Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or, Why the first trimester sucks (11 weeks)

Hungry Bunny

I am eleven weeks pregnant. Pregnant enough to know that I’m having a boy (yes, we did the blood test). Pregnant enough to see that little boy creature skimmy away from the pressure of the sonogram wand. Pregnant enough that buttoning my skinny jeans now causes more than moderate discomfort. Pregnant enough that in my weaker of moments I am overcome with panic that I will not be ready with a name or a crib or anything even remotely resembling a plan. Because, for all intents and purposes, I’m not actually pregnant yet in my day to day life. Because, if you believe all those pregnancy website talking points, eleven weeks pregnant is actually not pregnant enough to be pregnant in public.

I’ve never understood why this is the case. The vast majority of pregnancies lead to healthy, full-term babies, so why is pregnancy not something we announce with joy at the first peed-on plus-signed stick? There is a far greater chance that each new marriage will end in divorce, but this doesn’t keep us from plastering our friends, family and Facebook with pictures of our engagement ring the minute it hits our fingers. Is it shame of miscarriage? Refusal to share our fear or grief or weird early pregnancy weight gain publicly? Or just one more way in which our culture frowns upon the true physicality of being female?

This reticence around the first trimester makes an already difficult experience even more uncomfortable. It heightens the fear that miscarriage is always looming and limits our support system in the case that miscarriage does occur. Increases the isolation of unanswered questions. Further complicates what will already be a complicated work situation. Why can’t we just come out with it?

I am obviously inclined to share early, as evidenced by my proclivity toward over-sharing (aka: why I have a blog), but my sometimes less than warm and fuzzy work environment gave me pause. Will my political adversaries take potshots at me and my pregnancy brain (what? office politics in higher ed? no…)? Will my colleagues and staff second guess my ability to maintain my usual over the top pace? Will I myself second guess my ability to maintain my over the top pace?

Initially, it was this fear that kept me quiet. And ultimately it was this fear that made me come out with it.

I’m slowing down. This first trimester has not been easy. Fitting into high heels and slim fit work fashion has not been comfortable. Sticking it out through meetings when I need to pee or retch or even just unbutton those unforgiving pants has been quite near torture. I’ve been waking later, leaving earlier, waiting several hours to respond to weekend emails because napping just seems so much more important.

In my world (or at least in my head), slowing down is stressful, scary even, especially with the fall semester just around the corner. Right at the moment when I need everyone around me to speed up, I’ve been watching myself – and watching others watch me – inexplicably moving like molasses through the day. I needed to explain that inexplicable.

I fear I may have broken some sort of secret maternal code, to stay silent in pregnant meditation until society deems it appropriate, the way some cultures isolate women through the dirty days of menstruation. But appropriate or not, this week I went to work in a dress belted above my belly, unabashedly drank milk (no coffee) at my desk in the morning, and left the same meeting twice for bathroom breaks. And while I still have hints of regret, of what if worries and of political paranoias, I have to say my molasses has been moving just a little bit faster without the weight of my big secret stressors to hold me back.

Hungry Bunny

The Striving Years (10 weeks)

Fishing for More

For my thirty-sixth birthday I filled out a mortgage application. Every last student loan, every car leased, every impulse buy on that credit card with the unfair APR and not even a bonus mile to show for it. The job that makes me so proud (and so, so tired) and the salary that was supposed to have been the crown jewel of my negotiating prowess made all but obsolete in the shadow of the Southern California housing market. What a celebration it was, another year closer to forty and my oh my what on earth am I doing with my life?

I think about what my parents were doing at my age. Three kids. My dad just about to hit the peak of his career. Home purchase number six. Private schools and cross-country family vacations and our first of many roots finding trips to Greece. And we weren’t even rich. Not even close.

For years now I’ve been struggling to accept this idea, this FACT, that the world I grew up in no longer exists, that the opportunities available to me are far less than the opportunities that were available to my parents. I had always had my suspicions that we would be taking over a world that at best could be called damaged goods (yes, I was that dorky kid wearing the tie-dyed climate change awareness shirts back when our understanding of climate change was limited to acid rain and some weird hole in the sky over Australia), but as I climbed toward my twenties, I couldn’t help but be taken over by all that hope and optimism that buoyed the rave scene I had come up in. As long as we kept making art and making music, everything would be cool, right? Cause the world is love and we are the world, right?


My therapist calls my taste in music adolescent. She tells me I need to find a different playlist for running, something more sophisticated than punk from the year I was born and techno from the year I started high school. I try to argue that drum and bass is actually a pretty sophisticated form of dance music, at least if you go back to those nascent Roni Size days, but she won’t hear any of it. Maybe a podcast, she suggests.

I tell myself that it’s all just about a good beat, and they just don’t make beats the way they used to. Who needs sophistication on a sweaty, gaspy, 6am run? Then I drive to work with my iTunes on shuffle. Radiohead, 1995. Orbital, 1991. Jane’s Addiction, 1990. Every song a leftover from my younger, fitter, happier days. Maybe I’m not telling myself the full truth.

It’s not that I yearn to be young again. But yeah, sometimes I yearn to be young again. Like on a sunny Saturday morning when I’m driving my daughter to music class and I see a couple of bed-headed twenty-somethings sharing a wake up cigarette on the front stoop of a slightly run down apartment, still in sweatpants, drinking coffee and recovering from whatever fun they had the night before. Sometimes I can feel their freedom so intensely I think it’s mine. I think for a moment I could go back to those years of hope, of open and endless possibilities.

My parents bought their first house for twenty-five thousand dollars. Twenty-five thousand dollars is only ten percent of what I would need just for a down payment on a starter home for my late blooming (by baby boomer terms) family. Even accounting for inflation – which would make this roughly equivalent to $110,000 in today’s terms – and geography – let’s estimate that Southern California is three times as expensive as urban Ohio – the numbers don’t add up. Clearly the math of modern life is just all the fuck out of whack, and maybe those open and endless possibilities just don’t exist anymore. Maybe those kids in cigarette smelling sweatpants were recovering from a night shift, banking tips to help pay for school or saving up for that one big night out they’ve been planning for months, because even raves cost money now.

I’m not averse to hard work. But when I look around at my life, when I look around at my friends, it really does seem that the work just keeps getting harder and the slope just keeps getting steeper. And as that slope gets steeper, I can’t help but ask what it is that we’re striving for anyway. Those shoes made of cement (aka: mortgage and maintenance)? That full time nanny? The private school that will get our own kids striving on a nicer slope than our own? No. All I really want is a regular life. A house like the one I grew up in. The ability to raise a couple of kids and still have room in the budget for a dog or dinner out with my husband or maybe the occasional roadtrip up the coast. I just want a regular life and a little bit of time to enjoy it.

Before my recent blogging break, I promised to return with a new and improved Mom at Work. I’m afraid I may not be delivering on that promise, because no matter which way I come at it, being a working mom is always going to be a challenge. A beautiful, rewarding, invigorating challenge. And because, just when I thought I had gotten a handle on this balance thing, I found out I was pregnant again, with all the accompanying worries and wonders and excitements.

So here I am, back to stressing out about all of my striving, but now with something new to go along with it, now with even more reason to work toward figuring this all out. Hopefully I’ll learn something worth sharing, and hopefully once again you’ll all be willing to share something with me.

How could I ask for more

This is not a new year’s post.

New Year New Busy

I like to say that I don’t do New Year’s resolutions – taking part in something so common is just to joiner for my contrarian nature. All the year-end lists, the fitness plans, the best ofs and the worst ofs, the how to stick to your resolution guides. They’re all just too everywhere to make me want to be a part of it.

And yet I so, so want to be a part of it.

The idea of turning over a new leaf, of improving your lot and your life, of the cleanse after the party – it’s a cycle of reincarnation that I used to put myself through every summer on every island, every year in every different country, every few months with every guy I would date. I went through it every time I started a new job, or had a transformational night out, or even just reorganized my bookshelves.

Then I got married (of course) and stayed put (sort of) and made a family, and there wasn’t any time for this sort of sea change. The change was still there, of course – nothing changes your life more than the birth of your first child, not to mention the development of a career and the growth of a marriage. But what was missing was the purge. We had moved forward, but we had never looked back, and this was making it hard to progress with ease and with a clear destination in mind.

And so here I am, left with the New Year. It’s a cliché as old as the calendar, but it’s also my dream come true – a publicly sanctioned holiday dedicated to fresh starts, a free pass for me to finally give in to the constant daily desire to clean house, physically and emotionally. I work in higher ed, which means that I don’t get paid a lot of money, but I do get the entire holiday off every year – two weeks to prepare myself for the reinvention ahead. It’s my sacred time for closet cleaning and emergency kit restocking, for late night reminiscing and reconnecting. And then, once everything feels fresh and clean, it’s time for thinking about the future.

February is right about the time every year where this future comes home to roost. This is right about the time that all those resolutions, all that focus on what’s new and what’s next, it all starts to feel just about normal. This year, though, this hasn’t been the case. This year I’ve resolved to not get everything quite so resolved.

In 2014, I had a life-changing year. Among the many transformational experiences I had was starting a new job – a job that changed my life more than any single event since having my daughter three years ago. Generally this change has been good. But generally, this change has also been difficult. Stressful. At times overwhelming – overwhelming and wonderful all at once, but it’s taken its toll, most noticeably in my relationship with my daughter.

I was working too much, running and writing more than ever, still striving to preserve that last little sliver of time with friends and that tiniest bit of time with my husband. And in an effort to maintain this extracurricular routine in order to maintain some sanity in the stress of a new job, the extra hours at work cut into the last piece of my life that was left – my daughter. There are, after all, only twenty-four hours in a day.

In January of 2015 I resolved to recalibrate, to find balance. I resolved not to miss another dinner with my daughter because I got wrapped up in work, which meant unplugging my car for the drive home at 5:45 on the dot on weeknights. For weekend balance, it meant taking my weekend runs during my daughter’s naptime instead of working, and being with her during the times I usually would have been running, which all meant even more shuffling of even more work.

My solution – work every night from home after my daughter goes to sleep, and shift all of my writing work to the weekends.

Last year, a couple of good weekend writing nights could have been enough for me to maintain my weekly posts, but a few months ago I started working (hard!) on a novel that’s been brewing for a long time. Which of course means more shuffling, because I now had a lot of writing to be crammed into half the time.

Or not crammed at all, as the case may be. Just working like I had always worked.

In 2013, I started this blog on a whim. I had turned over a new leaf and had found something totally unexpected which I still couldn’t define, at the same time that I was chock full of fears and fantasies and that loneliness that only a new mother can really know. There was so much to talk about, but my daughter wasn’t ready to hear it and all her stuffed animals just stared back at me blankly every time I would broach a subject they deemed too serious.

I needed – desperately needed – to figure out who I was, now that I wasn’t quite like the person I had been and wasn’t quite yet the person I thought I had been on track to become. Was I a writer or was I a registrar? Was I a washed up techno punk or was I a sappy sentimental mother of a miracle child?

Through this blog I figured out who I am now, and where it is I might be going. Through the writing of the posts, through the thoughtful comments, through the beautiful, honest blogs I’ve followed – I have so much gratitude for everything this community has helped me to understand about myself and about my place in the world. But two years after that first whim, I can’t help to ask what’s next.

It’s time for Mom at Work to get a makeover, but it’s going to take me a while to get there. In the meantime, I’ll still be here, and I’ll still poke my head out every now and then when I feel I’ve got something useful to say. And more than anything, I’ll still be here loving the work of all you awesome bloggers out there continue to do with a gusto that can’t help but inspire me.

Models and Molds

Model Mold Model

Throughout my life, I’ve had the good fortune to spend time with a lot of successful people. Men, women. Americans, Greeks. Artists, attorneys. Women, men. And most especially women. I have known and I have admired successful career women, successful creative women, and successful mothers. I’ve known so many strong, successful women, in fact, that I almost have come to believe that success comes easy to the female of our species. Women who were my principals and my professors, women who were the boss of my boss’ boss when I was starting out in my career, women who mentored me and who stood on stage in front of me as I considered my possibilities as a writer, women whom I have hoped to emulate in my development as a mother.

Flip back through that photo roll in your head, I’m sure you’ll find more than a few of your own. But what you might not find are women who have been successful professionals and successful artists. Or successful artists who were also successful mothers. Or successful mothers who were also successful professionals. I’ve yet to find anyone who reached any great heights in two of these areas, let alone that magical, mythical triple threat I want so desperately to believe we all might have a shot at becoming. If you know her, this creature of my dreams, please send her my way; I’d like to turn her to a mold I could then pour myself into.

I tend to think that this experience is new, this feeling of trying to do something that’s never been done before, but when I look at just the few generations I have known, none seemed to have been either on the path set before them, or on the path I’d like to set for myself. And none, of course, not one, ever quite managed that dual identity that would be the first real step toward my own dream.

My grandfather had a vocation, he had his pharmacy to run. My grandmother had her hobbies – which, even when the hobbies turned to a store of their own, at the end of the day, were nothing much more than hobbies. They liked their kids well enough, but were not of a time or of a culture that valued family above all, or art above all. They valued each other, and they valued having a good time in a way that I’m sure was downright shocking to their own puritanical parents.

My pappou had jobs and a big chair for reading his evening paper. My yia yia had her housework and she had her knitting – which, for all the creative energy behind it, still ultimately fell into that bucket of household upkeep. They loved their kids, but what they really loved, what it turned out they had lived for all along, was not their church or their ancestral village or their old world traditions, but their grandchildren, their future.

My father had a salary, had a big title, had newspaper articles dedicated to his decisions. My mother had a paycheck and sometimes a few crafts – which often, of course, went right along with whatever paycheck she was earning at that point in time. They valued family and they valued leisure (my father, in theory at least), but they were already entering those stormy tornado skies of modern life and modern challenges, of dual incomes and the high costs of afterschool care, those previews of gendered power struggles and those struggles to define new roles.

And then there is me, and my husband, and our little family and our little household. He has big projects, I have a big career. He does the preschool pickups, I do the drive-by drop-offs. He does baby bathtime, I do the dishes. I grit my teeth and lay down laws at the office while he works from home and gets dinner laid out. We try every day to find a little more balance, but more often than not end up collapsed into bed, not so much asleep as totally knocked out from yet another fall from the balance beam that is our life.

I like to think things are different now, that we’re forging new ground (and we are! aren’t we?). I also like to think that our contemporary husbands and co-parents are grappling with many of these same issues, these same challenges (and they are! just ask the man I married!). But it’s hard to deny that women have had a slightly steeper hill to climb, and it’s hard to deny that after all this climbing, we’ve never really found that plateau that we/I/you were promised. I wonder if that plateau is even possible when so much of our strength is spent chiseling out these new molds.

There is no balance. There is no plateau. At least not for us, or not now anyway. But there is that climb, and it can actually feel good sometimes, like that nice long run clocked at a steady but strong pace. And other times it feels like shit, but that’s just life, isn’t it?

I might never manage to mold myself into that unicorn with a beautiful mane, strong hips, a keen creative instinct and an insatiable appetite for success, but that’s because it’s a mold that doesn’t exist. What I can do – what I am doing – is skipping from one woman’s footsteps to another’s, hopscotching from matriarch to manager to magic making mistress of the night, taking little bits from the spectrum of inspirations that have come before me, and who continue to surround me. Because models aren’t what you see in magazines, and molds are made to be broken.


All Corners

Last week it was my turn to leave. After nearly a week of single parenting, my husband came home, we spent the weekend as a family, then I was off in an uber to the airport, along with my sturdy old spinner suitcase, all weather computer tote, not quite noise canceling headphones, and enough music and reading to keep me busy through even the longest of layovers. Travel is something I have down to a science.

My job has never required a lot of travel, probably never will. I used to think this was an accident, that I had fallen off of the stage at my college graduation and landed into exactly the wrong spot. I should be jetsetting, I used to think, I should be exercising my expert packing skills, making late night ice machine runs and mixing cocktails on fake marble countertops, should be shooting the shit with strangers on strange streets, shooting photos I will never be home long enough to turn into prints. Because I am an adventurer. I am good at being away.

Or I was. I was good at being away. And I was really, really good at running away.

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s acceptance. Maybe it’s all those years of therapy, or maybe it really was just that one moment, sitting on a sofa in a shared, rented flat, somewhere in the outskirts of Madrid, that one moment when I realized that this was not home. That this never would be home, and I would rather live with all of the inadequacies of home than be a long term visitor in places that by all measures were just on this side of perfect.

And so I came home. It took another year or two (or five) to finally come skidding to a stop, but I came home, and, eventually, I stayed home. But still I yearned for away. I thought all of my travel and all of my adventures had qualified me for a travel and adventure filled career, and I spent years – YEARS – thinking that my next big move into the big time was just around the next corner, just one more turn away.

It turns out my life doesn’t have a lot of corners. What it has instead are curves.

Last week I was away at a conference for work. Which is to say, I was away at a conference for registrars, admissions officers, and academic middle managers of all stripes and sizes. There was a fake marble countertop in my hotel room bathroom, and I made more than one late night run to the ice machine, but professional development for paper pushers is not exactly what I imagined my jetsetting future would hold – nor is it what my ego’s own paper pushing predecessor thought my future would hold.

A year ago, I never would have believed that now, today, a year later I would be in this place.

Working Lunch

A year ago, I was at this same conference. Same time, same topic, different city. A year ago I was making a presentation to my colleagues. I was drinking with work buddies. I was mourning the moments lost with my daughter who was then and still is now growing by leaps and bounds. A year ago, I was doing a lot of what I found myself doing again last week. The only difference is this crazy curve in the road I’ve been following these past six months, which means that the only difference is just about everything.

I’m working both harder and smarter, I am more effective and yet more relaxed. I have my own department to run, and yet am running more miles a week than ever. I am home again at my alma mater, not as the visiting artist I dreamed about ten years ago, but as a boring bureaucrat, an administrator more concerned with overall achievement at the institute rather than individual ambitions (though let’s be honest, that ambition is still there – it just looks a little different these days). But have I mentioned that I actually like being registrar? I even wear heels to work now. Heels and dresses and lipstick and newly colored hair.

Sometimes life curves in circles, and sometimes it curves into new worlds. And sometimes, in an amazing feet of geographic impossibility, it curves both ways at once. And so this conference that made me so miserable last year actually ended up as an almost enjoyable experience. Almost.

Map My Run

Because here’s what’s not changed: any night not spent with my daughter is a night that kind of sucks. Even when it’s fun. Even when it’s a much needed, well deserved bout of uninterrupted sleep. Even if it feels soooo good to be on nobody’s schedule but my own (and the conference organizer’s, I guess, at least until around 5:40pm). Not being with my daughter always and inevitably makes me sad. No matter how great the day job, no matter how important the nightly pursuits. Nothing curves where I want it, unless it curves back home to her.

[And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is one other thing that’s different now, and that’s my writing schedule. In order to allow time for all of the over the top effort my job needs of me right now, and for my other writing projects (which are coming along nicely, thank you for asking), and most importantly, for any extra stolen hours of happiness I might squeeze in to soothe that impossibly insatiable love for my daughter, I’ll be posting every other week for a little while – probably until the end of the year. Hopefully this will give me a chance to hug this curve like my life depends on it, giving my all here and everywhere.]

Bang Up Week

I have written this post before.

I’m too tired to go on. Work is too stressful. I’m not sleeping. By the time I get to my Friday run I can barely move, let alone jog. I have no time for anything. And it’s all making me be a bad mother.

We’ve all written this post before. And yet, last week, I was just about to write this post again.

But then I didn’t. Instead of focusing on the bad, I focused on the good. Instead of feeling guilty, I did my best. Instead of diving deeper in my well of self-pity, I dove deeper into motherhood, and found there is more room to breathe the further down you go.

Now, still, I want to tell you about what a tough few weeks it’s been. I want to tell you that I went through some really hard shit at work, that I doubted my abilities and my intelligence, that I brought all of that fear and that depression home and I turned it into sleeplessness and a short temper and a general inability to function or to focus. I want to tell you that I’ve been working so hard I barely see my daughter anymore, that I’m like a celebrity to her now, that she’s like an agitated paparazza – she gets so excited to see me she can barely contain herself and usually ends up injuring me or herself in one way or another, and last week the vigor reached a new peak and with a big black eye and slightly broken nose. I want to tell you about how my head aches from constant stress and how my hands are going numb from too much typing, want to tell you that I had to bail on my last refuge writing workshop on a night when we were finally getting round to talking about my work, but it’s probably for the best because all I end up doing is talking about work anyway.

Or I thought that’s what I wanted to tell you about, but it turns out, that’s actually not what I want to think about at all.

This week, things should have gotten harder. My husband was out of town for a shoot. My calendar at work was booked ten to four every day. The time changed and threw everyone off kilter. People have generally not been in the nicest of moods. But it turns out, this week was actually not that bad. I still have a headache. My hands are still kind of numb. My nose is still more than a little bruised. I still am not sleeping. And work is still just as stressful as ever.

But somehow, it’s all okay, and here’s why: I am buoyed by love.

Which is one hundred percent the cheesiest most embarrassing single sentence I have ever written, but it is also one of the truest.

Like most parents, I spend a lot of time talking about how hard it is to be a parent, or how hard being a parent makes it to live just my regular daily life. But the fact of the matter is, my life isn’t hard because I’m a parent. My life is hard because I’m me. I am by nature a high anxiety, relatively antisocial, borderline manic-depressive, totally stereotypical writer. I am also by nature, in my better moments, a surprisingly optimistic, surprisingly happy person. Throughout my life I have struggled to allow more latitude to that latter description of who I am; having a child has upped the ante, and when I rise to the challenge, my life is immeasurably better because of it.

This week, bruised and battered as I was, I can’t say I technically rose to the challenge. I was home alone with a toddler whose love and joy is so infectious and yet still so impressionable. My only options were to impress upon her that life isn’t nearly as nice as she makes it out to be, or to just sit back and let myself be infected.

So I let myself be infected. And while I may not have surprised anyone with my optimism at the office, I did certainly surprise myself with the little happy feeling I carried around all week long, aches, breaks, bruises and all.

Ice Cream Heals All Wounds

Sexy Baby

This year for Halloween, I’m dressing my daughter as a boy.

Or not a boy, exactly, but in a costume meant for a boy, complete with bulging biceps and puffed up superhero chest. Other options included the standards: sexy bumble bee, unzipped nurse (did real nurse scrubs ever even come with a zipper neckline?), miniskirt Minnie Mouse, or a bunch of princess characters that are the number one reason my daughter isn’t allowed watch anything ever (aside from Giants baseball, women’s soccer, and on the very rare, very sick sickday, one or two old episodes of Sesame Street).

Mister Giraffe Standing Tall

In short, there were no female astronaut outfits to be found. No female astronauts. No female superheroes (not even Wonder Woman!). No female pirates (unless we count the grown up, sexed up pirate wench). No cowgirls. Nothing that could be worn without makeup or hairspray, unless I wanted her head to toe dressed up as an animal, but even the animal outfits are already taking on a decidedly gendered tone.

Have I mentioned that my daughter is two?

Granted, she’s big for her age, so technically we were looking at costumes meant for four-year-olds, but I had no idea that four-year-old girls could be so comfortable trick-or-treating in such very high heels. And are the brightly colored lips and flashy nails intended to substitute for reflective gear to keep them safe in the neighbors front path?

I know, these are not new complaints, so if you’ve gotten this far and are still reading, thanks for sticking with me. What’s new to me about Halloween this year is the fact that, even all these years into the conversation, we are still having the same conversation: Girls are growing up too fast, they are being placed under sexual scrutiny from too young an age. Boys are made macho before their time. The sexes are separate from birth forward, one blue and the other pink, rather than being given the opportunity to decide for themselves where they fall on the gender scale.

My daughter likes girly things – sometimes – and that’s okay. It’s also okay that she likes to dress her male-identified dolls in these girly things that she loves so much while refusing to brush her hair and resisting dresses that feed into the girly stereotype. She likes sequins on her pink shirt, which she loves to wear with black and orange soccer shorts, her (MALE) cousin’s Crocs, and her pink and purple flower hat. She is too young to know better.

Or she was too young to know better, until I took her to the costume store.

Why did I think that by the time my daughter reached the age of influence I wouldn’t have to worry about blocking her eyes from so many photos of sexpot children and photoshopped little girls? Why did I think that just because everyone around me seems to have progressed beyond this idea of boys will be boys and girls should be girls it meant that everything around me would have progressed as well?

This year for Halloween, I’m dressing my daughter as a boy. Next year, maybe she will realize I’m dressing her as a boy, and she will push back. Maybe by then she will ask to be dressed as a princess with pink lips, or a mermaid with mahogany braids, or a ballerina barbie in tights walking around on her tip tip tippy toes.

Or maybe not. And maybe by the time she’s dressing her own children up for Halloween as big female firefighters and little male nurses, she herself can dress as the kind of square thinking adult that by that time will nothing but a relic of her youth.