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Nov 4 2013

Major Anxiety Meets Preschool Carpool

By at 10:13 am

carpool lane

What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s my mother’s favorite hypothetical, though she means it literally. And while the answers remain unspoken, the preemptive nervous energy abounds.

I’d remained oblivious to her anxiety in my coddled childhood, and dodged it after college when I lived alone in midtown Manhattan, accepting drinks from strangers and letting potential serial killers escort me home. But as soon as I got married to a nice Jewish boy, priming my womb for babies, Mom began finding solutions to “the worst” before I even perceived a problem. Sketchy first apartment? Better move to a nicer block. Leftover Chinese food? Better not eat it. It’s a boy? Better hire a baby nurse to care for the circumcision wound. Can’t be too careful…it could get infected. Our family had moved within 10 minutes of my parents before my baby was 6 months old. With my mother’s vigilance and diligence, my own reflexive panic began to show.

So it was no surprise that I didn’t know how to deal with a standard carpool request: another work-at-home parent offered to alternate days at preschool pick-up. Everyone did it, I assured my mother. (All the cool parents did it–just like the cool kids in junior high smoked cigarettes at the Exxon station before the first bell.) Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 11 2013

On Days Like These, I Miss My Mom

By at 12:45 pm

sarah tuttle-singer with daughterI let my children see me cry this morning. It was one of those drawn out dawns when everyone wakes up waaaaay too early, and the countdown til preschool drop-off stretches into forever until the last second before we need to leave RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. DAMMIT.

And in that frenzy, my daughter flops on the floor like a 30 pound pile of jelly, and she shall not be moved. (People, it’s like she studied Nonviolent Resistance with Gandhi, and while that’ll be super awesome when she’s out there changing the world, it sure don’t fly at 6:55 a.m. when the carpool driver is waiting waiting waiting to take us to school.)

And when it’s time to go, and my daughter won’t get up off the damn floor and put her shoes on, and the phone is squawking and I know unless we get our asses outside RIGHT NOW that the person driving us who has her OWN commitments will be late and may say “no” next time we ask her to drive us, I want to scream.

And so I do. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 7 2013

Confronting Mortality… and Savoring Life

By at 2:51 pm

surgery operating roomLast week, my mother had hip replacement surgery. I don’t come from a family of medical professionals–I come from a family of active imaginations. We quickly imagine the worst.

I cried in bed every night last week leading up to the surgery. My husband was unable to console me about something that hadn’t happened and would probably not happen. I was shaken to my bones with the idea that I might lose my mother: my mother, my nucleus, my magnetic north, my everything. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 3 2012

Passover…For Everyone Except Me

By at 10:26 am

CucumbersAnother spring blooms in Israel. And everyone is getting ready for Pesach. Everyone except me.

I’m in a holding zone–waiting for my ex to decide what he’s doing with the kids and whether or not I can come. (If I hold my breath, I might pass out.)

Last year, I swore “next year in LA.” But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

This isn’t the first time I broke a promise about coming home for Pesach. And being here–ten time zones away from my family, I remember the first Pesach I stayed away. Only then, it was by choice.

In a painfully obvious way of asserting my independence, I had accidentally-on-purpose missed my flight home eleven years ago, and stayed in the dorms over Spring Break my freshman year of college.

My mom had cried. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 13 2012

Blogging MaKes Moms Happier

By at 3:35 pm

According to a post on the New York Times Motherlode blog on Thursday, a new study shows that blogging might “make new moms happier.” I didn’t have to read the rest of the post to be convinced. It’s true, as researcher Brandon McDaniel has found, that by blogging, writers can “connect” with other parents and both give and receive advice in a generally supportive space. But blogging in this space for the past year has provided me with even more. By writing for Kveller, I have found a way to understand who I am as a new parent. By putting some of my experiences down on the page (or into the “machine” as my father calls the computer) I’ve found opportunities to look at those experiences and evaluate them in a way that I can’t do on a day-to-day basis.

When I wrote about disliking synagogue, I realized that there were aspects of community services I did enjoy, and comments from readers and other writers alike helped me begin to think about how my husband and I might remain Jewish-ly connected despite our (serious) aversion to prayer. By writing about my experiences as a new mother to twin girls, I found, amidst the chaos, the genuine miracle that is two babies at once. I even took the liberty of sharing that post with other twin parents, and received appreciative emails for weeks. As the research shows and the Motherlode blog explains, “Everyone has “BTDT” (been there, done that) and mostly wants to advise, support and sympathize.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 24 2011

Thank You Cards, No Thank You

By at 10:25 am

I have an issue with thank you cards. I think they are ridiculous, a waste of my time, and an antiquated custom that is long overdue to be updated for the 21st Century.

Actually, I’ve hated them since last century since I absolutely refused to write them after my Bat Mitzvah. My mother, who is deathly afraid of upsetting social conventions, forged my handwriting and sent them in my name.

Fast forward many years later. My husband’s parents and mine put an enormous amount of pressure on us to write thank you cards for our engagement, wedding, and baby gifts.  Nowhere in my crazy schedule could I have possibly put writing thank you cards high on my priority list. (The past year included an engagement, a wedding, and the birth of our baby, and not necessarily in that order.)

Read the rest of this entry →

May 20 2011

Mothers, What’s Wrong with the World?

By at 11:49 am

Tristane Banon, a journalist who claims that Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during an interview. Daniel Janin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Today, I am stumped.

Item 1: A mother prevailed upon her daughter, a young victim of the IMF’s former chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, to refrain from making a public accusation of sexual abuse. She felt that her daughter would be victimized again by this powerful man, that her name would be sullied, and she would be unable to achieve any justice.

At first I thought–some mother! What about helping her child pursue truth in a court of law,  protect subsequent victims, maybe even get revenge? What about validating her daughter’s pain and anguish? But then I thought–no doubt there were many excruciating conversations between mother and daughter and you, know, sadly that mother has a point.

Item 2: The world is ending this weekend and the New York Times quoted a daughter whose mom told her that she was not going to heaven. “At first, it was really upsetting,” said the daughter. Indeed.

I have no reference point for this at all. One the one hand, the mom has utter and complete faith in her position. On the other hand- she’s nuts. But the truth is, this is not such an unusual position- parents all over the world feel similarly about their gay children.

For me, the bottom line is protecting my children and accepting them, as I hope they will accept me, with all our inadequacies and disappointments.

But, Kveller readers, what’s a mother to do?

Feb 4 2011

Sometimes You Just Want Your Mom Back

By at 2:52 pm

Fruma Sarah in a Miami production of Fiddler on the Roof. Photo by Joan Marcu

Thank you, Susie Felber for your meaningful post on the Motherless Jewish Mother.

In my dreams, my mom and I have a dysfunctional relationship.

Sometimes, when I’m tangled up in sleep, she comes back from the dead–not in a comforting, gentle, loving way, but in a Fruma Sarah from Fiddler on the Roof rattling her chains and screaming obsenities in Yiddish way. Nevermind that when she was alive my mom never spoke Yiddish… in my dreams, she’s transformed into some sort of creature from the Shtetl of Doom.

But even though I don’t understand the curses flying out of her mouth, I know that she’s unhappy with me. Some sin, something I’ve done either now or a thousand lifetimes ago, has shaken her from eternal slumber, and… She. Is. Pissed.

It’s hard enough to reason with a Jewish Mama in real life (just ask Woody Allen) let alone a cartoon-nightmare Jewish Mama with maggots crawling down her chin.

And inevitably, I wake up with a gasp, staggering into consciousness, feeling as though the air has been sucked out of the room. So, I lay there in the dark, trying my hand at a little amateur-hour Freud.

My mother died before I became a mama, and sometimes–ok, a lot of times–I wonder what she’d think of my approach to parenting. In the beginning, I was this hyper neurotic, germ-obsessed, crazy person, terrified of life. I wouldn’t leave the house without–not one, but TWO–bottles of Purel Hand Sanitizer, and if anyone got within a foot of the stroller, I’d go all mama-lion on their ass. When M. got old enough to crawl, I covered the floor in sheets that had been cleaned in hospital grade bleach. I only played Mozart, and made sure never to cuss. Read the rest of this entry →

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