Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work--which places a feminist lens on a variety of topics including motherhood, maternal health, gender, pop culture and reproductive rights--has been featured in Bitch magazine, Cosmopolitan, Every Mother Counts, The New York Times, CNN, and more. Her first book, "The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood To Fit Reality", came out in January 2014 from Seal Press. She is currently working on her second book on the "Perfect Birth Myth." Follow her on twitter @TheMamafesto.
As a Jewish mother, I had to stop and think about how to explain what happened this weekend in Charlottesville and Seattle to my son. How do I explain why some people would make posters that are…branded on violence against Jews? How do I explain why these men would "joke" that they wanted to "round up little Jew children" and "build a great, big oven." But I have no other choice. Remember, this is the same son who has had to practice emergency bomb drills at his Jewish Day School. He… >> Read More
The last time I spoke with my Bubbe, it was via cell phone while I was shopping at Costco. In between the aisles of bulk Frosted Flakes and buckets of refrigerated sour cream, we spoke for about five…minutes or so. She hadn't been feeling well lately, so I kept the call short and sweet—just a quick check in to see how she was feeling and to remind her how much we loved her. She also spoke with my son—her great grandson—who regaled her with stories of end of the school year shenanigans.… >> Read More
It's mid-summer, a time to capture all the beauty and wonder the season has to offer. It's also a fabulous time to capitalize on the kids being away at camp,or at least at day-camp, so you can focus…on what really matters: watching all those shows you keep hearing less busy friends rave about on their Facebook feeds! Sure, there's work and household chores, and those darn kids (who may or may not be afoot), but there are also a ton of great shows collecting virtual dust on Netflix and Hulu—some new, some… >> Read More
Gal Gadot has been making headlines lately—and not just because she's Wonder Woman. There's been a virtual debate happening over whether Gadot, who is a Jewish Israeli, is considered white or a…person of color. The conversation has spun out into a more general question of where Jews fall in the spectrum of race. And, like everything debated amongst Jews, there's not just two opinions. To say Judaism is complex, particularly when you place it in the context of history, is an understatement. As a people, we've… >> Read More
Another terrorist attack, another unspeakable tragedy. But despite the fact that it feels too heavy for words, we must speak up loudly about it. This time, the victims were attendees at an Ariana…Grande concert in Manchester, England. As of now, reports are stating that 22 people were killed and 59 others were wounded in the bombing that ISIS has claimed (they do like to claim everything as their own). But whoever the mastermind was, it's no accident that those targeted were mostly girls and young women. Ariana… >> Read More
Like many folks, I've been consuming a lot of media lately—from the fictitious but all too real series "Big Little Lies" and "The Handmaid's Tale" to the real, but seemingly fictitious news…coverage of the current administration. And I’ve noticed a shared theme that crosses over from the fictionalized world to the real one: dangerous male fragility. Frankly, I'm over it. Male fragility—which goes hand in hand with another concept, called toxic masculinity—occurs when society sets up stereotypical ideals of what it means to be a man:… >> Read More
The other day I got sucked into an online fight I had no particular skin in. Two parents were arguing via social media while others chimed in with their hot Twitter takes. The dustup was over some…video content where one parent felt the other was misusing their children. Insults were slung back and forth, and there were cries of, ''Think about the kids!" You'd think this was just another chapter in the Mommy Wars, yet the people involved in this particular fight were actually dads. In fact, it's been awhile since… >> Read More
Every April, I take my son bowling. Sure, we go a bunch during the rest of the year, but our April trip is a special one. When we get together with a handful of friends (and a bunch of strangers) in…April to send those shiny balls down the lane, we're doing it to raise money for abortion access. Yes, that’s right: since my son was old enough to bowl, he's been coming with me to bowl for abortion. As someone who has been involved in reproductive justice since I was a teenager, having my own… >> Read More
Everyone has an opinion about my husband and I having only one child. From my mother to the clerk at the corner store, everyone needs to explain to us why having an only child is the best or worst…decision of our lives. I usually smile and nod, knowing no matter what I say, they'll remain firm in their opinion, despite it being our lives, our family. I know I'm not alone in this. In fact, I devoted an entire essay to this in my first book, and have since had many parents of… >> Read More
Even now, almost 10 years after the birth of my only child, I find myself still faced with the occasional, "What was your baby shower like?"
The question usually surfaces during a chat amongst…moms or with a pregnant friend. They're either reminiscing about the fun they had at theirs, or anxiously anticipating their own. And, each time, I reply with the same answer: "I didn't have a baby shower." Despite the ensuing 10 years since my son's birth, I'm still not quite used to the looks of confused… >> Read More
Judy Batalion's new book, “White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess In Between,” is as much an homage to the Holocaust, mental health, and the intricate dynamics of…Jewish families, as it is a memoir. Through weaving the story of her own pregnancy with glimpses into her life as a child and young adult, Batalion brings us into her world as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and how her family's challenging past has a direct impact on her own growing family. While… >> Read More
When my son was almost a year old, we went out to a diner to meet my sister-in-law for lunch. After ordering our food, my son started to get a bit fussy and his toys didn't seem to satisfy him at the…moment, so I went for what usually works: Nursing. My son quietly fed while my husband and I caught up with my sister-in-law. Our waitress, a young woman in her teens, came over, yet instead of talking to us about our order, or checking to see if we needed anything, she looked at me pointedly,… >> Read More
Many of us still remember that one special teacher, the one who touched our lives in some powerful way and transformed learning for us. For many Jewish children in Western Massachusetts, that…educator is gan (kindergarten) teacher Amy Meltzer. My son was lucky enough to have Morah Amy two years ago when he started school at Lander Grinspoon Academy, so I'm well aware of the magic and wonder that Amy brings to the classroom. From raising butterflies and tapping maple trees to make syrup, to writing and… >> Read More
This is the finale of a series Avital wrote about her experience as a mother with anxiety. Read her previous posts here, here, here, and here.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself…into when I started this series about living and parenting with anxiety. To be quite honest, my motivations were somewhat selfish in pitching it to Kveller. I figured it would allow me a space to process what had been happening to me. And, I would at least get paid for the most difficult months of… >> Read More
Avital is blogging about her experience as a mother with anxiety. Read her previous posts here, here, and here.
I was never one to worry about my weight all that much. Which I feel is a pretty…big deal, given that we live in a society that pushes an "ideal" female body type via magazines, television, and movies. I managed to make it through my teens and 20s with a pretty good sense of body image--thanks, Mom! No, seriously. Having a mother who wasn't especially weight obsessed allowed me to feel comfortable… >> Read More
Avital is blogging about her experience as a mother with anxiety. Read her first post here, and her second post here.
I know a thing or two about the myth of the "good mother." In fact, you could…say I wrote the book on it… As someone who is actively invested in tearing down the dangerous idealization of motherhood, you would think I would have cut myself a little slack when I was diagnosed with anxiety. Only, it doesn't really work that way. No amount of logical thinking and self-affirmation was able to… >> Read More
Avital is blogging about her experience as a mother with anxiety. Read her first post here.
The first time I had an anxiety-related meltdown in public, I was shopping at our local food co-op. It…was only days after I had been diagnosed with anxiety. I was still certain there was something else besides anxiety going on. I was continuously nauseous despite not having eaten much for a couple of weeks. I was beyond weak--go figure--and the only time I was able to force myself to crawl out of bed… >> Read More
"How are you doing?" is such an innocuous question, but the answer--for me at least--not so much. Do I lie and brush it off with an "Oh, fine," before changing the subject? Or do I really get into…it, telling them exactly how I'm doing? Well, at the moment my heart feels like someone is squeezing the ever-loving life out of it. No, I'm not having a heart attack, even though I swear I can feel pain radiating down the left side of my arm, leaving sparks of numbness in its wake. My… >> Read More
I've always loved the Jewish High Holidays. The blowing of the shofar, the time spent with family, the food (oh! the food!), and the overall sense of starting over with a clean slate. And now,…as a parent, I've truly come to appreciate the opportunity for reflection and forgiveness that the High Holidays provide. Even with Yom Kippur--a mostly somber affair--we have a chance to own up to our wrongdoings, apologize for them, vow to do our best not to repeat them, and then start anew. What better parenting tool… >> Read More
"The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield." --Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent of "Burwell v. Hobby Lobby."
Today, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling that says the…government can’t require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. The case centers around Hobby Lobby, a self-proclaimed Christian corporation and chain of craft stores, and their refusal to cover birth control for their employees. These Supreme Court cases can be tricky to fully… >> Read More
Sometimes I forget that we live in a particular sort of liberal bubble here in our “Happy Valley.” And there are other times when it couldn’t be clearer.
The other day I turned on the…television so my son could watch an episode of his beloved Wild Kratts . But, since it takes our sort-of-old TV a few seconds to actually turn on once you press the button (and since I’m horribly impatient), I popped into the kitchen to grab a snack while my son waited eagerly on the couch.… >> Read More
Whether you weave in one, a few, or all 10 of these tips, consider honoring the matriarchal roots of Judaism this Passover with a little girl power fun at your seder this year.
1. Add an Orange…& Coffee Bean to Your Seder Plate The Orange: The orange represents both inclusion and solidarity with women and the LGBT community. The new tradition was started by Professor Susannah Heschel, who was inspired by women at Oberlin College in 1984 who made space on their seder plate to represent all who were not explicitly present in the… >> Read More
Yesterday, we announced the launch of The Purim Superhero, the first LGBT-inclusive Jewish children’s book in English. Today, one mother reflects on initial reactions to the book.
The other…day, Kveller's partner site MyJewishLearning.com posted on their Facebook page about a new children's book coming out that focuses on Purim. According to the write-up, Elisabeth Kushner's The Purim Superhero is "the sweet story of a boy named Nate who has a Purim dilemma: he loves aliens and really wants to wear an alien costume for Purim,… >> Read More
I've never once been told not to eat when it came to my Jewish family. In fact, the opposite holds true. I'm usually not eating enough.
Have some more matzah balls.
Did you try the stuffed cabbage…yet? Here, take a little bit more tzimmes. There's never enough food. The food itself: warm, rich, and soul-satisfying made me feel loved and taken care of, just like I felt about the women and men who prepared it all for me growing up. I've taken many of the food-focused life lessons I learned in… >> Read More