Motherhood

Jacket photo via Ingrid and Isabel

Some things about new motherhood surprised me. I was not prepared for those first shell shocked weeks, for the sense of suspended time, or how fragile I felt without my big belly anchoring me to solid ground. I somehow didn’t expect the hours of sifting through the Internet, a search history revolving around sleep habits, ounces of breast milk, and—guiltily—postpartum wardrobes.

Before the baby arrived, I loved him, in that hypothetical way that you love someone you have never met but whose kicks you count diligently each day. I wasn’t prepared for the warm, wet body they placed in my arms, for that primal connection: “Oh, it’s you”.  Before the birth, I wanted to beg my husband, “Even when the baby comes, still love me first”. But as soon as I knew him, that small face and bright eyes, I knew that we are nothing more than in his service, at least for this moment.  This is an unfathomable love.

Before the birth I thought this would be easier. I thought the baby would be a lovely plus one in our solid life. Now nothing is solid and a primal love overcomes any “me” who came before. I don’t always recognize myself, and it doesn’t bother me. I’m too busy running to keep up with my little boy, three months old and demanding every ounce of me, every drop of milk, every tender hug, every smile and song I can provide. I have never been this needed, this strung out, this elated, this delicate. I’ve never been this strong, this emotional, this unsure, this instinctual. Nothing I am or have seems to hold much value in the face of this little person entrusted to our care. I cannot remember ever being this fulfilled.

But I worry all the time. I worry how we will rediscover ourselves, how we’ll find balance in this whirling new world. Where do I find time for my marriage, my creativity, my silent thoughts, when all I can think of is the next gummy smile, the next weight milestone. When just keeping this baby thriving takes every ounce of my vitality. I sit awake after a 2am feeding, scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, trying to find in the quiet apartment a trace of what was before and what should be next.

I am surprised at my capacity for single minded, fierce love. I am surprised that I can keep up. I am afraid to fall behind, to miss a vital signal in my baby’s face, to lose myself irrevocably in this holy, ecstatic calling. I am suddenly everything but also nothing at all.

Somehow I get us out of the house. Somehow I wear makeup. Somehow my voice and touch bring a sweet smile to his tiny mouth. Sometime soon I’ll figure all of this out, or I won’t , but my days right now are too full and this child too precious to give it more than a passing thought.

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Chanukah Gift Guide 2: For Kids

It’s always tough to find the balance between what kids want to receive and what we want to give them. We want practicality, non-obnoxious color choices, and experiential toys that they won’t get tired of in just a couple of days. They want bright plastic, many tiny pieces, and sound effects. What to do?

Here’s a selection of gifts that kids will enjoy and parents will be glad to add to their home. Most of them are interactive, and a few of them are cozy and warm. Perfect if your family follows the “want, need, wear, read” gift philosophy.

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  • Make your own comic book kit. Everything you need to illustrate your own comic book, including a postage-paid envelope to send it back for professional binding. Such a cool gift for a kid who is creative and has something to tell the world.
  • Tegu magnetic wooden blocks. Not only are these blocks beautiful, they’re magnetic and feel so good in the hand! This set comes with 24 pieces, which is enough for some serious architectural feats.
  • Doodle cookbook. Such a fun book to use with your preschooler or early elementary-aged child. Read them the doodle recipes and watch them interpret them, using ingredients such as “blobs”, “loops” and “scribbles”.
  • Hanna Andersson slippers. Everyone loves a good monster slipper, especially my two year old niece.
  • Custom cloth baby album. This gorgeous and cuddly family book holds ten photos printed on 100% cotton. There is even room for captions and a special message to the recipient! These make the perfect gift for any baby or toddler, or any photo-obsessed parents you might know.
  • Hape Toys play kitchen. A play kitchen you won’t mind staring at for a few years. It comes with all the pots and pans you need, and even “cuttable” velcro food.
  • Cozy cotton beanie. For that stylish little girl who loves a good pompom, as we all do.

What are your favorite gift ideas for kids?

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Nursery Inspiration

As I round the corner into my final trimester, the to-do list grows and it’s nice to take a break from the organizing, the appointment making, and the budgeting to think about a lovely new space for this new little person.

Inspired by the Tapestry fabric collection by Art Gallery, which I used to make the baby quit, I’ve pulled together an inspiration board for a budget-friendly, gender-neutral nursery. I wanted something sunny and light, with only the good notes. Plus I wanted to incorporate a few things we already have (like the teal rocking chair, below) to keep spending at a minimum. We are choosing to make over dressers we already own and going with the most inexpensive IKEA crib to leave room in the budget for a few high-impact things that should still look good and work well a few years down the line.

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I knew that light turquoise was a good starting point, for how well it pairs with wood tones, yellows, and crisp white. It’s a calming color that doesn’t scream “baby girl” or “baby boy”, and it can be glammed up with gold without a lot of effort.

This Target rug ($48) is a great foundation and looks great against the IKEA crib ($79). That same light wood tone is reflected in the book organizer ($38), which has heavy duty canvas slings to hold lots of books and serve as a blank background if I decide to get creative with stencils or applique. For art, I love this poster of Jerusalem’s Old City ($20+), as well as this print ($30+) which features a happy sun reminding you to say “Modeh Ani”, the Hebrew morning prayer thanking God for giving you another day. I have also made an Aleph Bet wall hanging and a mobile from the same fabric line as the baby quilt to add a personal touch.

I figure that an inexpensive but sturdy side table ($30) would be useful next to the rocking chair, to hold a lamp ($20)and a bottle of water for late night feedings. The dressers are going to get their own facelift with removable wallpaper ($35) in a woodsy pattern, and gold drawer pulls ($3.35). A can of gold spray paint ($6.46) will be handy for sprucing up the old dresser knobs and other accessories, like wall hooks and shelf brackets. I’d love to finish off the room with some wood pieces, like these gorgeous etched blocks ($49).

What do you all think of this plan? Sunny and bright?
And would you like a dresser facelift tutorial when I get to it?