Dear G-d, thanks for the hormones

Our human bodies are marvels of creation. We are divinely crafted specimens, whose intricate functionality surpasses even the most advanced of machinery. Every part of us moves in beautiful synchronicity to enable us to live out our lives as best as we are able. And flowing through our impressive vessels are hormones, perhaps one of our greatest gifts from G-d.

Dear G-d, Thanks For The Hormones

Hormones? Are we seriously talking about those things which caused our faces to turn into bumpy messes as teens, and turns us into irrational rage machines about three quarters of every month? What’s so great about hormones?

If you stop and think about some of the greatest moments in your life — the moment you first fell in love with your spouse, your wedding day, the birth of your first child — almost every one of them can be attributed to hormones, those strange chemicals in our bodies which make us who we are and influence so many of our decisions. Continue reading

Let’s smash the cycle of negative body image

I am lucky to have had a positive view of my body for most of my life. Sure, I had a few moments, such as wondering whether my breasts would come in by the time I got to high school, or if I put on some extra weight in college,  when I didn’t absolutely love how I looked, but overall, I was happy with what I was given.

I would like to believe this positive body image was built from within, but that is not the case. Those feelings were nurtured by being raised by two parents who never once made me feel ashamed of how I looked, and who modeled healthy attitudes themselves.

Let's smash the cycle of negative body image

In our home, the word, “diet,” was never uttered from anyone’s lips, or written on any product we owned. There was no pinching of fat, or lamenting about weight gain. The only scale I ever saw was at the doctor’s office.

My parents always reminded me of the beauty they saw within me, even if I didn’t always believe them.

Sadly, I know my experience is unique. Many of my peers grew up with moms who were constantly on diets, or subtly, or not-so-subtly, reminding them of their physical flaws. They were raised in homes obsessed with obtaining the “perfect” number on the scale, fueling a lifetime of unhealthy attitudes about weight. Continue reading

I am afraid to let my boys play football

This Sunday, millions will gather around their big screen televisions to watch the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams duke it out on the football field. Children will cheer on their favorite players, and even imagine themselves one day playing in the Super Bowl. Maybe they just started tossing the ball around in their yard, maybe they are already in a pee-wee league, or maybe they have played long enough to more than dream of going pro some day.

I Am Afraid To Let My Boys Play Football

For many parents, that would be amazing. I am not one of those parents. I am a parent who is afraid to let my kids play football. Continue reading

Yes, fellow SAHMs, your degree still matters

I am in the bathroom, knee deep in my child’s excrement, failing miserably at coaxing him into the tub to scrub him down. Meanwhile, half of his room carpet is covered in poop, and I know I have that whole situation to deal with, as soon as I manage to clean my kid.

While this is happening, I can’t help but wonder, what did I sign up for? I am educated woman. I took several Advanced Placement and honors courses in high school. I graduated cum laude from my alma mater. I am (well used to be) fairly well read and cultured.

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My brain, once used to pen in-depth reports on a variety of subjects, now ponders the benefits of bribing a child to use the toilet. Days spent discussing the merits of various philosophies have morphed into fights with small children over how much television they can consume. I was one of those people who loved school, who loved learning, and valued a college education as the cornerstone for success.

Post college, I wasn’t making huge waves with my career, but I had a job, was doing what I love (writing) and making a modest income. I felt proud to utilize the skills I learned as an English major.

I had no intention of giving up my career when I became pregnant, but for personal and financial reasons, I quit my job shortly after returning from maternity leave and became a stay-at-home mom.

Over time, I got back into writing, and while I don’t make a ton of money, I am happy to have the chance to do what I love. I understand, however, that not all professions afford women the same flexibility, and many of you reading this may have little to no connection to what you studied.

You may be in the thick of motherhood, covered in spit up, tears and last night’s dinner, wondering if you squandered your Ph. D. Or maybe, you worked at a top law firm and now you host mommy and me play groups every Thursday. Perhaps, you graduated top of your class and today you stare at a bottomless laundry pile.

In these moments, you may wonder, does my degree matter? Does all that education — all that time and money spent to become an expert in something — does it matter? Did I waste my time? Continue reading

From preschool to college, graduates deserve celebration

Editor’s note: This post was written in collaboration with PurpleTrail.com. All views expressed are my own. Images for this story were provided by PurpleTrail.com.

As I sit here writing this on a chilly, New York, winter morning, it’s hard to imagine the warmer weather, and what those sunnier days bring: the end of the school year, and, for many students, graduation.

When I was a high school senior, many, many years ago, I eagerly awaited my graduation day, excited to see what adventures lay ahead of me in college and beyond. Four years later, that same feeling, albeit with a bit more nerves about heading into the “real world,” was with me as I journeyed toward the end of my higher education.

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I had the self-centered focus of youth, and wasn’t able to fully understand how important my education was to my parents. Even as a young adult, without kids, I didn’t understand the big fuss families made over graduation. Now, that I have children of my own, I get the joy families feel when seeing their children walk across the stage, collecting their diplomas, signifying many years of diligent work and determination.

Graduation is a huge accomplishment, and whether they are headed off to college or Kindergarten, PurpleTrail.com has a wide variety of gifts and invitations to mark the occasion. Continue reading

Feminism must put mothers first

Growing up, I often heard my mother repeat the phrase: “you can do everything, just not all at once.” I am sure she said the same thing to our brother, but I knew she was really speaking to my sister and I, children born in the 1980s, just a decade or so shy of the rise of modern feminism and the birth of the idea that women can do whatever men can do.

My own mother gave up her career as a nurse to raise her three children. Looking back, I realize how fortunate we were to have her home with us. We had someone to care for us when we were sick, to pick us up from the bus stop after school, and to serve as a constant reminder that we were cared for and loved. And we were fortunate to have a mother, who after caring for us for many years, was able to resume her career and even take on new ventures as her motherhood responsibilities shifted.

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My mom, along with several other members of my family, were all strong, powerful women, and not one of them ever downplayed their roles in what society has long deemed “woman’s work.”

These women did not try to compete “in a man’s world,” because they knew a woman’s world was just as worthy of validation.

Modern feminism, as many women have come to interpret, has told us we are not enough. You can’t “just” be a mother, you also have to be an entrepreneur or a part-time customer service rep, or a scholar. And, if you are a woman who juggles raising a family and a holding a job, it better not be in anything having to do with kids, lest you want to forgo any real respect from society. Continue reading

D.C. foundation brings joy of play to homeless youth

When you think about the basic needs of children, your mind probably goes to food, clothing and shelter. The things all humans need for survival. If you were to help the millions of homeless children in the United States, you might, rightfully, give some canned goods to a local food bank, or donate some blankets to an area shelter. These basic needs are something many of us can easily provide for our own children, and ones we easily take for granted.

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There is another childhood need we take for granted: play. Play is a fundamental part of childhood development. Play helps shape our children’s characters, develop critical life skills and forge their sense of self worth. A recent study by the American Association of Pediatrics highlights the importance of play and of every child, regardless of circumstance deserving the right to play.

Play is a vital part of childhood, and something all children deserve to experience. Unfortunately, however, kids who find themselves with unstable housing — often moving from shelter to shelter — rarely get the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of play. Continue reading

Curiosity ignites at Liberty Science Center

Exploring their surroundings through touch, is one of the main ways children learn about the world. They love to get their hands on everything — often things which are dangerous, expensive or both. This love for grabbing all the things, can make visiting museums tough for families with small children.

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Their acceptance and even insistence that kids manipulate and interact with their exhibits is why I love science museums. Children are curious beings, and offering them opportunities to see how things work is crucial for their development. Nothing beats seeing a child’s eyes widen in wonder at the sight of something remarkable.

During the winter break, my family visited Liberty Science Center. Located in Jersey City, N.J., just across from lower Manhattan, this museum has plenty to offer kids of all ages. Even grown-ups can tap into their inner child and have fun. Continue reading

If you need a prayer of gratitude, this is it

I’m a minimally observant Jew, and also a mother to two young children, which means my time to sit and focus on prayer is sparse and sporadic. When I do “pray,” I’m mostly thinking of stuff I’d like to happen for myself or my family. Even though these things may be selfless in nature, I realize this isn’t exactly praying, but more like wishful thinking.

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I was doing a whole lot of asking and not a lot of thanking. And, considering how many wonderful blessings have filled my life, I definitely had a good deal of gratitude to express. Like most of us, however, I got caught up in what I didn’t have instead of being grateful for what I already got. I wasn’t praying fully.

Yes, prayer can serve to ask for what we want. There’s nothing wrong with setting intentions and verbalizing your desires. I know this does wonders for people, and can be a powerful way to set you on your to achieving your dreams. However, this is not the true purpose of prayer.

The purpose of prayer is gratitude. Gratitude toward a power greater than ourselves. Gratitude toward G-d. Gratitude in even our darkest times. Continue reading

Exploring The Rubin Museum of Art with mindful intention

Editor’s note: This post is about my experience attending Mindfulness for Families at The Rubin Museum of Art. My family’s visit was compensated by the museum. All views expressed are my own.

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My two boys and I are exploring The Rubin Museum of Art, absorbing the various paintings, sculptures and architecture. We are tasked by mindfulness expert, Archimedes Bibiano, to move through the space, sans electronics, and take mental snapshots of whatever inspires us in the moment. There are no rules — only a time limit — and everything from the chairs in the cafe to the color of the walls is worthy of consideration.

My six-year-old wants to discover the sixth floor, so we ride the elevator up, anticipating what exciting treasures me might find.  We walk out on the floor, and we catch a glimpse of the floor below, which is visible from the top of the spiral staircase, which climbs up the center of the museum. From this perspective, my son notices a pool of water with wooden cut outs floating inside. He sees some visitors stepping from piece to piece and is eager to try this himself. Continue reading