Feb 4 2014
There is almost nothing more beautiful than my baby when she’s sleeping. She raises her hands above her head like she’s celebrating a Patriots touchdown and gets a dreamy look on her tiny, gorgeous face. When she’s awake, she gives me an amazing smile if I beep her nose or stroke her chin.
This time tomorrow, I won’t be sitting midday and nursing her as long as she wants. I won’t be rubbing her little tummy. I’ll be back at work–voluntarily.
I’m the sort of woman who leans in. During my eight-week maternity leave, I dropped in to work with the baby four or five times for one reason or another. On Monday, a co-worker said to me about my impending return to work, “Isn’t it so hard for you to leave her? It was always so hard for me to leave my kids.”
The answer to her question is no, and I won’t feel guilty about it. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 29 2014
As a mom, there have only been a handful of times I have let my children see me cry. Yesterday, when I learned of the death of the great Pete Seeger, was one of those times. When I tried to explain who he was and some of the things he stood for, I could not complete my sentences. So I turned to YouTube and let Pete speak and sing for himself. Within minutes, my 4-year-old was dancing to “If I Had a Hammer,” and then we were all singing “We Are Not Afraid, To-day.” And of course, since we are farmers,“Inch by Inch.”
Meanwhile, my family and friends started sharing their personal Pete Seeger stories. My father told me about seeing him play near his cousins’ New Jersey chicken farm when he was a boy. My husband’s mother recalled seeing Pete play concerts at Jewish Community Centers near her home in Bayonne, New Jersey, during the 1950s when he was black-listed and few would hire him. My friend’s parents had a first date at a Pete Seeger concert. Other people sailed with him on the Clearwater or sang with him at summer camp, a political rally, or on a street corner.
This is my Pete story. I was raised on his music and my parents still keep his CDs on pretty much continuous loop in their house. When I was pregnant with my son seven years ago, I had placenta previa, a medical term for a low-lying placenta. The doctors said I would need a C-section if things did not change. I got even more worried when I had another ultrasound and the doctor was questioning whether the placenta was healthy in general. This was late in my pregnancy and that night I had a dream. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 28 2014
Ever tried hosting your own Shabbat dinner and felt a touch… overwhelmed? Bethany from The Glamorous Housewife is here to help with her new series on Kveller.
Hi there! My name is Bethany Herwegh and I am The Glamorous Housewife. I am thrilled to be starting a new series here on Kveller regarding all things Shabbat dinner. I started making Shabbat meals about nine years ago and I now host about 35-40 meals per year. So though I am not a chef, I do know a few things about cooking and hostessing a dinner party, and I would like to share that knowledge with you.
Once a month I will be laying out an easy and tasty dinner meal based on seasonal products that are geared for the unskilled at-home cook. I know how intimidating it can be to have people over for dinner, especially if you are not experienced around the kitchen, but I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I would like to teach you so you too can enjoy all that Shabbat dinner has to offer.
I am starting with a simple winter meal with big bold flavors but not much effort. The main dish is maple dijon chicken with fresh rosemary and is supported by roasted brussels sprouts with a garlic dipping sauce, mashed potatoes, a roasted squash salad, and for dessert, a raspberry and chocolate trifle. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 27 2014
When my husband and I met, he was Jewish. I was an absentee Catholic. Very early on, we agreed that we both wanted kids, and that they would be raised Jewish. At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what that meant.
Over the course of the next few years, I learned about Jewish traditions and culture. We had as Jewish of a wedding as a Jew and a non-Jew can have. When our son came along, my husband searched the Bay Area for a mohel who would ritually circumcise Sam. Since I was not Jewish and so neither was Sam, this was not an easy task. Finally, we found one and our son had his bris at home on his eighth day of life.
Sometime in the following few years, I decided to convert. My year of studying with the rabbi was one of the most important of my life. The rabbi said, “You’ll know you’re ready when you stop thinking of Jews as ‘them’ and think of it as ‘us’.” My studies, attending shul, searching my soul, and my time speaking with the rabbis gradually, over time, transformed me into a Jew. When the scheduler called with my date for the mikveh, I was as excited as I was about scheduling my wedding day. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 24 2014
I was born a contradiction. On the Sabbath, the day we are commanded to rest, I prompted my mother to labor and deliver me into the world. So it’s fitting that I struggle with the God thing still.
Soon after we gave birth to our first kids, one of my dearest friends confided in me that pregnancy and childbirth made her feel closer to God than ever before.
Huh. Not me.
I tried to figure out why.
From early on in my pregnancy, I needed to see it to believe it. I waited until I saw the results of the home pregnancy test before embracing the possibility. I waited longer still for the first ultrasound to feel like it was actually happening. It wasn’t real until I had proof. Some have faith; I wanted certainty.
Childbirth also called my beliefs into question. Read the rest of this entry →
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 →
Jan 23 2014
We recently had the total pleasure of Skyping with mom of one, Randi Zuckerberg. If the last name looks familiar, yes–she’s the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the former Director of Market Development and Spokeswoman for Facebook. Now, she’s the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and the author of two new books: Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives and Dot, a picture book for kids about a young girl who’s both tech-savvy and interactive with the actual world around her (imagine that!). We talked to her about the various ways technology influences modern day parenting.
In what ways have you found technology makes parenting easier or harder?
In some ways, I think definitely both. You have so many other ways you can interact with your children; you can expose them to apps that encourage learning and creativity. I think it’s easier for kids to learn art, music, and reading then ever before. But in other ways, sometimes you have to pry the devices out of their cold hands, and I think that can be very difficult to remind children to develop human-to-human personal interaction skills–like reminding them to go outside and use their creativity in other ways as well.
And you have one son, correct?
I do, I have one son. I have actually found that technology has been tremendous in our family for fostering a love of Judaism and Jewish education because there are so many great apps. I actually helped advise on a Rosh Hashanah app, where you blow into the iPhone like a shofar. Apps like that have been so fantastic. On Pandora we use the Hanukkah and Shabbat stations. So I feel tech has helped bring Judaism in our life much more, but on the other hand I have to make sure I’m not using it as a babysitter. Read the rest of this entry →
Most weekday afternoons, I pick my 7-year-old daughter up from her school, while my 10-year-old son takes the cross-town city bus home from his. Usually, the 10-year-old is home before us, but there have been enough occasions where he’s a few minutes late that I don’t give it much thought.
As a rule, his commute home takes about 20 minutes. On Tuesday, as Winter Storm Janus dumped multiple inches of snow over New York City, my son wasn’t home 20 minutes after class let out. He wasn’t home 30 minutes later, either. I told myself the buses were probably delayed due to the weather.
Forty minutes after class let out (and about 20 minutes after he should have been home), my son called on his cell phone (no apps, no games, just emergency minutes) to say the buses were so packed, no one was letting him on. (He is skinny and well-mannered. Neither trait is particularly conducive to shoving your way onto an NYC bus.) Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 21 2014
“Are you sure this isn’t too scary for him?”
I clutch our 16-month-old son, seated on my husband’s lap beside me, and draw one hand up toward his forehead, lingering just above his eyes.
“Don’t worry about covering his eyes–they say this ride is for all ages,” my husband whispers, “even if it is called the Haunted Mansion.”
As the ride lurches us forward into a dark, cavernous room, I try to remind myself that he doesn’t understand enough to be scared of this. He is too young to “get it.” Right?
I forget, if only for an instant, that I had been repeating this same quip every day for one month and 27 days: “Thank God he is too young to understand, or remember, any of this.”
It has been one month and 27 days since I dropped my son off at daycare and reassured my husband that of course it was fine if he went to his big meeting and skipped just.this.one doctor’s visit of all the dozens he had been to with me in the last two years. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 20 2014
Each night before my daughter, age 2.5, goes to sleep, she has a “special minute” with my husband, and then one with me.
This started as a compromise so that we didn’t both have to be present every night for her lengthy bedtime rituals, but the special minute has evolved into a complex ritual of its own. We talk about, in this order, five things at the drugstore, five things at the zoo, five things at the doctor, five things at the Jewish Museum (the National Museum of American Jewish History, here in Philadelphia), five things at the Please Touch Museum (the local children’s museum), five things about her mirror (yes, really), and five things about today.
And we do this every night, just when I’m the most exhausted, right when I’m on the verge of getting some alone time, exactly when I need her just to be asleep already. We talk and we talk and we talk. Read the rest of this entry →