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Sep 5 2014

How to Navigate a Difficult World With a New Baby

By at 11:21 am
Elija-2

Photo by Stephanie Rabins

 

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Ki Tetze. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

It has been quite a summer over here. Elijah Wilder, aka Eliyahu Nachman, arrived a month ago, joining his big sister Sylvie.

I’m doing a few things differently this time around, partly in an attempt to avoid postpartum depression like I had with Sylvie. I’ve asked for more help. I’ve protected my maternity leave more carefully. And when I do go back to work, I’ll make sure I have adequate childcare for Elijah rather than trying to do some impossible juggling act. All this makes me appreciate every minute with him right now, and I am happy to say that so far, it’s working. I am loving these early days. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 9 2014

Why I Wrote a Book About Mindful Parenting

By at 11:03 am

carlas-book

Jewish teachings are rife with parenting advice. Not surprisingly, my favorite is also one of the most popular:

A father is obligated to do the following for his son: to circumcise him, to redeem him if he is a first born, to teach him Torah, to find him a wife, and to teach him a trade. Others say: teaching him how to swim as well.

(I prefer to use words such as “parent,” “child,” and “partner,” but you get the point.) Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 19 2014

How Do You Tell “That Parent” that She is Being “That Parent”?

By at 12:14 pm

facebook

Somewhere between watching the twentieth video clip of my friend’s son doing his signature jig to Gangam Style and listening to an epic recap of his latest trick, I realized I had just about had it. And this is how I came to find myself googling “How to tell your friend to please stop talking incessantly about her child,” my search yielding 8,600,000 hits and making me immediately feel less alone.

Do I sound heartless? I hope not. I really don’t begrudge new parents their abundant zeal for waxing poetic about their child’s adorableness or their eager recounting of sleepless nights and diaper disasters; I tend to indulge their rambling stories with pleasant equanimity, and with close friends I sometimes possess a genuine interest. And heck, I was that parent once too. I remember what it’s like. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 11 2013

Ten Lessons I’ve Learned from 10 Years of Parenting

By at 11:48 am

ten lessons i've learned from ten years of parenting

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

Five Things My Young Kids Have Taught Me

By at 10:17 am

kids playing with tableware

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

What We Wish We Knew: Advice for Not-Yet-Expecting Newlyweds

By at 10:03 am

pregnant women adviceKveller recently received this note from one of our readers:

Dear Kveller,

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

The Best Advice for First Time Moms, Royal or Otherwise

By at 11:37 am

duke and duchess of cambridgeWith 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

Five Things Not to Say When Someone is No Longer Expecting

By at 11:15 am

5 things not to say to someone who's no longer expectingTova 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

10 Tips for Life With Two Kids

By at 9:20 am

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.

Oh Debbie.

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

News Roundup: The Worst Parenting Advice, The Rabbi’s Agnostic Wife & More

By at 5:01 pm

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)

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