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Posts tagged ‘Love.’

I Am Someone’s Mommy

I’ve spoken before about how I often feel like an afterthought in my son’s eyes. How his Dad can do no wrong and I’m a pain in his ass. Sean’s the playmate. I’m the teacher. He’s the joy. I’m the heavy. My illness makes me weak and Sean seems like the most capable man in the world. His Dad shapes breakfast into starships and his Mom insists he put on shoes before we leave the house (the injustice!). I’ve come to accept that, for the most part, I’m lame and Sean’s cool. I don’t like it but, I’ve come to terms with it. He may love us both the same but, I can’t compete. I’m his rock but his Dad’s his Hero and a Hero throws a pretty large shadow.

The other night however, Lochlan was sick. Not crazy sick, just bad cold sick and it had been a long day so, after I put him to bed, I went to sleep myself. Sean was out and, when he got home, Loch woke up and started calling for me. Apparently, no matter what he did, Loch was still asking for me so, eventually, Sean came to wake me up. He apologized, saying he’d tried everything but, Loch just “really needed his Mommy.” 

This is literally how Sean presents Loch's breakfast. There's no competing with that!

This is literally how Sean presents Loch’s breakfast. There’s just no competing with that!

Here’s the thing, I’m an insomniac. Sleep is a struggle for me. When I’m already asleep, I REALLY hate getting up because once I’m up, I’m often up for hours. I’ve spent way too many nights just staring into the darkness worrying, writing notes, breaking down and trolling Facebook, counting the ever shrinking hours until I have to be out of bed again and, just waiting for the sleep that doesn’t come. It’s incredibly frustrating and I really do my best to avoid it at all costs.

I didn’t want to get out of bed that night. I didn’t want to be awake until 3am exhausted at home the next day with a sick child but, my baby was calling for me so, it didn’t matter what I wanted, I was going. I understood. Sometimes you just need your Mom.

He blew his nose and I gave him more cold medicine to break up the phlegm. I refluffed his pillows, straighten his sheets and flipped his blankets and, when he was finally settled, I sang. I sang the lullaby I’ve been singing to him since the first day he was born. I sang it soft and low while I patted his back and scratched his arm. He lay on his side, his little hand resting on my knee and I could feel his tiny shoulder blades through his t-shirt, the little hairs on his forearm, the impossibly soft skin on the top of his hand. I sang and sang and, finally, I just sat. I listened to him breathe. I listened to the sound of his stuffiness, to his little, muffled girggles and, then I made the disastrous mistake of asking if he wanted to blow his nose.

“Mom! You woke me up!!” (I didn’t). “You’re going to have to do it all over again but, this time when you’re done, don’t talk to me after ok?”

“Ok, babe. Sorry about that.” (He’s sick, I’ll give him a break on the tone he’s using.) “DO you want to blow your nose though?”

“Um…Yes.” (blow)

I started again. The singing, the back patting, the arm tickles but, this time, I became aware of how amazing the moment was. I’d passed the fresh out of bed, trying to get back to it phase. I was there now, awake, in it, and the intimacy of the moment, the warmth of being there in the dark with him, the satisfaction of being able to give him the affection he needed, it all overwhelmed me. I was struck by the fact that my love for him had become a tangible thing. A security blanket he craved. Something he needed to hold on to. My very presence was like a xynax for his soul. Despite all the hero worship, in this moment, it was me who made a difference. Me who was required.

IMG_7903The thing is, being diagnosed when Loch was 5 months old, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to experience that feeling. It didn’t seem as if I’d be around long enough to ever really matter to him. To be remembered or, make any lasting impression on his life but, sitting there quietly on the side of his bed just allowing the song to settle, I recognized I’d made it. I’d lived long enough, and put in enough effort, to register as essential and, it felt amazing.

Eventually I took his hand off my knee, stood up, walked to his doorway and…

Tripped on his door stop.


“Sorry! Sorry Lochie! I didn’t see it.” (Ow. My toe.)

“Can you sing it again?” (It’s my own fault. Damn you rock.)

“Of course baby.”

I crossed back to his bed and sat down. I felt his little hand searching for my knee in the dark.

“When you’re done will you tuck me in too?”

“Do you want your arms under the blankets?”

“No, just my shoulder.”

“Ok, babe. I’ll do that.”

IMG_7838I wasn’t annoyed. I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t rushing to get back to bed. I knew I would be there for as long as he needed me. His little, pudgy fingers softly moved against the flannel of my pants as I started the song again and, this time, I found myself getting choked up. For all it’s efforts, being a parent is an incredible blessing. What an honor it is to be the person who can calm and improve a situation simply with your presence. How extraordinary to be the one looked to for help and guidance, the one who offers security and, in this case, how touching to be the one chosen. The one required above all others.

I sang the song two more times, even after I knew he was asleep, not wanting the moment to end and, every time I sang, the importance of my role grew on me. The repetition was a gift that allowed me to see the wonder.

I am Lochlan’s Mom and, no matter what ends up happening to me, I can say with all certainty that I mattered. That I made an impression on this small, wonderful boy’s life. To him I was irreplaceable.

Thank you Sean. Thank you Lochlan’s cold. Thank you stupid door stop. Thank you beautiful son. Thank you lovely and haunting “Bye Oh By Baby”.

I went right to sleep that night, a completely happy girl and, a totally fulfilled mother.

Blessings to you all.

xo leigh



A Lesson in Love

Dear Loch,

Love is the most important thing in your life. It is now, when you’re small and dependent on your parents’ love and protection. It will be when you’re grown and find a home in the heart of another, and it will culminate in the love you’ll feel for your future children. But for this the season of cupids and cards, let’s put parental love aside and focus on romantic love which you will experience all varieties – obsession, heartbreak, ambivalence, lust, desire – throughout your life. Ultimately you should look to find yourself an equal, a partner who not only turns your head but fills your soul. Love, at it’s essence is acceptance. If it’s right you should feel supported for who you are and encouraged to become who you want to be. Love is not all passionate getaways and happily ever afters but at it’s heart, it has the ability to bring moments of true magic.

I’ve written about your father before, my love for him, the great blessing of finding such a partner, the struggles of marriage that befall any couple. I’ve spoken about dating and navigating your way through the discovery of love. But in the month of St. Valentine I want you to know that though love will be the most important thing in your life, you can’t make it your sole focus. I pray great love will find you but I want to encourage you to live your life and experience its many joys while you wait for it. Finding the right person is a blessing but before that person arrives there are bound to be some disappointments and it’s best if you are aware enough to handle them.

I can’t prepare you to deal with heartbreak. It’s something you just have to live through. All I can say is there’s life after heartbreak if you don’t let it to ruin you. Heartbreak, though painful, is a good sign. It means you committed. You put yourself out there and in doing so truly allowed yourself the best chance of success. It’s my belief that true love can only be attained from an open and unguarded heart. It’s hideously gut wrenching when it doesn’t work out but it’s better to be unsuccessful because you gave too much than to fail because you couldn’t give enough. People who guard their heart so tightly that they’re unable to truly commit or relax with another are the people I truly feel sorry for. You’ll get over heartbreak but you’ll never find true love if you aren’t willing to experience it.

I’m can’t say for certain if boys and girls experience love the same way. I believe as we age men and women treat and see love in remarkably similar ways but I wonder, as you traverse the path of young love, if I can truly relate to you on your level. In my experience boys always seemed less invested in affairs of the heart. Not to say they weren’t committed or didn’t get hurt just that they seemed to have a stronger ability to disconnect, move on, or play the field. Male dating behavior seemed to involve a lot less crying and certainly less rehashing of minutia details. Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps boys feel everything just as strongly but gender bias forces them into silence. I guess I’ll never really know until perhaps I watch you go through it.

However it plays out I can tell you that when love takes hold it can control your behavior, your feelings, your choices, it can even change the person you become. People don’t start out bitter they get that way. Disappointment in love can cause great misery and if you experience it over and over it’s difficult not to allow past sorrows to dictate your future possibilities. The important thing is to keep the faith. Throughout my life of rather dismal dating experiences I  never lost hope that there was someone out there for me. That hope didn’t prevent my suffering but it allowed me not to get trapped in it. For all the pain, I was never jaded.

Your younger years are full of unrequited love. It’s the way of the world. We all want what we can’t have. High School is tough. Certain people are considered the pinnacle of desire and others their pale comparison. You could navigate these waters without a hitch or struggle to keep up. The key is not to let it define you. Whether you’re the BMOC or the awkward guy trying to find his place, everything is fluid. Everything changes. Have confidence that becoming the best version of you will attract the right people for you. Don’t change to fit in. Don’t conform. Don’t become someone your not. Never do things you aren’t comfortable with to make someone love you. The greatest relationships I saw as a young person were not between the “coolest” people but the people who were coolest with themselves.

My lack of teen dating success can be boiled down to fear. I set my sights too high on older boys, or boys who only loved the beauties, and more often than not I allowed the opinions of others to dictate my choices. There were boys I could have gone out with, nice boys, boys I liked, but they couldn’t live up to the people I’d put on a pedestal or else my friend’s didn’t approve. Either way, I didn’t have a boyfriend till I was nineteen and the only person I have to blame for that is myself.

juliet's balcony and statue in

juliet’s balcony and statue in Verona.

I wrote a boy’s name on the walls of Juliet’s house in Verona one summer when I was backpacking through Italy. I made it small and subtle and kissed the spot it was written. In those days I dreamed of love but I’d yet to experience it. I fantasized about boys who didn’t care about me and spent my time making out with boys I didn’t care about. I aspired to great love but settled for trivial attachments.

By University I was able to value myself more and compare myself less. I dated a lot, had a series of mediocre, short lived romances and one serious relationship that introduced me, for better or worse, to capital L, Love. I lost myself in that relationship and it wasn’t till it was over that I was able to pull myself out from under it. Loving someone can be the most powerful thing you do but it can break you and you have to be strong enough not to let it. You have to know who you are and have a clear enough sense of self worth that even if you lose yourself in a relationship for a while, you can walk away knowing you’ll never do it again. Problems start, not when you make mistakes, but when you repeat them.

Even the things that appear to be perfect can surprise you. I have a darling friend who had the most grown up, open, respectful relationship in High School. They were so well suited to each other, so in love, so devoted that no one questioned them ever breaking up.  They made plans for the future and stayed together as we all went off to University. When he ended their five year relationship over the phone because he’d met someone else she was completely blindsided. Sadly, this happens. We change so much as we grow that ideal relationships from one phase of our life may not work in another. This happens with location as much as it does with time. You meet someone at camp or on vacation and it’s perfect, you try and make it work when you get home and it fails. The saddest thing about my friend is I think she believes she had her shot at great love and lost it. She’s never been as sure of herself, her gifts and talents as she was when we were kids. She’s never asked as much from a man again and, in a disturbingly self fulfilling way, no man since has been worthy of her. It breaks my heart she’s still alone. She’s so deserving of love. Life is hard but it’s so much harder by yourself.

When I was in my mid-twenties a boy who’d always been pleasantly dismissive in my teens, looked at me across a pool and said, “I should have been nicer to you in High School”. It might have been a kind and aware thing to say – a young man suddenly realizing how superior he and his friends had been to all but a few of us – but what was really happening is he was hitting on me. He was saying, “Hey, you turned out way hotter than I thought you would and I should have laid some groundwork when I was younger because I don’t have as much of a chance now.” He wasn’t wrong.

Ironically, a lot of the boys I’d pined for seemed to return as I got older. It was as if they’d always been interested in me the person, but now that I looked differently they could commit to being interested in me the girl. Keeping this in mind, never judge potential partners on too narrow a list of requirements and try not to idolize. You can’t fight chemistry, you’re either attracted to someone or you’re not, but make sure you like the person inside the package. You’re convinced someone’s perfect for you? Make sure your perception matches the reality. Love a person not the ideal and understand people can grow in relationships, improve or degrade depending on the love, but ultimately you can’t change someone. We can be better versions of ourselves -clean up, learn new skills, get better looking – but at the end of the day we are who we are and deserve to be loved for that person first.

You shouldn’t have to second guess love. I was never totally at ease with anyone before your Dad. I knew I only had a tenuous hold on most of them, they were only partially committed to me and no matter how much I cared it was never going to be right. When I met your Dad, I knew immediately. I always say, I could have told you I’d marry him on our first date, but if I was being truly honest, I think I knew the first time we made eye contact. There was something about that moment – a recognition, a stillness and I never questioned it. I may have a million terrible dating stories but I never doubted I deserved love or could make someone truly happy. I knew I was worthy of someone who would meet me at my level. Getting to know your Dad was like coming home and everything that came before had lead me there. I didn’t need to lower my standards or expect less. I didn’t have to pretend or settle. When we got engaged I knew in my heart it was the right decision and it took everything that came before to prepare me to recognize that.

Love to the fullest. Don’t guard yourself or hold back thinking it’s safe. You will experience hurt but it’s part of the journey. Things have a way of working themselves out.

Believe in love. Have faith in love. Respect love and in the end it will respect you.

Happy Valentines.

Love forever,

Your Mommy xo

The path to true love is never smooth.

The path to true love is never smooth.

Deliberate Acts of Kindness

Before I begin, I’d like to say I’ve been asked to become a regular contributor to the online magazine My article about the prevalence of perfection in today’s cyber world is currently published and I’ll have a political piece right before the election. Please feel free to check it out. Move is a fabulous site well worth the bookmark. xo leigh

Sean and I recently received a letter from some dear friends of ours. It was a lovely card that said “Every Single Day, Do Something That Makes Your Heart Sing”. Inside there was a heartfelt note saying they were thinking of us and how very much we meant to them. They had also included a check for a substantial amount of money. They wrote “In thinking of you, God has put it in our hearts to send you something”. These extraordinary people went on to say it was a “GIFT” to use as we saw fit “medical bills, something fun, whatever”. Their one condition was that we never bring it up. They had included it because they felt the “point of us all being here is to take care of one another and help when we can.”

Sean and I were completely floored. We’ve never spoken directly with them about our struggles. Truly only a few family members and an inner circle of close friends are aware of our burdens. Some of our problems might be garnered from this blog but, as a couple, we make a concerted effort to try to outwardly portray the success and solidity we hope to achieve, even when it feels like everything is falling apart. The fact that these incredibly lovely people could sense our distress and felt the need to reach out and help us – in such a meaningful and generous way – was overwhelming.

We are struggling. It’s an uncomfortable time. We’ve never been in such a strong position as far as changing our circumstances – Sean’s producing, my writing – but we’ve also never been in such a tenuous position as far as financial strain. The stress is terrible. I know I should try and relax but I can’t. It can be overwhelming. I feel I have to keep moving. To try harder every day. To just keep all the balls in the air. I know I can’t work any harder, but until my book’s published or I start getting paid to write, I’m not contributing in any tangible way to our situation. I’m simply a super-over-extended-volunteer and the same goes for Sean. He’s back at the bar, which he hates but it puts money into our account, but he spends almost every waking hour working at a job that has yet to garner any financial reward. He’s gifted and driven and devoted to bettering our lives, but everything he does – every audition he works on, every pitch he designs, every layout he creates – he does without a paycheck. I know it’ll be worth it. More than his acting career, which is forever in someone else’s hands, I know producing will work out because how hard you work and how good you are is rewarded in a career where you retain the power. You can be the best actor in the world but never make it. That’s the nature of the beast. However, if you’re the one coming up with the ideas, eventually people will catch on, and then they’ll pay you for it. As far as I’m concerned, the question isn’t whether it’ll all work out, but when, and can we hold on till it does?

Back to the card.

Our first reaction was stunned silence. Are people actually that selfless? They’re not zillionaires. They have their own worries, issues and dependents. Why would they do that for us? Our next thought was that we couldn’t possibly accept their generosity. Sean put it well when he said his “pride hurt”. It was as if their kindness made us feel worse about ourselves. Essentially shining a spotlight on our indignity. We discussed returning the check, saying thank you but no, but wondered if that wasn’t going against the spirit in which it was given. Ultimately, after much soul searching, we decided the honorable thing to do was to accept it. To use it as it was intended, alleviate some of our worries, and when circumstances allowed A: Take our friends out to a fantastic dinner and B: Pay it forward.

The giving of an unsolicited (and much needed) gift has changed us. We will never forget this kindness and we eagerly await the day we can bestow it on another. We hope to do it as our friends have, not for recognition or gratitude, but just to know that we could help and to remind us that despite what human nature often shows, we’re all in this together and if we look out for one another, the world can truly be a better place.

Sean and I feel incredibly blessed. Yes, there’s some shame associated with our current situation, but we work every day to rectify it. For every person that does something horrible like attempt to steal our car (which happened last week and left us with a mangled door and no steering wheel) there’s someone who does something exceptionally kind (like our friend who recently gave Sean theatre tickets because he knew we were dying to see a show but couldn’t afford to go). For every low day we’re left to wonder why it has to be so hard, there’s a brilliant night spent among friends that reminds us what’s really important. I know my parents wouldn’t let me die if I couldn’t afford my drugs or allow us to fall to a place where I had to pull Loch out of school, but I’m also not in the position to fall back on them anymore. They’re no longer able to be my safety net and it’s an incredibly scary awakening. Sean and I struggle every day to realize our dreams while still affording our reality. It’s arduous and humbling but we keep telling ourselves we’ll survive. We’ll survive and it’ll be worth it.

Receiving a check from our friends was a shock, a tremendous blessing of overwhelming kindness, but a shock. Needing or asking for money has always been slightly humiliating and come with a fair amount of strings, but here we were receiving something unsolicited and without stipulation. To return it, simply because it was too kind seemed the wrong thing to do, especially since we can see it as the start of something bigger than ourselves. A chain reaction of compassion that we look forward to continuing.

I don’t often speak about God but I believe he brings people into our lives for a reason and inspires us to do things when we can. He can give us strength and hope and, in this case, he inspired our friends to offer us relief that one day we’ll be able to offer another.


All this reminds me of a story I recently heard about an employee at an Oregon Target. The employee was ringing up a family and when she ran the customer’s credit card it was denied. The man tried another card but it was also rejected. He apologetically moved to the side with his wife and baby to call his bank. The next customer, who had witnessed the transaction, quietly asked to add the man’s bill to her tab. When the employee informed her it was $160, the woman said to do it anyway. She said she knew what it was like to need help. When the man returned to tell the employee he couldn’t pay for the groceries, the employee was pleased to tell him the debt had already been paid. When the family understood what had happened the wife began to cry. They were overwhelmed someone could be so kind. The husband said, “I didn’t have the money to pay my bill but I do have a $20 in my wallet. I’d like to leave it for the next person.” When the next person found their bill had been paid by a stranger they left money to help pay for the next bill, and the kindness continued. The Target employee was so moved by what  she witnessed she posted the entire story on Facebook and it went viral. She said the woman would never know the impact she’d made on so many people, and although not everyone is able to pay someone else’s $160 bill, doing what you can can when you can, can impact someone for the rest of their life.

That’s how Sean and I feel. Not only by the shocking generosity of our friends’ gift, but by the compassion so many people have offered us over time. It’s our hope, that we have in the past, and will continue in the future, to fill that role in other’s lives. We hope to take this lesson in generosity and bestow it on others. We will never forget what it’s like to need help, and how very much it means when it’s given.

Love and thanks to ALL our guardian angels. You humble us. We are better for knowing you.

xo Leigh

Love and Dating

Dear Loch,

So, this past weekend we hosted your wedding. It wasn’t our intention, but you and your friend Shiloh were so into the idea of getting married that her mother finally called and said, “I think we’re going to have to do this thing.” Once confirming that the bride and groom both understood it was, in fact, a (said in a whisper) “pretend” wedding, the parents got to planning. The thing about me and your Dad (and, as it turns out, the bride’s parents) is that we can’t do something at 70%. A wedding to you guys basically consisted of fancy clothes, an aisle, vows and cake – with cake being the big draw. The adults added flowers, snacks, a decorated venue, ring pop favors and, thanks to Shiloh’s mom’s job, a limo – so guests under 5 could drive around the block for 20 minutes. Ridiculous? Maybe. Super fun playdate with a theme? Definitely. When I asked the flower guy at the grocery store if I could have any roses they were going to throw away, he asked me what they were for. I said I wanted to use the petals to decorate a 4-year-old wedding. He said, “For someone who’s been married 4 years?” and I said, “No, for a wedding of 4-year-olds.” He looked at me like I was cracked. I explained that everyone involved knew it was just for fun. But this morning when you told me that, now that you’re married, you and Shiloh would be “getting an apartment”, I wasn’t so sure. I said, “You’re not getting an apartment. You’re staying here with me. You know you’re not really married right?” You looked at me like, duh… and said, “I knooooow Mommy. But when I really marry Shiloh one day, we’ll get an apartment.” I said, “I hope you get one before that.” 

The thing is, if you grow up and marry Shiloh, that would be fantastic. She’s a darling girl and we love her family. Plus, telling people you got married for the first time at 4, would be pretty hilarious. But, you don’t know who the heck you’re going to marry, and I’d hate you to rush headlong to the finish line of relationships before exploring the whole exciting gamut of love and dating. As I’ve said before, I love being married and I’d love it for you, but there are so many wonderful things to happen between now and then. Don’t miss out by trying to achieve the end result.

Your Dad was a long-term-relationship guy, and judging by your adoration of the female sex – your penchant for complimenting women, and the fact that you notice things like when I’ve had my hair or nails done – you might be too. I, on the other hand, dated a lot, and had only a handful of real relationships before I met your Dad. That was good too. I’d hazard to say I probably had more fun than your Dad, but I also had more heartbreak, so it’s a toss up to which is better. I’d like to see you have a lot of experiences. To date women that aren’t right for you, and women you think are, but turn out not to be. I’d rather you to go all in, and feel the crushing sting of a failed relationship, than hang back and choose the safe or easy path. Love in itself is a risk but it’s a risk worth taking over and over again.

As you start your dating adventures I have a couple words of advice. Keep in mind I was a pretty avid dater in my time and I ended up with a great spouse, so I kind of know what I’m talking about. Plus, I’m a woman, and that gives me some insight you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to.

I'm not saying you have to date any of these scarf models from I'm just saying you don't have to stick to only one type of girl.

Try not to have a “type”. I can’t speak to who you should be attracted, that’s just chemistry, but try to avoid limiting yourself to a certain hair color or look. Avoid saying things like, “I don’t date (fill in the blank) type of girls.” You never know where you’ll make a connection, and if you close those doors without finding out what’s behind them, you might be missing out on a great love affair – or at least a great story.

When asking a girl out, be direct. Decide what you want to do- go to a dance, a movie, dinner – and man up and ask.  You can be casual, “We should go out sometime” or “I’d like to take you out this weekend. You interested?” “Are you going the dance?”  Yes? “Great. You want to go with me?”  I’m not sure? “Well you should. Let me take you.” Or something like, “I want to check out this new restaurant/band/movie, you wanna go?”  I can’t promise everyone will say yes. Keep in mind what I said about regrets, the ones that say no often do it for reasons that have nothing to do with you whatsoever, but at the very least she’ll be flattered and impressed by your confidence. Just be sure you’re clear with your intentions. You go further being bold. You don’t want people to say, I think he was asking me out…

Oh, and a smile never hurts.

My first date was with a boy named Andrew Westlake. I was 9 or 10 and he asked me to the movies.  His mother drove us to the theatre and sat behind us with his little brother. I remember his brother teasing us and Andrew freaking out. I remember chocolate covered raisins. I remember his mom trying to give us some privacy by not talking to us. But mostly I remember feeling special.

Make your dates feel special. Pay attention to what they say and act like a gentleman. It’s always nice to start with a sincere compliment. Not random, placating niceties, as they come off as shallow and calculated, but something you believe to be true and say out loud. “You look really pretty”. Or, “Those jeans look awesome”. You want to be candid and genuine. Trust me, girls know the difference. Plus, I guarantee she put some serious energy into how she looks. Acknowledge the result. It’ll make her more confident, which makes her more comfortable, which ultimately makes the date more successful.

A successful date is one where the conversation is easy, the company is good, and the time just flys by. If the physical attraction is there too, then you’re golden. Sometimes you’ll find yourself on a date with someone you found physically attractive, but once you’re out with them, it’s kinda tough. I dated an investment banker in New York once who was handsome, smart, romantic, and had a ridiculously enormous 2 floor apartment that I hosted a number of parties at (trust me, that was a big deal). Sadly, we just didn’t click. "Snowy Park at Night"

One winter night, we were walking through a beautiful, empty, East Village park. The trees had ice on every branch so they sparkled in the lamp light, the ground was lightly dusted with snow, and there was a slight mist, so everything just seemed magical. I commented on the beauty and asked if he had to choose a way to describe it, what way would he choose? When he looked at me with consternation, I elaborated. Take a photo? Write a poem? Draw a picture? His face was blank, and he said something like, “Why would I want to do that?”  I let it go, but in that moment, I knew we were over. Zero. Imagination.

That’s the thing, someone can be good on paper, and not right for you in real life. When I first moved to LA, I met a guy on Halloween. I was, if you can stand it, at the Playboy Party – sadly, not at the Mansion. I met a guy dressed in a full superhero costume. Afro wig. Tights. Mask. The whole deal. He was pretty funny so I gave him my number. We talked a couple of times on the phone and then met for a date. This sounds ridiculous, but when I saw him again, out of costume, I was disappointed.

Rick Eades,

I was disappointed not because he was unattractive, but because he was too attractive. Too chiseled. To generically handsome. I guess I’d gotten it into my head that he was this quirky dude, and this guy was not what I expected. But I thought to myself, Really Leigh? He’s too handsome?! Get a grip! At dinner I found out he was not only an ex-fighter pilot for the air force, but a Harvard Grad who lived at the beach and worked for a Hedge Fund. He had a motorcycle and took weekend trips to Palm Springs and Vegas. On paper he was perfect. In real life, I wasn’t sure if I was attracted to him. For our second date he invited me to a BBQ at a friend’s house. I drove to his place in Manhatten Beach thinking, Ok, this might be something… When I got there his house at the beach turned out to be a glorified frat he shared with multiple buddies. It was the kind of place you’d be afraid to walk barefoot or use the bathroom, not the place of a 30-something man. I was happy to leave it to go grocery shopping, until we got to the store and he was all, “Babe this” and “Hon, that”. “Grab the mustard, kay babe?” When did we become a long term couple? We’d skipped like 15 steps. By the time we got to his friend’s, he was acting like he couldn’t wait for our wedding and I was weirded out. When he got hammered and hit me with a “You can drive, right babe?”, I was done. On paper can be deceiving. I thought I could ignore the lack of chemistry by focusing on his credentials and, subsequently, looking at me on paper, he thought he could just plop me into the girlfriend box. It doesn’t work that way. When he leaned in to kiss me that night, I put my hand in front of my face and high fived him. I think I actually said, “High Five!” It was pretty awkward. I never saw him again.

As a general rule, I think men should pay on a date. I know we’re liberated and all that, but I’d advise you to still pick up the tab. It’s old school, but classy, and chicks dig it. Don’t go broke dating a girl, or try to impress her with expensive places or gifts. Sometimes too fancy/expensive is a turn off in itself. It comes off as needy. Thoughtful gifts almost always trump pricey ones, and if you don’t have the cash don’t pretend you do. Just don’t be stingy with your attention or your  wallet. Cheap is unattractive.

Consider your date’s interests. See what she likes before making plans. Never show up with the thoughtless, “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”  Take charge. Just be sure not to push or try too hard. I dated a guy that always had to plan a big thing. A grand gesture. Going to see Rent and then going to the top of the Empire State Building. Tour of the Hudson on a riverboat and then dinner at some swanky place. He was more into showing off than getting to know me. I told him I wasn’t ready to be committed. I was. I just wasn’t ready to be committed to him.

Don’t get wasted on a date. At least not alone. If you’re out having a ball and you’re both buzzed, fine. Just don’t get sloppy (try and avoid this whether you’re on a date or not). Don’t get her wasted to make things easier. It’s obvious and weak. Earn the action you want, don’t try and trick her into it.

Jon Pratt Photo

I went to the movies with a guy in Montreal once who hadn’t bothered to check the times, so we were an hour and a half early. We went to a pub and he proceeded to order 6 shots of tequila. I didn’t want tequila but he didn’t care. I did one shot, to placate him and stop the barrage of “Don’t be a pussy“, and he did the other 5. He proceeded to get in a fight with a guy he claimed owed him money, made me write down the guy’s contact information, and ordered and drank 3 more beers. During the film he kept trying to grope me, and when the movie was over he ended up screaming at me on the street because I’d had the audacity to hold the door for him. His arm was in a sling from a rugby injury and, in his mind, I was trying to emasculate him by treating him like an invalid. I told him he wasn’t an invalid, he was an idiot. I never saw him again either.

Be on time. This is a good rule for life. Promptness is both appreciated and respected. I wasn’t so great with being on time growing up, so I’m putting more emphasis on it now. If you’re going to be late, let the other person know. There is no excuse for not doing it in the cell phone age. And if you are late, for goodness sakes, apologize. I once went on a date with a guy I’d met shooting a deep sea fishing television pilot. (Don’t ask) I was one of the only people that didn’t barf on the very rough sea. For this reason, and this reason alone, I came off as more attractive than my model costar. All 5’10” of her Swedish body was literally green. My future date was a friend of the producer financing the shoot. We made plans to meet for dinner at a little Italian place in the West Village. I ended up sitting at a table in the window for 45 minutes drinking alone. No call. No text. Nothing. I was about to leave when he breezed though the door without the least bit of contrition. Everything in my body said, Get up. Go. Leave him with the bill. I wanted to say something cool like, “Ok, I’m glad you’re alive. I had too Pinot’s. Be sure to pay the man.” But did I do that? No. I let him talk me into staying for dinner where he proceeded to talk about himself for the whole evening. I knew I was better off not to return his calls after that.

If you’re on a date that isn’t working out, see it to the end, and then exit as politely as you can. Don’t extend it. Don’t go for drinks.  Don’t say you’ll call. Be kind and hit the road. If it’s just unbearably terrible – she’s a fall down drunk, or a racist, or crazy – then call a spade a spade and excuse yourself. “This isn’t really working out. I think we should call it a night.”

If you’re ending more than a date, do it with grace and class. Don’t use social media. Don’t have a friend do it. My first boyfriend – and I use the term loosely as I’m not sure if we were ever alone in the same room – had his best friend tell me he wanted to end it. Even as a 12-year-old I knew that was lame. At minimum, make the call yourself. In person’s better, but not without mess. My boyfriend from first year theatre school blindsided me with a a breakup in Central Park and I lost it. I acted like a crazy woman. I stumbled out of the park in a haze of tears. I’m sure the people on the subway thought someone had died. In my defense, I was in a pretty dramatic phase in my life and that breakup was a culmination of many bad breakups, so my reaction was a bit extreme. I was also devastated because he gave me no reason. It was just over.

Always try and give a reason. One she can learn from like “This is just too intense”. You’re basically saying, “You’re too intense” but in a way she can process and maybe learn from. Or give her one she can move on from like, “I don’t want to be in something serious right now” or “I have to concentrate on my work”. She’ll be sad but she can feel it wasn’t her, and she can’t fix it or change your mind because it’s not up for negotiation. Just be compassionate. Being dumped hurts like hell. Do it as nicely as possible, just make sure you do it. I dated a guy for 2 months that literally left my apartment one morning and just stopped talking to me. Nothing had happened. It was just as if we’d never met. At least, by that time in my life, I had the foresight to tell him off when I ran into him on the street months later. I was calm and concise. I told him he handled what had happened with us ‘badly’. I said next time he shouldn’t be such a coward, and just have the balls to tell the girl it’s over instead of just running away. His mouth was hanging open as I walked away. It was a great moment.

If you’re the one getting dumped – and I’m sorry you are – it’s the same thing. Have dignity, class and balls. Never argue or debate their decision. It’s made. Challenging it only makes you look desperate and doesn’t improve your chances of getting back together, if that’s what you want. My first boyfriend in NY dumped me out of the blue after we’d seen each other, at his insistence, every day for 3 months straight. He’d invited me away for the weekend to meet his mom, but I had to work. When he got back he told me he “needed space”. I acted cool, like it was totally normal that he’d asked to go away to meet his mother and now wasn’t sure if we should be together. When we had lunch about a week later, I brought him a postcard of the Grand Canyon. I thought I was being light and funny. That’s space isn’t it? But it was already over. I’m glad I acted cool, but I regret not asking some questions. What had changed? Why was he doing this? It wouldn’t have altered the outcome but I could have saved me months of wondering.

If you’re in a relationship enjoy it. Who cares if your friends ride you for being AWOL for a while. They’ll get you back eventually. Relationships, especially new relationships, are so exciting. Being wrapped up in love is the best. Just remember there’s a whole world out there, and once you surface from the initial haze, broaden your horizons.

If you get to a point in the relationship that you feel like straying, have the courtesy to break up with her first. I only cheated on one boyfriend. I knew it wasn’t going to work out long term, and when I met this other guy, I thought I’d see where it went before I made any changes. Essentially, I hedged my bets. My boyfriend was away most weekends so I started casually dating the other to see if it was something worth breaking up for. The affair imploded – as things tend to do when you’re not being honest – and I stayed with my boyfriend for another 3 months, but it was never the same. I had one foot out the door and should have just ended it when my affections had strayed. It doesn’t work out much better when you’re the “cheatee”. I’ve been the ‘other woman’ a couple of times and it’s sexy for a moment, and then it’s just depressing. One guy’s girlfriend lived across the country and we’d never met. As far as I was concerned she didn’t exist. But it was almost as if he was just filling his time with me till he could be with her. It made me feel used and shi**y. The other time I thought I’d found my soul mate our connection was so strong. I truly believed he’d leave her for me. He did leave her, but for one of the other girls he was fooling around with. I was heartbroken…and stupid. Affairs only lead to pain. In the world of dating if you find yourself about to cheat, hold off. It’s much more fun if you’re both available. Maybe not as sexy, secrets can be hot, but definitely more worthwhile.

One last note on cheating: I’m of the belief that if you cheat, it’s on you. You’re the one who screwed up, so you should be the one to suffer. People confess to alleviate their own guilt, but it only serves to hurt the person who did nothing wrong and doesn’t deserve the pain. Don’t rub your dalliance in their face. If you cheat or want to cheat, accept the obvious – the relationship is probably over – and be mature enough to end it. In a long term relationship like a marriage, my opinions on this issue are slightly less cut and dry. But sufficed to say, I’m anti-cheating.

When dating be confident. No girl wants a guy she can push around. Flexible, but not whipped. Girls like puppy dogs but they don’t respect them. Be honest with what you like – food, movies, people, interests – but also about how you feel – regarding issues, behavior, and feelings.  Be yourself. Have, and be proud of, your opinions and if she doesn’t get you, f*$# her. Her loss.

Dating and love are exciting. Sometimes painful, but for the most part pretty awesome. Every new person teaches you something about what you want, and what you don’t want. What you need, and what you like. What works for you, and what doesn’t. When I finally found your Dad, it was easy for me to get married. I’d done single, and I’d done it well. I didn’t need to wonder what else was out there or if I was doing the right thing. I knew. I knew because I’d done the work. I knew the landscape and I could say with all certainty this was a good plan. I believe it can work if you marry young, or marry your high school/college sweetheart, I just think it’s those couples who are more likely to wonder what they missed, or be the ones pining for the things they never got to do. I got to do them. It was fun. It was painful. It was wild, and then it was over. On the first date with your Dad I turned the page and understood that one chapter was closed, and another one was beginning. And I was ready.

Enjoy the ride until you’re ready.

I love you.

xo your mama

The exact moment your Dad proposed. Taken from a video camera your Dad hid in the trees..

Good Night My Angel

Dear Lochie,

You are 3 1/2 and I just left your bedroom where you fell asleep in my arms. You’ve never done that before. Not even when you were a little baby. I hadn’t seen you all day. Mondays are my day to work. Dad takes you for the day. You go to your co-op preschool in the morning (9-12), have a picnic in the park and then go to your other preschool in the afternoon (1-4). I got home from acupuncture and while your Dad prepared dinner (take note, this will make your future wife very happy), we played ‘Winter’ for about 10 minutes. We made “snowmen” and “snow balls” and “snow angels” in our imaginary snow and then we ate. You told me about your day. How you’d played fireman and carwash, and how at your “old school” (the co-op) you now have your own box with your name on it. With such pride you told me. “It’s black on top and grey on the bottom!!”. I know you’re working on books with the other “graduates” that the parents will get at the end of the year. You told me you are getting ready for kindergarden. You don’t understand yet that you are younger than all your friends and still have another year of preschool before you get to kindergarden. It’s ok. It’ll be nice that you are one of the oldest when you start. It’s just too bad that all your friends now will be a grade ahead of you. That’ll matter for a while…

But I’m off topic. After dinner daddy went to work in the office and you and I played ‘Seasons’. We did a highlight from every month and acted it out. October, Daddy’s birthday. November, Thanksgiving/raking and throwing leaves. December, Christmas!!! January, New Years. February, Lochie’s Birthday, etc… By the time we were at the cottage in August it was time to brush your teeth. You still don’t dig our grown up toothpaste but your teeth look so much better that I can deal with the complaints. We went to bed. One story became two, two became three, and my insistence that I wasn’t going to snuggle was abandoned when I realized that I WANTED to snuggle. I hadn’t seen you all day! I got my iPhone and played you some quiet songs. We’d never done that before and I think we both loved it. You took my arm and wrapped it around you and that was it. You just drifted off to sleep. I could smell your just showered head of hair which is somehow already messed up. I could feel your little ribs going up and down. Your tiny lips were on the back of my hand as you’d given it a kiss when you wrapped my arm around you, and I just didn’t want to move. Often when we snuggle I go to get up and you say “Don’t leave me. Don’t leave”. Because I’m sick I always read into that. I know in my head that you are just a kid wanting his mom to stay, but my fear sometimes gets the best of me and I think maybe you’re a sage, and because of your purity you know something I don’t. I worry that I am going somewhere and you are asking me not to.

I promise you this Loch. If I can help it, I am staying. I love my life. I love you and Daddy. I love the sun and the water and the cottage and my parents and our family. I love traveling. I love going out to dinner. I love Christmas and my birthday. I love your birthday. I love the sound of your voice and being in your daddy’s arms. I love laughing and being with friends. I love alone time and reading. I even love television and shopping. I love being alive. I want so much to live. Selfishly though, I want to live as me. Not as some marginalized version of myself. I know I can’t do all I would like anymore, and even precious young you knows I have “bad lungs”, but I am still me. I don’t have to deal with so much that people who have PH have to deal with. I have no oxygen tank. I have no heart cathitar. I look, for all intensive purposes, normal and healthy. But I’m greedy. I want to stay like that. I want my life AND I want to recognize the person in the mirror.

I want you to know me as I am now. I hope you do. I want you to know that I love swinging you around and giving you piggy backs and being your “horse”. I wish I could do it more. I love being with you and making up games and voices and songs. I can’t stop kissing and hugging you and I’ve already taught you that three hand squeezes means “I. Love. You.”. I love being your mom. You are the center of my universe. If I do get sicker you won’t know this version of me and that scares me. If I should die you’re too young to really remember me at all and that devastates me. I don’t want to be just a picture in a frame.

It’s not fair Loch. It’s not fair your mom’s sick. But I’m grateful. So grateful to have this time with you. Every day is a blessing. I know that in my head even though it’s often hard to see through the sadness in my heart or the anger in my gut. Every day I have is a gift and I’m doing my best not to squander it. I’m still someone who cares about my weight and yells at automated systems. I’m not perfect or calm or zen. I do, however, have perspective on the frailty of life that gives me clarity on what’s important.

Try and get that perspective in your life without the sick part. Focus on what’s really significant. Spend the time with those you love. Send cards on people’s birthdays. Contact friends you’re thinking of. Be positive when it’s easier to be negative. Try as hard as you can to really live without taking unnecessary chances with your life. Make smart choices. Life is amazing. Respect it.

And if your child one day wants you to stay in bed with him until he falls asleep, even if you know it’s probably better if you stick to the rules… Do it. It’s worth it.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

I love you.

xo Mom