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Monthly Archives: January 2016

I’m Not Going Anywhere, Kid.

They say there’s always one born to drive you crazy. That would be my 10 year-old, a whip smart, manipulative, feisty and sensitive boy who only takes no for an answer if it’s the answer he wants.

We’ve just gone a round or two over putting away his clothes. It was a simple request that should have taken five minutes that I gave more than a full day’s latitude before putting my foot down. But instead of compliance with a loud sigh, we spent a solid half hour in a heated battle of wills.

“It will take you five minutes.” I maintained calmly. “Let’s not continue this waste of time. Go get it done so we can move on.”

“There is no purpose to it!” He insisted, always looking to debate. “I like them on my floor… It’s my room.”

Back and forth we went until I stopped. “No more discussion. I’m telling you what you need to do, and if you don’t there will be a consequence. Last warning.”

He wasn’t happy but finally complied. Fear of losing his device carries weight. It’s possibly my only real leverage.

Not 15 minutes later, my quills from our recent clash barely settled, he wanders back into the kitchen bounce, bounce, bouncing his basketball with a smile that makes me wait for what’s coming.

“Hey,” He greets through bounces that feel like it’s my head banging against a wall.

“Hey,” I reply, standing up a little straighter, eyeing him.

He takes his time, drawing it out.

“So mom, why don’t you work?”

I’m confused, thrown off. I thought he’d request macaroni and cheese or an M&M yogurt, if he could skip Hebrew school or if 2, 3 or 4 of his closest friends could come over, but this…

“What do you mean? Taking care of you boys and daddy and the house and everything is a lot of work.”

“Yeah, but it’s not a real job.”

I’m trying hard not to be defensive but my heart is shattered all over my kitchen floor, along with some lost morning cereal and crumbs. I suck.

“Taking care of you guys is a real job.”

He looks at me smug, like I should know better. “Not really.”

All of sudden all the stay-at-home vs working mommy wars are right here in my house coming from the most unexpected of places, from one of the people I revolve my world around.

“So you want a nanny to take care of you?”  I am a wounded animal, a wounded domestic animal.

He shrugs, “I wouldn’t mind.”

UGH. He’s killing me. I bend down to pick up Cheerios and wonder if I’m paying for the battle over the clothes. Or maybe he would like to see me working. Whenever I show him essays of mine or talk about publishing a book I wrote, he is proud. Maybe he wants to be able to show me off.  But more likely, he’s the cat and I’m just a mouse that he’s toying with.

“Your brothers would mind,” I counter. “They like that I pick you guys up and come to all the school stuff and bake brownies. They like that I’m here to help with homework and hang out.”

“You could still do that if you worked.”

“Yeah. Well no. I couldn’t do all that.” Another piece of my self-worth crumbles to the floor.

“Well the nanny could.” He’s not letting up for one second.

We’re at an impasse and I’m ready to get a job just to spite him. Visions of Nanny Ratched play out in my head.

I sigh. It’s time to change the subject. “So are you hungry? Do you want macaroni and cheese?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Thanks.”

As I put the pot on, he pulls his homework from his book bag and I watch his bowed head, busy at work, scribbling off answers. This is my job. This is where I love and need to be. He can push all he wants.

The water is boiling but I am not.


You’re stuck with me tough guy. MWAH!

Cancer sucks but you’re beautiful

Monitoring stations divide the functionally open room; chairs and beds strategically positioned in every corner and in every chair and bed a body. I pull her plaid rolling luggage carrier filled with snacks and warm booties and we make light small talk while following the kind, ample bodied nurse, softened even further by the box of chocolates my cousin hands her.

This treatment my cousin has not scored a bed and she reclines in her waiting chair, seeking maximum comfort in a place with minimal comforts. Removing her soft cotton slouchy cap from her newly shorn head, she sighs, relieved to be uncovered, momentarily enjoying the coolness of leather against her scalp.

Not too long ago I watched them buzz it off, or what was left of it. Her once richly luxurious hair fell in dark thin clumps onto the floor in her kitchen while I manically swept, worried the hair would trigger unstoppable tears to fall as well. Amazingly they didn’t. She was already all cried out.

How did we get here? To this chair, in this cool, efficient room where my beautiful, vibrant cousin who manages her life and work with the power and fierceness of a clap of thunder and her 2 ½ year old like a soft cloud filtered by sun sits before me hooked up to drips and portals and an amazingly bright smile.

She looks herself, pretty with sparkly earrings and lipstick. I remember all the times years ago watching her artfully apply a streak of black liner or curl her lashes with an apparatus that resembled a director’s chair. Four years older, she walked all the paths of adolescence first – from makeup to boys to drinking – and her sister and I followed with her as our guide.

It’s been decades since I watched her transform her face in the magnifying mirror; a little girl standing behind her admiring her maturity, confidence and skill. I feel much like that girl now, seeing her here, admiring her beauty, her courage and strength. But unfortunately Cancer is not something lipstick can cover.

No one can truly understand what it’s like to live through the pain and discomfort, the emotional turmoil and sleepless nights, the phone calls telling and retelling a story that makes you sick, the people who disappoint you and the hope and doubt that constantly wage war along with the medications inside you.

While most of my days stream by with carpooling and homework, running to the supermarket or gym, my cousin endures one treatment to the next fueled on pharmaceuticals and kisses from her daughter.

But I see that sunshiney day in the not too distant future when this will all be past. Instead of talking in between fluids and poisonous, life-saving drips, we will laugh between sushi rolls and Chardonnay. She will be well and move on to enjoying the frustrations and difficulties of everyday – the annoying woman in front of her at check out, negotiating with her two year-old to go potty, working her job while managing her household.

There will be nothing new and exciting to discuss beyond what we ate for dinner, where we went on the weekend and our beautiful, wonderful, sometimes pain in the ass children.

Life will be typical, average, ordinary. And we will celebrate.


Time For My Big Girl Pants


From my storm door I fog up the glass watching my middle son race around on the neighbor’s lawn. Our neighbor’s daughter is with him, but of course she’s in long pants and a winter coat and he’s in a pair of shorts, beaming as he crunch, crunch, crunches over the frozen grass.  Last winter of course, we went through the same. It’s a thing, my older sons tell me, but looking around all I notice are appropriately dressed kids. Not that this is something I stress over. They wear their hoodies. And if they’re cold, well, they know the draw to pull.

My youngest boy wearing pants and a jacket (clearly the smart one) lingers in the house with me, timidly watching the cold from the inside and waiting for that strip of yellow to rumble up the block. Usually my middle son screams, “Bus!” and on his signal we bolt through the door, out into the street where the belabored vehicle idles, creaking its doors open, panting exhaust fumes.

They step on and I follow their little faces and wave, almost immediately losing my 5th grader to his posse in the back seats. But my 2nd grader hangs with me, his brave smile pressed up against the tinted or possibly just very dirty windows, barely concealing his anxiety at leaving his home and me before the bus heaves up, heavily turns and makes its way to the next stop.

On a cold day like today, I am back in my house within seconds, relieved, closing the door to the outside, hunkering down in the quiet and sweet comforts of my steaming coffee, a pile of clean laundry to fold and hopefully a warm voice on the other end of my phone. I spend a lot of time hiding myself away. I used to say that I needed the time and space to write and while that’s true, a writer needs to write, life’s injustices have kept me on hiatus for months keeping a steady force field between me and my computer.

I haven’t been happy about it, although my son has. He is now free to play his Minecraft while I am free of his long faced, soulful pleading. It’s been a relief of sorts, to not feel the pressure of myself to perform. In the beginning with all the other stresses going on, I welcomed it. But quickly that free space got gobbled up with new and old problems and people…  cousins with BRACA diagnosis, one fighting cancer and the other going thru a preventative double mastectomy and hysterectomy, friends who needed an ear and of course my unwell father. And just like that, day after day slowly slipped through my fingers and I lost myself as I focused on others.

So I guess that’s where I’ve been all these months, if you’re even wondering, fogging it up on the inside. But lately I feel the crushing weight of my father’s immeasurable needs has lessened because I lessened them, and here and there the inklings of misplaced energy and discontent sparkle through me. It’s time, my dulled senses snap, to say hello again and find my focus; to get invigorated, get out and feel the fresh air.

But I’ll be doing it in pants.


That’s my boy!


And in case you missed, here’s the essay that secured that my middle son will never wear anything but shorts in winter. Read What’s up with Boys and Shorts in Winter.

And also, if interested, here’s the last article I wrote for On Parenting on Washpo. They Grow Up so Fast, so What’s my Rush?

Yay! I wrote something. 🙂