Saying Goodbye to The Parents We Knew As We Watch Them Age

When we were little, we couldn’t fathom our parents aging. We imagined them living forever, just as they were at that time. We couldn’t imagine them getting older or sick, retiring or even for some parents, remarrying. We envisioned them as timeless and in many ways, invincible.

But that isn’t life. As we age, so do our parents. No one is more powerful than time; it slips through our hands faster than we can consider the moment. And in many ways, watching our parents age is tough and heartbreaking. But in other ways, there are many things that are enjoyable about “growing up” with our parents.

When I became a mother, I could finally grasp what my mother had gone through with my three sisters and me. I could finally understand her working mom guilt. Her cranky moments and desires to float away behind a book without a kid to bug her from its captivating narrative. Her undying support of my love of the arts, whether I was in a play, a show, colorguard, band, dance or what have you. All the hours she spent driving to competitions hours away, listening to teenagers and music she probably despised … I can relate as I sit on a floor playing dolls with my daughter. As I drive her from soccer or to dance, watching her become a little being right in front of my eyes.

Read More: Saying Goodbye to The Parents We Knew As We Watch Them Age

Circle of Life,

Laura

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Are You Making Dad the Bad Guy?

Every time there’s discipline to be given out, you call on Dad to break out the tough act. As much as you know your child is making a bad choice, you can’t seem to command respect from your child or pull the trigger when it comes to discipline, so there’s your partner, the dad, putting on the tough-guy act.

If you see yourself in the above paragraph, you might be making Dad the bad guy all the time, and that’s not good. While many of us were more intimidated by the idea of an angry father than an angry mother growing up, when we make Dad the “bad guy” all the time, it’s not much fun for Dad, not to mention our children will not grow to have a decent, healthy respect for us. Not that fear equals respect, because it doesn’t, but if we are the ones to give out consequences and show that we are comfortable doing so, our kids will respect us and what we are asking.

Read More: Are You Making Dad the Bad Guy?

Be A Strong & Consistent Voice in Your Home Ladies,

Laura

Enough With the ‘Is My Child a Genius/Gifted?’ Nonsense

I find it highly problematic that weekly in my online reading and Internet surfing as a parent, I get bombarded with articles titled, “How To Tell If Your Child Is A Genius,” and “Is Your Child Gifted?” We have become obsessed as a nation and as a generation of parents with revealing our utterly amazing children and endowing them with superior intelligence, as well as pressuring them to go above and beyond in the ways in which we as parents define as success.

Read: Enough With the ‘Is My Child a Genius/Gifted?’ Nonsense

I Didn’t Eat The Paste,

Laura

Confession of an Ex-Self Hating Jew: On Rosaries, Kikes, and Noses, a Childhood Tale

In the spirit of Hanukkah, I decided to let you all in on an excerpt and essay from my memoir, about growing up amongst anti-Semitism, my family, and questioning religion. From growing up with Christian lust, to my family history,  to figuring out who “Jesus” was, to local Anti-Semitism, it’s all here.

Please share and enjoy! There won’t be many more excerpts put up in the spirit of the book’s publication.

Oh, and a happy Hanukkah to all who are celebrating!

Confession of an Ex-Self Hating Jew: On Rosaries, Kikes, and Noses

I am six years old when I discover the most beautiful necklace hanging off of my best friend Danielle’s bedpost. It’s a long string of pearly pink beads that has a cross hanging from it. When I go to look at the stunning jewels, my eyes float down to the cross, and that’s when I see him.

He is a miniaturized version of a man with his head hanging so low, it looks as if it could roll right off his neck. This is when I notice that his arms and legs are stuck to the cross beams, as if he is a dead bug stuck to a flyswatter. The necklace seems to be protecting Danielle’s bed.

“Where did you get this necklace? It’s so pretty! Let me wear it,” I go to grab it off her bedpost, and before I can put it around my neck, Danielle puts her hand out to stop me.

She says, “This is a rosary, you pray with it.”

Pray with it? It looks too pretty to not wear.  Pretty things are for wearing, are for making women look beautiful. I am certain of that.

“This is Jesus here, on the cross, the son of God,” Danielle answers my questioning face.

Oh. Jesus. That guy. Except for Danielle doesn’t pronounce his name the way my mom does when she’s agitated. Danielle says his name very seriously. Unlike my mom who yells Jesus’ name when she’s mad as in “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Danielle uses him as jewelry for her prayers so God will listen to her. I find it fascinating, and wonder what else might there be for me to know about this mysterious religion.

Doubting the existence of such a strange rule, I question her again.   Continue reading

Princess Coma: How to survive as a feminist when your day is dictated by Disney Princesses

My name is Laura and I am a feminist.

That could mean anything.

What it doesn’t mean is that I am a man hater, because I don’t hate men. You people piss me off sometimes, but I love men. Seriously. A member of the I love men club.

Feminism is a broad movement with many little subdivisions.

I happen to be the type of feminist who was raised knowing women can do it all, but I’m not against hiring someone for manual labor, as I couldn’t put my arm back on if it were attached with velcro. If I were good at manual labor, I wouldn’t, but I’m not. I will say that in the past few months I have attempted gardening and landscaping, which hasn’t gotten too awful or too great, so I’m not lazy.

I’m the type of feminist who believes in owning our own sexuality–and not being subjugated by it. I believe that the sex industry perpetuates our dilemmas, but I also believe women have the right to choose their own destiny both sexually and as a person.

I am both Madonna and whore, and yet neither.

However, once I realized I was having a girl, I made sure to tell everyone: don’t indoctrinate my child with Disney princesses.

News Flash: There is no Prince Charming. There is just Prince “okay for you.” He may be Prince Charming for a little while, but no one can stand up to that type of idealization.  There is  also no need to stand like an idiot trapped in a castle, hoping someone will climb up your hair weave, a la Rapunzel, and save your skinny ass. If your stepmother hates you and poisons you with an apple, you will probably end up suffering. The chances of some guy riding up on a horse and saying, “Look at that–some cute chick is in a coma because she was poisoned. I better kiss her and make her better,” is about 0 in five billion.

I didn’t mind my kid reading fairy tales as it’s nice to enjoy the world and be altruistic as little kids often are, but I didn’t want her to get wrapped up in the romantic notion that women need to be saved by a more capable individual, i.e, a man, and that once you meet someone and fall in love, paradise awaits you.

Mother in-laws exist to banish that sort of fable anyway.

I digress.

I always liked the animals in Cinderella, and Snow White, but I was more of a Dorothy, Alice, or Laura Ingalls type of girl. That’s who I imagined I would be until Madonna came around, and then I wanted to prance around in lace outfits and crucifixes (who cares that I was raised Jewish. Have you seen how pretty those prayer beads are? Serious stuff man. I begged my Catholic friend to let me wear her rosaries. She said no. Party Pooper. Would have gone awesome with my denim jumper, huge clip-on hair bow, wigwam socks, and purple mascara.) Of course, let’s not even delve into the fact that Madonna was not exactly the most proper role model for me.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to hump a dog and go on a gondola in Italy with a lion, while I’m half-dressed.

Don’t worry, there were plenty of good influences in my life–I did want to be Pee-Wee Herman for most of my childhood–not that it helped, but damnit, I did not want to indoctrinate my kid into Disney.

Nope. Minnie Mouse? Sure–just don’t make me listen to Mickey for more than five minutes. That creature has the most annoying voice on the planet. Sadly, I do a good Mickey.  Going to Disneyland and seeing some of the classic movies? Sure. I’m not a totally nazi over the topic. I can imitate a Disney character and sing the songs with the best of them, but I just didn’t want my kid to idolize dimwitted princesses who probably were barefoot, pregnant, and living over a stove once the fairy tale lights were out.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter. Everyone else has introduced her to princesses as she’s a girl, so they think she’ll love them, and golly gee, would you know what?

She loves them.

She doesn’t think to herself that Cinderella probably prostituted herself out that night to get in to the upper echelons of society. She just loves the songs, mice, and dress.

And damnit, all day long in my head is the song, ‘We can Do it, We can do it, gonna help our Cinder-elle–ee, there’s really nothing to it. We’ll tie a sash around it. Put some ribbon to it.”

I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Sleeping Beauty, Tiana, Snow White, Ariel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Belle. I give them their vitamins, brush their teeth, and make sure they’re in the proper spot at meal time (to the left of my daughter’s high chair tray on our dining table.)

They join us in the potty.

They join us in the car.

I even have the dolls with the magic clip-on dresses.

My mom bought her a Cinderella Barbie, which I have yet to give to her.

When any other kid goes near the princesses, fire and brimstone erupt. I swear my child plots the death of these poor kids.

Note, she’s two and doesn’t want to share yet. Totally normal, but not as funny as she wails while trying to holding every damn doll in her hands.

All day long, my mind whirs of “Feed child, walk dog, where’s Cinderella did I lose her again?, wash dishes, write, apply for jobs, wipe kid’s butt, was Sleeping Beauty a narcoleptic or drug addict?, eat a snack, wash my hands, wash her hands, and don’t forget to wash Snow White’s too.”

Our day ends and begins with these little dolls, in which my child reenacts the most intricate and sometimes rather imaginative conversations with these dolls.

The other day, desperate for my kid to chill out, stop chatting, and start eating, I made Cinderella tell her, “Less Talking, More Eating.”

I knew having the ability to switch my voice would work to my advantage one day.

As “Cinderella” disciplined my daughter, she wanted nothing of it.

She turned to the Cinderella doll and said, “No Cinderella. I don’t like you anymore. Go back to your video. I’m not gonna to be your friend.”

Freaking 2 and she’s already pulling that “not gonna be your friend” business.

I told her that wasn’t very nice…and later on I heard her tell Cinderella:

“Let me give you a hug. I’m sorry I made a bad choice. I’m sorry I said I won’t be your friend.”

And then, to prove the apple is part of my tree, she dons a Cinderella voice and says, “I was disappointed in you. You made a bad choice.”

The “two” hug and make up.

When my daughter sees princess bikes, towels, shirts, toys, or dolls, she hovers over these items whether they belong to her or not, and is entranced.

I guess whether I want them or not, I am stuck with these princesses, and hell, I’ve even started to sing her some of the songs from my childhood.

Why not? Hopefully I won’t get my feminist card revoked.

What I really fear, more than being forced to watch Snow White or Cinderella twenty times, is the fear that my daughter will make men count more than herself.

That she will want so badly to matter to the opposite sex, that she will forget who she is. That she might end up bowing down to someone thinking, “he knows better.”

These fears are all from me. She’s only two. She is still smart enough to boss boys around and know that it works.

And being subjugated or bowing down to a man doesn’t just require a female with a bad self-image, but a male with a poor view of himself.

We need to be conscious of how we socialize both young men and young women. The conversation is not one-sided. It’s multifaceted and starts at home, continues at school, plays out in the media, and is then enacted in society.

My role as her mom is to expose her to many different goals, activities, people, and viewpoints, with the reassurance that who she is is wonderful, no matter what, as long as she respects herself and others.

This means that for now, I get to wear tiaras, and watch her reenact fairy tales that while they may hold no real bounds in life, they are wonderful, fanciful, and simple for her and her world.

If only we could capture that joy in the simple that children have, we would all be much happier.

Excuse me now…one of the princesses needs a bath and the other, a dress repair.

All in the day of the Queen.

The Joys of One: The Awesome Benefits of Being an Only Child

I know that many only children say how they wished for siblings or felt lonely growing up. I know people that say only children are brats and selfish. Too socially awkward. Too independent.

Screw that. Let’s talk about the awesome benefits of being an only kid. I myself, am raising an only. I happen to be the youngest of four girls, so these benefits are from my perspective, and not my kid’s, who is only two and too young to blog, but hell, she’s not too young to work. That kid needs to find some legitimate employment.

In any case, let me enlighten those that scorn the life of an only.

#1-Only Kids never get hand-me-downs.

As a kid, the dress I wore in my 1,2, and probably 3rd grade class photos are all hand-me-downs. I used to open my sister’s closets and say, “That’ll be mine soon.” While that was all sweet and dandy especially if I loved an item, I hated getting the hand-me downs. I wanted my own stuff, probably a bit greedy of me, but whatever.

When you get an ice cream cone, you don’t want it pre-licked do you?

Me neither. Three cheers for having your own clothes!

#2- Investment.

As a kid, I had asked to join a township activity but my parents didn’t have the money at the time. My sisters hadn’t had  that misfortune to miss out on activities, but guess what, I came at the wrong time apparently.

An only child is the only kid reaping the dividends, and that’s not so bad, especially when it comes time to  go to college.

Remember when Brandon and Brenda from 90210 fought over who got to go to private college or state school?

Not an only. They get whatever is available, whether it’s awesome or crappy, but at least there’s no one else having it better than you did!

#3-Your Own Freaking Name

By the time I went to school, every teacher called me by one of my sister’s names. I used to think they should just have called me, “Kid #4” or “DenaDebbieLIsa,” which are my sisters’ names.

As an only, there will be no one else to mistake you for, and no one to compare you to. You’re the one, the only, the golden child. You get to be the funny, cute, and smart one. You don’t have to live your life under some superlative that compares you both directly and indirectly to your siblings.

Sweet!

#4 Time.

As your parent, I get to have time for you. I don’t have to divide it up with some other child. You get all my time. In my house, that small bit of attention was divided by four. I can’t see how having your parent’s attention and time is all that bad, unless of course your parents happen to be psychos, in which case, you’re screwed anyway.

#5 Annoyances be gone!

I love my siblings. Everyone talks about how much kids love their siblings. Guess what? A good amount also hate their siblings. A good amount of people were decent kids and then bam–their parents decided to have another kid, and you know what? That kid sucked. Not all siblings are great. Not everyone is close to his or her siblings.

Yes, as an only kid my child will never be someone’s aunt, but she also won’t have to deal with any crazy siblings either.

The moral of the story?

Only children are not prone to a life of misery because they don’t have some other sibling to play with and break their toys or possibly screw their boyfriends. Siblings are great and people should reproduce as they feel fit and feel they can care for their kids, but don’t knock onlies.

Onlies get time, attention, and independence. They learn to be self-reliant and have a good amount of resources to help them succeed in life.

Really, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, do your research those who admonish families with onlies: Only kids are often happier.

Daughter. A snapshot

Daughter.

You are not me. You are not your father.

You’re yourself, which is awesome, because I don’t think the world needs another me, and if you were like your dad, you’d both be too quiet to approach each other.

You’re 2 and want to do everything yourself, and fully believe in the power to evict other members off playground structures.

You believe in the power of attorney, except for you are always the attorney.

You like Tinkerbell, and request seeing your own doody in your diaper, unless it happens to be in the potty. Then you just want chocolate.

You are 25 lbs.

You are pale, wispy-blonde-haired, and green-eyed.

We lose your numerous dolls everywhere.

I have rescued more princesses and fairies, and other creatures in one month than any superhero could have done in his or her lifetime.

When you go to bed, you request songs, and sometimes when I sing them, like a person fiddling with a radio dial, you demand a different song.

You know the Beatles and Elvis. Elvis from Dad, Beatles from me.

A dangerous lady, you continued to jump out of your crib, so we threw you in a bed.

You wake me every morning. I hear your door creak, and then I hear mine squeak open.

“Mommy, it’s so nice of you to share your bed.”

Like I had a choice?

You sneak into the bed and lie down next to me.

You are big-bellied, skinny-legged and tiny-tushied out.

I’m supposed to run after you on the sidewalk, and you don’t want to hold my hand in the street.

That’s when I carry your stubborn ass after trying numerous times to get you to hold my hand.

You horde pretzels, and would forsake me for a smoothie.

“Yes officer, my mother just dealt drugs. Give me a smoothie. Thanks cop. Bye mom. Enjoy Jail.”

You want to do everything yourself, besides change your clothes.

“No, you want to do it, ” you tell me, stubbornly refusing the position until you realize I won’t give in.

I will never give in too much. If I do, you will have me working as your servant for the rest of your life, and I’m afraid dear, that I’m not a submissive, although you do have my heart daughter.

I just hope you always hold positive snapshots of me in your mind. Forgive me for when I am not at my shiny-happy-people mommying best.

Remember me as I remember you always each day.

Lovely and my own.

Enjoy these moments. They’ll soon be gone.

Your child is growing faster than you want him or her to. The dishes can be done another day. The floors can be cleaned tomorrow.

I wish I always stuck to this rule, but alas, I have a mean case of the “cleanies,” or otherwise known as mild mild OCD and the compulsive need to know I could run my finger along the floor and find not one speck of dirt.

I am home with my child for the majority of the week, but not all, and I find that you can be home with a kid, but it doesn’t necessarily equal quality time. While I waste some time doing the necessities like, cleaning, cooking, or catching up with work emails and/or writing work, I really try to put stuff aside to play as much as I can with my daughter.

I know I will be working an insane job and losing out on all this time with her, and that one day she will turn to me and say, “Later, mom.”

She already wants to read her books on her own, or even sit by herself. She is fiercely independent.

I just urge parents to set the phone/work/worries/chores aside, and just enjoy these moments.

My daughter sometimes uses the wrong object pronouns– ” Mommy pick you up.”

She holds onto little washcloths, and kisses her Snoopy and Tinkerbell stickers. She asks us to sleep in my bed, and asks me to sing particular songs to her.

One day she won’t do such things, and won’t want me the same way. I won’t be the center of her universe. Is it draining dealing with toddler mood swings? Sure. However, it is a precious time. I can’t imagine her as a big person at all. I love basking in her energy and vivaciousness. I feel so honored to watch her grow up.

I know I am not saying anything earth-shattering or new, but just let it slide, those little things. They can be done later. I try to take my own advice, because it’s legitimate.

Childhood is so magical, because children always suspend disbelief. They always live in the moment, unless they’re desperately talking about their birthdays months in advance, or talking about that trip they made to Disney as if they did it yesterday. They have an amazing capability to sense people’s genuineness and emotions. It is a time like no other in life.

I know that one day I will miss all the time I spent coloring, painting, reading, singing, and chasing after my little sprite. I know all mothers think their children are superb, but I cannot help but think that since I only have one child, I really landed a fantastic one.

She will sometimes say, ‘Mommy, play with you (meaning me),” and I have to stop what I am doing so I can go to her side.

One day, she will be too busy to play with me, and I will always wish for just one more time to play.

Lessons from my mother, part 1

My mom hasn’t been feeling well lately. I am not going to be pessimistic as I don’t have enough information to be pessimistic or worry unnecessarily, but I started to think about some of the things I have learned from my mother, both the frivolous and the important things.

Lesson One: Speak loudly, and carry a stainless steel army-issued spoon:

My mom liked to threaten us with this huge stainless-steel spoon. I remember getting smacked, but not with the spoon. It was more for decorative threat or role play. Not the kinky kind of role play, but the role play of “I will kick your ass you little piece of you-know-what” if you misbehave, except my mom always inserted the curse words. Mom was always forthright with people who she felt were threatening to her children. I remember the countless times when my mom, in jeans and sweatshirt, took her tall, stick legs over to my neighbors’ homes to remind them that if they didn’t stop teasing me, she would have her older daughters kick their pathetic male asses.

“Just wait til you go ta’ school, and the kids say girls kicked yaw ass. Leave my kid alone.”

She’d speak her mind, and slowly walk away, a cigarette dangling from her mouth and a romance novel in her right hand. A woman needed muscle and sweat if she was going to survive four girls.

Lesson Two: If it’s got Tires or Testicles, it’s gonna give you grief

That was a slogan found on a keychain I bought for my mother for her birthday when I was 12 years old. Yup, I knew already that men were trouble, and cars an expense and bitch to maintain because I had seen my parents milk and nurture the lives of the vehicles they had. Men? I know their deal because I grew up listening and watching while the older females around me complained or bemoaned the treatment or behavior of men.

My mom always seemed to be bickering with my dad, and so I knew that carrying a set of balls, literally, meant you were a totally different breed from the XX kingdom I was raised amongst. While I have a huge love for men and their mysterious, albeit usually simple ways, I still find them to be intriguing as if they’re another species.

Mom would gather at a table of her friends for a game of mahjong when I was just a wee kid still, and I’d hear the ladies gab away about their men problems while I smoked my pretzel rod cigarettes, and sat with my legs underneath me in an attempt to reach the height of the kitchen table.

I bought her that keychain as a token for her hardwork attempting to figure out my father and maintain a car properly. I felt that one day, I would understand the strains, stress, and hopefully, joys of love. Watching my mother as she dealt with my vertically-challenged dad in his Alfalfa “He-Man Woman Hater’s Club” t-shirt, I felt the battle between the sexes would be an endless war for life.

Lesson Three: Good Posture

Once I got boobies, my posture went to utter shit-ola. My mom constantly lectured me, “Shoulders up, back, and down! Come on!”

I heard her commands like a military sergeant, and reluctantly did the motions while sighing and hoping no one within five feet of us at the mall heard her. Now as an adult, I know good posture, a supportive bra (another lesson from Claire to be told soon), and chest presses would help out my ladies. Mom wasn’t kidding. Thanks to her, my boobs may look good for awhile. At 80? I don’t think so, but hopefully the guys in the old age home won’t mind since most of them will be senile and blind anyway.

More lessons from Claire to come soon…

I cherish the time we had together, as since my sisters were 6-10 years older than I was, I had more alone time with her than any of them. I fondly wish back to those days, and sometimes wish we could relive them. Thinking about some of those days makes me heartsick. Sharing a mom with three other people is always hard at times, and I will never forget the time together.

I am sure she would like to forget the numerous times I made her listen to gangsta rap, death metal, the Dead, terrible pop music, and other musical stages.

How she survived listening to King Diamond, one will never know!