Nov 11 2013
Today is what LinkedIn would call my 10 year “job anniversary”: 10 years ago today, my first son was born. He was an easy baby. Of course, having had no experience whatsoever taking care of children, I thought he was absolutely impossible.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve had five kids and a veritable boatload of that unquantifiable entity we like to call “experience.” These are the 10 lessons I’ve learned over the course of the past 10 years, in no particular order.
1. There Will Be Nakedness.
When I went into the hospital to give birth to my first son, the nurse in the labor and delivery room gave me that not-exactly-couture excuse for a “gown” (otherwise known as “cloth with a few snaps”) and told me to change. I headed for the bathroom. The labor and delivery nurse cracked up laughing. “Honey, is it your first time doing this?” she said in a half-kind, half-condescending way. “Because there’s no such thing as modesty in these parts.”
After pooping on the table–oh, and giving birth–I got it. But I really only just began to get it. Parenting is nakedness, literal and metaphorical. But let’s start with the literal. Over the past 10 years, I have long abandoned the quaint idea of using the bathroom by myself, whether to shower or defecate. I have had my genitalia critiqued by toddlers (“MOMMY! WHERE IS YOUR PENIS???”). I have been watched by beady little eyes while attaching a maxipad to postpartum disposable underwear (“Mommy! I don’t want a bandaid on my jay-jay!”). I have bared my breasts in non-Girls Gone Wild fashion in airports, restaurants, shopping malls, and in front of the elderly and faint of heart. I have showered and bathed with children. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 29 2013
I always assumed that being a parent meant teaching my children the basic skills–and with luck, perhaps a few extras they’d need to become productive members of society. As it turns out, I’m learning just as much about life from them. Remember that book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? I think the lessons start much earlier. Here are some that I’ve learned:
Lesson 1. Be yourself. Somewhere along the way, we–or at least I–got caught up in worrying about how others see us. We put on our best face and maybe if we’re starting to wear our hearts on our sleeve, we throw on a cardigan. I’m not advocating for throwing public temper tantrums or sob fests, but I’ve noticed that if my kids are tired or otherwise having a cranky day, they don’t hide their feelings and most people cut them slack. As adults, we’re quick to dismiss others as rude or snobby when they might simply be having a bad day.
Perhaps one of the worst places for a kid to lose it is on a typical commercial airliner when 100-plus people are stuck riding out the tantrum. When I flew alone with both my kids (ages 3 and 1), from Virginia to Florida, I felt prepared for anything. Except for what I got: My daughter, Ellie, decided to flip out at the end of the flight. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 24 2013
Kveller recently received this note from one of our readers:
I’m a 25-year-old newlywed and I love your site! I’m not a mom yet, but I very much look forward to becoming one someday and parenting with intention. The purpose of this note is to ask if one of your contributors could share things they wish they’d known before they got pregnant.
Thanks so much,
Samantha Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 24 2013
With the world-wide hullabaloo over the new yet-to-be-named Prince of Cambridge, I thought it might be appropriate to offer Catherine and William a few tips about first-time parenting, although some of my observations will apply less to a child born into privilege and massive resources.
My aunt gave me the best advice of all about parenting, and I must say that her grown children are incredibly centered and mentally sound. She told me that the key to successful parenting is to accept, even while the child is still growing in the womb, that it will always be your fault. As soon as you realize that whether you neglect your children or have the capability to give them everything they need, your kids will eventually end up on some therapist’s couch, complaining about their mother.
That being said, I present a cheat sheet for new mothers, royal or those of lesser bloodlines, to get through the first few years with relative sanity. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 18 2013
Tova decided to share her story about choosing to have a medical termination on Kveller, and now, she offers advice for what–and what not to–say to anyone who’s experienced a loss of pregnancy.
Despite the fact that pregnancy loss is so common, there still incredibly remains a veil of secrecy and stigma over speaking about it publicly, so people just don’t know how the heck to respond.
And so, after personal experience and informal research, I’d like to offer a guide on what and what not to to say to your friend, sister, wife, aunt, mother, neighbor, or colleague who just told you she lost a pregnancy. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 27 2012
In response to Debbie’s plea for help yesterday in dealing with her daughter’s adjustment to being a big sister, Carla has some sage words of advice.
I was just trying to find the email I sent out a couple of years ago to all of my Mama friends with two kids–it was remarkably similar to yours. I’m certainly no expert, but now that my baby is almost 2 1/2, I’m a bit farther away from the shitshow that was our life for almost a year. (We’re still a mess on a far-too-regular basis, but it is SO much easier now.)
As you read this, keep in mind that my big girl was only 20 months old when the baby was born, and that she fractured her leg the day before I was due to give birth. Little sister was kind enough to show up five days late, which gave us some time to figure out life with a toddler in a hip-to-toe cast. So, if I seem a bit bitter or traumatized, well, I guess I was. But we’re better now. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 26 2012
All the Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.- Here’s a round up of some of the worst parenting advice from the last three hundred years. Our favorite is the theory that colic was caused by angry mom’s breast milk. (DoubleX)
- A religious Jew, active in her synagogue and married to a rabbi, is also an agnostic. She writes in the New York Times about answering her childrens’ questions about God. (Motherlode)
- A preschool teacher decided to get rid of all the toys in his classroom and replace it all with cardboard boxes. The new “toys” spurred more creative play, and empowered quieter kids to speak out and be creative. (Huffington Post)
- Two moms in Oregon started a non-profit to combat the staggering levels of malnutrition in orphanages all over the world. (Huffington Post)
- Now that Kevin Clash, the man who voices Elmo, has resigned from Sesame Street amid some torrid allegations, the rest of the puppeteering team has to forge on without him. (NY Times)
May 31 2012
I loved Renee’s post yesterday, not because I agreed with every point she made (although I did agree with most of them), but because her lists tapped into the fundamental worry of our generation of parenting–that we are going to irrevocably fuck up our kids.
When I was growing up in the late 70s and 80s, my parents didn’t worry about this. They worried about kidnapping, and whether or not we were going to get AIDS if we cut ourselves at school. My worried grandparents raised their kids in the shadow of air raids and bomb shelters during the height of the Cold War. I’d venture to guess none of them obsessed over whether giving their children a pacifier or putting them to sleep in a crib would permanently damage them. Read the rest of this entry →
May 1 2012
Uncanny resemblance, right?
Six years ago, when I was expecting my first child, my husband and I debated ritual circumcision. We finally concluded that we would do it for the sake of shalom bayit, for the peace of the family. Now our house is overrun with boys: I have a 6-year-old and 1-year-old twins. That’s a lot of brit milah.
A bris usually takes place in the morning because Jewish tradition declares that a mitzvah be performed early in the day. But each bris I planned had a slightly different flavor than the traditional. Both took place in the late afternoon to allow time for out-of-towners to arrive. One was held in Boston with tons of New York family and local Jewish friends. The other was held in Atlanta with a handful of out of town family members and many non-Jewish friends. Each time we chose a Reform, female, mohel with an MD.
Here’s some hands-on advice for the foggy, postpartum days when you’d rather take a nap but find yourself hosting a bris for a cast of thousands. Parents of twins, there is a special section for you. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 23 2012
Over the past couple of weeks, our seriously brave and open-hearted blogger Sarah Tuttle-Singer has written about the fact that she is going through a divorce. Both her pieces, “Whirling Out of the Darkness” and “Loving Your Kids & Loving Motherhood Are Not the Same Thing,” had us all achy and heartbroken, but something else surprising happened, too. Read the rest of this entry →