Category Archives: Think

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

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

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

I’m a mom who pushes her kids to succeed

Like many other little girls, I spent a brief moment of my childhood enveloped in the world of tutus and ballet shoes. I recall the early days of joyfully jumping over fake puddles and not worrying about technique or having any real skill. Then, I started taking classes with a serious instructor, a strict disciplinary with a thick Russian accent and no time for foolishness.
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That wasn’t me. I had no desire to train hard and suffer through endless criticism. I also wasn’t all that good, which may be why when I said I wanted to quit, my parents didn’t put up a fight. And, when the teacher questioned my decision, and wondered why my mom wasn’t forcing me to continue, my mom just shrugged it off.

I went on to attempt many activities from gymnastics to ice skating to piano. Some lasted a few years, others barely a few weeks. My skills in each varies from decent to not terrible, but no matter how well I did, I was never pushed to continue if I wanted to stop.

I am so appreciative of my parents for not pressuring me to keep doing something I didn’t love. I had to prove nothing to no one. I could just be a kid.

I always thought I would model this example as a parent. I would let my children try many things, and be ok if they want to stop. I wouldn’t be a “tiger mom” pushing my kids to succeed at all costs.

Yet, I find myself close to doing exactly that. Continue reading

Nature vs. Nurture: Nature (slightly) wins

I took an advanced placement course in developmental psychology, during my senior year of high school. Although, at the time, I was a long way from having children of my own, I was fascinated with how the human psyche is shaped over time. We studied various views on personality and behavior, including the long-standing debate of nature versus nurture.

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Reading the works of the likes of John Locke, I was convinced that our behavior and character was almost exclusively shaped by our environment and that we are truly “blank slates” when we first enter the world. This view made me regard every future child I encountered with a certain level of judgement for their parents. If their kid was awful, it had to be because of something they were doing wrong.

Then, I had my own kids. Two boys, being raised in similar circumstances, but who could not be more different. And, this difference was apparent from the moment my second son was born. Continue reading

“This Is Us” and the lens of loss

This post contains minor spoilers.

Right before the infamous slow cooker ignites and starts a chain of events leading up to the demise of Jack Pearson, we see the family patriarch loading the dishwasher, cleaning the kitchen table and sweeping the floor. All while his wife and two of his three children rest upstairs. There is nothing inherently special about any of these mundane tasks, except, for the audience, it is one more reminder of just how great a husband and father Jack had become.

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And just as the end of the epic Pearson romance is marked by Jack’s unending devotion, so too is the beginning. As we all saw in the season premiere, a hopeless romantic manages to charm the beautiful Rebecca with just $9 in his pocket.

For many viewers, Jack Pearson is just a little too perfect. He sweeps in with grand gestures and always seems to have the right words for every moment. He is an embodiment of an ideal we find impossible to attain. No matter how great the men of our lives are, they are no Jack.

We can never compare Jack to our own partners for two reasons. One, he’s a fictional character, and Hollywood has a long history of creating impossible standards. Two, he is dead. Continue reading