Mothers and New Years Eve

01.1.12

We were at two New Years Eve parties last night. One for the New York New Year and one for Los Angeles. Both parties were mother parties, both in very different ways.

The first party was hosted by my friend Lisa. She celebrates a New York New Years Eve. This is the only way to celebrate New Years Eve if you’re in Los Angeles and don’t want to get a babysitter. People started arriving at 6, at 9 we watched the ball drop, kissed our spouses, kissed our kids, kissed a friend and had the option to be home and be tucked into bed by 10. Just after the New York Midnight the Lisa’s kids performed a rock concert. It was a party hosted by a mother that embraced families and wanted her kids to have a community around them.

By ten we were home, Alexander and Mr. G were done for the night, but I’d received this email from my mom.

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Who doesn’t want to show up for a party when their mom has hired a good tarot card reader? You’d have to be crazy to miss that.

Jane and I left our house just after 10 and kissed Mr. G and Alexander one last time in 2011. Twenty minutes later I’m walking into my Mom’s living room and I open the front door right into Laura. Laura who was our family’s first friend, Laura who still smiles the same as in 1973 and whose speech pattern remains exactly the same. Laura who I see every ten years or so and even without frequency I’d still feel free to show up at her doorstep.

Laura is one of the mothers. There are other mothers there too. There’s Nadia’s mom who has been firmly entrenched in my life for 39.5 of my 41 years, and Stephan’s Mom who is a newcomer at just 39 of those years, there’s Patty who went camping with us and who spoke perfect Spanish which enchanted me at age 7 and made the most perfect needlepoints for my children when they were born.

I held my daughter’s hand and walked into a cocoon of mothers who have loved our whole family for three and four decades. I left their warmth only to visit with Davina and have the first two cards as the Ace and Queen of Pentacles. She told me a story about a double boiler and low flames with great results. She told me that my husband supported me and was my greatest fan and that I’d had incredible opportunities come my way workwise and I needed to stop passing them up. She said it’s not normal to forego so many opportunities. “Write a book”, She said. “I will.” I replied and this time I think I mean it.

The food was spectacular as it came from one of my favorite restaurants (which is of course a husband and wife team) and the table linen was a gift from Mama Lucy.

At the real midnight I kissed my daughter and then my mother and then a room full of mothers who have always loved me and who I have always loved back.

Summer Camp is the New Birkin Bag

06.12.11

When Jane was born I wanted a Birkin bag. The two year wait list made me long for it in ways I’d never imagined. When I found out that I could sell it for nearly double the purchase price within 48 hours I no longer wanted to own a Birkin so much as I wanted to buy many of them.

When Alexander was born I was doing a brisk business in couture resale and the Blue Jean and Palladium Birkin was the hottest bag on the market so I decided to carry one. It brought me about two solid weeks of intense pleasure, and then I realized that it was a heavy, boxy handbag that was too masculine for my liking and the sippy cups that I’d placed in it were ThisClose to costing me a cool $8,000. I regained my senses and sold the bag.

My husband and his friends never understood my business, they couldn’t comprehend carrying a purse that looked like a hybrid between a diaper bag and briefcase. I’d patiently explain, “It’s like wearing your paycheck on our arms. It’s how we show people we have value.”

This explanation has never worked particularly well with reasonable men. Exotic car owners nod slowly and knowingly, I would not call these men reasonable.

The women I’m surrounded by now still have their Birkin Bags but the sippy cups were replaced by water bottles and lip gloss a few years ago. Minivans have been traded for high end hybrid trucks and the new competition is school and camp.

Ask an LA kid about their summer plans and you’ll hear about camps with organic farming, adventures, sports, drama and the arts. You’ll hear that they didn’t go to their first choice camp but they are hopeful because they are waitlisted. Kids will tell you about summers spent in Europe or eco tourism in South America.

And mothers will puff up with delight when you ask about summer plans, particularly that one lady, you know who she is. She’s the one who used to have the swank purse, but now she has the swank vacation and the hybrid, because being ostentatious with couture went out of style in the Great Recession, but where Hermes left off, summer camp has filled the void.

 

Motherhood and Tummy Tucks

06.9.11

Recently the world had a collective tantrum when a mother pretended to us all that she was injecting Botox into the face of her eight year old daughter. There was the anticipated media frenzy as well as a full-fledged social media firestorm condemning the mother, condemning the pageant culture and calling for law enforcement to protect the child.

It was the reaction everyone expected. Children should not have Botox. End of story.

There are things that we do as adults that children cannot or should not do. We drink alcohol, we smoke cigarettes, we get Botox, Restalyne and Juviderm. Some people get tattoos, others spend a good amount of money removing them. We pierce our ears and we pierce our faces. There are implants to enlarge breasts, hips, buttocks, and penises. Vaginal rejuvenation is a popular surgery, though I remain puzzled by it.

When I was 27, newly married and trying to get pregnant I stopped smoking, I quit drinking soda, coffee and most processed food. I ate and drank only organic and I felt good about the decisions. My children were both born healthy and had a robust first years.

As the children separated from me physically I gave them organic baby foods, used nontoxic cleansers , guarded their sleep time and slathered them in sunscreen. I wanted to give my children the best possible chance to be physically well. At the same time I was sucking down coffee, sneaking cigarettes and never getting enough sleep.

I love my children. We love our children and we protect them. If only we could love ourselves.

At 35 I started noticing that my eyes looked a little tired and I started hearing women refer to “marionette lines” around the mouth. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw someone 35 looking back at me. I looked at my girlfriends and they looked refreshed.

Two years later they didn’t look just refreshed, they looked startled and fluffy faced. I’m not really sure how to explain what happens to a woman’s lips when they’re overly puffed up. It changes her face and as she loses clear definition of her philtrum (Cupid’s Bow) she begins to look ape like and distorted. At the same time she looks more and more like actresses of a certain age, and since they are celebrated for their beauty, this must be beautiful. We believe.

Now at 41 my phone rings. Not once or twice but a half dozen times my girlfriends call, they are planning tummy tucks and breast lifts. I suggest a really expensive bra and a girdle, but they talk about how having children ruined them and that they want to wear a bikini again. I suggest kindly that a full life can be had without wearing a bikini or that they should wear one anyhow. No one cares what we look like, we just think they do. No one listens to me and they make appointments to carve up their perfectly unbroken bodies.

Reaching utter exasperation I finally risk it all with a friend. One evening at night I let loose and lecture her. “I need you to do me a favor and go to your daughter’s bedroom. I want you to look at her while she sleeps in her bed and imagine now that while she is sleeping a doctor will cut a line around her midsection, discarding her belly button and then he’ll pull her loose skin up like a pair of pants and sew it all back together.”

She gasped. I continued, “Everything you do to your body your daughter will do to hers. Every time you disfigure yourself at the doctor’s office your daughter is watching. Does she look imperfect to you? Does she need to be fixed?” And then I went on to tell her that she was perfect and beautiful and valuable and that she needn’t hack her body to bits.

A year later she got the surgery.