Friday, March 13 at 9:19 AM
‘Denial is the most predictable of all human responses-.
THE ARCHITECT- THE MATRIX
A has been just told not to go to the office and work from until further notice and I don’t think I have seen this man smile as much in the 20 years of his financial career at 6.30am in the morning. He is the least suit guy of the suit guys. He is also deep inside an introvert. So he is thriving right now. Trading in sweatpants, complaining about my old Macbook Air because he was rushed out of the building and somehow could not get a spare piece of Corporate America tech.
I feel a little violated by weird scrolling screens with zillions of red and green lines of numbers and abbreviations. Hard to believe I did once advanced mathematics. All this feels very ‘The Matrix’ to me: I cannot understand a damn thing and people talk in robotic voices. After eavesdropping for a couple of hours, without any doubt in my mind, I can say that I have no idea what Antoine does for a living. NO BLOODY IDEA.
I have been living with the man for 20 years and nope. Don’t get it, can’t get it. It occurs to me that I have been chit chatting about A’s job for years at his work drinks and Christmas parties and that his colleagues were very way too polite, nodding at some credit derivative BS coming out my mouth. It occurs to me that they may have thought : ‘she must be good at sex and be a good cook’. Oh well…
I look at A. sideways because he is smiling way too much. It is very unsettling. He looks like this new colleague who keeps smiling at you so much that you feel that you should really invite him to join your lunch break – the lunch break you planned a week ago that was going to be a “Friday let’s get hammered’ lunch with my girlfriends who work nearby aka besties who are already working from home today.
Eventually, my ‘new colleague’ skips off for lunch and the girls’ lunch is back on. It is strange because we don’t get to hug each other and instead we do those kiddie side magic hands. We ponder whether we should be using environment destroying straws or not for our wine and Prosecco. We share our french fries, feeling somewhat naughtier than a Halloween naughty nurse, because are we even supposed to share anything now?
We are pouring our souls out, lamenting our shortcomings as mothers. And I go something like this:
‘Total meltdown the other day. I just blanked out. Did not know what to do.’
Two fries chuffed in. Two sips of Prosecco.
‘I don’t know if I like them most days but I am pretty sure they hate me most days’.
Three fries chuffed in. Four sips of Prosecco.
‘I suck; I really do. I am failing this. Fuck, kids’ therapy; I am the one who needs therapy. Do I need therapy?’
Five fries chuffed in. Ordering another Prosecco.
‘They are talking about closing schools. It is a joke, right? Because I cannot stay home with them. I cannot.’
No fries left. Downing bottom up the second Prosecco.
We say our ‘I love yous’ and ‘You Are Not Alones’. It feels good but when I leave, I have a strange feeling. We say bye to each other – still with the jazzy hands – and joke ‘well, we see each other (LONGEST PAUSE)…soon?’ But it echoes pitch less. Yeah, soon does not sound the right word far from it.
‘Looking out a dirty old window
Down below the cars in the city go rushing by
I sit here alone and I wonder why’
Kids in America – Kim Wilde
I woke up numb after going to bed feeling sick to the stomach. The results of the US presidential elections emptied my soul in a way I feared it would. I am feeling numb, sad, angry, afraid, shocked, rejected, hated, useless, abused. I really don’t know what to say to my kids who both ‘voted’ in class for the qualified person to be in charge. Sorry kiddos, your wish was not granted. How do you explain this morning to your kids that, in most states, their fellow Americans have chosen a person and ideology that hate your parents and what they stand for? How do I get up tomorrow without hating and fearing whom who hate and fear me? How can I forgive and understand women who vote for a Trump/Pence ticket?
As I am nursing P who ironically woke up sick with fever (atta girl), I started to think hard about the conversations DH and I have been having with G in the last month or so about his new class.
As you may know, we decided to send our kids to our local public school. And the first month has been a mixed bag of emotions. We love being in the school community; we miss our friends and their children who are in other schools. It is kind of normal. But something else has happened. Some things in life challenge you to the core and demand that you rise above your own fears. I very recently realized that the guiding hand can be that of our children. Let’s set some background here.
Our local school is predominantly Black and Hispanic and while P is in a very culturally diverse class, our son G is the only non Black or Hispanic kid in his class. Some public schools also have classes with students who have special needs and G’s class is one of them. I could not help but wondered how G was doing. Growing up as a child, for about three years I was in whites only class between the age of 6 and 9 – with the exception of my own sister and a Black kid from Ethiopia who was constantly bullied. It was very traumatizing to me. I used to pull my own nose every night for 15 minutes to ‘construct’ a nose bridge because I was sick of having a ‘flat face’. I wanted to change my name to Stephanie and was so adamant about it that my dad slapped me in the face screaming: ‘Over my DEAD body’. Dad: I will never thank you enough for calling my shit out. I have nothing to do with a Stephanie. An Imogen maybe, but never a Stephanie 🙂
For all these reasons, every morning, I feared that G was going to get picked at because he is the only kid with straight hair. Picked at, the same way my sister and I were, because we were the only kids with slanted eyes and darker skins with weird sounding names. I tried to rationalize my concerns but I could not help but feel some anxiety.
Then one day, an accident happened with a little boy X who has some behavior issues. He kicked G… The teachers handled the incident very well but it did not stop my concerns. A few weeks later, there was another incident with another kid XX. I started to panic in my own head like a crazy mom. Thank god DH is more sensible.
Is it G in particular that gets picked on because he is half Asian, half Caucasian? The teacher assures me he is well loved in his class so I start asking him questions pretending to be cool and collected (while deep inside I am shitting myself fearing that my son is a victim):
Me: ‘So about that kick with X…what happened afterwards? Are you ok?
G: X is a little difficult with everyone but with me he is cool now.
Me: Oh great. How come?
G: Well, the day after he kicked me I went to see him and asked him if he would become my best friend. He said yes so now we are friends. Also I saw that the teacher who helps him uses the truck to calm him down when he goes a little crazy. He just needs his truck’.
Note: at this point, I think my son is a political genius and the most open-minded and practical chap I know. He kind of put me to shame because instead of letting it go I kept pressing on:
‘What about the other kicks by XX and YY? Is it just you?
G: it is not just me; sometimes it is someone else who gets kicked.
Me: Are you not afraid?
G: No. I am not. And then he starts lowering his voice and murmurs: ‘I am not afraid because I am using my super powers…’
Me: Oh wow. What are those MAGIC super powers???
He starts beaming and screaming: ’To be super super nice!!!’.
This just nailed me. My eyes were moist with tears. ‘How can this little chap be stronger and more generous and fearless than I am?’ I was in awe. That was some weeks ago.
On this 9th November morning, as my soul was crying and as G was getting ready for school I asked him: ‘Can you give me a bit of your superpowers?’ he touched my hand and said ‘ZZZZZZttt’ ‘I only give you a little because I am tired’
That is OK, buddy. Keep yours. I will have to resource my own power source anyway to not fear and not hate so I can help you next time the way you helped me this morning. You may not have the President you deserve but I will work hard to be the mom you deserve.
That said, I’ll start working tomorrow. Today this mama is on strike. #notmypresident
‘It is not what I do; it is who I am.’
Some self-motivational chap somewhere on the Internet whose quote – despite my skeptical dispositions – I cannot seem to shake off.
As most of you know, I have changed careers more than Kanye West said he loved himself. I think I can claim that I was always good enough at what I was doing and probably nobody would disagree with it. But I never felt I was at my best. As the founder of Another Garde and mom to 3 kids, I try every day to be that best of me. And boy, it’s a bitch.
I have said it time and time again – without becoming a mom I would have never been strong, centered and humble enough to hustle it out every day to sell a bag or a ring, let alone get out there to build the exposure I need for my business.
But I figured that once you’ve had 3 babies pulled out of your limbs in a bloodbath (thank you, emergency C-sections 1 and 2) and once you have spent years on your knees patting your kids’ bums half naked until the wee hours of the morning, well, you are probably ready for anything and surely ready to do anything.
So yeah, pride and fear have long gone since my stitched up tummy days. I have learnt patience and I am now learning – with a lot of difficulty – to appreciate little victories like having finally my three kids out of diapers or having my first client in Denmark.
However I got annoyed enough this week to ‘take the pen’ again. Not so long ago, I got frustrated by how I had been socially JEDI tricked into thinking that I would be able to walk smiling and having my shit together, 2 months post baby delivery while the reality was that I was suffocating inside spiritually and physically . That sense of betrayal created Redlipstickmama – that infuriating moment when I felt like a hot mess while I was supposed to only feel bliss.
Since then, I am more at peace with myself. But today, I felt the urge again to open my big mouth for another massive rant – just in time for Mother’s Day. Lucky DH.
It is a lame rant because ‘Duh, it is obvious girl…’ but I’ll say it anyway. The other day, I felt sickened by magazine spreads of (fashion) mom entrepreneurs living in oversized downtown apartments harboring Irving Penn’s prints on the walls, wearing designer frocks and looking with adoration at their long wavy haired only child sketching in corduroy covered notebooks (Note: details are totally BS but you get the idea).
I know that perfection is always staged because no one can have such a life or else KILL me now. But it still annoyed the hell out of me. What bothered me the most is that this type of shit used to inspire me, make me dream, live a fantasy for a few minutes but right now I just feel fucking pissed off and feel stolen of my hardship. Things are made so easy that you actually feel shit struggling. It is the post-C section ‘I am so happy’ pictures all over again. I wish there were reports of struggle and not just some ludicrous fantasy advertising ‘Get your ticket, you can be next.’ I wish there were pictures of red faced women trying to breathe in and out the stress of running a company while emptying the dishwasher.
I am very tortured about what I am writing now because I am the founder of a boutique selling quality and elegant design to inspire so shouldn’t I look and sound the part? But what is ‘that part’? Really.
Well, my truth is this one: mom entrepreneurship is ugly. For example:
– My kids wake me up because once they go to bed, I continue to work late and thus oversleep. I look like a rag and my daughter pushes me: ‘Mom, C’mon. I really don’t want to be late for school. Again. And how can you sleep with a W-E-D-G-I-E? Don’t you find it very uncomfortable?’
– I am refraining from going to Starbucks because 2 double tall skimmed cappuccinos can pay for an hour of my assistant’s time.
– My kids have started to talk to strangers on the subway – on their own initiative – to promote my company. They tell everyone their mom is ‘BOSS’. I thought of stopping them out of embarrassment but let them do it thinking ‘you never know, they may find me new clients’. Shameless.
– I don’t get free clothes. Ever. I pay for them. I only have endless temptations. Like a recovering alcoholic in Pegu bar. Meanwhile, the kids wear polo shirts with way too short sleeves because I lack the time and money for shopping.
– I have so many IOUs with my friends and family that I hope I am a true Buddhist who will go through various reincarnations to pay up my dues.
Finally and most importantly I wonder every day if my husband will end up divorcing me. Contrary to the popular belief, asking my husband to fully support my folly is not getting him to take nice shots of me wearing skinny leather pants for my Instagram feed (you should check out this video of Instagram husbands, hysterical). And it is more than being the sole income earner. The man behind the mom entrepreneur is a guy who believes so much in her that he is probably now the gayest straight man at work talking about fashion designers crafting beautiful prototypes on their kitchen tables with his female colleagues instead of commenting on the latest Yankees game. It is a guy who is accepting a tougher life to pay for the childcare and cleaning help she needs to be a full-time entrepreneur. A guy who puts his own dreams aside for hers, leaves work earlier to mind for their sick kids or has to take days off to help her set up pop ups in swanky hotels – taping japanese screens and putting IKEA furniture together when he barely knows how to use a screw driver.
It is a guy who does not think he is making her favors but rather knows that she HAS to do this.
And indeed, I have to do this now.
My ticket number to be the next best thing may never be called up. I am not going to lie about it. Who knows?
But what I know is this. With Mother’s day coming up, I do encourage everyone to celebrate their moms because they have shit days – sometimes very often. But this one mama does not need anything from her family. She has been short-changing them for a while now and is just grateful that they accept the Mom and Wife she can be and allow her to be the Woman she wants to be.
Below my journey as an entrepreneur in selfies but with clothes 🙂
“Never tell me the odds.”
Han Solo, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
This week, we received an offer from our local public school for G & P’s kindergarten that starts this Fall. Said this way, it feels like the simplest thing in the whole world. You live somewhere you go the school next door, right? But as any parent living in a big city with an (un)healthy dose of ‘we want the best for our munchkins’ will tell you ‘yeah… you wish but truth is; it is the fucking Hunger Games’.
And DH and I ended unwillingly participating in it. And when will we stop? When you finish reading this, please feel free to judge me. I do judge myself.
Let’s back track a few months to understand my personal journey to insanity. I am a fervent supporter of dual language programs in New York public schools and was hoping a community of French speaking families would be able to open one in our neighborhood – but it was to no avail.
So DH and I decided ‘Fuck this; let’s take it easy and stick to our local community school. It is only kindergarten after all.’
Then, you start having lunches with friends who went to all the private schools’ open houses and interviews in New York. Some have prepared their kids for he last two months for the lauded but also worrying G & T programs ( I still did not figure out the answers to some of the practice test questions). Others have visited all the public schools of the district and have built seriously impressive matrices to rank all options. You keep hearing that it is essential to start the kids on the best track now so they can go to the best middle school, high school and best college and then best …actually conversations get vague then. But what seems to be the general conclusion is : the likeliness of one kid to be a dropout and be that Facebook guy or a prosperous rapper is slim so really, we need to increase their chances to be… Conversations get even more vague then.
Yes. You have all kinds of reactions and you discover so much about your friends’ and your own anxieties, upbringing, disappointments, hopes etc.
And then you have this kind of mom: the clueless one whom everyone is calling because they think she has her shit together because she wears red lipstick on a Saturday afternoon.
And the clueless mom first standing firm on her resolve to not bother is now starting to wither. ‘OK; everyone is leaving Earth in this shuttle for The Jedi Empire to train Padawans. And I am now on my own with all my principles and my kids because of me will remain forever storm troopers’.
So that is when clueless mom is getting all Darth Vader:
I started to drag the kids on a Sunday morning unprepared to the last spots of G & T testing and your kids are like ‘what the heck? We thought we were going to K’s for a play date!’.
I started to ask questions to people I hadn’t talked to in ages to know where their kids go.
I started to freak out at urban legends of 10 families being on the same lease so as to be zoned in their coveted school. Who fucking does this ?
Actually I do know who does this: immigrant families who have to share rents or have to show a residence to find a job or open a bank account- to basically access basic social and economic rights.
Thank god; sometimes you find another clueless mom to prank with about how a popular school has decided to put places on the waiting list down as fundraising auction prizes. You laugh hysterically and then embarrassingly because for a split second you actually believed her!
In the end, because you are still a lazy shit you end up applying to two public schools.
Fast forward and the results fell this week. At one point of the day, I was on multi texting with 5-6 moms. DRAMA. I tried to lighten the mood: ‘heh guys relax. I think I was in a refugee center for the start of my kindergarten year.’ But in truth it is no joke. Whatever you say, you cannot kick away this interrogation: ‘Am I doing the best for my kids?”
We did not get our first choice; we are on the waiting list for that school and the wait game is now starting. But I am actually good with the second choice we were given too so let’s see.
One thing for sure though is that I will not surrender to the Dark side. If I start to falter I will think hard of ‘The Force Awakens’:
– the main heroes are a scavenger and a rebellious storm trooper who understands what is right and wrong
– and yes luke skywalker may be a freaking powerful Jedi who owns a fucking (deserted) island, but Han Solo was always so much cooler 🙂 Period.
‘Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
It’s only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and…
Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?’
Dreams by Fleetwood Mac
G woke up this morning telling me : ‘Mom I had a really nice dream’.
And the first thing I want to reply is: ‘I don’t give a shit’.
He and his siblings almost got the end of me yesterday night laughing, fighting, switching the lights on until 10pm while I was trying hard to work on some excel spreadsheets and figure out how many button ups I can realistically sell this year.
Yeah I want to say I don’t give a shit but the endearing mama came back for a split second and I enquire about it.
–‘I dreamed that you, Dad, P., L. And I moved to a new big house.’
– ‘Oh really? What did the house look like ?’ I am thinking:’ did DH brainstorm him about moving to the countryside ?’ A hot topic between his parents
–‘It had a door to a garden and when I opened it I could see the trees and it was Fall and the leaves were red, yellow, green and …blue!’
– ‘Was there anyone around us?’ I am trying to come up with a quick brainwashing trick to get him to equal space to solitude and the slow death of his mom’s soul.
– ‘Nope; no one just us’.
– ‘No one huh ? So what are we doing then?‘
– ‘Dad did not work. You did not work. We never go to school. We play games all day. We watch the Yaya (iPad) every day. And we NEVER have school.’
OK… I sigh in relief: that is not the suburbs, it is the fucking Chocolate Factory !
As the three of them shoot off for school on their scooters, I am left to ponder what my dreams are actually made of?
What are my blue trees looking like?
The truth is my dreams hurt me too. When you live them, they make you feel furiously awake and alert. They also make you want to throw up because you are suddenly scared that you are not worthy of your dream. And you are really scared shitless that it will just crush right in front of your eyes. Dreams are super scary. I cannot but hear my father in law’s favorite saying about teams throwing up the towel seconds before the final whistle while they had the whole game in their hands. He always says: ‘He is afraid to succeed. He is afraid to win it’.
I always hated it. Having always been a sore loser and an ultimate fighter, I always thought ‘why would anyone on Earth be afraid of winning. Losing sucks!’
This morning, however I feel I may connect with its meaning for the very first time.
Wins breeds more craving for wins. Wins come with a responsibility to uphold a promise to yourself and others (if you feel you have succeeded on your own, you are misguided me thinks).
You get addicted to what you feel viscerally when you win. You get addicted to the look of your loved ones when you win. It is exhilarating. It is intoxicating until you cannot breathe because you can see the next move, the one after, perhaps the one after that and then things get blurred. And you ask yourself, what I am to do when all my moves are done.
So yeah major freak out. I really want to cry. If only I could cry. Note: there’s a now an infamous conversation between my assistant and me in which I told her, very shortly after we launched our online store, that I was not able to cry. She asked: ‘Why?’
I replied:’I don’t have the time to. Mind you, we are walking now and it is raining on my face so that would be the perfect moment to cry’. It did not happen but my assistant has probably kept this conversation in her notebook titled ‘The shit my boss says on a daily basis’.
Anyway, I could cry. Instead I blank out until I enter this quiet and bright studio and showroom in Brooklyn where two humble and super talented designers, sisters and moms, created one dialogue after another, one conviction after another a luxury leather goods brand working with American leather and New York craftsmen (more about their beautiful universe soon on my online store – fingers crossed). And my heart beats again. It beats so strong it wants to burst but the nauseating feeling is gone. For now.
I found my cure. No tear drops, just a new bone. When my own dreams act like an enraged bulldog biting my ass, I decided to rely on other women’s dreams and let myself carried away by their force and beauty. I will be a temporary parasite and blood sucker. Yes, that is my coping mechanism.
Should this fail, I still have G’s home and its blue trees 🙂
Also not that it is what I personally think but it made me laugh to see this statement in my Manhattan mini storage the day after my conversation with G.
This year has started sweet and sour. But that is exactly why it is already exciting.
In the first weeks of 2016, David Bowie and Alan Rickman left us leaving this world with an ounce less of inspiration.
DH’s grandma L. also followed her husband J., who passed away a month or so ago, leaving this world with an ounce less of devoted love. Throughout the last twenty years since I met DH, I wondered so many times how two individuals could have possibly been living apart for a total of 48hours in their entire 75 years of life together. How could they possibly do so and still love each other? The final flight of these two lovebirds put an end to all questions I had. I guess.
My relationships in New York have recently morphed into something very comforting . When living in London, I was young and malleable and basically living with my college crew or look alikes. Things were easy: we laughed at the same jokes, studied the same stuff, had similar dreams and were the only family we had around.
Then we moved. I got preggers. I now have a family with little ones whom I am trying to learn to know. Tantrum after tantrum, cuddle after cuddle, mishap after mishap. Therefore more than ever I need some grown ups behind and by me. People with whom silence is no longer uncomfortable and this, my friends, takes a fucking long time to build. It takes even longer when you are dealing with a panoply of mismatched individuals: Harlem families, child free gay couples, grandma substitutes, and single and killing it girlfriends and so on.
And then gradually, slowly, and at times awkwardly these people who have nothing to do with each other become your life support. A family who drove mid-November to a House of horrors in the middle of nowhere in the Catskills to celebrate your and DH’s 20 years of life together. A family who heard en route that Paris was under terrorist attacks. Every minute we were on this road, the number of dead people was soaring. And your celebration does no longer have any sense. It would have become absolutely meaningless if it were not for those faces facing you, trying to pause for a moment their thoughts of Paris to smile and eat your dry and overcooked cassoulet.
These same people turned up to unwrap jewelry after their kids’ morning school drop and before going to work to help me open my holiday pop up boutique and before I had a nervous meltdown due to the now infamously known as ‘where the fuck are all the chokers?’ freak out.
And that is why 2016 is of course about stepping it up with my fashion boutique Another Garde , of course keeping on discovering who my children are but it will also be a year deepening friendships in this city that is finally no longer ‘my new city’ but ‘home’.
People around me started to make babies again moving to number 2, 3 or 5 (!!!). I have stayed away from babies for a couple of years now because of the trauma of my back to back pregnancies. I was that one mom circling around you always with a glass of champagne in the hand so she would not be asked to carry or cuddle your newborn earning the moniker of the ‘why is she ALWAYS dancing?’ Mom. I have recently chilled out and now I am back to embracing all these new cute babies around me…DH’s recent vasectomy has also helped a lot 🙂 mouaaaaa
And finally L. is talking in a way that I can understand. During the Jonas blizzard, he said ‘it’s a snowstorm.’ Not ‘snow’ or ‘white’ but a clear ‘it s a snowstorm’. Welcome talking L.; papa and I cannot wait to hear more about you.
Warning: since I have not updated my blog in over 4 months, my verbal diarrhea is in full motion and this post is long, obnoxiously long.
So what happened to me and my crew? It is not an over statement to say this: not ever before have we dug so deep in our resources as a family and that includes when I had to run the London 10K with no prior training whatsoever (do not snicker, i still have a dizzy head thinking about it!) AND when DH had a eye surgery making him blind for 48 hours, 3 weeks after the twins were born. Yeah I am letting you picture the situation…
Anyway, the last 6 months of my life have tested our resolve, who I am as a woman, who we are as a family and what life long commitment truly means.
Let’s back track to a few years ago, when on a London double decker bus I told DH that the main reason I did not want children was my utter fear of having to stay put even when the shit hits the fan. I told him ‘if you and I fuck up, I can and will leave it all behind to rebuild. I am survivor and that’s what I do. But I know that a child would be the one person I could never leave behind. It is the one relationship that if even it fucks me up I have to stay put. I will have to be IN it, FOREVER. And this is damn too fucking scary to me.’
That’s what I was feeling then and obviously me being me I got preggers twice in 2 years after that. Because I changed my mind and when I do, I cannot do things half-way.
We are now in 2015. My being a mother is no longer something I question. It is hard work, infuriating, blissful, challenging, self-revealing, physical, joyful and all that jazz. That is why I decided to have a fourth one: Another Garde. It is my curated online boutique for emerging brands which I have just launched a few days ago.
The gestation period was long – almost two years – although not as long as with L who at 3 year and a half still thinks he belongs inside my tummy (more about this in another blog post).
Every day, I felt my heart racing and pumping, often on the verge of bursting out of laughter or cry. Like when I was raided by freaking pregnancy hormones. Sleepless nights. Everyone asking when it is coming out and how you feel. Sleepless nights.
And you are tired, so tired, and emotionally fucked up, and you look like shit but you cannot look shit because you have just launched a Fashion venture so you try to look shit-ish instead.
And then it comes out and you look at it and you know the hardest part starts then: growth and nurturing. And you dig deep, deeper and deeper. And you know you are IN it and you cannot leave this one behind either. Because maybe for once in your life, you feel that this is what you are meant to be doing. I can say it out loud: most people think I am mental and insecure (friends: it’s ok. I know about it and I still love you) because my career path looks worse than a Paris subway map written in Mandarin and covered in pigeon’s poop. And they are right to think so: I am absolutely schizophrenic.
But as I wake up every morning, I cannot help but feel possessed: I HAVE to keep on and on. Despite the madness. Despite the sheer exhaustion. Despite that little snarky voice in my head that says:‘Who the fuck do you think you are?’
I keep on. I want to make women feel emotion, beauty, inner confidence when they come onto Another Garde. I want to support emerging brands to connect with these smart and confident women. I want to build connections, conversations. To be honest, I don’t give much shit about Fashion. Doing Fashion week is at the bottom of my priority list. However, I do believe that well curated and designed pieces can celebrate a woman’s inner kick-ass awesomeness. In the last 5 years I ballooned up and down through and between my various pregnancies; I have sometimes cried over how a bad cut just made me feel worse than I was. Oh yeah, fucking pregnancy hormones were not helping either 🙂
So that is why I do what I do.
In the meantime, my daughter P asks why their mom has to work all the time and probably wonders if I am exploring my pseudo-lesbian tendencies because I keep checking out beautiful women online – I am mainly trying to fix some html code, very poorly I must admit.
DH is becoming the SOLID ROCK that I – in the past – doubted he could be. Watching the kids, working hard in the office, signing checks to my company and just believing in me like no other. DH: I am so sorry you married such a bitch but she takes back every single word she said on that boat AND double decker bus. Random note to self: I probably should just shut up while in public transport as a general rule.
G is being G: trying to seduce my interns. And succeeding too.
L. recovered from a flesh eating bacterial infection. L. was lost in Central Park (within 1 minute of not watching him) and found 600m away from the picnic we were attending. I almost died that afternoon. L. is receiving 10 hours of Special Education support at school since the beginning of the week. I will write more soon about this because I am still trying to process all this.
Let me know what you all think!!! You are probably among the first ones to have supported my ambitions by all your nice comments on my ‘Mood of the Day’ series. If you like what you see, I would be very grateful if you could help spread the word! We only ship in the US at the moment but if I see some love coming from an overseas ‘Garde of Women’, I will get to you quicker than planned 🙂
Some snippets. Photography by Carolina Palmgren. Models: Kailah NG and Giannina Oteto
Knit vest by Foxx + Walsh
Hand made leather backpack by Moses Nadel
Black Cupro dress by H.Fredriksson
After my downer of a post 3 weeks ago, I have been slowly putting my shit together, regaining some stamina for my project, talking more openly to DH, and most importantly appreciating better my accomplishments as a mom.
A friend without children recently told me: ‘you are losing your head about achieving stuff, making something out of your life but you do realize you have achieved a lot right? You have a big family and a functional one too. You will always time for the rest.’
I don’t know if it is her comment or street Christmas lights or the fact that I am still digesting my thanksgiving dinner but I woke up in a disgustingly sappy mood, my heart full of love for my 3 ‘creatures’, as my friend Levon calls them. So this ‘awesomely crazy and cute stuff they say’ post is for you monkeys. Even if I often complain about you, I am thankful for you. I am. Enjoy this post because tomorrow I will be back to my bitchy self.
G: ‘So there is this house and there is a lion in there and a wolf knocks on the door and the lion is so scared he locks the door …brrrr’
Me thinking: I see that family membership to the Bronx zoo has been a good investment.
G:‘L is a silly baby but he is too cute …sigh.’
Me thinking: Awww.
P: ‘I want to be a big person when I grow up but a big person like Daddy not a big little person like Mommy.’
Me thinking: Fair enough.
(When peeing first in the morning) ‘I have to hold strong because I have a big zizi (‘willy’), so so big.’
Me thinking: boys will be boys 🙂
L: (when prompted to say ‘Thanks’) ‘Ti tyou’
Me thinking: Awww.
P: ‘I hate all boys at my school…except for one.’
Me: ‘Who is THAT boy?’
P: ‘It’s G (her twin brother) because he is really so sweet and so, so cute’.
Me saying: ‘Awww’ and thinking:’Remember this next time you try to strangle him’.
P: ‘Why are you sad Mama? There are no reasons for you to be sad because you have me, papa, G and L. You cannot be sad. We are all here.’
Me thinking: Nobel Prize.
To finish here’s a snippet from my conversation with P yesterday. I was talking with DH about old times and P asked:
‘Was I in your belly then?
‘Where was I then”
‘Well …you did not exist then’.
‘What?????’ shell-shocked I could have a life without her in it 🙂
‘Let’s just say you were a wish’.
Her eyes lit up and she screamed: ‘Yes I was a pink wish!!! But then you prefer grey…would have it been better if you had a grey wish instead of a pink wish?’
I was not sure what to say. I finally answered: ‘No, because you, my pink wish, are here. I have millions of wishes including the grey one but they are not here and it is ok. I am very happy about it.’
And then P flashed a kick ass and proud smile. Melt.
Have a great week end!!!
Photos by Helene McGuire, LN Photographie
I pondered about whether or not to share this post. I initially wrote this as an email to DH but before hitting the ‘send’ button I thought ‘every single mom probably goes through this. It is all fucked up sometimes and I wish I had the courage to lay bare these moments and surges with other women as they happen and not 1 day after I (somewhat) processed the feelings and tried to make sense of them’. That is when instead of the email being sent to DH it went straight to redlipstickmama.com
Hope your day is going well and that the jet lag is not too bad.
I need to share with you that I am having a burnout as an entrepreneur, a mom and a wife.
I am getting paranoid/paralyzed about failing, not doing enough or at least not well enough. I feel like everything, everyone around me is putting pressure on me. Which probably is inaccurate and I (and maybe also our parents) am the only one who put these pressures on me. On my fucking own.
What annoys me is that I am numb today. Like I don’t care anymore of what people think, like I don’t care anymore about raising to my own expectations. It is so not me. But I am tired.
I know I have to take it easy and take positive and constructive time for me without guilt but to be honest I don’t know how to do this.
Today I just want to crawl into bed and sleep (although I haven’t been able to for weeks now). I have a meeting but I cancelled it ; I don’t want to the garage* because I think it will make me cry and I just want to hide. I just want to be a slob, a lazy person without being terrified that I might be depressed. Can anyone do this?
There is nothing you can do about it; I just need to say it.
This makes me look like a cry baby but today I just don’t give a shit.
*my co-working space
NB for my readers: as I am sending this, I saw on the Instagram feed a 20 year-old friend this: ‘We are born to be real, not to be perfect’. How fitting. So wise.
No lipstick mama
I have dropped some breadcrumbs, post after post, about how crazy my extended family is and how their madness may very likely be connected to the fact that they are Lao. I am aware that it is a racist statement but still…I let you be the judge after you finish reading this post. Also everything written here is actually 100% true and if people do recognize themselves, well it is exactly how you sound. I still love you. Most times 🙂
On the topic of your physical appearance
‘Her husband is so handsome; you should see him grand ma. She is meh but he is GORGEOUS.’ Because it is deemed important to assess whom outta of a couple got the better end of the bargain when it comes to the beauty department. And by the way, you are not supposed to get offended because it is the TRUTH.
So yeah, they tell it like it is. The other day, my dad was staring at a friend of mine who very likely leans towards the democratic vote ( he is Canadian after all). After some intense staring, he had an epiphany and proudly stated: ‘Ha!!! I know who you look like! George W Bush!!!’
Fits of embarrassing laughter ensued; and my friend’s wife tried to save the day: ‘maybe a mix of Bush and Clinton ?’ to no avail… My dad cooly replied serious like a stone: ‘No, just Bush. In fact, he looks like Bush father and son, both of them.’
Most embarrassing/WTF moment since my dad did the duck dance with my mother in law at my wedding.
But all this is nothing compared to Lao women’s obsession with other women’s weight. Typically, things start like below.
‘Wow. You have gained so much weight I did not recognize you.’
The conversation usually then unfolds in 2 possible ways:
Option 1: you are trying to explain.
– ‘I did have 3 kids’.
– ‘So did I but look at me, still the same face and body. ‘
To which your evil bitchy self is dying to reply: ‘Yes you are lucky. Getting knocked up at 18 by the local suburbian boy does indeed make wonder in terms of getting your pre pregnancy weight back. When you are in your late 30s (like me), have travelled and tasted amazing world cuisine…well yeah pounds are a bitch to drop. It’s true but who can resist a NY steak right?’
But in reality you are shamefully replying: ‘Yes, you are SO lucky. Hmm, where’s the bar?’ And are thinking: ‘See you in 20 years. Bitch.’
Option 2: you stand on your ground.
‘No, I actually lost 4 pounds.’
To which they stop talking and start pinching and pulling (key word here) your double chin while grinning up to their ears.
You can NEVER win. Seriously.
On the topic of sibling rivalry
‘Ha, I see…that’s the ugly one. Where is the pretty one?’. Always indeed useful to quickly identify who is whom in a pack of mutts.
‘She is a good student but you should check out her sister’s test scores. Much better.’ Just in case your sister did not already hate your guts.
‘He is the grand father’s favorite grand child; he does not like the others much. I, for myself, struggle with my son’s temperament; my younger daughter is the one I prefer’.
All these being part of a fairly typical casual chat with friends as THE kids themselves are trying to eat (and fail to digest) their Pho Bo.
It is so bad that when a few months ago I read in the New York Times and Le Monde different articles addressing the modern times taboo of the ‘favorite’ child I was at loss. What taboo?
On the topic of gender equality and general marital advice
‘Of course she was going to leave him. It’s because she has a higher degree; that’s not how it works. To make it work, men must have higher education than their wives.’ No.It is not taken from a Mad Men script. I swear.
Another time, my grand ma told me over the phone that she had been hearing rumors about my temper and that I was being too tough on my husband (???) and that I should really be more lenient and understanding (god knows about what). I wondered if my brother gets the same type of call. Hmmm. Very unlikely if I believe the wedding good wishes DH and I got at our very own Soukhouane ceremony. The soukhouane is a ceremony that calls upon your spirits/energy so that they are tied back to you and you can be in your prime in different key moments of your life (birth, move, accidents, marriage, death etc.). It is beautiful and emotional. The ceremony is then followed by your family and friends wishing you well tying threads of cotton around your wrists. As grannies (‘meh tao’) ,wished me good health and financial prosperity they wished/implored DH to be faithful to me and never take a ‘second wife’ also more commonly called in western cultures ‘mistress’ or ‘lover’. The poor guy had no benefit of the doubt.
It gets worse.
My very own first cousin whom I was meeting for the first time asked : ‘Are you saying that of his own free will your husband will not come with me and check out escort girls?
‘What about you ask him?’
Cousin actually asked DH using me as the translator. Not awkward at all. DH at that point was scared of saying anything really and wondered what kind of sick games we were playing and what kind of weapons I was hiding in my purse.
Cousin concluded:‘yeah, it is not possible. It’s because you are standing here.’ What???
On the topic of the LGBT community
To start with, I shall say that my family is relatively very open minded about gays and lesbians (and I love them for that!) but they also have the weirdest way to express their support and acceptance. They have come a long way though.
First step was denial.
My first gay centric conversation with my folks went like this.
‘Mom, where is your cousin staying?’
‘At a friend’s.’
‘You mean at his boyfriend’s
‘No, how dare you? It’s his friend’.
‘He’s gay, mom.’
‘Who said this?’
‘He did. And you saw his gay porn collection all over his bedroom’.
‘Hmmmm (frozen face, red face )…i don’t think I did (and Asian stoic face). ‘
I was probably as confused as my gay childhood friend who came out to his parents in his early 20s…
‘Your friend is nice.’
‘He is my boyfriend.’
‘It will be lovely when I meet your girlfriend.’
‘Mom, he is my BOYfriend.’
‘I hope you decide to have children and…’
Intervention by the father: ‘Mama your son is trying to tell you that he likes boys’.
The mom: ‘Your kids will look pretty’.
Second step was curiosity.
‘So, ok I understand that they are in love and live together so now can you tell me who is the wife and who is the husband?’
‘Pop, that is not how it works!’
‘What do you mean? What’s the point if there is no wife and no husband?’
I still haven’t gathered the courage to ask further what my dad meant by that; scared shitless that he was being ‘graphic’ about it…oh dear…
Third step was full on support and approval 🙂
Three years ago, I overheard my mom tell her friends:
‘My daughter only has gay friends. She has been like this since she was a child. Gays tend to come to her. It makes sense though: they are gorgeous, very cultured, very funny, have good manners. Do you remember Archibald from her wedding? Yes he is one of ‘them’. I am telling you; they have it all. Her friends look like men too, you know. You would not have guessed. Yes, hell I do want them as friends too. I have to admit it; I do have gay friends too..’
There are so many wrong things in that last paragraph that I cannot even start breaking it down. But it does not change the fact that at the core of it is tolerance and love… or least a damn good attempt at it. And on days when news around the world about hatred and fear of each other just depress me, I do take some comfort in thinking that my folks are trying. Their own way. With some kind of twisted love. It can make you and break you. But they do try.
Lao readers, what is your most ‘what the fuck?’ moment triggered by a fellow Lao? Non Lao readers, what is your most ‘what the fuck’ moment triggered by a countryman/woman?