Tamara Reese, MPH, CHES is a stay-at-home Mama and consultant in the field of Maternal and Child Health. She is a contributing editor to Kveller and her work has been published in academic journals, La Leche League USA, Brain, Child Magazine and The Washington Post. Tamara lives in Cleveland with her husband, three boys and ginger daughter. Her passions include child injury prevention, gentle parenting, and breastfeeding advocacy. #YouAreAGoodMama
Have you ever read an article that focused on something completely outside of your own interests and walked away wanting to be a better parent? That is how I felt after reading novelist Michael…Chabon’s introspective account of his trip to Paris with his son, Abe, that ran in GQ earlier this week. Did I mention the trip was Abe’s bar mitzvah present? The article is heavy on fashion jargon, which I am definitely not fluent in, yet I sat there reading it in my spit-up stained tee and… >> Read More
I was racking my brain for a thoughtful gift for my husband and finally gave up and just asked him what he wants.
Him: A squatty potty.
Me: A squatty potty?! Are you serious that’s what you…want? Him: OK, a squatty potty, homemade chocolate chip cookies and to never do bath time again. I’m going to spend thirty bucks for my man to poop with the proper “anorectal angle alignment,” and hopefully there will be no excuse for him messing around on his phone in the bathroom while I nurse the… >> 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. Read the rest in the series here.
When my family…moved to Pittsburgh, my son was 10 weeks old and my husband was entering into a grueling six-year medical residency. Though we’re not Orthodox, he found us an apartment smack dab in the middle of the eruv—a ritual enclosure some Jewish communities use to allow residents to carry certain objects on Shabbat and holidays, which… >> Read More
Three years ago, I auditioned and was welcomed to sing alongside the incredibly talented Jewish Pittsburgh women who make up the acappella group Kol Shira (the voice of all song). The group has been…around for over a decade and our members represent Reform, Lubavitch, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, and secular Judaism. We do our best to obey laws of tznius (modesty) when performing and do not schedule gigs on Shabbat. Our performances are open to women and girls only to honor the Orthodox members of our group who uphold the halakhic… >> Read More
Hanukkah is fast approaching, and while kids are easy to buy for, you’ve probably spent more than eight nights trying to think of something for that special man in your life. Racking your brain for…something he didn’t already order for himself? Tired of fart joke books and shot glasses? How many times can you print out coupons for “fun after dark” that get filed as IOU’s in his nightstand while you snore with your mouth guard in? Obviously, he wouldn’t turn down things like a drone or a remote… >> Read More
As moms, it is hard to think of tangible things we would like to receive—you know, things other than “to pee alone” or “a hot cup of coffee.” I’ve found that motherhood has indeed made my…standards as low as they can possibly be for simple joys and gifts, but sometimes it’s nice to receive something that isn’t scribbled on a hand-made coupon entitling the user “free hugs” (although eight nights of putting your clothes in the hamper does sound DEE-VINE.) I tried to come up with a list that would… >> Read More
Finding out your baby is a boy—either months in advance or moments after he is born—can be bittersweet for a Jewish mama’s heart. Choosing to circumcise (or to not circumcise) your son is a…deeply personal decision that you and your family will make. If you do decide to host a traditional bris, there are plenty of things you need to figure out: how to choose a mohel, whom to invite, and what to serve. In the midst of all that, it’s easy for a mom to get overwhelmed,… >> Read More
I don't write or talk much about my pro-choice beliefs. To me, much like the decision to have a baby, these beliefs are deeply personal and are rooted in who we are as humans. That being said, I have…always been outspoken about my work as a public health practitioner. I first visited a Planned Parenthood clinic in college where they found high-grade precancerous lesions on my cervix and referred me to a specialist to undergo treatments that lasted the next five years. It was because of the screening (that I received free of… >> Read More
A few years ago I made a small mistake that has shaped my parenting in a big way—thanks to hindsight, it is one I’ve never made again.
We were visiting family in New York over the summer and…my oldest, who was 3 at the time, was having the time of his life surrounded by fun and people who loved him. The entire weekend was spent swimming, playing, and snacking, but by Sunday evening we wanted him to sit at the table and eat a proper meal. Usually on special occasions our “treats” rule… >> Read More
This piece was originally performed at the Listen to Your Mother: Pittsburgh 2015 show. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to watch Tamara perform it live.
I have pages of letters I wrote to…each of my boys while I was pregnant with them. Pages of hopes and dreams—unfettered excitement. I identified with my growing belly each time, instantly and completely. Raising a son, then two sons, and cultivating the bonds of brotherhood between them, my heart seized the opportunity and spilled out on paper the plans I had… >> Read More
The beginning of June means a lot of things to a lot of people. School is out for summer, camp begins, pools open, and summer is upon us. It is all of those things for me, too, except when I allow…myself a fleeting moment to think about a particular June when I miscarried our second pregnancy. I have since had two healthy babies. I should be grateful. I am grateful. But gratefulness and good fortune do not minimize loss. And loss crept up on me this week as I stood in the kitchen making a… >> Read More
Everything about my third pregnancy, from the moment I saw two pink lines, was different. This unexpected surprise who had me nauseated for 20 weeks just so happened to be a baby girl. I spent my…days caring for two busy boys, watching my belly swell and wondering what she would be like. What it would be like to have a daughter. Her due date was estimated as May 1 and since her brothers both came early, it never even occurred to me that we would ever make it to May.… >> Read More
I had just finished cleaning the house from top to bottom. I was tired and cranky, feeling underappreciated and premenstrual. After dinner my 5-year-old asked to be excused. I was washing up the baby…and I asked him to please hold tight for a minute so I could wipe his hands before he got down. I turned around to rinse the cloth and turned back around to see that, mid-(impatient)-tantrum, he had dumped an entire glass of milk all over the table. It was dripping down both sides of… >> Read More
My husband was raised as a secular Jew, and I have spent the better part of a decade as a Jew by choice. Being new to the tribe, it can be hard to learn and grow in Judaism. Without strong community…support or close family and friends who can mentor you, even little things like Shabbat prayers can be intimidating. Perhaps the most intimidating of all is Passover observance. One common way to side-step the complicated intricacies of the holiday is to not observe at all, but adding even small observances each year--if sustained--can become beautiful… >> Read More
I had hoped for a mikveh immersion at the end of my first pregnancy. I wanted the ritual waters to embrace me as a soon-to-be mother as openly as they had to Judaism and to marriage. I had dreamed of…how I wanted every aspect of my pregnancy to be. In retrospect, I lovingly refer to it as granola-inspired naiveté--healthy eating, prenatal yoga, perineal massage, and an un-medicated birth culminating with me cradling my vernix-covered infant and then nursing on demand. >> Read More
Last week after preschool pick up I took a deep breath and schlepped all three kids into the grocery store to buy a brisket. I was wearing the baby, had my 2-year-old in the cart, and let my…4-year-old walk (three minutes into him wandering off to eat raw green beans, he was relocated to the back of the cart). I got all the way to customer service only to realize I left the receipt for an item I needed to return in the car. So I went back and forth shaking off… >> Read More
Parenting a preschooler can sometimes feel immense and impossible. The sheer fact that my kid might have lifelong memories of something I did or said haunts me at night. I’ve already trudged…through the muddy waters of newborn and toddler stuff and came out (barely) on the other side with some sense of confidence and strategy. But with my firstborn, I wake up each day to unknowns and I’m often up at night Googling how to best connect with him. I have found that if I’ve talked… >> Read More
My 4.5-year-old has been jumping the baby gate at the top of our stairs before we are awake to sneak into the kitchen and eat treats. He has his fill and creeps back upstairs. Last week he used a…stool to get in the freezer and eat ice cream sandwiches; we later found a half-eaten 16 oz. bag of marshmallows in his bed and some baking chocolate under his pillow. But one thing agile, sneaky 4-year-olds don’t do well is cover their tracks. One morning I came downstairs to find that my son had… >> Read More
When we brought our newborn daughter home, she nursed around the clock with a ferocious latch. It felt as if I was putting my nipple into a stapler and then having the milk sucked out by an…expensive Dyson. If I were a first-time mama, I would have been convinced I had no milk and faulty nipples. I would have probably also convinced myself that my baby was tongue tied, lip-tied, or whatever bad-latch karma was going around the internet at the time. But what I now know to be true, after… >> Read More
I’m entering into my ninth month of pregnancy; I’ve lost all verbal filters that I normally employ and for the most part I either explode or cry. I wasn’t this bad when I was pregnant with…the boys (although I was still, admittedly, super crazy) and perhaps it is a combination of managing my 4-year-old's emotions and chasing after my toddler with fierce hip pain and heartburn, but I want to verbally assault anyone who even looks at me wrong. I’m cranky. So that’s where I’m at. Around my 27 week prenatal visit… >> Read More
I love music. I’ve been singing all my life. I belted out an elaborate rendition of "Old Macdonald" in my yellow bathing suit for the cable guy when I was 3 and sang on stage throughout…adolescence and college. So much of my life has been set to music; every year a different show, a different song. It is how I built an inner confidence and poise. I have always felt that my voice was one of the things that brought me closest to God. A gift I was blessed with… >> Read More
I was out of town without internet last week and when I returned and read through Kveller I was shocked when I saw the reader responses to Rachel Minkowsky’s birth trauma post. I thought about…it over the weekend and all I can come back with is that the majority of the comments were so uncharacteristic of the Kveller community but clearly the post triggered a lot of emotions for our readers. Rachel wrote about something that happened to her that she is struggling with and has struggled with for… >> Read More
There has been some sort of snow or ice on the ground in Pittsburgh since Thanksgiving. I am six months pregnant, driving a brand new (covered in dirt and salt) minivan, and schlepping around two…kids. Did I mention we moved a mile down the road to a bigger place at the end of December and then my whole family got H1N1 a few weeks ago? Yeah, I’m over it. These are my normal “I’m a mom of two” standards: There is dust on my TV stand but I scrub… >> Read More
Deep in the Grickle-grass, some people say, if you look deep enough you can still see, today, where the Lorax once stood just as long as it could before somebody lifted the Lorax away.
One page…into Dr. Seuss’s timeless classic and Jewish symbolism is abundant. The presumed gravesite of the Lorax, protector (creator?) of the trees, is surrounded by stones. In the animated movie adapted from the book, the Lorax and forest creatures bring stones to surround tree stumps after they have been cut in vain. Similarly, in Jewish tradition,… >> Read More
I’m afraid of raising a girl.
I’m 20 weeks pregnant and very soon we will find out the gender of our third child. This is the longest we’ve gone without knowing the sex of our babies and the…longer we wait, the more anxious I’m getting. I’m anxious because I’m afraid this baby will be a girl. And I’m not really sure what to do with a girl. My husband has always wanted a girl; one he is convinced will hang onto her Daddy’s every word like a sunbeam. With both of my… >> Read More