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.
There is no easy way to say this, so I'll just say it:
You are fucking up your kids.
And I am, too.
Because that's what we do.
We don't do it proudly or on purpose: we just do.
And it…doesn't matter what we do, or how carefully we consider our choices, or which experts we consult. Our kids will have issues no matter what. If we breastfeed, they’ll have issues. If we bottle-feed, they’ll have issues. If we sleep train, they’ll have issues. If we co-sleep, they’ll have issues. If we play that gangsta… >> Read More
I'm actually sad that school's starting.
This is the first time I'm dragging my feet toward the bus stop, and not skipping down the road shouting, "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty…I'm free at last!" I remember last summer and the summer before and the summer before. The days slogged by with early mornings: "Mama, my butt itches!" And long afternoons. "Mama, we're hungry. Mama, we're thirsty. Mama, he's BREATHING too loud. Mama, she's CHEWING too loud. Mama, the cat's breath smells like cat food." And… >> Read More
I asked my daughter about breasts today. Specifically, my breasts. More specifically, my breasts in her birthday photo that we took a few days ago.
Why'd I ask? Because when I shared this sweet…little photo of my daughter and me on Facebook, a stranger commented: "Cleavage is no substitute for intelligence." Ouch. The sentiment is searing—it's nasty and a little creepy. And it's deeply rooted in a misogynistic worldview that reduces a woman to her body parts: her vagina, her uterus, and her breasts. The thing is, the… >> Read More
She broke me eight years ago—this little girl—3.5 kilos, 7 pounds, 12 ounces. She broke the shell I was, full to brimming with her inside, all I ever wanted, my biggest hope.
She broke my…expectations: I thought it wouldn't be so hard. I thought I knew what was coming. I thought I'd bend and stretch to fit the changes seamlessly without shaking, without crying. Instead, I lay there, split down the middle, my own heart hers and beating outside my body. I would wake up in the middle of… >> Read More
My daughter and I talked about the Holocaust tonight after dinner.
"Do you know what Shoah means?" I asked.
"Disaster. Catastrophe," she said. They're learning about it in school—as most…Jewish kids in Israel do. We came to Israel when she was 2, and she’s heard the siren that goes off on Holocaust Remembrance Day throughout the land every year since then—that terrible, horrible sound of too many screams mixed down into one keening wail. She stood even at 2, her thumb in her mouth,… >> Read More
"Mama, is being pretty important?" my daughter asked while she watched me put mascara on tonight in front of the bathroom mirror.
"Well, baby girl, I'd be lying if I said it isn't helpful to be…pretty—but there are other qualities that are much more important." "Like what?" "Well...courage. Being able to look at the things that make you scared and figuring out a way to shrink them into something small and manageable." "What else?" "A sense of how absurd shit in life can be." READ: I Think It’s OK That… >> Read More
The past two weeks in Israel have brought a wave of terror and violence, with near-daily attacks that some are calling the beginning of the third intifada. Sarah Tuttle-Singer, a mother raising her…two kids in Israel, shares with us what it’s like to parent during these tumultuous times. "Hurry up," I say too often when the kids struggle to put on clean shirts, or tie their shoes already. READ: On Vacation In Israel in the Midst of a War "Nu, yalla—we’re late. Halas, leave the book already, put… >> Read More
How funny, as I sit here waiting, not quite breathing, that I can smell the first days of my daughter’s life: sweet and soapy, but a bitterness underneath.
At first, I can't name it, this…smell—soft baby hair laced with cradle cap? Maybe her first newborn onesie washed in boiling water with organic all-natural soap? No... inhale, exhale, and there it is, that smell: glass bottles, rubber nipples, and the pump that squeezed my aching breasts for flowing liquid. (Warm the bottle, shake it, squeeze a drop on your wrist,… >> Read More
And this is how it was this afternoon—my daughter and I pink and tired, our edges sharp, match-match, but misaligned.
And it's hot today—the sun heavy and unyielding, like our moods, my…daughter and I, stuck on repeat, a broken record, while my son watched from his perch in the kitchen, cartoon eyes wide. And then, she blew the hair out of her face, and scowled, "Mama, I can't stand you." And I turned from pink to red-hot-fire as I remembered once upon a hot late afternoon… >> Read More
There are two things I know to be true:
1. There is no difference between good flan and bad flan.
2. There are no hard and fast rules to breastfeeding.
When it comes to breastfeeding,…there is absolutely no such thing as one-size-fits-all (although I can tell you that I once tried on a "one-size-fits-all" nursing bra, and it was the devil). I read every book. I spoke with five lactation consultants, four pediatricians, three midwives, two doulas, and the friendly grandmotherly type handing out cheese samples at Trader Joe's,… >> Read More
I wore "Life" around my neck from the summer I was 16 until the spring I was 22. Five years, nine months.
The necklace was carved from Eilat Stone with two letters forming the shape of…"Chai”--Hebrew for "life"--a metaphor I chose from the summer I went to Israel for the first time. And one day, nearly six years after that summer, my boyfriend pulled hard until the chain bit into my neck, tugged until the charm fell off in his hand, glinting in the center of his palm between the lifeline… >> Read More
Last night while I was sleeping, I dreamt I was sullen and 16, sitting in the back seat of our Toyota Corolla with my iPhone. It was just the same as it was then--the seats were fuzzy blue, and the…insides smelled like cigarette smoke and GAP Dream. Bach's Brandenberg concerto was on the radio--KKGO FM 105.1. And my mom was in the passenger seat, talking to me. >> Read More
"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." >> 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. >> 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. >> 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!") >> 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 from… >> 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