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Oct 29 2013

The 10 Dos and Don’ts for When Your Spouse is Freaking Out

By at 3:45 pm

man looking at computer scared

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’m a Chinese American Married to a Jew, But Our Marriage Isn’t Trendy

By at 5:02 pm

wedding photo

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 Timesit 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

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 →

Oct 2 2013

How I Accidentally Learned to Share the Grunt Work of Parenting

By at 4:02 pm

shutterstock_139032803 (1)

“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

Take a Staycation, Seriously

By at 10:14 am

beach goers under umbrellaSummer 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 →

Jul 23 2013

I’d Rather Make My Husband Happy Than My Kids

By at 3:42 pm
silhouette illustration long hair

Long hair he wants? Long hair he gets.

I’ve suspected it for a while now, but it didn’t hit me–in concrete words–until the other day: I’d rather make my husband happy than my kids.

I do all sorts of things to make my husband happy.

He likes my hair long, so I keep it long. (Even though it’s a pain to maintain and, in the summertime, hot and sticky, as well.)

You know how they say that women dress for other women? So, so not true in my case. I could not care less about clothes or fashion. (If you don’t believe me, ask my mother. She begs to take me shopping so I might update the wardrobe I haven’t changed since roughly the late 1990s.) I dress exclusively for my husband. He likes to see me in long skirts and tight-fitting and/or cleavage baring tops. So I try to wear long skirts and tight-fitting and/or cleavage baring tops. When appropriate. I obviously don’t wear those to work. To work, I wear clothes from roughly the late 1990s.

For dinner, I try to cook what he likes to eat. (Though not everything he likes to eat. I am still worried about his weight.) Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 19 2013

The Best Rap About Cancer You’ll Read All Day

By at 12:01 pm

aly viny cancer rapAly Viny is an actress and writer in New York City.  She has appeared on stages throughout New York City and across the country. She maintains a site of Jew girl raps at www.jap-rap.com where she raps poetic about everything from her frustrations with her husband leaving empty Splenda packets around the house, to Costco trips, to Passover. She loves the crap out of her husband and in this particular rap, she gets more personal as she shares a bit of his incredible journey from being healed to becoming a healer. She sure is lucky she could be along for the ride.

It’s summer and you think I’m gonna rap ’bout somethin’ lotional

Today’s a little different, y’all, forgive me if I’m ‘motional

Let’s take a little breather, slow it down and maybe park it

Put away your kale from your co-op hipster market

Let’s gather like it’s Pesach, all my sisters and my brothers

While I tell you why this night is so much DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS

So let’s all listen up, just relax or take a pill

And I’ll tell y’all the story cuz this shit ’bout to get RIL Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 11 2013

I Caught My Husband Sneaking Formula to the Twins

By at 12:55 pm

baby formulaI have realized in the last few weeks that one of the biggest challenges of having twins is feeding them. They seem to eat all the time, around the clock, especially during a growth spurt when wearing a bra seems useless.

I am fortunate that I didn’t have any challenges nursing my son three years ago and I am not having any serious issues with my girls now. My girls latched within an hour of their births and my milk came in on the third day (in spite of my C-section which can delay milk production). I do pump more than I would like, but that is mostly for efficiency. To nurse them would take longer and I feel I would have no time to do anything else (you know, trivial stuff like showering and eating).

My girls arrived five weeks early and combined they weighed less than my son when he was born. They lacked the lovely fat that makes babies look cute and plump; instead, they had skinny little chicken legs and their skin hung off them like pantyhose several sizes too big. That made regulating their body temperature a challenge, so for the couple days in the hospital before my milk emerged, we decided to give them formula. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 24 2013

The TV Show That Brought My Family Together

By at 9:54 am

all in the familyThe last couple of weeks, I have been surprisingly emotional over the death of actress Jean Stapleton.

The television show All in the Family was a big part of my childhood and Jean Stapleton’s passing almost feels like a member of my own family has died. I know that sounds starstruck and kind of stupid, since All in the Family was a television show and not real life. Yeah, yeah, I should pick up a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and spend my life doing something meaningful rather than watching TV. Got it.

“One of the most acclaimed and controversial shows on television.” is what Henry Fonda said about this show and it holds true today. Watching old episodes on DVD, the show holds up beautifully, still uproariously funny and touching in just the right way, despite the 70s fashion and the infusion of political correctness that has permeated American life in the decades since this show went off the air.

I love it for those reasons certainly, but I love it for something much more.

For a half hour a week, on Saturday nights my family gathered around the television and watched this show–and we laughed.  Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 26 2013

Friday Night: My Husband is an Atheist and He’ll Do Shabbat

By at 10:01 am

two shabbat candlesticksI remember our first night as a family of three. We were in a small hospital room, just large enough to hold a bed for me, a cot for my husband, and a small bassinet for our daughter. I had been in active labor for days, and we were all exhausted from the birthing process. We carefully swaddled our new baby just as the nurse had shown us, and as we laid her down to sleep (HA!) between us, Josh suggested we sing the Shema.

I cried once more, yet another stream of endless tears of gratitude, but this time it wasn’t for the arrival of a healthy daughter. It was for my husband, this man who had been my rock for most of my adult life. Now, in just a few brief words, he had managed to help me find some stable ground once again, if only for a minute. By suggesting that we sing the Shema, Josh took me out of that tiny room, beyond the fear and exhaustion, and reminded me that we are part of something bigger. We had family, community, and the wisdom of an entire history and tradition supporting us. Read the rest of this entry →

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