Sarah Tuttle-Singer is an LA Expat (reluctantly) growing roots in Israel. She's learning to love being an outsider: After all, the view from the edge is exquisite. Fueled by a double-shot latte, she (over)shares her (mis)adventures across the Internet, including on Kveller.com, Times of Israel, Jezebel, and Offbeat Families. She is dangerous when bored.
"Mama, we're booorrrrrrred," the kids whined while I was under the covers, one eye open.
"You have a choice: Grumpy Mama can wake up now, or Fun Mama can wake up later."
The two deliberated for a…minute, and my daughter whispered something in her brother's ear. "Fine. Fun Mama, later." "Well done." Grumpy Mama went back to sleep. Through foggy, fluffy dreams I heard a bump, a few crashes, but no cries. When I got up for realz and staggered to their room, I saw my kids in the middle of… >> Read More
I’m holding a number 2 pencil and there’s a university issue blue book in front of me. A bland-faced test proctor places a sheet of paper, face down, on my desk.
“Don’t turn it over until…the bell,” he says. It’s my final exam, and the questions on it, and how I answer them, will determine my future. Bell rings. I got this, I got this, I got this. I take a deep breath and look down at the words… And, I can’t understand a single thing on the page. And come… >> Read More
I was on the train when I got a phone call.
"The rumors are true," a colleague told me. "It hasn't cleared the censors yet, but they found the boys. Not alive."
For 18 days, we stood together as…a nation, waiting by the windows, looking for three silhouettes over the horizon. United by an exquisite hope that there would be a happy ending to a dreadful story, that our boys would come home safe and sound. Eighteen--the Jewish number for "life"--such symbolism, such irony, as I heard the news, and a keening wail… >> Read More
Our boys are missing.
I say “our boys” because these could be our sons, our brothers.
This is just how we roll in Israel.
Kol Yisrael Arevim zeh-la-zeh: The People of Israel are responsible…for one another. You can see it in the way we scold random parents for forgetting to put socks on their kids. ("Where are his socks? Where are his shoes? It's the middle of April and he'll freeze!") You can see it in the way we give soldiers a lift home. (“Here, take a piece… >> Read More
"I want you to have roots and wings," my mother used to say to me from as early as I can remember until the day she died. And I think of this during preschool drop-off on cool mornings when the sun…slants softly through my 5.5-year-old daughter’s curls. "Honey, do you want to go in without me? We can do our hug and kiss goodbye out here if you want.” And some of the other kids go in alone without their parents: This is the beauty of the community we live in--the Middle East's answer to… >> Read More
I'm looking back through the old scraps of writing I have saved over the years.
And in the detritus of keystrokes, here is what I find: lines about my mother and watching her die, lines about the…family I used to have in all its discombobulated beauty. Thoughts about the baby boy growing inside me and the little girl who would kiss my big old moon belly. Sarcastic strike-throughs to hide the fear I felt during those months and the boredom that followed when I would spend my days watching shadows crawl… >> Read More
When we first moved to this little house in an Israeli village with a bomb-ass view of rolling fields, it wasn't really the home I'd choose: The floors are cracked and uneven. The walls are…thin. There are mold stains on the ceiling. But it wasn't really a choice: We needed a home. So, I looked beyond the flimsy walls and bare bulbs that dangled from the ceiling. I squinted and said, "We need pictures on the walls." So I went to the mall, printed out family photos (from now, and… >> Read More
My son turns 4 on Saturday.
He is suddenly long-legged and lean, leaping into the air. He makes up songs and chats on the phone. He crouches down in the grass and looks for snails with his…flashlight. He is Spiderman. And suddenly, somehow, in between non-stop nursing and not sleeping, in between crying and cooing, my plucked-chicken newborn baby boy grew eyelashes and eyebrows. Last night, in the late hours when moonlight fills the room and the jasmine green tea has kicked in, he joined me on the futon while I… >> Read More
As we scrambled to find the perfect Hanukkah gifts for kids this year, we thought it might be best to go straight to the source. So we asked our contributing editors to ask their kids what they…really want. Up first, a wish list from Sarah Tuttle-Singer's kids. DISCLAIMER: Hanukkah isn't the big present orgy in Israel as it is in the US--since we don't compete with Christmas, we keep it simple. So I had to pull teeth to get some responses from my kids--and in fact, I MAY have had to… >> Read More
I never saw my mother naked.
Not even when I was a little girl.
With her clothes on, she was slender and supple. Her legs were shapely beneath black Gap stretch pants, and her breasts rode high…underneath her cotton turtlenecks. She’d change with the door closed, and I knew better than to open the opaque glass door when she was showering. She never wore bathing suits. Even when we went down to the lip of the sea where the waves licked our feet, she’d stand there in her leggings and a… >> Read More
For all y’all out there who think divorce is like the worst thing in the world for the kids, let me tell you something: it doesn’t have to be.
My son and daughter are best friends and allies.…Born a year and a half apart, they tandem nursed (think National Geographic Magazine, and you get the idea), go halfsies on the last slice of mushroom pizza, and fall asleep holding hands in a queen-sized bed in our one-room apartment. They’re closer than any other sibling pair I’ve seen their age. Just last week,… >> Read More
To gear up for the High Holidays this year, we're asking our writers and readers for their Rosh Hashanah Resolution. Up first, Contributing Editor Sarah Tuttle-Singer.
May this be a year of love…and light, of new experiences and new challenges met and mastered. May there be moments of serenity spent with those we love watching clouds pass, or sipping sangria in front of the sea, or laughing so hard that we forget how to stop. May the coffee be strong, and our loved ones stronger, and may our… >> Read More
"Mama, do you know why today is so beautiful?" my daughter asked me while we walked to the pool.
It took me by surprise, her question. Because I didn't think today was so beautiful: Today was…freaking hot--like, sumo-wrestler-sweaty-armpit hot. The air shimmered in the afternoon light, clinging to my skin, and I was lugging my purse, a bulging laundry bag, a Princess Tiana doll, and small plastic bag with the remains of three snails. The hair that wasn't frizzing like an 80s porn star was matted to my forehead, and… >> Read More
Every Monday and Tuesday at exactly 2:14 pm, my phone beeps to life with the chorus of Destiny's Child
All the women who are independent
Throw your hands up at me
I shut…the alarm off, scroll through my contacts and text one of three people: "Any chance we can get a ride home with you today?" I hold my breath. I cringe involuntarily. My stomach tightens while I wait for a "SURE" or a "no problem" or an "absolutely" to untie the knot. Dependent Woman. Yes, while… >> Read More
I bought a dress last week.
It's a dress straight out of the summer of '53--pale mauve with a sweetheart neckline, spaghetti straps, and a skirt that twirls. It's the kind of dress you lose your…virginity in in the backseat of a Chevy Bel Air after the Hop. It's also the also the kind of dress you wear when you get tired of keeping it real in blue jeans and a tank top, when you want to rub coconut vanilla lotion on your legs and feel like you're stepping into… >> Read More
Need some Mother’s Day gift inspiration? We’re asking our contributing editors the three things they want (and the one thing they can’t actually buy). Here’s what Sarah Tuttle-Singer is…hoping for this year. 1. SPANX Mid-Thigh Body Briefer Size small. In black. And now let us never speak of it again. (Because as I've said before, three years postpartum, and there are days when I still look pregnant. And while I love how it feels between my fingers when I'm naked, a muffin top… >> Read More
In honor of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, we're sharing this story of how one American mother is raising her kids to be independent in Israel.
Let me tell you something: When you move…across the world with a 9-month-old who spends more time with your boobs than your high school boyfriend did back in 10th grade, and a 2 1/2-year-old who has mastered the word NO (in Hebrew and in English), and you have no friends, and you don’t speak the language, and your whole entire family is… >> Read More
While we were in the art room at school today, my daughter asked me something in Hebrew in words I didn't understand. "Say yes, mama!" She said. "Please say yes."
"Baby, I can't say yes, because I…don't understand what you want. For all I know you just asked me if you can get a tramp stamp, or move to Amsterdam." It's like this, sometimes. She'll say something that means something to her--I can see it in the way she clenches her jaw, and she flexes her fingers while she waits for… >> Read More
I let my children see me cry this morning. It was one of those drawn out dawns when everyone wakes up waaaaay too early, and the countdown til preschool drop-off stretches into forever until the last…second before we need to leave RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. DAMMIT. And in that frenzy, my daughter flops on the floor like a 30 pound pile of jelly, and she shall not be moved. (People, it's like she studied Nonviolent Resistance with Gandhi, and while that’ll be super awesome when she’s out there changing the world,… >> Read More
So, according to Facebook, this is how I spent my Saturday with the kids:
My children and I woke up with the sun, smiling and ready to kick ass and "make it a great day."
My hair was shiny. My…smile, too. We drank our morning drinks in latte cups--frothy foam mustaches lacing our lips. We played backgammon, our skin mottled by drops of shade in the morning light. We went for a walk in the orchards, and we danced between emerald leaves like fairies. We rocked out to Red Hot Chili Peppers. 'Cuz that's… >> Read More
"We didn't sign our son up for preschool," my ex messaged me this morning.
Evidently, somewhere in between everything, Expat Barbie over here missed the memo. Literally. A memo in Hebrew that…went out to the parents about signing up for gan. And ooohhhh, this raised issues for me. Nasty, mean issues like crusty alligators that lurk beneath the surface of my (deep) neuroses, emerging periodically to bite and snap in a carnivorous power struggle. I'm reminded of a girl in my elementary school--Shella had chocolate eyes… >> Read More
My son has become a rabbit.
A 3-year-old rabbit with pale blonde hair and a blue Angry Birds ski cap pulled low over his forehead.
I didn't get it at first. And I didn't understand why he was…hopping out of the classroom when I picked him up from preschool. "Do you have to go to the bathroom?" He wiggled his nose. "Did you hurt your foot?" He bared his baby teeth. (Obviously, he couldn't just tell me he was a rabbit because rabbits don't talk.) But after he hopped out of the… >> Read More
To My Darling Daughter,
I watch your eyes glow when the kids in preschool want to play with you. I see how it matters to you what they say and how they smile.
I watch your bottom lip tremble when…someone hurts your feelings. And I watch you on the playground--your face flushed, and your breath staggered as you chase the child that was mean to you. I know you, and I know you are blaming yourself for their bad behavior. I know you are trying to get a second chance at friendships not worth… >> Read More
"Airplane!" my son shrieks while the sky rattles as fighter jets rip through the clouds.
He spreads his arms, roars like an F16, and zooms across the grass.
My daughter is older--and she notices…what her brother has missed. "There are a lot of planes today, Mama." There are a lot of planes today because no matter what you want to call it, this country is at war. The kibbutz where we live has been exquisitely quiet. But still, while the kids run around and eat their after-school… >> Read More
As part of our month-long series dedicated to Women, Work & Money, Sarah Tuttle-Singer shares her child-support strategy.
Last month I had a grand total of 42 shekels in my bank account and no…place to sleep with the kids. Nights get cold here, now. The sun sets early, and the usual standbys--the pool, the pub for dinner, or sleeping in a tent--are no longer options. But the most stressful part of all of this was I couldn't pay child support for two months. Try explaining to your 4-year-old… >> Read More