This Won’t Be The Last Time

This won’t be the last time you cry.

You’ll cry when something, somewhere reminds you of something, somewhere you did together. You’ll cry when another week has passed, another month, and you haven’t heard his voice or about his life. You’ll cry when you spend the evening at the bier garden and you’ll swear you can feel him around you, but you only realize that maybe you’re going crazier than what you thought. You’ll cry when you’ve had a little bit too much and you long for the arms you knew instead of the silence you hate. You’ll cry after a particularly stressful and successful week at work because you want so badly to share your news and your trials, but the person you yearn to tell the most is no longer your person. You’ll cry when your friends say that maybe, now, this time, you should really move on. You’ll cry because you know they’re right.

No, this won’t be the last time you will cry.

You’ll cry after a Friday night date with a nice enough guy in a nice enough place where you had a nice enough evening. You’ll cry because he didn’t laugh at your silly joke the same way, or because you didn’t get that rush in your heart that you’re convinced is only reserved for people in fairy tales and on your Facebook timeline. You’ll cry because you’re terrified that feeling won’t happen again, but you date to give yourself hope that maybe it will. You’ll cry because you should be stronger and prouder, more mature and more resilient than what you are. You’ll cry because everyone tells you time will heal, but time just seems like it makes you feel.

No, I’m sorry. This won’t be the last time you cry.

You’ll cry when you meet a wonderful, incredible man on a Tuesday afternoon at a coffee shop on Fifth. You’ll cry not because you’re sad or defeated but because you can sense even the tiniest speck of hope starting to spread inside that you thought had turned bitterly cold. You’ll cry when he does call you when he says he will. When you feel yourself falling for him after only four dates. You’ll cry because again, you’re back in this place- the scary place – where your eyes turn to rose, your heart grows fuzzy, your belief in love expands. You’ll cry because it’s here you are the most vulnerable; it’s from here where you know things can turn terribly sour, or unlike before, go incredibly wonderfully. You’ll cry because you don’t want to wait around to find out but the optimist in you — the romantic– knows you will.

No, as much as you pray it will, this won’t be the last time you’ll cry.

You’ll cry when after more breakups and makeups, long fights and guys who weren’t worth your time, you find one who is. You’ll cry because you were proven wrong, that really, love is in your cards after all. You’ll cry when that man – who is less and more than what you imagined he would be — gets down on one knee and asks to share this life with you. You’ll cry as you agree in that surprising moment and at that altar, where he looks equally as uncomfortable in a penguin suit. You’ll cry when you share all those firsts together: first home, first time you have sex in that home, first time you get tired of having all his stuff around, the first time he says something he didn’t mean. The first time you do. You’ll cry because even though you married that perfect man for you, he is still intolerably human, and so are you. You’ll cry when hurt each other and when you come together in that king bed to get over it. You’ll cry because you learned how to love and how to be loved unconditionally.

No really, this won’t be the last time you cry.

You’ll cry when the stick is positive. You’ll cry when you first feel that tiny kick from a tiny person growing inside of you. You’ll cry because it’s Wednesday and you’re pregnant, and you don’t need much more of a reason than that. You’ll cry – and moan and yell and scream and think your body can’t handle it – when you give birth to that baby. You’ll cry when you hear her cry for the first time. You’ll cry when she calls you “mom” and when she walks without your help. You’ll cry in your car – or on the street – on her first day of school, both preschool and kindergarten. And first and fifth grade. You’ll cry when she doesn’t win the spelling bee or the soccer game, when she starts noticing differences you hoped she wouldn’t. You’ll cry when she no longer needs you to hold her hand when she crosses the road or to cook her breakfast in the morning. You’ll cry when you see her growing up day by day, month by month, year by year, older and older, more and more out of your reach. You’ll cry when she comes home from middle school, upset that the curly-haired boy in her class checked “no” when she hoped he’d check “yes,” and she asks you if she’ll ever have to feel this way again because it hurts so badly.

And you’ll tell her, “Yes sweetie, this won’t be the last time you’ll cry. But I promise, it will get better. So much better.”

The Baby Daddy

Somewhere between being asleep and awake, I laid in bed wrapped up in sheets with tired eyes, listening to the sounds outside the window. In the distance, a taxi driver became impatient, two women shared a laugh, an oversized truck continued down the street, and a dog expressed concern. Tossing about and wrestling with my pillow, I tried to decide if I really wanted to nap in the afternoon or if I should get up and prepare for my night out. The cotton sheets were freshly pressed and felt so smooth against my skin, tempting me to rest for just a while longer – if only to be more enthusiastic for the hours ahead of me.

I threw my leg over a pillow the same way I would a man and shut my eyes, hoping the noises below would subside long enough for some shut-eye. All was quiet and still except for the sound of the air conditioner running and the pipes busily working away. Just as I was about to drift away, I heard something that almost always makes me beam:

Children’s laughter.

It was simple and subtle, happily filling the sidewalk and bouncing off the buildings to echo up to the apartment. Drowsily, I peeked out the blinds, attempting to shield my eyes from the sudden sunlight. Right outside was a blond-haired-blue-eyed family of  five with two little girls and an older boy. They looked like they lived in New York, dressed in preppy clothes and looking comfortable int he mayhem – a trait that only comes with living in a city. They happily  played with one another and giggled away, their parents keeping a look out for them while talking. This clan was just about picture-perfect as it could be and I smiled at their beauty.

In watching them, I was reminded of some advice an older woman once gave me when I asked her for relationship advice. We were standing outside a cute cafe in the Flat Iron district, saying out goodbyes after a Cobb-Salad-and-Diet-Coke lunch. After a brief hug, she said, “When you’re dating someone, stop imagining yourself getting married to them. See if you can imagine them as the father of your kids.”

She isn’t the only one to give me such wisdom, my friend K said something along those same lines when comparing two men she dated. She said that while she would think about marriage with one, her feelings were so much stronger and felt so much more real with the guy she could see as a dad. At the times they both challenged me to think that way, I wasn’t interested in what they had to say. It sounded sweet, sure, but if I could imagine the nuptials, wouldn’t I naturally see nurseries, too?

Not really – there’s a big difference between seeing someone as the husband and seeing someone as the baby daddy.

I rolled over in bed and stared up at the ceiling, noticing cobwebs I needed to knock down and though I’m nowhere near marriage or babies, I tried to picture myself with a family. Could I see the strollers and the bottles? Can I see someone kissing my belly, anticipating the arrival of our child? Could I see little pigtails and tiny trucks? Onesies and picking out baby names?

Have I ever dated someone who proved to me he could be that supportive, that kind-hearted, that responsible, that dependable, that loving – to be a dad? It was simple, when I really entertained the idea – I had never been in a relationship like that. I had never really met someone or dated someone who I could see that with.

But maybe that’s the point anyway – it’s very rare to come across someone like that. True Baby Daddies who want to be fathers, who would be the type of guy who not only plays catch and plays dress up, but is financially and emotionally stable enough to stand by his family and provide for them – are few-and-far-between.  And when looking for a match, you can’t just focus on how romantic or dreamy they may be, but if they are the type of man who you could see wishing your children sweet dreams as they go to bed.

Who doesn’t just call you baby – but will make a great daddy to your babies.

Baby Steps Toward Stability

I’ve been dreaming vividly lately about very odd things. My mother says dreams are meant to help us work out things we’re thinking of or things that are causing us trouble, regardless if we’re conscious of our ailments or not.

If she’s right, apparently my mind has been preoccupied with babies and proposals. (Though, as far as I’m concerned, it hasn’t been)

I’ve had dreams about being pregnant, about giving birth, about rescuing children from incapable parents. I’ve envisioned spoon-feeding and watching a cesarean performed on me (yes, I know, gross). A certain dream about being stuck in some unidentified room with what appeared to be an eighth-month belly felt so real that I woke up in a dead panic, waking up Mr. Possibility in the process and frantically grabbing my stomach to make sure it wasn’t so. After the fifth consecutive dream about babies, that time of the month came (whew!) and I started having elaborate dreams about proposals.

Some of the dudes were guys I actually know and still talk to, like Mr. Idea. Others were complete strangers I was apparently in love with. The proposals were ridiculous – some involved flying fish and tomatoes, some were in NYC and some overseas (I think, it looked Greece-like). There was dinner and fireworks, friends and family, crying and Coca-Cola.

I don’t know what I’m eating these days or what crosses my mind without me knowing, but wow, when the crazy dreams stopped a few days ago, I was relieved and as any addict would be, obsessed with trying to figure out what they mean.

After all, doesn’t everything have meaning if you dig deep enough? Any proper journalist would tell you it does.

To uncover my unconscious hidden agendas, I sought the counsel of my friends. After all possibility of actually being pregnant was put to bed, they pretty much all reached the conclusion that I was getting ready to birth a new change. Or something would be proposed to me – not a ring, but something else. (No dearies, I’m gladly nowhere close to even wanting to walk down the aisle. Let me find peace with the term ‘boyfriend’ first).

That makes sense and is about as rational of an explanation that I can find – having a baby or agreeing to spend the rest of my life with someone would definitely be a dramatic shift. My priorities, my health, my finances, my body, my lifestyle – all of it. But then again – when you’re in your 20s, doesn’t everything change…all the time?

The people I’m the closest to today, I didn’t know a few years ago. My speed dial assignments have changed at least a handful of times since when I signed my Verizon contract. I’ll probably have my mail forwarded a dozen times before I leave this city – or if I ever do. My single gal friends have a new leading man every week or so, some are dismayed by this fact, others relish in it. I toss out clothes as often as I buy new ones at H&M, and when a heel breaks, another pair makes it into my closet. I try this beauty product and then this one, and while I’ve tried to pick out a signature scent, I can’t decide on just one. I read and read, day after day, and so my views, my language, my direction is constantly shifting. I make plans, I break them. I think I know who I am and then I question.

Call me crazy, but sure, life changes a lot when you have a baby – but doesn’t it also settle down a bit? I’d like to think that at the point in my life when I’m engaged and eventually starting a family, I’ll have my ducks-in-a-row. I’ll be secure in a job I love, I’ll be confident in the person I’m picking as everlasting partner, and hopefully instead of renting, I’ll be putting my dough toward a home or an apartment I own. Friends will still change but some won’t. I’ll be stronger in my convictions, but maybe my viewpoints will mold too. However, those foundation-building blocks will be set in stone, instead of airing in the New York summer sun. Or at least, I hope so.

So what is it that babies maybe signify instead? A thirst for stability? A hunger to be working toward something tangible instead of all of those things that seem so indefinite? I don’t have a baby, I’ve never been asked to marry someone (expect on Twitter), but I think those changes may rock my world, but they’ll also steady it, too. Right?

I can’t attest for sure, I’m not a psychic or a dream-reader, though I could probably walk a block in either direction and pay $150 for a reading. For now, though, regardless if these dreams mean a change or mean I’ll found solid footing, I hope they continue to subside.

My ovaries can’t handle any more fear.

Baby Don’t Want No Baby

A few years ago, while walking through Soho, I stumbled across a boutique baby store. I don’t recall the name, but the décor included whimsical trees, googly-eyed giraffes and elephants, and against my friend’s pleas, I demanded we go inside. Like the true kid-at-heart I am, I browsed through the clothes, considered buying a super-soft stuffed animal for myself, and sighed thinking, “I really do want a baby one day.”

Before leaving, I spotted a pair of ridiculously adorable pink socks with a tiny, sophisticated bow at the top. At $16 a pop, I actually bought one and vowed that one day, when I became a mother, I’d put them over my baby’s little toes. Let’s hope I do have a daughter when that time comes or my son will just have to be alright with pretty-in-pink feet.

These socks are tucked away in a space underneath my bed, along with clippings of dream vacation homes overseas, maps of places I’d like to visit, and ticket stubs from old dates, travels, and pieces of fabric I’d love to make a trendy dress out of (If I knew how to sew, that is). Those socks are the only thing, out of the dozens of wishes and dreams inside of that wooden antique box that represents children.

As much as I do hope that I have some baby Tigar cubs of my own, the idea of actually raising a child royally, totally, and whole-heartedly freaks me the hell out. I’m one of those women who texts her friends: “Okay, so he didn’t technically finish inside of me. We used something, I’m on something. But my monthly visitor is about three hours late, should I get a test? I mean it can’t hurt, right? RIGHT?!” I’ve also probably opted for plan B even when plan A probably worked efficiently. I even may have Googled if there was such a thing as Plan C. (There’s not, if you’re wondering)

But why should I not be careful? Pregnancy and babies are terrifying.

I mean, my lady part has to stretch to a size that’s not natural (no matter how part of nature it is), I have to give up the things that give me tremendous joy (coffee, wine, looking sexy in lingerie, running, to name a few), and after nine months of increasingly getting rounder, I have a miniature creature who will suck on my gals. And that’s only the beginning – once I’m a mother, there is no going back or 30-day refund policy. As far as I know, anyways.

Last week on my way to my bi-monthly mentoring program for children who want to be authors, I caught an elevator with a few parents. Though it isn’t the usual etiquette, one of the fathers asked when I pushed the button for the sixth floor, “Are you going to pick up your child in the program?”

With a fear-stricken death stare I looked directly at him and defended myself: “Oh God no! I’m volunteering. I don’t have children. I’m too young for that!” Obviously not realizing the chord he struck with me, he mumbled an apology and turned to face the doors. As I pulled myself together walking to meet my mentee, it occurred to me I was actually wrong.

I’m not too young to be a mom. Technically speaking.

I’m the only one of my cousins who doesn’t have at least one child – and they are all under the age of 35. I have friends who are damned-and-determined to have their legacy completed and their tubes tied before they blow out the candles on their 30th birthday cake. And ladies much younger than me, say 16, are apparently buzzworthy in the eyes of pop culture for doing nothing other than growing a bump.

As cute as they are and as much as I’m sure I’ll love my own one day, I’m lacking the baby-obsessed gene. Or maybe, it hasn’t fully developed quite yet.

Being a parent, much like being a girlfriend or a wife, means you have to stop making decisions based solely on yourself. While we can provide examples illustrating how men are really just grown-up babies who still want to be pampered, mothered, and coddled – a child is even more responsibility. Not to mention a commitment you can’t divorce, annul or walk away from.

When this man, unknowingly mistaken me as a mom, it caught me off guard (and sweat a little) because the possibility of being a parent had never occurred to me. Sure, I’ve had some scares and from the book my mother gave me, I know I’m capable of producing offspring. But, for someone to see me and for it not to be out-of-the-question for me to have a elementary school-aged child, blew my mind. What would my life look like if that were the case?

A baby requires more than your love, your attention, your dedication to maintaining and creating a relationship – it needs to be provided for and protected. How can I expect to be mature enough, secure enough, and uncomplicated enough to keep something else alive, when most of the time, I’m not sure I take care of myself in the best ways?

I may be far from being a child and far from 40, but this baby don’t want no baby.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

What Comes Before Love?

With city temperatures dropping, gloves and scarves coming out of hibernation, and iced coffee being exchanged for hot – I can’t help but think of change.

Fall is my favorite season because of the possibility it brings to the atmosphere, but winter brings this idea of transition. Wardrobe, food, transportation, and mentalities (winter blues, anyone?) makes a complete transformation between the sweltering days to the freezing ones. We’re literally forced to change.

At times, life is like that too. We reach a point where making a change is absolutely necessary: when the job sucks so bad we can’t stand to go to it, when that five pounds has turned into twenty, when drinking has become a must-have instead of a treat.

Recently, I interviewed a couple who own a maternity line for urban moms-to-be for the magazine. With an upcoming reality show debuting at the start of the year and a baby on the way – this duo was on fire. During the interview, it was evident how easily they worked together in and out of the business, and how passionate they were for the pregnant-new-parent industry (if you can call it that?).

Although I asked her a million questions that she gave great responses to – there was one thing she said that really stuck out in my head and caused me to jot down notes for this blog on the train back to my office. As we were discussing reaching her target market, she said: “It works really well that we’re creating a family right now as I’m growing this business. You really can’t even begin to understand what being pregnant is like unless you’re actually going through it, feeling what you’re body is going through, and freaking out.”

In my head, I thought, “That’s true. You also can’t grasp what being a single girl is like unless you are on.” And then, as I listened to her and watched her interact with me and with her husband, it occurred to me that she hasn’t always been this beautiful, successful, married, and glowing with-child woman. At one point, she was a single lady, just like me. It’s just that now, she’s in a different part of her life.

So does that mean being single is a stage? Is it a required transition? If first comes love, then comes marriage, then the baby in the baby carriage, what comes before love? Being single?

I’m not sure I like thinking of my life in stages, but in a way it makes sense. You can’t be a couple or a triple or foursome, if you’re not a single first –mathematically it doesn’t work. Right now I’m a 20-something gal climbing the ladder in her career and exploring the dating jungle that defines NYC. But in three years, I could be married? In ten, I could have a baby and a bump? How does life progress through these stages so quickly?

Are we ever not transitioning from one thing to another? And if we can’t completely depend on the stages in our lives that we hope to happen, will in fact progress, do we have faith? Instead, do we live in the here-and-now? Or do we do a combination of both?

If every stage is just a preparation for the next, are we ever really living in the segment of our lives we’re in? Or are we always anticipating the next step, the next decision, the next move? Once we’ve found that person, we rush to the alter. Once we’re at the alter, we rush to the nursery. Once we’re in the nursery, we rush to the playroom. Once we’re in the playroom, we’re looking at Harvard? Does it ever stop?

And do we lose what we’ve found in the steps before as we keep moving?

Being single gives us a mindset of independence, selfreliability, and confidence. I’m sure marriage gives you new perspectives and babies do even more – but I don’t think we should ever fully transition out of the single-lady values. Being “good on our own” isn’t something that should change when we move into the next step. I don’t think single is so much a stage as it is the foundation for the rest of our lives.

After all, it’s important to be able to depend on our own two feet before we play footsie with hubby or kiss the bottoms of our baby’s toes.