“It’s a serious thing // just to be alive // on this fresh morning // in this broken world.”
– Mary Oliver, Red Bird
From where I sit, the day is just beginning. Perched on the edge of my bed, I slip my bare feet into my sheepskin slippers, sinking my toes into the comforting fuzz. Mornings in Northern California start chilly, even in summer. I blink away the veil of sleep over my eyes and reach for my glasses. The dim room comes into focus. I stretch my arms over my head, roll my neck, catalog the snaps and crackles.
From where I sit, the space created when I unplugged from the usual beat of motherhood is about to fill. Today my two oldest girls come home from camp. The month they were away, the house was quiet and clean. There was less laundry, fewer dirty dishes, no sibling spats. Left with one child to mother, I scaled the symphony of our lives down to a neat little duet. In the afternoons, we played Go Fish and Zingo or watched Paw Patrol. Meal times were simple with just the two and sometimes three of us when my husband was home. My youngest daughter had us all to herself. We were rapt. It’s easy to dote on just one child. Continue reading “From Where I Sit”→
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.
There was the time I tried to exit motherhood, so hell bent on finishing it up, distancing myself from who I’d become as the bearer of children. I was immersed in diapers and shit and dribble, inundated with milestones and firsts and the hot tears of frustration and exhaustion and a joy so intense it sliced through my fingers when I tried to hold on to it, leaving me bleeding and raw and open. Too open. I’m afraid of that, of openness, of vulnerability and the whole truth, nothing but the truth. Continue reading “Reclaiming All My Pieces, Motherhood Included”→
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”→
When I was 19, I breathed in the sweet North Carolina air, still sticky and humid in September, cool and glorious by November. Southern Sugar Maple trees offered up their fine broad leaves, first in vibrant green, then in gold and rust. For the first time in 10 years, I lived in a place where it didn’t snow in the winter. Still, the ground hardened in the colder end-of-year weather and we wore wool coats, but the down parka I was used to was out of the question. Elegant Dogwoods flowered white and soft pink in the spring. I took on a subtle southern drawl, seamlessly blending “y’all” into my everyday lingo.
When I was 19, I was failing Econ, in lust with a gorgeous, born-again baseball player and after seven months at college still filling my belly with way too much alcohol weekend after weekend, often throwing up before crawling to bed, always stumbling down to the cafeteria in the morning for a bowl of creamy grits smothered in butter. Continue reading “When I Was 19: The Trial and Error of Becoming Our Full Selves”→
Today, my oldest child Ella turns 13. Just a few days ago on June 6 she became a bat mitzvah. In the Jewish tradition, this means she is now responsible for her actions, following Jewish law, ethics and values and is able to lead religious services. She is now an adult in the eyes of the community.
This past year has been one of tremendous growth for her in all the ways. She is becoming her own person and I am incredibly proud of her as she takes on challenges, expands her knowledge, learns from her mistakes, sifts through her emotions and greets the world with tolerance and humor. She is certainly merging into adulthood, but she will always be my little girl. This is the speech I gave in her honor at her bat mitzvah. Continue reading “To My Daughter on Her Bat Mitzvah”→