Locals! Have you been to XIX? It’s just a hotel restaurant, but I love the vibe of the bar. (Drinks are good, too.)
“Mom, why are you working so much? I don’t like that you’re working all of the time” said Raines, my oldest.
I sat there, stunned by his words. For most of his life, I had been a stay-at-home mom. From the minute he was born, Raines was my little buddy, my partner in crime, we were never, ever apart. We were attached, both metaphorically and (thanks to the Ergo) physically. With Raines, I had slowed down, discovered myself and found peace.
And then Pax was born. (I’m joking. Ha, ha….ha)
But life is different now. Not only have my kids changed and grown, but I’ve changed too. There’s been this sort of natural progression of letting go and moving on. I am no longer the only women in Raines’ life. His teachers have become increasingly important to him, as have friends. Our little bubble of existence – where the two of us so happily spent those first few months of his life – has expanded. I am still at the center, but now he is at the edges, pushing out, away from me.
I’ve heard other women, moms with more experience than I, talking about this seemingly inevitable shift. They’ll use words like “rediscovering” themselves, or as one friend said, “I’m just now getting myself back“.
I get it. From the depths of my soul, I get it. But at the same time, there’s another part of me rebelling at those words, “getting myself back,” and wanting to scream. Because the path of rediscovery implies a loss, right? In order to get yourself “back” or to rediscover your self, you first had to lose it.
I didn’t lose myself in motherhood; instead, I was found. So any journey I embark on now, from this point forward, has to honor that early experience, that truth.
I am now a working mom. Sure I work from home (with a really flexible schedule), but working nonetheless. And while part of me thrills to put on my high heels and take the train into the city to write, or discuss collaborations in a professional, adult voice, and I think “YES, there she is! There’s that girl I’ve been missing!”…perhaps it’s more accurate to simply say that I’m ready. I’m not rediscovering some former self, lost among the diapers and the spitup and the 2847364 incessant questions a day from two young boys, but it’s the woman that – along the way – I grew up to be. This woman who is ambition and drive and goals and forward-thinking…but who is also that new mom – will forever, irrevocably be that new mom. The new mom snuggled in bed with her newborn, the light slanting into the room as she kisses a fat thigh, her heart swelling to impossible proportions.
I am all of these things.
So when Raines asks why I work so much, I pause. I look up and see past his long limbs and crazy hair and remember that once-upon-a-time it was just him and I in the bubble; I was his whole world. Actually, I remember it better than he does. “I work because I want to, Baby” I say. “I work because I love it. We only get one chance, you know? One life to figure out what we love to do, to make a difference. I work because it helps me figure that out.” We stare at each other. He grins. “Okay” he says. And just like that, we are back in the center of our bubble.
Soooo…..as I get more embroiled into this working-mama-world, there are a few MVP items that have made my life so. much. easier. Especially for working on the go.
When I was little, I remember giving my mom a hard time about dresses. While my sister was ever-so-carefully cutting out images from Bride magazine, I was a jeans-only kind of kid. Jeans only with my blue sneakers and my skinned knees and my freckles and my too big teeth.
I’m still that way. Not so much with the skinned knees anymore (I’m a terrible ‘fraidy cat on the skateboard) but the freckles and the denim and the sneakers and – yes – the really big teeth. That’s me, I guess.
Fanny packs, Mamas. I'm totally in. I tested them out for reader Melissa, and the whole hands-free thing is life-changing. I forgot how good it was, Mamas. Hands-free is so, so good.
It all started with Melissa's email:
I’m a long time reader and huge fan of your blog. I value your opinion in all things fashion, and especially appreciate your high and low price point options. I’ve used the price-per-wear argument many times with my husband! I’m 37 with 3 kids (ages 9, 7 & 4).
Summertime and festival season is fast approaching. Thankfully, our family no longer requires a diaper bag or loads of emergency snacks when we hit the town. But, I always need my keys, phone and some money. I hate stuffing all that in my pockets, so what are my most unobtrusive options? Last weekend, I stuffed it all in my trusty butt pack and was ready to go. However, my ultra-hip 9 year-old strongly disapproved (photo attached—I love how the Despicable Me band-aid reminds us she is not a teenager J). Can you suggest anything for this situation? I’m imagining something like a leather belt with a small purse attached—but not something that looks like the holster the workers at beauty counters wear for their makeup brush collection.
Thanks so much for your input!
Ok so first of all, I need to copy your nine-year-old's exact outfit.
Secondly….thanks for including a pic. It helped me narrow down the whole what works/what doesn't pretty quickly. I think fanny packs can work, but it has to be in one of the two following combinations:
Super chic fanny pack + casual outfit
Casual fanny pack + super chic outfit
For the purposes of testing out the fanny, I picked up Herschel Supply Co's canvas fanny pack because A. it's $25 and B. dressing around a casual fanny pack is the harder of the two.
Tip 1: Wear Your Fanny Slung Low on the Hips
I think this goes without saying, but casual fanny packs should be slung low like a tool belt, rather than around your waist like an actual belt. (If you do opt for the seriously fancy fanny packs, they can be worn higher up, but should still stay an inch or so below the snap on your jeans.)
jeans: old AG…try Acquaverde's Patched Skinny Jean
sunnies: Ray-Ban folding wayfarers
Tip 2: Keep The Rest of Your Outfit Chic
The key to making your fanny look ironic rather than sad is to make sure that the rest of your outfit looks intentional. Wear a pretty shirt, bust out your big girl lipstick, wear glam sunnies.
Tip 3: Show Some Skin
Whether it's your arms, boobs, or a little bit of hip….adding some sex appeal really helps to style the fanny. (And it'll make a believer out of your husband.)
sweater: old Qi Cashmere – they make really cool, unusual cashmere sweaters like this one.
jeans: old AG…try Acquaverde's Patched Skinny Jean
Tip 4 – Use a Fanny Pack to Belt a Dress
You'll have to play around with this one – depending on the dress, you may need to violate the whole "wear fannys slung low" tip….but it can work.
shoes: old….but I'm seriously considering these Dolce Vita flat sandals with the cool beading
Tip 5: If Nothing Else, Wear Chic Shoes
This really should be my life mantra.
shirt: French Connection (sold out)…try this French Connection top
accessories: see above
On Raines: see above
On Pax: see above
(Notice that my kids wear the same stuff everyday? They'd go weeks if I let them.)
Melissa, I suspect that if you swing your fanny pack around, let it ride a little lower on your hips, then swap out your sneaks for chic flat sandals…even your nine year old will approve.
Ok you guys – let me have it: Are you still hating the fanny pack? Actually, the new term is "belt bag", which make us Team Belt Bag. Does that help?
I did something awfully glamorous this past weekend.
I left my three men behind, got on a plane, and attended the Reward Style conference in Dallas.
Reward Style, is, in my opinion, the affiliate program for bloggers. If you've ever noticed that some of my shopping links start with "http://rstyle…." even though the item is, say, from the Gap, that's a Reward Style affiliate link. I get a small commission using those links, and that commission is the reason I've been able to dedicate so much of my time to this blog. So thank you for supporting me. (And if any of you are bloggers and have questions about Reward Style, I'm always happy to chat – just shoot me an email.)
So yeah – this conference. We had brand meetings, presentations on SEO (which, by the way, I've been totally ignoring up until now – for shame!!) and round table discussions. I learned a ton. And then? After all of that?
Fancy parties. Oooohhhhh yeeaaaahhhh.
Brand meetings, and then…hello. Happy hour with Kate Spade NY. How fun is this?
Being such an engineering nerd myself, when some of the developers asked if I'd like to join their pic of "all the solid color dresses"…
…of course, right?! And I refrained from pointing out that technically, I was in a romper. But how awesomely terrible is that rib photo prop? Ugh.
romper: Ramy Brook Lulu Romper
bracelet: Stella and Dot Bangle bracelet (sold out)…try Stella and Dot Arrow Bangle Bracelet
lipstick: Tarte Power Pigment in flush
Yes, I wore flats.
In hindsight, I really should've called this post, "Little Engineer Goes to Dallas". I was seriously one of the shortest bloggers there. (And, I suspect, one of the oldest but we're going to all pretend that I never said that and no one noticed mmmmkay?)
headband: Anthropologie Floral Headband
jacket: Rag and Bone (from eBay)…try Shop Ruche's Moto Jacket in beige
tank: Alasdair (gone)…try Chaser's Floral Tank at Shopbop
necklace: Gorjana Taner Collar Necklace
jeans: Rag and Bone (gone)…try Karen Millen's Patched Jeans at Bloomindales
shoes: Stylemint Anise Flats
I felt all old-Hollywood glamorous. I so love a stunning dress, and Milly NY never disappoints.
BTW – the straps of this dress are ever-so-slightly stretchy, and if you are comfortable nursing in a strapless bra, I think this dress would work. (And I'm wearing Spanx, obviously.)
purse: My mom's old prom purse…try J.Crew Factory's Gold Envelope Clutch
iphone cover: Red Dirt (gone)…also love Red Dirt's Orbit Phone Case.
The most important part: Spanx High Waist Smoother Shorts
Want to hear something crazy? I didn't miss the boys. Not. Once. I was so busy, I barely got a chance to call home, and the alone time felt like something precious…a gift.
This weekend was a gift.
I left for Dallas on Thursday in a frazzled state, struggling with both guilt and motivation (talk about a horrible downward spiral)…yet I returned home refreshed and focused. An inspiring conference can have that effect (and a pretty little dress doesn't hurt), but it was the space to think that had me energized, like I was gulping air back into my lungs after being submerged for too long.
And yet. Back home, snuggled in with my boys, I felt a sense of relief.
Mamas home. Where she belongs.
And I do belong here, right here, with them. But part of me wants the expansive me, the one with vision, and personal goals that are very different from the goals of a mother. I guess that's the trick, right? This balance of what you can give vs what you need; I want it all.
I have no answers. But the next time I feel myself going under, sinking down, I'll just stretch out my legs, feel for the bottom with my feet, and push. I'll push up to the surface and breathe.
ps. A big, HUGE thank you to Trend Survivor for taking my outfit shots in Dallas. Nina, you and your INSANE shoe wardrobe rock my world. xoxo
Well shoot. I'm not currently nursing (and "post-partum" is stretching it)…but I'd wear any of these in a heartbeat.
Flower Hair Clip, ASOS, $15 (I'm picturing this tucked nonchalantly into a messy bun)
Free People Story Teller Tee, $68 (it's waffle knit – so cozy!)
Nixon Time-Teller Watch, $74 (I'm addicted to these bright, oversized watches)
AG Stevie Cuffed Jeans, $188 at Anthro
TOMS in Orange Palm Trees, $54 (the only thing better than palm trees would be…nothing. Nothing is better than palm trees.)
Lanston Asymmetic Top, $95 at Shopbop (pooch-hiding, nursing-friendly drapiness at its best right here)
Chewbeads Red Bracelet, $17 (A teething-friendly bracelet that I would actually wear…)
Marc Jacobs Medium Tate Tote, $198 (I swore by these when my little guys were young…and I'm still using them. These nylon, washable bags rock my diaper-baggin' world.)
Tieks Unmellow Yellow, $195 (aka my favorite flats ever)
Blackbird Colorblock Tee, $68 at Anthro
Slouchy Beanie, $12 at ASOS
Lily Jade Diaper Bag, $260 for another few days (then will shoot up to $335)
AG Stevie Cuffed Jeans, $188 at Anthro
Steve Madden Trooper Lace-Up Boot, $100 at Urban (I wear mine almost every day. Grace, I have you to thank. I know I owe you an article about these…how 'bout I just wear them in virtually every pic instead?)
Happy Monday! (already?!?!)
What a wild ride this past week has been. But despite the crappy news, we are all doing OK. Like…honestly OK. And Mike and I both have been blown away by the love and support we've received from family, friends, and you. It's funny, so many of your comments start with, "I know we don't know each other but I feel like we're friends" and YES. I do too. We feel your love and support and have read – out loud, to each other – every single word we've received from comments, Facebook, email, and Instagram. And we are in awe.
At one point Mike looked at me and said, "Babe, who are these amazingly wise, loving, compassionate zen-Buddhist-monk-type readers that you have?? Seriously, who??"
I grinned at him. "Moms" I said. "They're Moms."
We went out for some (much-needed) drinks in the city this weekend. We started at a friend's house (I feel the need to explain Raines' bare feet) and then went out (in shoes) for pizza.
Mamas, do you remember Raines' very first nanny, Em? The one he'd refer to as "my Em" and who will forever be part of our family? She's been featured on ANMJ here for belting a cardigan in a really cool way and here because I was totally amazed by her ability to nanny all day in a skirt.
And? She wears necklaces. Multiple necklaces. Around the kids. So when a reader emailed asking about how to layer necklaces, I knew Em was the one for the job. (And it doesn't hurt that she recently started selling Stella & Dot…although, if I know Em, I'm guessing it's more to fuel her own fashion passion.)
Anyway, here are Em's thoughts on necklace layering (and a crazy-fab giveaway just because she's awesome).
I have always had an aversion to spending money on accessories. For the longest time, I thought my hard earned dollars should go toward pieces that would give me the most bang for my buck. For me, that meant dresses (a whole outfit in one!) and tops (who looks below the waist?).
Since then, I've found that a few new accessories will help any tired wardrobe. Necklaces are especially versatile, can be thrown on while running out the door, and hardly ever go out of style. [Note from S: This is a good point, Em – how long have statement necklaces been considered trendy? Uhhh…YEARS, now?]
To take out some of the guess work of layering pieces together, here are a few looks I’m loving, most of which have been tested for wearability (that’s a word, right?) around a toddler or two. Apologies in advance for the overload of mirror shots…my 22 month old assistant will only turn the camera on herself.
Two necklaces of Similar Length
This is my go-to look. I feel pulled together, yet still on trend. When wearing two similar necklaces (in this case they are both thin chains) it helps to vary the shape a little. The pendant on the shorter necklace, along with the slightly different length, helps to keep the two from tangling.
STOP THE PRESS I LEFT THE HOUSE
And, mind you, this was a real outing. There were no doctor's appointments, it wasn't a 15 minute errand that anyone drove me to (just to save sanity), it was a real, honest-to-goodness, family outing.
For this momentous occasion, we went to my fav, Sister Cities Park. This park, this genius of a park, has an awesome coffee shop/patio that are located next to a (heavily chlorinated) wading pool….