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”→
I watch my daughter trudge to the car under the weight of her ridiculously heavy backpack. Like most afternoons, she looks exhausted and a little soggy, like she’s been caught in a rainstorm and is still drying off: middle school. Her sister’s going to a friend’s house and the twins in our carpool have been picked up early for orthodontist appointments.
“It’s just you and me kiddo,” I say. She climbs into the front seat and smiles wanly.
“Hi mom. Can we go to Starbucks?
I smile back and say yes. The grocery store can wait. She’ll be 13 in a few weeks and lately I have a sharp sense of urgency around the time we spend together. Frappuccinos it is.
She’s flipping through SiriusXM heading for Hits 1, the all-pop-all-the-time station when she lands on 80s on 8. I barely catch the opening drum machine notes of the song when she clicks to the next station.
Seeing myself in that three-way mirror was like seeing myself for the first time. All the ways I’d placed myself in the world suddenly gave way.
We were at Jessica’s house in her mom’s bathroom trying on the eyeliner I wouldn’t be allowed to wear for another year, curling our eyelashes, giggling and gasping as they caught in between the metal clamps. I moved a panel of the mirror and suddenly a different me appeared. My nose slanted across my face rather than running straight down the middle. I noticed how slender my face was, thin and long and the way my jaw rounded gently, no strong lines. Until then, I’d only known myself straight on, unaware of my asymmetry. It stunned me, this three-dimensional view of myself, like staring at a stranger then realizing I’d known them all my life.
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?
When I was a kid, we journeyed on weeks long family vacations around the world. From home, we took long car drives up to New Hampshire to see the leaves turn in the fall and longer rides out to beach on the Cape in the summer. The four of us went into the city (New York) to see shows and traipse around and when we moved to St. Louis and my sister and I were in middle school and high school, we went out for dinners and to the movies, to recitals and sporting events — all together. Continue reading “On The Mid: How To Make Family Time Happen”→