icon-no-judgement

Category: transitions

Letter To My Daughter On Her 7th Birthday

Photo by Dana Schwartz

Today was your birthday. Last night I kissed you before bed, hugging you close while your little brother made siren noises and flapped his arms like a wild bird. I whispered in your ear about your special gift, the one you gave me, when you made me a mother seven years ago.

Your annoyance at your brother–completely understandable because, boy, is that kid loud–began to fade and a sweet smile spread across your face. I told you about the night you were born, a story you’ve heard dozens of times, and you drank it up like a thirsty bird.

How I was lying in bed, frantically going over my labor notes from class, wondering how on earth I was going to have a baby, when suddenly, I felt a stabbing pain in my abdomen, and bam, just like that, it was on.

“Did it help to read the notes?” you asked, brow furrowed.

This Father’s Day, Appreciation for my Co-Parent

photo by John McElhenney

I’m divorced, with two wonderful kids (ages 14 and 12). This Father’s Day, I’m giving respect and love to the mother of my children. She’s a hard working, strong loving and efficient woman. As our kids’ counselor said, “It takes two strong parents to raise such smart and happy children.”

She’s always been clear about providing the best experience and opportunities for our kids. Maybe that’s how the divorce came to light for her. Somehow, along the way, she decided that “apart” would be healthier for her and for the kids.

We did our best, but we didn’t anticipate some of the changes that would take place in our marriage. We don’t always deal with them very well. At least now, the arrangements will be spoken and negotiated in the open.

We had money issues in the marriage. We have money issues as co-parents. Perhaps it was this issue that caused the divorce

Karma And The First Time Mom

mom takes pictures

Remember those compromising videos you allowed people to take of you when you were younger?

Videos you would be mortified for your friends to watch.

There’s a video of that nature floating around this house that caused me to flinch in embarrassment every time I was forced to watch it.

It’s the video of my first few hours of motherhood. The cameras were rolling 24/7 the day my first daughter was born. An hour or so after my she was conceived, my parents couldn’t beat a path to Best Buy fast enough to purchase a large and cumbersome Panasonic Video Camera.

They diligently toted this contraption around for many years documenting every moment of this child’s life, beginning with the day she was born. (Regrettably, these videos didn’t disappear in 10 seconds like today’s Snap Chat. Our generation had to wait years for VCRs to become obsolete.)

There are several unsettling things about this video,

Course Correction

photo by Mariet Copic

I was at least ten miles along when I realized my mistake.

I was supposed to go east, but in a distracted moment, I took the west ramp onto the freeway instead. It was a familiar route, one I traveled often, so it was awhile before I realized the exits I was flying past were all going in the wrong direction.

My stomach tightened as it occurred to me that a fairly quick 20-minute drive had instantly transformed into an hour-long ordeal. And we hadn’t even arrived yet.

I let out a very mature “AAAAUUUUUURRRGGGGHHHHH!” which naturally got the attention of my four-year-old son in the back seat.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” he asked. He was so excited for our destination, a local attraction to which we have season tickets.

“I went the wrong way,” I growled, as the dreary winter sky darkened another shade.

I wanted to turn around and go home. As usual, I had

Flip-Flops and the Teenager

Photo: Rudolf Vlček

When my son was a new adolescent, he was still willing to hold my hand, accompany me to the movies, and join me in a friendly board game.

This period of acceptance preceded his teenage years, when he naturally attempted to assert his independence–never to be seen in public having physical contact with his mother, never to willingly discuss any detail of social events involving girls, and never–NO NEVER–to wear any footwear other than flip-flops.

When the flip-flop phase began, I expected it to be just that–a short-lived period. I was certain that when the leaves changed color and began to slowly disappear, so would the flip-flops. As happens each year, the weather grew colder and the first flakes of snow fell; the flip-flops, however, remained a constant. They nestled on the mudroom floor between the sneakers, cleats and, eventually, snow boots of my other children.

Initially, I urged my son to wear

My Daughter is Infatuated with Boobies

photo by Nicolas Alejandro

My youngest tries to cop a little feel.

Until recently, she’d be sitting on my lap for a snuggle and before I knew it, she’d have her hand pulling down the front of my shirt to peek in, her fingers reaching in. Or during story time, her head nestled on my unsuspecting shoulder, she’d reach over and squeeze one.

And then she’d laugh. A big, guttural guffaw.

I’d gently take her hands away–those are mommy’s privates.

I’d turn my head and she’d try again. I’d repeat–those are mommy’s privates.

As I blocked this adorable hand, I was tossed back to high school. You remember the times when you’d hope to sit on the couch and watch a movie without someone reaching up your shirt. Seriously, these are my privates. I’m not throwing a party.

But this is innocent curiosity–she just turned four. I want her to know her curiosity is normal. I mean, boobs are interesting;

Why We Should All Have Seven Kids

Bernd Zimmermann

I’m in early morning boot camp class when the instructor, Karen, finds out that Chrissy, one of the women in the class, has seven kids. Karen’s obvious shock and massive self-editing effort were fun to witness.

Karen wanted to say: “Are you kidding me? Did you have seven kids on purpose? Do you know about birth control? Are you part of a fundamentalist church? What is your husband like? Are you OK? Do you need help? Do you have your own reality TV show? Are you kidding me?”

Karen’s editing was only partially successful, leading to several mildly inappropriate questions. Chrissy was gracious. She was used to this response.

Then another woman in the class said she saw Chrissy with all of her seven kids at the grocery store recently. She said  Chrissy’s kids were not complaining, hitting each other, asking to buy something, demanding attention or getting lost. Chrissy said, “Well, they

A New Story

4293960115_807b80795d_o

Dumpster diving. Not how I like to spend my time. Especially not when the dumpster is next to the Harvard Club of Boston parking lot.

Dressed in black leggings and a Fire Department of New York tee-shirt with the words, KEEP BACK 200 FEET, on the back, I look the part. I’m wearing this paint-spattered get-up because I am in Boston painting my daughter’s apartment on Commonwealth Avenue. Poking around in the dumpster, using a long curtain rod that I had thrown out the day before, is not a day at the races. I could get arrested. This is not legal. Yet I am determined to stay the course and do what it takes to find the missing Piglet, age 19.

“Where’s Peebet?” were my daughter’s first words when we returned from dinner at Dillon’s.

“Oh, I’m sure he’s fallen under your bed,” was my response. I was exhausted, having fought a losing

Text to Self

Text to Self

It was dark, too dark to be out on a walk with a toddler. We had been in search of a playground and it was just a day or two after the daylight savings time change.

I had misjudged both the time and the distance. It was past dinnertime and I was tired, my baby cranky.

I

A Rich Husband?

photo by brutapesquisa Flickr CC

“Alice said she needs to find a rich husband,” my friend Dana said as we were having lunch in New York City last week.

“What did you tell her?” I asked, incredulous that her daughter would say such a thing.

“I told her I agreed!” was my friend’s response. “She doesn’t really want to work. She wants to have lunch with friends, go to the gym and museums, have lots of babies.”

Alice is a recent graduate of an elite college in Maine, with a degree in art history and French. Jobless, and showing few signs of seeking employment, she’s living in her tiny former bedroom in her parents’ apartment on West End Avenue.

“She tells Richard and me it’s our fault for sending her to an all-girls private school for rich kids,” Dana went on.

The school in question is the Convent of the Sacred Heart, and Alice’s classmates included the usual hedge fund

First Time to Ski

First Time to Ski

Just Say Yes

Photo: Traci Shannon

With all the craziness of downsizing from 1600 sq. ft. home to a 320 sq. ft. trailer to see the lower 48 states in a year-long family road trip, I’ve had some control issues. This has caused the word “No” to come out of my mouth more often than I would like.

So when my daughter mentioned

Candy Land 101: A Preschooler’s Practicum on Justice

Photo by: Nathan

“But I want to go straight ahead!” my four-year-old daughter wailed, slamming her blue plastic doughboy back to the top of the cheerful, winding path on the Candy Land game board.

Stella had just drawn the ice cream card, immediately followed by the gingerbread man card. Anyone who’s played the game will understand that this is the cruelest fate one can suffer while tramping around the kingdom of the Lollipop Woods and Gumdrop Mountains.

A tantrum was most definitely in order.

Being a child of the 70’s and 80’s myself, I could vividly recall that feeling of utter injustice aroused by drawing the gingerbread man late in the game, or landing on the boy who breaks the cookie jar in Chutes and Ladders. Even worse was being on the losing end of a contentious game of Sorry. In that sadistic rite of passage, a lucky roll of the dice would turn your

When You Least Expect It

Photo Credit: el7bara

I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. When I opened the door to the hallway, there was my seven-year-old son waiting for his turn.

And seeing him, standing in his boy-sized underwear in the glow of the nightlight, my heart split right open and my throat caught.

There was something in

New Kids On The Block

school hallway

I have four kids and they all started new schools this year. When my youngest son told me (in tears) the kind of first day he had, I admit, I shed some tears of my own.

It was the classic new-kid-on-the-block (not the band, but I love you Donnie Wahlberg) syndrome.

Recess included walking around by himself. Kids ignored him and he ate lunch alone at his desk. The worst part? His teacher had a life-size cut out of Taylor Swift sporting a “Welcome” sign at the door of the classroom. I have no words for this.

Attending a new school is hard on most kids for obvious reasons and starting over isn’t always the most enjoyable of hobbies.  I understand the stress since I changed schools seven times, although I realize it’s more difficult now with the pressures kids face on a daily basis.

These last few months, I’ve been figuring out (the hard

Surviving the Morning Child

photo by: NAGANO TOYOKAZU

Beep beep beep beep.

A grumble and a groan, another day of this crap.

It’s the daily face off: Not-a-morning-person vs. the-morning-person.

I’ve never been one to enjoy mornings. Bring me my coffee and back away slowly.

I have never bounced out of bed, ready to start my day. The alarm going off is greeted with a curse word and slapping in the general direction of the alarm clock. Coffee allowed me to get out of the house before 7AM, in a somewhat good mood. Well , it did before having a kid. Coffee earns its nickname name “liquid sanity” since I became a mother.

Why, oh why, then was I cursed with a morning child? This child is awake and singing at 6AM. My first response to that is not very Motherly at all. It’s normally something along the lines of: Shut the F up.

My daughter greets the morning like Cinderella does. The birds’ early

The Moment My Children’s Fashion Sense Blindsided Me

photo by Jen Preiss

I believe I have a good fashion sense. I have clothed all my children without someone questioning my taste. Even my own clothing has earned occasional positive reviews.

So I wasn’t prepared for my children to rebel, making shopping a grueling nightmare. I’ve had more fun at my yearly OB/GYN visits.

My thirteen-year-old son refused to wear

Stepping Off the Parent Treadmill

Photo by: Leslie Gordon

Ever since having children, I’ve felt like I’m on a treadmill: getting through the days, trying to keep up with who needs what when (usually: everyone, all the time), all the while wondering what this is for, how it really works, and, of course, if I’m doing it right.

But

One Of THOSE Moms

Loud Mom with Radio

It’s happened. Other than being a human vending machine, my tween kids find me pretty much uncool.

I knew it was only a matter of time. I had been warned by the moms who had paved the way before me, but secretly hoped I would be exempt. Still, nothing quite prepares you for it until it actually happens to you. My kids are officially embarrassed of me.

I remember the days of clingy children, when no one else but mom could soothe the anxious soul. Not so much anymore. A text message from a bestie works just fine.

On the rare occasion I have to physically enter my kid’s educational institution (a tragedy in their sweet minds),
I am given the following instructions:

Do not say anything to anyone.

Do not make eye contact.

Do not speak to my teacher.

Do not try to hug or kiss me.

Do not introduce yourself to the class.

Do not bring my lunch in late

Text Your Children Well

texting

I came late to texting. I resisted getting a smartphone for the longest time, knowing that once I did I would never escape work again (which was true). Although I love my smartphone, I do sometimes miss the days when I was physically capable of walking away from my work email account.

Even when I finally stepped on the smartphone train, I continued to abstain from the world of texting. I didn’t see the need for communication that a phone call or an email couldn’t fill.

And then my daughter went to college. Let me tell you, I am now the biggest fan of texting you’ve ever met. I’ll tell random people how great it is that I can have a quick, non-intrusive conversation with my daughter any time I want.

And she’ll write me back and share all sorts of details about her life… with me! Her mom!

I text her all the