Mothahhood

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

yes, we can June 19, 2009

O.K. ladies, anyone recognize this conversation?

My little one finished year 1 of preschool and brought home 2 absolutely beautiful finger paintings. My husband came home from work a little while ago and observed the loveliness of the artwork. So far so good, but here’s where it gets…shall we say fucking annoying?

J-“I really like these paintings that she made.”

me-“yeah, they are great.”

J-“Can we get some frames for them and hang them up?”

me-“Can we get some frames? Yes, we can. You can go about 4 minutes over yonder there in that there direction (as I motion with my hands in a general westward direction) to a place called Aaron Brothers Art and Frames and buy some frames and then come home and hang them up.”

Yes, we can. (I wonder if Michelle Obama originated this phrase.)

nufced

 

choosing schooling June 3, 2009

I had just dropped my daughter at preschool-preschool mind you, when I struck up a conversation with the dad of another child. At some point, I mentioned that I had 2 other kids, one in middle school and one in high school. He suddenly became very interested. He wanted to know where my son attends high school. I told him and he became very excited. “Oh, that’s where I want Katie to go, I’ve heard amazing things about it. I’ve heard they have the best test scores in town. I’m just not yet sure how I’m going to get her in there yet.” Yet? Katie is 3 years old. I’m not sure if this is a phenomenon of Los Angeles or if it is prevalent elsewhere as well. When I was pregnant with my son, people asked me if I was on a preschool waiting list yet. I thought they were joking. They weren’t and not only that, they were willing to pay what I paid to go to college for their 3 year old to learn to share and play in the sand. I think I signed my son up for preschool about a month before he started. We couldn’t have been happier with our choice and his best friend is still a boy he met there. When my oldest daughter was of age, we signed her up for preschool about a month before as well and same with the little one. Somehow, despite my failings at working the preschool “system”, our 2 eldest have managed to learn to read, to perform complex algebra equations, and are incredibly well adjusted socially and just happen to be straight A students. My 3 year old just got a certificate from her preschool acknowledging that she can recognize all the letters of the alphabet. Yea! (read that with appropriate, yet not over the top, enthusiasm)

To get back to the conversation I had with the dad-I told him where my 2 big kids went to elementary school. There is another, slightly more prestigious school near our home. I never had any interest in sending my kids there. Most of the kids there are white and come from affluent homes. That is perfectly fine, but explains why they might just have higher test scores than our school. I told him that at our home school, children from many cultures, and all socioeconomic classes are represented.  My kids’ friends look like a contingent from the United Nations. Also, our school has a great visual and performing arts program.  I told him that to me there is more to a school than it’s test scores. As we parted ways, he said “Thank you. I really never thought of that at all. You have definitely given me something to think about.”

I was a teacher for 14 years, but I have been a mother for 15. Schools matter, but not nearly as much as parents.

nufced

 

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

 

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. 

 

DSCF0033

DSCF0015

nufced?–not sure

 

prop hate May 26, 2009

I MUST get on my blog soapbox here for a minute. While I am deeply saddened by today’s news, I am not surprised. As the mother of 2 daughters and one son, as well as a friend to many gay or lesbian people, today is a day that must only strengthen our resolve to win equal rights for all humans. Whether my own children grow up to be straight or gay couldn’t matter less to me. That they grow up in a society that they can marry regardless of their sexual orientation matters greatly to me. I recently watched the movie “Milk” and am truly inspired by him and so many others to continue this fight until all people have the right to be as happy or as miserable in marriage as anyone else. I hope you will join me.

join the fight at the Courage Campaign:http://tr.im/msJf or Equality California: http://tr.im/msJs

on this particular point… not nufced

 

bitches part 3

part 3

I have 2 girls and a boy, not counting the dogs. Obviously, my boy is a son of a bitch, which is NO reflection on him. He is one of the most amazing people I know. My daughters, on the other hand are not yet bitches. My logical reasoning tells me, then, that they are b.i.t.s.-bitches-in-training. As I said in my “about” post, the boys used to call us girls, pigs and we told them that we were-pretty, intelligent girls. I don’t think the boys say that anymore. So to my daughters, I would proudly have them grow up to be bitches (bold, interesting, tenacious, creative and honest.). But for now, I propose, a combination of pig and bitch-“big”-beautiful, intelligent girls.  And that is what they are.

nufced

 

happy mothah’s day May 8, 2009

Spoiler alert-cynical me talking…not sure if you have seen this side of me yet.

This is my official obligatory Mother’s Day post.  Here’s the thing, though.  I don’t believe in Mother’s Day, which is not to say I don’t believe in its existence.  It’s just that it falls under the category of holidays that I unaffectionately refer to as Hallmark Holidays.  They include Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day too. These are holidays that have become completely commercialized and nothing more than ways for businesses to make you part with your money. And it’s not to say that I think mother’s shouldn’t be honored-we should, but we should far more frequently than once a year, and not because Madison Avenue says we should.  I don’t feel honored by getting overly marked up flowers or genuine 1/4 carat diamond earrings or a mediocre brunch in an overly crowded restaurant. (My husband wants me to point out that I have never actually received any of these things and have, in fact, received some lovely gifts in past years and truth be told, we do celebrate it in our house, but that is because it is important to my children. Also, as a matter-of-fact, one year I made a beautiful Mother’s Day afternoon tea complete with 2 different types of scones, 2 different quiches and finger sandwiches, all homemade, for the whole extended family and was so exhausted from it all, that I swore I would never do that again.)

Here is a little history on Mother’s Day: (if, for some reason, you don’t want to or don’t have time to read the history, feel free to skip down to the purple/red section, but you really should read the history.)

History of Mother’s Day: Julia Ward Howe

The idea of official celebration of Mothers day in US was first suggested by Julia Ward Howe in 1872. An activist, writer and poet, Julia shot to fame with her famous Civil War song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Julia Ward Howe suggested that June 2 be annually celebrated as Mothers Day and should be dedicated to peace. She wrote a passionate appeal to women and urged them to rise against war in her famous Mothers’ Day Proclamation, written in Boston in 1870. She also initiated a Mothers’ Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June in Boston and held the meeting for a number of years. Julia tirelessly championed the cause of official celebration of Mothers’ Day and declaration of official holiday on the day. Her idea spread but was later replaced by the Mothers’ Day holiday now celebrated in May.

History of Mother’s Day: Anna Jarvis

Anna Jarvis is recognized as the Founder of Mothers’ Day in US. Though Anna Jarvis never married and never had kids, she is also known as the Mother of Mothers Day, an apt title for the lady who worked hard to bestow honor on all mothers.

Anna Jarvis got the inspiration of celebrating Mothers Day from her own mother Mrs. Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis in her childhood. An activist and social worker, Mrs. Jarvis used to express her desire that someday someone must honor all mothers, living and dead, and pay tribute to the contributions made by them.

A loving daughter, Anna never forgot her mother’s word and when her mother died in 1905, she resolved to fulfill her mother’s desire of having a mothers’ day. Growing negligent attitude of adult Americans towards their mothers and a desire to honor her mother soared her ambitions.

To begin with Anna, send Carnations in the church service in Grafton, West Virginia to honor her mother. Carnations were her mothers favorite flower and Anna felt that they symbolised a mothers pure love. Later Anna along with her supporters wrote letters to people in positions of power lobbying for the official declaration of Mothers Day holiday. The hard work paid off. By 1911, Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union and on May 8, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

History of Mother’s Day: Present Day Celebrations

There is  a tradition of gifting flowers, cards and others gift to mothers on the Mothers Day. The festival has become commercialised to a great extent. Florists, card manufacturers and gift sellers see huge business potential in the day and make good money through a rigorous advertising campaign.

It is unfortunate to note that Ms Anna Jarvis, who devoted her life for the declaration of Mothers Day holiday was deeply hurt to note the huge commercialisation of the day.

As with most holidays, Mother’s Day has become as far removed from its original inception as chihauhuas have from wolves. Most people could not tell you why Mother’s Day began.  So in light of the current economic conditions in this world, and in light of the recent 6th anniversary of “mission accomplished,” I propose we honor the origins of Mother’s Day and send out our thoughts that by next Mother’s Day, the mother’s, wives, children, spouses of our troops, have their loved ones home with them to simply celebrate the day and every day.

Mothers’ Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says “Disarm! Disarm!” The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.

As men have forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his time the sacred impress not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe, Boston 1870

peace and happy mother’s day

nufced