Pia Babendure Kutten is the sleep-deprived mother of three young boys. Pia has a BA in Anthropology and Judaic Studies, as well as an MA in Jewish Civilization from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Pia is a Jewish educator because she is passionate about Judaism and wants to ensure that the next generation is too.
Many well-meaning friends tried to give me advice during the process of my divorce: Take care of yourself, exercise, take up a hobby, get plenty of sleep… Yes, all smart in theory, but unrealistic…in my opinion. Divorce is a full-time job with constant documentation, preparation, and endless emails and calls to the attorney. Factor in kids, a house, and work, as well as a dramatic decline in income, and all the stress resulting. How exactly is one supposed to sleep, find time and money for the gym, or… >> Read More
Since our twins started playing baseball this season, I have made an effort to learn more about the sport. I have also made many errors at their games, like screaming, “Good hit, baby!” which is…apparently quite embarrassing. I‘ve also learned to not contradict the coach’s directives, like yelling, “Run!” when the batter hits a fly ball. And when members of the other team tease our children, again, I have learned that it is better to let the grown ups on the field handle the issues. I want so badly to… >> Read More
Every spring, I lead my second grade Hebrew school class on a short walk from our synagogue to a neighboring church that hosts a soup kitchen. We deliver the nonperishable foods we have been…collecting all year as our class mitzvah project. We then tour the facility and learn about the many services offered like healthcare, counseling, classes, and Internet. Each year, the director of the charity explains that the individuals who seek assistance at this warm house of worship are referred to and treated as guests, since we… >> Read More
Seven years ago I sat uncomfortably at the Passover seder table. I had just undergone another round of IVF, I was experiencing side affects from the drugs, and I was terrified that it would fail…again. Since my husband was the only person present who knew of my recent ordeal, I was doing my best to focus on the meal and to keep my emotions hidden. Slightly less than two weeks later I would learn not only was I pregnant, but that I was carrying multiples. It had finally worked.… >> Read More
After the twins lost interest in the project, I spent over an hour today inserting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tattoos into pre-made Valentine’s Day cards. This will be our children’s…introduction to the holiday since they previously attended daycare and preschool in a synagogue where Valentine’s Day was not observed. >> Read More
I destroyed my kids’ toy in a moment of frustration. I am not proud. It was a typical morning. I was just trying to get everyone to daycare and school quickly so that I would not be late to work…again. The children had their own agendas, however, and inevitably I lost my patience. Shredder hit the floor and sadly met his doom. >> Read More
Grocery shopping with kids is always an adventure--sometimes amusing and other times downright traumatic, like the time I sat the children in front of a television in the food court, grabbed three…slices of pizza, and returned to find my kids openmouthed and watching a man commit suicide in a Tarantino film. (Apparently someone had changed the channel despite store policy. We received balloons and free cookies that day which made everything better. Well, not really.) As a divorced, working mom I simply do not have the… >> Read More
For the closing event at camp this past summer, our children paraded around a field in costumes for “Halloween in July,” collecting candy as Michael Jackson’s Thriller blasted from the…speakers. While I watched the children scramble to fill their bags with treats, I noticed a man dressed in business casual slowly approaching, and for an instant his familiar appearance gave me joy. I almost smiled, but then I remembered how much I hate him. Our divorce was finalized last Passover, and though we were… >> Read More
When I received a call that my 5-year-old son was being a bully at camp, I felt as if I had failed as a mother. Outrage quickly followed the humiliation, as I imagined a scenario in which my…child would intentionally bother another child. By the time I arrived at camp at the end of the day to collect him, I had worked through an entire spectrum of emotions, but I vowed I would listen to his explanation and try to contain myself. There is always another side to the story after all,… >> Read More
I love those afternoons when I arrive at camp pick-up after a long day of work and my children come running, faces smiling, eager to jump into my arms and share their accomplishments of the…day. Yesterday was not one of those days. Instead, when I arrived at camp for pick-up I found both 5-year-old twins crying. The older twin is hardly a mystery. He struggles on some days, particularly after a late night, because he no longer gets a mid-day nap. He is also a very picky eater and… >> Read More
The clock says 8:16 again. While I am sure it is largely coincidence or my imagination, that number is always illuminated regardless of where I am… at home, work, or in my car. 8:16 taunts me,…causes my stomach to lurch and my heart to pound because this number represents my birthday: August 16th. I am struggling with this particular birthday more than any previous year because it has arrived too quickly. I expected to be in a much different place at 40 years of age. >> Read More
The other day I had the rare opportunity to watch the news while the children were away at their father’s house. Apparently the Pope had invited leaders of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples…together to pray for peace in the Middle East. I held my breath and felt an initial joy at the idyllic image of three faiths uniting to pray for the end of this conflict. But the emotion was quickly interrupted by my cynical thoughts… All the prayer in the world will not solve this situation.… >> Read More
The children’s service at the synagogue where I teach on Shabbat--filled with singing, dancing, and prayer--is saving me during my never-ending divorce proceedings. Though designed for a young…audience, the hour provides an opportunity to reflect on the past week, to give thanks, and to ask for strength in the week ahead. I listen to a few words about the Parsha (the weekly Torah portion), kiss the Torah with the children, and take comfort in the momentary peace. My favorite part of the tefilah (prayer) is and… >> Read More
The other day the guy next to me threw his computer bag on the table and quickly exited Starbucks. Without a second thought, I followed him out, but I stopped abruptly when I spotted him, cell…phone in hand, making a call. Realizing he had no intention of blowing up the store, I took a deep breath, relaxed my shoulders and returned inside to try to enjoy my drink. When he eventually returned to his table, it took all the restraint I could muster to keep silent about the anxiety unleashed… >> Read More
When the doorbell rang late at night a few weeks ago, as the boys and I lie upstairs in our beds, I knew there was reason to be alarmed. I grabbed the pepper spray that I have kept in my nightstand…since my husband moved out and I cautiously made my way to the front door. I felt some relief when I peered through the window and saw a woman on the other side of the door. But it was the contents of the envelope that she held in her hands that would inevitably leave me… >> Read More
Several weeks ago there was a terrible ice storm, and though I have lived on the east coast now for over a decade, I have rarely driven in such severe weather conditions.
My frightening journey…home from work required navigating icy streets and a rather steep incline that proved impossible to ascend with what little traction remained on my tires. As the wheels spun, and the smell of burning rubber filled my car, I began to panic. I attempted to flag down passing drivers, hopeful someone would come to my… >> Read More
As a newly single mother of three, I am confronting numerous changes in my life, while simultaneously trying to maintain stability for our children and shield them from further pain. Despite my…efforts, some days I feel overwhelmed by the divorce process and doubt my resilience. Divorce sucks. Divorce sucks worse when children are involved. Below are five things I hate most about being a single mom. 1. The Handover One night a week and every other weekend I meet my soon-to-be ex at a neutral location… >> Read More
While browsing through old college journals, I recently caught a glimpse of a younger, happier, more confident woman. The bubbly writing belonged to an idealist who hitchhiked around the Middle…East, worked at archaeological sites, and attended graduate school overseas. Today, our children are my greatest joy, but the past few years of struggling with my husband and the divorce process are taking a heavy toll. I do not want my self-esteem to be contingent on my past accomplishments, nor do I want my happiest… >> Read More
Our twin boys recently started wearing their first pair of lace-up sneakers. Unfortunately, I have yet to find time to teach them to tie the shoes. As a result, one son came home from daycare with…six knots in his right shoe. I know this because it took a painfully long time, with my stubby fingernails, to undo each knot. When I asked him what happened he replied, “Jenny is the only friend in class who knows how to tie shoes. She was trying to help me.” Our son reminds me… >> Read More
With the exception of the occasional “y'all” that always elicits a chuckle, I think I have shed most of my Texan idiosyncrasies since I have been on the East Coast for over a decade now.
I do…still cling to the music though, and once I drop my kids off at daycare in the morning I blast my country music until the windows rattle. To me, country music is about real life, love and loss, patriotism and simple pleasures. There are sagas of cheating lovers, brawls in honky-tonks, and heroic tales of our… >> Read More
"Today we played with multicultural dolls in honor of Martin King Jr. Day," read the daily report from our daycare. Our son was about 7 months at the time. I have to admit I was slightly amused by…the image of our baby drooling on toys of varying shades of color. While I am quite confident he missed the tolerance lesson, I truly appreciate the efforts of our caregivers. I know our 4-year-old twins, on the other hand, are getting the message clearly and I am constantly learning from them. "Criss-cross applesauce" is… >> Read More
The Jersey Shore has been resurrected just in time for the beach season, while the only bathroom in my house, also a victim of Superstorm Sandy, is still in ruins. Fortunately the most important…feature is in place, but the sink remains in a box in our living room, and the tub is encased in plastic wrap to prevent water from seeping into the walls where the grout should be. Showering is a bit like stepping inside a giant sandwich bag. A combination of factors has seriously stalled the… >> Read More
This past Memorial Day weekend I was inspired to do a mitzvah after seeing a friend on Facebook placing American flags on soldiers' graves to commemorate the day.
On my drive to Starbucks for a rare…treat, I contemplated how I could make the world a better place when I literally saw the sign. It was for a blood drive and it was posted in front of the Shriner's temple. Perfect! I will donate a pint of blood to an anonymous person facing an immediate crisis as a symbol of my… >> Read More
This post, part of our month-long series about God, is by Pia Kutten, one of the winners of our writing contest.
The divorce proceedings are underway. I have lost my well-paying, highly…respectable job. We have handed over our life savings to our lawyers and amassed even more in debt. I have been ignoring a subtle, yet persistent pain in my right side for months. Our baby refuses to sleep through the night. My father is gravely ill. >> Read More