So: everyone knows the wonderful books Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, yes? If you are a parent of a young girl (or boy!), you should. They are a collection of tiny biographies of important, daring women — everyone from RBG to Serena Williams, Harriet Tubman to Aung San Suu Kyi. The art is something to behold.
And now, the company has launched an online site called Rebel Girls Boundless — for which I am writing a series about parenting abroad.
Oh, hi! I totally forgot to mention to you all here that I’ve started a newsletter — or as I’ve been calling it, a letter from me to you. Really, it’s a love letter.
So far I’ve been sending out weekly dispatches about life, love, food, politics, books, TV, podcasts (so many podcasts!), motherhood, and I’d be delighted if you wanted to sign up. My mom wrote me a long email with all the questions: Why a tiny letter? Why not do it here, on your website? Can I write you back there? Are my replies public? Do I need to go find your gmail? Do you think people will find it and sign up!?
So: The reason it’s a Tiny Letter and not here, on my website, is because, as you can read in the first email, I love letters. Love them. It’s how I’ve always communicated with my friends and family, it’s how I met and fell in love with my husband. It’s how I think through problems and work out essays. There’s something intimate, precious and private about them, even when they are not written out by hand. When I found Tiny Letter I thought: what a quaint and lovely pocket of the internet. (Rare thought.)
And to answer the more practical questions: Yes, you can write me back directly on Tiny Letter. No, your replies aren’t public. Yes, I do write everyone back!
Is there a chance in hell that I could be more excited to have my first piece up on Epicurious(!)? No fucking way.
It is not an understatement to say that baking kept me from going nuts when my baby was born. And as anyone who’s had my banana bread/chocolate chip cookies/scones/granola thrust upon them–and I do mean thrust–already knows, it still does, and my baby is no longer a baby (sobsobsobsobsob). What is it about baking that is so soothing, so life-affirming, so, well, joyful?
Read on to find out. Then please, please share your favorite recipes with me.
It’s summer, August maybe, and our family’s boxy purple Peugeot is parked at a rest stop gas station. My father pumps gas in his leather sandals. My 13-year-old sister, Rachel, slumps in the backseat, listening to her Walkman with her hood up over her ears. My mother, in a billowy fuchsia sundress, stands next to the passenger’s side of the car with the door open, one sandaled foot propped up on the runner, one palm resting on the top of the car, waiting. Her gray hair is cut very short. Her oval glasses take over much of her face.
I’m five, and have gotten out of the car to dance around on the cement for a few minutes, my white Tretorns, striped T-shirt, and shorts glistening in the sun. I skip over little puddles of oil between the cars, making a game out of not getting my feet wet.
There are several adults clustered around the pumps, filling their cars. I hop over to one of them, look up and say, “My Mommy had babies that died.” Then over to another: “My Mommy had babies that died.”
My mother did, indeed, have babies that died; so did my father, of course. I guess my sister did, too — baby-siblings. But these babies — a boy, a stillbirth at 23 weeks, and a girl a year later, at 24 weeks, both big enough to swell my mother’s belly but small enough to fit in the palm of my father’s hand — died seven and eight years earlier, respectively. I came next; I was the one who made it.
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.
The jealousy peaked when the second round of pregnancy announcements started to roll in. By then my daughter was 2 and I was 37, but neither my husband nor I had broached the subject of a second child. Instead, my tactics were cheap, comments lobbed at inopportune moments: I mentioned my (old) age and boy names I liked, and reminded him that we had to “get it done” before we left Europe, our temporary (family-friendly) home. When I got salmonella poisoning from eating bad chicken, I secretly hoped my symptoms meant I was pregnant. My husband prayed they didn’t.
Our avoidance of the discussion, followed by our inability to agree on trying for another, was heartbreaking. It seemed to symbolize some fundamental rift in our marriage: Almost everyone we knew had — or was trying for — more than one child. Why couldn’t we handle it, too?
I wrote this whopper for The Cut. Please read on here.