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Jul 1 2013

I Threw My Baby Down the Stairs

By at 5:02 pm

staircase in homeOkay, before you call child protective services, let me explain…

Three months ago, my husband and I were playing with our 4 ½ month old when it became quite apparent that it was time to sing “Poop Monster” (to the tune of The B-52s, “Rock Lobster”). We’ve pretty much created a song for everything involving our daughter: “We’re Not Gonna Cry Now,” (“We’re Not Gonna Take It”), “Rolling on the Carpet” (“Rolling on the River”) and “Food Glorious Food…” that one needed no editing.

After a brief stare off to determine who would change the little stinker, it was I who danced my little one upstairs to change her. I sang; she smiled. After the “Bare Necessities” were complete, I picked her back up, gave her a big kiss on the cheek and as she smiled at me, we headed for the stairs. And it was right then that I threw her. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 13 2012

Breastfeeding With an Extra Dose of Jewish Guilt

By at 11:56 am

“Your daughter is not gaining weight,” the pediatrician explained to me at my daughter’s two week checkup.

That pediatrician’s appointment still haunts me. It took me from a place where I thought my milk was just slow in coming into full panic mode. It took me to a world of pumping around the clock, supplemental feeding devices, formula, herbs and teas, weight checks, never leaving the house, and endless tears. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 16 2011

Oy! My Guilt, Let Me Tell it To You

By at 4:36 pm

I’m going to LA for eight days and eight nights. Alone.

I’m leaving tonight.

Eight. Days. Eight. Nights. Like Hanukkah, only in August. And not really.

The longest I’ve been away from my kids up until now is, like, eight hours

But still.

“Dude, it’s just eight days!” my friend David reassures me on the phone.

“They’ll survive!” Chris tells me on gchat.

“If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Michal messages me on Facebook.

Still, let me tell you about the reaction on the kibbutz:

The conversation starts off innocuously enough at the coffee place where I am smoking my (third) cigarette and sipping my (second) latte.

“What’s new, Sarah?”

“I’m flying to LA next week!”

“Oh how wonderful! And of course you’re taking the kids!” (This is always said without a question mark.)

“Actually, I am going alone.”

You can hear the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer in Lebanon during the silence that follows. And while my news sinks in, I try not to squirm under the unblinking Eyes of Judgment, because Heaven Fore-fucking-fend I should allow myself this treat without turning my stomach in knots first.

After all, what kind of mother puts her own needs first and leaves her children (with a loving father, and savta, and uncle and caring teachers, and wonderful friends and assorted extended family members) for eight days.

This mother.

The Bad Mother.

Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 25 2011

Up In Smoke

By at 1:28 pm
Sarah and her mother in 2000, the year Sarah took up smoking

My mom had a symbiotic relationship with cigarettes.

She was a product of the Golden Age of Hollywood, a time when star-crossed lovers proclaimed their undying devotion while blowing smoke in each other’s face–thus sealing their fate that one day, they would die together. (Of lung cancer.)

She was also a product of a home where her parents would unwind after a long day by sitting across from one another at the kitchen table. Her father would strike a match, light her mother’s Lucky Strike, and then his own, and my mom would watch as the smoke from their cigarettes twirled in twin plumes, twisting together in the glow of after dinner peace. These were sacred moments of fleeting stillness– a way of being that transcended the pressures of work and raising children, of keeping house and cooking dinner. And as soon as the last ember fell from their Lucky Strikes, the moment would end.

Until the next.

(They kept the peace living cigarette to cigarette.)

So, it’s little wonder that my mom started smoking on a chilly night in October when the stress of midterm exams weighed down on her.

“Just one…” she said to her best friend as they sat on the steps outside Kingsolving Dormitory at the University of Texas. She coughed. She wheezed. She almost threw up. But she kept going.

One cigarette turned into another and into another and into another, and with a nine month exception in the early ‘80’s, she smoked until the day she died. Read the rest of this entry →

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