Apr 25 2014
The children’s service at the synagogue where I teach on Shabbat–filled with singing, dancing, and prayer–is saving me during my never-ending divorce proceedings. Though designed for a young audience, the hour provides an opportunity to reflect on the past week, to give thanks, and to ask for strength in the week ahead. I listen to a few words about the Parsha (the weekly Torah portion), kiss the Torah with the children, and take comfort in the momentary peace.
My favorite part of the tefilah (prayer) is and has always been the silent prayer. While I love our tradition, enjoy the melodies we sing and appreciate the liturgy that has been passed down for generations, the silent prayer is the one prayer I “get.” This prayer enables me to say whatever is in my heart in a way that reflects who I am, silently, unscripted, and uninhibited. My silent prayer now includes hopes for our children and asks for assistance with my problems, but overall the prayer is the same one I have been reciting since I was a child.
This past Shabbat, following class, I joined a friend for lunch at a nearby cafe. As we meandered back to our car enjoying the long anticipated spring weather, we passed by two women on a park bench typing on old typewriters. The sign next to them read, “Give us one word and we will give you two poems.” Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 3 2014
The other day the guy next to me threw his computer bag on the table and quickly exited Starbucks. Without a second thought, I followed him out, but I stopped abruptly when I spotted him, cell phone in hand, making a call. Realizing he had no intention of blowing up the store, I took a deep breath, relaxed my shoulders and returned inside to try to enjoy my drink. When he eventually returned to his table, it took all the restraint I could muster to keep silent about the anxiety unleashed within me as a result of his clueless actions.
It has been almost a decade and a half since I left Israel, yet I have not shed all of my old habits and fears I acquired while living abroad. In Israel, when an individual leaves a bag behind and flees, we are told to report it and evacuate. I learned to call home after each terrorist attack. Then I would reach out to local friends and roommates to ensure everyone I knew was accounted for and safe. After a few days of avoiding public places, I would reluctantly make my way back onto the bus again, often the same bus route that was targeted; after all, life must continue. I told myself confidently that I still had much more business left to complete on this planet and I needed to give thanks for each day going forward.
I reflect often about my younger years while I sit in Starbucks, which has become my habit, my retreat and my sacred space on the long nights and weekends when the children are away at their father’s. Before my divorce, before my world turned into chaos, I had a very different outlook on my life. I followed the rules. I studied, I worked hard, I earned degrees and built a career and a family. Yes, I sinned–worse than some people, but certainly not as badly as others. Still, I have come to recognize that there is no logical explanation as to why good things happen to bad people and tragedies befall the rule-followers. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 31 2014
When the doorbell rang late at night a few weeks ago, as the boys and I lie upstairs in our beds, I knew there was reason to be alarmed. I grabbed the pepper spray that I have kept in my nightstand since my husband moved out and I cautiously made my way to the front door. I felt some relief when I peered through the window and saw a woman on the other side of the door. But it was the contents of the envelope that she held in her hands that would inevitably leave me paralyzed in fear.
The law firm representing our mortgage company had sent this messenger to inform us that our days in our house were numbered. It had been months since we had paid our mortgage, with both our salaries instead going to our respective divorce attorneys. Our legal battle has cost us our home, among other things.
When I lived in Israel many years ago, I participated in a monthly study group composed of some remarkable young women who had traveled from all over the world determined to learn a new language, assimilate into a very different culture and create a life much different from anything they had known previously. We gathered monthly to learn together, to support each other and to share. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 26 2014
All the Jewish celebrity parent gossip you (n)ever wanted to know.
– It’s been a big news week for Jewish celebrity parents. First the good news: Last month we reported that Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher (Mashton? Ashla?) got engaged. Well, a double Mazal Tov is in order, because people close to the couple have confirmed that they are now expecting a baby! Mila was even recently spotted attending a prenatal class. (Today)
-Meanwhile, in news to be filed under Jewish celebrity parent “tzuris,” Gwyneth Paltrow announced on her website that she and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin are splitting up after 10 years together. Too bad for daughter Apple, who had been wishing for a little brother named Orange or Banana. (The Daily Mail)
-J.P. Rosenbaum and former “Bachelorette” Ashley Herbert (who converted to Judaism for her hubby in 2011) are not only going strong, but are also expecting a child together. Congrats, Ashley and J.P.! (People)
-Courtney Kardashian and her Jewish hubby Scott Disick dress her daughter Penelope in son Mason‘s hand-me-downs, including his loafers and blazers. “I’ve even done a full suit for a full menswear look, like a Saint Laurent look.” she told reporters about her daughter’s gender-bending style. (People)
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Feb 18 2014
I knew this day would come. Huddled under the covers with her favorite pink teddy bear, while in-between stories about faraway lands and enchanted princesses, she turns her whole self away from me and asks: “Mommy, who’s my daddy?”
Oh God, not that. Anything but that.
I think about the perfect portrayal of Prince Charming in the book we just read and I wish I had my own fairy godmother here right now to wave her magic wand and poof–give me all the right answers.
How do you tell a little girl who hasn’t seen her father in over three years that the man she wouldn’t recognize if she met him on the street lives only 15 minutes away? How do you describe the guy who locked his own child out of his home, changed the locks and never looked back?
You don’t. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 5 2014
Ty (age 7): “Mom, am I a Joe?”
Me: “Nope, silly-pants, you are a Ty.”
Ty: “No, Mom, my friend at school asked if I am a Joe, but I wasn’t sure. Are we Joes?”
Me: “What does that mean?”
Ty: “Remember that bad guy was trying to kill Queen Esther and her family because they were Joes?”
Me: “Oh, you mean Jews.”
Ty: “Ahhhh close. Anyway, my friend wants to know, are we Jews?”
Sigh. That is a question I don’t have an easy answer for. We cannot, either by birth, heritage, or conversion, claim to be Jews, and yet as a family we are certainly becoming more Jewish every day. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 27 2014
Several weeks ago there was a terrible ice storm, and though I have lived on the east coast now for over a decade, I have rarely driven in such severe weather conditions.
My frightening journey home from work required navigating icy streets and a rather steep incline that proved impossible to ascend with what little traction remained on my tires. As the wheels spun, and the smell of burning rubber filled my car, I began to panic. I attempted to flag down passing drivers, hopeful someone would come to my aid and get me up the hill. When no one stopped, I started making desperate phone calls, first to my brother in Texas, then to friends seeking guidance. After over an hour sitting on the side of the road cold and scared, I pulled myself together and said these words that now also guide me through my divorce: I have to save myself.
No one is going to write a check and save me from bankruptcy or rescue my house from foreclosure. No one is going to help our children cope with the changes or tell me what to do throughout this process. Even my attorney, though amazing, has his limitations. Ultimately I control my attitude, my emotions, and my actions. I am in the driver seat and it is up to me to get up the hill or find an alternative route home.
While it may sound naïve, I firmly believe that the trials I am facing throughout this divorce are sculpting me into a better human being. Divorce has taught me many lessons and though I would not wish this on my worst enemy, I am grateful for the emotional growth. Below are three life lessons I have learned as a result of my divorce. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 6 2014
As a newly single mother of three, I am confronting numerous changes in my life, while simultaneously trying to maintain stability for our children and shield them from further pain. Despite my efforts, some days I feel overwhelmed by the divorce process and doubt my resilience. Divorce sucks. Divorce sucks worse when children are involved. Below are five things I hate most about being a single mom.
1. The Handover
One night a week and every other weekend I meet my soon-to-be ex at a neutral location for the handover. If all goes well, the children swiftly transfer from my car to their father’s without any verbal exchange between the two of us. I will not be an obstacle in our boys’ relationship with their father. I acknowledge that he has the right to parent them too. Nevertheless, saying goodbye to our children each time feels as if someone is tearing out my organs without anesthesia even though I know they are spending sacred time with him. As I kiss each son one last time and say a prayer for their safety and happiness, I swallow the anguish and hide the tears until I am far from sight and free to let go.
2. The Empty House
My family, friends, and even my lawyer assure me that I will someday appreciate the solitude that these overnights provide, but I remain skeptical. The silence in the house is deafening and their absence is palpable. I long for the sound of little feet stomping across the hardwood floor in the middle of the night in pursuit of the safety of my bed after a bad dream. I miss the “I’m done” shout from the potty, the constant bickering between the twins, and even the screaming of the baby at 2:00 am.
3. The Free Time Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 19 2013
“I got to see the art I wanted to see and eat what I wanted to eat when I wanted to eat it,” my friend said of her recent jaunt to New York. “I’d had so much kid time, I really needed the chance to do things for myself.”
“That’s great,” I affirmed. I hoped I sounded completely sincere. I was, honestly, pretty sincere, and I wished I was even more so. Her end-of-summer divorced parent schedule had given her a long stretch with her kids followed by a long stretch without them. That trip to New York amounted to a divorce perk.
Of course, she’d earned it–in more ways than one. So many things about the choppy life divorced parents and kids experience are difficult. The relief at a chance for total freedom isn’t one of them. A few days in, other feelings return, ones that aren’t so euphoric. My parents are divorced. From inside my body, I get the choppy, frustrated, exhausting compromises that joint custody exacts on everyone. And it’s something I was determined would not happen to me, or my children. Read the rest of this entry →