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Apr 18 2013

Letting Go Before the Nest is Empty

By at 5:01 pm

closed bedroom doorIt’s only 8 at night, and when our 16-year-old son rambles home, we pounce. “Want to grab ice cream?” I invite. “What about a movie?” says my husband. Our son stares at us, impassive.

“I’m going to bed,” he says, and my husband and I exchange glances. We know that “going to bed” is code word for I’m-going-into-my-room-and-shutting-the-door-and-staying-up-for-hours-without-you. I hear the door close and even though my son is right upstairs, I miss him. And I know that he’s going off to college in two years and I’m going to miss him even more. 

I don’t know why I’m so surprised he’s independent. We wanted him to be that way. My parents had raised my sister and me to be dependent on them, to stay close to home, to reveal all our secrets. I, of course, balked and flew out on my own at 17, lived states away, and kept my thoughts locked up like a safe. Even now, my mom still scolds me for being “too independent for my own good” but I always considered that a plus.

Until I had a son. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 4 2013

Why I Won’t Let My Kids Do the Laundry

By at 9:45 am

laundry spin cyclePerhaps the most difficult thing about parenting teens is letting go–ceding control over their lives, or recognizing that you never really had any control–and preparing them to leave you. When my girls were toddlers, their wise grandparents told me this, but until I faced the challenge myself I didn’t understand a word of their sage advice.

My eldest’s recent acceptance to college was not only a source of pride; it also triggered some anxiety in me, which I tried to dispel with humor. I claimed my greatest fear was that she would bring her dirty laundry home for me to wash during her vacations. One friend’s shocked response of, “You don’t make her do her own laundry?!” made me wonder if my stranglehold on the family’s laundry signaled an inability to let go.  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 19 2013

Dealing with Toddler Tantrums & Teen Tantrums All at Once

By at 3:08 pm

toddler having a tantrum in cribOne of my favorite pictures I ever took of my daughter came during a tantrum.

She wasn’t quite 3. We were in the middle of a family party with our best friends–and their two kids, the de facto cousins. My daughter had just hit her BFF. I scooped her into my arms and carried her upstairs for a time-out. A photographer friend once advised me that photos of crying people were always good to take, aesthetically (you can quibble about the morals). There my daughter stood in her crib in a white satin dress-up princess frock. Her face, framed by tired pigtails, revealed the sadness and regret just beneath the frustrated, overtired impulsivity. Her dark eyes were slick and teary and her rounded cheeks appeared rounder, all pouty. And the camera happened to be around my neck. She was so freaking adorable I had to sneak in one quick shot.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 17 2013

My Daughter & Her Boyfriend’s Jeans

By at 2:54 pm

torn jeans with holeI’m standing at the kitchen sink when my eldest walks past me to the table to pack her lunch.

“What’s all over your pants?”

“They’re distressed.”

“Did you rip them?!”

“No, they came like that. It’s a style.” She pauses for effect. “And they’re not my pants. And you said I looked cute in them.”

Now I’m distressed. I look more closely at her pants. They are black jeans, ripped and frayed on both legs. I hadn’t noticed that–looking up from the bottom of the stairs–when I’d complimented her.

“Are you wearing [boyfriend name]‘s pants?!” Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 7 2013

Parenting Teens & Anxiety Dreams

By at 9:43 am

I have a recurring nightmare. It’s not a classic anxiety dream, like the ones where you find yourself standing naked at a podium with no notes or teleprompter. Mine is a maternal dream.

In my dream, my teenage daughter, my mother-in-law, and I are standing on the Golden Gate Bridge. The setting is disconcerting, as the three of us have never been in San Francisco at the same time. In fact, my teenager has only been there in utero.

My ordinarily soft-spoken mother-in-law is yelling at me. I look down and I feel queasy. Not unlike I felt when I was pregnant with my daughter. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 29 2012

News Roundup: Straight Talk About Vaginal Birth Risks, Middle School, and Breaking the Breast Milk Bank

By at 8:39 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


Here’s a yucky but important topic: vaginal tears that result from vaginal childbirth. Turns out they may be a lot more widespread than most doctors know or admit, and can cause fecal matter through the vagina, flatus incontinence, and pain. Learn more so you can talk about it with your doctor ahead of time. (Motherlode)

Pretty much everyone agrees that middle school is the worst. But no one is really trying to make it better. Now researchers are discovering that helping middle schoolers have a better time predicts whether or not they’ll stay in school, and how successful they’ll be. (Slate)

As a mom you’re probably taking pictures of your kids and family all the time. But how often do you get in front of the camera yourself? One mom reminds us that someday when we’re gone our kids will want pictures of us, and we shouldn’t be erasing ourselves from our family’s photographic history. (Huffington Post)

A mom in Texas made it to the Guinness book of world records for donating a whopping 87 gallons of breast milk to her local breast milk bank. (NY Daily News)

Oct 23 2012

Shopping for My Daughter’s First Bra

By at 9:45 am

white cotton braAs I cradled my 7-hour old dark-haired beauty in my weary arms, I imagined this day. My pre-teen (the term “tween” had yet to be invented) and I would have a quiet lunch in a café, talk about the exciting changes that awaited her, and then head to Nordstrom for her very first bra-fitting. Like with so many parts of parenting, what I imagined bore scant resemblance to reality.  And not for one moment did I ever imagine that our outing would take place in her 10th summer. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 10 2012

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be “Froshwhores”

By at 10:16 am

teenage girl in heelsIf college was my Renaissance, high school was my Dark Ages. While there were some bright spots, I mostly loathed my four years of high school. It’s not that I was picked on, but I danced to a different drummer than most of my classmates.

As a 30-something, I’m blissfully disconnected from high school in my daily life. The only younger demographic I typically interact with is toddlers, and that’s fine by me. Over Rosh Hashanah, though, I found myself face-to-face with some teens at the synagogue where I grew up, attending nursery school, day camp, and religious services. Read the rest of this entry →

May 6 2011

Why Are Moms So Embarrassing?

By at 11:14 am

Did your mom make you cringe like mine did?

Growing up, I never realized how much I needed or appreciated my mom. I always saw her caring, helpful, and protective ways as meddling, overprotective, and overbearing, especially when I was a teenager.  It wasn’t until I had my son that I realized how much we really do need our moms, even when we don’t know it.

Looking back, although my mom always tried to help, her motherly ways were, quite frankly, embarrassing at the time.  What teenager wants their mother in the middle of everything?

Take, for the example, the time I was 16 and invited a few friends over from my B’nai B’rith youth group. When word got out that my parents’ home was the infamous Fast Times At Ridgemont High home and that the pool was the very pool that Phoebe Cates dove into, a few extra people showed up. (Admittedly, it was kind of cool to live there.) I now had over 100 of my closest “friends” come to the party. And no, I was not a popular kid, but having a famous house made it so…for one night. Instead of being angry, my mom invited everyone in (and around, since the house was not that big). She got my father involved and the two of them began clearing out our fridge and making sandwiches for everyone, because, in her words, she didn’t want anyone to leave our home hungry. Can you say embarrassing?

Or then there was my 19th birthday when I stretched the truth a bit and told my parents that my friends were taking me out for dinner and a movie. In reality, my girlfriends and I were going to hang out at the Jewish fraternity house and most likely do nothing (read: watch a bunch of lazy guys play pool or video games. The things we find amusing in college, right?) My parents were clueless as to where I was really going on my birthday – well, at least that’s what I thought until I reached the frat house.

When I walked in, there was a huge birthday cake on the table, complete with paper plates and decorations–the whole nine yards. I was amazed that my “brothers” remembered my birthday. Turns out, the cake was not from my fellow brethren, but from my mother. Yes, my mother! She had the cake delivered so that no one would forget my birthday and I wouldn’t be disappointed. I stood there flushed, matching the color of the little frosting hearts on my cake, as everyone whispered and chuckled while enjoying my cake. I felt as though there was a big “L” stamped on my forehead. Loser! Just how cool did I look now?

My mom has always been there. During the times I did not want her there, and more recently the times that I have. When I gave birth to my son, my mom was there the entire time, right outside my door. Then she stayed overnight with me, my husband and our newborn son, sleeping upright on the chair by my side. She never left the hospital–or my room, for that matter. When my husband went on the road (he’s a professional musician) shortly after my son was born, she stayed with me one night holding my son for the entire night, never putting him down, just handing him over to me when it was time to nurse, simply so that I could get some rest.

Five years later and she continues to meddle, only I understand it a little better now. Her overprotective ways don’t seem so overprotective any more, but rather natural–the way it should be. She has taught me how to be the best mom I can be, and also what to avoid so I don’t embarrass my son. And I know that when I have a cake delivered to his frat house, he will appreciate it…well, not at that moment, but someday.

So, let’s cut our moms some slack. Happy Mother’s Day!

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