Liat Katz, a clinical social worker, is a graduate of New Directions, a writing program offered by the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. Her work has been published in Lilith, TheWashington Post, Washingtonian, and the narrative medicine websites Pulse and KevinMD. Of herself, she says, “I write to make sense of the world I see through the lens of a mom, a clinician, a patient, a wife, and a person just muddling through life.” Liat lives in Rockville, Maryland with her wife, two daughters, four cats, and a bunny.
“OK, we’ll be the mommies, and you’ll be the daddies,” the girl said. This was seven years ago, and they were playing the game “family,” at our preschool. The freckled girl pointed to…where the boys were supposed to stand. The 3-year-old boys dutifully moved to their respective places, and my daughter, Aviva, walked over to the girl. Everyone at our preschool knew that Aviva had two mommies. To the other kids, our family was just like anyone else’s. Walking in on this game at pick-up time helped me… >> Read More
Some months ago, on a whim, my wife and I decided to go see the “Four Voices” concert on June 6th in Charlottesville, VA—a lineup which featured Joan Baez, the Indigo Girls, and Mary Chapin…Carpenter all together (could this really be happening?!). We hadn’t been to a rock concert in years, and it sounded like a great idea when I bought the tickets. But in the weeks before, the logistics seemed daunting. We had several, “What were we thinking?” conversations. A weekday concert that was three hours from our… >> Read More
I’ve been having a midlife crisis recently. I’m trying to reassess my job and my life to see if they fit who I am--so I took a short weekend jaunt to the beach to think.
So here I sit on the…sand, looking out at the ocean before me. The waves lapping onto the shore. A world away from the frenetic cadence of my job, the salt slowly licks my toes. The clear line of sight to the horizon tells me that there is no place I have to be, nothing I have to do. My… >> Read More
I now know that I am powerless over just about everything in my life, because, well, I am in custody of the State. But I am giving you the power of knowing just exactly how…you screwed up my life and landed me here. Yes, at the behest of my therapist here, I am writing to you as part of my twenty-five-step recovery program. (You might recall that they added a few steps in the post-modern, post-feminist, spiritual-awakening, acceptance-movement days of the Sedona/Chakra-based Recovery Reconstruction.) This is a list of my… >> Read More
Day one of my Adult Protective Services (APS) job: I’m pounding on the client’s door, and no one is answering. Come on, I think. I got through my 10-year undergraduate plan, my Master’s…program, I passed my clinical exams, and I got my clinical licensure. I have had years of social service jobs. I’ve read through the client’s file, and I have the correct paperwork. I’m ready, dammit. Ready to change the world, one client at a time, and yet there's Still. No. Answer. In fact, I can… >> Read More
Sometimes I imagine that Sue Palka, the weatherwoman on Fox 5, is my mother. As I watch her on TV, her love and warmth hits me like a Nor’easter. When she speaks of la Niña, she is really speaking…about me. I am her girl. Sue Palka is blonde, svelte, and beautiful—and in all of her gentile white breadedness, she talks earnestly about, well, mostly the weather. So straightforward and clear. My family talked about heavy things—politics, depression, mortgage rates, issues that fluctuate and that have no clear answers. Their conversations were mired with… >> Read More
The hospice nurse lets me in to the apartment on her way out. Hattie, 54, is in bed and imminently dying of bone cancer. She had been an avid knitter, weaver, painter, furniture maker, and quilter.…The Adult Protective Services case I’m investigating is for alleged self-neglect. I walk into the apartment, a sizeable open studio that takes up the second floor of an old Victorian, and the space declares itself the home of an artist. Filled with an explosion of color, every space is filled with art— there is a… >> Read More
My 10-year-old daughter, Aviva, has an, um, interesting personal style. She is currently wearing a pair of overall shorts (sans shirt) and pink striped, knee-high socks. A blue, temporary, glittery,…dragon tattoo adorns her forearm—and a ponytail to one side and blissful self-assurance complete the look. I can smell her bubblegum flavored lip gloss from across the room, as she primps in front of a mirror. I am on the couch sorting through my psychotropic medications, just picked up from the pharmacy. As I look over… >> Read More
I work as a social worker in Adult Protective Services for a local county government. This involves the investigation and case management of alleged abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation of…vulnerable adults. These are adults who lack the physical or mental capacity to provide for their daily needs. I work with hoarders. I work with folks who have neglected themselves to the point that they have been sitting in their own excrement for years. I handle situations where adult children have stolen all of the… >> Read More
Sometimes I imagine myself as the subject of a Passover parable.
“Look, mommy, up in the sky! Is that a bird? Is that a plane? Is that…Wonder Woman? Wait, no, what is that actually?” the…girl asked. She squinted her eyes, and her golden curls bounced when she stood on her tippy toes to get a better view. I wanted people to see me. I waved at the little girl from above. The woman next to her remarked, “Oh, sweety, that’s Middle-Aged Woman, the most powerful superhero of them all.”… >> Read More
“A Y A M,” She writes.
“Um, Maya, I think you wrote your name backwards,” I respond.
“Nope, it’s just in Hebrew," the 6-year-old says.
Maya is learning to read and write in…English, while also learning Hebrew at our synagogue’s Sunday school. That makes it confusing. And she’s left-handed too, which makes this backwards-forwards thing even harder. The whole figuring-out-the-Jewish thing in our modern world has been complicated. Finding a Jewish community that is both warm and accepts our two-mom interfaith family was also difficult, but I… >> Read More
I think I need some space. It’s not you, It’s me.
When we first got together, I thought you were everything I wanted. We have 464 friends in common. You were amazing. You…understood my narcissism and you propagated it. A constant companion, you were there for me at any time of the day or night, and you showed me fabulous pictures of your family. I felt like we had a real connection. (Except, of course, when my WiFi went out) I wanted to be with you forever.… >> Read More
“Is it poop or pee or blood?” my 6-year-old and 3-year-old daughters demand to know, pounding on the bathroom door as I sit inside on the toilet.
This is the scene on a random Saturday four…years ago. My bones ache for a respite from my lovelies. Is excretion not one aspect of my life that could actually remain my experience alone? Once my children emerged out of that region, couldn't it be mine alone again? I have already acknowledged that I do not own my children (thanks, Mr. Gibran), but… >> Read More
I take a deep breath before ringing the doorbell. I am the Adult Protective Services (APS) social worker sent to investigate an allegation of neglect of the six elderly, frail residents at this…Assisted Living group home. Allegedly, the owner is not providing enough food, and there is a cockroach and rodent infestation. I am unaware that I am about to be schooled in insect spirituality. A sweet Sri Lankan caregiver man (with the Anglicized name “Frank”) answers the door. I explain the reason for my visit. I… >> Read More