“The New Normal” – Week 1

It’s been 8 days since I’ve technically “been out.” Last Saturday, we spent the morning walking around a mostly deserted Jamestown, hitting the beach, the docks and the mostly deserted main street. We stopped for take out coffee at a favorite spot, East Ferry Deli, and grabbed a chocolate granola bar for Leo. On the way home, we stopped at Home Depot and Frank ran in to grab a few things. We knew we’d be laying low for a while and figured it’d be a great time to get things done around the house.  My brother and niece came over to ride bikes and play. We allowed the kids to go on a neighborhood playground (purelling them thoroughly after). This whole thing was so foreign to all of us, I don’t think we really knew what to do or what lie ahead.  By Monday though, everything changed and I felt like we were entering an alternate universe.

I normally work from home, and to be honest, since having kids I feel like I’m pretty socially distant in general these days. I didn’t realize how much I actually do rely on certain outings, human interactions and connections though until this week.  I was supposed to have a work meeting on Cape Cod which was obviously cancelled. Every Wednesday and Friday I bring the kids to my parents and it was hard not doing so this week. I am a self proclaimed coffee shop wanderer and thrive on grabbing a cup and oftentimes working from my favorite local haunts.  On the weekends, we love to take rides, grab to-go bagels or breakfast and just be out and about.  We are lucky to have a great neighborhood for walking, with trails, fields and playgrounds nearby, however seeing neighbors became an awkward social dance not knowing what to say or how close to get. Our natural human reaction to move towards, touch and lean in is slowly being replaced with fear, apprehension and uncertainness.

This week was a blur and slightly surreal.  Frank was on “spring break” so he mostly watched the kids while I worked. Daycare was closed and we kept the kids away from grandma and grandpa. I remember thinking on Day 1 how this would be kinda fun. I embraced it as a snow-day-like family bonding time. I made “5 minute bodega egg & cheeses” for breakfast that I had bookmarked on Instagram. Leo and I did morning yoga and we did a family walk somewhere in between.  But each day things got a little more real and my anxiety kicked into high gear.  Is that a tickle in my throat? Can I get it from my mail? Is the grocery store safe? Is delivery safe? Is anything safe??

The rest of the week was a mix of “this too shall pass” and me “quarantining” all my mail and packages and lysol wiping a 2 pound bag of M&Ms. Yes, I’m that person… A need for some exercise both of the body and mind led to daily yoga sessions with Leo and me finally starting the “5 Minute Daily Journal” Frank bought me two Christmases ago.

I’ve come close to tears a few times. I’m not the best at handling stress, change or a loss of control. I fear for my parents, my community, my family, myself, and the world.  I feel helpless and also infuriated at times. I won’t get political on here and I quickly learned my lesson from doing so on Facebook recently, but I think most people know where I stand on our current president…

As the weekend comes to a close, I’m choosing to focus on the positives and readying myself for another week of “the new normal.”  I’m grateful for the health of my family and this extra time with the kids. I know that the current healthy status of those I love most could change at any moment, so every morning I wake up feeling good, it’s a good day. (Namaste)

This morning Leo and I went on a scavenger hunt in the neighborhood. Last night we made lasagna and baked brownies. We taught Leo to play Go Fish and had a family game night, boys versus girls. Lyla is close to crawling (and walking) and talking up a storm.  We have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and at the moment both Frank and I are still gainfully employed.  I plan to write as often as possible during all this because A) it’s therapeutic to me and B) it’s sure something worth documenting. Hopefully I can look back at these posts in a few years or a few decades and tell the tale with a happy ending for all mankind…

I’ll wrap up with a random list in no particular order of things that have helped me when I’m feeling sad or anxious:

  • Watching Friends reruns
  • Listening to Kenny Chesney or Billy Joel
  • Wine
  • Baking and cooking
  • Lyla’s laugh
  • Leo making Lyla laugh
  • Leo kissing Lyla/telling her he loves her/being a sweet big brother
  • Leo picking me dandelions and saying “I love you mom”
  • Leo doing yoga with me (and changing into his “yoga outfit” each morning)
  • Texting or Facetiming family and friends
  • Taking a long walk
  • Writing
  • Making lists
  • Keeping busy
  • Thinking about a year from now…

Please comment and let me know what’s been working for you!

Hindsight is 2020 (Part 1)

Cliche I know, but the start of 2020 has me not only reflecting on the past year, but also the past decade. And what a decade it’s been! The majority of my life milestones happened these past 10 years (turned 30, got married, had kids, bought a house) and while those all brought immense joy, there was also a lot of anxiety, tough times, life lessons, growing up, and all that real life, not pictured on social media, stuff that being an adult throws our way.

Inspired by a template I saw floating around Instagram, I started writing out a year-by-year list in the notes section of my phone (where all my most brilliant ideas begin…) of all the things that happened this past decade and well, that list got pretty long so I decided to move it on over to the good ol’ blog. I share this longwinded recap of the last 10 years of my life in order to give myself a little grace, and also to serve as a reminder of all that I’ve achieved, overcome, accomplished, survived, etc. After all, “you can’t know where you are going unless you know where you’ve been.” (I think Maya Angelou said this, but Google opened up a rabbit hole of attributions… either way, you get the point, right?)

And now, if you’re still reading….here goes…

2010: I started the decade on a high note, I was in my late 20s, living and working in NYC. I had a boyfriend that also lived in the city, but our relationship was still pretty new. That May I started a new job that I had really wanted and really loved. I had cool coworkers, cool bosses and I got to travel for work. I went to happy hours and Broadway shows and hung out at Bryant Park on my lunch break and finally got to explore the city as only a resident could, a city I had always dreamed of calling home when I was young, but had previously only glimpsed via roundtrip journeys on the LIRR. I felt like I was living the dream. I lived in a “converted” (AKA fake wall) two bedroom apartment (until they became illegal) in a doorman building in Murray Hill, and then after realizing I couldn’t afford even the tiniest of studios on my own, I “moved on up” to the Upper West Side. I lived across the street from Zabars and ate way too many bagels and called way too many bowls of “matzoh ball soup for one” dinner.  That summer Frank moved back to Buffalo as NYC life wasn’t his cup of tea, and I had no idea what the future would bring, but I knew I wasn’t done with NYC just yet…

For two and a half years we’d do the long distance thing as we contemplated where to land next. I’d work a lot and learn a lot, and sometimes I’d get lonely but mostly I’d feel invigorated by my life. I’d turn 30 and celebrate with a party in the West Village and then again with Frank and my family visiting Arizona and seeing the Grand Canyon (my Nanny turned 80 that same year and it was our joint celebration. We lost her in 2019, and she was my last grandparent to pass. I’m so very grateful for 36+ years with her in my life). That job I loved would come to an end, and I’d be faced with some big life decisions. The tentative plan was Boston, but then completely unexpectedly and on a whim, I’d interview for and promptly accept a job back in Newport, RI, where I had spent my early 20s waiting tables and slinging drinks.  Frank would (reluctantly) join me and again, I had no clue what the future would hold…

The day we moved in was one giant bad omen. It POURED. It took us like 7 hours to drive through the pouring rain from LI to RI with our rented UHAUL. My bed literally WOULD NOT FIT up the narrow staircase of our 18th century historic rental that I thought would be so quaint. We slept on the floor and the clincher of the evening was when starving from a day’s move, we ordered in a large pizza and it arrived looking more like a personal pan pizza. I had forgotten what pizza looked like in RI and Frank was visibly disgusted. In that moment I was pretty much convinced we were done. After moving me in, he’d return to Buffalo for the rest of the summer with the promise of returning in August and looking for a job. To my surprise, he actually DID return, and by a twist of fate, he’d make a great friend and secure his current teaching job in the process. The year was 2012.

As 2013 came around, just as quickly as I’d accepted that job I moved for, I’d leave it and decide to take a chance for the first time at “going out on my own.” I scored some freelance writing gigs and then some freelance social media gigs and then after answering a random Craig’s List ad, I’d take a freelance job that turned full time for the next 5+ years. I’d work remotely but spend time on Cape Cod where the company was based. I’d learn about boating and “Cape Life” and make some new friends. I’d take on more freelance work. I’d blog about weddings as part of my day job and then coincidentally, I’d get engaged, and blog about my own wedding plans. The year was 2015.  We’d get married on a perfect sunny day in July on Block Island and then spend 10 days in Costa Rica.  It would be the highest of highs, but then we’d come home and I’d be knocked out for a week with some sort of Costa Rican stomach flu. We’d have like 10 days to pack up our entire life and leave an apartment I really loved with some great downstairs neighbors, because the owners were selling it. We’d move into a new apartment that I was less than enthused with, and I’d get the post-wedding/honeymoon blues pretty bad. As 2015 drew to a close I wasn’t sure what lie ahead. We knew our living situation was temporary and I was always on some level contemplating future career moves. We knew we wanted to start a family, but we weren’t quite sure when…

(Want more? Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!)

Reflections on 3 Months and 3 Years

Lyla just turned three months old and my Leo is about to be a three (going on 13) year old. At times I still can’t believe I’m a mom, yet these days I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t. Like what did I do with all that free time?? And all that money now spent on diapers and daycare?? It must have been glorious, but I really can’t remember…

I do vaguely remember a time of eating a lot more meals out (and drinking A LOT more drinks out…), getting a lot more mani/pedis, and buying clothes for myself whenever I needed a new “going out” outfit, rather than just mostly shopping for my son, who is already quite the brand snob (Nike everything, New Balance is acceptable also).

I had high hopes that giving birth and the newborn stage would be a bit easier and less panic-inducing the second time around, and for the most part it has been. Giving birth was no picnic and I’m not a huge fan of hospital stays (is anyone?), but when Leo visited us and we gave him his superhero themed big brother bag, and he held his little sis for the first time, it definitely turned my heart to mush and I didn’t really care at all that I was in a tiny sterile room, unshowered and wearing disposable underwear. Thanks to some sweet nurses and our second timers status we were able to go home a day early and get the whole two kid party started right away. I hate to jinx things and I’ll probably eat my words in a few weeks or months, but Lyla has been a very chill baby so far, sleeps through the night (and has been since like 6 weeks!) and is usually smiling, cooing or just hanging out and watching her crazy brother’s antics.

I was able to mostly take the summer off of work, and the whole marrying a teacher thing showed itself to be a real perk as we were able to spend a lot of time together adjusting to life as a family of four. Now as my husband heads back to school and I begin to dip my toe back into the working world, I’m left with a mix of emotions (as usual). Here’s what I’m pondering these days as I adjust to life with two…

I’m not sure what the perfect age difference in kids is. My brother and I were four years apart and I always thought it’d be cool if we were three or less, so we could have been in high school together. Leo and Lyla will be two grades apart in school which seems ideal, but I could also see how having a slightly older kid at home with a newborn would sure be helpful. No one tells you nor can you prepare for all the potential dilemmas that will arise when you have a semi-independent toddler and a brand-new newborn. Like when your toddler suddenly “has to go poop!” (and still needs assistance in that area) but your newborn is nursing away and cannot be disturbed…

Once you have two kids, there’s really no turning back. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but somedays it seems like “getting my groove back” is just so far away. I wonder when I’ll ever have “me time” again, when I’ll no longer have to worry about whether my outfit is nursing friendly, or dare I say “get my body back,” when I’ll ever go back to yoga class, read a good long book, actually get to sit in those new comfy chairs on my deck, read the paper and sip my coffee, and so on.  I’m so grateful for my kids (a boy than a girl, a billionaire’s family so they say), and some days I think, lets just have another since I’m already so deep into this motherhood thing, but other days (most days) I do the math in my head to calculate “how many more months until she’s done nursing?,” “how many more years until they’re both in school?,” “how old will I be when they graduate high school?” (the answer to that one btw is TOO OLD!). I want to live in the moment, enjoy each phase, each hard day and each less-hard day, celebrate every milestone big and small, but I also want to take kid-free trip, wander around the mall by myself and sleep in on the weekends. I think this is every mom’s internal struggle though. We love our kids, they make us happy, but sometimes we yearn for who we were before kids, and maybe more so than for a man, it seems harder to get back to that person. (And don’t even get me started on work/life balance, “leaning in,” “having it all” and all that other crap, I’ll save my thoughts on being a working mom for another day and another post, but speaking of, have you watched Workin’ Moms yet? Best. Show. Ever.)

I’ve had the Darius Rucker song “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” running on repeat in head recently and it sorta makes me cry when I think about it. I feel like there’s always this constant internal struggle for me between “time hurry up and time slow down.” So my goal for this year (I always think of September as the start of a new year, school-aged or not), is to at least TRY to live in the moment, appreciate every day – and when all else fails, just laugh it off and try again tomorrow.

 

To my firstborn…

This is quite possibly my last day as a mom of one.  Tomorrow I go in for a scheduled induction for Baby #2 (sex unknown!). I have so many feelings. Nervous about the labor and delivery and everything going smoothly. I had some complications this time around and will be delivering a little early. Last time Leo was in no rush to come out but hopefully this chunkster is a bit more cooperative. Sure feels like he/she is ready to come on out!  Nervous about the newborn stage which quite frankly terrified the crap out of me last time. They’re so tiny and dependent on you and I really had no clue what I was doing – but somehow we made it and Leo is now a 2 year old wiz kid and future pro athlete (100% not from my genes but mark my words, this kid is athletically blessed.) Nervous about experiencing postpartum anxiety and/or depression which is very real my friends and doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom, a bad person, crazy or anything else.  My rant on the level of postpartum care, maternity leave policies and general treatment of mothers (especially working moms) in this country will be saved for a future (probably multiple) blog posts but let’s just say it’s lacking. Severely.

And maybe most of all… nervous and unable to imagine loving another tiny person as much as Leo. I know what they say, your heart expands and your love grows and I’m excited for it. I can’t wait to see Leo as a big bro, and see our family come together as a foursome.  It’s crazy to think how much changed since Leo came along though. How this 6-pound little person completely threw my world into a tailspin, gave me the biggest challenge of my life and somewhere along the way, showed me everything I ever wanted out of life and gave me a sense of pride, wholeness and love I never knew I needed.  He makes me laugh daily and drives me crazy hourly, but somehow I’ve grown to miss him nearly every minute we’re not together.

As I anxiously await another birth, another tiny human placed on my chest in a haze of bliss, exhaustion, relief and joy, an uncountable string of sleepless nights, worrying about my milk supply and proper flange size, and a few dozen google searches a day (“What is intermittent breathing?” “What is that gunk in his eye?” “Is green poop normal?”), I leave this letter of love and appreciation for my sweet, hilarious, stubborn, smart and handsome firstborn, may he always know that it was him who taught me to be a mama and prepared me to do it all over again for his sister or brother, hopefully with a little more confidence this time around, a few less google searches and if we’re really lucky, a few less sleepless nights!

And finally… any last minute name suggestions welcome here.  Comment away, we are taking submissions until the 11th hour here, folks!

 

 

Life Update

Been a while again. Whoops.  But I’m back. With another round of life updates because change is inevitable, right?

Life Update #1 – I’m preggo again. Yup, baby Fusco 2.0 is currently cookin’ and expected to arrive in early June, though I’m planning for an early arrival this time… call it a hunch.  We haven’t (yet) found out the sex but more on that in a future post…

Life Update #2 – My job has changed a bit. After five years working for a content marketing and publishing company on the Cape, the company abruptly shut its door four days before Christmas with no notice. My role with this company was dual-sided; working as a social media manager on the marketing side for boating and lifestyle clients and also working as a writer and helping with blogging and social for our magazines, tv shows and websites.  In October, I was notified that the company would be going through some changes and that a spinoff digital marketing company was being formed. There was a large round of layoffs and I was offered a job with the new spinoff, effective Jan 1. Business was to essentially “continue as usual” until then for those of us who remained.  Fast forward to Dec 21st when an email went around AT NOON to all remaining employees that the company was shutting its doors for good at 5pm. To make a long story short and spare you the nitty-gritty details (although if you’re curious, start with the Cape Cod Times article I linked to and do a bit of Google/Facebook searching of the company/former CEO to see the outrage that ensued), let’s just say that the spinoff never happened and my employment status (at least in the full-time sense) has changed.

If-you-dont-build-your-dreams-someone-will-hire-you-to-help-build-theirs-Tony-gaskinWhat’s Next – I have been extremely lucky since moving to RI five years ago to have a steady stream of freelance work/side hustle to supplement my full-time job. Armed with my NYC work experience and thanks to some local connections and some good luck, I was a big fish in a small pond as my dad would say, and without having to do much, I was in demand for many social media consulting and writing projects around the region. I’ve had the chance to work with some really great local companies and brands, and see my work published in several regional publications and websites.  I’m currently still freelancing and I’ve recently had an epiphany of sorts, not to be all dramatic about it. I realized quite frankly that while I really do love the variety of my work and plan to continue down this path, I have been busy building other people’s brands, and oftentimes, their dreams, instead of my own. Every time I celebrate a milestone with a client, whether it be a great PR hit, an increase in followers, etc., I feel conflicted. On the one hand I am so happy for them and proud of my role in it, but on the other, I can’t shake the nagging feeling that I’m building someone else’s future and not my own, while mine is just sitting on the runway somewhere waiting to take off itself. I realized that I have a lot to say, a lot I want to share and many professional goals of my own that I have not yet fulfilled. As my husband says, I’m a dreamer I guess, always have been and probably always will be. It’s not necessarily a great thing but it’s also something I’m not sure I can change. Ignore – maybe, but change, probably not.

So to wrap up my rambling, I guess this recent career change was the kick in the butt I needed to not give up on my dreams just yet. One of them is to write a book. Others revolve around ultimately being my own boss, building my own brand and being able to do what I love everyday on my own terms. Being able to freelance and work remotely has been a great luxury that I in no way take for granted. It has allowed me more time with my son, more time to take on passion projects and more time for myself. I’ve been away from a big city and an office setting for so long now, I don’t even know if I could go back. When I was in my 20’s and early 30’s and living in NY, I absolutely loved my lifestyle. I loved commuting, I loved working long hours with coworkers who quickly became good friends, and I envisioned myself climbing the corporate ladder and living the fast-paced city life forever. But then I grew older, and the call back to the ocean and back to a slower pace came, and now here I am. I’m in my mid (late??) 30’s, I’m about to be a mom of two and while that’s a big part of my identity, it isn’t the ONLY part by any means.

So, TLDR, expect a lot more frequent posts here, and probably a lot more self-promotion (sorry in advance) while I give this a go. I’ve updated my blog a bit and hope to get some professional photos and maybe a new logo made in the coming weeks, and I’m working on my portfolio to better showcase my writing and work experience.

So stay tuned friends and as always, thanks for reading!