Melissa Henriquez is red-headed Jew from Jersey who married a wonderful dark-haired Catholic guy from El Salvador. They met in college, endured several years of long-distance love, married in 2006 and now live in Michigan with their two wonderful children: Maya (8) and Ben (5). By day, she is a senior copywriter at a global med-tech company, and by night she blogs at Let There Be Light (est. 2008). In addition to being a frequent contributor at Kveller.com, Melissa's writing has been featured on Babble.com and The Huffington Post.
It's not often that Michigan shuts down due to freezing temperatures. We hearty Midwesterners post memes that poke fun at the rest of the country freaking out over a couple inches of snow, or a…temperature that’s somewhere in the teens. Meanwhile, we plow through blizzards to get to school and work; that's just how we do it out here. But every once in a while, however, a whopper of a storm like this #PolarVortex brings the Midwest to a screeching halt (exception being those in the healthcare field and… >> Read More
January 9, 1988. It’s been more than 30 years, yet I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I was 8, my brother 6, my sister 4. We had just returned from running the typical Saturday errands…and were gathering our belongings from the car when my dad opened the front door and yelled: “FIRE!" No flames were visible, but the smoke that came billowing out and mingled with the cold, northern N.J. winter air was a clear indication something was very wrong. We stood frozen, clearly in shock, until my dad… >> Read More
Not too long ago, we could have faith that our national leaders were — for the most part — telling us is the truth when they spoke. But now we’re living in a world where the president, his…press secretary, and his Cabinet regularly tell lies with such frequency that journalists need to fact-check them in real time. Whereas George Washington “couldn’t tell a lie,” Donald Trump and his administration lies, fabricates, exaggerates, or tells “alternative facts.” Most disturbing, there seemed to be little consequences for any of their lies. Until — hopefully! —… >> Read More
Early on Saturday morning — about an hour before the horrific news broke of the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left eleven people dead — I was laying out my kids’ clothes, in…preparation for a family photo shoot. Since this was a special occasion, I asked my 7-year-old daughter if she wanted to wear her hamsa, a Jewish amulet in the shape of an open hand that’s intended to ward off evil and protect the wearer. Hers is sparkly and pink, and was given to her by… >> Read More
New to our synagogue a few years ago, I was looking for ways to get more involved that would work for someone like me: a busy working mom with two young children in lots of activities. I found myself…on a sub-committee that met once a month and needed someone with PR/marketing skills. As we were brainstorming new ideas for engagement, I casually mentioned that, for the past decade, I had planned my company’s annual community service day, in which we split up and tackle various projects around our city, such as painting murals,… >> Read More
My daughter, 7, just started a new year of religious school. Although she doesn’t enjoy every moment — I mean, does any kid?! — she is genuinely excited about it, especially since she bonded…with her Hebrew School friends at camp this summer. This is her third year of formal Jewish education, and she can now do things such as sing the Shema and read and write most of her alef bet. She knows our important holidays and loves talking about what nugget of Jewish history or tradition she’s… >> Read More
It was my first week of college, and I realized very quickly that I was different than virtually all the Jewish kids I met at American University. Like so many of them, I celebrated the Jewish…holidays, went to Hebrew school, and had a bat mitzvah. But there was one major thing that separated me from the pack: I didn’t go to sleepaway camp. As I listened to my new friends play Jewish Geography and dish about their camp friendships and hook-ups, I couldn’t help but feel I was missing something… >> Read More
Among the many news stories that broke over the weekend, one that caught my eye for all the right reasons was Jewish singer, songwriter, and mom-of-two extraordinaire Pink forgetting the lyrics to…her 2006 hit song, “Who Knew.” She was performing her first of two sold-out Beautiful Trauma shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden last Wednesday evening. ICYMI, as the guitarist begins strumming, she pauses. "I forgot the words. Sh$%!" Then, like the pro she is, after a couple beats, some laughter and some words to… >> Read More
I was plugging some upcoming work travel into my Outlook calendar two weeks ago when it suddenly dawned on me: Passover was seriously soon.
Like any other busy working couple, I didn’t call my…husband. Instead, I shot him a message reminding him that Friday, March 30 was the first night of Passover, and that we’d have to hit the butcher so I could make my great-grandmother’s brisket — a tradition my entire family looks forward to. A few minutes, later I got a response: “OK … but the… >> Read More
Pop culture tells us that Jewish mothers are supposed to lay on the guilt as thick as a mountain of schmear on an everything bagel. Countless books, TV shows, and movies feature neurotic Jewish…mothers guilting their sons and daughters into becoming doctors and lawyers, into marrying Nice Jewish Girls and Nice Jewish Boys, and -- naturally -- into breeding an army of grandchildren. And it’s not just a media trope. My own grandmother could have taken home an Oscar for Best Guilt Trip: “What, you didn’t have time… >> Read More
The bond between mother and child — there is, perhaps, no deeper relationship on earth. It’s unconditional love in its purest form.
Whether a child spent nine months growing in our belly or…was dreamed about for nine years and came into our waiting arms via adoption, the connection is undeniable when we stare into their newborn eyes or hold them for the first time. And though it may not feel quite so immediate for some mothers, and those feelings will undoubtedly wax and wane through the years… >> Read More
El Salvador stole my heart 17 years ago. I remember my first glimpse from the airplane window — mouth agape, I was captivated by the dramatic volcanoes, the palm-lined coast, the glistening Pacific…dotted with fishing boats. When we landed, everyone on board clapped, and as the plane’s door opened we were greeted by the steamy, hot Salvadoran sun. Of course, it helped that a man from El Salvador had stolen my heart the previous year. I was a senior at American University in Washington, D.C. and a… >> Read More
Before I had kids, it took a lot to get me riled up. Sure, I’d get angry if someone hurt my feelings or broke my heart. But I rarely raised my voice, and certainly never yelled at the source of my…pain in the moment. Instead, I managed my emotions the way anyone who loathes confrontation would: I’d just write in my journal, or draft an email that I’d never send. Then I became a mother to two small humans with big personalities, and managing all my emotions via the written word just wasn’t a practical… >> Read More
Growing up in New Jersey, I loved celebrating Christmas. I have lovely memories of opening presents on Christmas morning at my grandmother’s house. We'd find an apple or banana in our stockings and…eat a roast with my Aunt Karen’s signature mashed potatoes. But we always knew we were Jews. We knew that we were "different" from that part of my family--we weren't celebrating "our savior's birth" but rather a special holiday to share with family. While my dad is Protestant and my mom is Jewish, we were… >> Read More
Nap-time (noun): the peaceful(ish) 1-2 hours when children are asleep and parents can get.shit.done. See also, the 1-3 hour parents eventually get sick of working their lives around for the sake of a…happy, healthy child. (Note: This perspective typically kicks in quicker with the second or third kid.) No matter your view on nap-time, kids ages 0-3 physically need their naps. While nap-time is a nice excuse for us to binge watch Netflix or fold loads of laundry, while we catch up with our bestie, it’s what… >> Read More
I’ve always felt time is a precious commodity, but that sentiment has been amplified times a thousand as a working parent with young kids. Between the day-to-day chaos of raising little people and…managing a career, a household, a marriage, a social life, and physical fitness, it can feel like a rat race with no end in sight. But this summer, there was an “end,” albeit a temporary one. I was given the gift of time — a month off, to be precise — to devote to myself,… >> Read More
In the crazy way Facebook can bring people together, I, along with 50,000 other followers, watched a family fight for the life of, and eventually, lose their precious 2-year-old, Logan. I didn’t…know the family personally, but Logan’s story popped into my newsfeed and I was following his family’s anguish, hoping and praying for a miracle for this beautiful little boy. As a mom with a young son around the same age—a towhead like Logan—I couldn’t look away, even though the stories and photos were painful to… >> Read More
“Mommy, I don’t want to do gymnastics anymore.”
My 6-year-old’s comment came out of nowhere on a random Wednesday afternoon. We were in her elementary school bathroom, getting dressed for…soccer practice. I couldn’t see her face—she was in a stall—but I’m sure mine fell, equal parts disappointed and shocked. No, I don’t think my child is the next Aly Raisman. But this a kid who had begged us to let her take gymnastics lessons, who two years in has to be told to stop… >> Read More
In the past two weeks, I’ve read two incredibly relatable pieces of writing that take to task the never-ending extra labor mothers inevitably carry on behalf of our families.
The first is a…beautiful Facebook post that went viral (again) called I Am The Keeper, which praises all the invisible but crucial mental and organizational work we mamas do on a daily basis--work which often goes unnoticed by our families and without praised, but keeps the train on its tracks and heading back to the station on time… >> Read More
Despite what the ridiculously warm forecast says here in Michigan, we’re closing in on my all-time favorite season: autumn. I try to contain my excitement until at least mid-September--and then I…let my freak flag fly. After the kids go back to school, the fall decorations are dragged from the closet, the apple orchard and cider mill are paid a visit (or two), the scarves, boots and puffy vests come out of hiding, and the pumpkin spice lattes replace the iced coffees. Move over summer, my season… >> Read More
I’ve been loving seeing so many fellow Jews coming out of the woodwork in the wake of Charlottesville--Pink, Billy Joel, Jack Antonoff--to name a few, either openly discussing their Jewish identity…or wearing it on their (literal) chests. Instead of shying away from the bigotry and anti-Semitism out there, they are owning their truths and shouting it from the rooftops: “I’m proud to be a Jew! Hate won’t win!” Yet in spite of my own Jewish pride, I was still a nervous wreck on a recent… >> Read More
“Mommy, can I ask you a question?” my 6-year-old daughter, Maya, pipes up from the back seat after a delightfully long silence on the way back from a recent camping trip.
I check to make sure…her 3-year-old brother is still napping (he is) and watch through the rearview mirror as my daughter marks her place in the book she was reading, the latest in the Junie B Jones series. I sense a Big Question is on the way. That line from Ed Sheeran’s song, “Castle on the Hill” suddenly feels… >> Read More
Full disclosure: I only watched the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) last night to see P!nk’s performance and Video Vanguard acceptance speech. And while the rest of the show was pretty tepid and made…me feel old and salty as I questioned who presenter after presenter was, I am so freakin’ glad I stuck it out—because she was everything. I’ve sung P!nk’s praises here at Kveller before, notably for her bold response to anti-Semitism in the wake of Charlottesville. But what I saw last night blew me away nonetheless.… >> Read More
In all honesty, I never planned on doing any prenatal testing. At 30, I was not of "advanced maternal age," had no pre-existing conditions, and I’d already done the blood work that ruled out being…a Tay-Sachs carrier. Still, my husband and I listened as my OB explained what was out there at our first prenatal appointment and stuffed the pamphlets in my purse, thinking this was something “other” people do. After we talked, he went about the exam and then at the end came the part I’d been waiting… >> Read More
I must be meshugenah: I’ve never run more than five miles at once, but I just signed myself up for the a nine-plus mile race, Columbus Hot Chocolate 15K this November.
It gets crazier: Though…I’ve dabbled in running since high school, I’ve never really loved it. In fact, of all the workouts I’ve committed to in my lifetime, running was always my least favorite. Unlike the group fitness classes I loved (Zumba anyone?), running had just been something I did for exercise on my own—not something I could ever… >> Read More