Michelle Dickstein is a working mom and blogger raising three young daughters with her husband in Northeast Ohio. Michelle is always searching for ways to live her happiest life and she loves sharing her discoveries (and failed experiments) with her friends and readers. Michelle writes about friendship, marriage and parenting from breast feeding twins to answering the “tough” questions from her kids. Read more at her blog, emailingwithmygirlfriends.com.
My daughter is in first grade, and she is the only Jewish kid in her class.
This is familiar territory for us: As a child, I was the solo Jew in my public school classroom, too. This made me…unique, and I always felt special being Jewish amongst my throng of Christian friends. Around the holiday season, my friends loved celebrating Hanukkah with me, and often gifted me eight presents while I handed them my one Christmas gift in return. The other week, I learned my oldest daughter was assigned the role of Christmas… >> Read More
Last Friday morning, my 4-year old locked me and her twin sister out of the house. This wasn’t an accident — she did it on purpose.
Here’s how it happened. Every morning, I round up my…three little ladies and usher them out the door at 7:45, so my eldest daughter can catch the bus to school. The stop is just across the street, but we must leave the house by then. As the bus pulls away, I buckle my twins in their car seats and drive them to pre-K before… >> Read More
Over the past four years, I’ve been actively exploring my relationship with Judaism, Jewish culture, and my personal spirituality. What I’ve realized is that while I feel connected to Jewish…traditions, values, and the concept of a higher power, I don’t feel spiritual connection in synagogue. Reading prayers in Hebrew during services just doesn’t do it for me. I enjoy the Jewish High Holidays for the opportunity to connect with “framily” — my close friends who feel like family, whom my husband and I first… >> Read More
I was extremely skeptical of the so-called “twin bond” when I found out I was pregnant with two nuggets. I never wanted to be the kind of mom who’d push my kids to be friends just because they…are siblings — but identical twins are a whole new ball game. My girls share the same genetic code, and I can’t deny they share an inherent connection and understanding of one another. When I think about it, they started interacting with one another well before birth. While in utero, I’d feel one kick the… >> Read More
Parenting is filled with "firsts" — and last month was the first time I, as a mom, I wanted to rip a little boy apart.
This happened when my daughter told me a classmate was hitting and pushing…her on the bus. Upon further questioning, it became clear this little boy was trying to get her attention. My initial response — aside from thinking: why have we not moved beyond this? — was a practical one: How can I raise my three daughters to stand up for themselves? This is a heavy responsibility,… >> Read More
I completely expect readers to point out I am a contradiction when they read this alongside my previous Kveller post: Why I Started Telling Well-Wishers Christmas Is Not My Holiday.
Nevertheless,…I am all about experiencing the joy of every holiday and being inclusive, even if it is not my holiday. I am teaching my girls to be proud of who we are and about other people's traditions. For one thing, we are not going to hide from Black Friday and emerge after New Year’s. And… >> Read More
Last weekend my family went to a big-box store that offers delicious samples. There were displays stationed about every 10 feet with a lovely aproned employee plating small bites of different…sandwiches, desserts, cheeses, fresh fruit, and a variety of different snack and treats. (I confess — we time our trips to this store around lunchtime. It’s a nice outing for my three young children and it takes care of lunch. This makes coming home and putting them down for their afternoon naps all the easier.)… >> Read More
As a Jubu (Jewish Buddhist), I give a lot of thought to how I want to celebrate Jewish holidays and pray. This year, I joined a synagogue for the first time since my husband and I created our own…family of five. I grew up going to synagogue, but I have yet to find my personal spirituality within those walls. True prayer, in my mind, offers comfort, support and answers for often-unanswerable questions. And the answers I am seeking have not come to me in synagogue. I studied Jewish theology and Hebrew in college,… >> Read More
I don’t have a smartphone.
My free upgrade has been waiting for eight years.
In fact, when my husband got his first smartphone, I actually downgraded to his old flip phone because the battery…life puts much fancier phones to shame. Moreover, my flip phone blocks text messaging, on purpose. I told my cell phone company I do not want to receive a text. Ever. People can send them to me, but I’ll never know. I like to picture the text dissipating in cyber ether. I have gotten used… >> Read More
As Jewish holiday season continues, it’s time for friends and family to gather and celebrate.
I love hosting.
Now, I would love for my home to be presentable at a moment’s notice, but this…is just not my reality. My house looks lived-in, and I actually like it. In contrast, I feel a little uncomfortable when I visit homes too pristine, which look like new model homes. As a kid, I loved visiting model homes (the fake foods in model homes look very realistic. It’s was fun to touch,… >> Read More
Academic success was always of the utmost importance in my youth, and the pinnacle I was heading for was earning a degree in medicine or law. It seems like it’s a Jewish mother’s dream to…announce that her child is either a doctor or lawyer (or is marrying one of the two). As a youngster, I didn’t care if I had to get tutors over the summer or come in an hour early or stay late to meet with my teacher for extra help. I wanted to be the best.… >> Read More
Generally speaking, I do not shy away from “tough” conversations with my girls. I think about how I learned about sex (in the fifth grade on the recess playground) and I cringe at my children…having the same confusing experience. Instead of skirting the issue, dodging questions, lying, or just saying “I don’t know,” I engage in tough conversations with my children, because it feels like the right thing to do. My honest dialogue will prepare them for the day someone grins at them with a salacious new piece of… >> Read More
On a recent weekend, my family of five drove 17 hours to pick up my childhood bedroom furniture from my mother’s house. It has been sitting in pristine condition for over 30 years, in the same…exact room I slept in from the age of three. Now, my three-year-old twins are newly potty trained, so they have earned the freedom to use the facilities at all hours. This means we can no longer keep them in their baby cages (ahem, cribs). And as it goes with multiples, you need to buy… >> Read More
My oldest daughter started kindergarten this week. I knew it would be an emotional day for me and her—but not for the obvious reasons.
This kid likes to know what to expect, and kindergarten is…the unknown for her. Jumping in feet first is not in her comfort zone; she’s a “dip the tip of her toe into the water” kind of kid. She has told me numerous times throughout the summer she’s scared of starting school because she’s never done it before, and this felt like a valid fear.… >> Read More
My oldest starts kindergarten this year, and one thing I did not anticipate ever thinking about was the possibility of anti-Semitism.
Recently, I have heard stories of it in our school district…and it honestly is freaking me out. I was the “lone Jew” in my class going to my public school on the East Coast, but I never experienced anti-Semitism. Rather than being an outcast, my friends wanted to learn from me. My girls know they are Jewish and we are very proud of our Jewish… >> Read More
I grew up as a Jew on the East Coast where keeping up with the Joneses was just the way of life. Yet, the overwhelming tone in my childhood home was there was never enough money. Moving to the…Midwest has helped me reevaluate what I truly value. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s important to appreciate a happy medium: It’s nice to have some money, but money cannot buy happiness—or to put it another way, money does not define my worth but it gives me the chance to live a comfortable… >> Read More
I recently finished Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. I view it as the ancestor of sorts to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. The Feminine Mystique answered a lot of my lingering questions about…the second-wave feminist movement and why I am sometimes the recipient of anti-feminist comments from women and, if we’re being honest, from the anti-feminist thoughts lurking in my mind. Learning about “the problem that has no name” made things click in my head. Following WWII, well-off and middle class women were given images of domestic… >> Read More
Every mom is different, but for me, knowing myself means knowing that I need to be a working mom. Even with three daughters at home. Here are the reasons why.
1. I went to graduate school with the…intention of using my degree. Graduate school is where I really learned my profession and I’ll be damned if I don’t apply what I learned to make the world a better place (not only for my kids, but everyone). 2. I am passionate about my work. You know what I am not passionate about? Letting… >> Read More
At times, I struggle with how I want to present the world to my children. I don’t want to squash their natural tendency to view the universe as magical, but I don’t want to sugarcoat the less…lovely reality to the point of deception. Adults have made certain topics taboo. If it makes us uncomfortable, we assume our kids will have trouble too. In my experience, these topics typically involve life cycle events like death, birth, and loss of life (like a miscarriage). In these instances, I take a step back and… >> Read More
The same day my “I’m a Jewish Buddhist” blog was posted here at Kveller, I thought, “OK, I need to tell my mom," and I felt really anxious. I was basically going to share my new identity with…my mom who thought of me a certain way my whole life: as Jewish and nothing different. My mom is old-school. She is a Polish/Ukrainian immigrant by way of Israel. She had a life plan set out for me in utero. It was a life plan I did not exactly follow. The fact I am… >> Read More
I did not think I would value being involved in Jewish life as an adult and mother of three, but when I saw my little ones run up to the bimah for the first time, I had a visceral reaction, as though…I was slammed in the chest with nostalgic energy. Magic was in the air, and I was time-warped back to my years as a little girl, and I immediately thought, "I want this for my kids." Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked upon their glowing faces watching the ark open to reveal… >> Read More