Posts tagged " motherhood "

On the Reality of Freedom

September 14th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 2 comments

I took a long break, I haven’t been here in a while, I know. But see, it’s because I’m finally free. I let myself be because I’m finally free.

Not that that’s necessarily liberating. It’s terrifying.

I’ve spent the past four and a half years trying to survive, while trying not to fail a young child. My life has been about failing at breastfeeding, formula feeding schedules, hauling organic produce from the market on three hours of sleep, mashing that organic produce better than the best baby food expert on the internet, potty training, chasing, feeding, chasing, feeding, crying, encouraging, teaching, all while demonstrating the patience of a superhuman. But that’s what moms of young kids do. For the first few years, most of us, as we knew ourselves, cease to exist. We temporarily lose our partners, we have no child-free friends. We long to go out to dinner, when we get there, we curse the moment we chose to do it instead of going to bed. We long to sit on a beach, sit, without moving until the sun heats us enough to go in the water. We long to slip on a pair of expensive heels, only to realize our feet no longer fit in them, let alone have the agility or energy to walk in them. We long to work, to create, to be surrounded by adults, because we think that what we’re doing, here at home, is not real life, it’s simply raising a child.

Well let me tell you something, it’s as real as life is going to get. And it won’t last that long, in the grand scheme of things. But we can’t see that while we’re there, no. And then, suddenly, it’s over. They hang their schoolbags on their shoulders, grab hold of their friend’s hand, and run off in the schoolyard with a simple wave. If that. And there, we realize, we’re free.

Or I did.

The first week, I stared out the window. The second week, out of guilt, I began to cook two to three meals a day. When most of the food found itself in the garbage, I embraced Netflix, read a book. And then it came, the bomb, the one that explodes little shards of “this is your life now” quotes all over the kitchen. Suddenly, at 44, I can do whatever I want. Till 4.30pm, that is. But compared to a year ago, that is a lot of time. And I start to think, what can I do, and I begin to panic, because there isn’t that much I can do, and the last thing I want to do is sit and cook three meals a day for the rest of my life, even if someone eats them.

Cliche, I say. Every mom has this crisis when they’re finally reintroduced to the concept of breathing. So maybe I’m just going to breathe for as long as I need to. Let this freedom engulf me, stress me, push me, scare me. See where it takes me.

On Beautiful Monsters

August 2nd, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 1 comment

So, what’s up, primary caregivers of beautiful monsters who ask you questions and demand to be fed stuff for at least 12 nonstop hours a day? How’s your summer going? Good?  On vacation? How’s that working out for you? Relaxing on a beach and having candlelight dinners with your partner?


Me neither.

It started well. I followed the “let them be bored” mantra that has swept over the already exhausted population of summer parents. It seemed like a valid concept, but they forgot to mention that letting them be bored can be more tiring than entertaining them. But I stuck to my guns, pulled through, drank the KoolAid, felt proud of my accomplishment. His boredom led to a fascination with tiny Legos. Currently, I have an airport landing strip running along my living room floor, which I’m not allowed to move. There are heliplanes, fire truck garbage trucks, and bulldozer cranes on display, for anyone who dares to come visit us, which truthfully is pretty much noone.

During rest time, we began by watching “Sid the Science Kid.” The past week, two farting and burping larvae in the gutters of New York have been playing on Netflix all day. I have stacked my New Yorkers back into a corner, unread, and reached level 1000-something in Farm Heroes, which besides slowly killing my brain, has also affected my eyesight. A random burst of noise from the plastic electric guitar or our favorite harmonica, usually signifies that rest time is over. And it’s Lego time again. Today, I suggested we sit together while he builds his vehicles, and I read a few pages of my book. He eagerly agreed. We all know how that went.

Basic errands, such as buying two liters of milk a day for my growing angel, take hours instead of minutes. It’s reached the point where two different shoes on feet is completely acceptable, as is trying to carry Teddy, a coloring book, a sticker book, a fire truck and a little plastic bag of tiny Legos in tiny four-year-old hands and dropping them multiple times on the way to the car. All of these things end up in my handbag by the time we reach the entrance of the supermarket. The supermarket, another horror, was the place I began to teach my kid the value of money not so long ago. You know, the old song and dance about how we can’t buy things all the time, nor can we buy yogurt that comes with Smarties just to eat the smarties and throw the yogurt away. And then claim that we ate something healthy. Not so slowly, this deteriorated to us leaving with him carrying his own little bag of stuff. Tomorrow, when we go on the milk/wine run, I will offer to buy him something.

Then we have the lunch/dinner situation. When school closed, we sat down and made a schedule of each week’s balanced meal. I don’t know where that schedule is, actually, I ‘m not so sure anymore that we made it. And today’s lunch featured a donut from Starbucks.

Bedtime begins shortly after lunch time, for me at least, for that’s when I start thinking about it.

“Mommy, I want to do something exciting! Mommy, what are we going to do today? You know, like the zoo, or the trampoline, or the beach!”

We did all of those, multiple times. The zoo in 35 degrees celsius. The beach, where by 11am, there are hundreds of school-free little monsters, louder than mine. Grapes covered in sand, sand stuck in little pink gums, three bags of crap to haul back and forth from the car, hours to spend in the warm, shallow waters while getting a special back tan that leaves the rest of you as stark white as you were in December. The trampoline that opens at 3pm, not an ounce of shade, but a four-year-old doesn’t care, until sweaty and exhausted, he passes out in the car on the way back and bounces off walls till way after bedtime.

Bedtime, yes, that’s where this began. It finally happens, and you feel like something magical has occurred. You suddenly have options, such as do I shower, do I clean, do I pour wine now or later, maybe I should have a glass now, then shower and have another one, do I watch half an episode of a girlie, brainless show before the spouse comes home and assumes that that’s what I do all day, or do I play some more Farm Heroes?

You pick one, and then your partner comes home. Excited to tell him about your day, inspired by the fact that you have spoken to nobody all day but your child, you begin to recount things completely insignificant to anybody with any inch of sanity. When I personally do this, my husband sits and stares at me, blankly. As if wondering why he married me, or if this is really the person he married, or counting to ten, or 100, until he knows that I will stop rambling. Because really, I don’t have that much to say.

The highlight of my day today was running into my OBGYN at the local mall and explaining to my unprepared child that this is the woman that brought him into this world. Yesterday, it was telling the cashier at the supermarket that my mom is coming at the end of August. She doesn’t know my mom. Or me. But she asked. Probably something irrelevant to my answer, but she was a grown up, and she looked pretty sane.

I sit here now, in the silent darkness, with what I think is a tiny yellow Lego piece floating in my glass of wine, a slinky hanging off the banister, and another month ahead of me, and as every night, try to relive the amazing things that happened today. I taught him that “passing gas” is a much better version of “fart,” he made his first phone call to his best friend, he blew up his first balloon, walked around his room (way past bedtime) in the tacky, furry fuchsia flip flops he made me buy, and he hugged my neck right before he fell asleep with his little beautiful arms. My husband will be home any minute, and I think I won’t have to tell him about the OBGYN, at least not until later, because I’ve told you. Good night, primary caregivers of beautiful monsters. September is right around the corner, and some of us still have a family vacation to survive.

On the Group of Moms at the Playground

July 20th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 1 comment

A post went “viral” today, you’ve probably seen it if you’re a mom, written by a mom who lists why it’s ok to be any kind of mom, and still be a good mom. To basically stop mom-shaming eachother.

The fact is, the summer months are hard. Kids are home all day. That’s more than 12 hours of awake time for some us, 12 whole hours to feel like a failure. There’s lots of time for self-shaming, let alone the result of that awful but innate habit, judging other moms. But it’s more complicated than that. To stop judging eahcother, we must stop judging ourselves and the choices we make in raising our kids. And to openly talk about our feats, faults, failures, successes.

There is a playground close by here. At 6pm, daily, it fills with the same group of moms and their kids. When we first moved to the neighborhood, I’d take my son down there every now and then. The only mom who spoke to me was one with an autistic kid. Back then she wasn’t sure autism was the problem, so she kept swinging him on the swing, rhythmically, smile on her face, talking to her child non stop. Look, there’s an airplane, look, you’re eating a cookie, look, that little girl is playing with a truck. She was so deep in self-shame that I didn’t even know what to say to her, blaming herself for something that was completely out of control, not seeing that she is a hero, opening doors for others to judge her.

Another mom, twin boys, toddlers, terrible twos that seem to be stretching well beyond  that age, gravel in the air, in other kids’ faces, fighting, crying, screaming, she too exhausted and ashamed to tell them what they are doing is wrong. Again, and again.

The semi-foreign mom, who hears my child speak English and ask to play with her kid’s bulldozer, pretends she doesn’t speak English so she doesn’t get edged out by the rest who stare at me as if they’ve never seen a foreigner before. He even says “please,” but nothing. I tell him that it’s ok, we have a bulldozer in the trunk of the car, in Greek, but nothing.

The grandma who is way too old and tired to be tending to two kids, doing it for the unconditional love for her son or daughter, given little choice by the conditions of the country we live in, asking me which building we live in, on which floor, what school my son goes to and speaks the “xena” (foreign).

All of you, I’m just as freaked out as the rest of you, none of us knew what we were signing up for. I could mom-shame you as you do me, I see you stare at me in disdain as I open my phone and play a round of Candy Crush, as I take my son by the hand and take him home for bath and bed hours before any of you do. And I let you be, because I know you do it because you see parts of yourself in me, parts you wish you could be, as I do in you.

It’s ok, I understand, as I’m sure somewhere deep down inside, you do too. Mom-shaming is just self-shaming.
You haven’t seen us in a while, and you probably never will, for I no longer take my kid to your playground, there’s no room for us. I take him somewhere we can breathe, unashamed.

On Freedom Night

July 17th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

A girl’s night out can be a tricky thing. In our 20s it usually resulted in drunken stupor followed by black outs and hangovers. In our 30s, they become rare, as everyone slowly found their elusive other half and spent nights cuddled up on couches, gaining weight by the kilo per Saturday.

Then came the babies.

For the first few years, nights out are events that we planned months in advance, trying to work around toddlers’ schedules. When and if we succeeded to meet up, the result was pretty close to the nights of our 20s, minus the fun and the all-nighters. The drunker we got (end of drink one), the more we complained about diapers, walking, crawling, puke, poop, lack of sleep, and by the end of the night (end of drink two), the conversation had shifted to how beautiful all our children are and how lucky we are to have them even though we get no sleep and no alone time. The friends without kids that originally joined us, slowly chose to not attend. And us, well, we opted to avoid these nights, dreading the sleepless night, followed by a gallon of water per each drink consumed at 6 a.m. the next morning, accompanied by the angelic screams of our kids.

And then we got used to all that. And suddenly, the babies and toddlers became kids that can turn on the TV without our presence before sunrise. And even more suddenly, so much so that it caught us off-guard, we got to have a real girl’s night.

It was a Saturday, at the house of two moms, whose kids got dressed up to greet the guests, and eventually, relatively painlessly went to bed.  I was so stressed about the possibility of a “pass out” occurring before 11pm, that I actually took the second nap of my lifetime that day. And everyone showed up, and stayed up. Friends I hadn’t seen without kids hanging off their sleeves in over five years, friends who had never left their children with a babysitter before, friends without kids who decided to give us another chance, friends who I see every week but suffer from not exchanging an adult conversation with, ever. We sat around a table, by a softly lit pool and talked. Listened to old music. The one that has words that make sense to accompany the tune. Moved chairs to be close to someone else, and talked some more. Some of us had dressed up, because we could, some dressed down because they could. Nobody cared, nobody got wasted, nobody fell asleep, nobody took their clothes off to jump in the pool, (though I must confess, I’d hidden a bikini in my bag), and children talk was limited to a five minute burst that faded as quickly as it had blown up.

We were us. But a different kind of us. An us that is not afraid to cry, to laugh, to scream, to be real, an us that is aware, accepting, embracing. An us that has spent our 20s and 30s together, and us that now has nothing to hide, an us, whether with four kids, two boyfriends, divorced or alone, sees things clearly.  An us that is free.

On Hookers, Bras, and Struggles

July 14th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 2 comments

It’s 4pm on a hot summer day and I stand a block away from my house, hiding in the shade of the shadow of a stop sign, waiting for my son’s school bus to drop him off. A man drives up, in his 30s, flashy Mercedes, shirt, tie, pop music, and tells me to get in.

I’m 43. I’m wearing baggy jean shorts that have survived motherhood for over four years, my hair is in an unruly, smelly pony tail, I’m sweating, miserable, grumpy. Why he mistakes me for a hooker is beyond me. Maybe it was because I was leaning on the pole. But with that logic, any woman who leans on anything on a street is a hooker. I’m no MILF, no cougar, none of those flattering names that women my age are given by damaged members of the opposite sex. And definitely not remotely appealing at that time of day to the undamaged ones.

I live in a country, in a world, where a man slaps his wife in the middle of a sold-out concert that’s raising money for the hungry, and she sits back down next to him. In the country that founded democracy, at the stadium that saw the birth of the modern Olympic games. All I can think of is what must happen at home, for a palm across the face to be accepted in front of 20,000 people.

A six year old girl wants to wear a bra. Probably because some other kid in school convinced her mom it was ok to wear one.

An 11 year old, a crop top and hot shorts. Because 11-year-olds are 20-year-olds of my generation.

Neither see the reasoning in their mothers’ objections. Both innocent enough to not realize that society has already sexualized them, stripped them of their core identity, or not even given them a chance to form one.

I watch the bad excuse for a man that the American people elected to lead them this week, and squirm. I’m like those bugs that turn into balls when they’re scared, roly polies, that my son is so fascinated by. I watch him blatantly demean the first lady of France. I wonder what she replied to his ageist, sexist comments behind the scenes, and hope that she used wisdom and swear words.

People keep writing parenting advice articles to moms to teach their sons to respect women. It’s not the moms who need to do that, it’s the dads. And by respect I do not mean open doors and pretend to listen to their opinions. I mean raise them in an environment where at no point in time, in their entire childhood, are they even given the of hint of the possibility of the idea that any woman is a lesser or weaker than they are. It’s that simple, it’s common sense. I know plenty of dads out there more than capable of such a feat. And many more, capable and insisting on the complete opposite.

But we’ve come so far, the voices of women everywhere shout at me, angrily. Yes, angrily. Because we are still angry. How can we not be? Is this a fight we can even win? If so, why is it still such a fight? There are so many of us, we are all screaming, our words fading as if background noise to deaf ears. And so many more of us, choosing to remain silent.


On all That is Really Left

July 10th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

There are days like this, when there is nothing left. Days when I’ve eaten plain spaghetti without salt for lunch, sprayed with questionable ketchup for the last two bites, wore unmatching clothes, left on nail painted on my hands. When pulling my bra through my sleeves as I rest my back on the hard floor, is even too much. When I no longer have answers for countless questions, especially ones such as “mommy, why do all children grow up.” When a morning at the beach day felt like a week’s worth of manual labor; hauling gear, changing wet bathing suits, reapplying sunscreen, digging holes, fetching juice, washing sand off the grapes, feet, hands, feeling my back burning as I spend hour two in the shallow water chasing a beach ball against the current,  on my knees.

It’s only the middle of summer and I already know nothing is left, my strength was gone before it started.

I promised myself I’d be better than last year, I’d be more patient, more organized, I’d allow time for boredom, spend time outdoors, blow my fuse at least half an hour later than normal, insist on healthier eating habits without nagging, limit screen time, and all this while not letting the scorching Greek summers dictate our day. No wonder I was tired before it all even started.

Today, all I managed, was the beach. With only one incident of voice raising. For safety reasons.

I know I’m not alone, there are a million moms on the verge of a summer vacay meltdown every second of the day. And for most of that time, we, I, are alone. Even if someone is with us.

By bedtime, our patience has reached superhuman levels, our fuses have burnt out, faded, we can almost smell them sizzling. The lights are off, the stories have been read, the mess almost tidied up, and we lay there, sit there, waiting for the melodic sound of their sleep breathing, they all have a different tune, and suddenly they’re out and we are free.

But free to do what?

“But grown ups don’t play, ” he says before he finally falls asleep. And then decides, “I’m going to play when I’m a grown up.” Hugs my arm, turns his back and goes to sleep. My arm is twisted, hurting, but it’s the sweetest pain. And all that is really left.

On a Happy Place

June 23rd, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

When I was seven, my mom led me into the classroom in my new school. In a new country. I sat down at the desk assigned to me, next to a boy who is my friend to this very day. My knowledge of English was limited to “hello,” so I said it to him, almost in slow motion, with a heavy Russian accent. “Toilet” was the other word I knew, and even though I had to pee, I decided to save it for later.

It was a dark, cloudy September day, the classroom was in the basement, our desks a worn pistachio green, the light yellow, electric. Pine trees outside swayed to the early autumn tune of the breeze.

I wasn’t scared.

My mom was. She stood outside the old door, staring into its little window. She left when she saw my “hello,” knowing it was her cue, leaving me to figure out my new world on my own, even though all she wanted to do was stay and help me.

Now, it’s my turn.

I know I’m not alone, I see other moms of young kids who just either “graduated” nursery or kindergarten, panicking about how in a couple of months their munchkins will find themselves outside their comfort zone in a new school, a new classroom, surrounded by people they don’t know, just when they’d finally fallen into the comfort of their happy place. My son’s little school closed its doors today, forever. Stricken by the financial crisis, they opted to retire. Two years ago, I had walked into this place, my second stop in what I thought would be an endless road of research, and knew that it was it. It was the place where my barely two-and-a-half year old would never wear a diaper again, where he’d meet his first best friend, where he’d have his first fight, heartbreak, glorious laugh, where he’d learn his first letters and numbers, where he’d spell the “S” in his name backwards with a red marker over and over again on both sides of a piece of paper. It was the place that became the center of my daily social life, because come on people, we all know that moms of young kids can’t make it outside their homes past nine o’clock, especially on school nights. It’s was the place that I learned to trust strangers, to listen to them praise or criticize my son, it was the place that embraced him every morning for two years. It was his happy place, mine too, our safe place.

The thought of him getting off a bus and walking into a school ten times the size, terrified me at first. I almost started googling articles about how to help your kid deal with the change. But I didn’t. Because I don’t have to. None of us have to. They’re kids, they’re resilient, they adapt. I was the only one in the car crying today, as we drove away for the last time. He was laughing, bouncing his red balloon on the closed window and asking for ice cream. He’s not afraid of going to his new big school. I was. And if I made it through the day with a “hello,” anyone in his place can make it with a “hi.” He’s only four. It’s just the beginning. There will be more happy places.

“Mommy, why are you crying?” he asks, giving the balloon a hug.

“I’m excited,” I reply.

On When Shit Happens

June 1st, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 1 comment

About a month ago, I received a priceless gift. My book won a prize, and this prize seemed to actually mean something, as its worth was validated by a ceremony, a gala, an event where I’d actually receive a medal. Only problem, it was in New York City, a place I had already visited a month earlier. I have a four-year-old, a husband who works enough to not be able to be a stay-at-home dad whenever I feel wanderlust is taking over my life, which happens quite often. A beloved babysitter who despite being a Greek grandma to my son, works hard for her living, and is no place to make his care-taking a personal pastime.

Yet here I am, on a patio in Midtown Manhattan, a loud generator truck parked below me, the noise enhanced by the cliché echoes of sirens and honking yellow taxis, busy New Yorkers racing by on the street below me, and hints of a more-than-welcome warm, humid spring day approaching, as a sliver of a moon appears behind the skyrise above my head.

I arrive here, six days ago, nursing the cold I picked up at the worst time from nursery school. I begin popping American flu drugs, stoned I power through the streets, trying to verify my existence in the city. Sweaty and tired, I return to my rented bed, and watch senseless shows on Netflix, determined to head out again.

A friend flies in from across the country, more determined, I find new medicine, refusing to waste a moment of my time in the place that makes me feel alive, invincible, creative, real. Award night comes along, I chug close to two bottles of Pedialyte, miraculously feeling strong and human, for enough time to make it there.

Another 200-odd writers have won awards, many of them are there, just like I am, to hang a heavy medal around their neck, as if we all didn’t know we are good enough after being singled out from over five thousand entrants. The organizers have hired, what in Greece, we would call “flower pots,” two young and hot people, a boy and a girl, in their 20s, they slide the medals over our heads, they pose with us for a photo, the girl with the male winners, the boy with the female. “Sexist!” my friend and I whisper loudly to eachother , Women’s March, nasty women, and all. Yet, when it’s my turn to go up there, I gladly pose with the flower pot, I even put my arm around his bony torso, because for that single moment, for those two shots, I am nothing but a winner and I can do whatever I want.

We flee the minute my moment is over, not because we’re bored, not because I need to leave, but because I feel the chapter slamming shut, the magic potion mixed with wine and the medal weighing down my clutch makes me hungry and fearless. We jump on stools at a bar next door, a man is singing songs that we know, the sound is bad, his voice is great, we yell along to the lyrics, someone is celebrating their 18th birthday.

Today, alone, roaming the insane streets of post-Memorial Day New York, spastic cough and sinus nightmare galore, I realize that I may be the luckiest person in the world.

Shit happens, and I embrace it. Always with a little help from all those that embrace me. I wrote a book. It won an award. Nursery viruses, come, show me what else you’ve got, my next book is out there, and if I have it my way, I will find myself in this city over and over again, until book after book, post after post, fight after fight, I will need no drugs or magic potions to consider myself alive, and real.

On not my Mother’s Day

May 14th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 1 comment

I’ve never been one for showering my mom with flowers on Mother’s Day, probably because she barely cares about Christmas, let alone Hallmark holidays. But ever since I son was born, my perspective has shifted. I feel entitled to a mother’s day. Probably more than once a year.

I imagine that all the moms reading this are sitting in a room with me and I ask you all, how many are feeling blessed, rested, happy, and fulfilled right now? Show of hands.

Then I ask you, who here is feeling exhausted, frustrated, who is trying to hold on to the few moments of this day that made it special just because if you don’t hold on to them, you will have a breakdown? How many forgot it’s Mother’s Day? How many have young kids who have no idea what it even is? And how many have non-Americanized and Hallmark-ized husbands who thought today was like any other Sunday and acted accordingly?

I’m guessing the show of hands would grow exponentially to the last four questions. Hashtag all you want, but unless you have caring teenagers in your house, we all know it’s not real. And it shouldn’t be.

We’re sold this nonsense of sleeping in, breakfasts in bed, family brunches, bouquets of flowers, mani pedis, massages, and what have you. And even if we don’t believe in any of this gibberish, the lack of it, or the failure of the perfect materialization of the image, affects us on this fake day. If my kid brought me breakfast in bed, I promise you, I’d end up having to do laundry two minutes later. Sleeping in? We all know that fairytale all too well.

But what if you’d woken up today without expectations? What if Mother’s Day was about actual mothers, as the name of the day suggests. As it was first envisioned by it’s founder, Anna Jarvis, who devoted her adult life to making it a national holiday in the United States. Her passion was fuelled by the loss of her mother at the age of 40, and she fought its almost immediate commercialization in the very turn of the 20th Century. She died alone, blind and childless. It was all for her deceased mom. No flowers, no eggs benedict, no hugs and pats on the back, maybe just a couple of mimosas.

I put my kid to bed, TGIM tomorrow flashes constantly in my mind, take a photo of the card he made me at school, to use with this post, his little handprints, in red paint, cover the two sides of a white heart. I pour a glass of wine, grab my laptop, and walk out onto the balcony. The sun is setting, and the sky is a rainbow, unlike any I have seen before; dark grey, light grey, dirty blue, bright pink, orange, burgundy, then blue. My camera refuses to capture its beauty, as if telling me that life isn’t meant to be shot and posted somewhere for everyone to see. It’s fluid, it’s ugly, it’s breathtaking, it’s unpredictable, uncontrollable, it takes us by surprise when we least expect it; as is motherhood, as are we, as are our mothers, and the mothers before them. We are not perfect rainbows in a bright blue sky.

Happy Sunday to all you blasts of color. Above all, to mine.

Next year, I’m renting a minivan and taking all my sister moms to a 10-hour, kids and dads-free lunch.

On the Beach

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

And then, there came a day, when my kid and I lay next to eachother on beach towels, and talked. About the yummy strawberries that formed a bright red clown mouth around his lips, the five insects that he discovered in the schoolyard that morning, about how beautiful the beach is, how good the sea makes us feel.

Just when I thought, yet again, that I cannot do this anymore, that it’s not easier as they grow older, but a different kind of hard, another one I have to master, to adapt to, before the next appears. Just when I thought I was doing everything wrong, again, having forgotten that last time I felt this way, something just as magical happened to ease the way.

“Get up, mommy, I want to see how you run down the beach,” he says. “Like those two grown ups there,” pointing at the elderly sun-kissed couple, fitter than me in my 20s, jogging through the waves.

He’s up before me, running, screaming with glee, his little feet splashing, dots of wet sand a mosaic on his back. “Come on, mommy, this is the most amazing beach ever!” He runs toward me and wraps his arms around my thigh, I tug him back to our towels. We lay back down, me on my back, he on his side, looking into my eyes as if he expected me to do something to make things even more magnificent. The beach was full of people, but there was only us.

Parenthood will never be easy, it will rarely be bearable, I know that now, but I will forget it, too absorbed by frustrations of daily life.  My son is only four; we have an ocean to swim through, but I will have myriads of chances to be reminded by it’s sudden, rare, engulfing, unmatched beauty.

The moment was over quickly, as he demanded juice and ice cream on the way back to the car, tired, whiney and red-eyed, he sat back in his car seat and eventually fell asleep. I pulled over on the side of the road, switched off the music, took off my seatbelt, turned around and stared at him.

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.