What’s In Your Purse? Working Mom Edition

Full disclosure. I’m a purse person. I guess that makes me a purson? But if I am going to splurge on something, I’d put a nice bag on the top of my list. I have built a decent but curated collection over the years (think quality, not quantity). But you can only use one purse at a time.

Another disclosure. US Magazine is my guilty pleasure. Knowing my time constraints (family, work, me-time finally made it in, and now this blog), I don’t get to sneak it in too often. But when I get the rare extra hour to get a mani pedi, I find it a fun enhancement to my uber-girly exuberance. I have always found their “What’s In My Bag” celeb feature to be quite futile frankly, a facetious way to shamelessly plug sponsor products. So there’s a good chance this post will be equally as un-riveting.
But last time I finally got around to switching bags, I was pretty amused by what I transferred from one to the other, in addition to those things I removed but kept aside (I.e. threw away). 

  • Splenda: There is always a couple of little yellows strewn haphazardly into the abyss of my bag. You never know when you’ll be in one of those dark ages establishments that only serve the pink and blue packets. And what is a Cup of Joe without something sweet?
  • Glasses case: WITH cleaning cloth, thankyouverymuch. As a perma-foureyes, this is a nonnegotiable. I always carry my prescription sunglasses to switch into because whoever invented transition lenses wasn’t thinking about something called fashion, and somehow my glasses always look like I’every spent the day in a coal mine. 
  • Business Cards: Sometimes my own, but I usually forget to grab them before an important meeting. Has anyone ever actually gone through a full box of business cards? If so, it’s probably a sign you’ve been at the company too long. I often find other people’s cards from meetings past, because, like birthday party invitations, once you’ve given me your card, it’s as good as garbage. Can you even buy a Rolodex at Staples anymore? Is Staples even still in business? (Answer, barely.)
  • House Keys: Never need em, because we are the dummies that never lock our doors. But Gull never carries them, and I’m an in-case-of-emergency kinda gal. 
  • Chapstick: Not lipstick. Just the Original Burt’s Bees varietal that never seems to deplete. There is nothing more distracting than talking to someone with dry, chapped lips. (Or lettuce in their teeth for that matter.)
  • Wallet/IPhone/IPad: On the days when I don’t leave at least one of these items on my desk in the office, and have to call young Tommy and ask him to kindly stash the valuables in my top file cabinet drawer. 
  • Flip Flops: If I could go through life barefoot, I’d do it in a heartbeat, so any chance I get to not be wearing fancy pumps I’m swapping for my Havianas. I once wore them out to the point that my flip flop broke on the jet bridge before a business flight, and the flight attendant helped me MacGyver it back together with bandaids.
  • Nail file: As I said before, I lost mani pedi time when we left the city and added in the commute, so my brittle nails are prone to cracking, snapping, and just being plain old jagged at any given time. That doesn’t work well with pantyhose so I need to have a remedy at the ready.
  • Headphones: I recently made the modern day switch to the wireless Bluetooth variety. They come in handy when there is a loud talker on the train, or I am so totally wound up and need to chill with some music or a meditation when desperate.
  • Gum: I’m a chewer. I don’t ever want to be caught with bad breath. How do people not do something about that? I don’t snap or blow bubbles (unless the kids beg because they think their mom can do a cool trick), but it’s a habit I’m not willing to give up. And with gum come wrappers, lots of empty wrappers because I am unequivocally NOT a litter bug.
  • Work ID: Not my favorite mug shot but it gets me into the office and it stores my funds for the state of the art cafeteria at the office. It has one of those nerdy retractable belt loop attachments, but I wouldn’t be caught dead actually wearing that sucker!
  • Hair clips! I almost forgot hair clips! I always have a good strong jaw clip (with at least one broken tooth of course) so I can toss up my not-really -straight hair when it gets unruly. This enhances what I’ve been told is my librarian look, which is apparently a compliment in some cases. 

That’s about it. The staples that make up my purses. The bigger, the messier. And the never do seem big enough, do they? Sure there will be other things that make cameos, especially on a Monday morning after a weekend in mom mode. I’ll find a tiny pink sock, or a pair of surfer dude shades, or a matchbox car that someone threw in there for safe keeping. And the things I never seem to have? All the stuff people assume women carry around with them like Advil (if you’re really lucky I’ll have an expired travel pack), a hairbrush, tissues, bandaids. Nope I’m just not that gal. 

That’s it folks, my purse. I love to lug em, but don’t dare look in mine expecting to see makeup, perfume, or first aid kits. I’m as utilitarian as they get. I may not be an open book, but now I’m officially an open pocketbook. 

You’re Givin’ Me Nothin’ But A Shattered Screen

It’s only a minor setback.

It’s not a sign or an omen. 

But it sure is ugly, and the way it looks pretty accurately depicts how I felt inside when it happened.

We’re talking about a broken iPad screen. And I’ve been whining about it all day. I never understood how people go around with cracks in their cellphones. How careless must one be? How rough? As accident prone as I am, as many times as my phone has slipped through my fingers and seemingly bounced off the ground, never in the 16 years of my personal cell phone era have I broken my trusty sidekick, and never since I converted to a smartphone circa 2009 have I even scratched my screen- the window to my world. Until today.

Picture me standing in the office corridor, after the daily 7:15am meeting. All dolled up for lunch with an important client- I had even swapped my commuting Uggs for my patent leather pumps. One moment ago I was walking jovially with a senior colleague, deep in dialogue about stocks and earnings, and the next, I’m stricken with panic at the terrible noise my iPad made as it hit the coffee-stained tile floor. NO. Not me. Not now.

How did this happen? Ironically, I was simply trying to fit in. Be one of the guys. Not be a b*tch. As we were returning to our desks, throngs of salespeople were filing downstairs for the next meeting. One guy- a deep voiced, smooth talking veteran- made eye contact and just like any cliched story about someone with his borderline flirtatious persona would dictate, he aimed his fist at me for a “bump” as he passed. Never one to leave someone hanging, I reached out in effort to connect, but my body remained in motion, and as we already know, I am not the most coordinated person out there. So I missed.

Going through the motions wasn’t enough. He couldn’t be denied. He insisted I make it right. He even threw the word “karma” at me as if a threat of what could happen if I didn’t engage in this collegial locker room behavior. And how rude of me really to not stop and go out of my way to practically clothesline the man walking to my left so I could execute this interaction. In my best Olympic gymnast mode, I twisted my torso and reached back with a fist of fury to reach and placate my expectant coworker. As I did so, my iPad went sliding off my 5 subject college ruled notebook and into that spectacular crash heard round the trading floor. 

I couldn’t look. I just knew it couldn’t have survived the impact. The anger was already welling up inside me. I never take it into my meeting, why today? I used to have a great shock proof case, but this blog inspired me to buy one of those nifty attached keyboards to facilitate typing on the train. (This is thecommutary, after all.) It was too much to bear.

Shattered, it’s shattered. It hurts to look at it. It literally hurts to touch it because the shards and splintered glass are like pixie dust strewn across its surface. It made me want to give up. On all of this. I could’ve run to the Apple Store to fix it but I can get the job done for half the price near home. He offered half heartedly to pay for it, but let’s just say there will be NO more fist bumps in the office, like ever. 
So I’m sitting in my three seater, trying not to look, hoping I don’t have too many glaring spelling errors. But I can’t let the broken screen deter me from posting. I can’t let the evil oppressor win.  

You can break my spirit, you can break my iPad, but the blog must go on. 

Why I Don’t Want To Hear About Your Why

Down goes another one. My Facebook feed is increasingly infiltrated with friends that have been turned into facial product pawning soldiers. Some are hocking miracle shakes and hard core workout routines. Others post endless selfies in crazy looking leggings and flowy cardigans. Jewelry, vitamins, essential oils galore. And they ALL want me to join them. 

Whether they ask directly or not, their status updates tease and implore us all to be a part of their wonderful worlds where money flows like a summer sprinkler and time is abundant and theirs to spend however they’d like. They found a way to have it all and suckers like you and me are missing out on all the fun. It’s ok, I’ve never trusted easy money or been comfortable with idle time. But there’s a very thin line between casual suggestions and outright affronts, and it’s starting to feel a little like that latter.

Saying that I respect working moms is an understatement. Being a positive model for your daughters, maybe more importantly for your sons, that’s a cause I get behind. Making money to support your family, to grant your children wishes that never came true for you while your mom suffered silently and helplessly under your father’s thumb for years, that is something that I will never walk away from by choice. But I don’t go around preaching about how that choice is making all of our lives great. I don’t sing from the rooftops every two weeks on payday and tell my network what I’m spending it on. I may be a senior woman at my firm- a managing director (of what?!), but I don’t go around taking selfies and calling myself “Boss Babe”. I don’t make it look like fun, because frankly, it’s not, and I am not sure it is meant to be. After all, it’s called work for a reason, and it’s supposed to be, well, work.

Saying that I respect moms who choose to stay home with their children is also an understatement. It’s not an easy job either. Little humans are a complicated, tangled, twisted ball of emotions, impulses, questions, and frustrations. I have three of them myself. I would love some more time with mine, but I make the utmost of the precious moments I get to spend with them. And I understand why some extra pocket money would never hurt anyone, so the appeal to join these institutions, these armies of Facebook marketers is strong. 

At what point does this stop being about pocket change and running a business and start being about even more time spent staring at your screen, filtering pictures to make your skin, your clothes, your life appear simply perfect and irresistible to other women who are afraid of missing out? When does waxing poetic about “your why” stop being about your children and start being about free gifts, glamorous trips, and perks like pearly white SUVs? 

Why do I feel like each time a woman I genuinely like joins one of these businesses or schemes do I feel such disappointment? Because I’ve seen it happen so many times. The cute posts of her kids become fewer or, even worse, get attached to a compelling reason to join her, those little munchkins just reduced to advertising fodder. The questions she often asks her community are a hook to reel in more engagement, and hence, more views. The comments on my own updates need to be questioned- are they coming from my friend I always loved polishing off a bottle of wine with or my friend who wants to transform my lashes and recruit my sister/coworker/babysitter? 

Women everywhere sure do seem to be gaining fruitfully from these business ventures. But for some reason I feel a gaping loss each time someone joins in. If it truly is lucrative and fulfilling I am very happy for each and every one. But please remember, although I may choose not to join you, I have a why too- so why not scale it back a bit for everyone else?

I’ll Tell You My Dirty Little Secrets

It’s been what, like 3 months that we’ve known each other? I think it’s time I let you behind the curtain. We’re officially on a need to know basis, and, well, here are some strange things about me that you simply need to know. 

Wood Creeps Me Out

Have you ever gone to Outback Steakhouse, and they give you those very sharp knives with the wood handle? Yeah, I can’t touch that. Chopsticks? No dice. Just think of all the splinters waiting to happen once you break those puppies in two! Even paper, if I rub it the wrong way I get chills all over. And paper cuts? Worse than any form of torture I can think of. Even emory boards – necessary evil that they are- just don’t sit well with me. This is worse than nails on a chalkboard for me, friends. Call me a treehugger, but if we abolished all forest products tomorrow, I’d be a-ok with that. 

I Have a Fear of Waste and Running Out

I tend to find a pen and stick with it for a really long time. Maybe I’m sentimental or superstitious, but pens and I become close. But I always have this nagging worry that my pen pal is going to run out of ink at any second. I’ll be somewhere mid sentence on an important memo and – poof- I’ll be leaving inkless imprints on the college-ruled page. Panic! Nothing was worse for me in college than when my roommate would (sometimes ask to) “borrow a tissue” and proceed to pull out 2, 3, 4 even 5 tissues from the box- was there even any left? Or Gull, with the toilet paper- didn’t he ever see the Seinfeld episode which clearly stated we don’t have a square to spare? No matter how easy it is to replace things, I find I am a conservationist. 

I Have an Affinity for Free Samples

I go to work conferences a couple times a year, where the companies I cover give out free stuff. Yes it’s unnecessary and gluttonous and mostly ridiculous that I get excited about this, but it’s like being 9 again and receiving birthday gifts from kids you barely know. My time with Konmari has taught me to part with the things I don’t really need, but I’d be outright lying if I told you I didn’t have a couple (ok maybe a few) small bins in my bathroom of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hand lotions, face products, and shampoos. And depending on the scent, I like the hotel travel soaps too. I am every consumer company’s dream because all this free sampling tends to lead to eventual purchase.Once I run out of the endless supply of freebies, that is…

I Have An Aversion To Martini Glasses

I don’t care how delicious and chic your Cosmo is or how fun it is to order the Appletini (it does just roll off the tongue), I’m not ordering one. I happen to be extremely accident prone- I lose things (see this post), I am not particularly steady on my feet, and I spill regularly- somehow even when the cap is on. So why would anyone invent a glass that is just daring you to tilt your wrist to the slightest angle and watch your precious self-medication go pouring onto the bar, or the floor, or usually in my case someone’s shoe. Gull loves a good dirty martini but if I’m drinking the hard stuff, it’s on the rocks please!

I Don’t Eat Anything From The Ocean  

This is a big one, and I don’t know why I can’t just fit in with the millions of sufferers out there and claim an allergy. It would avoid a whole lot of questions. But no, I don’t eat things that swim. And yes that includes ocean dwellers that crawl along the bottom as well. I see it as a major flaw, and have self-diagnosed as an actually phobia. Outside of this, I am not a particularly picky eater, but it’s enough that I can feasibly go to a restaurant and find basically nothing to eat. I know it must be delicious, but I’m sorry, I just can’t bring myself to try it. And I love when strangers think they will make me change my mind. I think Gull would marry me again if I just tried a piece of shrimp parmigiana in his presence- so if it’s ever happening, it will be on a romantic date!

That’s not all (but wait, there’s more!), but I can hear you judging me already, so I think it’s enough for today. But let’s all get off our soapboxes for a second because I am hard pressed to believe all of my whopping 57 readers don’t have some strange secrets of their own. I know for a fact we have a few who hate chewing noises, have a fear of bedbugs, don’t close cabinets, and various other afflictions comparable to those listed above. So c’mon, friends- spill!

Girl vs. To Do List: Crushing It or Crushing You?

Whenever I have so much to do that I can’t see straight, the voice of reason (aka my husband) tells me I should write it down. Books and blogs tell us that organized people use To Do Lists as a handy tool to check off all the tasks at hand, one by one. So why does this habit of highly effective people always seem to backfire on me?

I don’t know what your To Do List looks like on any given day, but mine is pretty ridiculous. It’s not important things like Climb Mount Everest, or Cure Cancer, or even Raise Responsible Humans. It’s menial, mundane duties that I must accomplish just to ensure my life functions on a daily basis. 

  • It’s schedule play dates for respective children. 
  • It’s RSVP to the pile of birthday invitations and evites and paperless posts that are drowning your calendar (meanwhile why do I never graciously decline!?).
  • It’s buy an endless supply of gifts for said birthday parties. 
  • It’s choose paint color for Lark’s hand-me-down furniture. 
  • It’s bring in those glasses with the scratched lenses to try to get a free replacement. 
  • It’s make plans with friends so they don’t forget about you. 
  • It’s plan vacations for the next 9 months so you have something fun to look forward to. 
  • It’s find something to wear to every life event you have coming up in the next 6 weeks. 
  • It’s return all the crap you already bought that didn’t look good and is currently residing in your non-functioning guest room. 
  • It’s call your parents every so often so they don’t complain about how ungrateful you are.
  • It’s organize the photos from your vacation last December.
  • It’s put the kids’ too-small clothes in bins for their cousins.
  • It’s make a flyer for PTA movie night and have it approved by the mom squad.
  • It’s make a follow up Doctor appointment for myself- dang it- still haven’t gotten around to that.

All this, in addition to the bigger things like keeping my career moving in the right direction, staying engaged at home with my family, and maintaining my fit body by working out– ha yeah right on that one!

Sometimes looking at the to do list is simply paralyzing. There is no way to tackle it all. It will never get done. We will have no friends, no money, no fun. My breaths get shorter, faster, my eyes glaze over, and I’m simply numb. Life is crushing me.

But on a good day, I do admit, it feels pretty darn good to check these things off the list, one by one. The packages await at my doorstep, the birthday gifts are wrapped and labeled appropriately, I can see out of my glasses again. My boss gave me a nod at the end of the day, my kids told me the baked ziti was delicious (it’s all I can make), my husband told me my blog post was the best yet. I feel accomplished. I’m crushing it. 

The To Do List has become a non-negotiable in my life, kinda like working out (again, totally kidding). It’s my worst nightmare and my bestest friend. It gives me direction and purpose that I so desperately need in my hectic, time starved life. It helps me get the job (so so many jobs) done. Another blog post written. Check! What’s next?

The Only People Celebrating International Women’s Day Are….Women

Apparently it’s International Women’s Day. Thanks Mr. President for expediting the inauguration of this very important and overdue acknowledgement of half the world.

But here’s why the effort will fail if it hasn’t already. The only people heralding women not just today but almost every day including the day of that impressive March on Washington are other women. My Facebook feed this morning is filled with inspirational quotes about women. My friends and acquaintances are all wearing red, going around high fiving each other for this great achievement towards women’s equality. But there’s something called buy-in and I’m afraid we as a class simply don’t have it. And it’s partially our own faults. 

Sheryl Sandberg wrote a life changing book called Lean In that literally made me cry because finally there was a powerful successful woman coming forward to say “ya know what? It wasn’t easy”. I wasn’t alone in my daily struggles to thrive at all things life. 

There was the important article in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter finally conceding that we can’t possibly have it all. And now another high profile book from Sallie Krawcheck telling us how we too can Own It. But isn’t this the problem? All these ground breaking tomes are directed amongst ourselves. Isn’t anyone ever going to address the men? Those in self-appointed “power”? The other half of the world? 

I want to be part of the conversation. As a results driven individual, I also want to affect change. But I’m not sure my fellow women are proving effective with the way we’re going about it. Sending emails to large groups of female cohorts in the office with fabulous reading material to discuss or debate goes nowhere. Having women’s resource groups with special speakers and events only further segregates us. Suggesting we shouldn’t go to work for a day just sets us up for the inevitable “every day is women’s day” comment. 

We need to get the men on board. All of them. And we must start with the powerful ones. We can’t be afraid to make them uncomfortable by telling them where they’re missing the mark. We need to make them aware, make them care- after all, many of them have daughters of their own. When I repeatedly suggest to my manager and his manager that they read Lean In to understand my struggles, they think I’m joking. Given the number of one liners in my workplace undermining the meaning and weight of today’s “holiday”, we need to redirect this conversation immediately and reach out for support from the other side.

Look on your Facebook feed. How many men recognized the gravity of International Women’s Day? How many men liked your post that shared the heartstrings-pulling statue of the little girl facing off with the scary Bull on Wall Street? Maybe my friends are all misogynists, but I am willing to bet the answer is close to none for many of you.

I AM that little girl standing in front of that bull. Every single day. We are going to have to get a little closer to the horns if we want to see results anytime soon. So stop high-fiving your girlfriends about how awesome we are, and start convincing the men around you to get on board. Stand up and speak out, but consider who we should be speaking to. 

Why, Those Ungrateful Little….

I love my kids- they are kind, funny, empathetic little humans. I work so hard to make them happy, to provide them all the joys I felt I was slighted as a child, I want them to want for nothing. But want is what they do best, and what I give never seems to be enough. This is when I must remind myself they are both little and also human.

For a whole year, I listened to Sparrow talk about his laser tag party. He was so disappointed when we celebrated 5 with those ungodly nature creatures, and yes, God forbid, bounce houses. And the worst part? Girls were invited! So I promised him next year it will be laser tag with all the boys he has ever known. And yesterday that day finally arrived.

In that year between 5 and 6 Sparrow lost 4 teeth and Mommy spent precious time (oh how precious the time) reading not one or two but 12 Captain Underpants novels with him. I admit, they were entertaining, and we giggled together at the potty humor and inappropriately named super villains. So it was only right that we made it a party with a nod to the Waistband Warrior. Since he is not yet a household hero, this meant custom invites, custom cake, and searching high and low for thematic goody bag ideas, complete with color coordinated bags and custom stickers to seal said bags. Maximum Mommy effort to make my middle man maximum happy. 

The party was a hit. 30 sweaty riled up boys on a Sunday evening for running, shooting, screaming, and plain ol’ pigging out. Sparrow was spent after the 2nd round of laser tag but that wouldn’t stop him from balloon fights and cake smashing and giving himself bunny ears in every photo. 

And then it was over. And the whining began. First, the birthday brother got the last goody bag. My assurances that we had plenty of extra fake poop, whoopie cushions, and light up hypno-rings at home were ineffective. Then, the birthday sister claimed as her own a few of the helium balloons we picked up on the way just to make the party a little more festive. The 30 presents in the trunk waiting to be opened simply weren’t enough.

His mood turned when the present opening began. He got everything he wanted and a lot of stuff he didn’t even know he wanted. His eyes lit up when he finally got the DS he’s been asking anyone who would listen for, not to mention a handful of games. Thanks Grandma(s)! He was elated, but when I looked to my left I noticed my Finch was deflated like the balloons still tied around Lark’s wrist (too tight I might add). 

We spent the rest of the night trying to extinguish the fires of rampant jealousy, and no amount of sharing or reasoning or – embarrassingly- offering to buy him his own DS helped. It’s not fair, no one ever got him one when he asked, Sparrow has too many toys, too many friends, too much fun. It was just too much for the big brother.

It’s the most infuriating and helpless feeling to witness this level of sibling rivalry. But it’s also awfully familiar. As an oldest child I was often- ok almost always- afflicted with the same feelings. I was told to deal with it, but I’m not sure I ever did. So we’re working on it, together. 

I believe children have the capacity to understand their hearts more than many adults do, but we don’t like to validate their feelings when they’re the ugly variety. If we don’t nip it in the bud now, they’ll be stuck with these traits forever.

How many times a day do you find yourself coveting something you don’t have, only to forsake all the blessings you have been given? (My answer, a whole lot) 

How often does good fortune come to those around you, and while you are truly happy for them, a little part of you begrudges them their spoils and asks a higher power why nothing ever comes easily for you? (My answer, more than I’d like to admit).

I will continue to work my butt off to make my kids happy, and yes I am likely spoiling them a little bit as a result. But I can count on the fact that they will continue to feel like it’s never enough, and so my greatest parenting lesson will be helping them to see how lucky we all really are. Instead of complaining about how ungrateful they are, I will count my blessings and remember what good fortune I have to have them in my life. 

Failing Gracefully at Making Friends: The BBQ

It’s hard to make friends. It is even harder to make friends when you move to a new town. It’s incrementally harder to make friends in a new town when you are a working mom. 

We moved to a nice block. The dream scenario. Cozy house with a porch at the end of a cul de sac. Neighbors with children of all genders and ages. So you can imagine our excitement when said neighbors invited us to a BBQ/pool party over the summer. 

What do we bring? Something thoughtful that says we appreciate the invite, without making it look like we tried too hard. Wine, yes, wine will most certainly do. Rosé all the way!

More importantly, what will I wear? The kids will be swimming- that’s obviously not for me, it’s a dad duty. As a corporate slave most of the week, I have some great suits and shift dresses, but my weekend wardrobe pales in comparison to the women in town. The local boutiques all close before my train pulls into the station, and I am not up on what all the other moms are styling these days. And of course, I don’t want to look like I am trying too hard.

It’s hot, so hot in the dead of August. The curls in my hair are rebelling against the flat iron. My makeup melts on my sticky face. But my outfit felt right. I threw on my new Lululemon pants and t-shirt that all the ladies have been wearing on the sports fields, the cute yet practical and chic look that kept me cool in Disneyworld. I feel good, like a regular, casual, gal. 

We walk into the backyard smiling and carefree with the whole brood and see- what? A fashion show? The women here- most of whom I don’t know well outside Facebook- are runway ready. Rompers, cold shoulders, hats, sleek shades, perfectly bouncy hair, fresh glowing skin. How did I get this so wrong? I slump, deflate, shrink back toward the gate. I tell Gull audibly I need to go home and change because like the martyr I am, I got the kids dressed first so we could be on time and now I need to run (ok drive) back down the block to get out of these putrid house clothes. 

I fly upstairs and into my bedroom with gusto, gulping air to keep from sobbing with embarrassment. I tear through my closet looking for something appropriate but there’s nothing-NOTHING! I try to put together something fashiony but that simply isn’t a gene I was born with. So I settle on a cotton Gap dress, some wedges, and head back out the door.

I park the car once again and give myself a pep talk. I check out my frizzfest in the side mirror before I march back up the driveway, and it’s all wrong. Who am I trying to impress? This isn’t right, this isn’t me, and it’s not nearly nice enough vs the glam show back there anyway. Mind lost, I go home once again. I put on my finest athleisure duds with flair and tell myself I am going on to own it. 

With more resolve this time, I go back to the BBQ sweatier and decidedly unchanged and explain (to no one again because my absence wasn’t noticed) that Lark needed a bathing suit (lame because she was already wearing it!). I put my insecurities behind me and start chatting up some dads playing cornhole. I play in the grass with Sparrow and sit Indian style while the other moms soak through their silk and fuss with their halters. Who’s coveting whose outfit now?!

At one point before lunch, I notice another woman dressed just like me! Headband, sneakers and everything! Alas, my soul sister. I feel vindicated and relieved and about to meet my new best friend when she turns around and I realize she is passing hors d’oevres. Yes, I played who wore it better with the housekeeper.

And you know what? She totally did. But we had a great time and even got invited back the next year. You can bet your sangria I went overdressed and ready to vogue with the best of them. And we have  real friends who don’t actually care what I’m wearing. 

Taking a Seat at the (Business Dinner) Table

I’m a working girl, but not that kind of working girl. I can see how you might get confused.

Part of my job description is client entertainment. Just saying that out loud sounds pretty seedy I realize, but it truly is professional. Not that kind of professional, more like in a business sense. Not that kind of business. But you get the picture.

The market closes at 4pm, but about once a week (and oftentimes more than that), I’ll have a dinner meeting on the schedule. It’s a night away from home, a night I don’t get to see my kids. It’s becoming more complicated as they get older and have lives of their own, but we make it work. Sometimes I actually look forward to a work dinner; it’s usually at a great NYC restaurant, the good wine flows freely, and best of all, it’s on the company! But there are some things that can make it quite awkward:

1) The gender ratio: Let’s just say, similar to the makeup of the trading floor, it’s generally not exactly balanced. Picture a table for 7 at Nobu. Six guys in tieless, blazerless suits, and then there’s me. What’s the best seating arrangement when there is no boy girl boy girl? How to handle the half curious, half disgusted looks from married couples who casually glance over at our table? How to move the conversation on from the tedious sports dialogue?

2) My toddler-like eating habits: No I am not allergic to seafood per se. I just don’t like things that swim. So no, I won’t be partaking in the seafood tower, and thanks but I’ll pass on trying crab cakes for the first time with a table full of strangers I would prefer to impress versus gag and spit gross food into a napkin in front of. 

3) The hello’s (and the goodbyes): We’ve met what? Once, twice tops? Does that merit a greeting kiss? An embrace as we part? A handshake always seems so very pathetic and faux-masculine. A casual wave and walking away seems so cold. Have yet to find a happy medium. 

4) Breaking down barriers: Yes, I’d like to be the one to taste the wine since I selected it. Yes, you can you just hand that check over to me since I’m buying tonight. Servers are quick to assume the little lady at the table is just happy to be there, and not actually running the show. And men at the table joking about their wives’ menial book clubs and meaningless daily duties do actually offend even the most successful women. My RBF hasn’t mastered the skill of laughing these offenses off. 

5) Extra-curricular: Gone are the days when after-dinner meant a stop at the local nudie joint. Or so I may think. Young men still like to go out hard and late. Moms in their late 30’s might pretend to be able to hang but we like being in bed before midnight a whole lot more. So there is an uncomfortable dance around what comes after dessert before I ultimately succumb to the exaggerated yawn and the convenient Uber exit. 

I get home and more times than not I’ll be drunk enough that I forgot to pick the car up at the train station. I stumble upstairs, into my PJs, and into bed. I mumble an incoherent executive summary of the evening to Gull before crashing hard on my side of the bed. Hopefully, the alarm is on and I wake up a few hours later to do it all again. 

A Letter to Myself from My Happy Place 

Hey you. It’s me, you. Writing after a long weekend away with Gull. An opportunity that doesn’t come often anymore because once you had that third kid, all the willing babysitters who used to trip over themselves to help disappeared. The job became too big, the ask became simply too much. But how could they say no to just one night apiece? So you put the puzzle together, you worked out a schedule, and you booked those flights. You made it happen. 

This was more than date night in a restaurant, better than a night away in the city. This was a plane ride – a different state! Enough distance to be able to separate yourself both physically and mentally from the crazy life at home. 

This is what it was like before. The ability to be together, doing nothing (which actually is a thing, and harder to execute than it seems) in tandem. There was no discussion about the hectic schedule, no complaints about the mess piling up around the house, no focus on the ever dwindling bank account. We took a break from strategizing about our career tracks, we left that baggage home. And to our surprise, there was still plenty of dialogue. Talking about the what if’s, laughing about our short comings, planning for the future. The best isn’t behind us after all! 

When was the last time you could just be? When bad service at a restaurant didn’t enrage you? When was the last time you took a bath, or better yet- a nap? When was the last time you didn’t have an eyeball looking out for someone else, making sure no one was in danger? 

Here’s a reminder. Find that time again. When you find yourself with an abundance of stress and lack of relaxation, remember this feeling. In just three days you found the inner peace you haven’t tapped into in years; you rediscovered not just your relationship, but also yourself.  

You knew it was fleeting, it wouldn’t last. But you surrendered to the moment, became unencumbered by worry. And it was liberating, it was wonderful. Please visit that place again soon.

Self love,