Wednesday, December 27, 2017


We just got back from a trip to New York for Thanksgiving. On the flight there, a passenger complemented the kids on how well they traveled. I explained that they have been taking this flight since they were newborns. She asked if New York was home or LA, and for a second I hesitated. Los Angeles is home now, but New York will always be home too. I stumbled and said, “Well, we live in LA, but NY is where I grew up, so I guess that is home too." I'm not sure she wanted that much information but she got the truth.

It took me less than twenty four hours, six layers of clothing, three crowded subway trains, and two freezing children to remember why I prefer to raise children in Los Angeles, but NY always pulls out all the stops in the end and does something to impress me. I took the kids to see the Thanksgiving day parade balloons being inflated. What was once an activity that involved showing up the night before Thanksgiving to a street corner, has now become a much bigger event. The secret is out and it is almost as crazy to see the blowing up of the balloons as trying to go the parade itself. Regardless, I wanted to take the kids. We got off at the right subway stop but then was instructed to walk down four more blocks to enter the line. So even though I tried my best to avoid the extra walk in the cold, it was a necessity to get to the entrance of the line. As the three of us followed the crowd, my five year old said he was cold and wanted to go home. I didn't know if he meant the NY home or the LA home, but either way I wasn't going to ask. We came that far, we weren't turning around.

When we finally got to the start, I realized this was only the security check part, and that we would then have to enter a four block winding line. It was then that I patted myself on the back for living in LA. I resented all the accessories we had to wear to stay warm, I resented the huge crowd of people around us, and I wondered if my son was old enough to handle this outing. We finally got passed the check and into the line. There was no going back now. We would see the balloons no matter how long it took. It was that point of no return moment that my son said, "Mommy, I have to go pee pee." Perhaps he wasn't quite old enough yet after all.

 I looked around and there really was no way out of the line. I asked him to hold it a little bit, and then I wondered what I should do. If he wet his pants he would freeze and we were a good hour away from our house. I suggested he go to the side of the crowd and I could shield him, but he held on to his dignity, and pleaded that we find a bathroom. All of the apartment buildings along the street were barricaded off so we couldn't even get there if we tried. I kept in the line hoping he would get distracted, but then he just tugged my arm and began to cry. "Mommy, I need to go pee pee." I had to figure this out. Police were everywhere blocking all of the barricades making it impossible to exit the line and also impossible to have a little boy do a wee without being seen. I decided to ask one for help. I walked to the closest cop and explained my situation. He paused and said " I don't really know what to tell you" then I think he took pity on my panicked little boy and said to follow him. He would see if he could find us a port a potty. He said the best he could do afterward was bring us back to the spot in line where we got out. We followed him to a toilet, and when we got there it was locked. He went off to find a key and when he opened it, he said it was pretty clean. We all decided to use it because who knew when we would find a bathroom again. When we got out I asked the kids if they still wanted to see the balloons. The start of them all was right across the street from where we were standing so we got a quick look, but I didn't know if they wanted to go all the way back in line.

The police man didn't wait for the kids to answer, he said "follow me" and brought us right to the front of the kine. He wished us a Merry Christmas, and I was so thrown by his kindness and willingness to help us. I was also thrown with him wishing us a Merry Christmas before Thanksgiving so I responded by saying thank you and wished him a Happy New Year.  We were all so giddy as we said goodbye. Giggling my daughter asked why I said "Happy New Year," and I explained to her that I just felt like he had done us such a big favor I had to make my well wishing last a long time. We all laughed. We had a great time looking at the balloons up close, and by the end of the night I was falling back in love with New York.

We had a nice stay in the city. We played in the park, saw the leaves changing, and enjoyed seeing loved ones. Families are never without little complications here and there, but overall it was a very satisfying visit. Home is where the heart is and wherever I am, I try to bring my heart. It was good to go home and it is good to be back in my California home now too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

All not Only

Before my husband and I got married, we had long conversations, discussion and debates about how we were going to raise our children. We agreed on basic parenting ideas, that we wanted our kids to take piano lessons, that they should be athletic but not at the cost of our Saturdays, and that treats are fun in small doses. We both were raised similarly in many ways, except religion. For a time, we wondered if we could make this difference work. We sought out the advice of friends, family members, and even religious experts. Just like when I had to see seven doctors in my twenties before I found the one that said I didn't need surgery to remove an extra rib I have. We had to do a lot of searching to find the answers we needed.

Many religious groups believe an individual has to choose one religion to be. That learning and practicing more the one will confuse a child. We found a very liberal rabbi who explained to us that he felt religion was for adults, traditions are for children. That resonated with us, and we began to celebrate all holidays together. We share the meaning behind all holidays, but we don't push beliefs, and instead focus on the common moral values that both our religions share. Together my husband and I believe that you don't have to only be one religion and that one person can feel included in all religions if they chose to be. Sadly, I am not sure every religion would agree that all are welcome.

The way we see religion is similar to the way I think about language or music: we don't have to teach our children one language and say that is all they are capable of understanding. Even if they don't become fluent in more than one language they can certainly learn another. We don't only get enjoyment from one type of music. I can equally be moved by Tchaikovsky and Nirvana. I don't have to choose one, so why do I have to choose one religion? All have so many common threads and yet so many elements that are unique and should be available to all — not only a few.

Recently my daughter was invited to be part of a Jewish youth group. She was excited to be a part of it and we encouraged her, because it had a social justice component and was part of an organization that as far as we knew was pretty liberal and welcoming to interfaith families such as ourselves. However, when she finished her first meeting which was planning a laser tag event, we noticed that she wrote down "invite only Jewish friends." I got a bad feeling immediately. It just didn't feel, look or sound right.  I was sure (or maybe I was just hoping) that she must have written it down incorrectly. Or that what the woman leading the program meant to say was invite whoever you want but remind your friends it's a Jewish-themed event. Or anyone who has an interest in playing laser tag, making backpacks for kids in need, and being with kid who share a Jewish connection or interest in some way are all welcome. That wasn't what was said though. So we all had a big talk about it.

This is a delicate topic. One that has many layers to it. HistoricallyJudaism unlike some of the major religions is not missionary based. It is not looking to recruit new members, and feels very exclusive. As a result there are many issues with it getting smaller in numbers. Temples charge money for families to be members and if they don't join and just want to come to holiday services it can be extremely expensive. Personally, I don't want to have to join a club to feel spiritual or welcome. Every year I seem to try a new temple, looking for a place that won't break the bank, that is liberal enough for an interfaith family and that is welcoming. I'm still searching.

It seems dated to me to have to chose only one religion. Years ago I remember reading an article about a mixed race child who struggled with his identity because he felt pressure to pick one race. Fortunately mixed race children are more common now and so it is less of a struggle to have to connect with only one part of who they are. If there was a youth group and the leader said, “Only invite your white friends" that would be called racism, and white supremacy. Not sure how saying "only" could ever feel right in any invitation. If only those of Indian decent could practice yoga, the rest of the world would be missing out. I think we are all missing out on so many wonderful teachings that all religions can offer because only a few are welcome. 

My daughter didn't go to the event. She was disappointed but understood that until all were welcome it wasn't right. This situation was a learning experience for all of us. My husband felt that if our daughter wanted to invite him as her friend he wouldn't be welcome. I explained that for so many years what he was feeling was what most Jews and minorities feel often in their lives. It doesn't feel good. The world isn't going to change overnight, and sadly it feels worse than ever right now, but I cannot condone any exclusive un-welcoming "initiations." If I have to start my own social justice/religious, culturally rich groups I will — and loud and clear, it will be known that all are welcome.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Sick Day For You (and Me)

My daughter is home sick today. Not crazy scary sick, just a bit run down and under the weather. This morning when I woke her up, I tried to convince her she was okay enough to go to school. She had no fever, but she just didn't look right. Then she sat up -- and threw up. The reality sunk in fast then. She was going to have to stay home.

Her body does this when she is wiped out. She throws up, sleeps for a while and then perks back up, and is fine for school the next day. In that single moment when I realized that this day wasn't going according to plan, I literally walk around in circles for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do first. My son still had to go to school, so I needed to get him ready. I needed to cancel my job for the day. My son didn't like the break up in his own routine, and thought that if his sister wasn't going to school than he didn't need to either. My husband had to stay home while I ran him to school, making him late to work. It was a shift from the routine, and when we were all a bit thrown by it.

Once the shock wore off and I was back home, I was secretly happy to not have to go anywhere. My schedule is so packed these days between being a personal school bus (3 round trips a day), working, writing, and all the other "work" I have as a mom. I consistently have unfinished projects or unfolded laundry waiting for me whenever I get home. I remember reading something some life coach put out once that living your life to the fullest doesn't consist of getting through your to-do list. I like that idea, but I like getting through my to-do list even more. I am not always on time. I am not crazy late but I often run 5 minutes behind, and when I told my friend I wanted to change this she asked me why I felt I ran late to things. I told her because I like to squeeze as much life into a day as I can. We only get one go around on this merry go round so I like to stuff in as much as I can.

Sometimes, I need to slow down though, and I am so out of practice that it takes my kid being sick for me to chill out. So, I am not grateful that she is sick, but I am grateful to have her home with me today. We spent time chatting, reading, cuddling, and just hanging out. I made some calls I needed to make, and had more than a half an hour to sit down here and write this. I love not looking at the clock, and losing track of time. I love just being, and not doing, and by tonight when I get cabin fever I will love that everyone goes back to school tomorrow!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Don't Tell Me What To Do

Saturday morning I got my kids up and dressed and asked, then told them that we needed to walk across the complex we live in to go look at a table that was for sale. I have wanted to make an art table for them for quite some time, and I finally put my mind to it to get it done. Craigslist came through for me this week and one of the listings was a short walk away. This could have been the easiest Craigslist exchange to date, except my daughter decided she didn't want to come. At nine we are not leaving her home alone yet, even if we are only walking nearby. Also, I wanted her to have a say in the table since it was for her too. She dug in her heels though and decided to go down the path of most resistance.

She is mostly pretty easy going, except for when she is not. Being stubborn and headstrong comes with any kid from time to time, but there is something about her stamina that continues to baffle me.  She doesn't throw down a fight often but when she does, there is a fire in her. I am sure at some point this will come in handy, but I myself don't find it particularly helpful at the moment. After much crying, whining, begging and asking "why do I have to go?" she did make it out of the house with us. She cried all the way there, and even tried a few times to slow us down. I defined the word manipulative to her, then the word irrational, and eventually took to ignoring which feels horrible all around and the most challenging for me.

This age is most interesting to me. Pretty amazing mostly, since she is like a little grown up with how well she can articulate herself. She is passionate about so many wonderful things that she discovers. She is more independent an capable than ever, and yet still loves a good cuddle. She goes off to sleep away camp, sleep overs, and to play at friend's houses with out looking back, but randomly she will protest a walk to look at a table, and I am reminded that she still has some of that little kid in there. I dislike the term Tween, but I get it at the same time. She is learning that her body might change in the next few years, that she will become a "woman", but yet she is still a kid. Its confusing, and a lot to take in.

She stopped crying and we looked at the table. With her help we decided it was a fit for us and we bought it. On the way home, when she was calm I asked her what happened. She said "mommy, you told me I shouldn't do anything I don't want to do." I stopped, took a moment, and explained what I meant when I said that. I explained that no one likes to be told what to do, but sometimes we have to do things anyway. I explained though the difference between things we are not comfortable doing or don't feel right and the things that are maybe just not fun. I am still not entirely sure she was ever really confused in the first place, but I thought I should make the distinction to be clear.

If her quick change of moods, and assertion of will are any indication of what is coming in her teens, then I best up my game. It's a fine line for her right now between Independence and needy. Topped with not wanting to be told instead of asked. My husband and I can both relate to that. I believe he to said to me yesterday "Don't tell me what to do" and I could have avoided that if I had phrased things a bit more respectively. This is delicate territory for us all.  Fortunately, I don't need go table shopping with kids again anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hold On Tight!

Like everyone out there who decided to go into this whole parenting thing, I experience those unbearably frustrating moments where my kids are melting into a pile of tears. For whatever the reason may be at that particular time, their world has seemingly fallen apart. They can no longer function, they forget how to speak full sentences, and their shrieking volume could send dogs running. It seems that in those moments there is nothing I could possibly say that would make them feel better. In fact any attempt at calming them with words just send them up another octave of upset.

I once asked my daughter what I can do to help her during those times. Unlike much parenting advice out there about letting kids cry until they get out of the tunnel, my daughter's tunnel could last for hours. The tunnels in these articles seem to last under ten minutes. My son could probably squeeze out a meltdown in ten minutes, but my daughter..she has stamina. She put together a list and even detailed it with pictures. She said breathing would help her, holding Baa (her stuffed lamb,) sitting quietly in her room, and lastly a hug. I thought this was an amazing discovery, all of these tools. So the next time she got upset I took out the paper and much to my chagrin the first three on the list she wouldn't even try. After quite some time she said, “Mommy, can I have a hug?" It was then and there that I promised myself that no matter how angry I am, no matter how frustrated, how upset, I would never deny them a hug when requested.

My son is now at a less than lovely stage. His world seems to revolve around us serving him exactly how he expects. When it doesn't go his way, which it won't because it doesn't work that way, he falls apart. He is falling a part a lot lately. There is a limit to how much I will negotiate the word "no" with him,. When I draw that line in the sand he will do anything possible to try to erase that I put it there. At that point I start looking forward to the kind of man I want to raise and there is no going back for me. I will not feed his narcisism, because the outcome of that is not a good human, and I am in the business of putting a good person out there. 

After his shorter journey through the tunnel, clammy from crying against the hard wood floor, I can hear his crying slow. I approach him and ask him if he would like a hug. He doesn't give much of an answer but I can vaguely make out a nod. I pick him up and put him in my arms and he falls into me. We sit together for as long as he needs. I will never let go first. I breath him in, and after a few moments, dry his eyes. We usually find something to laugh about and we move on.

I hope they always ask me for a hug when they need one. Sometimes when my daughter is upset and cranky and can't even figure out why, she asks for a hug. If heaven forbid there is day when both of them lose it, I am exhausted from dealing with them. I am drained of all of my superpowers and don't know how I will ever make it to their bedtimes. Then my husband comes home, and before he can get sucked dry by our spawn, I say, "Can I have a hug?" 

It really is good stuff.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A New Pressure Cooker

I've been hearing a lot of buzz about a new item out there. A new and improved pressure cooker. I remember hearing about pressure cookers back when I was a kid. They were taken off the market because they were unsafe. They would get too hot and explode. These new models are supposed to be great though — and safe. People are cooking stews, rice, pasta and even making yogurt in them. There's a Facebook group just to go for ideas, support, and of course pictures of pressure cooked meals.

I am so curious about these pressure cookers. Would it make my life easier? Would it make delicious meals? Would it save me money to be able to make my own yogurt? Probably, I mean maybe. It would also put me out $100 or so, in addition to taking up more precious real estate in my kitchen. I am intrigued though, and my new research obsession with the pressure cooker has begun. Who wouldn't want something that could make your life just a tiny bit easier?

I am just thrown my the word "pressure" though. Especially since this decision to get one or not has already added just that to my plate. It feels these days that so many of us women are marketed to items that would make life easier. It's a great marketing tool, because life is not easy at all. In fact it does seem even harder now than when our parents were raising us. The competition is steep out there for jobs, education is crazy expensive and real estate is through the roof (pun intended). There was an article recently (also going around the world famous time sucker of a site Facebook) about how many women are experiencing a midlife crisis. The demands of a woman living in today's society ain't for the weak.

Gone are the days where women work in a field, either an career or a literal field, and find one skill to do well and stick to it. Instead, we are expected to climb, to get advanced degrees, to be super mom, to exceed expectations and still be able to cook a healthy dinner for your family. This is tapping people out physically, emotionally, and financially. I send so much time each day breathing, trying to be present, and to soak in the moment. I also spend so much time talking myself off the ledge of my own frustration. I am overwhelmed and I don't even have a full time job right now. When I stop my to do list, my errands, and emails, I can actually get a sense of contentment for my life. I can see that when I slow it down, I really do love my life. I love the ages of my kids right now. I love the things they say. I enjoy cooking and exercise. I enjoy really being with them, but I don't do it enough. Mostly because the pressure to appear that I am succeeding at more than just being a mom is laid on thick.

I don't have an answer on how to value what I have more, or how to help women collectively take inventory. I don't know how to share a communal feeling of "we are enough." I write down five things that I am grateful for every night, but sometimes I get to three and the next day I can't read four and five. I literally fall asleep trying to stay present. I want a new pressure cooker but feel a bit like I am being suckered into the idea of it, more than the pressure cooker itself. I want to go fall down a Facebook hole and get on that pressure cooker group, but I am pretty sure it won't help me feel anything but more pressure.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Oh Man!

There is that fine line between laughing and crying when you are being tickled. It starts out being funny and you play along, but then it starts to hurt. If you are being pinned down, you start to panic for fear of losing control. I have found myself in this situation a few times, and when you say "stop" people have a hard time listening because you are laughing. With all the news out there about sexual harassment this week, I keep thinking about this fine line. I wonder when the "stop" will be loud enough for everyone to hear.

I got a Facebook message yesterday from a friend who I haven't talked to in a long time. She said that all this news about entertainment executives using their power to manipulate women has had her thinking of all of the men who abused their power with her. She brought up a certain TV producer who we both knew and asked if I thought of how he used to promise us to advance our careers. He was sleazy and blurred the line of professional and personal. We were desperate to work as actors though and he could make that happen. So we played along, until we didn't want to play anymore.

I look back at that time and get a sick feeling. In my teens I felt slightly immature compared to my peers who some of which were already sexually active. I was so focused on skating, school, as well as on  a kids theatre group I was in. I had a few guys I took interest in, but I was fine keeping it at a safe distance from what was really important to me. When I was sixteen and part of this theatre group, a twenty three year old employee took a bit of extra interest in me. We hung out a few times and it didn't end well for either of us. Power was really thrown around in this situation, and at the end of it all I felt like I found some within myself and went on to use it to get me in a bit of trouble with older men. A line was crossed that I didn't know was cross able, so I kept crossing it over and over again. I never really had power, just the ability to invite the wrong behavior from adult men, and it became a pattern of mine for a while. A pattern that took a lot of time to break.

When I finally realized there was a certain type of attention I didn't want from men, it seemed they didn't always get the message. As I got older and more confident, I was able to say "no, thank you" louder than I ever had, but it wasn't always loud enough. Sometimes, you need to scream it to be heard, and sometimes when you need to scream the most no sound seems to come out at all. I keep seeing the posts on Facebook saying"Me Too" and I haven't really wanted to post. Mostly because I don't think it's the women who should have to speaking up now. I want to hear from more men apologizing, more men, saying they understand consent, more men, saying they know what is right and wrong, and more men saying they will listen and respect boundaries.

My husband teaches our daughter to not be afraid of hurting someone when she feels she is in danger. He wants her to take a self-defense class, and knows to aim for where it hurts. As a woman who has been in danger a few times the fear of not being able to defend yourself physically is real. Regardless of feminist supe hero motivation that I may have, I am still smaller and weaker than the average man. I also, think of how violence often just invites more violence. I am not sure what tools to give her for physical confrontation, but I will make up for it in the emotional department. Sadly, it doesn't seem like the question is if she will be in an uncomfortable situation one day, but more when she is, how will she handle it. 

As I was walking, all of this ran through my head this morning.  I was crossing the bike path that leads back to my car when a biker swerved right near me. As I looked up to meet his eye, he rode closer to me, looked at my eyes and then looked me up and down. He pursed is lips and made a kissing sound as he rode away. It just seemed like if there was any point in time that this kind of behavior would have stopped it would be now, but it hasn't. This isn't something I encounter much anymore. I am rarely alone, and the people I am normally with are children so it seems I am spared. There are many things I don't do by myself for fear of being hassled. I don't think there will be a point in time where women have to stop being concerned that they are at risk. I just hope that my daughter is stronger than I was, and can outsmart a man without getting hurt in the process.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Good Talking, Bad Talking

A very close friend and I were talking the other day and I realized she no longer speaks ill of anyone. If I mentioned being annoyed by something another friend did, I noticed she wouldn't join in, or comment in anyway. If anything she would defend said person, and would then go on to present some rationale for their annoying-ness. At first I felt bad for saying anything at all, but then I started to notice this friend follows the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" mantra. I brought it up to her and she said she is trying to be kinder to other women, and that we are in this together so the least we can do is support one another. I found this to be admirable.

I began to watch other women around me. Who is catty or gossipy, and for what reasons? When do I feel like saying things about people and why? When is talking about someone, talking behind their back, and when is it discussing or venting? I noticed that I didn't feel the need to talk about someone just because, and when I did feel the need to talk about someone who wasn't in my presence it was because I upset and needed to express myself.

I have a friend who studies the adolescent brain. She has a colleague who studies why people gossip. It was perfect timing the other day when I was upset about something and told my extremely smart friend about it. I finished my story with, "I am trying not to gossip.” She said she just leaned herself that it serves a strong purpose, and is not always a bad thing. People often gossip because it helps us gage what is okay and what isn't within relationships. We share a story, check in with someone else and based on their reaction know whether our response or instinct is matched. Then if the feelings that come up are shared, you feel less isolated about them.

I am not a "shove it under the rug" type of person. I typically express feelings and don't hold them in. Maybe even to a fault. So practicing speaking only positively about other women only worked until a friend got upset and made a negative comment towards me. Now, I am not going to say she is a bad person or disown her, but I needed to review what happened to check in that this wasn't something I actually did wrong. I was trying to not say anything when a mutual friend came to me with the same complaint about this women's actions. It was validating to know we were just in the wrong place when this person needed to vent.

I now know the difference between bad talking someone as if it is a fun sport, and sharing feelings about something someone has said or done. So I will continue being supportive to other women. I will not talk ill about a bad boob job, or what a bitch so and so can be, unless so and so directs those issues to me, then you might hear some whispers.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Being Impressionable

I admit that I am impressionable. I sometimes don't want to hear about the latest "amazing" health craze because I might buy into it. I became a vegan for five years in my twenties because a friend's sister had me read some information that proved to me eating meat and dairy was bad. I have been known to buy matcha, spirullina and a rebounder trampoline the same day I read about the health benefits. People can pick up both negative and positive traits from being impressionable, but being stubborn gets you nowhere but stuck.  I don't blindly adopt new ideas, but I am open to hearing about them, and if they make sense I can't not consider the idea.

Observing my young children navigate their friendships I see examples of when they are both impressionable to their friends behavior — and I cringe. Sometimes, I want to pull them aside and say, “Do your own thing” or “You don't have to be a copy cat." I think of what was often told to me when I was a kid, "If your friend jumps off the Empire State Building, would you do it too?" On the flip side, I’ve also seen my kids be the bossy leaders who lead their poor, unsuspecting friends down a mischievous adventure. I have come to the conclusion that neither are bad once in a while.

Being impressionable doesn't always need to mean vulnerable. It also can mean open. When I began dating guys that were interested in running, cooking or new music, I learned to open my mind to new tastes. When making new friends who loved certain movies, and were excited to share their enthusiasm with me, I opened my mind to new art. Sure, people can pick up positive and negative traits by being impressionable, but the alternative is being stubborn and that doesn't get one anywhere but stuck.

Stepping out of myself and observing my own behaviors, I can recall times when I am confident and strong. I can also recall times where I am out of my comfort zone and chose to remain a fly on the wall. Depending on circumstance and what is going on around me, I speak my mind loud and clear, or I can't find a single thing to say that would fit the conversation. This week though, when approached by another parent who voiced some concerns about a certain behavior my child exhibited, I took pause. Was I being too sensitive, or was she? Was she right, or was I? Was there even a right or wrong, at all? Was I just following her lead and her reaction to my child, and not forming my own opinion? Was I being too impressionable to her?

Navigating other parents is one of those grown-up situations you don't ever imagine having to deal with until you are an bone fide grown-up. The "serious" confrontations with other adults. I remember my friend talking about when he was a kid he heard the words like “mortgage" and "miscarriage" thrown around in his house. He knew they carried the weight of grown-up proportions, but when he grew up to say them as an adult he still wasn't prepared.

Despite being uncomfortable in these kinds of confrontations I think I handle them well enough. I often don't think of the right thing to say in the moment, but I thank the person for reaching out and then say I need some time to process the information. That is what I did last week. Then I try to figure out what I actually feel about it. When I come to somewhat of a gut feeling, I run it by my husband. I am impressionable to his opinions because I respect him and want to know what I can learn from another perspective. Then I mull it over some more, and decide how long I want to wrestle with it and put a cap and time limit on it. No big decision I make for myself is ever decided by someone else, but its also not decided without the help of others. I am impressionable that way.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Drive Down Memory Lane

We recently went back to the gymnastics studio where my daughter used to take classes before we left Beverly Hills and moved to Culver City. She had been going there since she was two and we never found a great replacement for it where we live now. She said she missed gymnastics and since it's summer and we have a bit more time, I got her a private lesson with her old coach as a special treat. In LA traffic this could be an hour away, so we decided to make a day of it. We drove to her favorite diner, Nate and Al’s, for her favorite meal of matzo ball soup. My husband used to take her for dinner there while I was pregnant, because I couldn't eat or cook without getting sick. This became a ritual she never wanted to end. 

We also stopped at the little local toy store we used to frequent in downtown Beverly Hills. The layout is exactly the same including the mechanical coin operated horse that the kids would ride. So much on the street was the same. Sure, there were a few new shops, but most were the same ones that were there before we moved. It is amazing to me, how much an area, a street or even a home can remain so comfortably fixed in your mind. It was second nature to pull into the parking garage to turn left at the corner and to find a specific crosswalk, even though you haven't crossed it in years.

After lunch we drove up over our old canyon. We passed a park that I used to take my kids too frequently. I didn't say anything, and my daughter asked if we used to play there. As sharp as these memories are for me, they are cloudy for her. To move away from someplace at five or six is so different than it is for an adult, or for my son who was two and doesn't remember much at all. We passed by the house where our close friends used to live, and when I pointed out to my daughter she struggled to remember what it looked like inside. Up the road just a little bit more was our street. I didn't turn up, because we didn't have time, but also because it would just make me sad. Our house was redone on the outside, and it actually looks a lot better, but it also looks different. I have driven up that Benedict Canyon Drive so many times, it felt strange not to hang a right on our old street, pull into our driveway and walk right in. It is not our home anymore though, and I miss it.

Every inch of that drive was a memory. As we passed my house I remembered when a friend picked me up once and she turned too wide and we almost got hit by another car. It wasn't funny at all, but somehow we ended up laughing so hard. I also remember the time I got a call from my dad while driving, and with an odd sense of urgency in his voice, he asked me to pull over. I will never forget the exact spot I stopped when he told me my brother in law had died. Further up the road was the little strip of stores where my husband and I used to hang out when we needed a little people watching. I pointed out to my daughter how we used to drive from there to her school where she went to Kindergarten. 

I am not sad we moved to a place that has better schools, a stronger sense of community and so much more for families, but I am sad that we had to say goodbye to our home to do that. That house was my first adult home. We got engaged in that house, we had a wedding brunch there, we had many parties and much to celebrate there, and even brought our two babies back from the hospital to that house. When we set out to go to gymnastics, I didn't realize everything we would pass. I had originally thought maybe we could stop by my daughters old preschool, but there wasn't enough time. It's a good thing too, I think that one might have thrown me over the edge of memory lane.

Monday, September 25, 2017

It's Oh So Quiet

It's that time a year again. Stores have big sections of school supplies, kids are breaking in backpacks, and alarm clocks are going off early again. Back to school! This year my baby boy started Kindergarten. He is there all day with his fourth grader big sister, and so I have more time on my hands than I have had in nine years. I walked into my house after dropping them off at school and it is so quiet. After a whole summer with them at my side I really don't remember the last time my house was silent like this while the sun was shining. I hear cars outside and my refridgerator running.

Dropping off your youngest child at Kindergarten is nothing short of gut wrenching. He was fine, but as I walked away my eyes filled. The lead up to the beginning of school was way worse, but that unknown factor was concerning me. What if he cried like his big sister did? What if he begged me to stay? What if he doesn't want to go back each day? So far so good though. The only tears shed were mine.

I'm not sure what each day will look like for me now. While they have a new daily routine, that is organized and structured, I am trying to figure out mine. My intentions for this year are that I learn to manage my time, since I have more of it now. That I generate some more income, not sure from where yet, but I'm thinking. That I take care of myself and do some things that are enjoyable and fulfilling, not just running errands with my free time.  Lastly, I hope that while my children are off at school learning that I learn some new things as well. Maybe I will take a class, or read a new book (hopefully many) or maybe I will just discover something I never knew.

One step at a time, we will all get with this new routine. I am sure we will all have an adventure to share at the end of each day. I am excited for the new year ahead. When my daughter was three and my son was born, she was holding his tiny hand and she made up a song she sang to him. She sang "Try new people, try new food, try new people, try something new" I am going to find it now and take a listen. I am sure it will throw me over the edge into a crying mess, but the message is a good one.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"There's A Lake I Know"

Every summer since I can remember, my family has spent time in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. My parents were both teachers and in the summer they would work in summer camps to get us all out of the city. When they retired they bought a little house there so they could enjoy the area whenever they wanted. They have a little pillow on their sofa that reads, “You never know how many friends you have until you have a house in the Berkshires." This statement rings true summer after summer when I plan my trip home and have to schedule seeing my parents around all of their friends visiting them.

From the first few months my daughter came into this world, I have brought her with me back East. My first flight alone with her was when she was seven weeks old, and I flew cross country to stay with my family. I go for about two weeks each summer, and my husband joins us for about a week. My son entered the picture and these summers are just part of what we do. Just like me, when I was a kid, we leave the city and land somewhere filled with mosquitos, fireflies, crickets, frogs, woods, and space. Lots and lots of space. I look forward to it all year, and when it is over, I feel such a sadness come over me.

Some days when we are there we go to museums, or shows at the local playhouse. We always go to Tanglewood at least once, which is a beautiful outdoor concert venue. You bring a picnic, lie on the grass and listen to gorgeous live music. Every few nights we go town for ice cream at the local shop, but most days we just go to the lake. We pack our bag, and stay all day. It has a sandy beach, and a designated swim area. There is a playground too, and plenty of kids for mine to play with. We bring nets, and in between swimming my kids like to try and catch the tadpoles. We swim out to the buoys and sometimes even past them. If it is a nice day, that is where you will find us. Year after year, summer after summer, I see the same faces, the same friends.

My friends that I grew up spending summers with in the Berkshires now have children too. Their little crew together with mine are quite a group. This summer all six of them did a little horseback riding day camp in the mornings for a week. It is wonderful to see how many new little people we've made that now get to appreciate summers outside the city. It is, like everything, also bittersweet. Each summer I spend with my parents, the less they are able to join in on the fun. The older and more tired they are. My parents had me pretty late, and I was also late to have my kids, and the obvious downside to that is that we have less time left to be together. 

As the end of my trip gets nearer, I always get sad. I am of course sad to say goodbye to what is truly a relaxed, beautiful vacation. I am even sadder to think that there is a time limit with my family. It's too hard to even think too much about. On our very last day this summer, I took my kids to the lake late in the afternoon when very few people were there. I wanted to squeeze in one more swim. I wanted to say goodbye to the lake.  I needed to get my fill to last me the year. I told my kids I was feeling sad about leaving, and wished I could have extended my ticket. My old-souled daughter responded by saying that if I did, I would only feel this way again next week. She is right, so we packed our bags and said our goodbyes. We plan on returning next year to the very same spot.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What's Your Story?

The Saturday section of the LA Times is one of my favorite weekend rituals. We still get the paper delivered just for this section. It has restaurant reviews, an expose of beautiful homes all around LA, the latest health and fitness crazes, and my favorite "LA Affairs" stories of love, dating and relationships in LA. Week after week I read these stories about how people met, and are still together today, or how it went horribly wrong, and hearts were broken. Most of the time when a heart is broken in these stories I see a similar theme, where the person realizes they don't actually respect themselves to let someone love them, or that they are too afraid to put their authentic self out there so they put on these fronts, and then wonder why it didn't work out with another person. Or they chose the most unavailable person to be attractive to, and see if they can win them over and then wonder why the relationship doesn't have a lasting foundation.

Mostly when I read these I am so glad that I am no longer dating. I remember my twenties and definitely see some of these patterns in my past. I am pleased to say I grew out of many of my insecurities, and I actually do love and respect myself with confidence. I found someone to love that loves me for who I am and not a persona I created. Pretty impressive for LA, I think. But there is one area where I read these stories and don't think I have outgrown yet. What my "story" is.  From a very young age we learn to believe things about ourselves that may or may not be true. Yet when we grow up we own these ideas and it's hard to believe there is something about yourself that could be different than the way you think it is.

There are so many studies out there that if a child doesn't succeed academically before high school then they stop believing they can. Their identity is formed and they will believe going forward that they are not a good student. In order to help children succeed their confidence and abilities have to be built up before ninth grade. For girls the same idea plays into the way they feel about themselves. Their confidence starts to plummet around middle school, and the idea that they can do anything a boy can do starts to diminish. A couple of years ago there was an “Always" commercial that was so powerful. When young girls were asked to run like a girl, they were strong, determined and powerful. When they asked older girls the same question they did some ridiculous hand flapping silly run. I can see where my own confidence is shaken with disbeliefs of my abilities. I never loved math. I didn't do very well in it, so I believed I couldn't do math. I had one great teacher at the end of high school who was able to help me understand algebra, and I even enjoyed it in her class, but it was too late by them to help me with my SATs, and too late to help my confidence. 

My daughter is entering fourth grade soon. Up until this point I have been able to help her with her math homework. Over the summer, she has a book of school work to so each day, and the math is a bit more challenging for her than the other subjects. She is still a very strong student though. I suggested maybe getting her help from someone other than me and it backfired. She took it as needing help in math, and by the next week I heard her say, "I am not very good at math." I will not stand by and let her believe that about herself. I explained that she is actually great at it and just because it is not easy does not mean that she isn't good at it. I am committed to working on building her up in this department.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Why The Rush?

My son just turned 5. This feels like a very symbolic birthday. The end of baby, toddler and little kid. After the summer, he will join his sister in elementary school and go to Kindergarten.  For him, this will be the first time he is away from me all day. It will be a big adjustment for him to go to school all day, and although I know he's at the appropriate level and age for Kindergarten, I wonder if he is truly ready. I know he will be fine eventually, but this is not the Kindergarten we remember.

Kindergarten is like the new first grade. There is even a term "red shirting”, for when parents actively choose to hold their kids back to give them an extra leg up. When my son starts at five years and four months old there will be kids turning 7 at some point in the year. The curriculum is much harder when we were young. They are expected to learn to read, write and do addition and subtraction. I know of a current kindergartner whose mom told her she has a play kitchen in her class, but the girl didn't know because it's hidden away. Playing is no longer how they are teaching kids to learn in Kindergarten, and it's a shame.

Of course I could home school my kid, send him to an expensive private school, or try for a Waldorf-type philosophy, but then we walk away from our local public school and take a step out of our community. We can't always get (or can't always afford) exactly what we want. We can try to make changes here and there, and we have to accept what is offered and take it or leave it. All of these life lessons I share with my children, but sometimes I have a hard time accepting them myself. The public school system has it's flaws, but it also has a lot going for it. I just wish it wasn't such a hard start for the little kids or such a big group for the older ones.

Our kids in this country have so much pushing them to grow up faster and faster. Social media exposes them to things prematurely. Peer pressure and bullying run rampant, and innocence seems shorter lived these days. I am doing the best I can to keep my kids young while they are actually young.  I wish Kindergarten would bring back sandboxes, water tables, and tricycles. Let's let them have fun while they still can. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Long Way To Go

In seventh grade I started junior high school and my grades dropped. I was overwhelmed with how to keep up with so many different classes, lessons, and teachers. I was never the greatest with change but this one knocked my socks off. There seemed to be so much going on, and I just couldn't keep up. Instead of the teachers reaching in to help, seeing me flailing made it easy on them to pass the problem on to someone else. I was taken off the academic track I was on and put into remedial classes. At the time I was grateful because the work load was much easier, but I noticed, even at 12 that the system was flawed.

Growing up in New York City, diversity was the heartbeat of the city. My community had always been diverse. Culturally I was so lucky to be exposed to so many differences. I never noticed a room unless it wasn't diverse. In junior high, my classes were mixed with every race and ethnicity. It wasn't until I was moved to the "easy" classes that I noticed what was missing, or rather what was there. I was the only white kid: no Asians, no Indians, just Latinos, African-Americans and me. I felt given up on by the system and I was put into this class mid year. How long had these kids been in classes like this? If at twelve, they knew what I had known, how long did they know it. As early as seventh grade we were placed in classes that prepared us only for certain typed of jobs. There was no math taught that would help us for SATs. We were not the kids that they prepared for college. They didn't bother working on helping us back on that path either.

Years later, I did go to college, but getting there was not easy. I ended up getting into college without an SAT since I wasn't prepared for any material on the test. I got in because my parents helped me prioritize school. Not everyone had parents who could take the time to do that, and even if they could I think so many parents (as one would hope) think the system is taking care of kids. "No child left behind" leaves a lot to be desired still today. After graduating from college I moved out to LA, and was shocked at how segregated it was. Sure as a whole it is a diverse place, but unlike NY the communities are so spread out. When the education system is examined in LA, you can also see the broken track kids are set upon and how it fails them. Friends of mine who have worked in low income areas say that some schools put kids in front of a TV and give up on trying to teach. Of course there are exceptions, but this exists!

When I've watched movies like "Precious" or "Moonlight" I have sobbed. Not just because these were beautiful movies with sad stories, but because the characters were people who were failed by our system. A system that make claims and promises to take care of all of its people. There is a tremendous flaw in the hope the American dream offers. It's much easier for some to reach their potential than it is for others.When reading "The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace" I got so angry because it made me feel that African-American males are trapped. When hearing yet another story of a police brutality incident, or seeing the documentary "Thirteen",  I think of the words unfair and unjust and they even come close to describing the holes in our system.

The land of the free, and the home of the brave implies something other than it is. For hundreds of years minorities have been either enslaved or criminalized. Men and women have not been treated equally and certainly black men do not have the same opportunities as whites. After hundreds of years of oppression, there is anger, pain, frustration and a need to speak up for rights. This country has made a lot of progress over the years. The fact that we had a black President for eight years is a testament to the positive changes. We are going a bit backwards now though and it is not okay. Somehow, hatred and racism are seeping out from under the rocks that were hiding them, and it is not alright. The protection of our human rights are being threatened, and it is not acceptable.

The suffering of our country's past can never be forgotten. We have a lot of beautiful melting pot statements that our country prides itself on. We need to remember that our country is meant to be inclusive. Anything short of that is unAmerican.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Desicions, Desicions

Some days I wake up and wish I didn't have so many decisions to make. From what I wear, my kids clothes, their breakfast, lunches, which water bottles, or shoes for the day, and those are the simple decisions. I have to decide what battle to pick with which child, and what topic or song is appropriate for our car rides. I have to think about what consequences make sense for their actions, and what I can share with them and what to keep secret.

As someone who tends over think most decisions, I spend a great deal of time weighing (or obsessing) over my options, before settling on a choice. I try to make informed decisions, based on books, friends, parents or my husband's advice, or when my own instinct finally kicks in I am grateful. Our kid's are living in a time with so much more technology than any of us were raised with. Moderation is a personal gauge, and what seems moderate to other families can seem excessive to me. The current trend in parenting is to over-parent, to hover and to be extra involved. It is a delicate balance to know when to step back and when to get involved. We are often paralyzed by the decisions we have to make as parents and we end up not handling an issue as a result.

I am guilty as charged on so many of these. I get impressionable to the noise about low sugar and high test scores. I try to find this impossible thing called balance everyone keeps talking about. It is so hard to make your own decisions when there are so many options distracting you from your gut. It's not chocolate, vanilla and strawberry anymore. One must chose between cold pressed Turkish coffee chip or artisan salted toffee crunch. These choices take up valuable time in my mind. Times have changed and they continue to change quickly. I sometimes just need a breather.

While we have so many options it often makes me think about how small children don't. Sure we give them as much say within reason that we can, but their day to day decisions are made by us. Taking on theirs and mine can be challenging. Recently, my son asked me some questions about what Kindergarten will be like. A child can only go on what we say. His school, and to some degree his friends, his community is dictated by us. It must feel pretty strange to just trust that we have his back, and that if he doesn't like it, there is little we can do.  My daughter is older so she understands to some degree, how it all works. She has more options than her brother, but I still say "no" if she asks for a lollipop before eating lunch. She doesn't like that I call the shots, but that's the way it goes as a kid. We had to listen to our parents when we were little. There were a lot bigger consequences then, and a lot fewer options. We all only get one go around on the merry go round. When they get older they can have dessert first. For now, they have eat all their vegetables while I sneak a piece of chocolate. After all those daily decisions I need an excessive amount of sugar.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Growing Up

Many of my friends have children around the same age.  As our youngest children begin Kindergarten, our daily schedule will change greatly, opening up a lot more time for us as individuals. I got together with two of my friends yesterday and we were talking about what this meant for us. We discussed working more, taking classes, exercising, and what we want to be now. Its a shift, and although I have been teaching three mornings a week, I have a lot more time I could work now. What I wanted to be before I had kids is not necessarily what I want to be now.

The arts have always been where my heart is. I always pursued acting, and did theatre for years. My first jobs were as an actress. My degree in college was theatre and education, I have a passion merging the arts with social change. Before I had kids I contemplated getting my masters, I worked with inner city kids to create pieces of theatre that reflected their lives. It has been almost ten years since I did anything like that though, and the idea of where to begin now is daunting.

My time up to now has been so precious to me. I have absolutely no regrets in choosing to be a stay at home parent (who never stays at home by the way) but now I am trying to figure out how to be more than a mother. While talking to my friends I found out they are struggling with this too. If you still want to be an involved parent and pick up you kid at school, do homework and make dinner, a full time job is challenging.  Finding balance is a lifelong goal to strive for, and not necessarily obtainable all the time. Every parent has to make difficult decisions and has to make sacrifices. It is often hard for me to see the middle point between selfless and selfish.

As the new school year approaches, I have to be careful on that first day of school. My son will be starting his big new school, my daughter fourth grade and although I have contemplated going back to school myself I need to take my time. Time I have waited almost ten years for. I need to pace myself before making any big life decisions. I need to leave space to let that first week of school soak in for them. Once they are all settled in, I can feel out the work world again. Although a resume with ten year old credentials on it is not so attractive. There seems to be a class for everything these days, I wonder if I could find one for women who want to come back to work after ten years. If it doesn't exist perhaps that's my new business right there.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Sleepaway Camp!

When my daughter was 9 weeks old I took her on a flight back to New York alone. The night before I was so panicked because I felt that this trip was the most monumental journey of my lifetime. To date it turned out to be the easiest flight I have taken since becoming a parent. 

In New York my parents, along with many of their friends were welcoming the baby. My best friend's mother pulled me aside to congratulate me and then shared some advice. She said that my job as a mother was to let her go. In that moment, I politely said thank you, even though she could see the look on my face was disbelief. Sure, later down the line when my baby becomes an adult one day, I would have to learn to back off, but this little girl was just inside me a few weeks prior. Too soon? YES!

Her words have been stored away in my mind though all these years. Occasionally, I am reminded I need to take a step back, but not until this week have her words really rung true. My almost nine-year-old left for sleep away camp earlier this week. This was something she has been talking about all year long. It is five days and four nights, not long in comparison to seven week camps, but for us, it is enough. She has had a sleepover at someones house here and there, but she had never been away from home this long. She went with a friend and they were both so excited to do this together. For a child who has had separation anxiety here and there, I wondered if it would rear its head. I have learned where the triggers are for her. If she feels safe, knows people, and knows the environment, then she is fine. With camp, we checked all these boxes ahead of time. She went on a father/daughter weekend a few months before at the same camp, so she knew some of what to expect.

Monday morning on the way to the camp, she began to worry a bit. She said she wasn't sure if she was afraid of going to camp, or afraid to say goodbye to us. It was a bit daunting to her to have to say goodbye for five days, and she was worried she might cry. I assured her that she wouldn't be the only one if she did. We had talked many times before about breaking it down one step at a time, and not looking at it as being away for the whole week, but rather one fun activity at a time. In the car ride there, she played out some worst case scenarios about her buddy not being able to get there. I found out her friend had some similar scenarios on the drive there herself. When they saw each other at camp though all was good. They were both excited and the nerves seemed to be lifted. When it was time to say goodbye they were both such troopers. They both jumped into a sea of other girls and joined in an activity without looking back.

The only tears shed that morning were from my son, who got strapped into his car seat and his eyes filled up because he said he was so sad to say goodbye to his sister. My husband and I both are missing her, but we are pretty certain she is having a great time. The only part we are struggling with is that there is zero contact. We have discussed at length why this policy is in place. Some camps post photos online so you can see if you kid is smiling, playing or at the very least, proof of life. This camp doesn't do that, so I have to wait until Friday to lay eyes on her again, and believe you me, after I see her I am going to grab her, and then I will not be letting go for a good long while. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Welcome Summer!

So happy to take a break from the everyday lunch packing, homework checking and early morning racing out the door. Slow mornings in pjs and post-traffic drives to the beach are calling to me. I am ready for summer! I resisted the urge to sign my kids up for more than two weeks of camp over the summer.  Downtime is good for all of us. A little boredom never hurt anyone, and creativity comes alive with empty schedules.

With a few trips planned, a few tickets to museums, outdoor movies, Fourth of July festivities, and a 9th birthday to celebrate, we have plenty to look forward to. The end of third grade and preschool is bittersweet. We had such a great school year, but the end feels so hectic and stuffed full of parties, awards, meetings, evaluations and exams that the finish line is looking pretty sweet.

My two kids together without being over scheduled can mean two things: arguing, whining, crying and tantrums and it can also mean intense bonding, playing together, and the loudest guttural giggles I've ever heard. I have seen my daughter be a bit bossy to her little brother, but I have also seen the most nurturing side of her come out when she spends time alone with him. My son can get frustrated with the lack of language skills he has (and resort to hitting), but I have also heard him tell her that he loves her the most in the family. I will take being slighted, to listen to him confess his love to her. She is very fair in her response when he asks her who her favorite in the family is, she answers that she loves us all the same. He will then tell her again she is his favorite, in hopes that her response will be him next time he asks. He would follow her to the moon if she was willing to take him.

This summer I will again strive to reach the perfect balance of fun things to do and nothing to do each day. It is not easy, but I am up for the task. The alternative of getting out the door to school comes up soon enough at the end of August. I might eat my words when my kids begin to get under my skin, but I will force myself to remember how I feel right this second, excited to be with them without a schedule. Time is moving too quickly for me to not cry at every milestone passing, so even in the most annoying bits of childhood I want to witness theirs. I want to play with them. I want to stay out all day in the pool until our fingers prune. I want to be at the beach when we are too tired to walk back to the car and brush sand off our feet. I want to keep them up too late, and get up late in the morning. I want to take road trips and let them buy Pringles and candy for the car ride. I want to bake cakes with them and eat them too. It might just work this time. In any case it's fun trying.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

You Are Embarrassing Me

Kids seem to be staying young and innocent for far less time. I am not allowed to walk down the street hand and hand, singing a song with my daughter anymore. In fact I can barely hold her hand let alone sing. I am now a mother who is capable of embarrassing my child. How did I get here already?

I have a pretty sensitive daughter and she is at the age where she is aware of how she is being perceived. I think this is normal, I just didn't think cute ponytails, her rainbow leg warmers, or enjoying her brother's company in public would be embarrassing at age 8. I thought we would have a little more time. I really can't believe when I go to kiss her head nightly before I go to sleep that her body is as long as it is. Third grade is big kid stuff, and it appears that every year my kids keep getting bigger, as they should, but I wish it didn't have to feel so fast.

Every cliche starts to hold more and more meaning for me now that I am a mother. I am a sensitive one myself, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Transitions are hard for her the way they are hard for me, but this year she adjusted to going off to school better than she ever has. Mostly because she knew who her teacher would be, she knew lots of friends in her class, and because she knew she is old enough that she might feel lonely being the only one crying by the doorway of the class since she would likely be the only one. Peer pressure is no joke.

I do wish she would have less of this self awareness, not just to keep her a little kid longer, but because life is more fun when you care a little less about what others think of you. Today when I dropped her off at school, she saw a friend of hers had broken her leg. She had a hot pink cast with sparkles and was sitting in a stroller. Now this I admit would be hard for any eight year old to pull off, but this kid was able to laugh at herself, so everyone laughed with her. I remember last year hearing a story of two sisters who came to school one day in pajamas thinking it was pajama day. They arrived to school only to see everyone was dressed like any other day. One sister was terribly embarrassed and wanted to go home, and the other laughed when someone asked her why she was in pajamas. She was able to make a joke about how she didn't feel like getting dressed.

Michelle Obama did a special recently on girls living in poverty all around the world. There was a girl who woke up at four in the morning, feeds and bathes her brothers and sisters, and then takes herself to school. Her given name was Janet Jackson, and when asked if she liked to sing, she answered yes and broke out into a song right then and there. She may have more responsibility than most children do, and her reality is anything but easy, but somehow this girl had so much more confidence than I see in girls who have much more. I do wonder where that unabashed joy comes from. Often times I wonder if a simpler life is a happier life. I'm not sure if I chose to go with out texting, social media or watching the news, how successful I would be. There is no doubt I would have a lot more time on my hands. Perhaps, I would be more confident and unabashed if I had no idea what was happening with everyone else around me. It would certainly make an interesting social experiment. I would also certainly miss out on a lot. Or would I?

Monday, May 22, 2017

One Day

Over the weekend my husband and I went on a date. We went out for an early dinner, and as we sat in the restaurant there was a family with three kids in the adjacent room eating, as well. We went to a new restaurant that put a small sliding door between the game room/bar and the dining area. The game room had a skeeball machine, as well as a pool table and some other games I have never seen. It looked fun, but whoever thought to put the skeeball machine up against the dining area was really not thinking. While we sat down for our one-on-one dinner, we began hearing the whining of the youngest child. I laughed at how we are paying a babysitter so we could listen to someone else's kid cry. I tried to ignore it since I didn't have to fix anything, and I could just sit and have a nice conversation. A moment later though the two older kids began playing skeeball and between the hard balls rolling down the side of the machine and the sound of the balls being thrown I was having a hard time ignoring the noise.

There is so much pressure to a date night when you don't have them often. It's expensive, and if you don't go to a good place it can be disappointing. This restaurant not only planned the design poorly but they also chose some dubious staff members. Our waitress was a bit too friendly and not in the nicest way either. When my husband couldn't decide which beer to get she tried to joke that today would be nice for him to decide. She then tried to laugh it off but it wasn't really funny. Whenever she came back to our table she would say "Yo yo yo, how is it going?" when we didn't quite know how to answer her, we asked her back how she was and she took that as an invitation to sit down at our table. We found out she moved here from Chicago to strip. We awkwardly nodded, squeezing each others legs under the table, and then she said she was kidding, and that she is a comedian. Not a funny one I guess. At this point I was trying to figure out what was going on with our date and can we get it back? That is when she told us about her next show and asked if we were on social media. My husband, being the kind gentleman that he is, took out his phone to add her to his Facebook. When he did she grabbed it and added herself for him, then asked about Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Then she looked at me, and begrudgingly I took out my phone so she could grab that one too. She was so inappropriate and invasive that those things alone made her funny, not her jokes. Once I accepted the fact that this would be a noisy strange dinner, we chilled out and enjoyed each other. At the very least we were in agreement that the night was a bit odd, but the company was solid.

The food was actually really good, but we wouldn't go back for all the other reasons. We declined dessert there and went to get ice cream somewhere else. Before we payed our bill I snuggled in close to my husband. I missed losing track of time with him. I missed being spontaneous and driving around to find out where we wanted to go instead of planning it out. I missed traveling with him. I missed sleeping in and reading the paper in bed. I missed staying up late, and I missed unstructured days. I missed going out to the movies and seeing whatever we wanted. I looked over at him and told him that I don't for a second want to rush through my time with my young children, but when they do get bigger and they will, it will be "us" again. There will be a time, and it will come faster than we want it to, that we can do all of those things we miss together.

For now though, we are on this ride. As bumpy, exhausting, and and difficult it can be, it is also magical, loving and wonderful. As we walked out of the restaurant that night, after that family had left I couldn't help myself: I played a game or two of skeeball. It is my favorite arcade game and I just couldn't walk past it. I didn't play too long since I didn't want to interrupt the other diners. After all, it was a pretty obnoxious sound to eat with, but I did stop to have fun for a second. If I keep waiting for that one day to come to start enjoying impromptu opportunities, I am going to miss out.  From now on, I want "one day" to start today.