Let me tell you something: if you want to receive a bevy of concerned inquiries from faraway friends, prompt your nearby friends to confess their own mothering low points AND give your mother a guilt and worry-induced nosebleed, nothing does the trick quite like a lengthy, hysterical, wine-fueled whine-post.

Anyways, things are considerably brighter than they were when I felt the need to bare my soul to everyone I know.  We’ve had an excessive amount of socializing, but the good kind of excessive.  During the week, my gym wife and I have been taking turns feeding our kids fish sticks together while we drink wine and gossip about people at the gym that we don’t know but for whom we’ve constructed elaborate back stories.  Our expat friends have been on a party tear, with bowling nights and pub crawls and St. Patty’s Day parties, culminating in an outdoor picnic dinner that felt like an ad for parenting: beautiful children, gorgeous weather, glowing pregnant women, dads playing soccer.  I’m sure that if the cameras had followed everyone all the way through our respective bedtime routines things would have unraveled pretty quickly, but for one bright, shining moment it was Camelot.

Poppy was an exceptional babysitter the entire evening.  Or maybe she's just a cougar?  Probably the latter.

Poppy was an exceptional babysitter the entire evening. Or maybe she’s just a cougar? Probably the latter.

We also joined the zoo, and went to the safari-esque branch an hour away with a fabulous family.  We only had one injury (Poppy) but none of the roaming wild deer peed on us out of their butts (which apparently happens with alarming regularity) so it was a win.

Yay for no animal urine!!!

Yay for no animal urine!!!

Then this week we had not one, not two, but three lovely couple dates, one with a friend from Princeton and her husband, one with Shane’s co-worker and her husband at quite possibly the coolest restaurant in London at the moment, and one with one of my best friends from law school that reminded me how incredibly wonderful it is to have an old friend when one has been friend-dating for months. We also had a lengthy family brunch with a family that has a kid in each of our kids’ classes, which makes ignoring children while they play so much easier, and have had Shane’s old friend James staying with us, who always brings a lot of lovely energy to the flat.  On top of ALL of that, I also hung a painting on the wall.  I know, right?

Of course there are still the usual parenting challenges.  Yesterday when I was making muffins with William for the brunch, I had to field each of the following questions within a 15 minute period:

“Mommy, what is courage?”

[I give a long explanation that makes a little sense but maybe not]

“Mommy, I think it’s like telling someone you like them.  That is hard.  All my friends do that but I don’t think I can do it yet.”

[My heart melts into the muffin batter]

“All the boys in my class want to marry each of the girls.”  [lists a few of the pairings] “And I’m pretty sure [Boy] wants to marry [Girl] because they both have dark skin.”

[My heart leaps out of the muffin batter.  I attempt to explain that skin color shouldn’t determine who you marry, and that, incidentally, neither should sex, but also somehow end up talking a bit about the slave trade? I don’t know, shit got dicey.]

“OK.  But we should still be careful of brown people. Because remember that time you told me that brown people take babies?”

[WTF.  Seriously W.T.F?!?!?!?]

Apparently, I told him once that I was going sell him + Poppy to the gypsies (moms, feel free to use that parenting gem whenever you want, free of charge).  To explain what gypsies were and why they would buy him, I read him a bit from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame picture book, which depicts gypsies in a rather unfavorable light.

Discount for the pair!

Discount for the pair!

Thankfully, I was able to clear up that little misperception and William is no longer afraid of gypsies or brown people.  As a side note, it turns out that gypsy references in America are kitschy, historical references.  But in Europe, where the history and plight of Romas are constantly plastered all over the news in the context of EU migration rules?  Not so much.  Kind of like how Captain Hook pirates are funny, but Captain Phillips ones are not.  The more you know!


Expecto Patronum!

I’m sitting here in the dark in the kitchen in a dirty bathrobe, face lit by the glow of my laptop, drinking wine.  A full two hours past their ideal bedtime (and 45 minutes past their usual bedtime), I can hear the kids playing in the shower together down the hall – totally an AAP-approved mom-move, since no one can drown in a shower!!!  Especially because, as an added safety measure,  I’ve avoided cleaning the floor tiles for the past few months so that the limescale build-up from this horrid British water has created something of a natural anti-slip mat for their little feet.

In the time that I’ve been ignoring them, they’ve resolved a couple of fights without me intervening, and now William is giving Poppy some lessons about how to wash her hair and Poppy is trying to convince William that he is a monkey and that he “better be careful or he gonna break that!”, all while laughing like an insane clown.  Cute.  Not so cute that I’m going to come out of hiding, but cute.

I’ve enrolled myself in the Mommy Protection Plan because it’s just been one of those hard weeks.  One of those harrrrrrd weeks, when no one individual thing is that insurmountable but when all of the things, combined, just break your heart and your soul and make you cry to your parents over Skype at 7:30 PM because the children will NOT stop talking SO LOUDLY.  What little nudges, exactly, have banded together to push me completely over the edge?

Well, first of all, I’ve had too many social events (I know, cry me  a river), each of which set me off on an emotional triathalon featuring .47 miles of self-doubt (who the fuck do I think I am, thinking I can just go to these events and not have everyone realize how weird and odd and twitchy I am???), followed by 12 miles of  manic self-consciousness (I must – MUST – be the funniest, nicest, coolest person here!!  chugging several glasses of cheap Prosecco will certainly be the performance-enhancing drug I need!), capped off by a leisurely 3.1 mile jog through Anxietyville (oh my GOD, why did I say that?  That wasn’t even funny, and now I’ve been offensive, or rude, and they all think I’m mean and silly and horrible).  Rinse, repeat.

Then, these old ladies at the gym keep stealing my spot.  I get there early, set up my little mat or weights or exercise ball, and they slowly encroach upon my space until I have to move. I fucking hate it. I passive aggressively make exasperated (and unreciprocated) faces to the other people in the class, and I seethe with anger during the full 60 minutes of “Booty Blast” and “Steel Body”.  BUT IT NEVER ENDS.  It’s like they sense my life force and are trying to steal it, “Coccoon” style, by standing too close to me . Or, y’know, they just have spots they like and don’t give a fuck about being a little rude to keep them.

And then, of course, there are the big things: the huge website build that I’ve spent months working on (on a volunter basis) that just launched tonight; the huge source of stress that is my regular “job”; the constant homesickness for my parents, my brother, my aunts and uncles, my friends and my New York; the never-ending housework and life-work that doesn’t stop building up just because I have other stuff going on; the lonlieness of being a Big Law wife, even if I understand the hours because I was there myself; the soul-aching worry that the choices we’re making for our family aren’t the best choices for our kids; the fact that I have two Ivy League degrees, I’m closer to 40 than I am to 20, and I still don’t know what the hell I want to do with my (professional) life.

I wrote an email reply tonight to a dear, dear friend with a young baby that I think kinda sums up what I feel like I’m dealing with right now: “Dude, what you are dealing with is hard.  It’s always hard.  I am drunk right now because I have had a really horrible week full of nothing that’s really that horrible, but even then: being a mom and a wife and a friend and a daughter and an employee and yourself is HARD.  But because nothing individually is really *that* hard you feel like a loser for feeling like you can’t deal (or at least I do).  But you are not a loser. I might be, b/c I have had too much wine and I’m sitting in the dark in my bathrobe just because.  But not you!”

On a lighter note, here’s a picture of Poppy + Will dressed up like Harry Potter for some random-ass dress-up day that British private schools seem to have all the time:

We totally didn't mean to Catholic-bait by doing this get-up on Ash Wednesday.  But sometimes the jokes write themselves.

We totally didn’t mean to Catholic-bait by doing this get-up on Ash Wednesday.