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Jul 22 2014

My Son’s First Jewish Friend

By at 10:04 am

baseball-bat

My son made his first Jewish friend. His name is Dan, and he’s got dark curly hair and wears glasses.

Charlie was so excited when he told me about him. “He celebrates Hanukkah, Mom, just like us! And he has a shirt with Hebrew writing on it.”

He continued to talk about Dan for weeks afterward. “Dan hit a home run at recess, Dan is better than me at math, Dan brings peanut butter fudge for dessert.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 20 2014

Growing Up Jewish When Your Best Friend Is Muslim

By at 2:49 pm

muslim-mother

The other day I had the rare opportunity to watch the news while the children were away at their father’s house. Apparently the Pope had invited leaders of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples together to pray for peace in the Middle East. I held my breath and felt an initial joy at the idyllic image of three faiths uniting to pray for the end of this conflict. But the emotion was quickly interrupted by my cynical thoughts… All the prayer in the world will not solve this situation. My heart could imagine a day my mind could never foresee.

As one of few Jewish families in town, I experienced my share of anti-Semitism. I realize there is little unique about my experience as a minority. I was already a quiet, unassuming child, but I did my best to blend. I was also conscious that I represented Jews for better or worse and I tried my best to dispel stereotypes. Naturally I gravitated towards others who were different from the norm. Looking back at photographs of my senior year of high school I see a group of young women of several different ethnicities. My closest friend was a Muslim of Indian descent.

In all the years we have known each other, my friend and I never once discussed the strife that exists between members of our faiths. I recall only one conversation where we compared similarities in our beliefs, mainly the importance of helping the poor. Our religions did not divide us. On the contrary, I think our otherness helped bring us closer. I am grateful for her friendship for many reasons, but I realize that I placed the same heavy burden on her shoulders I accuse others of placing on me. She is the face of Islam to me. When I hear a derogatory comment about Muslims, she comes to mind first. Our friendship forces me to consider alternative perspectives and to challenge anti-Muslim attitudes. I am indebted to her because I may have been ambivalent or worse. My heart could possibly have been hardened towards people of her faith had we not shared a childhood. Read the rest of this entry →

How Can I Help My Son Adjust to a New City?

By at 1:32 pm

new-home

It is one of those mornings. Sam woke up early and now he is in my bed, snuggled as close as possible, twirling my hair around his fingers. His breath is warm on my cheek and his long limbs are wrapped around me. “I don’t want to go to school, Mama. I don’t like my new school. Nobody loves me there. And the toys are boring,” he says.

I turn to him and hold him close, trying to find the right words to comfort him. It is not easy.

My little guy is having a hard time. To be honest, we are all having a hard time, but Sam is the one who is new to this world of changes and challenges. We just moved to a new city and he started attending a new preschool. We are away from family, from the familiar, from the routine. Read the rest of this entry →

May 22 2014

Taking Time Away From My Toddler is Not Easy–But Necessary

By at 11:04 am

running

For me, the five-day span between Monday and Friday is usually a long, tiring race to the finish line of getting things done. Between working full-time, commuting almost four hours a day, and having a household to maintain, my time with my toddler during the week is, unfortunately, pretty limited. So is my time for me.

Weekends, however, are another story. I’m fortunate in that my job doesn’t tend to require weekend work, other than the occasional email here and there. And in fact, the reason I purposely push myself so hard to be productive during the week is to free up weekend time to spend with my family.

But if I’m being honest, when the weekend rolls around, I also like to take a little bit of time for me. Usually I like to catch up on the fitness front by going for a run or two; or sometimes I’ll meet up with a friend at a local frozen yogurt or coffee shop. But often (er, always), this leaves me feeling guilty, because I know that it’s time I could be spending with my son. In fact, the same holds true any time I make plans that don’t include my child. I experience my own version of separation anxiety, or, to put it more accurately, separation-induced guilt. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 30 2014

How Do I Explain to My Daughter that Sometimes Friends Break Up?

By at 10:11 am

Friends-break-up

Like all relationships, adult friendships can be complicated, but how exactly do you explain your friend “break up” to your child?

For these purposes, let’s call this friend Sally. Sally was close to my kids, through dinners, outings, and birthdays. She and her husband spent time with us at the pool and they would even babysit when we were in a pinch. Every time we pass their house, Cara would wave out the window to them with the nicknames her brother gave them. So when Sally stopped coming around, Cara asked why, and I couldn’t answer her.

There are no books for this. Throughout their young lives, we teach our children to be friends with everyone, and here I am defriending this woman and all Cara wants to know is, where’s Sally? And every time I tell her maybe we’ll see her soon, Cara says, “I’m sad not to see Sally.” Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 27 2014

How Do You Stay Close with Friends Who Don’t Have Kids?

By at 10:10 am

mom-phone

When I was planning to have children, it didn’t occur to me how my relationships with my friends without kids might change. I should have. I had had the experience when I entered a serious relationship and then again when I got married. With friends who hadn’t reached those milestones or didn’t want to, even as they were celebrating with me, there was always the hint of…what’s going to happen to us?

In my fantasy, my world would have my children and my loving husband, my family, my friends and my work. I would have time to spend with each and all of them would be constantly supportive and interested in the children I had and the life I had built.

But, as early as my pregnancy, I could see my fantasy wasn’t going to work out the way I had hoped. My best friend was upfront about my soon-to-be child: she was jealous. She (and then I) realized that this new little person would demand so much of my attention, attention I would normally give to her. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 26 2014

Facebook “Likes” Are Great, But How Can We Help Children like Colin Make Friends?

By at 11:42 am

colin2

I have been watching the Happy Birthday Colin movement on Facebook for the past couple of weeks. I have been both fascinated and touched by the outpouring of compassion and generosity that seemingly millions of strangers have expressed towards Colin, a boy with special needs who has trouble making friends. After Colin told his mom not to bother with a birthday party since he doesn’t have any friends, his mother, feeling awful, took to social media, built a Facebook page for his birthday, and shared it, hoping some messages would help to lift the boy’s spirits on his birthday.

The thing has gone completely viral; more than 2 million people have liked the page and offered messages. Based on the photos that Colin’s mother posts every few days of them picking up what looks like carloads of birthday cards and gifts that are arriving at Colin’s PO Box, it looks like Colin will have the surprise of a lifetime on his birthday (and he will probably be opening cards every day until his next birthday from the looks of it).

It’s really been great to see that people recognize the need to make every kid feel good on their birthday and to reach out to this boy. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 8 2014

Tell Your Friends #WhatILikeAboutYou

By at 10:03 am

tell a friend #whatilikeaboutyou

“Let’s start 2014 with happiness. If you ‘like’ this, I’ll write something that I find beautiful about you!”

I saw a status message in this vein on a friend’s Facebook page. I clicked “like”–more to convey that I “liked” that she was doing such a nice thing, rather than “like” as in, “Send me a compliment ASAP.”

Perhaps fortunately, Facebook’s “likes” are not so nuanced. So I got a compliment from her. It made me feel warm, fuzzy, and appreciated. And so I decided, you know what? I’ll do this too.

I posted this as my status message. The “likes” started pouring in. And whether they “liked” it because of my intention or because they wanted to see what I’d say about them, I decided I was going to write something for each one of them.

I won’t lie–it was time-consuming. I wrote on my phone with one finger as I put my 14-month-old down for her nap. I wrote between dot painting projects with my 2-year-old. I wrote in the glider, the baby asleep on my lap. I wrote in the carpool pickup line (car in park, don’t worry). Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 16 2013

Three Things NOT to Say to Someone Going Through a Divorce

By at 12:07 pm

shoes

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 →

Aug 22 2013

A Letter to All the Pregnant Women in My Life

By at 3:51 pm

pregnant woman holding belllyIt’s not you, it’s me.

I’m not like your high school boyfriend who heard that phrase in a romantic comedy and repeated it to you just days before taking your best friend to prom. I really mean it. Everything is me. You are wonderful. You are careful with me. You are kind.

I sit, every minute of every day, with the knowledge that I may not be able to have a family, and that even if I am able to have a family through adoption, I may not ever be pregnant, carry a pregnancy to term, give birth, glow, hurt, heal. There are moments, brief and beautiful moments, when I am so in love with my life that I forget about infertility and I feel actual joy. Those moments never happen around you. I can’t forget around you. Back when I had hope, I could find excitement in your growing belly and happy plans. Now, I just don’t know how to. Read the rest of this entry →

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