The expat curse…

Maybe I am alone in this, but I think there is something of an expat’s curse, a curse that never allows one to truly feel at home.  Now, a year since our return to NYC, I am feeling the feeling this feeling that has been forever creeping up on me since the first time I lived abroad.  It is a feeling of restlessness combined with an inability to appreciate the present.  It is a feeling that makes me want to be abroad with my family, in our almost surreal cocoon of intimate inability to connect with the natives.  Now that we are back in NYC some things are really wonderful.  I meet other young mothers my age that live in the neighborhood (which is what I was missing so much in Italy).  BUT, I have come to the realization that part of having children and being a mother is letting go of some need for intimate friendship.  Yeah, I meet other young families in my Brooklyn neighborhood, but my great friends are the same ones I had before I was a mother.

So now that I am expecting again (yep, another little boy due to arrive in April), my familial connections seem more important than ever, but I also realize that I never want to lose my identity and allure as a friend (sounds a bit sad, I know).  Sometimes I notice myself isolating myself even in NYC as if I were an expat abroad, shy to interact with the locals.  It is as if I have trained myself to be an outsider in some ways.  Have I spent one too many days finishing imaginary conversations in my head, convos that in reality were short and plagued with my novice Italian speaker’s inability to convey complexity and spontaneity?? 

I love being back in Brooklyn and I become more comfortable in my own skin as an adult and a mother everyday.  Perhaps this blog entry is rambling, but sometimes I just need to vent .  I think everyone has days of feeling like the outsider.  I just need to remember that I am not in Italy any more.  Is that so hard??

Birth in the Amazon…

I just received an email from Stephanie Pommez (a fellow neighborhood mom) about her current photo exhibit here in NYC, the title being “Midwives of the Amazon”.   It belongs to a group show entitled “Body and Soul” at the Sous les Etoiles Gallery in Soho (560 Broadway, suite 205).  It will be showing until August 15th.  

Please if you are in NYC, check out this show.  And for those abroad, particularly mothers (and those to be), check out the artist’s website.

Desparately seeking Kevin…

So, while this post has absolutely nothing to do about being an expat, being pregnant, or being a mother, I feel compelled to tell the story just because it is a great story…and I guess I feel like a bit of a dog-mother 😉

As a man who is perpetually traveling, my husband always seems to relish his first moments back at home. After the usual kiss the wife-kiss the son-have a brief wrestle with the dog routine, he often makes his way to the local bodega (corner store) to pick up a copy of the times and any other random comforts of home that only a NYC deli can provide. So off he goes, our little dog Hastings in tow, to the local bodega.

Husband runs in for 2 minutes and ties little Hasty up outside in the usual fashion. Tons of people around, broad daylight. Husband comes out. NO HASTINGS IN SIGHT.

He asks everyone have they seen our little white dog with the crooked face?? Nope, no idea, etc etc. No one saw our dog vanish from the corner and it begins to sink in that someone else is currently basking in the warm cuddle of our little Hastings. And so the sadness begins as does our exhaustive 4 hour search of the neighborhood. Here I am, fat tears streaming down my face, my 9 month old son in the carrier, bubbling over with smiles and laughs cause he doesn’t understand what has just transpired.

Of course, no one has seen our Hasty, and if they have they certainly aren’t telling us. After nearly five hours of tearfully pacing our Brooklyn neighborhood’s small blocks, a massive thunderstorm, and two batches of fliers, we were pumped with despair that our best friend was gone, and yet feeling totally deflated. Maybe it was a drive-by dog napping, maybe Hasty was already hours away from us, learning how to love someone else. Heads hung, we began our mournful walk back home.

But, as we approach the industrial familiarity of our block, I sense the vibration of my cellphone in the front pocket of the baby carrier! Could it be the thief in search of the large reward promised on our fliers??!

EVEN BETTER… It is our groomer, who calls to tell us that hours earlier a very nervous, smarmy, dodgy character had brought Hastings in for a clean-up, and claimed it was his first time there. Of course no one can forget the crooked charming face of our Hastings– not to mention that the thief told them our dog’s name was KEVIN, LOL! While it took her a while to sort out exactly who KEVIN belonged to, she eventually found me.  What luck! We dashed to the groomer’s storefront and inside, all cut and clean, acting like nothing had happened, was our darling Hastings– angry at us only for having him groomed. Poor Kevin!!!

Eating Keylime Pie…

Homespun

As a child who loved clothes, and even more the act of acquiring clothes via annoying mall excursions, my mother frequently reminded me that her mother actually made ALL of her clothes as a child and (gulp/gasp, and god forbid) a teenager as well. This seemed like the ultimate punishment and the very definition of uncool to my 14 yearold mind. I could just see my mother forcing me to peruse little-house-on-the-prairie-style patterns at the local fabric store, and this imaginary situation caused me to shudder.

Of course, as my mom always assured me, the tables have turned. And while I may not have a 14 year old daughter, or a daughter at all for that matter, I love these vintage children’s patterns I found on Ebay. For little girls, one could really create some adorable little pinafores, modernized by a more current print.

I must comment, however that I think my husband would kill me if I ever tried any of the little boy’s numbers out on little Nikos! My, how boys fashion has evolved…


Mommy Friends

Remember when you were eight years old and it was generally assumed by your parents that you would get along swimmingly with another child purely based on the fact that you were both 8 and 1/2??? Recall how these age-related arranged friendships, while sometimes resulting in a true meeting of the minds, all too often quickly devolved into arguing about whose turn it was, who was cheating, and sometimes even a good old fashioned physical altercation?

So often, I hear people saying how being a new mother must facilitate making loads of new friends. And yes, having the common connection of motherhood has no doubt opened the door for meeting many interesting other women and mothers. HOWEVER, there is also this weird unspoken pressure (and also awkwardness) that you are just supposed to be compatible friends sheerly because of the mommy connection.

I find this totally bizarre. In Milan, I was less aware of it due to the expat situation already having its own assumptions about becoming friends (even if superficially) based on the commonality of being away from home. But back here in NYC, it often cracks me up how people assume that being a mother instantly catapults all women into the same file. You are a hardcore conservative with a penchant for stamp collecting??? No problem!!! Let’s be best friends!! You used to be a high-class prostitute and have settled down?? Can we start a playgroup!!!

No, but seriously. There have been many times when the mommy factor is just not enough. Maybe there is something about mothers needing new shallower types of friendships because they need to devote more energy to the home??  Maybe??

But maybe the idea is more imposed, like when we were 8.

Makes me want a girl…

Italian children’s clothing company Minimu is another great example of Italian designers rebelling against the traditional stuffy, itchy, scratchy baby style so often found inside Italian prams. Soft colors, gentle, natural fabrics, and shapes that I wish they made in mommy sizes! Just one question… where are the little boy’s digs???