Jan 22 2014
My daughter’s preschool teacher has created a daily task in which we, the parents, write “mitzvah notes” for our children each day. These notes are meant to describe the ways in which our children are helpful, cooperative, or did good deeds. The notes are read in class with the children, who, I am told, are excited to hear and discuss the good things they have done.
I must admit that when I first learned about this task, I considered it a burden. How, I wondered, could we be expected to come up with a good deed that our 3-year-old did each day? Have you ever met a 3-year-old? I knew it would be far easier to rattle off “not so mitzvah notes,” like so:
She refused to brush her teeth.
She refused to get out of the bath.
She refused to get dressed.
She hit Mommy.
She pushed her sister.
She screamed in my face when I tried to comfort her because I was not Mommy. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 13 2014
My husband and I just celebrated a milestone anniversary–our 40th.
We married when we were 21 and 22, respectively, after meeting five years before in summer camp. In my senior year of high school, even while dating other people, I knew I wanted to marry him. I didn’t have a “list” or set of criteria like so many women seem to have now. I didn’t analyze, intellectualize, or speculate on his earning potential or what kind of father he would be. I just jumped, taking a leap of faith that remarkably, astonishingly, and awesomely paid off.
Over the decades I have learned a lot about marriage, from my own experience and from observing other people. These are some of my conclusions; some things I think people should know before they get married:
1. Know that you will not always be happy.
2. Don’t expect your spouse to fulfill all your needs. Women, especially, should make sure to keep their friends. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 6 2013
We got married on Sunday, December 7, 2003. (Yeah, yeah, I know, the Day That Will Live in Infamy. In our case, it was more like the Day That the Rabbi Was Available.) It was a sunny, beautiful day, with nearly three feet of snow on the ground. One of the largest Nor’easters in recorded history had passed through New England in the days before our wedding, but our wedding morning was perfect.
I recently got a copy of the words our Rabbi said as we stood with her under the chuppah:
Now I want to talk about this snowstorm. I think there’s something auspicious in it, perhaps a teaching here. Planning a wedding is a vast exercise in the delusion of control. There are so many details, so many things we want to get just right. And then, something like the snowstorm occurs and suddenly we realize that we’re not really always so in control. Sometimes that realization brings disappointments, frustrations. But it also uncovers something important: that to a certain extent, we just need to have faith.
We can make our plans for future happiness, but we can’t be sure things will unfold exactly as we hope. And that’s really the beauty of the commitment you’re making here today–the statement of faith that each of you is making about the other. That even without knowing exactly how things are going to turn out, even with not being able to control for every eventuality, you have faith that this is the person you want to be on this journey with.
And now we have been on this journey for 10 years. A decade. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we got here, to this place of love and stability and occasional squabbles and frustrations. And I keep coming back to faith. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 14 2013
It’s possible that we’re wired to notice those aspects of art that apply to our own lives–one person staring at a Degas painting might see light, truth, and love, while another might simply see smashed up crumbly cheerios because they are the bane of her existence.
What? My point: the story lines on Parenthood that I am most interested in talking about are the ones that I can relate to, or the ones that somehow reflect my life. As such…
I have been less interested in the Amber/Ryan kerfuffle, or the Drew-goes-to-college-and-tries-to-figure-out-girls saga (though I do love Drew, such a sweet boy) and way more interested in the Julia-and-Joel-chaos and, to some degree, the Bonnie Bedelia-Coach-autumn-of-our-years plot.
First, though, let me take a moment to pay homage to Crosby, my favorite Braverman who, in episode six, rages against the minivan. Now, this was indeed a hackneyed storyline. Surely we all know someone in life (or on Facebook) who has struggled with a similar reality. (I don’t think anyone does it as cutely as Crosby does, though.) To get the details out of the way: Jasmine wants to get a minivan and get rid of Crosby’s “cool” vintage car. This comes to pass, and they make out in the backseat and all is well. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 31 2013
Erika Christensen and Sam Jaeger, who play Julia and Joel.
To my twelve readers:
Here’s the short of it: the last two episodes of Parenthood bored me a little (though I am still 100% a supporter of this show). So in this recap, I’m going to ignore the filler (Crosby and Adam signing some ridiculous band to their new label, Adam seeking out a big campaign donation for Kristina from a fake rapper named Mistah R.A.Y, etc etc) and focus on the storylines I found interesting/believable. (The interesting/believable criteria gives me license to ignore the Amber-getting-married-to-clearly-not-a-good-choice-Ryan. I will also willfully ignore the Grandpa Zeek-working-on-his-car-with-grandson-Victor-while-also-simultaneously-teaching-him-to-read storyline, because while I love Coach as much as the next gal, I think this material was worth one scene, tops, and not a lot of space in this blog post.
If you were watching closely, you know there were really just one or two incredible scenes in the last two episodes that felt true to life (at least life as a partnered-up parent), and truth is what I’m always hunting when I watch this show. (That, and an excuse to cry.) So here goes: Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 29 2013
Sometimes, your partner–being a human being (presumably; unless you’re like this guy which I sincerely hope you’re not)–will take some very trivial tiny hiccup that your baby does and freak out, worrying that he’s about to lose a leg. This risk is particularly high if it’s a newborn, or a first child–and if it’s both, watch out!
“Oh no, he sneezed… could he have a genetic lung disease?” Or maybe, just maybe, he just… sneezes sometimes?
Keeping with our sacred Jewish tradition ever since Exodus 20 of having lists of 10s broken into half positives and half negatives–here are five dos and five don’ts for this situation:
1.) Don’t try to reason logically with her/him. When she’s in freak-out mode, it’s her motherly instinct (or fatherly instinct, as the case may be) wanting to make sure the baby is perfect. You can’t process logical chains of reasoning when you’re in freak-out mode. Of course, logical analysis is essential, but that comes later, when you’re both calm. The militant say, “Shoot first, then ask questions”; I’d say, “Hug first, then ask questions.” Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 17 2013
I am often met by a “knowing look” when I (a Chinese American female) share that my husband is Jewish.
“Oh yeah, that’s a thing,” says [insert well-meaning person’s name here]. And you know, according to all sorts of sources–including the New York Times–it does seem to be a thing. It appears I’m one half of a “marriage trend” that’s sweeping the nation, or at least High Holiday Services. (A professor once mentioned to me that her synagogue had Asian women “sprouting up” all over the congregation.) People usually cite the most popular examples, e.g., Mark Zuckerberg and “his Asian wife,” Maury Povich and Connie Chung, Woody Allen and “his very young Asian wife.” (Hmmm, Connie excluded, I’d say we Asian women are getting the shaft in terms of name recognition. But this is all beside my point.)
Our marriage isn’t trendy. At first glance, we might fit the bill. But ours is not a Jewish boy meets Asian girl, and due to a number of conveniently shared values–“tight-knit families, money saving, hard work, and educational advancement” included–they fall in love kind of story. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 16 2013
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 →
Oct 2 2013
“Thank you. Thank you for going away. It was really nice for me to be able to spend so much time with the girls. We had a great time.”
My husband said those words to me last week, as we were discussing the week before, when I had been away for four and a half days on a mindfulness retreat. I had thanked him several times for postponing a business trip and working from home so I could go away. It never occurred to me that I was doing him a favor.
The night before I was supposed to leave, I decided I wasn’t going to go. There were so many reasons. We had just made it through a dizzying few weeks of one final summer vacation, Labor Day, the High Holidays, and the start of preschool. Things were just starting to settle down, and I didn’t want to shake them up again. We had just put up our sukkah, and I didn’t want to miss even one day of my favorite holiday. Most importantly, though, I couldn’t bear the thought of being away from the girls. Children need their mothers, right? Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 24 2013
Summer is yet another opportunity to feel bad about the places you haven’t traveled because you have young children and it’s too hard/expensive/logistically challenging. But I am here to tell you that there’s an answer, and it’s called “Take a Staycation and Send Your Kids to School/Daycare/Camp.”
Jon and I recently did just that. Much as we’d have liked to be back in Botswana, trekking in the bush and spying on elephants as we did when we were young and newly married, or at a B&B in the Berkshires drinking fair trade coffee and gearing up for a hike or a concert at Tanglewood, or in Guatemala boating on Lake Atitlan, we have toddlers and a bank account to consider. So instead, when a vacation week rolled around recently, we decided to try something different, something–I can’t believe I’m about to say this–just for us. Read the rest of this entry →