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Oct 24 2014

I Care Less About Chores, More About Kindness

By at 1:59 pm

i case less about chores, more about kindness

This summer, my son wore his bathing suit and swim shirt for five days in a row—he slept in his bathing suit, wore it swimming the next day, and to bed that night. He did this for about five different weeks throughout July and August.

My kids (13 and 11) don’t make their beds every morning. They don’t do their own laundry either. Or take out the garbage. Ditto for loading the dishes in the dishwasher. Sometimes I feel guilty that they don’t help out more around the house. Once in a while I’d like my son to put on a clean shirt and brush his hair. But truthfully, I don’t care that much.

Before you start thinking that my kids are spoiled, entitled or just plain slobs, and before you think that I’m an indulgent parent, let me tell you what I do care a great deal about—I care deeply that my kids are good citizens of the world. A great deal of my parenting energy is spent trying to raise children who will grow up to be mensches. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 15 2014

I Felt Uncomfortable Around Kids With Special Needs Until I Had My Own

By at 10:54 am

Moishy-And-Daddy

I’ll be honest: I used to generally try to avoid kids with special needs if I could. Aside from the awkwardness of not knowing how to react or interact, I also failed to understand how families of kids with severe disabilities stayed sane. Feeding, dressing, washing, and changing older kids’ diapers was not my idea of a good time, and I didn’t know how they did it.

Then I had a kid of my own. We didn’t realize it when Moishy was born, but during routine testing when he was 3 months old, they told us that his head was not growing, among other issues, and further testing was necessary. This news sent us on a crazy whirlwind of doctors, hospitals, cat scans, x-rays, and more. Eventually the diagnosis was clear: Our beautiful boy had cerebral palsy and microcephaly.

I looked myself in the mirror and realized that I had to change. Now I had my very own child with special needs. Avoidance was no longer an option. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 5 2014

How to Navigate a Difficult World With a New Baby

By at 11:21 am
Elija-2

Photo by Stephanie Rabins

 

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Ki Tetze. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

It has been quite a summer over here. Elijah Wilder, aka Eliyahu Nachman, arrived a month ago, joining his big sister Sylvie.

I’m doing a few things differently this time around, partly in an attempt to avoid postpartum depression like I had with Sylvie. I’ve asked for more help. I’ve protected my maternity leave more carefully. And when I do go back to work, I’ll make sure I have adequate childcare for Elijah rather than trying to do some impossible juggling act. All this makes me appreciate every minute with him right now, and I am happy to say that so far, it’s working. I am loving these early days. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 9 2014

Thanks to the Random Stranger Who Was Kind to My Kid

By at 11:17 am

Toddler boy eating french fries

I live in New Jersey and work in New York, where–let’s face it–people aren’t always friendly and nice. Sure, there are exceptions, but at this point I’ve grown rather cynical when it comes to relying on the decency of strangers. It especially irks me when people are jerks to my kid.

Case in point: I recently had to stop at the supermarket with my toddler on a very rainy day. Though the 90-second walk through the parking lot normally isn’t a big deal, it happened to start pouring rain the second we got there, and I was eager to keep my son as dry as possible, knowing that the arctic blast of the store’s AC system is often unbearable even when you’re not entering soaked. So there I was, walking briskly from my car to the store holding my (not-at-all lightweight) toddler when not one, not two, but three separate drivers decided to cut me off, forcing me to stand in the rain even longer. In dry weather, that sort of behavior is simply discourteous. In pouring rain, it’s downright mean, and more so to my toddler than to me.

Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing I’ve grown accustomed to over the years. But last weekend I had an experience that restored my faith in humanity, just a little bit. My husband, toddler, and I had gone out hiking, and though we almost always eat dinner at home, we decided we were tired and would rather stop at a local restaurant instead. We walked in around 5:30 p.m., expecting to be seated right away, and were surprised when we were told that the wait would be 20-30 minutes. We knew our son was hungry, but at that point it would’ve taken us longer to drive home and get dinner going, so we decided to bide our time in the cramped waiting area. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 18 2014

Birth Trauma is Real: A Reminder to Be Kind in the Comments Section

By at 2:17 pm

comment

I was out of town without internet last week and when I returned and read through Kveller I was shocked when I saw the reader responses to Rachel Minkowsky’s  birth trauma post. I thought about it over the  weekend and all I can come back with is that the majority of the comments were so uncharacteristic of the Kveller community but clearly the post triggered a lot of emotions for our readers.

Rachel wrote about something that happened to her that she is struggling with and has struggled with for three years.  Common feelings about the human birth experience that many, many mothers share.  She was told that she has no right to grieve her birth because her baby was healthy, because she could have had it worse. Her opening her heart turned into a birth-trauma pissing contest for everyone to read and chime in.

Would we tell a mother who lost a child to get over it because at least she only lost one child when others have lost two? Where does it end? Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 9 2014

Pumping in the Amtrak Station Never Felt So Good

By at 3:22 pm

shutterstock_135106604

Three kids in, I will nurse (and have done) in front of anyone. Father-in-law? Check. Rabbi? Check. Boss? Check. Graduate students? Check. Everyone who goes to my local park, grocery store, coffee shop, and (obviously) doctor’s office? Check, check, check, and (obviously) check. To me, nursing is natural, life-giving and life-affirming, and simply a part of my baby’s nutritional needs, much like any other kind of food.

Pumping is a different story.

I barely let my spouse see me pump, let alone anyone else. Where nursing is a normal part of the routine, pumping feels utterly abnormal, both mechanic and animalistic, dehumanizing from every perspective.

I really don’t enjoy pumping.

And I have the easiest possible pumping scenario: I get a very generous maternity leave (by US standards) and will return to work in a private office with a door that locks and a small bar fridge. I don’t have to crouch in the corner of a public bathroom, or monopolize a private one, or face the wall and pretend that others can’t see or hear what I’m doing.

I really don’t enjoy pumping in public. 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 8 2013

Tell a Friend: You Are a Good Mama

By at 1:56 pm

you are a good mama

Recently while traveling our family stopped at a mainstream chain restaurant; not fancy, but not fast food. As we set our kids up at the table (baby in a high chair and preschooler in a booster seat), we glanced over and saw the couple in the next booth over staring at us. They had that new-parent-deer-in-headlights look about them. The exhausted, exhilarated, stunned look that inevitably accompanied the newborn cradled in the husband’s arms. They asked us how old our baby was, clearly having no idea because they can’t imagine their tiny son a day older than what he was right then. They were looking at us like we had our shit together. Like somehow we knew secrets they didn’t.

Later on in the meal after attempts at a bottle, bouncing, and pacifier had been exhausted, their baby cried a signature newborn wail–the cry that you blink and realize your baby has outgrown and that sound has now been replaced with more vocal cries with actual tears. The new parents looked around, panicked for the reactions of others. I heard them apologize to the table beside them and as they turned to us with forgiving looks, before that Mama could say a word I said, “Don’t for a second apologize to us. He is a baby and you two are doing a wonderful job with him. You are not bothering us in the slightest.” My husband agreed and joked about how our children were only behaved because they were too tired to do anything else. The mother’s eyes softened and she said, “Thank you so much for saying that.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 27 2013

Whether It’s Storm Damage or Marriage Damage, We’re In This Together

By at 9:53 am

repairing bathroomThe 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 →

Nov 12 2012

How to Raise Mentsches, Not Bullies

By at 2:06 pm

happy smiling kidsThe preschool teacher sent a nice note home: My delicious (OK, that’s my word) 2-year-old grandson L. had noticed that his classmate’s nose was running so he got a tissue and started to wipe the kid’s nose before the teacher swooped in with a lesson on hygiene.

L. should have given the lesson on empathy.

You read so much about bullying these days, but the two words I’ve never seen in those articles are “empathy” and “kindness.” And those are really the words that people need to understand, internalize, and teach to prevent and combat bullying. Read the rest of this entry →

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