I Confess…I’m Done Giving A F*ck

Years ago, in an attempt to jolt me into taking responsibility and to motivate me into making something of myself, I was told that I was an aimless and unambitious young woman, incapable of achieving academic success and lacking the back bone and drive to amount to much. I was frightened into compliance and submission by a close and trusted family member, which saddled me with the idea that I was nothing if not highly educated and thoroughly professional by my mid 20’s. All this despite the fact that I entered high school, having sat out for two years, in a brand new country without having much knowledge of the language spoken in school, and ended up graduating in less than four years as a straight A student and with high honors.

But, I disregarded the facts of my life and my achievements and I chose to believe the manipulative, hurtful assertions of my family and deemed myself a failure who would amount to nothing. These terrible thoughts became so ingrained within that they propelled me to go on to getting an undergraduate degree in an area I was ill-suited for and to further punish myself by going to law school and becoming a lawyer, just to prove myself worthy and good and a success, none of which I could ever accept as the truth about myself.

After graduating from law school, successfully moving across the country with no financial or moral support, passing the California state bar, the most sought-after, competitive and difficult bar exam in the nation, and working my ass off trying to break into the highly saturated Los Angeles legal market, I finally began working as an associate attorney in a fairly well known immigration firm in the city. But, the firm was being run into the ground by fat cat, lazy lawyers past their primes, who offered very little training, zero professional perks and no personal support and I was not only underpaid, I was also not paid on time. Nonetheless, my clients loved my hard work, sense of responsibility and professionalism and I became the associate who was given the toughest cases, the most complex litigation matters and the most demanding clients. I persevered and kept working hard, all the while feeling unsuccessful underneath it all. How could be I a success if my employer didn’t value me enough to pay me a fair wage? Or fuck, to just pay me on time?

As a way to whip me into shape, remake me into something more “acceptable”, or perhaps to just bully me long enough so that I would give up and leave, I was called every name under the sun by the father of the man I’ve chose as my life partner. I was labeled entitled, lazy, unambitious, unsuccessful and  flat out failure. I was hounded, strong armed, harassed, intimidated and tormented for years about every single immutable quality of my life. From where I was born, to what my ethnic background was, to how much wealth I was raised with, to my personal beliefs— everything was fair game. And my employment situation in particular was deemed a topic to expound on and dissect. This relentless abuse eventually led me to the brink of a mental breakdown and finally cost me my job. I was forced into actions that eventually led to my dismissal from that sorry excuse of a firm. Imagine that! I was a damn good employee and a great attorney. I worked my ass off, was undervalued and underpaid, was bullied because of it and then got fired because a man who knew nothing about me and my situation bullied me into acting hastily before having secured another position with another firm. Wanna talk about a blow to the ego?

And what did I do? I took the abuse I was subjected to and turned into evidence of my incompetence. I called me unambitious and incompetent and wrong and bad, despite knowing the truth. I began to see myself as unworthy and a failure as a human being. And I’ve berated and shamed myself for having been fired by some asshole for nearly 15 years now.

I saw people around me judging me as human being by the amount of my ever shrinking paycheck and my non-existent law practice and I adopted that judgment of me. I used how much money I did or didn’t make as the measuring stick for my worthiness in life. Since there was not much of a paycheck, the reasoning went that I must not be worth anything and my existence must be immaterial and of no consequence. I have even had times when I have thought that if I were to die, no one would be affected for better or worse.

Every time I attempted to try something new, whether it was making a new friend or launching a blog, or quit lawyering for good and do something creative, some opinionated know-nothing shut me down with some bullshit arm-chair diagnosis of depression, egg-shell sensitivity, or just plain bitchiness. And I took every single unkind word into my heart and gave it a home. I must be unfit for every job out there. I must be incapable of making a go of any idea or passion I might have. More fundamentally, I must be worthless simply because I don’t know what a fuck I want for a job. No job, no life.

Soon, the walls got thinker and taller still. I am ill-suited for the practice of law—something I have known since the first hour of the first class on the first day in law school in JANNUARY 1997. And that is something deserving of being punished for all eternity. It shows weakness and lack a spine. And I, and only I, am incapable of leaving my field study behind in order to pursue some other kind of profession. Every other person is capable of this, but not me. I am nothing without financial success. I am an unsuccessful attorney, therefore I am nothing. I screw up everything I touch, so why even try? This one extends to every single area of my life, including taking a fucking writing course or running for a board position for the Mom’s Club I’m a member of.

And finally, I would be better off if only:

  1. I could move to France;
  2.  I were 20 years younger, 40 pounds lighter and American born;
  3. I had never gone to law school;
  4. I hadn’t married into a family who never accepted me as I am;
  5. I had moved back to Texas after law school;
  6. I could go back to school for an arts degree;
  7. I were well connected and supported;
  8. I were braver;
  9. I Had been bolder;
  10. I had pursued a creative career in the arts;
  11. I had stayed in Iran, in Italy, in Texas, in utero;
  12. I had chosen a different undergrad school or even a different law school (though I still don’t want to be a lawyer).

These are the walls I have built around myself. These are the limitations I place on myself every damn day of my life. These are the ways I put myself down and abuse myself with on hourly basis. Add to that the instinct to always save face and act as if I am happy, satisfied and confident, just so no one else would begin to judge me for being open and honest. Add to this the obsession to always look good and “with it”. After all, as the Persian saying goes, to admit that you feel like shit about yourself is as if you spit directly up in the air, because it will eventually come down and hit you in the face.

I have lived with self sabotage and abuse and a perfectly narcissistic sense of misery for nearly the entirety of my adult life. I have taken every external negative feedback and turned into a list of trial exhibits in support of the prosecution of my own self as a useless, terrible, immaterial, unsuccessful human being. I have used every shitty thing any shitty person has done to me to torment myself with it over and over and over.

In the process, I have managed to bring me nothing but pain and misery and loneliness in addition to a type of complete paralysis. I have done all this to myself.

I am fully responsible for my feelings. I and I alone.

Because having an asshole call me a failure shouldn’t have turned me into a failure in my own eyes. Because having a trusted loved one try to manipulate and guilt me into a career that has made me miserable shouldn’t have actually made me stick with this path for twenty years. Because I always had a choice to say: “I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore and from today on I won’t be”. Because having been fired by a fat, old, incompetent, embezzling, has-been lawyer from a job that sucked in a profession that I didn’t want to begin with shouldn’t have erased the truth of the type of lawyer I was (a damned good one), and more importantly, the kind of human being I am (a pretty decent one).

So, why did I write this piece? I mean, I haven’t blogged in so long that just getting into my blog today took 30 minutes. Who remembers a damn password that hasn’t been used in two year? Why write now? Why write this? Why confess? Well, because I needed to do something in order to get myself going. I needed a step one.

I’m reading a book by Mark Manson, called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”. It’s made me look back and really see what I have done to my self confidence and my life in general. I have given so many fucks about so many unworthy human beings who’ve crossed my path. I’ve given fuck after fuck to every un-fuckworthy  stupid thing that every moron has said to and about me and my life and I have internalized these shitty, hurtful and UNTRUE things as if they were worthy of my time and attention and fucks given . I’ve given fuck after fuck until I’ve painted myself into an impossible emotional  corner and robbed myself of living a more fulfilling life. I’ve believed the sucky and sickening American truth: that I am only worthy if I am lucrative. That I have no other intrinsic value beyond how much money I make. I am not allowed to quit and change directions. Fuck, I am not allowed to say: “I don’t want to work at a job right now other than the job of raising my daughter.”

I have bullied myself and beaten every creative idea I have ever had out of me, because of my belief that I am a failure. I even stopped blogging, the one thing I have always been so passionate about, because a woman with her own emotional baggage once labeled me depressed after reading one of my pieces. I am a snowflake: fragile, weak and aimless, too afraid to just finish one journey, call it quits and move on to find her next endeavor because she’s too afraid to fail.

So, I write these difficult truths because I am sick of being stuck. And because Mark Manson says that in order to get unstuck, one must just “do something”, despite every mental roadblock and every reason against doing it. And this blog post, my first in more than two years, is my something. This is my step one in the journey of learning to be more selective with my fucks. This is my action in search of inspiration and motivation.

To anyone who might read this:

If my words resonate with you, I urge you to find energy inside you to “do something”, too. Do anything. Whatever. Just to start your new journey of tearing down the walls you’ve put up to keep yourself stagnate and safe from life’s rejections.

If my words offend, bore or amuse you: if you’re moved to label, judge and categorize me as this or that—I don’t give a FUCK. I am done internalizing things clueless people say about me and what I have to say. I am learning to how not give some many fucks and I  start with not giving fuck about your opinion.

Posted in Ati's Life, Create Yourself, Life Lessons, Social Network, Uncategorized, Write something | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day 2016


It has been 5 months since I’ve written a blog post. This is the longest lag time between blog posts for me, and I’m just sick about it. I, who carries pen and paper everywhere, worried that her literay opus might come to her at any moment and that it might go unwritten due to a lack of writing supplies. I, who’s proclaimed writing her purpose and passion. I, who believes in persistent and perseverance. I have failed to blog since December 2015. As the mom to a toddler, it’s hard to find time to think, let alone write these days. I am a mom and I find I have no time to be anything else but that.  Which brings me to Mother’s Day.

In 2 days, my beautiful daughter will be 2 years old. Before that, I’ll be celebrating my 3rd Mother’s Day, since my baby was born on the Friday of Mother’s Day weekend in 2014. Mother’s Day is a “thing” with me. It’s usually a “thing” with infertile women. While struggling and suffering, many of us find this day intolerably sad and difficult to endure. It’s a big, fat, lavish reminder of a defect. Everyone around us can’t stop having kids, and we can’t stop not having them to save our lives. It’s the most natural thing, the thing we’re supposed to be biologically wired to do as women. And yet…. And, when you’re pumping yourself full of hormones, going through procedures and suffering through loss after loss, getting negative pregnancy results month after month and year after year, this day can feel like a giant middle finger coming to visit you in your misery and poking you in the eye when you’re most vulnerable. Mother’s Day is painful when you’re infertile and in doubt as to whether you’ll ever not be an infertile childless person. It’s a messy, painful thing. And let’s be honest, for many women, it’ll remain so forever because they’ll never become mothers.

If motherhood does finally come, though, a new world opens up with its own triumphs, beauties, pitfalls and messes. Pretty much, life will always be messy and hard and even sad, in totally different and mind bending ways.

And that’s where I am.

This is not a bitch manifesto. I repeat, I didn’t use my limited alone time to write a piece that complains about being a mom. This is my honest expression of a mom’s life and an ode to all mothers out there who live, love, struggle, feel imperfect, worry, lose sleep, and might be having a hard time, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.

Infertility is a bitch. Plain and simple. But, being a mother can sometimes be a bitch, too. I know. I’m not supposed to say that. But, I never do what I’m supposed to. And while the women on either side of the great biological divide might not understand each other and might even judge one another, the fact remains that both sides struggle, feel sad, lose hope, lose sleep, and need support. This is a piece about one person who has lived on both sides and still feels like she’s straddling the divide pretty damn hard.

I am a hybrid stay-at-home-mom. Hybrid, because I still do some work periodically. But for all practical purposes, I’m at home raising my kid. I know I’m lucky. I know many don’t get to do this. I know more don’t want to give up their careers, even if they could. For me, this is the right option. I wouldn’t exchange any of this time I have with my daughter for anything in the world. Well, actually I would—exchange some of it, that is. I would exchange some of it for some personal time and solitude. I really would without guilt or hesitation. I know. I’m not supposed to say that, either. Oh, well. I’m on a roll, so might as well.

Hear me out before you judge.

I believe in what I’m doing. I really do. I believe that being home to raise my daughter and to help shape her life on a consistent basis is what’s best for her. It’s not a judgment of anyone else. I have no opinions about anyone else or their life situations and choices at all. For us, this is the right way. Being at home with this bubbly, funny and joyful ball of energy is great. It is richly rewarding, life affirming, joy inducing, and all consuming. All great, amazing and beautiful. It is the thing I dreamed of for seven long and painful years. And I never thought I’d ever feel anything but pure happiness once this dream came true.


Being all alone with an active toddler for 12 to 14 hours a day, without any help or break, day after day and week after week is hard as hell. Living without adult conversation and interaction, being unable to find time to read, journal, go to the doctor or shave my legs are all hard as hell. Feeling isolated and detached from the rest of the world is hard as hell. Struggling to keep up with what’s going on in the world, something I care about very much, while listening to Wheels on the Bus 20, 30, 40 times a day is hard as hell. Feeling like I am disappearing before my very eyes is hard as hell. And fearing that I’m not doing enough to stimulate my child’s little mind and feed her little soul is especially hard as hell.

Everyday, I struggle with self-doubt. I worry that I’m not “doing it right”. I worry that going to the park twice a day, taking her to lots of play dates and on fun outings and attending weekly toddler and me classes might not be enough. I worry about my knee that feels like it’s going to buckle as I ignore the pain, push through  and chase my baby around the park. I worry that the exhaustion and the dissatisfaction I feel would knock me down, making it impossible to be the best mom for this tiny little girl who finally came and took me from being an infertile to a mother. And finally, I wonder how I managed to shrink my entire world down to breastfeeding and nap schedules, exploring new playgrounds and learning nursery rhyme lyrics. Is this what I wanted when I imagined raising my daughter? Is this what I wanted for me? Is this all I’m about now? Forever?

I love being a mom. I want so much to be a great mom and to raise a happy, healthy and well-adjusted child. My days are filled with joy, laughter, wonder and magic because of my daughter. But parts of me, those that make me the adult I have become and the human I was for 45 years before becoming another’s mother, is being starved. And I fear I’ll never get them back. And, I am not okay with that, not even as a mother. I hadn’t count on that. How could I have? I had no idea what being a mom is like.

I am impossibly tired, mentally, emotionally and physically. I am so tired that I can barely talk after my daughter goes to bed. I turn into a non-verbal, grunting grouch who can barely muster watching an hour of TV before falling asleep in a heap of drool. And, everything I believe is needed for a full and rich grown-up life has been shelved at this time: learning, seeking, pleasure, self-enrichment, adult conversation, growth and on and on. The stuff I fortified my life with in order to strengthen myself enough to carry on through almost a decade of loss has been taken away from me. And, while I used to believe that being a mother will take all my other needs and doubts away, I’ve discovered that I was totally wrong. I still need trips to the museum, and coffee dates with my girlfriends. I still need date nights and Sunday morning laziness. I still crave reading books and companionship of other adults. I still need sleep, showers and downtime. I still want to do and learn new things. I still want to sit peacefully and write. I still want to drink some nicely chilled champagne out of a brautiful crystal glass. I want to be a full and complex human being, experience new experiences and be a good and dedicated mom.

Call me greedy. Call me whiny. Call me spoiled. Call me needy. Call me whenever you want. Because I know I’m not any of these labels. I’m just a mom and these feelings and fears are normal and natural. My needs aren’t too much or unrealistic. My standards aren’t too unreasonably high. I just want to remain me while I mother this beautiful darling little dream.

So, to all who are sad this Mother’s Day because they haven’t made their way to their children, I send all my love and admiration. You are amazing beings, full of hope and limitless love and you deserve to see your dream come true. And to all the moms who are tired, in pain and or in doubt, to all who give and give and give, to all who have children to love and raise, I say happy Mother’s Day. You are  pillars of strength and patience personafied and you deserve to be heard, to be supported and to be appreciated. Own your feelings, whichever side of the divide you happen to find yourselves. Express them when you feel you need to. Ask for support and seek help when you need to. You’re only human and you can only shoulder so much all alone. It’s okay to feel your feelings. It’s really okay. To all of you, I wish a Happy Mother’s Day. And to my dream girl, I wish a happy and joyful birthday.

Posted in baby, Bébé, Birth, Create Yourself, IF, Kids, Life Lessons, Life with baby, motherhood, parenthood | Leave a comment

This I Know


There are only a few days left of this year. In less than a week, we’ll be traveling to Europe as a family of 3 for the first time. In 2 weeks, our daughter will be 20 months old. Lots of firsts, lasts, new beginnings and old endings coming up. It’s a good opportunity to take time and look back. Many don’t believe in looking backwards. I believe in reflecting and reviewing, just long enough to gain insight and wisdom to take into the present and the future.

While walking through a cute little gift shop recently, I saw a gag gift thing that said: “this isn’t the lifestyle I ordered”. In an uninhibited moment and before being really aware of my thoughts, I found myself chuckling and saying “no shit!” under my breath.

WHAT? What did you just say? You, who struggled and fought and battled against biology and nature to become a mom? You of all people? You don’t think THIS is the life you ordered?

I was so shocked that in an unguarded moment, I had apparently expressed some discontent about my present life to my own self. How dare I feel like this life isn’t all that I had wished for and all that I wanted! How dare I be ungrateful and whiny and anything less that blissful?! I felt disgust.

And yet, here I was—feeling my feelings.

I had pictured a much rosier existence than this before having my child. I had overestimated my own capabilities and circumstances. I had imagined our days filled with activities, play dates and family times. I had imagined a big beautiful “village” to raise my daughter in. I had imagined a constant stream of “Aunties” visiting us and big fun parties we would be invited to. I had imagined my daughter, surrounded by lots of people, fun and kids of all ages.

Life–real life–isn’t like any of that. We spend most days by ourselves, just me and my daughter. There are no regular visitors, no frequent play dates. And family time has been scarce, due to the demands of the modern American work ethics and other professional obligations. Not many parties, either. No Aunties visiting regularly or asking to have lunch with an adorable mother-daughter duo. Life is quiet. And frankly, it’s often a little lonely. This isn’t a complaint or a passive aggressive way to try to get people to do or be anything or anyone other than they are. It’s just an honest description of my expectations as opposed to how life really is.

This year has taught me a lot and I take every hard-earned bit of wisdom gained with me as I move forward and begin my 3rd year of motherhood.

I now know that loneliness doesn’t suddenly evaporate once you have children. I now know that no matter how much you love your child, you cannot live cocooned inside your mother and child ideal forever. I now know that I cannot wait for my expectations to materialize, because I might be waiting forever. I now know that, no matter how much I wish for things to go a specific way, there’s no guarantee that they’ll go that way at all—ever. I now know that spending any amount of time being disappointed about things I have no control over is a huge waste of time. I now know that I don’t want to keep trying to fit in when it’s clear that I never will. I now know that to be with my daughter and to watch her grow and blossom into a little individual being is the grandest of all things and perfect, even when there’s no one else to witness it. I now know that I’m no longer that person who sits and waits for someone to come and take me out of my loneliness. I now know that real life can be lovelier, more joyful and more awe-inspiring than any ideal viewed through a pair of rose-colored glasses, if you’re willing and open to accept it, just as it is.

I am still adjusting to motherhood, I admit it. I am still negotiating things that might be second nature to others who’ve been moms as long as me. And this used to stress me out and keep me up at night. But, what I’ve learned from watching my daughter is that we each evolve and unfold at our own pace. We stall at points and excel at others. And that’s okay. And I’m okay.

After the last 365 days, this I know: I am on a once-in-blue-moon, one-of-a-kind journey. I do not need it to go any way other than how it is going. I don’t wish it to change or be something other than what it is. And I don’t need anyone or anything to make it better or more perfect. Because it is grand and it is perfect, just as it is. And no one else can do what I am doing any better. This is my path and this is my life.

Happy holidays to you all.

Posted in baby, Bébé, Birth, Create Yourself, Holidays, IF, Kids, Life Lessons, Life with baby, motherhood, parenthood | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Call It A Comeback


The last time I managed to write and post a piece on my blog was September 8. It’s been over four months since I’ve written. Around the time of my last post, my daughter’s nanny quit unceremoniously and without notice. Then I had to replace my phone and couldn’t get into my WordPress account, at one point fearing that I would have to abandon this blog altogether. And through it all, I just found myself devoid of any time, mental capacity and energy to sit, collect my thoughts and write my thoughts down.

What I lacked in time and energy I more than made up for in inspiration and creative drive. Understand this: I have “written” a piece about some topic every single day since September 8—in my mind. I could be pushing the stroller to the park, washing the dishes or changing my daughter’s diaper when words begin to pour into my mind—titles, phrases and full paragraphs—language just shows up and grips my mind as if I’m in a trance. I’d panic. “Where is my notepad?” “Where is my tablet?” “Where is my phone?” “Quick! Open the WordPress app!” Then, reality would call. My daughter would begin protesting her diaper change, or lack of TV or would simply nag to have nagged . And I’d back to real life. I’d strive to hang on to the core idea and I’d try to keep the thread alive, to no avail.  The words world disappear, lost forever in the deep dark well of the unwritten words. Frustration and discouragement would rear their ugly heads and I’d be left with nothing of what was so vivid just a few minutes before.

As I write this, I’m nursing my 19-month-old daughter, who’s asleep in my arms. Yes, I’m still nursing my toddler. Yes, she sleeps on me most days. No, it’s not comfortable. No, I’m not going to move her. And, no, I have no idea how much longer this will go on. All I know is that I have a few moments to myself and I feel the need to begin writing again, before I become so discouraged that just give up on the thing I’m so passionate about.

And what I want to say right here and right now is that I was wrong. I was wrong and I admit it. I want to own up to my mistakes. I want to out myself as an uninformed person.

I was wrong in thinking that the universe had conspired against me when I was going through heaven and hell to become a mother, while everyone I knew kept getting pregnant and having kids. I was wrong when my broken heart found all the baby posts, fetus upsates and kid photos annoying and a personal affront to me. I was wrong when I felt I’d be able to simply do everything I wanted to do, with a baby in tow. I was wrong to think it cruel for people to constantly tell me that I shouldn’t be so sad over being childless, because having children was so hard. I was wrong!

I don’t regret a single thought, because to do that is to judge the woman who went through so much, just for a chance to be mother. To regret is to judge her for being lost and heartbroken and simply unaware. But, in order to heal as much as one can heal from the deep wounds of prolonged infertility (for me, it was 7 years), I must look back with the knowledge and experience of the last 19 months and admit some things and let go of the grief, as much as possible.

Life didn’t go the way I imagined. I didn’t get to be a mom at 38, 39, 40 or even 42. I got my baby at 45— a fact I am painfully aware of every night, when I drag my aching body into bed, doubting my ability to get up and do it all over again in the morning and wondering how this feels to those who are 5, 10 and 20 years younger than me. And I won’t get to give my daughter a sibling, a reality that breaks my heart each time I confront it. I don’t get to join mommy groups and instantly fit in with women who just don’t carry as much baggage as I do about motherhood. And all this can make a person resentful, or mad or even sadder than before. Infertility didn’t disappear from my life once I became a mom. It lives in my house and will shape my family forever, whether I like it or not.

But, I want to let go as much of the pain as I can and move forward. I want to resolve all that can be resolved and I want to let go of all that can be left behind. So, I make the admission that I was wrong and with that, I leave some of the weight I’ve been carrying for nearly 10 years.

So, this is how I begin blogging again. My “comeback”. My return. It’s dedicated to letting go of what I can and focus on life, as it is now—warts and all.

I am the mother to a dream come true, an impossiblity. I have the privilege of raising a bright, happy, healthy amazing little girl who’s recently started to look into my face, smile and say “mamma” with love in her eyes. I am twice as old as many moms I meet, and many time a novice. I was wrong about a lot of things and I misjudged a lot of people and situations. But I am a damned good mom, a true friend and a loving human being and I am worthy of everything I’ve achieved and everyone who loves and supports me. Imperfections and all, I am one heck of a person and if you have me in your corner, you’re lucky because I don’t give up on you—ever.

Life didn’t unfold as I assumed. I didn’t unfold as I had hoped. People didn’t treat me as I wished. Nothing is under my control and it’s hard to accept  that. But it is what it is. And I’m going to be fine.

Don’t call it a comeback. Call it a reawakening.

Posted in baby, Bébé, Birth, Create Yourself, IF, Kids, Life Lessons, Life with baby, motherhood, Paris, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reincarnated Motherhood


Let me be very frank. I have no religious beliefs whatsoever. I have no faith at all and only believe in visible, provable, measurable and scientific facts. And, I’m not sure if there’s a big difference between religiosity and spirituality, so I wouldn’t call me the latter, either. Usually, I just call myself secular.
I know. You might decide you don’t like me after this admission. It’s okay. This piece isn’t about religion at all. It’s about humanity and parenthood. We may all feel and believe differing things,  but we’re all human beings and we’re all either parents or have been parented, or both. So, stay a while and read on. You might find my words redeeming after all.
This morning, my daughter and I began our Tuesday morning like we do most weekdays: by eating breakfast while watching Daniel Tiger on PBS. O EM GEE! I let my 16-month-old watch TV? Screen time before the age of TWO! And while eating?? Blasphemy! Good thing I’m a non-believer! Stay with me. You might still find this redeeming.
Anyway. We were watching a new episode of this great cartoon about a cute little tiger who lives with his loving and emotionally aware family and his accepting friends, in the “land of make-believe”. The program, which is based on the principles of the work of the great and iconic Mr. Rogers, is lovely, uplifting and charming, and a favorite of mine and my daughter’s. Today’s episode was about going through and surviving a big storm. Basically, it was teaching kids to deal with the feelings and the uncertainties they would experience when going through of a natural disaster. In it, the adults told the kids to hold the grown-ups’ hands, follow the plan and know that the adults will keep them safe. “You’re safe”, Mr. and Mrs. Tiger repeatedly said to their little boy and his little friends. They said it so emphatically. It sounded so assuredly. It felt so comforting to hear them say it, even to my grown-up  jaded ears. I can’t imagine how comforting it would seem to a young child watching. The message: when facing big scary events, hold on to your parents and know that you’re safe. Yes, surely I want my daughter to know and believe that I and her  father will keep her safe, should anything scary happen. Such a great lesson!
Then I felt my cheeks getting wet and my tears rolling down my face. I was caught off-guard by my reaction. As a parent of a child living a middle income life in America, I totally identified with the message of this show. But, the child within me who was born in Iran and who lived through and survived a revolution, war, displacement and exile, that child felt so much fear, loss, melancholy and sadness that my uncontrollable tears this morning were hers. My life’s storm began at the age of ten and lasted through most of my teens. And no amount of hand holding and reassuring from the grow-ups in my life took away the fears or could ever bring me the stability and safety I needed. There was no plan to help us deal with losing everything, including the land we were born in. There was no one who could help make me whole. And, I live with the inherent knowledge that sometimes, parents cannot make their children safe, simply by following a plan, taking shelter, holding hands and calmly saying “you’re safe”.
As I hid behind my cereal bowl, shaking, crying and hoping that my daughter was too distracted to notice it all, I couldn’t help but shed tears in memory of the little Syrian boy whose body washed ashore Turkish waters the other week. I can’t imagine the storm he and his family had endured, but I can imagine how his parents held on to him, assuring him that he’ll be safe. How devastating to live with the knowledge that, sometimes, no one will be able to keep you safe. It’s the curse some of us live with all our lives, if we’re lucky enough to survive our lives’ storms and turmoils.
This is an example of what I call reincarnated motherhood. I, the creation of my past and all of my experiences, am reincarnated as a mom over and over. I get to come back, this time as the grown-up, to deal with the issues, losses and hurts of my childhood, as I raise my own child. As I mother my daughter, whose life is light years away from how I was raised, I am forced to face the trauma of my past life. I cannot help but to be reincarnated with each experience that’s the mirror image and the other side of the coin of having been the child I was, living the life I lived. You could advise that I need to not let my past color my present. And that would be a great piece of advice for anyone who’s had a blissfully uneventful and wonderfully stable childhood. More power to all who had that. My guess is more than a few of us weathered a storm or two as we grew up, which left their indelible marks on our psyche.
We are all engaged in the same process: being reborn continually and working on what happened to us in our earlier lives. This is where the schism comes in: being a non-believer who believes in reincarnation, being born again and again and searching and finding redemption. Being born again, not as that kid from Iran, but as an American mom raising an American kid.
Storms will find their way into my child’s life. I am certain of that. I just hope that they’re of the kind I can keep her safe from. I wish with all my heart that she won’t have be reincarnated when she has children of her own. I wish with all my soul that she have an utterly uneventful life and that she never finds herself hiding tears from her future children over her own childhood.
*I dedicate this piece to all who are suffering around the world. To the children who know nothing other than storms, and to the families who risk their lives because risking their lives is the best option there is. I hope they can convince their kids that they can keep them safe.

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My Defined Undefined Life


Do you ever have a moment, an exchange, an incident that pops into your head over and over again from time to time? Something about it stays with you and strikes a chord repeatedly. You could be buying groceries or getting dressed for an evening out, and suddenly this well-worn memory just shows up and captures your thoughts all over again. I have a particularly stubborn one that resurfaces on weekly basis. I’m haunted by something someone who was once close to me said a few years ago.  While I was in throws of infertility, while I was exhausted in every way possible from all the time, energy and effort spent on the mere possibility of having a baby, a friend said something very striking to me. She said: “my child doesn’t define me.”

It was a nothing statement. What I mean is that she wasn’t making a declaration about motherhood at the time. We weren’t discussing motherhood at all, but were instead talking about major life transitions and her need to have someone special in her life. Nothing to do with having children. And yet, this utterance jumped out, grabbed me by my proverbial collar and slapped me in the face. Here I was, at the time, defined by my pain of being without and unable to have a child. And here was this other woman, a dear friend, telling me that the thing I wanted to have most in life wasn’t the defining thing in hers.

No judgments. She was simply expressing her feelings. But her feelings and the way she talked about them come back to grip my thoughts over and over again. At the time, I was simply too emotionally raw to digest it. I really couldn’t, you see, because I wasn’t a mother yet. But I did think a lot about her words. Could this be how I’d feel if I ever became a mother? Not possible! Right?

A few months after this exchange, I was pregnant and a year after it, I was an exhausted and emotional new mom and our friendship was experiencing the weirdest slow death possible due to reasons unrelated to this exchange—I think. During those first few months of motherhood, a time so profound, emotional and all consuming, the notion of not being defined by one’s child kept resurfacing. Usually at 2 in the morning, while I nursed my tiny baby. A new mom, for many big and small reasons, is nothing if not defined by motherhood. I mean, at least that was how it was for me. A tiny helpless baby’s existence depended on me. My everything was this child, with jaundice and small, needy and crying. And, most of the time, I had no idea what I was doing. I simply put my all into caring for her, sleeping when she slept (or at least trying to), crying when she cried, and feeling like I was the best person in the world when she smiled, even if the expression was the result of just gas. I would remember my old friend’s words and I couldn’t fathom the true meaning of what she had said. During those days, I was totally defined by what was happening. The person I used to be seemed to have disappeared. I was utterly incapable of being anyone other than this baby’s mother. Wasn’t this how it was always going to be?

Time went by. My daughter grew, got strong, got big, changed, changed, and kept changing. I waited for the “normal life” to return. I lamented the loss of so many things that used give meaning to my life: reading books, going to the theater or the opera, spending time alone, spending time together with my husband, seeing friends, going out to dinner, going to the movies, or simply sitting in complete peace and just thinking. Life was nursing, burping, playing, diaper changes, naps, and trying to keep my head above water. And the words kept coming back to visit me: “my child doesn’t define me.”

What was I doing wrong, I wondered? How come I felt exactly the opposite? I had once read that in France, women make it their mission to return to “normal life” within 6 months of giving birth. They get their kids to “do their nights” (meaning to sleep though the night), they stop breastfeeding, lose all their baby weight and promptly return to their pre-baby lives, getting their babies to adjust as they go along. So admirable! I had told myself that this was going to be me. Declared it to everyone, including to my husband who still questions me as to the whereabouts that woman who made that promise on weekly basis. And yet, at 6, 7, 8 months and beyond, I didn’t go back to my “normal life”, taking bébé along. I had a new life, a new ever-shifting normal. I was defined by being my child’s mother. I was defined by the daily shifts and changes that she brought to my life.

She’s now 15 months old. She walks and “talks”. A mini little person, blossoming before my very eyes. She has a cheerful disposition and a great sense of humor. She smiles all the time. The happiest kid I know and a true joy. And, as much as I love my life as her mom, I still miss coffee dates, weekend trips, dinners out, concerts, movies and all the other stuff of my old life. But I no longer ask what I’m doing wrong. I no longer strive to be a French woman. Instead, I tell myself that these precious times are fleeting and temporary and that they’ll be gone before I know it. I know that in time I’ll be able to reclaim most, if not all, of my old life and I know that she’ll come along with me as I forge a new life for us.

I miss so much stuff, that’s true. There are so many limits to what I can do right now. But, I’m so aware and thankful of all the great and good things I have in this life that I didn’t have in my old one, just 2 years ago. And that is something that helps to define me.

How do I define life these days? I don’t. Because I am defined by not just one thing like my profession or even by motherhood. I am defined by every experience, every opportunity, every misery, every victory, every sadness, every brave act, every fear and every single moment I am alive. I’m defined by my values, my politics, my culture, my beliefs, my intellect, my boundaries, my limitations and my standards, my failings and, yes, my role as a mother. My child absolutely defines me. But, she alone doesn’t define who I am. You see, I’m undefined because I’m unfinished. I’m ever changing and ever evolving- as a human, a woman, and a mother. I’m defined by this incompleteness. And I’m okay with it. Actually, I’m more than okay with it. I cherish it. This is me and this is my defined undefined life.

Posted in baby, Bébé, Birth, Create Yourself, Kids, Life Lessons, Life with baby, motherhood, parenthood, Pregnancy | Leave a comment

On Being Jaded

Loving Paris as I do, my Instagram feed is filled with hundreds of photos of the city of my dreams on any given day. On Facebook, I follow every page and blog I can find about Paris. I read articles about Paris and even know if a double rainbow appears over the River Sein. And, yes, I take silly Buzzfeed quizzes to see how Parisian I am, how well I know Paris and whether I’m living a Parisienne enough life. So the news articles and commentaries about the fact that the city is permanently removing the “love locks ” from Pont des Arts began trickling in from every social media I use minutes after the news broke on Friday.

So, I have confession to make. As in love with Paris as I am, I actually hadn’t heard about the love locks at the time of our honeymoon (May of 9 years ago), when we spent one day in Paris, or in the summer of 2009, during our week-long trip there. I am actually a little ashamed to admit that. How can I call myself Paris obsessed when I didn’t even know about this, the touristiest of activities in Paris? On our honeymoon, we attached a lock to Ponte Vecchio in Florence with our initials and the date we got married. We have photos of it. But, we were in Paris and I didn’t even know of the existence of the love locks!?

Ever since I’ve heard about them though, I’ve thought that one day when I visit again, we’d go to Pont des Arts and tell our little girl about the love locks and maybe even click our very own onto the bridge. I’ve seen hundreds of photos of the love locks and have always thought of the idea as romantic, even if a bit corny and oh-so touristy. Even when I read that the City regularly cuts them off and disposes of them, I wasn’t deterred. I understood that they had to, but I couldn’t understand why the Parisians seem to hate them so much. I’ve read that they think of the locks as a huge eyesore. That they’re viewed as defacing a city monument. Really? Really! In the end, I simply shrugged my shoulders (such a Parisian thing to do), and decided that what made the city’s residents think that way was that they were quintessential Parisians–perpetually unimpressed, the very definition of jaded, and permanently unmoved by corny sentimentality that involved their structures and historic sights. But, I still was baffled by their utter lack of enthusiasm for an act of love—a beautiful gesture of love, in the City of Love! I could understand the need to take them down and stop people from putting anymore on. I just couldn’t understand how anyone could be so jaded.

In January 2015, we packed our beloved little apartment and moved into a more specious townhouse we purchased 20 miles to the south. We might as well have moved to a new state or even to a new country. Everything feels different and foreign. And as much as I’d love to move to France, this move that feels like it’s been made to a new country isn’t what I had in mind. While our new home is a great place for our fastly growing baby daughter, her parents are having a rough time adjusting to the area, away from every thing and every one we love about and in Los Angeles.

We now live just a few short miles down from the hills that lead into the panoramic, photogenic and very far flung Palos Verdes and its beautiful surrounding towns. The road to the ocean is plucked right out of one of those sexy luxury car commercials. You know, the ones that show a silvery bullet-like sports car zooming through a narrow winding country road through hills, valleys, trees and along the edges of oceanview cliffs. Once you go up and then down the first set of hills, you hit another winding narrow road that passes by beautifully manicured lawns and gorgeous sprawling mansions dotting the hills, with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean to the West. I’ve even seen a few sheep grazing atop one hill and there seems to be some type of vinyard, shining like a large gleaming emerald atop another hill. The drive is beautiful and reminiscent of what a drive by the Mediterranean Sea might look like. At least that’s what I think of every single afternoon when I do this drive in an attempt to get my one-year-old to quiet her busy little head long enough to nap. There is something very soothing about driving up and down peaks and valleys, swaying back and forth, because she usually falls asleep within about 5 minutes into our beautiful drive. I often park at the lighthouse, step out of the car for a couple of minutes to take a few photos and then I’m back in the car, trying to enjoy the only quite time of the day, while I hear the soft snores of my daughter in the car seat.



This time, this drive, this road, this view—these are the only things I love about the area I now call my neighborhood, at least for now. I miss LA, I miss my friends, I miss my old neighborhood, and the closeness to the city. I miss everything about my life before our move. But, most days, our sunset drives redeem our new surroundings and bring me great happiness.


Once, I mentioned our end of the day ritual to a mom I stroked a conversation with at the local library’s storytime. She said: “oh, have you seen the peacocks yet?” Peacocks? What? She told me that there are wild peacocks all around the area, and suddenly I remembered the weird shrieking I had heard at dusk once or twice. Ah! As if the area wasn’t enchanting and the homes impressive enough, there are peacocks!!!?

It took a few more days before I had my first peacock sighting. Since then, I’ve seem them with their beautiful tails fully opened, and I’ve seen them gracefully perched on white picket fences, their feathers hanging like intricate ball gowns. They’ve flown right in front of me and they’ve walked across the road before me, oblivious to my existence. I’ve seen couples, I’ve seen singles and groups. Every time I spot one, I smile an uncontrollable smile and want to squill and clap my hands like a little girl. I don’t because my baby’s asleep and I spend these beautiful drives in complete silence. But I feel such a thrilling rush, such giddiness. I am the witness to unbelievable beauty! These people who live in these hills are so fortunate. What a great place to live: surrounded by beauty, wealth and peacocks  to boot!

Then I Googled the peacocks of Palos Verdes and began reading about them. I was shocked and rocked to my core to learn that some residents of the area hate these peacocks. They consider them a nuisance. They lament the noise they make and all other incidental issues and problems that come up when rich humans and peacocks share a neighborhood.  They’ve even been killed by people! What!?

On Friday, I got lost in one of the hills, trying to find a new spot to explore. It was past 5 pm on a gray day and the locals were getting home and pulling into their luxurious driveways all around me. I turned into a side street and saw them: two beautiful peacocks, standing as if they were intertwined, right in the middle of the street. They were unphased by the big, shiny black SUV that was trying to get around them. I was on the opposite side of the street and I slowed down, afraid that the SUV might scare them enough to jump in front of my car and get run over. I was overjoyed at seeing them right next to my car. I actually contemplated pulling my phone out to snap a quick photo as I carefully rolled by them, when a barrage of horns snapped me back into reality. Apparently, the residents of the street are so jaded that even breaking and slowing down in order to make sure one doesn’t run over the peacocks has become annoying. They have places to go and people to see and have no patience for a non-local human or the local fowl.

How could anyone in his or her right mind see a glistening blue, magestic, lovely crowned bird stroll past and think anything other than joy?

My confusion over the human and fowl residents of Palos Verdes reminded me of the love locks of Pont des Arts. In the face of poetic gestures, romantic acts and Mother Nature’s beauty, the jaded residents of these two places are unmoved by sentimentality and unphased by the loveliness they live so close to. To them, this stuff is old news and nothing amazing. They’re tired of the hoopla, and of the outsiders’ enthusiasm. They’ve had it with the nuisance and they like it all gone. And I will never get that!

I hope I never become that jaded about anything. I hope I remain just as thrilled at the sight the remnants of lovers having passed by, and the heavenly birds stopping traffic for a minute or two as I am right now. I hope to always feel like squilling and clapping my hands when I see these peacocks. I hope I never find life’s treasures boring or annoying. And I hope I get to pass on this bottomless enthusiasm to my daughter in the future. I want her to stop and notice every monarch butterfly that flies by. I want her to notice and giggle whenever she sees a lizard doing push-ups under the sun and I want her to feel a sudden rush of giddiness whenever she notices a rabbit with a fluffy cotton ball tail. Because I know from experience that being mindful of all the beauty around us makes for a lovelier life. And being mindful of the good stuff makes the hard stuff easier to endure. It does for her soft-hearted mom and it will for her. And that’s my fondest wish for my child: to never be too jaded to feel utter joy at the sight of life’s beauty.

For the life of me, I’ll never understand the Parisians or the Palos Verdians (okay, I made that word up).


Posted in baby, Bébé, Create Yourself, Francophile, Frenchify, Happiness Project, Joie de Vivre, Life Lessons, Life with baby, motherhood, parenthood, Paris | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment