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.
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
It happens every day, usually right around 4:00 p.m. My twin girls, who are terrible nappers, start getting cranky, while my 4-year-old starts getting restless. My stress level begins to rise as my…patience dissipates. I have to prepare dinner for my kids, and then feed it to them, which is typically nothing short of a nightmare. My toddler is incredibly picky and doesn't always have the best table manners, and although my girls usually enjoy eating, the sloppiness that ensues when trying to simultaneously feed two infants… >> Read More
I've written before about my little obsession with Tu Bishvat, and how it's the one holiday I've always gone out of my way to celebrate, even back in the day when going to synagogue was something I…generally did on a twice-a-year basis. A big part of my love affair with this holiday has to do with the fact that it's all fun and no obligation. Purim, for example, is fun as well, but who has time to put together all those misloach manot baskets? And while one could argue that Sukkot… >> Read More
The other day, my toddler asked whether we could read one of his favorite books before getting ready to go to the supermarket. I'd prepared him for the fact that we'd be leaving the house shortly in…an effort to avoid a tantrum over being whisked away from his toys, but when he asked for the one book before heading out, I figured it wouldn't hurt to say yes. When I did, his face broke into a gigantic smile. "You seem happy," I told him, marveling at his reaction. "I am," he… >> Read More
I recently had one of those really tough stay-at-home mom days—the type where so many little things go wrong that you're ready to curl up in the fetal position and call it quits before lunchtime…even rolls around. Nothing particularly terrible happened, but I spent much of the day on the verge of tears. My toddler was refusing to listen. My 10-month-old daughters both ruined their clothing by smearing their breakfast all over themselves (and me). We were late to preschool when unexpected road work forced us to detour. The… >> Read More
Though my neighbors across the street first put up their Christmas lights a few days after Thanksgiving, it wasn’t until the first night of Hanukkah when my almost 4-year-old noticed them. Though…these neighbors have decorated before, this year they really went all out, adorning their house with bright, flashing colors. My son was so enthralled by the lights that I took him outside to get a closer look before we got ready to light our menorah and kick off our own festive holiday. "Are those Hanukkah… >> Read More
I'm blessed to have an extended network, from family to friends, of generous folks in my life who enjoy the practice of gift-giving come holiday time. Each year, despite my protests that there's…nothing I actually want or feel I'm missing, I find myself showered with things like fuzzy slippers, cute accessories, scented hand lotion, and other such luxuries that I do enjoy but typically won't go out of my way to buy for myself. The truth is, I've always been somewhat of a minimalist, preferring experiences to… >> Read More
When my son was almost 1-year-old, a friend who was over at my house noticed a couple of Jewish books lying around. “Are those from PJ Library?” he asked, to which I responded that they were…simply gifts from family members, and that I had no idea what PJ Library was. He then went on to explain how PJ Library works: You go online, sign up your kids (the program is for children aged 6 months to 8 years old), and wait to receive awesome Jewish books in the mail. Oh,… >> Read More