You’ll understand when you’re…

UGH! That phrase! It seems like you hear it your entire life!

“You’ll understand when you’re older” “You’ll understand when you have a job””You’ll understand when you have bills to pay, get married, HAVE KIDS”

And no one likes to use that phrase more than mothers: yours, someone else’s, your mom friends.  As someone who is having their first kid, I’m sort of in between the mom world and the child-free world. But I see both sides so clearly these days. And I gotta be honest, in the words of Tina Fey..”There’s been some girl on girl crime here.”

So I came up with a few do’s and don’ts for moms and their child free friends that can help us all get a long better and neither party feels shitty about the other.

  • Mothers have used “you’ll understand when you’re a mom” on their child-free friends for decades and it is shitty as hell. First, you are assuming that the child-free friend WANTS a child and second, you are assuming they can have a child.  Also, it’s patronizing, these aren’t little kids, these are your friends. If you dont feel like they are seeing things from your perspective….use your words and tell them just that. Of course there are certain things you don’t get unless you experience it. For example, I will never be President, so I don’t know the stresses that go along with it. That’s why you see ex-POTUS’s hanging out with each other, no matter what their party affiliation. They just get what it’s like to deal with foreign leaders and the press and whatever else Presidents do from day to day.
  • Child free ladies, can you stop turning up your nose at invites you get that may involve your mom friend’s kids? They are trying, okay? They want to see you but the babysitter cancelled/dad has to work/ locked themselves out of the house. I think moms more than anything NEED that shred of their “old life”. They want to talk about your life and fashion and movies they can’t see and shows they watch on Hulu while breast pumping at 3am.  So please, be patient and be ready to talk about “Empire”. In addition, please don’t stop asking your mom friends to do stuff! They want to be a part of everything, they just can’t all the time.
  • Moms, stop telling your child free friends that they “don’t know real love” because they do not have kids. That’s bullshit. It is a completely different kind of love that you experience, but it’s definitely not the only real kind of love out there. The idea that someone can’t experience love because they don’t care for a child is ridiculous!
  • Both moms and their CF friends, don’t throw your life choices in the other’s face. Moms, you get to snuggle little ones and CF’s you get to travel, party, shop for yourself guilt free and …..okay, I clearly haven’t yet embraced motherhood. But you see what I mean. You don’t have to keep reminding me about your disposable income and I won’t tell you about the acid reflux that wakes me up at 2 a.m. (I really need to start getting used to this mom thing).
  • Moms have to stop assuming that every woman wants what you have or that something is wrong with women who don’t. And CF’s…that goes for you too. Women who want kids aren’t crazy or trapped in the patriarchal machine, they just want something that you don’t. Do you judge your friend who wants a salad for lunch when you want a burger (of course you do, that was a bad example) But you get my drift.

We are all in this together, ladies. So let’s just cut each other some slack.

A Different Kind of Love Story

As a recovering romantic comedy addict, I am obsessed with “meet cutes”. The meet cute is the way that your leading man and leading lady meet in the movie. It’s usually something adorable like bumping into each other in the hallway and dropping all their stuff. Or meeting at a party, hating each other and then falling in love. I love asking people how they met their significant other. It’s always such a great story.

Mine is not that great. It is one sentence. “We met online”. There are cute stories that go along with our relationship, but our meet cute is not so cute. That always really bugged me. Having seen some of the best meet cutes Hollywood has to offer (Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, Notting Hill…I could go on forever), I have always been disappointed that our story wasn’t Hollywood material. I always thought that when I met that special someone, that it would be cinema worthy. I tried and tried and failed and failed. I tried to make my romantic life like something Nora Ephron would have written so much that I wrote a show about it. Then I just went online.

But love is strange and comes in many forms. And your meet cute doesn’t always happen on the first date or the first moment. Sometimes you get a meet cute almost 4 years in.

About 2 weeks ago, I was in Memphis, visiting my family and running wedding related errands. Three days before my return to Los Angeles, I get a text from my fiance, “Call me ASAP”. He’s not an ASAP kind of person, he doesn’t throw that acronym around like most people do. This was serious. This was either a very good or a very bad thing. It could be “I’ve been given a raise and we need to move to Australia next week” or it could mean “The house burned down.” So, a little nervous, I call him back.

“What’s happening?!”

“Well, I was moving my car from the driveway….and there was a four-legged creature underneath and now he’s run into the garage.”

Now I knew there were raccoons around our house, I had recently had a hostile encounter with a very courageous and stubborn guy in our driveway. After he tells me this, I immediately think he’s been bitten and has rabies and the raccoon has decided that he lives in our house now. He says that it is not a raccoon. It’s a canine. And looks to be a puppy. With no collar or tags.

My campaign for a dog has been going on since before we moved to Los Angeles. I kicked it up to 11 when we moved into a house that not only had a backyard, but a neighbor with a friendly and loveable boxer who clearly needed a friend. We talked about possible dog names the way other couples discuss baby names. We decided that Carl was a distinguished and hilarious name and after watching that episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, we decided that Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks should be our dogs’ names. As far as breed, I wanted a poodle, he wanted a lab…so a big labradoodle it was. I was ready to go to a breeder yesterday. But because my fiance is a practical person, he convinced me that we should get a puppy until after we got married and went on our honeymoon.

“Well, what are you going to do with him?”

“I’m going to take him to the vet to see if he’s chipped or has any diseases…don’t get excited. I’ll call you when I get back.”

I waited those hours with bated breathe and excitement. A puppy! In our house! I imagined all the fun we’d have and snuggling we would do! I thought about hours of fetch in the park and having puppy play dates at the beach! When he called back, he spoke with restrained joy.

“Well, no microchip. No parvo. But he has worms and fleas.”

“So that means….”

“He doesn’t officially belong to anyone. I will post some ads online, but….the vet thinks he was abandoned so…”

“So…..”

“So….we have a puppy.”

“What kind of puppy?”

I could hear my fiance wrinkle his nose a little. “He’s small…..probably a Chihuahua….”

But it didn’t matter to be because I have A PUPPY! I HAVE A PUPPY!!! The last three days in Memphis went by so slowly. And finally I arrived home, late at night ready to run into the arms of a joyful pup!

He barked and growled and ran from me terrified and hid behind the dryer. I was devastated. It was not the love at first sight situation I had imagined.

For the next two days, I was on the floor with treats begging, pleading, cooing, and at one point crying to get him to be my friend. I fed him and walked him. I had fleeting moments of his tenderness but nothing that trumped his undying love for my fiance. And my fiance was loving it. And the dog. He was obsessed with their little boys’ club and I could see how in love he was with the dog. It was very sweet and endearing to see him doting on this tiny dog. But I wanted my cuddle time. I was getting sad and irritated, and to be honest, I kind of hated the puppy. Why didn’t he love me?! One morning, after a particularly hard night full of whining and pooping, he woke up, saw me, and wagged his tail. I was in! After that, it’s been love. It’s classic Hollywood. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl. Boy meets dog, boy loves dog. Girl meets dog….they hate each other. Then fall in love.

carl1

Meet Carl.

 

 

 

“Me” Time , Part I

When I was a kid and my mom would hear me wake up from a nap, unless I cried, she would leave me alone for about 20 minutes. She said that I really needed that time to be awake and by myself. And that if I didn’t have that time, I would be cranky for the rest of the day.

When most people hear this anecdote, it doesn’t make sense because I’m a pretty social person. My best friend used to say it was like I was perpetually running for homecoming queen. But whenever I would call my mother from New York upset, grumpy or sad, she would, in her infinite wisdom, ask me when was the last time I was alone.

In New York, that isn’t a silly question because in New York, you are NEVER alone. You live with other people so you can afford to live there. You work with other people, you go to work with other people, you walk with other people, you are surrounded by other people. It is very hard to get some me time.

In Los Angeles, it is different. You are alone a lot more. In your car, there are a lot more jobs where you can work alone (editing, writing..etc.) and more people can afford to live alone. With my fiance’s travel schedule, I am alone more than I was in NYC and yet, it isn’t enough.

See it isn’t about “I’m alone, now it is me time”, it’s “I want me time NOW”. Sometimes “NOW” is not when you want it to be. Last night, I just wanted to zone out and binge on “Scandal” (I’m in the middle of the 2nd Season!!) but he came home from being away for a day and wanted to talk. It was sweet. And I have to say I felt guilty for wanting to punch him for not letting me zone out and forcing me to pay attention. I couldn’t yell at him or get mad. I turned off the TV and tried to make the conversation as short as possible (which is totally unlike me).

Then, as I was nodding and smiling about a podcast he listened to on the plane, I thought “Oh God, this is my life from now on”. Then I thought “I am a selfish person”. This last thought is the one that freaked me out the most. Yes, I know I have selfish tendencies, and I can also be self centered. But never has it revealed itself as much as it did in that moment. This gorgeous moment of him really wanting to connect and me being totally annoyed and thinking about how in the world Olivia Pope is gonna get out of this one!

It’s not as if he is always around. Or even that when he is around he is always demanding my attention. Which makes my reaction even worse!

Whenever I think of sacrifice in marriage, I think of the big stuff. Moving because of the others job, giving up something you love to better the life of your spouse, taking care of a sick spouse etc…
It never occurred to me that sacrifice is something that happens in small ways on a daily basis. Sacrifice is giving up something for the other person’s benefit, whether it is giving up your seat on the couch or having Chinese even thought you feel like Mexican.

As my exhausted fiance fell asleep last night, I had a terrible headache, and as I am wont to do late at night, I immediately began to think about all the horrible things it could be. My mind wandered to a conversation I had about the left brain vs. the right brain. And I just had to tell him.

And this bone tired man opened his eyes and started to have a conversation that eventually lulled me to sleep.

I am a monster.

Marriage, Mortality and a certain CBS sitcom

There are very few TV shows that my fiance and I must wait to watch together. Breaking Bad was one. Mad Men, House of Cards and….this final season of How I Met Your Mother.

I came to How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) late in the game. It is my fiance’s favorite show and he forced me to watch the first season that he had on DVD. And, as I predicted, I hated it. I hated what a wuss Ted was and how we knew RIGHT AWAY that Robin wasn’t the mother but we would waste 8 years on Ted’s love for her. I told my fiance that I’d given it a shot, but no thanks.

Then I went away for a month. One of my best friends and I drove cross country one summer. It was the greatest, most awesome trip I’ve ever gone on and one that was 10 years in the making. But somewhere around Amarillo, Texas, I started to miss my fiance…..so to feel closer to him, I started Season 2 of HIMYM …..and I was kind of curious what would happen to Lily and Marshall. By the season 8 premiere that fall, I was all caught up.

*Warning spoilers ahead*

With 4 episodes left in the series, last night’s episode turned the show on it’s ear. With certain well placed comments, glances and tears, it seems that we have met the mother only to have her taken from us….yea, she’s dying.

The episode has a middle aged Ted telling his middle aged wife about the day of Barney and Robin’s wedding. There were moments where the two got choked up and said things like “when moments are too heavy, you distract yourself with nothing”. And the wife urging Ted to not be the guy who lives in his stories “life moves forward”, she says with tears in her eyes.

By the end, I was a sobbing mess. Because she’s going to die. We have wanted Ted to find love for so long, he’s struggled and he found her and now she’s being taken away too soon.

And then I looked at my fiance. And I realized the thing that you know as a logical person but don’t really think about until you love someone so much….he is going to die. And so am I. (I know……this is not even close to a funny post about “first looks”).

And unless we die as I would like, together in our sleep at age 90….one of us will go before the other that though made me sob harder. What have I gotten myself into? I mean, we’ve been together 3 years and I know that  I would be destroyed…what will another 20 or 30 years of life with this man do to me?

Love is a tough thing. It is something that we all want and that we strive for, pray for and hope for, but ultimately, it causes the most pain somewhere along the line.

So why do we do it? Why do we seek love, find it and hitch ourselves to someone for 50 years only for the risk of them leaving or dying to be right there in the background, waiting in the shadows. Why not just keep everyone at arm’s length and live happy solitary lives?

I guess it is because the moments we have with the people we love are so much better because they are there; the highs are higher and the lows aren’t as low.

Don’t get me wrong. It ALL terrifies me. Loving someone so much that them being gone would ruin me. Depending on someone so much that their absence will leave a huge gaping hole in my heart and life. But the other side freaks me out too…never loving someone that much, never experiencing that and never having that person…being alone. It’s something that I struggled with every so often when I was single. Loving and losing or never loving at all? Back then it was such an abstract thought, simply an existential argument. But now there is a person attached to it, a face, hands, a heart, a smile, a laugh…and clearly I made a choice.

But even when it was a theoretical exercise…it wasn’t that hard of a choice for me. To quote Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias:

“I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special”.

Personally, I’d rather have a lifetime of wonderful…but when you are a diabetic Julia Roberts and want a baby these are apparently your only options.

Valentine’s Shmalentine’s

I was talking to a friend yesterday who was bemoaning her singledom. And it was one of those moments where I, as a person in a relationship, was looked at like I had it all figured out. That I just had always had boyfriends and I knew what I was doing with my romantic life and had never suffered the unbearableness of being single on Valentine’s Day. I confessed to her that before my fiance, I had spent every February 14th with my friends or completely alone. Then I went on to tell her about a very awkward, kind of sweet, first Valentine’s Day.

I was 30 years old and had never had a Valentine. I had been dumped on Valentine’s Day. I had been dumped a week before Valentine’s Day. I’d been stood up on Valentine’s Day. I didn’t have a great history with the day of love.
For our first Valentine’s Day together my fiance and I decided to spend the weekend in Atlantic City. Both of us love gambling so he booked us a nice room at a hotel/casino. I should also mention that this was our first weekend getaway as well. No pressure or anything.

I had just finished grad school and was unemployed, so I didn’t have tons of money to spend on a gift. But I did know one thing…lingerie was a must. In all my dating time, I had never had a guy that I felt comfortable enough with to wear lingerie for. i had come close with a guy, had the fancy panties on and then I found out he actually had a girlfriend, but that’s another story.

So I thought, this guy was going to be the first to see me in scandalous underwear. I obsessively shopped. I went to every place imaginable. Everything was either too expensive, too slutty or both. Finally I found a simple, lace night gown at a small shop in Brooklyn. Lingerie accomplished.

The next step was the gift. Since I spent most of the money on the lingerie, I thought I would MAKE a gift. At the time I was on a baking kick and I knew that he loved cinnamon rolls. So with the help of my amazing sister, I found a doable recipe. I ended up throwing out the first batch because the dough didn’t rise.  But the second rose enough (or so I thought). They actually turned out to be very….. dense….to put it nicely. Frankly, they could have been used as bricks.

So that Saturday, we take the 2 hour ride up to AC. He gets me a card and chocolates (and the room in AC). We gamble up a storm. We drink. We have dinner. We have an awkward exchange with a drunk guy at a blackjack table that asked if we were in love— cool off guy, it’s only been 3 months!

Then, after we’d consumed enough champagne, we make our way up to the room. I was drunk, but still sober enough to be nervous about the lingerie. This was not going to be our first adult sleepover. Or the first time he would be near my naked body. But lingerie sets expectations. Lingerie says “hey, look at my body!” in a way that being naked doesn’t. When I went into the bathroom to change, I told him to not laugh at me. (In hindsight, why would a man laugh at a scantily clad woman? Unless she told him to laugh.)

I tiptoed out of the bathroom doubled over, trying to protect my exposed parts and dove under the covers to hide.

Anyway, no need to go into the rest. The nightie was a hit and the Valentine’s Day was a success (he went on a 45 minute run at the craps today that he still talks about to this day). Although I’m not sure either of us enjoyed those cinnamon rolls very much (he did make a valiant effort though).

Much later he revealed to me that yes, those cinnamon rolls sat like bricks of lead in his stomach for days, but he continued to eat them…because I had made them for him.

And that’s when he knew he was in trouble.