Sep 29 2014
As soon as I discovered I was pregnant at the end of last summer, I set the wheels in motion to take a half-year sabbatical from my job teaching music, theatre and English at Maine’s smallest K-12 public school. We’re allowed a full year at half pay every seven years, but my family wouldn’t quite be able to swing that financially. Besides, between my six-week maternity leave, summer vacation and a four-month sabbatical, I piled up eight months of time at home with my daughter Penrose. The second half of the school year might be a nice break from around-the-clock parenting.
The word “sabbatical” is derived from the word “Sabbath,” and it’s supposed to be just that–a rest. In an academic or ecclesiastic context, you’re supposed to do something wholly unrelated to your job. But a public school teacher’s sabbatical is a little bit different. I needed to come up with a plan for somehow enriching the school. Writing a book and caring for a member of the class of 2032 wasn’t quite enough, so I’m going to be working on curriculum mapping and taking clarinet lessons.
School started the Tuesday after Labor Day. Ordinarily I’d have already been in workshops for two days, agonized over a bulletin board (cutting out letters has never been my forte), and picked out a back-to-school outfit. Instead, I woke up on a pee-soaked trundle bed next to a happily kicking 4-month-old. We weren’t on a schedule and we didn’t have an agenda, so I cleaned up and moved us into my bed to get a few more hours of sleep. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 15 2014
I know we’re not supposed to admit it, but stay-at-home moms of school-aged children do have a favorite day of the week, and it’s probably not what you think it is.
Like all mothers, I love weekends, the time when the family is together, when my husband is home from work, when we catch up on projects, catch a movie, go out to dinner, and get to spend a little more time together as a family.
But what I really like are Mondays. Yes, Mondays. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 26 2014
I get a new phone every few months. I’m just cool like that.
Nope. That was a lie. I’m actually kind of a nerd–and I don’t mean the I-have-a-tech-startup-and-wear-hipster-glasses-to-be-ironic kind of nerd. I’m talking the I-go-birdwatching-every-Sunday kind of nerd.
So why do I constantly update my phone? It’s because my wireless communication device of choice is the cheapest stupid phone I can find, and they break so frequently that I have to replace them as often as I calibrate my binoculars. Read the rest of this entry →
May 21 2014
Eight years ago, I left my job as an elementary school teacher in Boston to move to Philadelphia where my boyfriend lived. I could barely get the words out of my mouth when people asked me why I was moving, sure that someone was going to come around the corner and revoke my feminist card if I admitted that I was moving, without a job lined up, for my boyfriend who I’d known for less than a year.
I did it anyway, I survived, and it got easier the more times I told people. While driving the U-Haul from Boston to Philly, I was offered a job in Philly in Jewish communal service, which I accepted, and I began my new life in a new city. I even used my anecdote about moving under unknown circumstances to counsel many young professionals through some scary life decisions. Fast forward a bit, and my boyfriend and I got married, had one kid, then had another kid, and it stopped seeming so crazy that I had left Boston “for a guy.”
This month, I have once again made the decision to leave my job because it’s the right thing for my life rather than the right thing for my career. As anyone who’s worked in Jewish communal service knows, this sector isn’t known for its work/life balance or generous compensation. Instead, we do it because we care, and what we give up in free time or money, we gain in nachas by giving back to our people. Unfortunately, nachas can’t put the kids to bed at night while I’m out creating positive Jewish experiences for my childless peers. Read the rest of this entry →
May 14 2014
Sweet face. Naughty smile. Huge brown sparkling eyes that stared straight into mine. We’re not usually at eye-level. He’s only 5.
“Will you, Mom? Get me the sunscreen? Now? Will you get it for me now?”
We were having this conversation eye-to-eye because I was sitting on the toilet. I’d been in the bathroom 30 quiet seconds before he barreled in with all his bursting, small-boy energy. It was only 8:30 a.m.–he still had oodles of it. And he needed the sunscreen, right now, immediately, now, now, now. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 27 2014
Talking to one of my fellow Jewish Marine Corps wives recently, I realized we became wives and mothers in a different culture than our civilian peers. The norms in our social groups are to stay home with our children and to support our husbands’ careers. Sometimes it seems we are more like 1950′s housewives than liberal 30-something moms.
This is not to say we lack the education, resources, or drive to work outside of our homes. Almost all of the Marine wives I know have college educations and husbands who view them as equals. Most of us expected to have our own successful careers right along side of our Marines. What we didn’t expect were the demands that a military career would have on our families and on us.
Just the moving alone makes finishing a degree program or starting a career more challenging. I married my Hillel sweetheart right out of college and proceeded to move four times in less than three years. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 3 2014
I am a stay at home mom. And holy crap do I love it. I mean, wow! FOUR human beings call me mom! I am blessed, lucky, honored. In total mothering bliss! But, as being a SAHM seems to be an increasing rarity in my circle of friends, I often get asked how I manage to keep from feeling bored.
Can I tell you something? As much as I love these kids of mine, and as much as I cherish every hair on their beautiful little heads, sometimes, yes, I get a little bored. And sometimes I even start feeling like my whole identity has been consumed by my role as mother. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 21 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Vayahkel. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
I was recently hanging out with a mama friend who’s been staying home with her toddler. She’s starting to look for day care, to her own surprise. As she put it: “Before I had kids, I thought, why even have kids if you’re going to give them to someone else to raise them? And now I’m like, oh yeah–he needs to do his thing and I need to do my thing and then we’re both happy to see each other in the afternoon.”
I didn’t think I expected myself to be a full-time mom. Although my mom stayed home to raise me and my two sisters, we were taught we could do anything boys could do. Which by implication means we could grow up to be a parent and still continue our careers, right? Just like our dad. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 17 2014
I used to fumble my words when someone asked me what I do for a living. Having a baby and being laid off while on maternity leave will do that to you.
My self worth bailed right along with my sanity. I was set to return to work 12 weeks postpartum as a counselor working with patients and families dealing with a terminal illness. I loved my job. As depressing as the population I worked with sounds, it was one of the most humbling and gratifying jobs I have ever held. Then, about four weeks into my maternity leave, I received notice that the company I worked for was restructuring and I was out.
The true story is that they tried to get me to quit so that I would not be eligible for unemployment. I held my own and finally got a statement from the new COO (who I never met as she started while I was out), conceding to the fact that they were indeed laying me off. I could have been over the moon to be laid off while on maternity leave, approved for unemployment, but instead I found myself deflated and defeated. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 6 2013
It took me a long time to admit it, but I’m the person everyone has been talking about. I’m the person who uses Facebook as a world-wide picture sharing site, a 21st century baby brag book. It’s me; I’ve “ruined” Facebook for the cool kids.
I wasn’t always this type of person. In fact, before I turned into me, I used to hate people like me. You know the people I’m talking about: the kind of people who post funny things their kids say (or things they think are funny), share anecdotes from playdates, or statistics from doctors’ visits; the kind of people who (gasp) use their kids as their profile picture. You’re not your child, I would silently fume as I would see yet another one of my friends fall victim to the rampant child-picture-appropriation on Facebook. Your child is not your identity! Your role as a parent doesn’t solely define you! I would swear that I would be different–I would still be ME (as signified by the oh-so-telling Facebook Profile Picture). And yet, as soon as my baby was born and was big enough to wear a hat with ears–bam, he was my profile picture. I mean, come on, how could I resist? He was wearing a hat. With ears!
So how, after consciously trying not to, did I turn into this person? Read the rest of this entry →