The Last First Day

September 9, 2015

This morning as I dropped off my youngest child at school I was weepy. Was this Kindergarten or PreK? No, this was fifth grade. Finn is over five feet tall. He has been going to the same school since her was four years old. Why was I weepy? This marks the end of an era for me – as a mom, as a community member, as someone who is seeing time go by in my middle years.

This is my last First Day of School at the Earth School.

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My first First day of Earth School was in September of 2000. For the last fifteen years I have been trekking up and down Avenue B in the East Village of New York City

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Just north of 14th Street is Stuyvesant Town where we live. I have walked in snow, sleet, rain and in the blazing sun to get to our beloved elementary school. I have walked with babies in my belly, babies in slings and babies in strollers. I have seen teachers come and go and some come back! I have been through three principles. I have fund raised and recruited other families. I have escorted countless field trips often with a toddler in tow!

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At Earth I have found community. I have met some of my closest friends. My family has forged relationships with other families with whom we share holidays and birthdays.

I remember the first annual Earth School Auction.

I have enjoyed the art on the walls and read some inspiring poetry and memoirs by the wonderful children who populate the halls and hearts of our community.

I remember when the roof garden was an idea and then it became real.

I have seen families grow and I have seen families leave. I have seen tragedy and great joy and simply ordinary days at Earth. I was at Earth that terrifying morning on September 11, 2001.

I have watched children perform on the stage.

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I have nursed babies in the halls and in the lobby. I have sold popcorn and cookies in the lobby. I have done on-the-spot lactation consulting in the lobby.

I have grown as a human at Earth. I have watched my children grow and thrive. I have seen them learn to tie their shoes and learn conflict resolution and learn to construct a sentence and to defend an original idea.

I have learned about community building and about celebrating the seasons by marching in Tompkins Square Park to celebrate solstices and equinoxes.

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I learned about what education is. I have learned so much more. I have learned to let go and watch my babies grow into smart, confident people.

In nine months my youngest child will graduate from the Earth School. But today is the first day of fifth grade for Finn. I will embrace this day and open my heart to the Earth community.

Change and Magic

June 26, 2014

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Yesterday was my birthday. Today was the last day of school for NYC Public School children. This weekend all three of my children will begin their summer at camp in the Berkshires and Rob and I will be alone for four weeks.

My oldest child has one year of college under her belt. My second child will be researching high schools in the fall. My youngest will begin fourth grade.

This summer many friends are leaving New York. They are going to Portugal, Massachusetts, Portland (both East and West) Israel, and Phoenix. The list goes on.

Change is hard. I have trouble with change. I have a hard time packing. I am challenged to move things around like furniture and art on my walls. I am a creature of habit.

But I also have change envy. I am envious of all those friends starting out on new adventures. I feel a little left behind.

Working with breastfeeding moms and babies I get to relive those early challenges of motherhood, the dramatic changes in the body and the heart. As someone who advises about weaning I get to relive the emotions of that milestone.

I was talking to Finn on the way to school this morning and he told me he wishes he could perform magic. The first thing I imagined I would do if I was magic would be to bring back my mother. This year in October it will be ten years since she died.

If I was magic . . .

Oh, the possibilities.

For now, I will remain in New York. I will continue to mother my children through all of the changes they experience. I will nurture my relationship with Rob. And I shall seek change that is positive. I will embrace each day, each challenge, each wrinkle and gray hair.

You see, this is about getting older. Yesterday was my 49th birthday and I am thinking deeply about 50. It is such a milestone. When I was a kid I used to imagine a grownup being 35 years old. I am past that quite a bit. I have to consider what this means.

I walk down the street and I look at other women. I try to figure out how old they are. I try to analyze their state of mind. I try to figure out if they are happy and healthy.

I will take in this final year of my forties. I am happy and I am healthy. And I know deep down I do possess some magic!

Wrinkle Event

November 22, 2013

Yesterday I went to one of my favorite stores in the neighborhood to buy some overpriced eye moisturizer. Sure, I could just slather on some coconut oil and call it a day but where is the fun in that? It is exhilarating to walk into Kiehl’s and feel special with the clerks dressed in white lab coats.

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Years ago I was on a TV shoot  (I used to act and still will if someone casts me) and the make-up artist nearly slapped my young yet just beginning to age face for not daily applying eye moisturizer. I did not dare tell him I just put body lotion on my entire body including my face. So began my journey into anti-aging products.

I know, I know, I cannot stop the aging process. I do use sunscreen and I wear a hat in the summer.  I also do this because I am now a piece of experimental art on my upper body from various moles, basal and squamous cells being carved out of my chest and face – but I can pretend I am being proactive in the anti-aging, or should it be holding-on-to-youth, movement.

Have you ever been to Kiehl’s? When you buy a product they give you samples. That is how I started collecting so many of their products.

I have a little collection of Kiehl’s sample packs in my medicine cabinet.

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I don’t know if they work or not but I use them. It feels good to have my face moisturized and maybe protected from some of the elements. The thing is, I know I cannot stop the aging process and I want to grow old gracefully, embrace the grays and the lines and the scars. I do not wish to be pulled and stretched to look younger than I am.

I do want to clarify that I do love when people seem surprised by my age. I honestly don’t care if they are just being polite or genuinely are surprised, I just accept it and gloat a little inside to myself.

I have to share though the latest. As I was replenishing my supply of eye cream and the sales clerk asked me,

“Would you like to try our latest product?”

“Of course, I would.”

She then revealed: “This is for those wrinkle events.”

Wrinkle Events. Hmm. Wrinkle Events.

I then started to laugh.

“Wrinkle events?” I inquired.

“Mhhm.” Her eyes looked bright and hopeful.

Isn’t waking up a wrinkle event? Having children? Being an adult? Life is a wrinkle event. Was this cream for living my life? Was it going to make me happier? Less wrinkly? Less happy?

The actual name is Super Multi-corrective cream. I if I use this I am told that I will be in possession of “a fresh, healthy and youthful-looking radiance.

Watch out East Village – you will not be able to handle my radiance!

 

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Breasts are the great, mysterious glands that fascinate and confound us. They are used to sell cars and beer and they are used to feed babies. They can be used to lure lovers. They are mysterious because we idolize them but we know very little about them.

I remember talking with a woman who told me in medical school they were studying cadavers. She said they took a scrotum and dissected it this way and that way. When it came to the female body the breast was lopped off and they never looked at it.

Several years ago I was at the Bodies Exhibit at the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan. I had my oldest child with me, she was ten years old at the time, and I had my son who was a few months old.

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I noticed that the exhibit of the female body showed a breast that was perfectly round. Since I see breasts almost daily in my work as a lactation consultant I knew that breasts are not perfectly round. At the end of the exhibit there was the opportunity to ask questions.

“Was there an aesthetic point of view in making the breast perfectly round?” I inquired. My ten-year-old rolled her eyes (Oh no, there goes mom again talking about breasts to perfect strangers, let me crawl away now.)

“Why don’t you ask him? He knows everything,” responded a woman as she pointed at a studious looking man in a white lab coat.

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“Hi, there! Do you know why the breast was carved to look perfectly round?” I asked. The ten-year-old turned beet red.

Mr. Studious pushed his gold wire rimmed glasses higher on the bridge of his nose and said:

“Breasts are round.”

“Yes, I understand but mammary tissue is not perfectly round, it goes up into the arm pit.” I moved my hand across my breast and up into my armpit. My baby drooled and his eyes followed my hands.

“Breasts are round,” insisted Studious.

“Well, they may look round in a bra but they are much more than just round.”

Studious huffed and said, “Would you like me to get out the anatomy book?”

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“Yes, please!” I was delighted. “Look up Tail of Spence.”

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Studious scanned the book ready to make me a fool and then he slowed down, his face fell as he read. He looked up, pushed those glasses back and said, “You are right.”

 

“I know! I am a Lactation Consultant!” I was beaming. The ten-year old was beginning to show a bit of respect, pride even, and the baby was beginning to pull at my sweater to get some milk.

I am always talking about breasts and in various conversations it has occurred to me that most people do not know what breasts are like except for the few that they have encountered whether it is their own or a lovers or a quick glimpse in the locker room.

So I wanted to share a little to take the mystery out. You mystery is scary. That means that breasts can be scary, like the unknown, the dark, a new school. All of these unknowns are scary. Let me demystify the breast!

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. They have a nipple and areola, which also come in all shapes and sizes and many various colors ranging from light pink to dark brown. Some breasts have a little bit of hair on them and some have a lot of hair.

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Some breasts have big nipples, some have small nipples some have inverted nipples.

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In current culture breasts that are used to sell bear and cars in advertising actually look like breasts that are engorged with milk. Breasts that are engorged with milk are big, round and heavy and are quite uncomfortable.

Most women have some variation in the size and shape of her breasts. Some women have two different sized breasts.

At birth some babies will have milk in their breasts, some call it “Witches milk.” Some babies will even get engorged. This is rare but it happens.

Some people have extra nipples. During lactation sometimes these nipples will drip milk. Some women get engorged in their armpits – this is the Tail of Spence! It is a sort of milk line that goes up into the armpit.

Breasts are perky when they are young and smallish. Many breasts are sloping.

Breasts will sag with age whether or not you have a baby or whether or not you breastfed. Bras contribute more to sagging than lifting. As we age everything kind of moves a bit south.