Posts tagged " stay at home mom "

On Special Strangers

June 22nd, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 1 comment

A little over four years ago, a very pregnant woman walked into the offices of a weekly shipping newspaper. She had an interview with the editor, a woman looking to retire, after 30-odd years as a journalist. The pregnant one was almost 40, the editor did not like to reveal her age, though her endless devotion to her career and her fight with cancer may have given it away, if it wasn’t for her mischievous smile, and the jokes she made every time the preggo ran to pee during the interview.

The pregnant woman was offered the job; a few months of training and she’d eventually take over as editor of the Athens bureau. She didn’t really believe it, she was thinking the older woman was just being nice, knowing that she’d never take it, even though she never had children of her own, and devoted her life to journalism.

After the official interview, the older woman suggested they go for a drink, she gathered up her stuff, left the rest of the staff with directions for the rest of the afternoon, and took preggo for a glass of wine at a bar down the street. They talked and talked, about things that two strangers don’t usually discuss, the younger woman had a cigarette, the older one chased the snakes of smoke with her nose, joking about her cancer-ridden lungs.

“I really want this job.” preggo said. “But I don’t know if I can leave a newborn at home to chase shipowners and their stories. I want to be a mom. But I want to have a career and this is the best chance I’ll ever get.”

“I can’t help you make that choice.”

The younger looked into the eyes of the older, trying to read what was behind that sentence, but found nothing. There was no answer, no pity, there was no secret knowledge, there was no regret.

Eventually they hugged and went their separate ways.

That night, the future stay-at-home mom sat on her kitchen counter, legs spread to let her massive belly breathe, and cried. She cried for what she knew she was giving up, she cried for the amazing person that touched her life for a mere three hours, she cried for what she was never going to have, and for what she soon would have.

Cancer finally won, as it tends to do, a few weeks ago, a little over a year after the older woman finally decided to retire.  The younger woman went to the memorial service, having seen her only twice in her life–once at the scene described, and again at a dinner a year or so later–for no reason other than wanting to say goodbye to an almost-stranger who helped her make a decision that women all over the world are faced with,  by saying nothing. That day, she showed her who she could become, but did not judge who she would be. It was at an Anglican church, unlike any funeral, wake or memorial that she’d ever been to, people kept getting up between hymns and prayers, telling stories, recalling memories, talking about her smile, her passion, her wisdom, her impeccable career. She wanted to get up and tell her story, but felt that she didn’t really belong, almost feeling privileged to keep her few hours with this woman to herself.

Rest in peace, Gillian Whittaker. I am sure that I am not the only almost-stranger whose life you have touched. It was an honor.


On a Hard Day

July 6th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Today I understood why some stay-at-home moms start drinking wine at noon, pop pills, or smoke pot. There are days when all three are necessary. It’s not the first time I had the desire to indulge in noise and feeling-numbing drugs in the middle of the day. Sometimes you’ve heard the word “mom” so many times that you think the voice is not that of your child but of an evil warrior who is actually saying “die woman,” while you stand trembling in a corner of a dusty, dark cave. Sometimes the sound of their cries and whines sound like exploding bombs parallel to bad quality techno music blasting on bad speakers. Sometimes an hour feels like a day, and you find yourself changing batteries on the kitchen clock and restarting your phone just to make sure it hasn’t been a day. On a day such as this, you’re always alone, there’s no one to talk to, nobody even cares. The amount of energy you’ve spent on trying to stay calm and controlled can power a city. And sometimes, this day just never ends. Until it does. But you can no longer see, hear or think.

There’s no happy ending in this rant, no reflective positive thought, just a deep breath and a personal plea to whatever you do or don’t believe in, for tomorrow to be different. Cheers.

On my Career and Fitness Levels

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

I was holding the phone with my shoulder talking to an old friend on Monday morning, while making lentil soup. She and I signed up at the gym together and she was wondering why I don’t come very often.

“Like what do you do all day?” she asked, “I mean besides the kid.” (Note that she’s a very successful, currently child-free, career woman.)

My first reaction was to yell at her, but the decades that our friendship has endured, stopped me. I understood her question, because I’ve wondered the same thing myself, back in the day. I calmly explained my current state of being, and cited that it’s before ten in the morning and I’m already frying onions, as an examle to drive my explanation home.

And then I did the following.

For the next four days, for the four-and-a-half hours that my son is at school, I sat in a chair, did research, came up with story ideas, looked up competitions; I worked. I did not run errands, haul supermarket bags, clean the house, nor do laundry. I cooked, but cooking has always been a part of my creative process. I loaded a dishwasher with one pot, two forks and one plate. I picked up my son from school, spent non-annoyed quality time with him (I even made playdough from scratch), till he went to bed, and felt alive, accomplished, proud, fulfilled, and bursting with energy to go to the gym with the after-work crowd. Only I couldn’t. There was noone to babysit.

An Open Letter from a Housewife to the Universe

April 7th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Dear Universe,

I’m writing to inform you that I quit. I am no longer interested in washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning up toys, scrubbing milk from the couch, and cooking as my primary source of employment. The above tasks bring little fulfilment in the intellectual department, I do not feel that I’m growing as an individual.

The fact that the laundry is never fully done, that there is always another dish hidden in some corner of the house, and that there are miniature metal cars hiding in places where I tend to crash my sore feet or backside, does not only make me a stagnant individual, but a frustrated, stagnant one.

I am no longer willing to smile while I scrub, no longer willing to be ridden by guilt every time I lose it and raise my voice at my son, no longer able to read all the articles about being a good mom that scream at me from my phone every day. There are days when all I want is my mommy.

I want to travel, I want to sleep, I want to read, I want to write, I want to drink fine wine, I want to wear clothes that don’t scream soccer mom, I want to feel comfortable in heels again. I want to buy new mascara. Mine is dry.

So here it is, my letter of resignation. I need another job. But one that will not involve hiring expensive household help, and will let me be with my son all day, he’s the most important thing in my life. Thanks in advance.

Five Women

March 8th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

It’s International Women’s Day and every media outlet, small and large, has composed a list of successful, accomplished, famous personalities to honor. While I bow down to every one of them, (the women, not the media), I’d like to honor my own heroes.

1. A woman named Jo. Jo is the mother of three kids, recently divorced, working two jobs. She hardly sees them, but at night, they cuddle up in one big bed, she holds them tight, and thinks about how the tightness of their hugs and the warmth of their bodies makes her stronger.

2. A woman named Helen. Helen is in her mid-40s, she’s devoted her life to the career she always dreamed of, leaving little room for her mother’s dreams of a successful son-in-law and grandkids. Helen isn’t sure she’s made the right decision for her life, struggles with the idea that it may be to late to change anything, sometimes feels lonely and old, but is not willing to sacrifice the years hard work for anything.

3. A woman named Marie. Marie is as happily married as anyone can be, she has a good job that doesn’t take up her entire day, and she spends two months a year traveling with her husband. They’ve backpacked through Greece’s myriad of islands, they’ve been to New Zealand, South Africa and France. She’s an avid reader, an arts fan, her partner plays video games and drinks beer with his friends on weekends; it’s a typical textbook married life. Yet, sometimes she feels empty, like something is missing, and it’s not the lack of children that you’re all thinking, they’d decided long ago they wanted no kids, and still stand by their decision, so she can’t explain that void.

4. A woman named Kate. Kate is in her 80s. She has a lifetime of memories to look back on, smiling faces, warm hands, deep embraces, love, tears, grief, pain. She sits in her apartment and recalls it all, leafing through black and white photo albums, nodding at a memory of a moment, a time, laughing at a joke told then, eyes tearing in joy and sorrow. She knows so much more than all of us, yet she still has questions.

5. A woman named Laura. Laura is in her 30s and she came out to her friends and family two years ago. She ended her false marriage, started life anew, at an age where experience usually helps us along, though not in a foreign territory, with new rules, new boundaries. She hopes to find a partner, to explain to her kids that she’s lived a lie her entire life, she thinks they’ll understand. Till then, she waits.

These names aren’t real. They are not of actual people I can point at. But they are all of you, me, us. And definitely not limited to those five characters. We are the women that will probably never make it into a list that someone shares on social media, we won’t receive the Nobel, or the Purple Heart, or the Pulitzer. But we are still heroes, every day, in our homes, in our own very special stories. Don’t forget that. Happy Women’s Day to you all.

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.