I used to be one of those moms who dreaded the teenage years. I’d joke that when my daughters hit adolescence I’d willingly hand over all parenting duties to my husband. As a former camp counselor and 7th grade religious school teacher, I figured he had the chops to handle it. I, on the other hand, was scared of screwing up. I had no credentials other than having once been a teenage girl myself. Disparaging comments like “If you think she’s a handful now, just wait until she’s a teenager!” from older parents who saw me toting around two little girls and then three, didn’t help. I was convinced that parenting teen girls would be a fraught, confusing experience that would drain my confidence, try my patience and basically freak me out.
And it is – but that’s not all it is. Continue reading “Introducing Raising Jane, A Community For Parents of Teen Girls”
In the beginning we shared space, my body reshaping itself around you cell by cell. I shared the rhythm of my heartbeat willing yours to grow strong and keep time. We shared blood and breath and all the cravings: Texas toast at 2 a.m., oranges by the sack full, ounce upon ounce of thick, juicy steak. We shared a bed five ways, you and me and daddy and the cats, me sleeping on my side, you nestled in my stomach wedged between a pile of pillows. We plodded up the hills of San Francisco weeks before your birth, swaying with each slow step, stopping for each sharp intake of not-enough breath, moving on with each grateful exhale. Continue reading “Holding On To What We Share”
Tonight Ella returns from a weeklong trip to Paris with my parents, their bat mitzvah gift to her. Before she left, I wanted to write her a going away card and hide it in her suitcase for her to discover on her first night in the City of Lights. Something meaningful and rife with insight. Words of revelation offering shining life lessons.
“Don’t just look out across the Seine; look deep down into it. Catch a glimpse of yourself as you are right in that moment. This is you in Paris.” Continue reading “Mothering Ma Belle Fille From a Distance”
I made my way across our backyard and walked over the imaginary line separating our house and the neighbor’s. We didn’t have fences or hedges between our houses, just flowerbeds and grass. I headed through their yard, past the metal swing set all the neighborhood kids clamored for a turn on and down the slight ditch to the next house over. The east coast summer sun glinted through the trees. It wouldn’t be dark for a few more hours.
I knocked timidly on the back door, my heart beating hard. This was my very first night as a babysitter and my first real job, as in being paid to do a task outside of my own house. I’d earned a few dollars here and there helping my dad garden or doing extra chores around the house for my mom, but this was me on my own earning “real” money. Continue reading “Babysitting and Surviving Parenthood”
It’s an unwritten law: there will be scraped knees and hurt feelings. Hearts will break, exhaustion will set in; someone will get cancer. One of my three girls will grow up to hate me, maybe all three, hopefully not all at the same time. But then they’ll love me again, won’t they?
I’m reading this article in the Sunday New York Times magazine called The Mother of All Problems. It’s about teenage girls and how they turn on their mothers, become unreachable, utter profanities about us behind our backs to their friends. Hate, hate, hate us. Continue reading “Will I Know How to Raise My Teen Girl?”
It’s still fairly early on a Sunday when the three-year-old calls the dog an idiot.
“Come here sweetie pie, come here you little idiot,” she singsongs from the playroom.
I’m not sure where she got the idea that “idiot” is some kind of term of endearment. I know when I’m calling people idiot as they swerve into my lane without signaling when I drive down the highway, no doubt late to somewhere, I’m not using it in a nice way.
At least she didn’t call the dog an asshole.
Still, I hang my head over the cucumber I’m slicing, ignore whoever foot-steps into the kitchen as though nothing of great concern has happened, as though I didn’t hear the three-year-old at all. I even start humming. Continue reading “No Big Deal”