Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Alex says...

...the main things that I listen to on Apple music are Eminem, Van Halen and the Hamilton soundtrack.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I knit, I write I quiet my brain

Dear kids,

It's Halloween night and I am listening to you in the other room trading candy. This end of the day is idyllic and happy, but there have been times today where my heart hurt for you, where I just wanted to protect you from the pain of growing up. This specific kind of heart pain always comes from relationships and learning to be social and feeling left out and finding your place. It stinks, but in a way I am also glad for these tiny hurts. In the long run, it will make you decent human beings.

I hope that we are done with the bad and that we can settle into a busy, easy, happy time.

I am glad that you are exactly who you are.

I love you,
Mom

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hints of Judaism

Dear Avery,

Today I was listening to you talk to one of your friends.  You were talking about a Thanksgiving project on which your class is working.  You said to your Jewish friend (referring to a cornucopia), "You know that Thanksgiving thing that looks like a shofar?"

I don't know why, but that one little sentence made me so happy.  It is hard having a Jewish identity when you live in a country where although there is separation of church and state, the majority of people do indeed go to the aforementioned "church".  Somehow by knowing the word "shofar" before you know the word "cornucopia" I have hope that you will be an American (adjective) Jew (noun), rather than a Jewish American.

Shanah Tovah to my sweet Aviva Gila.

Love,
Mama




Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Let's Talk About Sex, Babeee...

Dear Avery,

Yesterday you and I had this conversation:

Avery: (out of no where) "So what does sex feel like, anyway?"

Me: (thinking to myself, why the heck are you thinking about this and how can I deflect and do I really want to have this conversation) "When you are in love, it can feel good."

Avery: "But like, what is it!?!  I know you get under the covers....I mean, have you ever done sex?"

Me: (thinking, phew! she gave me an out!) "Yes, of course.  You have sex to make babies and I had you and Alex." (also do I need to do a better job of explaining where babies come from?  maybe, but not right now.)

Avery:  "Ok.  Makes sense."

You are almost eight and a half years old.  Don't grow up too fast.

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Looking into the (not so distant) future

Dear Alex,

Last week we spent the week on a family cruise to celebrate Grammy and Grandpa Howie's fiftieth wedding anniversary.  For the most part you hung out with Avery and your cousins and had a wonderful time.  But you also wanted to push outward a bit and be a (pre)teen, if only for a little while.  This attitude manifested itself a few times during the cruise, most notably:


  • They have this teen program.  Most kids who attend go with their friends or family who are on the boat with them.  It is VERY brave in my opinion to go on your own to something like this.  Not only did you go, not only did you make a friend (at first you thought his name was Brett, but then you discovered that his name was Fred), but you stayed out until midnight!  We were already in bed when you came back to the room.  It just felt so "teenager" of you.  By the way, it's not like you and Fred became life long buddies.  You agreed to hang out with him the next day, but then you were kind of done.  You wanted to prove to yourself that you could do it and you did.
  • And then you were back with your family.  But you were still acting like a teenager at times.  In fact, Uncle Josh helped you with this pursuit by being your wingman (and teaching you how to talk to girls).  This is you guys waiting in line for the FlowRider on ship surfing.  Josh is helping you in your conversation with Emma.  An older woman of thirteen.


I hope you have a great seventh grade year.  That you continue to grow up.  But please don't grow up too fast.

Love you,
Mom

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Insomnia

2.

More.

Weeks.

Five weeks is long enough.  I'm ready for them to come home.  And I can't sleep thinking about it.  And about other things.  Because once they come home:

1. Will I arrange the perfect homecoming?  Will they get the right amount of time with their parents? With their friends?  Alone, because they haven't been alone in seven weeks.

2. Do I need to get them checked for lice and have their laundry done by a professional like the other moms?

3. How will I have enough time to get all their laundry done and everything organized before we leave for Florida?

4. How will I have time to pack for Florida and the cruise for myself and for them while also working and spending time with them?

5. Is it weird if they come home and don't want to hug me and kiss me endlessly?

6. Will they be okay in school this year?

7. Will I do a good job of planning their activities while balancing a need for busy-ness with time for homework and time for laziness?

8. What will I forget?

And then there is work:

A. Ms. 98% HAS to finish packing up her office this week.

B. And has to do her online digital training.  All six hours of it.

C.  For our temporary work space, where will I drive and park?  What is the best place to park?

D.  Will there be a place for me to sit?

E. What if my new job stinks? 

F. Will I still feel like a part of a community?  And if I don't, how will I lead?

And personal:

1. What the heck is wrong with my left leg?  Will I ever feel like I am important enough to get it checked out?  And if I go, will they validate that something is wrong?

2. With my graying hair and expanding waistline, am I still attractive?

3. Do I indulge too much and become a selfish human being while the kids are away at camp?

4. Am I not adventurous enough (at all) while the kids are away at camp?

5. Is there some sort of summer philanthropy that I can add to my routine to feel good about myself?  Where and how should i get involved?

6. Will typing all this down make it easier to go to sleep or make the thoughts swirl through my head even faster and more furiously.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Refresh

Dear Kids,

It is almost the end of day four at camp.  I haven't received a letter yet or had a chance to talk to you and I am dying to hear all about your experiences: the good and the bad, the scary and the exciting.

In the meantime, I am a stereotype.  I am desperate to know that you are more than okay, that you are happy so I do what all mothers who send their kids to sleep away camp do, I refresh.  I am on the camp website numerous times a day to see are there new photos of you.  Can I catch a glimpse of an arm or a leg - "those are definitely her shoes!" - among a group of kids?  The crown jewel, a photo of you smiling with your arm slung around a buddy's shoulder?  Camp is a gift, but it is not a gift that is for everyone and as it is Avery's first summer going away this year, I refresh.

I try to give it time to be patient.  But it is hard, especially since no one needs to know just how often I am checking, how often I refresh.

I refresh on my phone when I wake up in the morning.  I refresh when I get to work and I turn on my computer.  I refresh when I need a break from writing an email or a presentation.  I refresh.

I love you both so much.  I miss you.  My heart hurts with missing you.  I'm not allowed to write that in a letter that I mail to you at camp, because I want you to be happy.  But years from now if you read this, please know that not a minute goes by when you are away that I am not missing you.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I can barely breathe

Dearest Alex and Avery,

Today is the last day of sixth and second grade.  In two days, for the first time BOTH of you will get on a bus to Pennsylvania for summer camp and leave me with an empty house for the summer.  Alex, while camp is your easy, happy place, at home you continue to work on finding your place among your school friends.  I'm not sure that you have plans for after school on the last day of school, but I am hoping that you find someone (or even better some group) to spend time with and do not come home to sit around by yourself on the last day of school.  Avery, camp is brand new for you and I wonder how you will fall asleep each night without a chapter from a book, a hug and snuggle from your mama. All of it, all of it has me sitting at home feeling sad and saddened (are those different?) and like I can barely breathe.  I just want happiness and lightness and perfection for you both even as I want to keep you young and tiny and keep you all to myself.

Love,
Your mom in conflict and sadness and happiness



Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hypocrisy

Hi Kids,

There have been some horrific mass shootings recently.  None of them are okay.  Hatred is never a good thing and killing for hatred is the worst.

The latest, an attack against the LGBTQ community in Orlando had the founder of Facebook rushing to activate "Safety Check" so that people could let their friends and loved ones know that they were safe.  This attack came only days after a group of Israelis were killed and wounded in a market in Tel Aviv.

Facebook ALWAYS activates this Safety Check feature, EXCEPT when something happens in Israel to Israelis.  I am sickened by this hypocrisy. 

You are so lucky to live in an area of the world where you are safe, however it truly feels like a world in which people will turn on you at any moment. Because you are Jewish.  A world where a Jewish-by-birth founder of Facebook does not offer the same level of safety to all people.

Please embrace the wonderful heritage and culture into which you were born.  And ALWAYS remember to speak up to protect ALL people.

#alllivesmatter #jewishlivesmatter

Love,
Mom

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Shining, then sharing

Dear Avery,

Tomorrow is your eighth birthday.  You were very excited this morning to be able to say "tomorrow is" instead of five days, four days, etc., until my birthday.

And as usual, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about your past year to best encapsulate in one letter to you all that has happened, all that defines you.

Forever Building Fantastical and Magical Worlds
So some of what I write is easy because there are elements of your personality that I have been writing about for eight years that will always hold true: your joie de vivre and your intense desire to play.  If I close my eyes it is very easy to picture you as a cartoonish Tasmanian Devil creating a maelstrom of Polly Pockets, Calico Critters and American Girl dolls in her path.  This explosion of colorful plastic brings you great happiness whether it is shared with a friend or when you are quietly creating a magical world on your own.

If it's not with toys, then you create these worlds through your drawing and coloring.  I find it interesting that while you do not outright reject coloring books, you have always preferred (and continue to prefer) creating and coloring in your own drawings.  In the past year, you have taken great pride in looking at a picture and recreating it in great detail.  It takes focus and it is impressive.  And even more impressive is when it is not perfect, that you do not get frustrated, but you work harder to learn how to do it better.

And regardless of whether it's with toys or with drawing it is ALWAYS accompanied by a giant and clutter-filled mess!  I try to take a deep breath and let you express your creativity, but sometimes what you see as fun and I see as a complete lack of order can create extreme moments of strife.  I still love you, even if you are messy, I promise. :)

Focusing....Outside of the Public Eye
Last year I wrote about your determination to get things right, to keep trying and practicing until you were just about perfect.  I still see this determination in you, but it has evolved.  Last year you would try and try and try right alongside your friends (who may have already perfected a task).  This year I have found that you want some skills all to yourself, that you are not as willing to share and learn alongside your friends.  It's not that you mind them seeing you imperfect, it's more like you want to love new & different things without having to share them, to have something that's yours and yours alone.  I really understand that desire.  I relate it to being the second child, to learning something new only to hear from your older sibling (I'm talking to you Alex and Dawn!) "well everybody already knows that!"

Believe in True Friendship
By having something for yourself you never feel left out or left behind.  I think it is a great way for you to build confidence, so I will help you protect these moments.  But I do hope you remember that when your friends hear about what you are doing and want to join you, it is because they are your friends and they love you and spending time with you, not because they are trying to rise above you.

So take your time to shine, but then also remember to share with friends.  Recognize the good in people; they don't always have ulterior motives.  You will spend a lifetime navigating friendships; I still do!  Please don't be cynical.  Remember that not every friend has to be a "best friend"; you can enjoy playing with someone just once in a while and that is enough. And please try to let the hurt roll off of you - your family and your true friends will always be there to give you a hug.


Happy birthday to my sweet, kind, feeling, exuberant, loud, crazy, expressive, smiley, toothless (finally!) eight year old girl!
I love you with the tightest hug and squeeze that I could possibly muster.
Love,
Mama