missing what I know I’m missing

Promise to post on Las Vegas eventually.  But right now (well, not this second, but in general), running around, buying ingredients and general loveliness, off with the little ones, taking them to a play group date.  Once things settle down, I will recap more.  The photos were for shit, I’m afraid.  But the gambling was good.  Overall, we left up a little over $800… but we made up for it in dinners at Le Cirque, Michael Mina, etc.  It was quite lovely. 

Though when I finally pulled into the driveway, and then into the house, I buzzed straight for the tots.  Lucas was all giggles and smiles, so ridiculously happy, but Abigail looked so different to me.  She wasn’t as quick to smile.  She looks at me as if I’m a stranger, despite singing her favorite songs.  She likes to be carried throughout the house, likes when I tickle her stomach with my nose, and likes when I blow zerberts on her belly.  Still, she’s changed so much in only a few days.  It’s as if a dimple had grown in her cheek, having moved from under her eye.  She seems more shy, studying me more.  Almost as if she’s making up her mind.  And Lucas is now scooting across the floor.  And as much fun as I had, I hated the feeling of missing them change.  Not missing them while I was away.  That’s not the right miss.  This is different.  It’s not like missing a party or a long-distance lover, a relative who lives across the country.  That’s missing someone or something. 

It’s missing what I know I’m missing. And it breaks my heart.  It would be like missing Abigail’s first step.  It’s missing things I can’t ever get back.  Firsts.  In truth, I wish I were alone with my children.  Not forever (I’d totally lose it), but for a while.  I need my alone time with them.  Where the family cameras are turned off (so I don’t have to worry about flashing family in my sweat shorts or low rider jeans).  Where no one is watching or waiting to see what happens next.  Where I can read to them, and maybe get them to pay attention, instead of trying to eat the book as I try to read it.   The thing is, when they were in the NICU, I feared they wouldn’t know the difference between me and the many nurses who cared for them.  And now that I’m home, a part of me fears they prefer the nanny who takes such great care of them while we were away, and while we’re here doing our work.  I know many mothers deal with this juggling, that I should be thankful I work from home and can pop in anytime to snuggle them.  And I am.  I’m very thankful.  I also want to do my best at this, at them, for them.  I want them to know how much I love them.  And I notice, I do my best job when no one else is around.  Because then they need me.  Otherwise, there’s someone else to watch over them as I clean, or cook, or actually work.  But when it’s just the three of us: Lucas, Abigail, and me, I give them measuring cups to bang, play Christmas music, read, and pretend to be a monkey, a seal, elephant, and lion.  I practice sign language and try to teach them new words. 

Missing someone isn’t the same as missing the stages, each step, so to speak.  I don’t want to be away from them again, mostly because I am afraid of what I’ll miss, that I’ll come back and they’ll favor someone else.  And it feels selfish somehow… like I’m not doing something right.  I worry already that I miss too much, even when I’m home.  I feel like I’m the best mom when I can just be alone with them.  When other people are around, the nanny or Phil, I just leave everything to them, because I can.  When no one is around, I love just being their mother because I get to do it my way.  It’s just so hard to balance it all.  There’s all I want to do, making a nice home, a pretty place to unwind, to make memories, to decorate and cook and prepare.  To make "Your first year" scrapbooks for each of them.  And then there’s time with the babies.  I want to work out at the gym (though when it’s warm here, I do go walking with them), and be healthy, and find time to read and scrapbook, and write and blog, and read some more.  And then there will be the editorial process for Moose, where I expect to do a lot more writing and transitions, which will leave less time with them.  There’s so much I want to do, and so much I don’t want to miss.  And it’s hard to fit it all in, to make it all work.  To live the best life I can, for all of us.



  1. Wow. I guess you spent a bit of time at the Paris :)

    I love the feeling of the Parasol Bar at the Wynn, don't you? I just look around and think, "Who woke up one day and thought of this? And then SOLD the idea?" I think they pulled it off rather well.

    Too bad you won't be back in December. I love the Bellagio's fall display, but their Holiday display is just spectacular.

  2. You say it's hard to fit it all in and to make it all work, but you seem to be able to do it better than anyone I know. And, as you said, if you were w/ the kids all the time, you'd lose it. You have to be your own person – do the things you enjoy – write, cook, travel, create general loveliness, etc. By staying true to yourself, you will be a better mom, and your kids will appreciate you and look up to you even more.

  3. ..out of curiousity – have you ever been out of the US to either Europe or Asia?

    FROM STEPHANIE: You've stalked my site for long enough to know the answer. Ever leave San Jose?

  4. This post touched me… I've nannied for a number of families, and the saddest part is watching a parent interact with their child and realizing that they don't even know their kid. It's translating the toddler-speak for the toddler's father, or helping a mother tell the difference between her twins. It's mommy coming home and wanting to rush straight up to her room, so breezes in through the front door and says, "Look what mommy got you!" and hands the 2-year-old a toy made for 7-year-olds.

    It's mommy seeing the nanny and the kid leaving and rushing over to make a great big good-bye fuss and fussing and fussing over the baby until the happy kid starts to cry and reach for mommy, and then she closes the door, feeling loved and satisfied. Or the nanny playing with the baby, and in comes mommy for her "baby fix!" and she coos and says, "Oh, what a cute little baby you are! Mommy loves you so much! We have this good nanny for you and we pay her so much, but you're worth it. OOooh your worth it!" and then, when mommy has had enough, she snatches up her bag of Organic Cheese Puffs and checks her email.

    They don't start out like this, of course, when they first hire you. No. But it gets easier to leave the baby at home when you run to the market or easier to hand the baby over to the nanny when your Vogue comes in the mail, and let's go out have drinks, no, it's fine– I have the nanny! And then it gets to a point where, really, the baby needs to be with nanny for the full 10 hours, because you're paying the nanny already, and you really should get your money's worth. And all of the sudden when the nanny asks for the afternoon off, you find yourself saying to your friend, "Oh, well you can come over here– I need to babysit."

    You don't seem like this; you post so much about your children, and so little about the nanny (although I've found that most writers who have nannies tend not to write about them), but mostly so much about the kids, and I think it's fantastic.

    And I hope it stays that way. I don't mean that in a snide way, but it's just so easy to slip, and it's so heart wrenchingly sad to watch. And I didn't mean to hijack your post :)

  5. Good for you Alice – for saying what people are afraid to say. This is something I struggle with and why I decided not to have a nanny. They are only little for such a short time. I don't want to have to ask to nanny to help me fill out the baby book of "firsts"…

  6. Alice, I loved your post. You should start a Nanny Adventures blog :-)

    I really liked what you said because it was relevant to all parents. Even if you don't have a nanny, many parents slowly push their children toward their parents or other family members in a quest for temporary independence.

    I know because at the age of 37, I still call my grandmother 'mom'. I have no judgment against my 'real' mom. She was ambitious and worked a lot. As a child, I was quite proud of her. She was always there to help with homework, attend school functions, and she made sure our lunch boxes contained the most beautiful, tasty sandwiches possible. However, we received our daily nurturing from my grandmother. I still don't turn to my mom for emotional support…she's just not comforting to me, eventhough she tries to be.

    Your post reminded me of all this. I have this insatiable need to make my mark outside the home, just as my mom did. However, my personal ambitions don't hold a candle to being a nurturing mom to my son.

  7. Well said, both Stephanie and Alice.
    I dealt with the feeling of 'missing what I know I'm missing' so many times. When I had my daughter, I believed that I would just go back to work as if nothing had changed. I was wrong.
    I found myself really enjoying our walks, playtime, just being with her and not missing anything in her young life. I was lucky to be able to work from home and I was afraid that if I did hire a nanny, that what Alice described would, in fact, happen.
    I tried to venture outside for a part time job some time ago, but when the first day came, I felt in my heart, that I just wasn't ready to leave her, yet. I felt like I'd be missing something. I was always career oriented so this came as a big surprise to me.
    I've never regretted staying with my daughter. I think we have a good relationship because of it. This is not to say that women working outside the home do not have good relatioships with their children, I believe they do. I just found it difficult for me to juggle.
    Trust your gut instinct, Stephanie, it'll never steer you wrong.

  8. it never fails, stephanie, that your life mirrors mine so much. sometimes gives me the spooks. seriously. right now i am grappling with going back to work vs. staying home. i want to stay home but it is not financially prudent (possible, yes, but not prudent). your post gives me more energy to figure out a way to not go back.

  9. I think I may have mentioned this once before, but I really think you would enjoy the book "Mommy Wars," Stephanie. It's a compilation of essays from women writers reflecting on their choices as mothers to stay at home, work outside of the home, work in the home, etc. There are wonderful insights on the guilt that they feel, the challenges and joys of each choice, the stigmas associated with the choices that working mothers make, and the ways that they learned to manage work and family.

  10. I know exactly what you mean about needing time to do EVERYTHING. I feel like I will never have enough time to do all I want. With two boys (2.5 and 6 weeks) and work and hobbies not to mention RELATIONSHIPS I am overwhelmed. Right now I am typing this one-handed so I can simultaneously pet my much neglected dog. And I know what you mean about the fear of your kids favoring the nanny or someone else. But I always remind myself that our ability to love is infinite so your kids won't have a limit.

  11. Alice and cps, I get what you're saying, but I don't think Stephanie is like that at all. I live in an area where so many people are, though. Some families have multiple nannies – one for the kids, 1 for cooking, 1 for cleaning, etc. And, these families have stay-at-home moms. They happen to be able to afford a lot of help. On the outside, some of the kids seem well-adjusted, and others seem bitter. I don't know what goes on behind closed doors, and the grass is always greener, blah, blah, blah. I don't have a nanny. I'm a stay at home mom of 3 kids. I have put 200% of myself into my kids, but somewhere along the way, I stopped filling out every page of their baby books; stopped putting all their pix in photo albums. It can be overwhelming being a full time parent, especially w/ a husband who works long hrs. So much falls on me that a lot of things take 2nd place, including my needs. I am focusing more on myself now, but it's not easy because life is just so busy. Maybe if I had had a nanny I would have focused more on myself from the beginning, as Stephanie is, and I wouldn't feel as burnt out as I do now. Don't get me wrong; I adore my kids. But, I lost part of myself along the way, and my marriage has suffered too. Just b/c you have a nanny doesn't mean you stop being an involved parent. It's ok to ask for help and to do your own thing. Not only is it ok, it's the best thing for everyone, in my opinion.

  12. Alice, I loved your comments. As a mother who is using a nanny for the first time with her second child, you gave me an important jolt to keep me on my toes.

  13. i'm about to have my first baby, and i'm curious how i will feel on this topic soon. will i want to return to my job as an atty or will i want to stay with my baby. the sad fact of the matter is that we can't afford for me to NOT return to work, nor can we afford a nanny, so i wont really have much of a say over the whole outcome, but i wonder wonder wonder how i will "feel". most of my friends that have had a baby were able to take off 4 to 9 months, where as, i'll need to return no later than 3…and that makes me feel like a bad mommie already. i want to give my child all the things i didn't have as a child (and i don't meant material things), but will i be able to do so and work/pay the mortgage?? ahhhhh…

    nice post.

  14. I'm going to add another post about this, actually, because there's a lot I want to say about it. I'm going to write it now. So please forgive the fact that I'm doing "two in a row" on the same "topic."

  15. My husband and I choose to do without a lot of material things so I can raise my two sons myself. I know I can do a better job than anyone else. It has been very hard at times – lonely, isolating, frustrating. But I go to bed every night knowing that if I die right now, I didn't miss a thing. It is the most wonderful feeling. It's joy. Now my oldest is in first grade and I see him 20 minutes in the morning, and then from 4-8 pm — if he doesn't have an extracurricular activity that day. I feel really disconnected from him, in a way, beacuse he is gone so much. I'm so thankful I had the chance to spend every moment with him before he started school.

  16. It's great that you feel the way you do. That's the way a mother should feel. I'm not a mother, but I have many friends that are. All I know is that any decision made to spend more time with their kids has never been regretted. Now I'm not saying it's bad to work and be a mom, but I do think it's nice when moms who are able to not work don't. . Because I know I'd feel the same, always wondering if the nanny would have a closer place in their heart or if I was missing something. Life is full of so many great things, including food and parties and hobbies and opportunities to use our gifts . . but really it's about relationships. And that's why I think it's so normal that you feel the way you do. I love when you write about the kids, calling them the 'beans' and the 'tots'. So precious! :)

  17. I agree with what Andrea has said, and I really do think that the best way to set a good example for your kids and be the best mother possible is to keep all your interests that make you happy and that make you who you are, to feel fulfilled in every way and not just in your role at home. There's a huge spectrum between what Alice was describing and being able to have a nanny but still be a full-time, dedicated mother.

  18. I understand so much how you feel… I'd like to live at the top of my possibilities, and also if I know it will be difficult it's the only way that makes me feel as I am really living.

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