Posts tagged " children "

On Mom’s Spring Break

April 5th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

It’s been a month since I hauled my suitcase up the narrow, steep stairs, slid the key into the door and stepped into the tiny, dark apartment that belonged to a stranger.

29 days since I sat on a West Village fire escape with a cup of hot coffee resting on the railing, at 4am, jet-lagged, watching loud friends in their 20s stumbling in high heels, hailing cabs.

28 days since from the same spot, I heard the blond woman, hair a mess-she’d obviously fallen asleep somewhere-loudly whispering into her cell phone, recounting the events of the night. I

27 days since I met up with an old friend and to the random melodies of magical jazz, filled the scarce silence with stories that we chose to tell.

26 days, since I walked the city for 12 hours, getting on and off the subway as if it were a free Disney extravaganza, and I, 10-years-old.

25 days since a late-winter blizzard buried New York under a few inches of snow, emptying the streets of anyone but brave tourists in soaking sneakers, subways transforming into makeshift homeless shelters for the day. I, schlepping bags of precious underwear and t-shirts I’d just bought, because not a minute can be wasted, through the evil storm.

24 days since I began to wonder when I will miss my son, when the separation anxiety that crippled me on my last trip will take over.

23 days since I accepted that it will never happen, that he’s finally old enough to be away from me, that I’m finally ready to remember who I am, even if for a few fast days.

22 days since I walked around Barnes and Noble and Union Square, taking deep breaths, as if I could keep their air inside me until next time.

21 days since I gave thanks to Saint Patrick’s Day parade traffic that kept me from getting to the airport quickly, for even Queens’ highways looked beautiful that day.

21 days since I wanted to stay forever, 21 days since my four-year-old boy ran to me with a bouquet of flowers bigger than him, 21 days since I realized a new chapter had begun.


On When You’re So Over the Family Vacation

August 20th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

So there I am, legs hanging out the trunk of our car, parked on the shoulder of a national highway, looking for the grapes. I find them and wash them using a plastic bottle of water. I’m wearing normal clothes and shoes for the first time in ten days, not a cold, wet bathing suit, yet the wind and dust raised by the speeding cars disrespect that, covering my legs and feet in stains.

The first few days were magnificent, carefree, happy. For the kids. We’d gone to an island where our fiends and their kids already were. By day six, I was done. I never again wanted to change a wet bathing suit on an excited, giggly, sun-kissed child. Or a cold, tired, whiney one. Our beach towels that were originally, soft and fluffy, but has turned into a salty planks of cotton wood. Sand was everywhere, on the floor, in our beds, in the shower, in my bra. I’d dipped my head into the water a total of two times, the wind had blown and turned my hair into a artful bird nest, I knew it would remain so until my hair mask and I were reunited at home.

At least all children’s palates begged for spaghetti and rice, limiting our time in the kitchen. A few slices of cucumber and tomato, and we no longer felt like a bad parents. Soon, bedtimes became painful, pre-dawn risings even more so. On the last night, I feel asleep in a chair. A feat I had not accomplished in 40-odd years.

So on the shoulder of that highway, a highway which in many countries would be considered a side street, I was happy to wash some tiny village grapes while buses of tourists sped by. My son whined in the back seat, faster mommy, I’m hungry, I miss my friends, I want to go back to our village and swim in the sea. I handed him the fruit, dreaming of its alcohol-infused juice in the fridge at home. We drove off, and I turned back to look at him. His blond hair was blonder, longer, it covered his twinkling eyes, his white skin a light shade of bronze, his little feet kicking my seat to the rhythm of the music, while he swallowed the sweet grapes.

It was his first time, his first real summer vacation, and even though I’m over it and the next ten to come, I only hope he remembers every moment of it, because none of it, was for or about me.

A Letter of Caution to my Friend who Hasn’t Seen me in Years

July 20th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

I’m no longer who you remember, but I’m still me.

I will try to clean up my house before I throw open my front door and welcome you inside. I might not succeed. There will be dust, there will be random clothes all over the living room. And not just my son’s. Our clothes, that we leave laying around so long, they become part of the setting. There will be pee on the toilet if you hang out long enough. And I will not be able to chatter, gossip, and catch up, for more than 30 seconds at a time, if we’re lucky. When I offer you coffee, I won’t reach for a capsule neatly arranged by the nespresso machine. I’ll have to go break one of the capsule shapes dotting the play area table. I may smell, my hair will be in pony tail, shiny streaks of white peeping through, I will try to shower before we go out.

My car is a dump of toys and crumbs, if I hadn’t washed it yesterday, you’d probably have to sit on sand. There are buckets and shovels and rakes and dump trucks that swerve around the trunk every time I turn. And I may only know two songs on the radio. I’ll take us to a restaurant that may have closed or died down three years ago, I’ll have little to say that may interest you, so I will ask a lot of questions. I’ll pull random objects out of the pockets of my jeans; twigs, candy wrappers. There will be cars and baby wipes in my bag. The only thing that may seem familiar to you, is my 11pm curfew, like the one we used to have growing up. Only tomorrow, I won’t come home and then climb out of the living room balcony, once my parents fall asleep.

We’ll laugh about our past, we’ll dwell on our present, our eyes will light up when we speak of our future, and it’ll be like you never left.

I’m no longer who you remember, but I’m still me.

On the Mandatory Loss of my Pillar

April 12th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Two months after my son was born, hair in a knot, eye bags melting into my cheeks, and constant fear on level red, I hired a babysitter. Her name is Maria, I knew her from before, she’d taken care of a friend’s kids, nevertheless, the first few times I left the house for an hour and then two, I cried from separation anxiety. Eventually, she became the person who I turned to when he has a weird rash, didn’t sleep on time, had a nightmare, refused to wash his hair, got his first tooth, took his first step.

And now she’s leaving.

I barely use her anymore, but the comfort of knowing that the woman who spent the most important years of my life by my side was just a phone call away, was priceless.

We’re a modern, nuclear family, mom, dad, kid, we don’t have grandparents that live next door, cook our meals, impose or babysit at the sound of a bell. Even though I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’ve had plenty moments when I resented that, and found solace in Maria.

But now she’s leaving. Though I’m not as scared as I was when she first came, my son is no longer a newborn and killing him by mistake is no longer a possibility, showers and hairbrushes are readily available, and I’ve grasped the fact that going to bed early will make 6am risings easier, I’m petrified at the thought of having no help when I most need it.

The people we choose to help raise our kids become a strange kind of family, one that we choose, one that we pay, one that can disappear at any moment, no questions asked. Maria came only three times a week for two-and-a-half years, much of what she did drove me crazy, but the thought of finding a replacement seems equal to just being alone. Will I hear him laugh as he does when she makes her noises and faces? Will he run and hug the next one, drag her by her finger to his play area, ask her to sing the songs only they know? I know he probably will. But I’ll always be crippled by the lack of my pillar, its knowledge, its strength, its balance, its presence. It was family.

Pieces: a novel

“Pieces” is the winner of the silver medal at the 2017 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY), and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When Clouds Embrace: a children's book

All proceeds from the sales of "When Clouds Embrace" will go to Giving for Greece, a foundation that works to help the hundreds of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece.