May 11 2013
We present this piece about that tricky mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship just in time for Mother(-in-law)’s Day.
My mom and I are so close that we can finish each other’s sentences, or at least harmonize in what my husband calls the Parade of Horribles (“Hope this milk’s not expired/Hope it’s not too cold for shorts/Oy, oy, oy”). But this Mother’s Day, I need to make a special effort to knock down the walls that have risen between “MIL” Dearest and me. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 11 2013
There are two kinds of people in the world: Camp People, and Non-Camp People.
In his newest book, The Secrets of Happy Families, author Bruce Feiler definitely comes across as a Camp Person.
In the pages of The Secrets of Happy Families, Feiler approaches his research and fieldwork with all the optimism and resourcefulness of a senior counselor. He reaches out to experts in various fields in a Freakonomics-esque attempt to debunk conventional wisdom about what makes a functional family, and challenge some widely held beliefs about mundane practices such as the family meal, sex talks, conflict resolution, and allowance, while sharing his candid personal parenting victories and foibles and using lots of Camp People tactics throughout. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 21 2013
The day the pediatrician told me just how serious my breastfeeding problems really were, my aunt arrived into town to help out.
We had planned her trip so that she could meet the baby but until she got there I didn’t fully realize how crucial this visit was for me. My aunt immediately took control of the situation both emotionally and practically. She held both me and my daughter as I cried and cried. Her baby gift to me: as many sessions with the lactation consultant as I wanted. Other people could get me baby outfits and toys; she wanted to get me what I needed most at the time. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 24 2012
Flying internationally can be rough. It’s a lot of hours to be cooped up in an oversized bus with 300 strangers, stale air, and chicken or beef. But flying internationally with children is not unlike the process of childbirth itself. Hours of torture followed by sleepless nights and only a fleeting sense of accomplishment.
It begins many months before. You buy your tickets knowing there will be some amount of discomfort involved though you figure, how hard could it be? People have been flying with their kids for at least half a century. But seasoned parents are frank with you. Get your sleep now. Don’t get too excited about your personal video player since you’ll be nursing your baby the entire flight. You nod but secretly you think it will be different for you. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 21 2012
When I found out I was having a boy, I assumed he would look like his dad. My husband is the spitting image of his own father. On top of their physical resemblance, both are economics professors and both ran cross-country in college. I never have to wonder what my husband will look like in 30 years–during any holiday celebration I only need to look over at my father-in-law.
But when my son arrived, he looked like me. Instead of being bald like the baby pictures of his dad, he was born with a head full of dark brown hair; instead of his father’s blue eyes he had dark brown irises, just like mine. Even my ever-eager-to-stake their genetic claim in-laws agreed: he was my child. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 9 2012
The night I realized that we had nobody to parent our children for a stretch of October, I cried.
My husband had a major conference in Reno, and I had a 10-day festival to run. That left us with no one.
For lots of folks, this kind of problem has an easy fix: Granny Nanny. But eight years ago my husband and I, childless and independent, moved to DC, leaving the closest grandparent five hours away. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 1 2012
“I’d rather shove a fork in my eye.”
That was my response when my husband said his parents called and asked if we’d like to come spend the last Shabbat of Sukkot with them in the ultra-Orthodox community my husband, children and I recently moved out of. It wasn’t any one thing in particular that gave me the knee-jerk, panic-stricken reaction to shout, “NO!”
In part, it was the fact that my relationship with my in-laws has been cordial but not particularly warm. It was the idea of spending 24 hours in a place where I’d never felt like myself. And much more basic than that, I hate packing my boys and all their belongings up and taking them somewhere unfamiliar to spend the night. They don’t ever sleep well, which means I don’t sleep well and that translates into one miserable weekend for everyone. My husband said, “Think about it and we’ll let them know tomorrow.” Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 22 2012
“If it’s a boy, I think we’ll come for the bris,” my brother-in-law in Miami told me a few weeks ago over Skype, just before the arrival of our second baby.
As an East Coast transplant living in St. Louis, I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy this summer acting as a part-time travel agent, navigating tricky waters to coordinate which family members would come to visit–and when. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 18 2012
When I was in middle school, I was lying on the couch one day reading a book when my dad walked through the living room. He asked if I’d done my study guide for a test I had the next day. I told him, “No,” as I continued reading and he asked if that was a smart idea. I said, half paying attention, that I would be fine. I failed the test.
When he asked about it later and I begrudgingly told him that the teacher surely had it out for me, he said, almost to himself, “I wonder if you’d have failed if you studied.” Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 12 2012
Earlier this year, I cooked up a plan for my family to camp out at Mountain Jam, a weekend-long music festival. My husband and I love live jam band music–it is one of the experiences which bonded us in our early days together. But family life is busy, and we don’t go to many shows. Our children knew about our passion for music and for outdoorsy fun. So, in June, with all three kids finally potty trained, we headed for Hunter Mountain Ski Resort with the whole family.
I was not sure how we would manage to keep the crew happy while roughing it on the mountain with thousands of hipped-out music lovers. Even the expense was hard to justify; a quick calculation revealed that suspending our housecleaning help could cover the cost. I was prepared to mop and scrub for a few months if my family was willing to join the jam! Read the rest of this entry →