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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 →

Oct 16 2013

What Nesting Looks Like… For the Fifth Child

By at 9:54 am

photo (3) copy

Anyone who’s had a baby knows what “nesting” is. It’s the urge that kicks in shortly before the baby will be born–the one that inspires you to actually organize and prepare your home for the impending new arrival. Nesting evokes a doting mother bird, preparing the hunk of twigs and detritus that will become a cozy home for a family. It’s a lovely idea.

It becomes somewhat less poetic with the imminent arrival of your fifth child.

With the fifth kid, nesting now incorporates:

*Ample profanity: “Where the f*ck did we put that big Tupperware bin full of the newborn onesies?”

*Grunting: If you are not supposed to do any heavy lifting at the end of your pregnancy, how are you supposed to get the bassinet out of the basement while making sure the current baby doesn’t tumble down the stairs? Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 16 2013

Do You Pu Pu Pu?

By at 9:40 am

collection of evil eyesMy husband and I are pretty rational people. He’s a scientist, for Pete’s sake. But more and more often we find ourselves falling prey to superstitious behavior. We pu pu pu like it’s going out of style.

So, what do the bubbes mean when they “pu pu pu“? It’s short for “Bli ayin hara pu pu pu,” which essentially translates as: “There should be no evil eye spit spit spit.” Its Yiddish cousin is “keynahora.”

Basically, there’s a superstitious fear that by speaking about your fortune you’re actually attracting the attention of the evil eye, who will come down and spoil it all. God forbid. (Have I mentioned that my 2-year-old says God forbid?!) Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 13 2012

Single Mother By Choice: Very Superstitious

By at 3:30 pm

evil eye beadsOver the past few weeks, Emily has been chronicling her journey about deciding to become a single mother by choice. Today she adds some superstitions into the equation.

I am Jewish, which, in my family, also means I am superstitious. Sadly, my maternal grandmother died before I was born, but she definitely left her mark. My mother is superstitious. She says, “puh, puh, puh” after any comment that may reflect happiness or good fortune because, God forbid, mentioning it might make it go away. So much for the laws of attraction! Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 2 2012

When Can I Furnish My Nursery?

By at 6:12 am

evil eye bead hangingLately, we’ve been talking a lot about nursery rooms. The ones we want, the ones we have, and the ones that are Jewish. But many Jewish parents often wait to decorate a baby’s nursery room until after they are born, on account of superstitions involving the ayin hara, or evil eye. One Kveller reader recently wrote to us about just this, and we thought we’d open up the floodgates to the rest of our readers to see what you guys think.

Judith from Miami writes: Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 26 2012

The Nursery I Want vs. The Nursery I Have

By at 12:46 pm

As my baby bump grows bigger and bigger, the reality of an actual baby is getting more and more intense. In preparation for our little girl, I knew I would need to make a room for her. Our little house is a three-bedroom: one for Paul and I, one for our 16-year-old son PJ, and the other was functioning as my home office/home for a LARGE open kennel for our 85 lb pit bull, Lucy. Not that I actually did a lot of work in the office, or even spent much time in there at all–in fact, it’s largely become Lucy’s room. But the process of drastically changing this room has been just that, a process!

nursery design

The first step has been moving Lucy out of the room–because she used to be in the habit of chewing up various parts of our house when we would leave, so she would have to go into her kennel when we were gone. Since the school year’s ended, we’ve started leaving Lucy outside the kennel in our absence and she’s actually been a little angel. As she gets older, she’s much more calm and less destructive. Now she just sleeps on the couch until we get home and has given us confidence that we can finally get rid of her MASSIVE kennel. So, phase one has been sort of accomplished–yay! Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 18 2012

Week 28: Pregnancy Superstitions & Madonna Bracelets

By at 3:48 pm
red string bracelet

My red string bracelet is much more comforting than the one the hospital gave me.

I’m a fairly superstitious person. I don’t walk under ladders and I never put shoes on a table. During pregnancy, my husband and I don’t announce we’re expecting until after 12 weeks and we don’t tell ANYONE the names we’ve chosen for our children until they are born. One of my favorite memories of the birth of our son was after he was placed on my chest, amidst our incredible joy and tears; my husband said his name out loud for the very first time. It was magical.

After a difficult third trimester with my firstborn and a subsequent first trimester miscarriage, I went into this pregnancy with a lot of fear. I felt like the second trimester was my only safe place, the only time where I could breathe and hope. I needed to redirect my mind to the possibility that everything would be okay. I wanted to focus on bringing a new life into this world one day at a time and not wish the months away until 36 weeks when I am in the clear. I decided that for this pregnancy I would wear a red string as a symbol of protection. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 9 2012

Week 21: When Does it Start to Feel Real?

By at 11:04 am
pregnant woman feeling baby kick

I'm feeling kicks, but it still doesn't feel real.

I was talking to a friend the other day when I felt a kick. Not like the “fluttery” sensations What to Expect had prepared me for at this stage–the ones I’ve been convincing myself I’ve been feeling over the past few weeks–but something much more substantial. Like a little foot pushing on the inside of my uterus kind of substantial. “AH!” I told her, “I think I just felt a serious kick!” She got excited and then exclaimed that I couldn’t go making her cry at work. Cry? I thought. That hadn’t even crossed my mind. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 27 2011

Evading the Evil Eye

By at 3:56 pm

Pregnancy can make a woman superstitious. I have never been superstitious, and yet, when the doctor called last August to say I was pregnant, I didn’t know what to do. I only knew that I didn’t want to mess up my first shot at motherhood. So I began adopting behaviors to ward off the evil eye (that old Jewish superstition that if too much attention is paid to you, something bad is bound to happen).

Every pregnancy book hammers home that the first trimester is the riskiest. So, why jinx it? My husband and I agreed not to announce the life growing inside me until I had safely cleared week 14.

This was both easier and harder than I had anticipated. On the one hand, my morning sickness was so intense that I spent my days hopped up on Zofran and sleeping 13 hours a day, hoping for any relief from my perpetual nausea. I withdrew almost entirely from my social life, so there was little danger of my slipping and telling anyone. Of course, when I did go out, I was a wreck. Preparing for a job interview, I realized that my biggest fear was throwing up on my interviewer. I began carrying a paper bag whenever I went out–just in case.

Soon, the time came to tell the family our big news. Both sets of grandparents were over the moon. This would be my parents’ first grandchild.

Family and friends began asking about the baby registry. Still low on energy, I had no interest in shopping for onesies and furniture, or anything really. Happily, my husband and I agreed to follow a Jewish superstition and not bring baby things into our home pre-baby. Thwarting evil eye once again!

To continue to avoid the evil eye, I decided not to have a baby shower. The Conservative rabbi I consulted explained that the tradition of not having a baby shower is custom and not law, and that is essentially based on a superstition, the gist of which is to evade the evil eye. The risk of losing the fetus was greater in the past, but with modern medicine it is less of an issue. Knowing the back story made me feel more educated, but the whole idea of a shower still didn’t sit right with me. So rather than have a traditional shower with gifts, I opted for a giftless girls’ night out; the evil eye was not on the guest list.

Meanwhile, my family continued to check in about whether I had prepared a registry, and my husband asked if I were sure I didn’t want to get cracking on it. I didn’t. I stuck to my plan and spent March comparing checklists from an old friend (mother of one) and my sister-in-law (mother of two), along with the indispensable Baby Bargains and parents’ comments on Amazon.com. Before the month ended, I quietly posted my thoroughly researched registry online. I made sure our families knew it was available, but I didn’t publicize it. In a sense, it was there in case anyone needed it.

I started out this pregnancy nervous. But at some point, I became sort of Zen. After 32 years as a Type A personality, I simply felt certain that things would work out as they should. Interestingly, it has been those around me, my husband and the grandparents, who have become more nervous.

For various hazy reasons, everyone has become convinced the baby could arrive early. So, now I humor them. In recent weeks, I have greenlighted the grandparents’ buying a few starter essentials. The car seat has arrived at my parents’. Our pack and play bassinet is on its way to our tiny apartment. And for the time being, our baby girl remains a comfortable lodger in the Hotel Mommy. She’ll arrive in her own good time, and until then, we’ll make sure she has a few of her own things here at our apartment. Perhaps we’ll even buy her a hamsa to hang over her as she sleeps, always keeping the evil at bay. After all, it can’t hurt.

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