Jul 22 2014
Exactly two years ago, I wrote a post about how my kids would be doing nothing all summer long. Our laissez-faire experiment went so well in 2012, that I repeated the lack of structured activity in 2013. I’m a big believer in the notion that boredom is good for children. And if they dare whine about it, I tell them to clean the house.
However, 2014 is shaping up to be a horse of a different color. While my 7-year-old daughter continues to be footloose and fancy-free (though we are systematically working our way thorough the “Disney Princess Cookbook”), my almost 11-year-old son won a grant earlier in the year that allowed him to attend two weeks of computer camp and then a coding conference in England. I’ve already made it clear to him that this is a one-shot deal and he should enjoy every single moment of it.
But then, there is the issue of my oldest son. He just turned 15, finishing his freshman year of high school. Previously, my husband left the dispensation of our kids’ summer schedule to me. This year, he informed our older son that he expected him to get a job. Read the rest of this entry →
The voice mail came in while we were swimming. It was Saturday, the afternoon before Noah’s sleepaway camp ended.
Infirmary. 100.7 fever.
“Do you want to get him tonight or have us keep him here until pickup tomorrow?” the nurse asked. Read the rest of this entry →
My son made his first Jewish friend. His name is Dan, and he’s got dark curly hair and wears glasses.
Charlie was so excited when he told me about him. “He celebrates Hanukkah, Mom, just like us! And he has a shirt with Hebrew writing on it.”
He continued to talk about Dan for weeks afterward. “Dan hit a home run at recess, Dan is better than me at math, Dan brings peanut butter fudge for dessert.” Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 21 2014
I hope you can help! My 7.5-month-old’s sleep has been steadily worsening since he was about 6 months old.
In the day, he has always had a hard time napping and sleeps with quite a lot of effort on our part–45 to 50 minutes, 2 to 3 times per day. Up until a month ago, he would nap in his crib in our bedroom. Then I started to nurse & nap with him in our bed and try extend sleep by nursing when he would wake. We both really love this, although it only works once in a while at making the naps longer. Read the rest of this entry →
Since the moment I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I have been terrified of stairs. My anxiety about falling down a flight of stairs peaked after my first daughter was born, and looking back, I see now that it was just one symptom of the post-partum anxiety I didn’t realize I was suffering at the time.
In the mental health world we refer to them as “intrusive thoughts”–those upsetting or disturbing images that seem to come out of nowhere. They’re a hallmark of depression and anxiety, and in the weeks and months after each of my daughters were born, they came on fast and furious. Most of the intrusive images involved one of my girls dying; I wrote them off as yet another symptom of becoming a neurotic Jewish mother. But I just couldn’t escape my fear of the wooden staircase inside our house. I was terrified of falling down it while holding one of the girls; I obsessively donned a pair of thick cotton socks with rubber grips on the soles each time I had to walk downstairs, even in the heat of summer in a house without air-conditioning. I would walk slowly and carefully, taking each stair as if it was covered in ice.
It’s been four years since my second daughter was born, and the anxiety has dwindled down to average Jewish mother levels, on the high end of neurotic. But I’m still scared of the stairs. I still walk slowly down them, and I can’t stop myself from reminding the girls to slow down, look ahead, and pay attention each time they step off the top step. I always feel ridiculous for doing it, of course, and I try to tell myself to calm down and stop nagging, but I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut. Read the rest of this entry →
Just before Passover, my partner and I became certified foster parents in Pennsylvania. This means that we could get a call literally on any day, and have a new child in our family by the end of that day. We are incredibly excited (and more than a little scared), and because we have no idea when our family will be changing, we’ve been mentioning it in conversations so that our friends and community won’t be totally taken aback when one day we show up somewhere as a family of four, instead of three.
Across the board, people have been really supportive and excited for us, which is amazing. But one thing that has thrown me a bit is how often people ask me, “So, why did you decide to become foster parents?”
I understand that it’s a natural question. This isn’t the way most people build their families, and since it’s an opt-in situation, it makes sense that people want to know how we made the decision. But it still feels a little invasive to me every time. Because in our case the answer is a kind of muddy combination of always wanting to adopt, but not wanting to compete with people who can’t have a baby any other way, and not wanting to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the process. And once we started looking into fostering, and saw how much of a need there is for good foster families, it felt like something that we could and should do. Read the rest of this entry →
Lauren Weinstein and her husband were expecting their first child when they learned that they are both carriers of a gene that causes cystic fibrosis (CF), one of the 19 common genetic diseases found among Ashkenazi Jews. The prognosis for a child with CF is pretty grim, and Lauren underwent DNA testing to learn if their child would have the disease. Then she managed to write a touching and darkly funny comic called “Carriers” about the period of waiting for those test results, published in Nautilus. She agreed to talk with me about her experience.
1. What was the your initial response when you were told that there was a good chance your child would have CF? Were you scouring the internet?
I have never been a fan of researching any medical issue on the internet. Obviously, it is a writhing pit of misinformation, none of which may pertain to your specific problem, especially when it’s about something as serious as CF. I waited until I met the genetic counselor and the pediatrician. And the picture the pediatrician painted was pretty bleak, unfortunately. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 18 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Mattot. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
My vows about what kind of pregnant lady I’d be went out the window early, when I realized that eating an entire bag of gingersnaps would cure my morning sickness.
I had a lot of ideas about what kind of pregnant lady I’d be (cute, active, not too huge); what kind of birth I’d have (natural, empowering); and what kind of mom I would be (cute, active, not too emotional). Read the rest of this entry →
I knew I wanted the house.
It needed work, but I could see the potential hidden under the atrocious paint colors and dog hair. But the threat of homebuyer’s remorse struck my husband and I simultaneously. We looked at each other panicked, suddenly looking for a reason to bail. Standing side-by-side in the yard, we glanced at the row of dying azaleas baking in mid-July sun. “Those bushes need to go,” I murmured.
The real estate agent paused and then gestured at the weed-choked rectangle. “It’s probably too sunny for this kind of plant. But this would be a great space for a garden!”
My cold feet warmed and once again I saw what the house, and the grounds, could be. By autumn, it was ours. At some point, we pulled out the bushes, but never got around to doing anything more. The timing was never right. The wedding, summer jobs, home renovations, two pregnancies, sleepless nights with a baby and a toddler, a sick relative, a new boss… for the past seven years, there was always something. Read the rest of this entry →
When it comes to raising children, 2 seems to be the universal age of terror among parents of boys and girls alike. I mean, they call it the “terrible twos” for a reason, right? As the mother of a 2.5-year old, I can say that the past six months have most certainly been challenging at times. But usually when I share my experiences with a fellow parent whose children are older, I’ll get a response along the lines of, “Oh, 2 is not that bad. Just wait till you get to [insert whatever age the child being spoken of is].” In other words, it seems like every age has the potential to be terrible.
But is 2 really so tough? Of course it is, sometimes. Over the past six months, my husband and I have experienced many of the things toddler parents complain about, including, but not limited to, intense temper tantrums, pickiness at the dinner table, and the downright abuse of the word “no.” But at the end of the day, I don’t think these things make my son’s current age “terrible” per se. If anything, I chalk up the fits of stubbornness to an almost necessary part of his development.
Sure, it’s not easy to watch my child get red-faced and start screaming uncontrollably out of nowhere when he doesn’t get his way, but perhaps he needs to experiment with that sort of behavior until he reaches a point where his coping and communications skills improve and he’s able to find more effective–and less noisy–ways to express himself. Read the rest of this entry →