Nov 26 2014
My son turns 8 years old this Thanksgiving Day. The last time his birthday fell on Thanksgiving was when he turned 2. I wasn’t with him that day. I didn’t get to see him blow out the candles on his slice of pumpkin pie. I didn’t get to sing “Happy Birthday” to him and I wasn’t there for his birthday party.*
Instead, on that day, I was in the hospital, taking care of my daughter. The funny thing is that I hadn’t even met her yet. Nobody had. I didn’t even know she was a she. I was about 22 weeks pregnant and we were already fighting with one another. I was fighting to keep her in and she was fighting to get out. Little did I know that I was about to spend the next 16 weeks flat on my back in a high risk pregnancy unit.
About two weeks earlier, I was going about my business taking care of a toddler and teaching my students how to read, when I was diagnosed with incompetent cervix. The situation was so dire that I was immediately sent to the hospital and the doctors didn’t know what the outcome would be. Ultimately, I had to undergo an emergency cerclage procedure. It was a scary and uncertain time, but now, six years later, I continue to be thankful for what I have and for what I didn’t know I had at the time. Read the rest of this entry →
Sukkot may be the holiday when I de-clutter and get things out of my life, but on Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, I make sure to pay attention to my stuff.
We are at the start of the season when every store, television commercial, and radio jingle reminds us that we are supposed to let other people know how much we appreciate them… by buying them things. I’m not against the occasional Hanukkah present for my kids or tipping some of the hardworking and often underappreciated people in my life during the holiday season, but this year I am trying to focus on what I have and appreciating how lucky I am before I add to my collection of “things.” And I’m making my family join me.
I read recently that writing down what you’re grateful for every day can be transformative. In addition to cultivating an ongoing sense of gratitude and respect for our belongings and privileges, apparently the practice of putting pen to paper while thinking of how grateful we are can also lead to higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy throughout the day. That sounds pretty good to me. Read the rest of this entry →
I don’t think I realized when she began sleeping through the night. Sure, she’s done it on and off for the last few years, the rollercoaster of toddler sleep cycles: alternating bouts of smooth, uphill climbs with no night-waking at all, interspersed with sudden, steep declines marked by nightmares at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., and 4 a.m. in rapid succession.
But the other night it struck me that I couldn’t even call to mind her last mid-night visit. Couldn’t remember the last time I was stirred from sleep by the warmth of her breath rolling across my cheek, whispers of “Mama,” and bright eyes peering in the blackness just above the mountain of blankets.
And it’s exactly as it should be. This year, she started public school, which means she hasn’t aged only in years, but seems to age in maturity on an almost hourly basis. More than that, she’s tired. Physically and emotionally depleted in ways I never imagined were possible at the budding age of 5. And so she sleeps. Long, deep, replenishing slumbers, often waking later than the rest of the house. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 25 2014
It finally happened. Six years, 14 IVF cycles, eight pregnancies, and we finally took our little girl home. She’s healthy, happy, and growing like a weed. In my wildest dreams (and there was plenty of time to dream!), I never imagined the amount of happiness and peace we would find in our tiny daughter.
But while our daughter fills a special place in my heart, we are still struggling with our faith. Though my husband and I were raised Orthodox, as I’ve written before, the last six years have made both of us lose our faith in God. For our one daughter, we’ve had to say goodbye to 10 other babies. That makes it too damn hard to believe that there is a God who is in charge.
With our first diagnosis of severe male factor infertility, we didn’t question God. Infertility was a challenge, but that kind of thing happens. Everyone has some kind of challenge. We were lucky to have each other, a happy marriage, and stable finances. No one can skate too easily through life, right? IVF was a mountain, but not insurmountable. Read the rest of this entry →
One of my most commented upon Kveller posts came in January of 2012, when I wrote about my daughter’s Black/Jewish hair. In a nutshell, she wanted to wear it long (like Rapunzel!), and I was terrified of the tangles, the snarls, and, most of all, the arguments.
So we made a deal. (Yes, you can negotiate with 5-year-olds. Just as long as they want something you’ve got.) We agreed that I would let her wear her hair long. But that she would let me take care of it, brush it, wash it, condition it, anything I saw fit. And the minute she complained or whined or so much as whimpered, off it would all go.
It’s been three years, and we’ve only had to hack off several inches once, and that was to make combing through easier during a lice outbreak.
You would think that all is now serene in our household (at least as far as hairy issues are concerned).
You would be wrong. Read the rest of this entry →
I’ll admit it: I’ve had it with this “no screen time under 2” thing. I have always suspected that this “no television” thing is bogus—and at last, someone is saying so.
A guide released last month by the nonprofit group Zero to Three called “Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight” notes that “children should have lots of time for play in the real, 3-D world,” and parents should, “make screen use a shared experience.”
In other words, the new group posits that maybe, just maybe, the whole “no screen time under 2” thing isn’t getting to the essence of the problem, which is the fear that parents will substitute television for themselves on the regular. In other words, you do not need to fear weirdo rays emanating from screens morphing your child’s brain—instead, you need to fear your own inadequacy as a parent. Read the rest of this entry →
Photo via Flickr/Jamelle Bouie
I’ve been following the Mike Brown case from the beginning. I’m sad for his grieving parents and for the citizens of Ferguson who want justice. I support the sentiments around the currently trending meme “#BlackLivesMatter” but I can’t bring myself to tag it on Facebook for fear someone will call me out as a “clueless white person” trying to attach myself to a movement I don’t belong to. I’m empathic, but I’m searching for a way to articulate that respectfully.
My best friend Rachel has always been involved in social justice and is my go-to person on days like today. When I asked her what kind of reaction I should have to all I am witnessing from my comfortable upper middle class life here in Los Angeles, she reminded me that I’m a parent, and I have a responsibility to respond to this in the way I raise my kids.
Rachel explained, “I think the best thing that you can do right now is raise your children to be race conscious–not color blind, but race conscious. Talk to them about the different experiences people of color have. Buy books and dolls and movies with lead characters that aren’t white. Talk about how people aren’t always treated equally and how that is not OK. Teach history and how it impacts our lives today. Be conscious and teach them to be as well.” Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 24 2014
So we’ve all been sitting on our couch watching TV, at one time or another, and have seen someone get ambushed at the grocery store. The slender, healthy TV personality (in full make-up) goes through the chips, soda, cookies, and white bread in the shopping cart and they tell the poor, unprepared mom who just popped in, sans make-up, with her yoga pants on, why her children should not be eating sugary snacks.
I never thought it would happen to me.
On a random Thursday I popped into my local Publix grocery store with my 1-year-old, sans make-up (with yoga pants and my worn and beloved orange and blue Coca-Cola t-shirt on) for my regular mid-week shopping trip. This trip usually consists of things I forgot to get over the weekend, or things like fruit and milk that we’ve run out of. Read the rest of this entry →
When I had my first child, I was 35 years old. I had left home for college at 17, over half my life ago. I’d supported myself since college graduation. Granted, my career as a musician and writer was not the typical “adult” path. Still, I certainly felt like a grown-up.
And then I had a kid.
Now, before you jump to conclusions, let me say a few things. I’m talking about me, not you. Many of my dearest friends don’t have kids, and they are far more mature than I will ever be. It may well be that I was particularly immature before I became a mother. It may well be that I still am. Read the rest of this entry →
I started to get an uneasy feeling at work sometime back in September, when things began changing in my department and I found myself increasingly excluded from meetings, decisions, and major projects. But every time I confided in a family member, friend, or coworker, the response was the same: “You’re pregnant; they can’t get rid of you now.”
I tried taking comfort in the legal protections offered to pregnant women but I knew deep down that something was brewing nonetheless. And sure enough, one day I was called into an HR meeting and informed that my position was being phased out and redistributed among other employees.
I can’t say the news was particularly shocking, but I still walked out of that meeting feeling angry and betrayed. After all, I’d been a dedicated employee for over four years. Read the rest of this entry →