Dec 10 2013
While browsing through old college journals, I recently caught a glimpse of a younger, happier, more confident woman. The bubbly writing belonged to an idealist who hitchhiked around the Middle East, worked at archaeological sites, and attended graduate school overseas.
Today, our children are my greatest joy, but the past few years of struggling with my husband and the divorce process are taking a heavy toll. I do not want my self-esteem to be contingent on my past accomplishments, nor do I want my happiest memories to be of previous decades.
I am proud of myself for getting out of an unhealthy relationship. Nowadays I am plunging the toilet myself, installing batteries and removing bugs and trash from the house. I am raising three very young children, working a full-time job, and teaching on Saturdays to stay afloat, all while far from extended family. I am persevering and finding inspiration and assistance where I can. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 14 2013
It’s possible that we’re wired to notice those aspects of art that apply to our own lives–one person staring at a Degas painting might see light, truth, and love, while another might simply see smashed up crumbly cheerios because they are the bane of her existence.
What? My point: the story lines on Parenthood that I am most interested in talking about are the ones that I can relate to, or the ones that somehow reflect my life. As such…
I have been less interested in the Amber/Ryan kerfuffle, or the Drew-goes-to-college-and-tries-to-figure-out-girls saga (though I do love Drew, such a sweet boy) and way more interested in the Julia-and-Joel-chaos and, to some degree, the Bonnie Bedelia-Coach-autumn-of-our-years plot.
First, though, let me take a moment to pay homage to Crosby, my favorite Braverman who, in episode six, rages against the minivan. Now, this was indeed a hackneyed storyline. Surely we all know someone in life (or on Facebook) who has struggled with a similar reality. (I don’t think anyone does it as cutely as Crosby does, though.) To get the details out of the way: Jasmine wants to get a minivan and get rid of Crosby’s “cool” vintage car. This comes to pass, and they make out in the backseat and all is well. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 16 2013
Our twin boys recently started wearing their first pair of lace-up sneakers. Unfortunately, I have yet to find time to teach them to tie the shoes. As a result, one son came home from daycare with six knots in his right shoe. I know this because it took a painfully long time, with my stubby fingernails, to undo each knot. When I asked him what happened he replied, “Jenny is the only friend in class who knows how to tie shoes. She was trying to help me.”
Our son reminds me almost daily that he is going to marry Jenny. I can clearly visualize the two children seated side by side on the floor with Jenny happily showing our son how to “tie” his shoes. With that image in mind, I began to consider how many people I have interacted with recently, since I made my divorce public (Facebook public, that is), who also wanted to help, but inadvertently pulled a Jenny and put knots in my laces. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 14 2013
For all y’all out there who think divorce is like the worst thing in the world for the kids, let me tell you something: it doesn’t have to be.
My son and daughter are best friends and allies. Born a year and a half apart, they tandem nursed (think National Geographic Magazine, and you get the idea), go halfsies on the last slice of mushroom pizza, and fall asleep holding hands in a queen-sized bed in our one-room apartment.
They’re closer than any other sibling pair I’ve seen their age. Just last week, my daughter chased down two boys from her class who were teasing her brother:
“You will NOT talk to him like that. He is my brother, and he is awesome.”
And a few days after that, when his sister slipped and fell, my son ran over to help lift her off the dirty ground before I could even say, “Sweet Girl, are you OK?” Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 3 2013
Every Monday and Tuesday at exactly 2:14 pm, my phone beeps to life with the chorus of Destiny’s Child Independent Woman.
All the women who are independent
Throw your hands up at me
I shut the alarm off, scroll through my contacts and text one of three people:
“Any chance we can get a ride home with you today?”
I hold my breath. I cringe involuntarily. My stomach tightens while I wait for a “SURE” or a “no problem” or an “absolutely” to untie the knot.
Yes, while I am doing my best to rock it solo since my ex and I split almost two years ago, living half the week with my kids in a tiny house next to rolling fields and a ginormous sky, where I negotiate paying rent and utilities with a landlord who doesn’t speak English, where I can pay my internet bill and make money transfers over the phone, where I have finally started to create a life that kind of sort of makes sense, I still can’t get from point aleph to point bet–something so freaking basic–without help.
Because unless I have help, it’s going to be a long walk home. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 27 2013
The Jersey Shore has been resurrected just in time for the beach season, while the only bathroom in my house, also a victim of Superstorm Sandy, is still in ruins. Fortunately the most important feature is in place, but the sink remains in a box in our living room, and the tub is encased in plastic wrap to prevent water from seeping into the walls where the grout should be. Showering is a bit like stepping inside a giant sandwich bag.
A combination of factors has seriously stalled the construction on our bathroom. Luckily I now know that I can adapt to almost any circumstance because of the current state of our home. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 5 2013
This past Memorial Day weekend I was inspired to do a mitzvah after seeing a friend on Facebook placing American flags on soldiers’ graves to commemorate the day.
On my drive to Starbucks for a rare treat, I contemplated how I could make the world a better place when I literally saw the sign. It was for a blood drive and it was posted in front of the Shriner’s temple. Perfect! I will donate a pint of blood to an anonymous person facing an immediate crisis as a symbol of my gratitude for the men and women in our armed forces who have shed their blood for my freedom.
As it turns out, however, the anonymous person was not so anonymous. His name is Owen and he is 2 and suffering from a rare disease that requires continuous blood transfusions as part of his immediate treatment. In exchange for my donor paperwork, the blood bank worker handed me a picture of this beautiful child in the form of a thank you card from his folks. My pride in my mitzvah and the resulting joy was extinguished instantly with the realization that a family was in pain. Lying on the portable table with a needle in my arm, I stared at the various light fixtures overhead trying to make sense of the thoughts and events that had led me to my current state. Read the rest of this entry →
May 28 2013
In our world there are statistics all around us. No where is that more true than in the world of autism.
There is the whole one in 88 kids are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, which is the big ugly, awful stat but there are loads of little stats, particularly if you start investigating treatment options, dietary options, and so forth.
The one that hit me the most when my daughter was diagnosed with autism was this one: 80 percent of marriages where there is a child with autism end in divorce. Read the rest of this entry →
May 6 2013
This post, part of our month-long series about God, is by Pia Kutten, one of the winners of our writing contest.
The divorce proceedings are underway. I have lost my well-paying, highly respectable job. We have handed over our life savings to our lawyers and amassed even more in debt. I have been ignoring a subtle, yet persistent pain in my right side for months. Our baby refuses to sleep through the night. My father is gravely ill. Read the rest of this entry →