Lossy Lossowitz

Mid May to Mid June is my loss trigger crunch time. I write about it every year because it’s a thing.  Mothers Day: May 12. Mom’s B-day: May 24th. Mom’s Deathiversary: June 6. Miles’s Birthday: June 8. Grads/dads, and end of the year events like karate belt tests and tween Instagram posts exacerbate the nostalgia and the milestones that matter to like 3 people in my life, one of whom is gone.

I miss my mom, but she drives me forward, always.

The investigation I’m doing with MILK Podcast: The Loss Season, is fueling me. I’ve done 8 interviews so far this season and have more episodes to come, every other week. I have so many questions about loss to ask.

My sister Lanie Kasdan Francis in one recording studio, and me in another

My sister Lanie Kasdan Francis in one recording studio, and me in another

I was able to interview my middle sister Lanie about her work as an oncologist and about how her life changed when my mom had cancer. Like MILK Caroline Schrank of Down to Earth Funerals, Lanie is able to discuss end of life with knowledge and compassion because she is not afraid to confront it. She has contributed so much to conversations around integrative oncology, patient and nurse advocacy, as well as writing her own rules in the medical world. She is an inspiring doctor, person, and sister, and I am super excited to share this interview soon. I’m thinking about how much our mom would appreciate us talking about how we parent and what we learned from her example. 

I love what I’m making right now, how I’m connecting with my communities, and how being a parent is challenging in a new way. The kids are more complex emotionally then ever, and there is that that loss of the mom I was — to babies, toddlers, elementary schoolers. I’m loving and treasuring my female friends, and finding ways to feel joy and pleasure despite the calamitous state of the world. 

I’m also thinking about success, and what that means to me in these times, at this age, with these concepts of loss in mind. I’m making this show, this season, the way I want to make it because I’m on a mission to understand how loss shapes this half of life as a parent. But I’m also trying to make a living, as my industries are changing and I’m here with the skills I’ve honed, wanting to create and earn. Especially with my kids having needs in new and surprising ways, that are different from the early, messy, desperate years of baby and toddlerhood. So I’m trying to grow this and make it better and collaborate and make a living doing it. Its a new challenge. I’m having to pivot and learn new skills.

I am aware of my talent and experience. Hungry for meaning and for some wins.    

I’m thinking about how I want to set examples for my children, teach them how to show up for people, to connect, to use their empathy and creativity to help and support.  I’m thinking about amplifying people where I can and watching them shine. Because my mom did this.

Brazitte Poole, JD, Duquesne Law School class of 2019

Brazitte Poole, JD, Duquesne Law School class of 2019

I’m thinking about Brazitte Poole, a wonderful woman from my hometown of Pittsburgh, that our family met three years ago when she applied for a scholarship we set up in my mom’s name. Brazitte graduated from Duquesne Law School last week on my mom’s birthday, and we can’t wait to see the good work she will do in this troubled world. Judi’s legacy lives on through women like Brazitte.

Heather laughing at me. I miss her laugh.

Heather laughing at me. I miss her laugh.

And of course, I’m thinking about Heather as we roll into summer, her favorite season. I miss her. It is so weird, and so confusing that she is not here. So I’ll keep trying to understand and appreciate what it really means to be here one minute and then gone the next. I’ll dance to Prince and other dumb songs with the other mom friends and laugh and cry and talk and remember. I will be there for her family and for my own.

Stay with me on the loss thing. It’s real.

 

 

Mom's Got Her Thing Tonight

I’m lucky to know a variety of excellent women. It’s why I started MILK Podcast, for a chance to converse with and champion some of the passionate and fabulous ladies I come across.

Some of my most treasured women friends are ones I don’t see all that often: my gal pals from college, and they are a special little coven. We get together every few years for an unofficial reunion, and it is always the most replenishing and hilarious time. We drink wine, laugh constantly, tell stories about our kids and jobs, and of course, reminisce about who we were and what we wore while students at The University of Vermont. I always leave these weekends so inspired, so vibrant, with my heart so full. I remember things I had forgotten about younger versions of myself, and I’m moved by them, as if reconnecting with an old friend, and that friend is me.

friendship Mallory Kasdan MILK podcast.jpg

These women: Heather, Whitney, Aimee, Danielle, Lisa and Cressida, are unconditional supports. We live in different locations (urban/suburban/country/east coast/west coast), and aren’t all in touch on the daily, but our choices and values overlap. We share honestly and vividly about our fears and accomplishments. In one breath we feel 19, and like we live on the same dorm hall getting ready to go see Phish play in our student center cafeteria (which we did). In the next we are aware of the responsibilities that challenge the free spirits we all once were (how many types of insurance can one person/family have, just for example).

I came upon this piece on “The New Mid Life Crisis, Why and How It’s Hitting Gen X Women,” while researching an interview that I’m recording tomorrow with it's author Ada Calhoun. She also wrote a crisp and entertaining book of essays called  “Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give,” which I loved and highly recommend. This essay, however, is a bit bleak, -- full of research both scientific and anecdotal about why women in their forties, like me and my UVM girls, would or could be struggling physically and psychically in this mid life place. It is very much worth reading and discussing. 

Coming off of this weekend, however, where Whitney hosted us one night in her cozy home, and planned our meals and thought of everything, I felt so loved and tended to. The second night we stayed in a hotel and met up some other college friends, and it was pure silliness and reconnecting with that fun time freedom we all took for granted in our college days. Meanwhile back at the ranch, our awesome partners tended to our kids. 

friends MILK podcast Mallory Kasdan

Thinking back on our reunion and considering this piece today, I do not feel in crisis. Perhaps this is because I am privileged to have a partner who will watch my kids, and friends with the means to host a lovely dinner and split hotel rooms for a night. That is my pure luck in this life to be able to afford these luxuries.

But I wonder also if I am feeling less mid life crisis-y and more optimistic lately despite the constant drum of bad news and our dire seeming, violent world, because I’m feeling free to be myself, finally, at this mid life crisis prone age. Being with these old friends allows access to the previous selves inside of me that I’ve been able to embody or else retire. Conjuring them up is intense, but feels like a release when I can let them go.

“Self-care” is a phrase that annoys me for no good reason, but letting laughter and love wash over me, and spending face to face time with people dear to me, really felt that way. As moms, women, humans --  our many selves need care, and we deserve it.

we are all the same

The other day we were all at this kiddie enrichment place. Z takes ballet there and they have free “open play” in their beautiful gym facility, which we try and take advantage of in order to justify the silly money we pay for classes there. That means getting online weeks in advance to reserve spots for the two of them, and then getting up there by 9ish on a Saturday morning, something we are not fabulous at doing. I always swear I’ll get the diaper bag ready the night before. The same with getting Z ready for school during the week – packing her lunch and laying our her outfit before she goes to bed. Say I’m gonna. Don’t do.

I’m frenzied on these Saturday mornings — grabbing 4 different satchels and cramming snacks, Ziploc bagged sippy cups and ballet clothes into to each one of them, not eating or drinking a thing besides 3 cups of coffee, and feeling like a complete freak for not being able to get my act together by 9:00 am – given that I’ve been awake for hours. This whole ritual kind of sucks, and I would say 7 out 10 mornings E and I end up fighting about who is winning the most annoying spouse contest. But once we get to the place and the 80’s hits are pumping, the kids start frolicking and E goes out and gets coffees and bagels, all the hustle is worth it. Both kids get an activity before noon when we have to get back for M to lunch and nap, and then it’s the reward of chill time for the rest of us.

This Kiddie Club is a funny scene. It’s a posh crowd, and many of the kids have names that for some reason irk me, which I won’t name here in case you have also named your kid Schmoopie or Schmoopae, but let’s just say on a morning that I’m feeling cranky, the names and inevitable tantrums, plus the sing-songing voices of the parents can wear on a gal.

Which is what happened the other day. My irritation did not stay at home with the breakfast dishes, strewn about clothes and plastic toy chaos, but travelled with me to kiddie enrichment place. I truthfully don’t know exactly why E and I were publicly hissing at each other about who got to eat their bagel sandwich, getting napkins wet with coffee cups that still had coffee in them, and who was or wasn’t chasing M into the toilets over and over, but there we were. Certainly not our finest moment.

Seething, I sat down to eat my cold bagel sandwich, and a woman I had seen carrying a wild haired toddler while trying to corral a second child in and out of a coat, stroller, leotard, etc, came running up to me breathlessly, plunked a business card down on the table and said: “We have to hang out. We have the exact same life.”

Now this is certainly something I have fantasized about doing. Seeing another mom who looks or seems or sounds a certain way, it is tempting to want to be pals with this person. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances and people to talk to from all facets of my life – some parents and some not, but for me there is the lure of this person out there in the universe who is your momfriend soulmate, who is cool and honest and not weird and competitive, you have no baggage with and perhaps your kids are exactly the same age and on the same schedules?

We don’t like to think so, because it dilutes our coolness or our specialness, but we are all just archetypes acting out rituals that parents have been doing forever. Maybe we vary in socio-economic status and the modern trappings that go along with having families, but here in our Brooklyn village we do appear to have similar lives. We have struggles and victories that matter, that are not trite or surface. But we also have the same annoying conversations about where to eat lunch and who is going to take the boots to the shoemaker, and worry about how much time we let our toddlers play with our phones. Of course some of us have deeper problems and secrets, but on a Saturday morning at 10:10 am, we are mostly just trying to get though the day without losing our minds.

What had this woman seen or heard that gave her the chutzpah to want to connect with me in this way? I actually love that she noticed that we were probably being ridiculous, and that the whole idea of a kiddie enrichment place is kind of ridiculous, and that by laughing and noticing and reaching out, she was making her morning a little better.

My interest is piqued. I think I’ll call.