Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Talk

My daughter is nine and we had "the talk” — the conversation that mothers plan for, and wonder how they will approach with their daughters. The same conversation Claire Huxtable had when she popped into an episode of "Blossom." Mrs. Huxtable, the ultimate mom, used a cake to draw explain baby making and cake decorating simultaneously. I vividly remember the conversation I had with my mother after watching a fourth grade film about our bodies at school.

My mom was pretty awesome when it came to talking about sex. She was approachable, and explained that two people when they have each other's consent, can have a give and take that will result in both people feeling good. She gently explained respecting my body, privacy, and the appropriate times to share it. That first conversation about what sex is, or how a baby is made, was nothing like Claire Huxtable though. I had heard in the school movie the words "egg, sperm, inseminate, and napkin" and since the film did a pretty amazing job of keeping it vague, I was seriously confused. A few days later when I was home eating a hard boiled egg that I held with a napkin, I asked my parents "how babies start."

Both my parents chuckled, but not enough at me that I was discouraged to press on. This is where I kind of remember my dad going into the kitchen and only coming in and out of the conversation. I am not sure if he was embarrassed or if it was just a conversation that was "supposed" to be had between mother and daughter. My mom began to explain to me the real way babies come to be. She recalls that my faced dropped and then I put down the egg I was eating. I asked if she and daddy did that, and when she said yes, I proceeded to go down the list of every couple I could think of. I was trying to visualize and process how so many people (even my grandparents) could do such a thing. It blew my mind and I didn't want to eat eggs for a long time after that.

Despite some bumps in the road between my late teens and well my late 20's, I have a pretty healthy comfort level when it comes to sex. It is my hope that when my daughter gets old enough, that she will as well. At the end of last year when she was 8, I found out from a few mom's that I know that they had already had the "talk" with reason girls. I thought about waiting until my daughter came to me to discuss this topic, but I was concerned that if I waited some of her friends might get to her first. One day after school when she and I had some time alone, I asked her what she knew about how babies begin. She thought that they were grown from love and that she remembered my husband and I explaining to her once that daddy has "seeds" and mommy has little eggs and when they get together they can begin to grow a baby. Then I asked her how she thought they got together. When I explained how her face looked like what I imagine mine did when I put down that egg. 

She didn't go down the list of people like I did, but she did ask if my husband and I had done this more than once (since she has a brother). She asked if people like it, and I said yes. She took a moment and said “Well, this is very interesting and kind of strange." I agreed that it was. She hasn't spoke much about it since, but she read a bit more in a book meant to help girls learn about such things. She asked more about what a period is and when will she get breasts. I think she is right where she should be with these questions. The best news of all though is that she asks them, and not only to me. She asked my husband yesterday what it means when a woman thinks she might be pregnant. She wanted to know how a woman could just think she was pregnant instead of just being pregnant. I am not sure how she even got to that thought process, but thankfully he navigated his way through that successfully. She even asked him if when she is over eighteen and misses her period will that mean she is pregnant. He explained that there are different reasons why a woman could miss her period -- as far as more details, there is plenty of time for that. For now we are both happy that she still liked eggs and that she can come to us with questions.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sweet Valentines

Valentines Day is not my favorite holiday. It feels like an excuse for big box stores to charge us extra for items with pink hearts on them. It also feels like another day where kids get to eat extra candy, just because, and more work for parents to make enough cards to give to the whole class. Other than that, it is a lovely day to show people we love them.

Today felt a little bit different though. I chaperoned my son's Kindergarten class to the senior center where the kids sang the seniors a Valentines Day song. The children made cards and handed them out randomly to the seniors. If there was ever a way to show love in your heart, this was it. It was so special to see the seniors fawn over the little kids. The whole thing took about 15 minutes, but I wished we could have stayed there all day.

I am quite certain that not every senior and not every child understood exactly what was going on, but it was pretty beautiful nonetheless. There were also plenty who did understand and they were smitten. Especially seeing the children walk up to hand them a card. The adult on the recieving end of the card was so pleased. Our school only does this walking field trip with the kindergartners so I am so glad I went today. A lot of hearts were warmed today, including mine.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


There are few feelings better than feeling inspired. It's like a heat wave rising up in me when I hear someone speak wise words, see a beautiful film, or read an encouraging story. There is so much right now to be inspired by. As a woman, there is more deserved justice and respect being claimed in this moment in history than ever before. In entertainment, politics, sports, and business, there are more and more women in leadership. We have a long way to go, but we have also come so far.

This morning as I sat down to write, I asked myself what is in my heart in this moment right now. So many of us are trying so hard to live in the present moment. Being present with our loved ones, our co-workers and with ourselves is a goal worth striving for. It is a goal though that sometimes is like swimming against a current. Technology is a total distraction. I, for one, have sensory overload. There are screens everywhere, and keeping up in social media is a job in and of itself. My text alerts interrupt me constantly — I’m sure I can turn it off, but there is that collective urgent feeling we all feel that something important could be missed, and I need to be available.

I have written so many times that I feel like balance is a myth, yet I don't feel one should stop striving for it. The most inspiring woman to me is Oprah and following her Golden Globe speech I know I am not alone in my awe of her. She has five rules she follows for a better life, and so I dutifully take note of her  skills. With any luck I can attempt to start 2018 by following her lead. I have already forgotten 3 out of 5 of them, but one is to start the day with gratitude. Find something to be grateful for when you first open your eyes in the morning. Another is to take some time for yourself every single day. She meditates for twenty minutes in the morning and sometimes twenty in the evening. She doesn't have kids and probably doesn't do her own cooking and cleaning, but she still works her ass off, so there is that. The third I remember is to be present. So right here and right now, I am sitting with that. Without interruption, at least of the technical kind.

Inspiration shows up in so many forms. I can see it daily. Oprah is an obvious one since she speaks on behalf of so many and connects with even more. I can see inspiration in so many more ways though, when I look for it. I took a new class at the gym this morning and the kindness of the class regulars inspired me, the student's strength inspired me. My children innocence and hope inspires me. Public radio inspires me. Other's creativity inspires me to be more creative. The energy is everywhere and so along with my new goals of being patient and present, I am adding being inspired to the list, for if my eyes are open, it shouldn't hard to find.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Zip Home!

On February 7th, my father will turn 90-years-old. I would have wanted to be with him on his birthday, but he will be celebrating in Africa, where he has wanted to go for a very long time. My mother who is 11 years younger wasn't sure they should take such a big trip, but he insisted that as long they can, they should travel. After all, it's not every day that he turns 90.

My sister decided that just because my father wasn't going to be at home on his actual birthday doesn't mean he shouldn't have a party before he goes. She began to plan it and settled on a weekend when some of his closest friends would be able to come. I knew I also wanted to celebrate him so I booked a flight home and hoped to be able to keep it all surprise from him. I flew all the way to Israel for his 80th birthday and was able to keep that a secret so I was excited to do it again ten years later. Leaving the kids behind with my husband for the weekend I flew to NY and arrived Friday evening. My nephews picked me up at the airport and when we got to the house, my mom was just walking up with some takeout food. We let her walk in first, then my nephews, and then right behind them I walked up to him. It was the perfect surprise. His eyes seemed to pop out of his head, he asked what I was doing there, and when I said I came to surprise him he gave me the longest bear hug.

We all had dinner together, planned and prepped for the party, had a great time seeing old friends, and then the next day after breakfast I headed back home to LA. At the party I saw friends of my parents that I haven't seen since I was a child. It's an interesting conversation to have with someone when you are trying to catch them up on the last 25 years of your life. Equally interesting to hear what has developed for all of them. After the party we had a few guests who stayed on into the evening, and we sat down for dinner with them. A guest suggested we go around the table and say what specifically about my dad important or special to them. My sister and I shot eye rolls across the table, after putting together the whole party and talking to everyone all day, the last thing she was in the mood for is having to make a speech. We all did though and I was so glad we did. As each person took a turn around the table, I heard of how my dad had touched them with his generosity, how he was loving and open to anyone and everyone, how helpful he was, and what a kind man he is.

When it was my turn, I had a lot to say. I explained that he was the smartest person I knew. That I could ask him practically anything on any subject and he could answer me. I love that he calls me “tootsie” — even though I know he calls a lot of people “tootsie," it makes me feel special to him. I too shared how generous he is as a person, and what a fantastic grandpa he is with his six grand kids. There isn't a day when we don't speak on the phone, and I cherish every call.

My dad was born in 1928 to a religious family. He was a good son and a rule follower until he realized there was a whole world that he might be missing out on. He wanted to take a girl out on a date before she left NY and the only night she could meet was a Friday,  He left Brooklyn for Manhattan via train (which you don't do on the Sabbath) and when he came out of the subway platform and saw the streets were alive with people, he knew he wanted to be part of it. My grandmother wasn't thrilled with all of his choices. She was born in 1896 and she herself saw the seesaw of one foot in the old world and one in the new. She lived until she was 96 years old (we have some strong genes on that side of the family). Her sister also lived until 96, and they were two strong women who lived through a whole lot of change in their world. I named my daughter after both of them proudly. My father did upset the apple cart (literally since my grandfather had a cart at one time) when he married my mother. She was not the woman he escaped to meet, there were quite a few women he dated in between, but she was also not religious at all and so acceptance came but it took quite sometime.

My father has a passion for life. He can't get enough of it. When I talk to him now about his friends that he has lost, he will talk about them and then say he is sad they are gone, but that he isn't done yet. He keeps going, he has a lot to see, a lot more people to connect with and a lot more stories to tell. He jokes about getting old. He says it sucks, and it makes me smile when my dad says something sucks, because he really means it as it seems to be the most concise, emphatic way we have to say something is no good. He reminds me that an end is inevitable at some point, and he says that no one leaves the planet alive, but he has no plans of leaving anytime soon. That's good because I want to surprise him again when he turns 100! In the meantime I look forward to the daily phone calls.

Happy Birthday Daddy!