I Have (Expat) Mom Rage

 

2014-06-06 17.20.57What now feels like a gazillion and a a half years ago, I gave birth to a baby girl in Vienna, Austria. (That’s her about to fall out of the sandpit.)

A few weeks ago, the lovely and brilliant writers/podcasters Edan Lepucki and Amelia Morris interviewed me about the joys and travails of having a baby abroad for their fantastic podcast, Mom Rage. We talked about everything from figuring out how to find a doctor in a foreign country, to the fantastic maternity leave policies, to the Austrians’ very entrenched ideas about motherhood. It was a total joy to chat with them. You can listen here. (Interview starts around 29:00, but do listen to it all; their banter at the beginning is always one of my favorite parts.)

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The Baby Villa, where I gave birth.

If you listen along and think, I must move to Vienna and have a baby! (I do recommend it), here are a few essays I’ve written on the subject (not sure whether they will convince or dissuade you, but anyway, you decide):

I Had a Baby in Europe; Here’s What It Did to Me

This Was Us: An Expat’s Search for Home

When a Child Speaks a Language You Don’t

Finding the American Dream in Europe

xoxox

 

Three New Reads

Happy Spring, all! I’m delighted to share three new pieces.

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I wrote about my inability to make decisions on my own for Lenny.

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I wrote about how much I love my own Mama for Mother’s Day for Land’s End Journal.

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And! I wrote about getting up at the crack of dawn to have some time for myself (for crying out loud!). (It will shock no one to learn that since I published this, my kid’s been waking up much earlier. #Momfail.) This one was for Healthline.

xoxoxox

I Took Plan B. Thank you, Planned Parenthood.

Sometime in the not so distant past, I needed to take the morning-after pill. I was a 38-year-old mother of a three-year-old; I was in a stable marriage. We both had advanced degrees and careers, and had planned out my first pregnancy with charts and ovulation kits. Most of my friends were onto their second children. I was, in other words, not necessarily the kind of woman you might picture when you think of Plan B.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 10.18.30.pngRead on at Motherwell Magazine.

My Kid Speaks German! I Don’t!

Today I revealed that I don’t understand most of what my daughter says speaks German. Luckily for her, I don’t. Motherhood is so complicated.

Head on over to the Washington Post for my take on language acquisition, the power of circumstance in shaping parental identity, and children’s earliest individuations — or, put more simply, on being the dumb American at my kid’s daycare.

xox

The Ambivalent Expat

I wrote a piece that I feared would offend everyone I know about life as an expat in Vienna. Luckily no one has written me hate mail who was offended has told me so! Yay!

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(Life as an expat: Lots of dirty baby clothes. No dryer.)

***

When my husband and I moved to Vienna, Austria, two years ago, we were frequently set up on friend dates. This is par for the course for a new expat — someone hears that you’ve moved to some faraway city, and their coworker’s cat’s former owner’s cousin always knows someone who — can you believe it? — just happens to be your neighbor. No matter how outlandish the setup — they were born-again Christians or Hassidic Jews, they were hated by the very people who’d put us in touch — we always went.

After these meetings, I would invariably turn to my husband and say: We’d never be friends with these people in real life.

Real life: this was my phrase. Not in New York, where I had lived for 12 years, or the vague back home, but in real life, as though I had skipped a track and found myself in a different, parallel universe.

Read the rest on Medium!

xoxo

Europe in Pictures

I know, I know, I never came back with Part 2 of our Aplomb lesson, which I’m sure you forgot all about have been dying to hear! I’m going to make you wait a weeeeee bit longer, because before we get back to the serious matter of your precious spine — believe me, that thing needs Aplomb love — I wanted to share some things from precious Europe.

In the last 6 weeks we’ve been to Oxford, London and Paris, which I know makes you hate us actually makes me feel like my parents. After leaving the center of the earth Manhattan and settling in the coldest place they could find Montreal, they spent a few years in London and Paris in the early 1970s. My dad worked in a French neurology lab and my mother learned to yell at the butcher cook à la Julia Child. They also made some lifelong friends.

So in London, as I mentioned before, we stayed with hippies some of these oldest and dearest friends. This wonderful couple — who have lived all over the world, from Katmandu to Swaziland to Woodstock — have known my parents for over 40 years, since before any of them had children. This is their gorgeous Hampstead street. We contemplated becoming squatters.

They live right next to Hampstead Heath, which is a sort of like Central Park, but way more British, which I think means it looks like something out of Bridget Jones’ Diary a Virginia Woolf novel. The rolling fields inspired David to jump, and it turns out he should quit linguistics and become a dancer audition for a Broadway show. This is him doing his best Gene Kelly.

I fell in love with Oxford. There are more scholars bikes than cars.

They also apparently live in 1974.

Next time you go to Paris, you MUST GO TO THIS RESTAURANT. Here’s the thing: it’s not very French, but when you’ve been in Paris a while you might want to eat something that won’t cause you to have a heart attack at 34 other than baguette. It’s more along the lines of Santropol (for Montrealers), Black River Cafe (for Oberlin folk), Doma/Community (for New Yorkers). The food is good and simple: eggs, salads, smoked salmon. We had the most delicious hot apple cider, which appeared to have been whipped with ginger and honey. Anyway. It wasn’t really about the food. The atmosphere was just so un-French friendly and relaxed. You’ll find it tucked around a corner somewhere near  a Quai of some kind of another Hôtel de Ville.

Here is hungry, thus quiet, David waiting for his eggs.

Here I am modeling the thing I currently love most on earth my new rabbit necklace, while posing with some art.

When we returned to the place where it sounds like people are making up words Munich, we decided we immediately needed a vacation. So we played hooky one afternoon at our favorite hangout, Gartensalon, which is also sort of like the above-mentioned restos. I swear, the women who run this place all live on a commune went to Oberlin (or some German version of it). They are always beyond nice and make the most delicious hot drinks: spiced blackberry and raspberry juice with honey (or something — I just made that up since I don’t actually have a clue what’s in anything most of the time. See: the place where it sounds like people are making up words).

This is how they do their coffee. I mean, a clothespin. What’s not to love?

And of course, we returned to the pool. Here’s the one I wrote about for The Millions, in all its glory. Beware the German ladies who decide that jogging backwards in the water, perpendicular to an onslaught of swimmers, is the best way to cause me to lose my mind burn fat.

What are your favorite London/Paris/Munich spots? I could always use a good tip.

xox