The days that will not end

As I write this, it’s 5:15 pm. I should be making dinner, but I’m sitting comatose on the couch. This happens, you know. It’s a crystal clear snapshot of what parenthood can do to a person, yet something the outside world never sees.

You see, this whole day (save for the 5 minutes I was shoving warm homemade chocolate chip cookies in my face) I have wanted it to end. And I am one of those new-agey type people who really tries to “stay present” and enjoy the ebb and flow of life. But, still, I sometimes watch the minutes on the clock tick by at a painfully slow pace. I sometimes want to—or do—scream into the sky “please, just let it be bedtime!” I sometimes cannot find it in myself to read my child a book, or answer her (never-ending) questions (why? why? why? MOM, WHY?!!). I sometimes find myself pleading with a 2-year-old 3857374 times a day for space, and some silence.

I am cranky in a way I can’t snap out of. The type of cranky only a mother can understand. After too many days without adult interaction, or too many nights being woken up 5 times by a crying child, or too many days without help or a break, or a way too busy week, or way too many tantrums or fights with a person whose prefrontal cortex is not nearly developed enough to reason with in any sane way. It happens. And, oh man, is it fierce.

Sometimes, some sort of super human powers invade my body in these moments, and I spontaneously jump off the couch and clean the whole house, do all the laundry, read Emerson 17 books, put together some insane Montessori experience, make homemade lotion for the whole family, set up appointments, pay the bills, and giggle with my child for an hour. Miraculously.

Other times, like right now, my body, mind, and soul shut down, and I go on some sort of involuntary strike. And I send my husband a text saying “sorry, no dinner tonight” and he responds, “aww, great,” all while Emerson begs me to play with her….talk to her….something, mama….anything. But, nothing.

These are the days that will never end. They come in all shapes and forms in parenthood, but they are all long. These are the days that I start thinking about bedtime about 20 minutes after I wake up in the morning. It’s an unfortunate fact, but true. But, the beauty in these moments is that they will end. We will all crawl into bed at some point, the silence will come. And I will close my eyes knowing that tomorrow will probably be completely different from today…because that’s parenthood.


Growing a family is the ultimate form of creation. What starts as two people joining their lives together becomes a living, breathing unit complete with its own personality, rules of operation, inside jokes, and shared history. Every new child, every act of parenting, every affection between members, every struggle and dysfunction shapes the experience of everyone within the unit. I mean, it’s really an incredible phenomenon.

aug13 fam family2

I’ve been thinking a lot about this ever since Emerson was born. Before, it was just me and Alex. We had our thing—our rhythm, our dynamics, our bond. And then, there was Em. Suddenly, this new little person entered our sovereign nation and it somehow felt as if she was always there. She belonged and claimed a part of our hearts that had unknowingly been set aside just for her all along. So, if she was always meant to exist, who else is waiting for us? How many more members are out there (or down…in my ovaries)? It boggles my mind to think about. And even more so, to know that I already love them the way I did Emerson.



These thoughts were put into overdrive when I met my new niece, the third child in her family, last weekend. I’ve watched three little girls come into this world and become a family with their parents….sisters become sisters….a unit become complete. And wow. Just WOW.

Subsequently, after watching these three girls in action, I feel like it’d be awesome to birth a 5-year-old instead of a newborn, because they are so great at taking care of younger siblings….and also, Emerson is much less threatened and jealous of older children sharing her mama.

Although, I must say, I felt I reached a new level of motherhood when I instinctually pulled out my breast to nurse my upset toddler while holding a newborn. She immediately relaxed and began giving the baby “gentle touches” instead of feeling threatened. A preview of things to come…..



Back in the photog game?


Making (the right) career decisions has been challenging ever since I conceived Emerson. Everything changed for me in that one moment—at the same time providing focus and a need to pause. While I had envisioned my three entrepreneurial ventures (portrait photography, selling fine art, and blogging) fitting perfectly into my life as a mother (and pregnant woman), that’s just not the way things turned out for me.

So, I had to make some tough choices. I don’t talk much about this here, but trying to start a business—let alone THREE—is not a small task. Nor an easy one. So, blogging it was…at least for the time being.

Yet, I can’t help but feel the pull of my other passion: photography. I do take a fair share of photos on a daily basis with Em, but it’s different. I still crave the rush I feel during a photo session….the excitement of pouring over hundreds of still images on my computer…the thrill of seeing people’s faces light up when they see the final product. And while I’m still not sure when I will get back to building my photography business, I have been feeling, lately, like I need to do a little something here and there in order to fulfill that part of me and keep sane. It’s like a small pledge to myself….”it’s just a break, Alexa.”

Anyway, I did a photo shoot this morning, which somehow turned into three more photo shoots in the next month. Is it a sign? I’m not sure. But, it felt AWESOME to be behind the lens (of something other than an iphone)! And it gave me a little taste of what life could be like…..Emerson running around the grass, watching her mama do what she loves. Not a bad life, if you ask me!

Stay tuned for more photos from my photo shoot….


Extended vacation


We are programmed as children to associate summertime with nothingness. Lazy, carefree, amazing nothingness. But, then we grow up.

Personally, I have yet to retrain myself as an adult. It’s just so hard to feel motivated to live on a schedule, be productive or work from about May until September. And this summer has been especially challenging in that regard since I have been living on what is basically an extended vacation. I have been virtually chore-free, devoid of any house projects or maintenance, I never have to cook. And my days consist of trips to the beach or city or aquarium or or or. I mean, I just can’t work. Who wants to work while on vacation?

The thing is, as much as I love summer fun, I am a crazy person who also craves schedules and productivity and goal seeking. Yes, while having the time of my life, part of me is always waiting for that glorious moment when the air shifts to fall, and it’s time to shop for new pencils and planners and notebooks. Metaphorically speaking.

In the meantime, just like the end of any good vacation, I am sad to see this boarding school adventure end yet excited to get home and back to my life. It will still be summer, but this time next week, I’ll be unpacked and (hopefully) newly inspired and full of ideas. I will miss this perfect little spot (seriously, Andover, Mass is amazing for life with a kid), but I look forward to getting my blog on again. See you there!


Knocked up


On this day, two years ago, I wandered through the forest in the Adirondack Mountains with my husband. I didn’t know it then, but it was the last day I would wander, anywhere, as a singular person. Yes, I would conceive my first child the next day, on a fallen tree.

And life would never be the same again.


As I was taking a walk with Emerson yesterday, I thought about the last two years of my life—never alone, always sharing my uterus, breast, arms or bed. I thought about that last day as a non-pregnant, non-mother woman in the woods, not yet able to understand how massively altered my existence would soon become. I wanted it so badly. I was ready. I had lived my youth fully—traveled, tried new things, moved cross country, loved and lost, danced until daybreak. I had more than three decades of sleeping through the night, private trips to the bathroom, lazy weekends and the use of both my hands under my belt. I was sick of my self-centered Universe…I ached to give, to think of myself less, to feel consumed and inspired.

But, as I walked with Emerson yesterday, I realized just how different the concept of being knocked up is for me now. There is surely still the rush of excitement and the impatient anticipation of what other magical creature(s) are out there waiting to be loved by me. There is still the heart-exploding joy in dreaming of a new little one being placed on my chest for the first time….of soft skin and a sweetly scented head….of coo’s and newborn cries that I have all the patience in the world to answer.

Yet, there is something else, too. The thing that I feel I’m not supposed to say out loud (or feel at all).


Because, I’ve been there before. I can conceptualize it the second time through. I know what it feels like to be pregnant and give birth and mother a newborn….infant….toddler. And though I’ve heard that every pregnancy and birth and child is different, there is still the deep and knowing understanding of the challenges that will accompany all that joy and love and amazingness.

You see, the first time around, I most definitely thought a lot about the decision. I asked myself a thousand times: “is this the right time? Am I ready?” But, it honestly felt much easier to take that leap and just go for it, not really knowing what I was about to experience.

On the flip side…ever since just a few days after giving birth to my first, I have felt like the decision to have another is so much more complicated and confusing. Of course, a lot of that (for me) is about ideal spacing, finances, career decisions, and logistics. But. A great portion of it is also about knowing that I have to take a deep breath and jump back to the starting place I’ve been slowly moving away from the last two years. Some of it is about clinging, ever so slightly, to the tiny amount of freedom and space I’ve regained….and the intimacy of a family of three.

But, I want more kids.

So, I figure my only choice is to have faith that when there are two lines staring up at me, I will, just like the first time, be overjoyed by the promise of a new, beautiful life and embrace the experience wholly. Because, the giant, scary leaps we take in life are the ones that bring the greatest rewards.


Ten years gone

susie maine

This is the third year in a row that I’ve written about my mom’s passing, and it occurred to me today that I’m not sure when or if I will ever stop writing about it. It’s not just that it’s so therapeutic for me, or that it gives me a chance to bring her back to life, even if for a moment. It’s that it never stops hurting or feeling relevant, and I never stop stumbling upon new revelations or stages in my healing.

family of five

Our family of five…once upon a time.

As of tomorrow, it will be ten years since that unexpected, soul-rattling, life-changing moment occurred. Ten years. And in many ways, that moment is still with me after all that time. Because, somewhere beyond all the healing and acceptance, lies a pocket of time that stands immoveable inside me. It’s as if the months surrounding her death remain forever in the present, refusing to budge or resolve or make any sense. That part of me doesn’t want to move forward, partly because I don’t want to leave her behind, but mostly because I’m not done figuring it out.

In terms of mourning, ten years doesn’t feel all that long. It’s too much to process….and I may never be done.

me and susie 12th bday

My twelfth birthday, when she handed down to me the ring her parents gave her on her own twelfth birthday.


On the other hand, it feels as if so much time has passed. My life is incredibly different. I am so different. It’s difficult to continue on imagining how she would fit into this life if she were still here….the game I used to play daily in order to cope….If she were here, she would tell me to move to California even though she’d miss me. If she were here, she would dislike this boyfriend….and love this husband. If she were here, she would be proud of me for owning my life as an artist….she always encouraged me to be just that. If she were here, her second home would be in my guest room….and my child would be like her own.

I guess that my only point is that losing a loved one….a mother….is an incredibly complicated thing. It is not a static moment that gets left behind. The effects stretch out over your lifetime, like a photo being stretched in photoshop. Everything gets fuzzy, and begins to fade out into nothing, but the photo is still there….always. Edit>revert….and you’re staring right into the moment again, clear as day.

So, as much as I thought I had left it behind, it’s likely that I will forever play “If she were here, she’d say…..”


Back to school


I didn’t know what to expect when I moved to a boarding school. The thought of parenting at a high school just seemed bizarre. But, when I got here, it was somehow not strange.

I woke up my first morning, packed Emerson into her stroller and began walking up the hill toward the dinning hall in the warm sun. As the bells began to clang in the beautiful, tall clock tower on campus, I felt at peace. I was suddenly transported back to summer camp, in the New Hampshire forest, and later Maine, where I was greeted every morning with the sound of a trumpeter calling to my tired, deeply tanned body on the bottom bunk in a cabin packed with girls.

Past the clock tower (of today) was a sea of unending, immaculately manicured lawns, and stone pathways meandering into the distance. Again, I was transported, but this time to my college campus and the five years I spent walking up similar hills, on similar paths, with similar lawns enticing me to throw down a blanket and skip class to nap under a tree.


Sometimes, in the face of something new and foreign, the past is a comfortable place. We figure out how to walk through a new door based on our experience of walking through numerous other doors before. We use the familiar to slip as seamlessly as possible into the previously foreign.

And in a way, right now, I feel like I am being given a second chance to write my story….or, should I say, right my story. Because, I was often lonely at summer camp, and I was often miserable in high school. But now, I am at summer camp with my family and experiencing high school at a better time in my life. Life certainly has a funny way of providing richness and meaning….


IMG_0072 I apologize for the unexpected blog hiatus. We moved last week, and things have been totally chaotic ever since. It’s been a tough transition, with (mini) disasters all. along. the. way… of which was a string of failed attempts to connect our internet, leading to a week-long break from the cyber world. A week! Don’t get me wrong, intentional unplugging is great. I truly enjoy the silence and space felt while camping in the mountains, vacationing in a remote location or just turning off my gadgets at home. But, an unexpected, sudden loss of one’s internet…..not so much. I am not proud to admit that in the face of an internet-free week, I was angry, anxious and just about cried a few times.

But, we’re here. And we finally have internet. Hooray!

It wasn’t just the lack of internet that was unsettling me, though. It was the overwhelming newness of this new Universe we are living in. My life back on top of our tiny mountain, in the middle of nowhere, was so familiar and predictable. And now, every facet of our life has been altered in enormous ways. We are living in the suburbs near a large city in a town that I had previously never visited. We are in a new house, on the campus of a boarding school. We are surrounded by a thousand (literally) new people who we eat with, play with, and live intertwined lives with. And while I handled the packing and moving part of all of this rather calmly, I honestly came unglued the minute I arrived in this new world. I felt immediately homesick, frustrated by all the change, and for the first few days, just plain miserable.


But, then things changed. Again. As quickly as I was thrust into this new life, I adjusted. We adjusted. I eventually managed to unpack our house, even with Emerson undoing all my work, over and over, to a maddening degree. In less than twenty-four hours, Emerson and I were already off on adventure with new friends. After a week of a chaotic non-schedule that involved constant activity and Emerson never sleeping, we are finally calm and napping. And I survived without internet by maxing out the data package on my iphone.


It’s truly insane that in just seven days, this new life feels so normal. That I can feel at home in a new place with such a foreign culture. And I can change my mind about this way of life so drastically. More on that to come… IMG_0190


Sometimes I feel like I’m living a secret life, which is ironic given I write a tell-all blog. But, I don’t talk about that in my real life. I don’t explain to people that I spend most of my free moments writing, brainstorming, researching, or learning how to build a website. I don’t tell anyone how passionate I am about this blog….how alive and fulfilled I feel every time I hit publish….the big dreams I have inside me. I don’t admit that I have a plan, a path that I am already walking, a life I have envisioned that I completely believe will come to me.

I’m just a stay-at-home mom, right? There are plenty of people who may think so, but I’m not. Not in my mind. Yet, I don’t step in defensively when the subject comes up.

Because, my dreams are too important and in pursuing them, I am at times, too fragile. I guess I’ve been protecting those dreams by keeping quiet in real life and then pretending like what I’m doing is not a big deal in my online life. But, the truth is, this is a big deal (to me). This blog is my passion, my therapy, my sustenance….the beginnings of a career. I started this blog not knowing where it would take me, but believing very deeply that if I just kept writing I would be led.

But, here’s the thing. While I am very good at taking risks and walking unconventional paths, I am not very good at being an amateur. I set such high standards for myself that I become frustrated and give up too quickly. Yes, I am an expert in the field of self-defeating practices—I believe I am capable of doing something, but I expect it to happen overnight. I feel so uncomfortable and embarrassed by the growing pains phase that I try to somehow sidestep it. And even after racking up a pile of achievements, promotions, and/or compliments, I doubt myself and BOLT. Over and over, I have done this in my life.

Yet, I have continued to write this blog. This is the one thing I haven’t given up on…and that has to mean something. That simple realization hit me last night and renewed my faith in this path. Because, that is what this blog is: a testament to my faith in this path I am being led down. And by continuing to write through my many identity crisis’, periods of self-doubt, and the periodic urge to give up and forget the whole thing, I have learned not only how to overcome those obstacles, but how to overcome myself.

So, while the world may still see me as a stay-at-home mom, I know the truth. I know that I was back to writing several hours every day only four days after giving birth. I know that through all of my sleep-deprivation and the overwhelming responsibility of raising a baby with little to no help the past year, I have still managed to keep this thing going. I know that I feel more successful now, writing a blog in my sweatpants while my baby sleeps on me, than I did when I commuted on trains and ferries with a business card in the pocket of my Armani blazer. It’s like I read in the very book that inspired me to start living the life I am living now (This time I dance!): “Success is as much a singular affair as falling in love. That’s why you can’t tell by looking at how well someone’s done exactly how well he or she has done. Only the soul knows. Only the soul glows.”

I may not have reached “professional” writer status yet. But, my soul glows.

marriage and baby: not for the weak, part I

This post will be the first of a mini-series so stay tuned…


Hi, I’m Alexa and I’m a recovering addict. My drug of choice was…relationships, and I was addicted to them and rarely without one for most of my 20’s. A few times I was even offered something more potent than a relationship—a marriage proposal. But that was always the point when I’d cut off emotionally and walk away. So when Alex, my now-husband, proposed, I had no idea what I was about to go through in actually accepting and wanting to get married. And what happened was that I lost my shit.


Our relationship was fast-moving and fiercely passionate from the start. There was very little inhibition or caution. Both of us had some pretty sizable wounds from past relationships, but we were two similar souls, with flames burning so brightly that it was impossible to see the darkness that did indeed lurk in our depths. Nothing was going to stop us from having the kind of love we had held out for as lifelong romantics and dreamers. 

We were consumed by and with one another. We never tired of each other’s presence, spending nearly all of our free time together. We were lovers, buddies, road trip warriors, music makers and enthusiasts, adventurers, talk-until-the-sun-comes-up-a-la-sal-and-dean-from-on-the-road kind of crazy 20-somethings. We loved intensely, and we fought intensely….our suppressed pasts spilling out into the open as we navigated the many phases of our relationship—acquaintances, dating, love, long-distance relationship, cohabitation. We had never felt so vulnerable and exposed, and we were terrified. But, we kept going.

I had survived past relationships with hefty doses of suppression, denial, and dishonesty. Sure, there were the occasional blow-ups that mostly looked like me trying (and failing) to explain the pain I was feeling so intensely, sobbing uncontrollably, and then the inevitable stand-off that would last anywhere from a few hours to a few days….to a few weeks in the later part of my dating history. In comparison to the version of myself that I would uncover once I started dating Alex, the old me was quite adept at swallowing her emotions and making sure no one, not even herself, was privy to their whereabouts.

I had never experienced something as wild, tumultuous or expressive as I experienced with Alex. The first few months were your standard bliss-fest and arguments seemed so impossible to imagine ever happening (remember those conversations you had when you first started dating someone like, “I can’t imagine ever fighting with you. I mean what in the world would we have to fight about?!….um, EVERYTHING). The bliss quickly melted into a real relationship, but our spark was unendingly ablaze. Reality was no match for our crazy kind of love. And so, that December, on our one-year anniversary, Alex asked me to marry him. It was the single-most perfect moment of my life.

With the exception of a ring on my finger and conversations about wedding plans, everything felt the same…until it didn’t.

I had been so restrained, so closed-up and controlled before Alex. Occasionally, I would fall to pieces while alone, but mostly I spent my time keeping it together so the world outside would not see the mess that I felt inside. Alex changed that. My well-honed relationship tactics and coping mechanisms were totally obvious and unusable on him. He asked what I was thinking and feeling, and would not let up until a real answer erupted from somewhere deep within me. We had met our alter egos. We were the same, but in opposite gender bodies (or so we used to say). We could not hide from one another at all. And so, the truth finally came flying out of all the suppressed corners of our beings. And my emotions became completely out of control. I was explosive and unpredictable.

I suddenly found myself with an enormous past that demanded to be addressed and healed on or before my wedding day. For starters, my parents divorced when I was in first grade. Their relationship was incredibly turbulent and left me with memories that still wake me up panicked and afraid in the middle of the night. But then, there was also the string of subsequent marriages/long-term relationships/engagements that they dragged me through. Relationships have been forming and dissolving around me all my life. How could someone like me make a relationship, let alone a marriage, work? How could I be happy without ever being shown a roadmap? I hadn’t been taught to communicate, to cooperate, to love unconditionally, to be loyal or committed.

But, I had one thing that I had been clinging to since I was a kindergartener. While most kids were busy playing, I was busy thinking. And one of the earliest memories I have of actually sitting alone, pondering life in my bedroom, was a promise that I made to myself. I was sad and scared, and I didn’t like what was going on between my parents downstairs. So I decided in that moment, with afternoon sunlight streaming across my blue and white flowered Laura Ashley wall paper, that I would never have their life. Of course, all of this was on a rudimentary level, but I have a very distinct memory of when this thought began and the many times I repeated it to myself until I was an adult. I still repeat this to myself.

Along with the wounds of divorce, my childhood also left me incredibly codependent thanks to generations upon generations of alcoholics and codependents occupying my life. This issue alone had left me feeling completely incapable of maneuvering even the most basic parts of daily life. I had known nothing but a diseased, unhealthy, warped, addictive way of living from the time I was born. When I left my home, just a month after I turned eighteen, I was not only faced with the task of adjusting to the independence of college, but also began to learn all the lessons—how to behave, and be, and interact with others—that I should have learned as a child. I made many, many….many mistakes along the way. My mistakes and codependence, of course, were most notable in the romance department—Alex was no exception. But, I was so aware of myself with Alex that I began really dealing with these issues. I had been a recovering codependent for ten years prior to our relationship, but I was now on some crazy, fast track to health, which was incredibly relieving and empowering, but incredibly messy.

An epic story all its own, my surfacing issues also had a ripple effect throughout my life leaving me temporarily estranged from my family, adding to the pain of already being motherless.

So, here I was, engaged and planning a wedding by myself with an overwhelming number of ghosts lurking in the shadows of my insides. Ironically, the fact that all of this began to make itself known to me was a positive. It was a positive, because I was really, truly healing at last. And it was a positive, because I was with Alex. I had never felt safe, loved unconditionally, or totally supported before so I relied on so many coping mechanisms that allowed me to look like I had my shit together. I didn’t need to cope with Alex. I was finally able to let go.

Regardless of the positives, though, my mini enormous breakdown was hard to bear—for me, and for Alex. I had to fall apart to somehow become whole, it felt like the only way. And fall apart I did.

I had been going to upwards of five support groups a week since just after Alex proposed in December. I was totally dedicated to my recovery and my efforts felt like enough until summer came around. The closer we got to the wedding, which was planned for October, the more anxious I became. I begged Alex to elope numerous times. While Alex clung to the idea of all our friends and family gathering to celebrate, I was sure that was exactly what would push me over the edge to a place I feared with my entire being. I began to have panic attacks, often daily.There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. I started to feel unstable in a way that frightened Alex to such a degree that one hot day in July, he suggested we call off our wedding and reschedule it for a date yet to be determined. I felt like I had failed in that moment, like I was so broken that it was just too much to ask anyone to love me. But, Alex did. Although I spent the rest of that day sobbing, and thrashing underneath the covers of my bed in complete disbelief, it was a turning point. Alex and I started couple’s therapy the following week, and I started on a cocktail of medication.

We spent almost three months in therapy. After our first appointment things felt bleak and we weren’t sure how we were going to get through such a challenging time. It felt like we had invited a third party in to add to the already long list of issues we knew we had, and though she never said it, we feared she didn’t believe we should get married. But, at some point in the midst of hours upon days upon weeks of talking, we saw the light. We suddenly worked through what had felt impossible so quickly, because we were ready and because we worked hard. Where we could have folded, we found strength. And it became abundantly clear to all three of us in that tiny corner office with the uncomfortable, musty old couch, that we were ready to get married.

The night before our wedding I had three different pills lined up on my nightstand, I had lost a noticeable amount of hair and weight, and my eyes were dark and tired. I was far from looking my best. But, the next day was the most effortless and joyful day of my life. As much as I had hoped to look my most beautiful on my wedding day, there was beauty in my resilience, and the resilience of my relationship with Alex. I hadn’t experienced my engagement the way I had once envisioned, but it had a purpose. Where we once carried glossy daydreams, we found real life. It ultimately created a relationship that was steady, healthy, and that could stand up to the challenges we would face in the coming years.

Up next: trying to conceive…