos.

 

All in all, a good month and now I’m OVER-THE-MOON that it’s September. Fall is my time, y’all. Bring on the pumpkin spice!

 

Living Without Fear in 2018

The end of 2017 is here, and I imagine there are many of us who are pleased to say farewell to the year. While I had many moments of personal triumphs, some days, it was hard to exist as a woman of color in Trump’s America. Nevertheless, I persisted. Nevertheless, we persisted.

As a society, we were challenged by this year—at times, vexed, angered, exhausted, overwhelmed. But we were also determined, committed, disciplined, hopeful, and driven, and that’s got to count for something.

I’ve been seeing so many resolutions for 2018 and, perhaps it’s just me, but they seem to be much more thoughtful than I’ve seen in years past. Resolutions to be kinder, to live more meaningfully, to be patient, and one I’ve seen again and again is to live without fear.

As someone living with anxiety, living a life without fear simply isn’t possible for me. But I do think I often let fear hold me back from pursuing things I’m interested in. I’ve gotten better about that in recent years and, as I get ready to look 30 in its face, I’d like to try to adopt a modified version of that motto for 2018: live with less fear. It doesn’t sound as pretty, but it feels more achievable for me, so I’ll try to embrace it.

I spent 2017 trying to live a life I could look back on and be proud of, and I think I mostly achieved that. I traveled. I went on adventures. I laughed. I cried. I persevered. I took leaps of faith. I challenged myself. I tried new things. I said goodbye to things I loved. I said hello to things that scared me. I loved. If I can do all of that again in 2018, it will be a good year.

Here’s to some of the lovely (and not-so-lovely) things I experienced in 2017*…

*some of the captions below may not make sense because they’re part of old posts, but just roll with it!

 

…And to a 2018 with less fear.

Happy New Year, all.

xo.