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
I waited for all this to happen for a long long time. The day my three kids would start pre school/day care and will no longer camp out in our living room. The day DH would start a new job. The day I would be a full-time entrepreneur. This day was also earmarked as the potential end of Red Lipstick Mama.
Last month was a hot mess of emotions, stress and unexpected new truths.
First stop: DH
After 3 months of ‘That’s the best time of our lives/I cannot wait for it to end/What did we do?/What are we going to do?/Where are we going to live?’ turmoil, many questions were put to an end with DH’s job offer. I probably got a couple of ulcers over this one: from 3 maybes, to a very long radio silence, to 2 maybes, to a long radio silence, to 1 yes and ‘please wait a bit’, to ‘why is no one talking to me anymore?‘, to finally ‘I am very sorry, I really like you guys…’ AND ‘yes, yes, and yes I am accepting your offer’.
Watching (and supporting) DH call, text, go back and forth between prospective employers and sweat profusely was more painful than watching a Michael Bay movie. One thing I know now for sure though is that my man will never be able to have an affair behind my back. He does not have the stomach for it: cannot withhold intel when being grilled, feels like a traitor when two-texting and…stammers way too much under duress. Yeah, the minute he’ll start flirting with someone I’ll sniff it out of him within seconds.
Second stop: L or ‘Blu’ Gunderson
We registered ‘le bebe’ at a French day care. He was beaming with pride on that September morning when we told him ‘that’s it, L, it is your moment’ . DH and I got all emotional; our baby was taking off. We are talking about ‘my lump’, the critter that still crawls 4 times a night into our bed to pull my belly fat and kicks his dad. He is the one (L, if you read in your twenties and are pissed off, tough shit. You were a little sucker) whom, we are convinced, would end up living next door, crashing our dining table every evening and asking us to act as matchmakers.
I felt a lot of relief and a little bit of guilt. I never quite managed to kick away the feeling that I have somehow failed him. I have never offered him the same stimulation that his siblings received by having a devoted nanny caring for them since they were 3 months old. L only had one friend; he missed zillion gym classes, never attended French classes, very rarely had music classes. Instead he would ‘hang’ at the local supermarket, entertain himself by knocking down the nuts tubs and get dragged away from the cookies aisle.
Therefore I was over the moon about his new ‘life’ . Of course after 1 week, the day care asked if we could pick him up earlier in the day because he could not stand seeing other kids leave before him. He apparently is just LOOSING it Chucky style…Story of my life.
Third stop: G or the boy in denial
I tried to talk to G about his beloved nanny no longer coming everyday. I tried to talk to him about pre school. I tried to talk to him about not being in the same class as his twin sister. And every single time I was met with either a long silence or the same sentence: ‘OK, can I watch TV now?’ I was thus unprepared to see my independent G crumble down, scream, cry, kick back, pull my hair so I would not leave him behind on his first day of school. Not prepared at all. Children and adults were crying and I had no clue what to do. Part of me wanted to hug G and flee with him and part of me felt ‘happy’ he was reacting and crying…The teachers were handing out some packs of tissues and mine is still full and stapled in the kids’ pre school folder. Every time I see the pack, I feel proud that ‘I did not cry’ and ask myself ‘Am I a heartless bitch?’
Fourth stop:P or the Ninja Princess
I can be tough(er) on my girl. God knows why. But I am going to say this now: with all the shit the family has been though lately, this girl is BOSS. No tears. No drama. Solid like a rock. Still totally nuts. She has been nagging me for a week now about me asking her very catholic teacher from her very catholic school if I, her atheist mom, could paint her finger nails with black varnish. Okayyyyy…
Fifth stop: Moi
I have finally time to focus on my startup Another Garde, my project and actually justify how I dilapidated our family savings for this venture. Turns out I don’t have a ‘my project’. There’s nothing, I realize, I can compartmentalize anymore. It is everything together in a hot mess (L’s speech delay, G’s ‘I don’t want to go school’, P’s peeing in her pants in class, doing financial projections, managing a programmer when I just very recently learnt what UX meant :/). Yes, it is all meshed together and it is all fine until…my chest starts hurting and I have some tingling in my arm.
Next thing I know, I am looking over Central Park with pads on my body wondering how I even got there. EKG results are normal but I am being asked:
‘How do you handle your anxiety?’
‘What do you mean? I don’t really feel anxiety. I am always the same. Like a flat line’
‘No breathing exercise? No meditation? No exercising?’
‘Nope. Maybe, I used to write more.’
‘Like a diary?’
‘Well I guess, a blog about a crazy mom. But stopped for a while…’
WHAT??? No blogging = heart palpitations?
Is my body telling me I can never let my alter ego go because she is MY only true project?
Strange shit happens.
I am deemed to have more business related meetings and it is thus time to start getting some ‘go-to’ pieces. The problem is that I have no idea of what ‘go to’ pieces mean these days considering that a-I am reinventing my professional life for the 5th time in 15 years and b-I have been in maternity clothing for like 4 years or so. In my last iteration, I used to meet with brainy ‘let’s start a social revolution’ researchers and activists and now I am meeting with ‘let’s make the world rad and beautiful’ creatives and designers. The problem is obvious here. On top of it, my version of shopping in the last 4 years has been basically: second hand and ‘oh GAP is doing a 40% discount on their basics!!! Awesome…’
Since I also have no cash for thousand buys (the plot is thickening, not…), I thus decided to – for the first time of my life – adopt a uniform. However, there is a limit to me wearing my hubby’s tight shirts and the limit is now, like right now. I do dig the androgynous look but in reality I mostly look like a confused extra from the 80s Working Girl movie. Not Good. So here I am investing in a few pieces that I will wear at EVERY meeting. This in itself will be a huge challenge for the fickle me.
First stop: the polyvalent top. Something I can wear with shorties, pencil skirts, skinny jeans, Harem pants etc. Wear it casual or more formal etc. I do have a head start with my business partner being a fashion designer/creative director with kick ass taste so she is taking to places I had no idea existed: Assembly New York and Maryam Nassir Zadeh. They are places where I swear if I stayed long enough and closed my eyes hard enough, I would turn into a freaking dove. A Black Dove to be more precise – got to keep my quirkiness 🙂
GBP (Gorgeous Business Partner) is showing me some stuff including a beautiful tunique insisting: ‘TRY IT ON’ and I tell her: ‘Jeez, you have no idea how short I am, right?’ . I kind of comply to make a point. And I do look like an Asian Frodo in Gandalf’s robe; she quips ‘Oh’ and I say ‘Yep’.
OK let’s pause a moment because I need to describe my fabulous GBP. She is an almost 6ft tall kind Amazonian like creature whom men and women of any sexual orientation fawn over. I am not exaggerating; I have witnessed it over and over again. Gosh, I sometimes find myself staring at her piercing blue eyes. Think red-haired, edgier, warmer Uma Thurman. Yeah, can you imagine me walking next to her on the street??? Sometimes I do chuckle when we meet at a cafe and she asks: ‘What’s happening?’ I reply:’Nothing’ but really, I am thinking:‘Thank God, I feel no freaking self-hate because else I would take this bread knife now and seriously try to stab my self or cut my hair with it…’
Anyway, we eventually found IT (thanks GBP!!!). Below: an Assembly navy top, Theory navy shorties, Bonds tank top, Warby Parker sunnies. Note: I can close all the buttons of the top and I look like a No BS, I am in charge business woman mouaaa LOVE. Please do note I now have my own photographer in the form of DH; yet another plus of him being on a garden leave 🙂 Also, I have to share with you my laptop pocket (a recycled gift bag P got for her birthday from my friend Louise) because whatever iterations of me there are in the future, one will stay: Mama.