Today

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Today Noah would be nine years old…

Today I got Miriam to school on time!

Today I have the Eurythmics Greatest Hits stuck in my car’s CD player. It won’t eject nor will it play. It is a lose/lose situation.

Today Noah would be nine years old…

Today I have back to school night for Miriam’s pre-k class!

Today I feel better than I did yesterday. My period has been so bad for the past year. But hey, my uterus has served me well!

Today I’ll remember to bring lunch to work. It makes me feel like I’ve got my shit together. It makes me feel normal.

Today Noah would be nine years old…

Today I’ll have too much coffee and get aggravated too quickly. Today I’ll lose perspective momentarily.

Today I’ll plan something for the future. Whether that future is tomorrow or in a year, it’s still the future.

Today Noah would be nine years old…

 

 

Emotions…It’s What For Lunch

From a year ago…I’m my own best therapist late at night.

atoptheferriswheel

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In the beginning I couldn’t eat a thing. I remember eating at the Shiva right after coming from the cemetery. My brother Barry brought me a plate of food. That is tradition. Someone brings the mourners a plate of food. Lox, bagels, sliced cucumbers. I remember thinking how Noah would’ve loved all this food . And being confused at the platters being there and him not.

I had a hard time eating because now Noah couldn’t. It felt like I didn’t eat for months. I couldn’t stand thinking about him never eating that béchamel and mushroom pizza we used to get at Trader Joe’s. Or him never eating an apple in the shopping cart at Shoprite ever again. And then throwing that apple on the floor in the third aisle which was the candy aisle. We would share a bag of chocolate licorice as we shopped and I would pay for the empty…

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Closet Monsters

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There’s a monster in my closet. Actually, there are about fifteen monsters. They look exactly like dresses to the naked eye. But trust me. They are monsters. They just hang there. And stare. And make me feel like a failure. They remind me that I have little self-control when it comes to food. And that I have so little energy, let alone time, when it comes to exercise. They make me feel unpretty. Unworthy of pretty things.

Most women will recognize a scene like this. Dresses laid out on a couch or bed. A big party marked on the calendar. You haven’t had to put on a “dressy dress” in a while. You have no idea what still fits. And you dread the process of finding out.

At forty-nine years old, I have acted out the following scene countless times. Before dates, before weddings, before bar mitzvahs and christenings, before fancy work events and reunions. Yet, I always find something that fits.

First dress: I get briefly angry at myself for gaining back the weight that I lost for the tenth time.

Second dress: Then I tell myself that I’ve never been thin (and never will be) and that’s just how it is.

Third dress: Then I put the image of lots of beautiful full-figured women in my head. Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Rebel Wilson, and the gorgeous models in my Lane Bryant catalog  surround me with imaginary cheers of encouragement. I start to feel better about myself.

It’s a thought process that goes full circle. Or more like a triangle in this case. Or sometimes it’s pear-shaped like me. It’s the trapezoid days, that I have to work really hard at conquering.

This Saturday morning as I played out this clothing explosion scene again in preparation for a friend’s wedding next Sunday, there was something different.

This time, I had an audience.

My four and half-year old daughter, Miriam.

And as I tried on the “pink one’ and the “grey one” and “the black one” with shouts of encouragement, I chose my words very carefully. I uttered no phlegmy sounds of disgust. I made no sad faces in the mirror. There was simply joy. Joy with a capital “J” at Mommy’s fashion show.

“Do you like that one, Mommy?!”

“Try another one on, Mommy!”

“OOH!! That one is a pretty color!”

And the words I chose to describe the dresses as they were pulled over my head were very deliberate.

“This dress feels good on my body!”

“This dress makes me feel pretty!”

“I like this dress. It’s so comfortable and I love the color!”

As Miriam picked out clothes for school on Monday morning, I helped her put on the shirt she chose. It was a little snug under the arms. I expected some tears because she really liked this Peppa Pig shirt with lace tutu attached. But instead she calmly said, “Mommy, this doesn’t feel good on my body. I think it’s too tight. Let’s pick something else that fits better.”

She was listening! I was hoping she was listening. And she was.

 

 

 

New Beginnings Everyday

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A few weeks ago I won a contest. Basha Healing Bracelets asked the question “Which of our bracelets would you like to have and why?” All the bracelets are beautiful with different stones meant for different purposes. I was instantly drawn to the bracelet called “Awakening-New Beginnings”. I answered that life is all about new beginnings large and small. Everyday. Every single day.

And I won! And a few days later I was wearing this bracelet. And thinking about my answer. The list of new beginnings in our lives is endless if you really think about it. Not just the obvious stuff like romances and friendships and jobs and classes and diets and exercise. But new beginnings in how we think. About ourselves and others. What we learn about each other everyday.

As I reached for my daughter’s Minnie Mouse cup on the ledge by the kitchen sink, I thought back to how many new beginnings I’ve had. How many times I’ve been persistent. And how many times I’ve given up. This bracelet, these stones… are a reminder that I can’t get it right every time. But to keep trying. Just keep trying.

This Is My Brother

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This is my brother. My oldest brother, Barry. There are two more brothers in between us. We are ten years apart. A decade. A decade separates me from the brother who played In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly on our record player while I danced around the dining room table. With the pale blue transparent curtains blowing in the open window’s breeze, I thought it was the most amazing music I’d ever heard.

This is the brother who took me to see Uncle Floyd, the cable tv sensation of the late 70’s/early 80’s. This is the brother who introduced me to Monty Python while I sat on the edge of the bed, not sure what I was seeing, but knowing it was funny and important.

This is the brother who ate Spaghettio’s and had lots of junk in the backseat of his car. But if I needed a ride somewhere, there was always room. This is the brother who never lost his patience with me as an annoying kid sister. This is the brother who had lots of nice girlfriends who were equally as nice to me. This is the brother who never made me feel stupid.

This is the brother that welcomed my husband into the family with open arms, as a new friend.

This is the brother who brought me the traditional first plate of food at my son’s Shiva.

This is the brother I left the hospital with after my mother died, telling him that I could feel her in the air! That she was ok now and her spirit was all around us that evening on the top of the parking deck of Overlook Hospital. This is the brother who I assured it would be okay to look at our mother in her casket before the funeral began. We cried together and said how beautiful she looked.

This is my brother who cried as Hal and I told him first that we were pregnant with Miriam.

This is the brother who gets excited every time I publish a story. This is the brother who is so proud of me.

This is the brother who “gets me” without many words. This is my dreamer brother. This is my brother who isn’t afraid to cry. My brother who loves to travel. My brother who treasures happiness. My brother who has chosen a woman as special as him to live the rest of his life with. This is the brother who always understands when something is too hard for me or Hal emotionally.

This is my brother Barry. Happy Birthday Barry. This is your card. Hope you like it.

 

Always Kiss the Boo-Boo’s

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I had a cut on my back about a week ago. And you weren’t home to put a bandage on for me. I couldn’t reach the spot myself. So I positioned myself as best I could in front of the mirror and slapped a big bandage on the small bleeding spot. The bandage was dramatically bigger than it needed to be. But I knew I’d have a better chance of getting this awkward maneuver right the first time if I used a giant bandage.

And I did. I got the bandage where it needed to go. The bleeding stopped and I was ok. But it would’ve been better if you were there to help.

You are going away for a few days. For work. That’s really the only reason we are ever apart overnight. And while we drive each other crazy sometimes and have days where we pass like ships in the night because of our schedules, I will be out of whack the next few days. Because we’ve made a life together. And we promised to put band-aids on each other in hard to reach places, and kiss boo-boos big and small. Real and imagined. Physical and emotional.

And while I got the bandage on my hard to reach spot by myself, it would’ve been easier if you were there. And there would’ve been a kiss to make it better.

So while you’re gone for a few days, I will handle everything with some awkward maneuvers. But it will always be better when you’re there. Always.

Now go have some fun. And we will be waiting for you when you get back. Boo-boo free.

 

Huzzah! The New York Renaissance Faire!

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I had never been to a Renaissance Faire until I met my husband, Hal. I thought they were silly and a world I didn’t belong in. I was more interested in museums and independent movies and reading and introspective walks. I sound totally snotty, right? I thought the costumes were silly and embarrassing, and the silly accents…c’mon.

Then we went to the New York Renaissance Faire for the first time about eight years ago. And it’s a good thing I can admit when I’m wrong. I found myself being fitted with a bodice and flower wreath. Hal suddenly was outfitted in a leather vest, puffy shirt, and scabbard. And the pickles on a stick?! Is there a more perfect food? I think not.

We went back for opening weekend this year with four year old Miriam in tow. The imagination is kicked into high gear immediately. It even started in the parking lot with meeting costumed cast members. Miriam was so excited to see a princess! Every lady wearing a fancy dress was a princess to her. And if nothing else happened that day, the excitement on Miriam’s face was worth it all.

But what struck me the most this visit was how kind the Faire actors and actresses were to this VERY enthusiastic little girl. And their quick witted comebacks to questions Miriam asked were happily answered. She left every interaction with a knight, princess, peasant, wench, or pirate feeling so excited.  As any parent of a super talkative kid knows, it’s such a relief when someone just “gets them”. Miriam just wants to be seen and heard and part of it all. And this is wonderful place for that. It felt safe.

And what also struck me this visit was how friendly all the fellow faire visitors were. Miriam is a hugger. And she doles out compliments like a used car salesman, except she is 150% sincere. Just a sampling of her kind words of the day:

  • I love your purple lipstick!
  • I love your pink hair!
  • I love your wolf ears!
  • I love your scary knight clothes!
  • I love your blue dragon! Can I pet it? (And everyone did let her pet their handmade dragon puppets sitting on many shoulders all around the fairgrounds)

Now in full disclosure, Miriam was not wearing her “listening ears” that day. And we had some challenging  moments. But if you’re going to have a challenging day with your four year old, I highly recommend doing it at the New York Ren Fair. There’s so much to diffuse and distract. And while I didn’t get to indulge this year, there’s also mead and beer to lubricate ‘Ye Olde Patience.

Wilfredo running the dragon swing ride with brute strength was the friendliest pirate. Miriam is fearless but when one of the other children started crying during the ride, he was everything you wanted in a pirate. He slowed the dragon down and all the kids became supportive of the little girl until there were giggles all around.

dragon joydragon ride  Taylor at Rosie’s Posies was the loveliest wench ever. While only Miriam walked away with a garland of flowers, Taylor and I chatted about how fabulous the feather wreaths were. A little out of our budget this visit, hopefully next year or later this faire season (it runs into October) I’ll be sporting a headful of feathers.

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Miriam was excited to meet a part wolf/part pretty lady whose ears actually moved!

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We really enjoyed the Music of Duende! Amanda Kitchens happily took a picture with her newest fan after the show. What a treat it is to hear live music up close and you will hear plenty at the faire.

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And while we didn’t buy any fairy wings this time, the fairy shopkeeper was gracious and huggable.

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When Miriam saw Kathleen Finnegan playing her celtic harp, her eyes were wide with amazement. She knew it was a harp (not sure how!) and was mesmerized. Kathleen was practically angelic and invited Miriam up to play! harp lesson

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A few hours at the New York Renaissance Faire gave us some unforgettable memories. We suspended the real world for a while as we entered #wherefantasyrules…a very appropriate hash tag. Check out the New York Renaissance Fair website and facebook page for theme weekends and special offers for ticket discounts and contests!flower girl

 

 

Peter Pan…

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“Mommy, why does Anna grow up?”
My four-year-old daughter, Miriam, is thinking hard about Disney’s Frozen. She wants to know why Anna has to grow up in the movie. Why can’t Anna just stay a little girl? And then, gesturing to her own body like a game show hostess, she tells me she wants to stay this size forever.
My thoughts instantly go to my son. He died seven years ago in a swimming pool accident. He will forever be a few weeks shy of two years old. I’ll never know if he’ll be tall like my husband or stocky like me. I’ll never know if he’ll be the teacher’s favorite or a boy scout. I’ll never know if he’ll need glasses or braces or even a math tutor.
So, when I face the wistful thoughts of many parents- the wish that they could stay little forever-it fills me with terror. The terror of losing another child. The terror of not seeing my child grow up. Of a life cut short.
I wonder why Miriam wants to stay little forever? Where did she get this idea of growing up as optional? I start to explain why growing up is exciting and natural.
“Everybody grows up! It’s just what our bodies do!” I tell her.
I don’t get too detailed with how she’ll drive a car and go to work and have her own house to live and her own kids who call her mommy. I don’t want her to think past her Play-Doh Crazy Cuts Hair Salon right now. Let her watch the clay push its way through the holes in the silly character’s head as she turns the crank. The best I can hope for her is that she will always giggle with excitement as the “hair grows.” Through every stage of her life, she WILL grow in so many ways.

And so will I. And it will be my pleasure.

Can Ya’ Hear Me Now?

Reposting this story from this day last year. Because I’m cranky, I’m have cramps, and this made me smile. Enjoy!

atoptheferriswheel

20160717_142044As I signed Miriam out of school the other day, she made sure to say goodbye to the director, Miss Cindy sitting nearby. Suddenly, with great urgency, this 3 and 1/2 year old powerhouse also recounted her weekend adventure to her.

“Bye Miss Cindy! I rode on an elephant and a train and a merry-go-round and I put my feet in the sand and I went on the potty but it was too loud and I cried!”

When Miss Cindy’s head stopped spinning with all this information that was just adorably spewed upon her, she simply replied with a smile and a “Wow!”

That’s all Miriam wanted to hear. Just to be acknowledged. Just to share her thoughts and excitement. The accomplishment of overcoming the fear of the loudly echoing auto-flushing toilet. Well, she didn’t really overcome it. I had to hold her above the toilet as she screamed her head off amidst bikini clad…

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Word To Your Mother…

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My four-year-old daughter has started blurting out nonsensical words. Simple, actual, everyday words turn into gigglefests. Here’s how it must look in her head:

“Popcorn…poopie…poop…toilet..poopcorn…tushie=POOPIETOILETPANTS!!!!”

It starts with a little giggle, turns into belly guffaws, and then she’s actually crying with laughter. I can’t help but join in the happy tears. It’s just so silly. Words like boobies, potty, and farty are popular in her repertoire. The thrill is in the verboten. In her four year old world, this is outrageous! Rebellious! Courageous! Contagious!

When I was in third grade, Mrs Somkopoulous gave us a spelling test. She slowly said the vocabulary words as the class wrote them down silently at our desks. When the test was over, Mrs. Somkopoulous wrote the words on the blackboard as we checked our own work. I wish I remembered what the word was, but what I do remember is getting that one word wrong. I had struggled over that word. Erasing it, rewriting it, erasing it again. And the spelling I settled on was wrong. As she wrote that one word, I hung on every letter. And when I realized I had chosen the wrong spelling, I lost control. I jumped up from my desk and yelled,

“SHIT!! I had it right the first time!”

It was as if the rest of the class had disappeared and I was standing there in my own space and time. I had never done anything like that before. It’s like I was possessed by the demons of spelling and disappointment. Mrs. Somkopoulous was horrified at my profanity and sent me straight to the corner. And the only thing greater than the shame I felt of being sent to the corner was the anger I felt at myself for spelling that word wrong.

When I moved into my first solo apartment, my mother asked me what have I always wanted that she could buy me as a gift. I said a giant dictionary. The biggest she could find. And I would display it on a music stand. She got me that dictionary. She said I was on my own to hunt for a music stand that could hold the weight of that gigantic beautiful book.

Discussing keeping kosher over dinner at a non-kosher restaurant, I was once told by our temple’s Cantor an unforgettable sentence. She said, “It’s more important what comes out of your mouth than what goes into it.” And with that dispensation, I ordered something covered in bacon and cheese.

I thought about that sentence while Miriam was randomly blurting out silly “dirty in a pre-k world” words. All I could see as I watched her giggles turn into tears of laughter was she now knew the power of words. The joy of words. I saw a little me studying the dictionary. Learning synonyms and homonyms and loving every minute of it. Being the only kid in elementary school that didn’t groan when the teacher said, “Take out your English textbooks now class.”

Words. I can’t get enough. I just learned a new phrase the other day. “Hoisted by my own petard” is my new obsession. Shakespearian in origin, I can’t stop saying it in my mind. I will giggle at its melody while Miriam recites “poopypantsladyfart” over and over again by my side.