Being a mother is to expect the unexpected. No one knows that better than White + Warren’s Head of Marketing, Allison Fuchs. At six months pregnant with her first child, Fuchs is also in the process of adopting her husband George’s two amazing kids: Ella, 15 and Lyle, 12. “We actually told the kids I was adopting them the same night we told them I was pregnant,” Fuchs says. Like almost anything child-related, it didn’t go according to the original plan, which was to share the adoption news first and announce the pregnancy later—but it was a pleasant surprise, no less. “When we told them, they were so happy,” she recalls. “I think Lyle might have screamed with delight.”
The burst of excitement was followed by a sense of relief. “As a kid, when you see something change but don’t know why, you worry,” Fuchs says. “Maybe you don’t worry all the time, but it’s always in the back of your mind and you can tell when you’re not being let in.” Being pregnant amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Fuchs can relate to feeling unnerved by the unknown.
There was one low moment, in particular, in early March when the harsher realities set in.“It was the first time the word ‘uncertainty’ took me,” she says. “I couldn’t even articulate what I was fearful of, or how different things would look, but it felt like being hit by a tidal wave.”As all moms can attest: You’ll always have bad days, but you’ll never have days off. “It was crushing, but I had to get through it quickly for the sake of my two kids and husband,” she says.
“The biggest thing about becoming a parent is that you have to roll with the punches in life. You have to be stronger and bigger, and you have to be there so that you can support others,” Fuchs says. They’re just as supportive in return. “I’m lucky I have a partner who can calm my fears, give me a more positive outlook, remind me of what we have and what won’t ever change.”
While sheltering in place, the Fuchs family is making up for lost time. “It’s about trying to find the special moments within those endless everyday moments to really connect,” Fuchs says. “We’re doing a lot of things you would normally do solo and attaching some kind of value to it, which helps us get through each day.” Between afternoon workouts, weekend tie-dye sessions and charging crystals on full moons, they’re having fun finding creative ways to be even closer.
The same goes for date nights. “George and I met each other later in life, but sometimes we like to pretend we didn’t and met each other as teens or young 20 year-olds,” says Fuchs. For fun, George came up with the idea to host romantic dinners at home; he cooks and they “date” each other with first date–type questions (along with the usual talk about the kids, their day and life in general). Things like: “What’s your biggest hope and dream?” or “Tell me five things that you don’t think I know about you.” For Fuchs, that’s her “favorite, favorite, favorite” way to unwind.
At the Fuchs house, family dinners are more than routine. “I come from a long line of mamas and grandmas that fed as a source of love,” Fuchs says. Meals are a special, shared experience, and sometimes that means letting the kids set the menu. “They really love to contribute,” she adds. “And it just tastes better when the kids cook together.” For the first “Kids’ Cuisine” night in self-isolation, Ella and Lyle made “fancy” mac n’ cheese with bacon. “Balthazar—which is my favorite restaurant in New York where we celebrate my birthday every year—serves a similar dish at brunch, so it was fantastic. The kids loved it because they had control over it and was something they got to plan and make decisions on. We’re big decision-makers around here.”
As Fuchs will tell you, Ella and Lyle also helped make the decision when it came to welcoming her into their lives. “They chose me, invited me in and allowed me to choose them,” she says. “The awakenings and awareness that it’s forced in me has been wonderful,” adds Fuchs. “It's helped me become a more patient, tolerant, warm person to see the world through their eyes.”
Still, she was understandably nervous the day George arranged for her to meet them for the first time. “I couldn’t even hold a pen steady and I could barely get through work—I had such jitters,” she recalls. A mother-daughter pep talk made all the difference: “My mom called that afternoon and reminded me to be myself, listen to them, remember what it was like to be their age, not take anything personally, ask them a lot of questions and at the end of the evening give them a hug, if they let you.” (As it turned out, she worried for nothing—the kids loved her.)
Fuchs took her mother’s words to heart and still uses the advice to this day. “My mom delivered it in a very soft way—like she had many times before when she prepared me for speeches and job interviews, for first days and heartache—that let me know all would be okay,” she says. In time, Ella was coming to her for a little guidance of her own. “Slowly, she began to let me in on her life, her friends, her questions, her experiences and gradually started seeking my advice on anything from style to how to handle a specific situation. I felt I’d been given an incredible gift.”
When Ella graduated eighth grade a year later, students were asked to honor their parents, or someone in their lives who had been there for them, with a bouquet. “Ella gave the flower to both me and George,” she fondly remembers. “It was a really amazing thing to see their realization of who I was in their life and what I could also become. It grounded what I was already feeling.”
Fast-forward to 2019, Ella stood next to Fuchs at her wedding (Lyle stood next to George). “It all rushed back to my heart on that day,” she says. “She was my daughter and I was her mother.” These days, the Fuchs family is busy preparing for the new baby, who the kids have already lovingly nicknamed “E.L. 2” as a clever play on Ella and Lyle. “Even as this pandemic overtakes life as we know it, I’m still going through all of the normal stages, emotions and growth you experience pregnancy,” Fuchs says. “The important thing is, the baby is healthy, I’m going to bring the baby home and being with my soon-to-be four favorite people is more than enough.”