Staring up at the young performers in “Dear Evan Hansen,” watching in awe as they masterfully captured the angst, confusion, boredom and small joys of being teenagers, two thoughts popped in my head:
Wow, this reminds me so much of high school.
Is this what my kids will be like?
I am privileged to say I have attended a number of Broadway shows, several with strong, emotional stories and engaging characters. When I watched these shows in my teens and my 20s, I felt their struggles and connected with their emotions. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what it was like to be a 20-something in the late 80s living in the East Village (RENT), or a sexually-confused teen in 19th-century Germany or green witch struggling to find acceptance in Oz (Wicked); I saw myself in those characters.
We all see ourselves in fictional characters, whether on the stage, screen or the page. It is what drives us to experience these stories. That deep connection. That sense of knowing exactly how a character feels. We are moved by them, because we are them. Continue reading →
I have this weird habit — well, maybe you do too — of imagining what my life would have been like if I had gone to a different college, or visited a different country or taken a different job. I am a believer in “the butterfly effect,” despite the awfulness of the movie by the same name. I feel even the seemingly insignificant moments in our lives can set us on a course we might have missed, if things had happened another way.
I am a mother of two boys, who are with me because the exact right pattern of circumstances unfolded them into existence. If I did one thing differently, chances are they wouldn’t be here. Now, I won’t lie, on those really hard days, I wonder about how things might have been. But, more often, on the good days, I am grateful for following a path, however bumpy at times, which lead me to them. Continue reading →
It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m catching up on Facebook after spending a lovely morning disconnected from technology and reconnecting with my body and soul.
I was blissfully unaware of the ugliness happening around me. With a quick scroll through Facebook, that ignorance quickly faded away.
I read post after post about Virginia. I see pictures of young men who would rather I not be in this country, let alone exist. It doesn’t matter that I’m a third generation American — more than many of them, I’m sure. It doesn’t matter that both of my grandfathers fought for the United States during World War II. I’m Jewish, so that’s just not good enough. My family isn’t good enough.
The fear, worry and anger of my friends is reflected online. As I scroll through my feed, my heart sinks. This is not the world I want for my kids.
Being a kid in the 1970s, 80s or 90s was so much better than today, or so says countless essays, listicles and Facebook rants. We played in the street, stayed put until dark and used our imagination instead of iPads. Our parents were stern, but still gave us freedom to explore. We tell our own children of the good old days and wax poetic about how wonderful their lives would have been back then.
Raising children today can never be like it was. Society changes, values evolve, technology grows, new challenges emerge, etc., etc. Our grandparents grew up very differently from our parents, as did our parents from us. Our great grandparents may not have had much of a childhood because, back then, kids were expected to work at a young age.
Our ancestors are looking down on us and wondering what is wrong with us. Our kids are fortunate in so many ways. They are not suffering the burden of a Great Depression or the terror of a World War. And while, as a New Yorker, I do not discount the real fear of terrorism, the truth is, kids in the United States are safer than ever. Instead of bemoaning the fate of our children, let’s give them the childhood they deserve. Continue reading →
I watched my son gaze curiously at the wall of the synagogue; his eyes falling on a worn and tattered scroll behind a glass display.
We were visiting my parents’ synagogue during the first two two days of Passover, and my son wanted to learn more about the Torah, the hand-scribed scroll of the Old Testament, which hung on the wall. This particular Torah was desecrated by the Nazis during World War Two and was recovered by the Jewish people. This sacred object was very much a symbol of the resilience of my community and a source of pride for the synagogue.
My inquisitive four-year-old examined the tears and burnt markings and wanted to know what happened. He understood the Torah was usually kept in the Aron Kodesh, or holy cabinet, and is used during Jewish prayer service. He wanted to know why this particular Torah was behind glass.
I love my children unconditionally. I imagine most parents and other caregivers would agree our children could do very little to lose our affection. They will test us, absolutely, but, we will remain steadfast in our devotion.
Our children earned our love the moment they entered our lives. They owe us nothing. They need not prove a single thing. We chose them. Whether by birth, adoption, or act of faith or circumstance. We asked for them, and they answered. We owe them our love.
Our lives may be different now. Your priority might be your career, your partner, your desire for travel or caring for your pets. While I may be entrenched in diapers and kindergarten registration, you may be building your dream home or calculating your next job move. Our lives may be different, and they both matter.
I want you to know that even though I try not to talk incessantly about my children, I still appreciate how much interest you show in them. I love how you ask to see pictures and are genuinely enthused with how much they have grown. I apologize if I don’t always give your life’s journey the same attention. I will do better to ask you more questions and listen to your triumphs and struggles. Continue reading →
My youngest is 19 months old and still breastfeeds. I know writing the word “still” might seem both absurd and shocking depending on who you ask. This is what is working right now, so for me, this is normal. Like with most things related to my second child, I have much firmer, I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude regarding the parenting of my children.
My oldest was weaned very gradually, starting from the time he was about a year old until he was off my breast by 20 months. It was a gentle process that utilized the support of those closest to me. And, while, my son was/is a high needs child, having no other children to care for at the time meant I could focus my energy on assuring his needs were met beyond our nursing relationship.
My youngest son has different needs. In many ways, he is less demanding than my oldest. He was never the type of round-the-clock feeder. He also easily adapted to his role as the second child and the divided attention that is part of the deal.
I wanted to start this post with a clip from “Sex And The City.” Unfortunately, my countless searches on YouTube never yielded the needed results. Instead, bear with my summation of a particular scene, which until recently, I had know idea how on point it was on parenting.
In this scene, baby-obsessed Charlotte is visiting an unintentionally pregnant, and not-exactly-enthused-by-impending-motherhood Miranda at her apartment. Well-meaning Charlotte begins to lecture her friend on parenting, even suggesting a good spot for the crib. She proceeds to ask Miranda what type of mom she plans to be. To which Miranda has the perfect response?
6:30 p.m. The late summer sun still glows brightly in the sky, nightfall is hours away, and I am ushering my kids to bed. The routine begins with a bath, followed by some quiet play time, stories, stretching and finally, sleep. The slow process finally concludes at 7:30 p.m. I tip toe down the stairs, fix my long-awaited dinner, and ease my tush into my couch for an evening of television that doesn’t star someone from the “Paw Patrol.”
I know many parents will shake their heads and laugh at the thought of their kids going to bed this early. You might even be reading this at 11 p.m. while your still wide-eyed toddler pretends the couch cushions are perfect for his version of “American Ninja Warrior.” I’m not here to judge. I have had those nights. Some nights, the kids are just not going to bed early no matter what you do.
I strive to make those nights few and far between. If both of my kids are asleep by 8:30, I consider that a good night, and earlier than that, even better. Continue reading →