RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: May 2015

Moving Dad

“This is a new life. I want it,” I say to my father who is racked with nerves. “Say it,” I insist.

“This is a new life. I want it,” he repeats dutifully, like a child.

It is the night before his big move from New Jersey to Long Island to be closer us. Even though he lobbied for this, stress emanates from him like the hairs on a caterpillar. He’s so charged, he’s electric.

My doorbell rings and rings and rings interrupting us. It is my husband and two younger boys coming home from the park. My youngest son pokes his big happy face in the side window. His smile is as wide and unrestrained as the curly hair bursting from the sides of the helmet covering his head. He has been practicing on his new roller skates. I open the door and put a finger to my lips. He nods in understanding still beaming, and awkwardly stomps and slides his way to me for a hug to keep from falling down while simultaneously lifting my spirits.

Weeks ago I asked my father to fill a single box with books or tapes that he felt he couldn’t live without, not an easy task for a hoarder.

“Can I have 3 boxes?” He bargained.

“Yes, but let’s start with 1.”

“How about five, can I have five boxes?”

“Probably, but let me see you fill one.”

Yet instead of filling even one box, he spent the weeks negotiating over how many boxes he could take, and then working on stuff to give away. Now the night of the move, he has not packed a single thing. It’s no skin off my nose. His place is a cluttered shit hole. The more stuff he takes, the faster this new place will become a cluttered shit hole.

“Dad, you don’t need those things anymore. Let’s start fresh.”

“But collecting these things is all I’ve accomplished. I know it’s small but it matters.”

He’s regretful, but thankfully still sounds rational and lucid.

“You’ll find new things that matter,” I say looking out the window where my middle son and husband catch the last bits of day tossing the ball back and forth to each other on my overgrown lawn.

“I need to find a purpose. I have no purpose.” He laments. “And I can’t fill these boxes. It’s too hard. It’s too painful.”

“I know,” I soothe, unsure where my new found zen is coming from. I’ve spent these weeks gaining weight, spouting grey and blooming cold sores as I called social services, doctors, and advocates for the elderly. We are blindly jumping ship which isn’t great when you haven’t secured your lifeboat.

“Don’t worry. I’ve bought you all new things. You’ll have everything you need.”

I walk past the computer room where my oldest practices his Haftarah for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. His sweet voice swells with such beauty and hope I could cry.

“This is a new life,” my father repeats the mantra, trying to muster some enthusiasm, “I want it.”

I look around at the love that is here and think that if this doesn’t put joy in his heart nothing will.

“Good.” I confirm. “Because tomorrow it begins…”

Ready or not... Here he comes.

Ready or not… Here he comes.

Play Ball!

I interrupt my son and a bunch of his friends unwinding after a hard day’s school; lounging all over the grass like beautiful wild colts, playfully running around and taking swipes at each other.

“Your mom’s here,” one of the boys call out to my son. I know that boy, I think, squinting for a better look. In fact, I know all these boys, but they only remotely resemble the children who once played on my lawn.

Thirteen is almost an unrecognizable age. Faces morph, becoming more angular, bodies lengthen, voices change, along with dress, hair styles and personalities. When they greet me these days, I always need a second look. And it’s usually up.

His friends have grown, not only in stature but socially – most have or have had a girlfriend (I know!), all text, Instagram and Snap Chat. My son isn’t there yet; lingering a bit on the outside throwing free shots, cruising round their savvy on a ripstick, dashing through their long legs like a pup. At times I worry that he doesn’t quite fit in, but he has something in common with all these boys that links them tighter than their years of elementary friendship.

He is an athlete.

Even though they play a myriad of sports: baseball, lacrosse, basketball, football, whatever, they are all competitors who play hard and play to win. They respect that in each other, as friends, teammates and rivals.

There’s been a lot written lately about youth sports, about diehard coaches exceeding the limits of responsibility, about parents and their crazy antics from the sidelines, about kids pushed to be too much too soon.

Of course all that stuff exists. There are assholes out there both on the field and off. I’ve seen them white knuckled and pacing, heard their megaphone shouts. But they are by far the minority.

With three boys, I live sports, baseball especially. My husband coaches and he wears his cap with pride. I watch him on the fields with all his boys and am in awe. The way he brings them up but doesn’t baby. The way he unites them as a team but works with them individually. The way he volunteers his time to instruct, guide and encourage. The way he shows up for the games and practices, even if it means his wife might be waiting in the bleachers in a pretty dress to go out for their anniversary (or something like that). The way he supports them emotionally and watches out for them physically. The way the boys all look at him, and whether they say, “Thank you, coach,” or not, I see the respect in their eyes.

As I am leaving with my son from his friend’s house, the ice cream man’s merry song fills the street. Hypnotically, all these Kings horses rise and start a slow gallop toward the sweet promise. They laugh and shove each other almost tripping over their new limbs.

I am so thankful for these boys and for coaches like my husband who ground them with positive, productive and life learning experiences that bond them at an age where everything is changing and growing, including their characters.

Because as enigmatic as they now seem, I know that these young men, these young athletes are my son’s team, his tribe and his friends; that they have his back and that for years to come I’ll be seeing them in each other’s backyards, lives and out there on those fields of dreams.


Let's hear it for the boys!

Let’s hear it for the boys!

The road I didn’t want to travel

I stand at a crossroad.

There is no surprise. For years I pretended not to see it, concentrating on my own road full of twists and turns, dips and potholes; distracted by precious cargo, flowers blooming along the path and long easy stretches walking in the sun.

But now a new direction looms before me. It is dark and unknown, filled with landmines and difficult terrain. In fact there’s a glaring neon sign screaming, “WRONG WAY!” Yet, here I go, right or wrong, ready or not.


Even though it’s cloudy and hard to see, I continue on, reckless and hopeless trying to find my way. The rain pours down and I am in uncharted territory, lost and scared. Oh my God, what was I thinking moving my father from NJ to NY?! I spent forever getting him set up with all those benefits and a home health aide who does all the stuff I don’t want to do!

But, at least he’s not two bridges away.

Oh my GOD he’s not two bridges away! He’s going to be right here!

Air. I need air! ARGH!!! Who put this walker in front of me! F%*#&!@!

Wait… that’s why we’re moving him. So he can be closer. It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing.

There are just So. Many. Doctors.

Internist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, podiatrist, vascular, dermatologist, psychiatrist, neurologist, oncologist, pain management…

Who are just So. Done. With. Him. He needs new ones.

Oh jeez! I have to find new ones!

Tape, red and hot, strangling me. Can’t breathe.

No! I will fight my way through, battle social services, find a kind, reliable and capable new home health aide. I’ll get the benefits straightened out and, and, I won’t even look at the mountain in front of me. I’ll just keep climbing up up up.

Get him packed and moved. Buy a ton of new (nice) shit (that he will destroy). Organize everything. Make sure we find the right person to manage his meds.

Don’t think. One step at a time. Call electric, cable, phone, movers.

Social services. Advocates for the aging. Medicaid.

Things will get done. We have already made some progress.

The rain drizzles down but the storm cloud lifts just a little. Even though it is dark, the mood has lightened, brightening the landscape. I can still make out the blur of the neon sign flashing ominously in the haze but there’s no turning back now. For better or for worse we are on this new road.

Maybe, just maybe we are headed in the right direction.

I hope I’m wearing good shoes.

Gee, this road looks pretty. Lets go this way!

Gee, this road looks pretty. Lets go this way!

Passing Me By

I caught a glimpse of her pushing her double stroller along the side of the road as I sped by in my car on my way to crossing things off my list and getting things done.

The baby slept while her toddler twisted around in her seat. The woman, who seemed more a girl with her pony tail and workout clothes, slowed her pace then reached down into the basket underneath and handed her a sippy cup. Satisfied, the child sat back down and enjoyed the scenery while her mom strode onward to some unknown destination, the exercise and fresh air the most important part of the excursion.

My heart smiled, remembering that time both long ago and only yesterday when just getting out of the house was an accomplishment. When I couldn’t let my kids go without a good cry, stalked the nursery school, reveled in my martyrdom, ate up every bit of deliciousness and mourned the passage of time.

I loved being that mom. I loved her so much. And I loved those babies in an almost cripplingly powerful way. I wanted nothing for myself but to peacefully drift into the overwhelming tide, going under without struggle and no intention or interest in coming up for air. At times it seemed stressful, caring for these needy, fragile creatures but mostly we rode our days along peacefully with a few good friends who made all the difference.

But now, I’m different. I’m older. My babies are no longer babies. They are 7, 10 and almost 13.  I no longer have time to stroll, or even a stroller to push. My sippy cups have been replaced with sports bottles. I drive because my world has kicked into a higher gear and I need to keep up the pace. Beep beep, chop chop, let’s move it along, lady.

And I like it; the constant motion, the shift in priorities – I’m almost a person again! Having children that can actually (when they decide to) communicate and express themselves. Who are complicated, interesting and (when they decide to be) capable. Who are smart and strong and (except to each other) kind. Who are growing into young men I like, who make me proud and happy and grateful.

But I guess like with most things past, I’m sentimental. It was an age of innocence, theirs and mine. A time to laugh when you’re late for a music class and you just dropped your coffee on the floor and your baby pooped through his clothes again. A time to cry when you’re working on three hours of sleep with a newborn and your oldest sneaks into your bed in the middle of the night and throws up on you. A time to dance to Laurie Berkner and giggle with the Wiggles. And a time for endless walks with a good friend, a stroller stocked with goldfish and lollipops and your babies at the center of your world.

And you still at the center of theirs.


Happy Mother’s Day! No matter what stage you’re in, it’s a beautiful place to be.


But there's this too