Category Archives: Uncategorized

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…

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.

The Accidental Attachment Parent

Though not mentioned in this blog, the months leading up to the birth of my son were so often for me, a quest to funnel all of my nervous energy about becoming a parent into the seemingly noble search for the *perfect* parenting approach. I read all Dr. Sears and the Baby Whisperer had to offer, checked out message boards about ferberizing vs. the joys of sharing sleep, trying to decide and develop my whole, pure, parenting method in advance.

I visited a friend whose diehard, toddler-breastfeeding attachment, if you will, to attachment parenting really freaked me out. I was only 4 months pregnant and I cringed with fearful anticipation as I saw my friend as a parent for the first time. Her life seemed grossly imbalanced and lacking in any sort of adult stimulus. She called herself an attachment parent. I was mortified. While I had not found the perfect method of parenting in a book, I was certain I had found what not to do. To me, attachment parenting became a bad word, a word meaning total loss of identity, social life, and marital pleasure.

The baby needed to fostered into independence. He needed to sleep in his own crib. I needed to breastfeed, but only as long as was necessary, and then I would make the transition …I needed to get back to work.

Then I had the baby. I gently laid him down in his crib, hushing him into sleep. I hushed and hushed and cooed and sang songs I never thought I would sing. After 2 hours of cycling through my new mommie repertoire of calming antics, Nikos finally drifted into a passable form of sleep. I crept back into my bed and thumped my exhausted head against my own pillow. As if my presence in my own bed tripped an alarm in his, baby boy started to freak. The cycle began again, and by 6 am, I had plucked the angry little baby from his bed and did what I had been told not to (and what I had vowed not to do). I carefully curled him in my arms, and fed him in my bed. We both fell asleep and slept for hours, blissfully uninterrupted.

That was the beginning of my accidental attachment parenting. I realize that most things are better when intentional, but I found my way to attachment parenting (nearly all aspects) by accident. Nikos has been a great sleeper ever since, and is one of the happiest babies I have ever witnessed (and he is no angel baby by nature– but we have found out how to be supportive of his needs and he responds amazingly)… and I am thoroughly satisfied with my life as an adult, a wife, a mother, and an individual. Have any of you similarly stumbled upon your method of being a parent?

Back to the blog…

After a 6 month hiatus here at expectant expat, we are back. Not only back to the blog, but back to our home base in Brooklyn, NY. It took some time to get moved back into our NYC home (no worries, I am sure we will soon be expats again– my husband still has the job abroad, and this stint at home is only for a year or so while we work out some kinks). So while I am back to being a native, on many levels I am still functioning quite like an expat.

I am going to try to keep explanatory posts like this to a minimum, but just to recap the past 6 months, Nikos is now nearly 9 mos. old, says dadadadadadadada (both to his father, and to the fan, the mobile, and his toys), mama when he is upset, baba and wawa, and is perpetually crawling around showing signs of a very mischievous boy to come…