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Feb 7 2014

The Self-Conscious Mom & Her Very Observant Kids

By at 9:55 am

hole-in-sock

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

I’d like to say that I’m the kind of woman who’s never given much thought to clothing and what I wear. I’d like to say that I’ve always just sort of thrown something on, and effortlessly, look pulled together all the time, or don’t, but either way, no matter. I’d like to remember my child-self as one who didn’t think tights were scratchy, who didn’t notice if her undershirt was tucked in, who didn’t have an obsessive penchant for the colors purple and orange, who didn’t mind wearing headbands, two-piece bathing suits, or ankle socks.

I’d like to say that I was and still am highly unselfconscious.

Except I am totally self-conscious, and have always been a bit of a nut when it comes to clothes. I’m not talking in a clotheshorse kind of way, where I’m off spending money on labels and status pieces. No, I’m talking about the much more existential and far less useful ways in which I obsess about how I look. I’ve never worn a bikini, I don’t really enjoy being photographed, and often notice myself fidgeting–with my clothing, my hair, whatever. While my neuroses are (mostly) in check, a healthy dose of anxiety runs through my bloodstream at all times, just to keep me on my toes. And often, this delightful kind of crazy rears its ugly head as I try and dress myself on any given day. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 10 2013

On That Dustin Hoffman Video & What I Want to Teach My Daughter About Beauty

By at 1:52 pm

tootsieYesterday, a video circulated around the internet showcasing an emotional Dustin Hoffman being interviewed about his 1982 movie, Tootsie. I know, it sounds pretty strange for the guy to get choked up over a comedy about a struggling actor who disguises himself as a woman and lands a role on a soap opera.

In the video, Hoffman acknowledges that he did not transform into the most attractive woman. He explains, “If I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill, physically, the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have to ask them out… There’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I have been brainwashed.”  Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 19 2013

Momma’s First Girdle

By at 11:59 am

girdle illustrationMy father’s mother had two constants in her life. The first was coffee, several cups a day. The other was her girdle, which kept her looking as slim as she did when she was a nurse in the Navy, before she gave birth to four boys.

Exercise and diet fads came and went, but Bubbe had her girdle. We made fun, my sisters and I, until the unthinkable happened. I bought one, too.

It all happened so fast. It was a week before my younger sister’s wedding and I took a dress to be altered. As I adjusted the fabric around my hips, the dressmaker smiled and nodded at my mid-section, asking if I was pregnant. Nuh-uh. Nope.

Obviously, I sobbed when I got to my car.

It wasn’t so much that she misinterpreted the little pooch that’s stubbornly stuck with me after having two babies in two-and-a-half years. It was the swift blow to my confidence, previously on the upswing thanks to hitting the gym three times a week and on weekends.

So I did what any practical momma would do.  Read the rest of this entry →

May 13 2013

Let’s Stop Fat Shaming at the Bris

By at 12:40 pm

tray of home baked cookiesLast Monday morning, my family gathered for the bris of my new nephew. He’s the first in his generation, and after several rough years with many funerals, my family was really ready to celebrate. I had offered to bake for the bris, and my sister (the proud mama) accepted, so I spent Saturday night baking up a storm, making some classic family recipes that are delicious, and that would bring the memory of my mother and aunt into the celebration.

Standing around before we got started, the women of the family looked at the trays of goodies that I had baked, and immediately began the traditional recitation of guilt. “Uch, this is SO BAD. I should NOT eat any of this.” “Don’t let me have ANY of this.” “This isn’t going to help me stay good.” And on and on.  Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 25 2013

I Hate All Women’s Magazines

By at 9:53 am

women's health magazine coverTo say that my husband is an avid magazine reader would be an understatement. He amasses magazine subscriptions the same way my 4-year-old devours candy at his grandma’s house–indiscriminately and in extremely large doses.

Bloomberg, Businessweek, Popular Science, Architectural Digest, Rolling Stone–my dear man is receptive to any periodical that makes its way into our mailbox.  Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 1 2013

My Preschool Daughter’s Bikini

By at 9:52 am

little girl in a bikiniA few weeks ago, my preschooler daughter wore her blue, green, and yellow bathing suit all day long, the one with the bunches of bananas print. Mind you, this was in New England, during one of those frigidly freezing spells, and note, too, that she didn’t wear the entire bathing suit–just the ruffle-banded bikini top. “This,” she explained as she put it on, “is my bra.”

She paraded around the house in just her “bra” for an hour or so–until she got cold. Then, she pulled her shirt over that and continued onward. She wore the getup to the co-op and she made sure to show our 20-something housemates the strap peeking out from beneath her shirt.  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 5 2013

The Spinning Instructor’s Post-Baby Body

By at 2:09 pm

spinning classLast week at my daughter’s gymnastics class, a friend introduced me to another mom as a “Spinning Instructor.” Before she could say anything, I blurted, “I am. I don’t look like it right now, but I am.”

Instead of saying, “Nice to meet you,” I went with that. Way to show self-confidence and make a good first impression. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 24 2013

Avoiding Mirrors & Hating My Post-Baby Body

By at 2:29 pm

woman's feet next to a scaleConfession: I avoid mirrors. I dress in the dark (but that is at least partially because there is a window in our closet that has no curtains). I am very unhappy with how I look.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, you’re just being self-indulgent and stupid. You just had a baby THREE MONTHS ago–and ANOTHER baby 15 months before that. You have a lot going for you: your health, a great husband and family, a home, a job that lets you work from home and be with your kids. You’ve got a lot going for you, lady.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 30 2012

Why Am I at War with My Post-Baby Body?

By at 6:03 am

mom and baby yogaIn baby and me yoga class, the instructor asks that we each introduce ourselves, our babies, and then share how we’re feeling today, both physically and emotionally. A small but lovely gesture–she wants to help us create a community of new mamas.

Yet, as we go around the room, I realize that the thread running through each introduction is self-criticism. Moms with babies as young as 6 weeks are embarrassed to explain why they haven’t yet been able to tighten their abdominal muscles, saying, “I want to better access my core but with everything going on in my life, remembering to hold in my abs is a constant battle.” Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 17 2012

Dealing With the Jerks of Your (Kid’s) Life

By at 4:33 pm

It was hot yesterday–serious, in-the-upper-80′s hot. Not normal for suburban New Jersey in mid-April. I haven’t put the winter coats away that we were wearing last week. I can’t keep up with the weather, and can’t sort my kids’ drawers and closets: after all, tomorrow may bring either a blizzard or a typhoon. So clothing for every temperature is easily within reach of each of my kids’ grasps. (Fine, not the baby’s.)

My younger son, R, came dancing downstairs to breakfast in shorts and a t-shirt. My older one, Z, came down more slowly in a t-shirt and jeans.

“Hey, you might want to change into shorts,” I said over my shoulder as I made coffee. “It’s going to be really hot today.” Read the rest of this entry →

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