Mothahhood

life in my hood with 2 teenagers, a toddler and chronic pain

to our son May 31, 2009

Last year on this date, we celebrated our son’s coming of age.   He put together an amazing ceremony with readings from many cultures and writings from many people throughout the world. They all reflected to him, what it means to become a man in today’s world, to be part of a bigger community, to have a deeper consciousness and to take to take on greater responsibility in this world. I wrote a piece to him. It is what follows.

As most of you probably know, I am a pretty big baseball fan and a crazy Red Sox fan.  I am not, on the other hand a religious person.  When my husband and I began our journey as parents we agreed that we would raise our children to be good people, but that we would not raise them to follow any particular religion and that we would leave that choice to them as they got older. So it was much to my surprise (shock) when our son told us he wanted a bar mitzvah.  How could this have happened I thought? Where did we go wrong? 

Of course, we also have given our children just about everything they have ever wanted and we have certainly supported them in all of their endeavors, so there was no question that if he wanted it, we would make it happen.  Meanwhile though, we wanted to ensure that he was mindful and reflective of this experience and was doing it for the right reasons, not because it was what he thought his grandparents expected or because it was what many of his friends did. We wanted to ensure that he was aware of the meaning behind his words, be they English or Hebrew.  We had many conversations with J (some rather intense) about what it was he really wanted in doing this ceremony and in acknowledging his journey to adulthood.  We encouraged him to explore his feelings and goals and his own belief system–to look at where he sees himself in the world and in his own community.  J, with us, came to an understanding that he really wanted a ceremony to mark his coming into adulthood and he wanted to be surrounded by the important people in his world to share this moment in his journey. 

Somehow (through divine intervention of the baseball gods) we found ourselves able to have this celebration at this amazing house of worship (Dodger Stadium).  It is not, of course, Fenway Park, but the spirituality of the game is definitely here.  What a perfect location for us.  I’ve always joked that if I had to chose a religion, it would be baseball.  The rules of baseball are not unlike the rules in life. They are a guide, a  set of clearly defined directives for playing the game fairly (without instant replay) and allowing everyone equal chance at greatness.  Even the torah is not meant to be read literally but as a set of metaphors and lessons for how to live a just life.    

One day when J was about 8 or 9 he told us he wanted to play baseball.  I was so glad when he chose it as his one and only sport. Baseball combines the best of a team sport and an individual sport. Sometimes you stand alone and strike out and other times you hit one out of the park. Every day, people have outstanding moments in a game but rarely can one person be given sole credit for a win and likewise even though we’ve seen people massively blunder a play (think Billy Buckner), one person can truly never take full blame for a loss. Sometimes you sacrifice for the good of the team, sometimes you get beaned on the head, every once in a while, you have a day-a moment when you pitch an elusive perfect game or, you face challenges that seem insurmountable, but you always have your team around you to lift you up.  Each day and each game bring new opportunities and possibilities.

So too is life.

Each failure or crushing defeat brings with it the optimistic chant, “there’s always next year” and sometimes, sometimes when you keep the faith long enough (86 years) next year actually comes, you can overcome the demons of your history and just like that, curses can end. 

Things can turn on one pitch or when you seem to be down to your last out, one small gesture can turn it all back around-David (Roberts) can look Goliath right in the eye, challenge him head on, steal a base right from under his nose, and know that things have turned around just like that. Empires fall and dynasties end, and the underdog, the little guy can, with the right bunch of idiots around him, do the impossible.   

Every spring, I wait with anticipation for opening day.  Where I come from, the beginning of baseball season, means spring is here.  Here in Los Angeles where temperatures fluctuate by only a few degrees from January to June, the coming of spring may not mean much, but in Connecticut, it means the snow will finally be gone, the crocuses will  pop up and the daffodils will soon follow.  It means a fresh start after the long dormancy of winter.  the start of a new baseball season means a clean slate, a new beginning, a new chance, and eternal hope and optimism.  Such is the start of a new life. When J was born (4 weeks before we expected him, but of course, during spring training) , we could see for the first time as parents, a new life, entrusted to us, a life filled with hope and optimism-a perfect start.  We saw a new person with a very old soul.  This child has not disappointed. Every day he shows us greatness, sometimes he makes an error, but he gets back in the game and continues to play, sometimes he makes an amazing play, a web gem moment.  He is loyal to his friends and family–his team, and he is a team player.  J has and has always had great empathy and compassion. He loves animals and he has a value system that is deep and unwavering. At the same time, such as in the game of baseball, J knows that he can never take things too seriously.  He has a great sense of humor and sees life in all it’s irony and foolishness.  Many nights before going to bed, I find  myself in J’s room laughing my ass off with him over something foolish but hysterical. He is a powerful good friend, a fierce big brother, protective and challenging at the same time.  He is as likely to pick on M (his younger sister) as he is to hang out with her playing a video game, or showing her the latest funny You Tube video.  When J was little, if he got sad or hurt, he only wanted his baby sister M to comfort him.  J delights in his newer baby sister, and told me shortly after her birth, that he finally understands how much we love him.  

Recently, in a game in Baltimore, Manny Ramirez made an amazing catch in left field, ran up the back wall and high-fived a Sox fan, before running back down and throwing the ball to double up the runner on first.  I have never seen anything like it before and that is one of the reasons I love baseball so much.  You never know what is going to happen and you continually see things you have never seen before. that is the beauty of the game of baseball and that is the beauty of the journey of life.  

Mahalo is J’s middle name as most of you know, because we got him when we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  Mahalo means thanks you in Hawaiian.  J, as you travel the bases of life, always remember the rules, and always always Keep the faith. Mahalo for being our son.

nufced

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don’t ask, don’t tell? May 28, 2009

I just put my 3 1/2 year old to bed.  She was chanting “What do we want? Civil Rights! When do we want it? NOW!”  Crazy, right?

She doesn’t know the meaning of those words and it is my deepest hope that long before she has her own children, there will be no need for rallying cries such as this. But until that day, the chant must be repeated loudly and clearly across our nation and across our world. An hour ago, my family returned from a demonstration, one that was organized very last minute, in response to both the disturbing decision by the California Supreme Court and the firing of Lt. Dan Choi for publicly coming out of the closet. Lt. Dan, as many were calling him tonight, was there to speak, passionately and from his heart about knowing first hand how important it is to fight for the right to love.  As simple as that. This man spoke, and many listened as he put it so clearly. This man who has risked his very life for this country is fighting the battle of his life for the simple right that so many of us take for granted. I don’t agree with war and I have never understood a person who would choose a life in the military, but this man, this strong man, this eloquent man, who has become a symbol for a movement to which he has been drafted, showed me the true meaning tonight of the words “courage” and “hero.”

 

Lt. Dan

Lt. Dan

 

 

This afternoon, I told my children that I wanted to attend this rally and that I wanted them to go too. I wanted them to understand what it means to be a part of something bigger than one’s self. We went, and my husband met us there and we held signs and took pictures and chanted and listened. And my children felt the energy that is created when many voices come together as one. I told my children after, that the reason I wanted them to go is that I want them to be able to tell their children what it feels like to be the change they want to see in the world. I told them that I hope that their children will ask them with confusion how it was that homosexuals could not marry, could not be afforded the same rights to love and live and die for their country-that their children will not be able to even imagine this world.

Here’s the thing. I was going to write a funny piece about the “don’t ask, don’t tell” life of a mom. How as long as you don’t ask me if my beds are made, I won’t tell you that they aren’t. As long as you don’t ask me when I last showered, I won’t tell you. As long as you don’t ask me if the kids had cereal for dinner, I won’t tell you. We all walk around with our dirty little secrets and an unwritten code that we won’t ask the real questions and we won’t expect the real answers. BUT, after going to this rally, after listening to Lt. Choi speak of the necessity to deny his very being in order to keep his job, a job that so many Americans consider heroic, my dirty little secrets seem insignificant, not even worthy of mention. To live your entire life as a lie-don’t ask me if I am gay and I won’t tell you, is incomprehensible to me.

There are so many problems that we as a country and a world face-the environment, the economy, healthcare, disease, education-that it is entirely mind boggling that we even need to spend our resources to fight for a basic human right. Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, Lt. Dan and another young man whose name I did not get, spoke of these things and we listened and we replied and we shouted and we told our children that we must pick our battles and when we do, we must fight for them with everything we have. I grew up in a time when, in certain places, people of color could not drink at the same water fountain as white people. Last November, we elected an African American man to the highest office in our land. Yesterday that very same man nominated a Latina woman to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Times have changed. Times are changing.

It is time to change don’t ask, don’t tell. It is time to ask. It is time to tell. 

 

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nufced?–not sure

 

profound saturday morning conversations with little miss t. May 23, 2009

cast-

t-3 1/2 (as of today) year old daughter

j-husband

me-me

part 1

t-let’s shoot all the bad guys.

j-what happens when you shoot bad guys?

t-they turn into good guys.

me-oh, good, yes, then let’s definitely shoot all the bad guys.

part 2

t-why does the rabbit like trix?

me-because he likes the way they taste.

t-no, he doesn’t.

me-yes, he does, just like you like fudgcicles.

t-but, you don’t eat trix.  they are a toy.

me-no they’re not. they’re food.

t-no they’re not. (technically, she’s probably right on this point)

me-yes, they are. they are cereal, just like lucky charms.

t-i don’t like lucky charms anymore.

me-oh, really?

t-yes, now i just like rice krispies and smart start.

me-oh, what about fruitas loopas? (we started calling them this when we went to mexico a few years ago)

t-no, not any more.

me-o.k., how about apple jacks?

t-yeah, i like apple jacks, too.

t-but how does the rabbit get trix?

me-he tries to trick the kids into giving him the trix.

t-oh, why?

me-because he likes them….

**Please note, I gave up on giving my kids the “healthy, non-sugary cereals” very soon after my first discovered that they really don’t taste as good as the other crap.  As a parent, we must all pick our battles and this was not one I chose to fight.

nufced

 

conversation with my 3 year old on the way home from preschool May 7, 2009

me-Baby, remember last week when you were sick?

t-Yes

me-Well, that’s how mommy feels now and I’m having a really bad day. I just burned my finger on the toaster oven and it really hurts. I wish someone was here to take care of me.

t-I’ll take care of you. And it’s o.k. if you cry-I can handle it.

that’s all I need for mother’s day…nufced

 

hugging grampy April 26, 2009

Filed under: it's all relative,my kids amaze me — mothahhood @ 7:01 pm
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My 3 year old asked me tonite about her grampy, my father, who died 3 years before she was born. She got very sad and told me she wished she could give him a hug. We’ve had many conversations about him before and she knows he’s dead and that he was very sick before he died, and that she inherited her love of ice cream from him, whatever any of that means to her 3 year old mind. She does understand that it means she will never see him.  It makes her sad.  It makes me sad.  My father’s favorite spot in the whole world was overlooking the Atlantic Ocean along a special walk called the “Marginal Way” in Ogunquit, Maine.  It is where we scattered his ashes before eating a lobster dinner, and raising a glass to him.  She knows it as “grampy’s spot.”  So I pulled out a photobook of our trip to Maine last summer and we looked at pictures of grampy’s spot.  She wanted more, so I pulled out a photo album with pictures of my dad.  She stared at them as if staring hard would make him materialize in front of her.  She was truly sad and my heart was full.  She asked me how we could have put his body into the ocean.  I tried to explain, but there didn’t seem to be a good way to explain cremation to a 3 year old that wouldn’t freak the shit out of her so I just told her that eventually his body became like sand and we put that in the ocean.  She wanted to know if he would ever come back. She hoped he would so she could give him a hug and make him feel better.  She knew the answer, but she wanted more.  “Do people come back like flowers?” she asked.  I said, “do you mean, like when a flower dies, a new one grows in it’s place?”  She said, “yes.”  I said, “well I think sort of, but they don’t come back exactly as the same person they were before.”  She said, “then how will I give him a hug?” We hugged each other tight and pretended we were hugging grampy, but we both knew it wasn’t the same.

nufced