Truth: I've noticed that since I became a Mother (at the heart of everything else I do in my full, busy life), I say sorry A LOT. Sorry I'm late. Sorry I never texted you back. Sorry I can't make it. Sorry I didn't get to that even though I said I'd try.
Even worse than all the sorrys to others, there's the constant sorry-ing going on between me and me. Sorry you can't do that, Jolie. Sorry there's no time to write or workout with any satisfying regularity. Sorry you have dirty hair. Sorry that stuff on your To Do list will have to wait until maybe never. Sorry you can't nurture more friendships, find your keys, find your coffee, sleep in ever again, finish that article, get to the bottom of your inbox, watch The Crown. Last week I heard myself say "Sorry I'm still in my sweatpants!" to a random neighbor, and realized I needed to check myself.
We all somehow make it work--we have to. Hell, I've been making it work, but it's often not without a good amount of friction. Bottom line? I want a smoother ride. "Perfectionism is a luxury," says my best friend Nicole, mother of two. And holy shit, I finally get it. I mean, yes let's have some standards but more importantly, lets be kinder to ourselves. That has to trump (sorry) the enormous self-imposed pressure we're all exercising. Not to mention the comparing-ourselves-to-other-moms thing (momparing?). The whole Supermom/Superwoman thing is for the birds. I'd venture to guess most of us already *know* this stuff, it's just a matter of finally choosing it deliberately on a daily basis and not just stumbling into that healthier mindset every now and then. So, care to join forces and make peace with where you are? You can adopt my new motto::Good Enough!
Is this easy if you are a Recovering Perfectionist? Hell, no. Not in the beginning. It takes work to make peace with wrinkles and a flabby ass and setting down your phone and being with your kid. It takes work to leave a stack of stuff on your desk. And if you're already feeling vulnerable, it takes work to not apologize to a neighbor for wearing saggy sweatpants. It feels like ease would be easy, but if you're accustomed to making it hard then it will feel weird at first. It takes practice but if we keep at it, the momentum will kick in. The ease is there, patiently waiting for us to choose it.
There is magic all around us if we can soften even just the tiniest bit to let it in. And here's the biggest kicker of it all: you don't even have to finish your To Do list. The kitchen floor can still be laden with crumbs. You can text that person back later. Make sweatpants your uniform if it feels good. Turn off the awful news. Order in dinner. Or do the exact opposite of all of the above if it feels good. Follow the good feelings. Force yourself to look at what's working, what's thriving. Because so much is.
One of the things that has reluctantly fallen by the wayside in my life has been Joeycake. So. In the spirit of Good Enough surrender, messy imperfection, self-love, and making space for any and all tiny seeds of creativity, I'm pledging to show up here more, even if it's with ten measly words and a few blurry photos. There might be food, there might not. Maybe just a couple pictures of my kid or a hackneyed photo of a Hollywood sunset. Or a knock-knock joke. Or a story about a bad audition. Because this is just kinda what it is these days. I must concede that I don't see it changing anytime soon. I don't know anyone whose life is like a placid lake. The waves keep rolling in. And instead of bracing for, counting, dreading the swells, we've got to get some surfboards. So this is me, paddling out. Probably in my sweatpants. Care to join me?
I've missed you.
Awesome articles adjacent to this topic:Don't Carpe DiemYou Are Not for Everyone and That's OkayYou Can...
Joeycake love:Collective Pep TalkRadical Self-Acceptance
Game-changers:Sun BasketInstacartMagical Fairy DustElixir from Heaven
P.P.S. Louis is two and hilarious and huge:
mixed berry crisp
Potent Emotional Experiences That Deserve Their Own Definitions
1. That thing where you're at work feeling soft and feminine, and suddenly a virtual stranger comes up behind you and begins brusquely slicking your hair back into a severe french twist that you'd never in a million years choose yourself. You have no say in the matter, no mirror, and you will regard it for the first time along with millions of television viewers. Ah, showbiz.
2. That thing where you remove your son's diaper, and in a mere .0000000007 seconds, he squats and poops on his rug. You're simultaneously horror-struck and also deeply proud of his vocal development as he announces "potty" perfectly while doing the deed.
3. That thing where you race race race across town to (let's just say) kick ass at a Very Big Audition. The producers seem smitten. They say, "See you soon!" with winky voices and knowing smiles, then three days later your agent tells you you're out of the running. (Note to producers: maybe don't say, "See you soon!" to an actor that you plan on not seeing soon.)
4. That thing where the Rite Aid shopping cart receptacle is empty, so you're forced to alternately carry/wrangle your wild-animal toddler in a pharmacy line long enough to rival Space Mountain's. You put him down for two seconds and he knocks 432 things off a nearby shelf. You try as gently as possible to restrain him with one hand while replacing the 432 things. Meanwhile, he begins some blood-curdling screaming. Suddenly, you have a time-warp-matrix moment where you flash to see your present-day self through the eyes of the childless person you once were, judging the exact thing that you now are living. You have instant forgiveness/compassion for both versions of you.
5. That thing where you look forward to an MRI so you can lie down.
6. That thing where you're in an audition waiting room and a fellow actress takes a wig out of her purse and begins combing it with her fingers while whispering lines under her breath. You wonder: What the frack is that lady doing? Is she running her scene with the wig? Is it a prop? Is it her good luck charm? Is it another hair option she may employ in her audition? Is she crazy? Is she genius? Should I get a wig? BRB going to get a wig.
7. That thing where you're at a play date in a park with a new mom friend, and while her toddler is serenely watching a Roly Poly saunter up the bark of a tree for THIRTY SOLID MINUTES, yours is running perimeter drills and occasionally lunging toward the street, inflicting 20 heart attacks upon you.
8. That thing where you find someone else's booger in your pocket and just leave it there.
9. That thing where you tell someone in the park that they look like their dog and they give you a dirty look which makes them look even more like their dog. You consider asking if you can take a picture of them together but chicken out. Yet you still fantasize about posting the (nonexistent) picture on Instagram, complete with caption and emojis. (Twin dancing bunny girls for the win.)
10. That thing where you offer to make a dessert for a neighborhood dinner party on the hottest day of the year. It goes into the oven with no time to spare, so you're forced to carry the heavy, bubbling-hot dish with two potholders while walking 3 long blocks. You sweat like a beast from the underworld. The sweat is everywhere. The sweat activates a shame spiral that includes thoughts like why am I always running so late?
and the inside of these goddamned potholders should be much more absorbent,
and what am I doing with my life?
The dessert turns out to be the hit of the party and you wholeheartedly choose to believe you pulled it off without a hitch.
Mixed Berry Crisp
adapted from Sheila Lukins
This gal is a humble showstopper. She's easy-peasy to make, and even thrown together in haste she's pretty stunning. She'll do just fine with gluten-free flour and/or coconut sugar if you choose.
6 cups fresh berries (blueberry/blackberry/strawberry is a standup combo but have at it)
2 T sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 t cinnamon
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
fat pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup (one stick) very cold butter, cut into 1/2" cubes.
vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350F and butter a 9" glass pie dish. In a bowl, gently toss the berries with the sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice. Set aside. In a new bowl, make the topping: whisk together the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt. With a pastry blender or your fingers
, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Pour the berries into the prepared pie dish and cover with the topping, spreading it out evenly. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 55 minutes, or until the top is golden and the berries are bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.
P.S. These days we need this ------------> A case for optimism
Spending long days with a toddler is magical and mundane, easy-peasy and back-breaking, tender and maddening. It involves deep breaths, deep belly laughs, and a shit-ton of bending over. You don't realize how much you need a break until you have one. I seem to have perpetually ambitious plans for Lou's nap times when instead, I mostly just stare at a wall and try to shove some food near my mouth. When he wakes, I feel the familiar squeeze of never having enough time to myself, but then I can't get in his room fast enough to see his little sleepy elfin face, smiling at me from behind the pacifier.
It's so personal and yet so universal, this motherhood. Here you are, experiencing it for the first time, watching it continue to grow your heart and smash your former life into a zillion pieces (for better or for worse). It feels so novel and remarkable, yet everyone else who has been there already is like yep. We know.
A mom-friend recently said it's probably the hardest job in the world, but just about everyone does it so it's not recognized as being that remarkable or difficult. At the time, that felt super deep, sorta sad and wicked true. (We were well into a bottle of Rosé, and both being actresses, things perhaps got dramatic.) My takeaway (once the Rosé wore off) was this: No one but you as a parent really cares about the darling, special things your precious snowflake is doing moment-to-moment, and the corresponding joy you experience. And by the same token, no one but you really knows how hard your version of it is, what your unique struggle is. So it gets to be deeply meaningful and personal to you, which is wonderful if you honor it as such. (And quite rare in this day/age of social media oversharing.)
The paradox? Even if you don't know the exact unique joys and sorrows of another, this parenthood life manages to elicit a tremendous amount of compassion for other moms and dads. If you let it, your heart can be soft and melty. And wouldn't the world be nicer if we were all a little softer and meltier?
If I was really on top of things, I'd now introduce a fondue recipe. Alas, I am not on top of things to that degree. Instead, I offer you a media overshare:
I wrote this and The Huffington Post published it: Haiku For Moms of Small Children
Happy Weekend with love,
who wouldn't want to read a story about a rabbit on a leash?
Recently, David, Louis and I were lunching on a crowded outdoor patio and a man sauntered in with a rabbit on a leash. Before you start thinking that might sound darling, let me just say: this was no bunny. It was one of those behemoth, toddler-sized rabbits meant for wild, deep woods. Its keeper was smug (not unlike those ballsy people who walk around in public with birds perched on their heads), and talking way too loudly for the benefit of every living soul on the patio. It worked: every single one of us stared. A mousy woman trailed behind, his reluctant cohort. She looked somewhere between mortified and clueless. I tried to picture reasons why she might be accompanying him--sympathetic sister, perhaps? Blind date? Parole officer?
The Keeper and his Lady sat down under an umbrella. Then he unleashed his cottontail, hoisting the immense rodent onto his lap while it rigorously pumped its hind legs as if to say I belong on the ground, fool!
The man then tried to act natural, combing his fingers repeatedly down its back, enjoying the attention while he talked to his friend(?).
As we wrapped our heads around this spectacle, I glanced around the patio. In the most perfect turn of events EVER, the young woman at the table next to us was doing some sort of portable craft that involved stab stab stabbing a needle into a little felted figurine shaped like (wait for it) a rabbit
A small beagle represented us all by having a frantic barking fit, adding to the kerfuffle and The man turned to it (but really all of us) and half-yelled, "Bet you've never seen that before, huh?! A rabbit in a cafe!?"
Just then, Louis Rocket, a toddler-sized toddler and lover of all doggies, started wildly pointing his chubby fingers and yelling, "Dah! Dah! Dah!" ("Dog! Dog! Dog!") The entire patio, even the needle stabber and the Rabbit guy's Lady, swiveled their heads to enjoy him.
I glanced at the Keeper. His eyes were downcast, his shoulders slumped. The rabbit, however, looked oddly satisfied.
And now, something delicious both a toddler and a rabbit would love*:
*Did you think rabbits only ate carrots?
Toddler Banana Pancake
serves one toddler (or one rabbit, probably)
1/2 mashed banana
1 egg, beaten
couple shakes cinnamon
tiny splash vanilla
minuscule pinch sea salt
1 T gluten-free flour (or flour of your choice)
1 t coconut oil, for cooking
Mix together all ingredients except coconut oil. Heat nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat, adding oil when hot. Pour in batter, cook for 3-4 minutes and then flip. Break into 1000 pieces before serving. For either toddler or rabbit.
I've missed you!
Sorry I've been gone so long!
This mom/life juggle has got me so busy, y'all.
Working it out, working it out.
pumpkin muffins with fresh cranberries
Happiest Holidays, friends!
Please don't tell me if I missed the pumpkin/cranberry boat. My heart can't take it. These days I have way too much on my plate and if you tell me these muffins are currently irrelevant, I will cry real and giant tears. I finally whipped them up after getting inspired weeks (and weeks) ago and haven't gotten them posted here until now. Sigh. I keep making lists upon lists and for every one thing that gets crossed off, 637 more things get added. How the FRACK do you moms/parents do it? And at Christmastime no less?! I recently read an article called How To Cross Everything Off Your To-Do List!
(#mydream), and it basically involved a lot of perspective-changing trickery like: "Add some things to the list you've already done and cross them off!"
and my favorite gem: "Let your house remain a complete shithole!".
My December included lots of extra (and sometimes surprising) things to do like:1. Wash 75,385 loads of laundry.
PRAY GOD, FROM WHENCE DOES IT COME??? It doesn't help that our thirteen-year-old dryer sounds like a dying pachyderm riding on a big, rusty freight train.
2. Read Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? 238,590,823 times.
Spoiler alert: RED BIRD.3. Chase a scooting monkey around in circles interminably.
'Tis a full time job keeping him from eating ripped magazine covers and finding hidden TV remotes and iPhones as I steal head sniffs and cheek smooches.4. Clean the floor around the highchair 97 times daily.
I have nothing pithy to say about this. It sucks rocks.5. Try to remember the Zen quote involving chopping wood and carrying water.
Realize, ironically, that all this trying to remember takes me out of the present moment which probably means I am not yet enlightened. Shit.
6. (Barely) survive getting your eye (almost) poked out.
I was reading Louis a book
(bet you can't guess which one)
when a rogue baby fingernail wildly flailed into my cornea. MY LORD did it hurt. I literally screamed, "My eye!" and couldn't open it for 36 hours. All the while freaking out since I had a television job beginning in a couple days. And also of course because vision.7. Have you ever been dropped off at the ER?
It's super hard not to feel sorry for yourself going in there solo. Even though my loving husband lovingly let me out at the front door (we didn't want to expose baby to ER germs), I couldn't help thinking how in the movies, some guilt-ridden criminal barely slows the car enough to kick out some poor sap who needs dire emergency care. Then they just lie alone on the ground bleeding, in a big, wide shot until some paramedic on a smoke break runs over to help.8. Act like your eye is normal at the table-read for your television job even despite unaccounted-for chunk of cornea.
I couldn't wear makeup on the bum eye (Doctor's orders) but went whole hog on the good one. In hindsight (boo), this was a terrible mistake. Only donning mascara on one eye is extremely disconcerting to the viewer (see: A Clockwork Orange
). And draws way more attention to your problem than you want drawn to it. At your television job. Where everyone is looking at you. Because you're going to be on television.
9. Take to your bed around 8pm for a few nights and listen to podcasts in the dark.
It takes a LOT of freaking eye energy to act normal when you're not. Your husband will realize the gravity of the situation when you cannot watch TV. Try and get a back rub out of it.
10. Finally start to feel better.
When eye doctor extraordinaire Staci Sumner (818-789-3311) found out the hospital didn't insert a protective contact, she came in after hours to hook me up special. I could immediately blink without pain and it was all I could do to not kiss that magical woman on the mouth.
11. Enjoy adult conversations at work.
"Can you believe a few days ago I was nearly blind and in the ER!? And now here I am on TV! Hahaha!"
12. Look at iPhone without sneaking it.
13. Drink a hot beverage from top to bottom with zero microwaving.
14. Clean the floor under a highchair zero times for two days straight.
15. Praise the Lord Almighty when, on first day of filming, you are blessed with the makeup artist to beat all makeup artists.
Admire beauty in mirror. Feel excited that co-workers will not believe you to be a Clockwork-Orange
-freak after all. Profusely compliment makeup artist. Ask (half-teasing) how in the hell he made you so beautiful and try not to flinch when he explains (not at all teasing) that he's an expert in "corrective beauty".16. Squat on dressing room floor so breast pump can reach boobs and electrical outlet simultaneously.
Wonder how long you'll continue to nurse. Cry about stopping. Cry about continuing. Cry about missing kid something awful. Realize crying is probably good for your healing cornea but bad for your corrective makeup.17. Long for the long days of brown bears and loud laundry and head sniffs.
Text babysitter 836 times demanding mundane updates and bi-hourly photos.18. Finish TV show. Go home. Smooch child profusely until he scoots away, most likely terrified. Enjoy him for 12 hours solid and then begin missing adult conversations and hot beverages and corrective makeup.19. Wonder how any mother works. Wonder how any mother doesn't work.
Still figuring this one out. Stay tuned forever.20-26. Somehow cram in Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, Holiday cards, meal preparation, blog writing, muffin making and personal hygiene.
27. Trim baby's nails.
I wish you a belated yet heartfelt Happy Holidays, dear friends. We have so many blessings to celebrate over here with our dude turning ONE on New Year's Eve! It's been quite a year. More on that later.
In the meantime, I wish you deep peace and love from the bottom of my heart. We have to cultivate all that goodness so we can spread it around this crazy world we're living in.
P.S. These muffins are really good.
Low-Sugar Pumpkin Muffins With Fresh Cranberries
adapted slightly from The New York Times
These are nice and pumpkin-spice-y without being too sweet. And the fresh cranberries prove the perfect tart foil. Bonus: babies love the squishy inside part and you could probably use even less sugar and they'd taste amazing to a clueless baby.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 t ground cinnamon
3/8 t ground allspice
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1-1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and halved
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flours, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, baking powder, salt. Whisk together well and set aside. In another bowl, mix the butter, pumpkin puree and egg. Add the wet to the dry and stir until just combined. Mix in the cranberries. Divide the batter amongst the 12 muffin cups and bake about 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.