four years ago, i sat in a conference room at work and smugly thought to myself how insignificant the meeting i was in felt, compared to the journey i was about to embark on. my baby moved around inside me and i knew, unequivocally, that this child was going to matter more to me than anything i’d ever experienced or cared about before. i had read all the books and taken all the supplements. i had worn out my pregnancy leggings and was officially waddling with sharp pain searing down my legs. i couldn’t wait for him to arrive.
and then i had phoenix. phoenix with his blueberry colored eyes and tiny perfect features. he was everything. i could hold his entire body alongside one arm as i nursed him, and i fell in love instantly and deeply. and for two weeks in a blissful haze of lanolin, mamani-made meals and back-to-back episodes of downton abbey, the three of us hung out in our nest of a bed, happily and contentedly.
everything was new and different. hard and amazing. my view of the world became saturated with the experience of loving someone so fiercely. loving without conditions or expectations. and i noticed that the faint, but ever-persistent, longing that i’d always felt in the pit of my stomach, finally found its place. and it was here, with this child. as his mother.
and yet there i was 4 weeks later, eagerly (though exhaustedly) at another soulpancake street stunt shoot for the oprah winfrey network. trying to shimmy my postpartum belly into an outfit for camera. my mum sitting in the back of the cold, dank warehouse location where the shoot was taking place, holding a blanketed phixy until i could take a break and nurse him.
and i was so happy and excited to be back doing the work i loved, and had missed.
i desperately wanted to have and enjoy both my work and my child. i felt lucky enough to have found a significant contribution i could make both inside, and outside, of our home. and i realized i didn’t want to give up one for the other, if i had the option not to.
since those days i’ve constantly adjusted, experimented and iterated on ‘what works’ in efforts to figure out how to do both.
we were lucky that during phix’s first year our family and friends came to our rescue. my mum, dev’s parents and brother, my friend ashley – at various stages, they were all caregivers for our sweet baby boy while i worked, at first part time and then when i transitioned back to full time. when we had zavi we realized we had to hire a nanny – with no family living close by we couldn’t rely on our loved ones putting their lives on pause to just take care of our boys, so the search began.
and it was so hard. we interviewed a slew of people, all great on paper with loads of experience, but trying to find the right fit felt as taxing as trying to find a partner – someone who i could implicitly trust, who would make the right choices, be dependable and loving. and i remember interviewing and asking the obvious questions – “how do you handle nap time?” “how will you set boundaries for my kids?” but in my head all i really wanted/needed to know was “can you truly love and protect my boys?” “will you validate them and keep their dignity intact?” or more bluntly: “are you a sicko?” “can i really trust that you’ll never ever hurt them?”
due to various circumstances – moving cities etc. we’ve had to hire three different nannies over the course of 20 months and each time it’s just as harrowing and heartbreaking to start from scratch to find the right person. the fear of making the wrong decision is always pervasive and there is such a sadness in ending a relationship with someone who has become a trusted and loved member of our family. the peace of mind that it gave me to know that my boys were relaxed and joyful in their nanny’s care allowed me to do my work unencumbered with anxiety.
now we’re at a juncture where we had to take the next step–finding a full time preschool for the boys. and the search was just as hard. perhaps even more so, knowing that they would no longer be here — with me just a ‘wall’ away in our home office.
so once again, we did our due diligence. read all the reviews. visited a bunch of places. did gut-checks. and prayed. i’d vacillate between ‘this is the best decision’ to ‘this is the worst decision’ depending on what i had heard/read/seen/felt that day. my throat kept catching thinking about the things they will learn and get excited about that i will not be a witness to. i made myself sick watching videos of surveillance cameras at daycares where the staff were caught abusing these tiny, vulnerable, children. the images replayed in my head, and i wanted to throw up. i felt paralyzed. i considered quitting my job. i wondered about hiring an au pair. i kept reminding myself that whatever we choose, it didn’t have to be forever. i kept reassuring myself that phix is so communicative and verbal, and he would be able to look out for his younger brother.
this morning, we woke to the sound of pouring rain. the first real rainfall in a year. our family all cuddled up in bed. zavi clambering all over us with his giant body, phixy nuzzling up to me and calling me ‘honey heart’ because he is his father’s child. and i’ve never so badly wanted to freeze time and soak in this moment forever. all four of us safe and secure. loved and grateful.
when zavi was born it rained in LA. i was so happy looking out of the windows of the hospital. the rain was so romantic and it made our cozy first moments together feel so magical and dreamy. and so i guess it made sense that the rains came again today, to usher my youngest into this new chapter.
i couldn’t go with dev to drop them off. i didn’t want the boys to see me so broken hearted. but i reminded him to ask their teacher if they could lay their nap pads side by side, because phix told me he’d hold zavi’s hand, so that ‘bruh-vuh won’t be sad.’
and as the rain slows to a trickle, i’m sitting typing this in our all too silent house and crying and trying to concentrate on my work. because that’s what being a mama looks like for me today.