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Jan 24 2014

Torah MOMentary: Just Like Toddlers, the Israelites Needed Rules

By at 9:50 am

toddler drawing on wall

This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a new mom. This Shabbat we read Parashat Mishpatim. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

As a former wedding-industry employee, I can say with confidence that the Revelation at Sinai would have been a very high-ticket event. It had all the elements of the perfect day: a dramatic natural setting; elaborate sound and lights; and at the center, those simple, moving ten commandments –the vows that would eternally bind the Israelites to God. This all happened in last week’s Torah portion.

Rabbis do compare the revelation to a wedding–it’s not just me–and after such a blowout celebration, you might expect a bit of a honeymoon. But instead, the Torah launches straight into a highly unromantic list of rules and laws, ranging from the mundane to the disturbing. Like what to do if someone asks you to watch their cow and the cow dies (depends what happened to the cow). What to do if a man seduces a virgin (he has to marry her). What about the punishment for violent attacks (“eye for an eye,” though as a side note, the rabbis pretty much legislate that out of existence in the Talmud). There are rules about letting slaves go free every seven years, and not taking interest on loans, and, well, I’ll stop, but the list goes on.

It seems a little weird as a wedding follow-up. On the other hand, as the parent of a toddler, this litany of rules feels disturbingly normal.  Read the rest of this entry →

May 8 2013

When Mom Loses Her Voice

By at 11:53 am

mouth taped shutI admire those who can evolve on their own, shedding old bad habits through sheer mindfulness and mental discipline. For me, it takes acute laryngitis.

“You’ll become a good listener real fast,” a friend joked. So true! Here’s what else happened when I lost my voice:  Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 23 2013

It’s Always Wrong to Spank (And I Regret Every Time I’ve Done It)

By at 2:19 pm

hand slappingIn my opinion, it is always wrong to spank your children. Even a single shmeits (Yiddish, slap).

And let’s call it what it is: spanking means hitting. “Giving a spanking” means hitting repeatedly.

It is an abuse of parental power and teaches the use of physical violence to solve problems.

In my own experience, I remember the few times I hit my kids. And I was wrong. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 8 2013

My Toddler And I Had Our First Fight

By at 2:01 pm

Every duo fights. It’s inevitable, especially when you’re always together.

Until recently, Lila and I have had a pacific relationship. But increasingly, I’m interacting with a rapidly evolving and independent little person. This is wonderful overall, but Lila is less predictable and more difficult to manage than she was only a month ago, stretching me as a parent (sometimes uncomfortably).

One recent evening, I picked up Lila downtown. She insisted on walking to the Metro. I pushed her stroller with one hand, using the other to navigate Lila along the sidewalk, while my heart nearly leapt out of my chest. Thankfully, Lila listened when I told her to stop, especially near street corners. Our journey home was mostly manageable until Lila sat in a busy street, while we crossed; I immediately scooped her up and said there would be no more strolling after dark. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 19 2012

When Did I Become a Yeller?

By at 10:14 am

woman yellingWell, shit.

I think I’m turning into Mrs. Wolowitz. (If you don’t know who I’m talking about, she’s the Jewish mother on The Big Bang Theory. You never actually see her, as her primary mode of communication involves yelling guilt-inducing rants from the other room.)

Just last night, I found myself in the kitchen, loudly and firmly “announcing” (ahem) to my daughters in the living room that if I had to come in there one more time, there would be no TV show tonight. Yes, I do dangle the possibility of 20 minutes with Olivia or Caillou (gag) over my daughters’ little heads on a regular basis. I’m ok with that; we all need to learn that our actions have consequences and that Mommy can take away your fun if you take away hers. In this case, the girls needed to figure out how to share the latest American Girl Doll magazine (I haven’t yet introduced them to the idea of the catalog, a magazine from which things can actually be purchased). From the way they were managing it, you’d think I’d asked two starving orphans to split the last morsel of bread. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 17 2012

Do Kids These Days Have Any Manners?

By at 3:57 pm

bar mitzvah boy reading torahOy. Did I cringe reading the piece in the Sunday’s New York Times about the bad behavior at bar and bat mitzvahs! A shanda!

(Although why the Times thought that article was worthy of publication has me bewildered.)

I’ve been to those affairs–and seen the disrespectful behavior. On the other hand, the speeches are long and boring. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 17 2012

Should I Play Along With My Daughter’s Imaginary Friend?

By at 10:32 am

imaginary superhero weatherSomeone new is at our house. (Bonus points if you know what book that’s from. Double bonus points if you’ve read it over one hundred times.)

This someone new is a superhero. Her name is Weather. Her costume consists of flowered underpants, an undershirt rolled up into a bikini top, and a ducky blanket for a cape. Her superpower is… uh… weather. She can control the weather. When she feels like it. Which she often does not. But, she still can, so don’t you call her on it.

Unlike the entire population of Metropolis, which seems to have trouble telling Superman from Clark Kent due to his clever, clever use of eye-glasses (did you know that Superman was created by two Jewish kids barely out of their teens and is actually both a Moses parable and a metaphor for “passing” in Gentile society? I have been told this), I’m pretty sure that, by now, you’ve figured out Weather’s secret identity.

She is my 5-year-old daughter. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 14 2012

How Do You Discipline a Toddler?

By at 12:00 pm

baby climbing the stairsIf you’re looking for a way to spin your wheels, get frustrated, and not actually accomplish much of anything, I recommend that you try disciplining a toddler.

Before you get all riled up with mental pictures of my little girl in a stockade under a burning hot sun, let’s interject a quick dose of reality. The toddler in question, aka Baby G, is only 13 months old. She barely speaks English. She has a generally cheerful disposition. Her understanding of cause and effect is weak at best.

Baby G is not being BAD, per se. She’s not plagiarizing other people’s blogposts and passing them off as her own, for example, or embezzling hard-earned funds from charities. Read the rest of this entry →

May 16 2012

Dr. Sears Made Me Cry

By at 10:42 am

I yelled at my daughter this morning. She’s not even 2, and I yelled at her. More than once. Even as I was doing it, I knew that I shouldn’t be raising my voice, that I didn’t want to be responding to her that way. I knew that my yelling was not only ineffective, but it was hurtful, and not the way I want to parent my daughters.

And yet, I couldn’t help myself.

I have all sorts of excuses, reasons, whatever you want to call them.  My husband is traveling for work this week, and I’m stressed out by solo parenting and my own work demands. I’m getting over a cold. It’s raining. I was up three times in the middle of the night with her sister, before being awakened at 5 am for the morning. My new diet is stressing me out. I hadn’t had my coffee. She wasn’t behaving well, and I did ask nicely several times. Blah blah blah. Read the rest of this entry →

May 14 2012

I’m a Failure… and So Are My Kids!

By at 2:47 pm

failed stampI didn’t sell any books last week. This may not seem like such a big deal. Except for the fact that I’ve pretty much bet the house and staked my reputation as a writer on the brand new, as yet untested notion that readers are ready for enhanced ebooks, i.e. my previously published novels “pimped out” with video, audio, and other multimedia features. Guess not.

In addition, a magazine pitch of mine was rejected as being too much like something they’d just assigned to someone else, while a completed piece was more or less re-written prior to publication.

I can’t wait to tell my kids about it. Read the rest of this entry →

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