Maurie Backman lives in Central New Jersey. Between her active toddler, twin baby girls, and yappy dog, she gets more than her fair share of noise. Maurie currently works as a freelance content writer and editor, and enjoys creating works of fiction. She also bakes way too often.
I went back to work full-time when my now-4.5-year-old was just 3 months old, but I've been a stay-at-home mom for almost two years now. I’ll admit that the decision wasn't 100% my choice—I…actually got laid off from my former job during my last trimester of the pregnancy that brought me my twin daughters, but in reality, it was a blessing in disguise. Between daycare costs, travel expenses, and the insanity of commuting to Manhattan from my not-so-nearby New Jersey town, going back to work full-time after the… >> Read More
Earlier this year, I wrote a piece on how I was thinking about Jewish day school for my now 4.5-year-old son, but was torn because to send him, I’d need to return to work full-time to pay for…tuition. In that piece, I pretty much summarized the dilemma I’d been having for months in my head—that sending my kids to day school would mean never seeing them because I’d be working all the time. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I did go back to work full-time after having my son, but… >> Read More
A good friend of mine has a young son with severe peanut allergies, so whenever they come over, I make sure to not only clean out my kitchen beforehand, but have plenty of nut-free snacks on hand to…offer up. And the latter part really isn’t hard. Thankfully, there’s a whole list of snacks that I know are safe, and between my go-to cookies, pretzels, and fruit, I’m pretty much set. But cooking for my friend and her family (which I do when I invite them for Shabbat dinner and the like) is… >> Read More
One of the great things about summer is the abundance of outdoor fairs and festivals that pop up around town. But lately I've encountered an issue in my attempt to soak up some weekend fun: the no…stroller rule. On more than one occasion, I've seen a "no strollers allowed" warning right there on the advertisements promoting these local events. Apparently, the trifecta these days is no bare feet, no dogs, and no strollers. And while the first two make a lot more sense to me (liability issues with people getting hurt,… >> Read More
Let me just start by saying that this wasn't my proudest moment—as either a parent or a human being. But sometimes we snap when our kids push us to our limits. We’ve all done it, I’m sure. This…was my turn. I don’t remember exactly how or when the trouble started, but it was one of those afternoons when my 4.5-year-old refused to listen to anything I said. And quickly, what began as low-grade toddler disobedience morphed into full-blown toddler madness. Now if we hadn’t needed to be somewhere that afternoon, I would’ve… >> Read More
If there’s one thing I love about living out in suburbia, it’s that summertime offers a host of family-friendly activities that are easily accessible from my very own driveway. And so every…summer, I compile a list (usually just in my head) of things I want to do before Labor Day rolls around (because as we all know, no matter how old we are, summer just seems to fly by). But here’s the problem: While these activities always seem like fun in theory, they tend to be… >> Read More
Whenever any sort of holiday or occasion rolls around that involves giving gifts, I admittedly tend to get a bit stressed. The reason? I like giving gifts that are meaningful, which means I put a lot…of pressure on myself to come up with the perfect thing every time. It’s no wonder, then, that just a few weeks ago, I found myself lying awake at night, losing sleep over what on earth to get my husband this year for Father’s Day. It’s not that my husband is particularly hard to shop… >> Read More
The other day, my son came from school and said, “Mommy, today all I want to do is play with you.” And it broke my heart—because in reality, I knew we had about 30 minutes at home before I’d…need to drag him and his sisters out to the store to stock up on fruits and vegetables, and that once we got home, I’d need to start making dinner. I also knew that during those 30 minutes, I’d inevitably need to change a pair of diapers, let the dog out, and switch the laundry… >> Read More
In the grand scheme of being Orthodox, I suppose my family wasn’t all that strict when I was a kid. While we maintained a kosher home and I went to yeshiva, my mother wore pants and didn’t cover…her hair. Still, growing up Orthodox meant there were certain things we just didn't do, like drive on Shabbat and eat bacon (which, incidentally, I still don't do, but it's more of a "bacon grosses me out" kind of thing). These days, my husband (who was raised Reform) and I embrace a Jewish lifestyle and… >> Read More
I live in a part of New Jersey where you have to drive to get pretty much anywhere, which means I spend my fair share of time behind the wheel. And though I'm ashamed to admit it, I often find that…driving brings out the worst in me. See, normally, I'm a pretty considerate person. At the supermarket, for instance, I'll help a random elderly person snag something off the top shelf, or offer to let someone with just a few items go ahead of me on the checkout line. I really don’t know what it… >> Read More
There was a period in my life where I would wake up every morning, stick a pair of contacts in my eyes, and wear those lenses till bedtime, at which point my eyes would practically be begging for…mercy. But as I got older, and sleep became more of a luxury than a given, I switched over to glasses, which I find work wonders for helping me hide the black circles that seem to have taken up permanent residence under my eyes. But after wearing the same glasses for a number of years,… >> Read More
This article is part of our essay series, “Why Be Jewish?,” based off of “Why Be Jewish?”—a new book by the late Edgar M. Bronfman.
I grew up somewhat forced into Judaism—meaning, my…family wasn’t just Jewish, but actively, almost obsessively Jewish. I was raised Modern Orthodox, which means I went to yeshiva (Jewish school), didn’t drive on Shabbat, and kept kosher both inside the home and out. Although I enjoyed going to synagogue and celebrating a host of holidays throughout the year, by the time I got… >> Read More
It happens every spring. I tell myself I’m going to do a bang-up job of tackling the many projects I have floating around in my head, yet year after year, I somehow manage to fall short. And…there’s always a reason. One year, it was the fact that I was pregnant and too tired/nauseated to deal with spring-cleaning projects. And last April, I was too busy taking care of my toddler and 3-month-old twins to make time for cleaning and organization. Actually, when I think about it, those are some pretty decent… >> Read More
There's a reason that neat little Passover ritual is called a seder, and not just a holiday tableside hangout. The Hebrew word "seder" means order, and so we're supposed to read the haggadah in…order, going through the motions step by step and culminating in a fun little song about an iconic goat. But here's the problem with traditional seders, or at least the ones I've attended in recent years with my toddler: My son never makes it to the song about the goat. In fact, he barely makes… >> Read More
Like many children his age, my 4-year-old son has a lot of thoughts floating around in his head, but sometimes getting him to share them is easier said than done. Often, I'll ask how his day was at…school, or what’s on his mind when his eyes seem far away, and he'll blow me off with a “Not now, Mommy” or "I'll tell you later." (And I thought I wouldn't have to deal with that kind of attitude until the teenage years.) But recently, I've discovered a great way to find out what… >> Read More
Is it me, or are babysitters getting harder and harder to find?
Back when I was a teenager, I used to jump at the chance to sit on someone's couch for a few hours, raid another household's pantry,…and get paid for it. Even those jobs that required me to actually play with and tend to the children were, in my mind, both fun and worth the money. And while I wasn’t particularly fond of changing other kids’ diapers, I figured it was still an easy way to pocket some extra cash. But… >> Read More
Sunday had the makings of the perfect family day. The plan was to get up early, bake up a nice batch of hamantaschen, have lunch, and then go to our synagogue’s Purim carnival as a happy little…bunch. My husband and I had strategized the night before: He’d take care of our twin 14-month-olds in the morning to give me and our 4-year-old some uninterrupted baking time, and then we’d cart the kids off to the carnival for some fun and games. Well you know what they say about the best laid… >> Read More
As a kid, I used to look forward to Purim not only because it meant getting goody baskets delivered to our door, but because I enjoyed putting together these baskets, mishloach manot, for friends and…family. Once I was old enough to help, my mom would have me line up various food items on the table, assembly line-style, and assist her in arranging and wrapping each basket. It was a time-consuming, and most likely expensive, process, but one that we all enjoyed. Fast forward to adulthood, and these days, mishloach… >> Read More
It's official. After 13+ months of nursing my twin daughters, the little ladies are pretty much weaned. And in many regards, I think that's a good thing. For one, it makes my schedule much more…manageable. No longer do I have to worry about cutting a nursing session short to accommodate a second screaming baby, or being forced to nurse in public when we're out and about. Now I can bottle-feed my daughters at the same time, or take their bottles on the go and whip them out as needed… >> Read More
My name is Maurie, and I have a cleaning lady.
There. I said it. I don’t work outside the home, and my primary job these days is taking care of my kids and maintaining my household, and yet, I…have a cleaning lady. And I don’t feel bad about it one bit. That wasn’t always the case, though. In fact, I spent many months struggling with cleaning lady guilt until logic took over. More on that in a bit. I first started using a cleaning lady back when I was working full-time and got… >> Read More
Though you'd think summer camp wouldn't be hovering atop my radar when it's 25 degrees outside with snow on the ground, the fact of the matter is that many of us have to decide what we're doing about…summer camp before winter even comes close to showing signs of letting up. And for me, that poses a huge dilemma. Within the next few weeks, I have to submit my application and deposit if I want to secure a spot for my 4-year-old at summer camp, and at this point, it’s pretty much making… >> Read More
Now that our son is 4 years old and kindergarten isn't quite so far away, my husband and I can no longer ignore the looming question we’ve been pushing aside for as long as possible: What are we…going to do about Jewish day school? It's not that I'm unsure if I'd like my son to attend—I know I would. But to do so, I'll need to go back to work full-time so that my salary can cover tuition, and with that comes a world of repercussions not just for me, but also… >> Read More
When my now 4-year-old started to self-wean at 11 months, I couldn't have been happier. At the time, I had a full-time job and was having trouble keeping up with pumping. Plus, my goal had been to…nurse him for about a year anyway, and the timing seemed to be working out perfectly in that regard. The problem, however, was that I somehow wound up weaning too quickly, going from five feedings a day to none in the span of under six weeks. I thought cutting out one feeding per week was… >> Read More
When my now 4-year-old first started getting mobile, he was given free reign of the house. This was, of course, after we baby proofed up the wazoo, but for the most part, he was able to crawl or…toddle around and explore every last corner, from the kitchen with the big, shiny appliances to the little nook behind the piano. When my twin daughters started crawling, however, I had to employ a different strategy which involved penning in most of my living room with baby gates, and throwing them into what my husband… >> Read More
This past Saturday night, my husband and I did something that rarely happens in our world: We went out on a date. When you have a toddler and twin infants and your closest family members live over an…hour away, Date Night is not something that happens often. Even still, our recent excursion took a bit of planning to pull off. By the time Saturday night rolled around, my husband was just excited to leave the house after dark, while I was excited by the notion of eating a meal without a screaming… >> Read More