From body image to caring for others, from tales of love to tales of loss, join this rock star as she gives you a "backstage" pass into her life.
Monday, April 11, 2016
More baby action!
Please read my posts on kveller and Upworthy. Kveller tells the emotional story of my experience with one of my baby's families. Upworthy gives you an idea of what I do in general with my babies. Read and share!
The past month was a busy one for this rock star. First, NYMetroParents published a guest piece by yours truly on interim boarding care.
When that piece went live, I was interviewed by The Jewish Link about pretty much the same thing!
Somewhere in the middle of that, kveller published a piece I shared on taking our family to the funeral of Ezra Schwartz, z"l.
Truth be told, in all the "chaos," I forgot I was also featured in afun video to help bring car sharing back to New York.
Of course, we were still living off the fumes of the bat mitzvah the previous month.
A busy, emotional, gratifying month. Thanks to all of you for your support. That's not a disingenuous "thank you." Whatever I write--or is written about me--is worthless if it goes unread. More to come, I'm sure. Are you psyched? I am. ;)
Currently available for speaking engagements, magazine signings, speaking engagements, newspaper signings, speaking engagements...I just can't...well, you know...
Friday’s almost here. I’m going to get dressed, look very well put together, and walk into my synagogue thinking about nothing in particular.
It's not likely I'd wear that dress. Or that fascinator. Still...
First I’ll pass a section of younger women. They’ll smile and nod. Maybe one or two will wave. Then I’ll approach my row and the heads will start to turn. And they’ll stare. Then they’ll throw their hands up in apparent disappointment. At first I won’t understand. Then my heart will sink as I realize the last time they saw me I had a baby. And now the baby’s gone.
Baby J went home yesterday. He has a new mom, a new home, and even a new name. Everyone asks me how I give them up. “Don’t you get attached?” or "I'd just want to keep them," you've said to me. "Really?" I'd like to say. "Each one?"
Do I get attached? I get attached to HAVING a baby, to being that mom who takes care of babies, to being seen with babies. “What? No baby?” You’ll turn your palms up to the sky as though perhaps I misplaced him and if I would just check the last place I saw him then he would turn up. But he won’t. He’s gone. His forever mama took him home and it’s not likely that we’ll see him again. My looking in the swing in the living room or in the co-sleeper in my bedroom isn’t going to turn up that absent baby, regardless of the fact that I still hear his cries. And I do. Just yesterday, I blessed this baby, said “goodbye” and “it was nice knowing you” and minutes later opened up the back seat of my car to load him into the car seat. Except there was no car seat because there was no baby. “You coulda told me there’s no baby!” I snapped tearily at the valet holding the car door open for me.
Then I went home and because the baby wasn’t in my arms, I guess I figured he was just in another room so I rushed through the door to see if he needed a bottle or if anyone had changed his diaper. Because my subconscious must not have been at his placement or something when we were snapping photos left and right so his forever mommy could show him pictures of me when he grows up because I’M NEVER GOING TO SEE HIM AGAIN. So, wake up, subconscious! There IS no baby!
I wasn’t attached to HIM. I was attached to taking care of a baby. And now I’m standing in front of you, wearing dangly earrings, a necklace, and “impossibly high heels” for the first time in months and my mouth falls agape as I watch your hands leave your side and turn up in disappointment because, no. There is no baby. I know I have my own kids and of COURSE I’m happy for Baby J and his new mom. But in that moment and for those brief moments after “my” babies go home, I feel empty. Not a mom. Useless.
I miss babies. I miss HAVING a baby. In English we simply say, “I miss him.” But I don’t. Not really. I don’t miss any particular baby. In French, we say “Il me manque.” “He is missing from me.” So when I’m standing in front of you and you’re staring at my empty arms, No. I wasn’t attached. To him. I don’t miss him.
I'm aggravated. I'm agitated. I'm actually losing sleep. I saw the movie, "Selma" last night. I'd like to tell you I went with my friend, Allesha, because we decided we wanted to hang out on a Saturday night and we thought seeing any old movie on any old weekend in any old theater would be a jolly good time. But Allesha and I decided to arrange an "field trip" with our respective faith-based communities because we live in New York.
And she's black. And I'm white. And when I saw a bunch of white Jews sitting in the street in a posh Upper West Side neighborhood in the beginning of December to protest moral injustices against the black community, I wrote to Allesha: I feel like our houses of worship have a relationship and where are we now?! We should be holding you in our arms and saying, "We stand WITH you just as we sat FOR you." Our goal was fellowship. The occasion to come together, to continue the relationship that our clergy have been fostering for years, mostly through our annual Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. concert.
We met at the theater, we ate popcorn, we went home. We didn't hold hands, we didn't sing, "Kumbaya," (And you haven't heard "Kumbaya" until you've heard the Green Pastures Baptist Church Choir sing "Kumbaya.") we didn't even debrief. Maybe next time. I had seen the critiques of the depiction of LBJ. It wasn't something I cared that much about. (I'm sorry if that offends you. I can only care about the things that I care about.) A struggle was portrayed.I had been told of the critique of the absence of Abraham Joshua Heschel in the movie, but as soon as the camera panned out over the first rows of marchers, I saw a white man with a large black skullcap (carrying a briefcase. Was that a thing?) in the front row and another white gentleman with a colorful skullcap a few rows behind. There. Jews. An allusion to Heschel. I watched the rest of the movie, acknowledging that the man whom I assumed was SUPPOSED to be Heschel didn't LOOK like Heschel but without being terribly bothered by it. When I got home I looked up one of the most widely circulated critiques of the movie vis-à-vis Heschel's absence and found that it was written by his daughter, Susannah. Frankly, if a Hollywood movie about the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda hit the theaters and the man we were supposed to assume was my dad was depicted by, I dunno, Benjamin Pratt...(Sorry, Daddy. Bad example.) What I'm saying is: no. There was no one in the movie who LOOKED like Abraham Joshua Heschel. There was no mention of Abraham Joshua Heschel. But that should in no way undermine the message of "inclusiveness" portrayed in the movie. The movie "is not called "King"; this is Selma." Hardly anyone is drawing attention to the "misrepresentation" of the firebombed church. This wasn't about us, people. Not everything is. I went to the movies last night, in the Bronx, with members of a Baptist church. Allesha and I don't fancy ourselves modern day Drs. Heschel and King. There was no Edmond Pettus bridge and we didn't "march" into the theater. We shared popcorn, we posed for pictures, then we went home.
Our communities will join together tomorrow night to commemorate the legacy of Dr. King. I pray that this is only the beginning. That we continue to support each other as part of the extended family that we are. That we continue to appreciate the unique blessings each of us bring to our relationship as well as the powerful lessons taught by leaders such as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. That we all recognize that sometimes it isn't just about us.
When my “younger man” climbed the steps to the school bus for the first time Thursday, he didn’t know he was my baby.
But the stranger watching from the street corner, she knew.
When she saw my nostrils flare and my bottom lip quiver, she knew.
She knew I prayed for God to give me a healthy child and that I cried in Thanksgiving when he was born. She knew he says, “Good morning” pleasantly every day and that he ran into my bedroom to show off his first loose tooth just yesterday.
She saw me place my big girls calmly on the bus but watched my eyes fill with tears as I said goodbye to my little boy.
I don’t know what she thought. Maybe that I was sad that my baby was growing up. Maybe that commitments prevented me from taking my children to school by myself and I was feeling guilty. Or maybe she understood my realization that he didn’t know who and what he is to me.
We don’t all know. We don’t know what we are to whom, what we mean to the people in our lives. There really is so much we leave unsaid. What would our world look like if we shared these thoughts, these impressions, these feelings with our loved ones?
The first time I saw you, I thought you were a movie star.
I still get butterflies when you lean over to kiss me.
I would be happy to spend all day doing nothing but cuddling with you on the couch.
When I’m in pain, I picture your face and a feeling of calm washes over me.
I realized my dress wasn’t fastened one day when I passed you on the street and I turned to ask you to zip me up…
So rarely do we share these pieces of information with the important people in our lives. We live life, assuming they know. But how would YOU feel if someone told you any of these things?
That your spouse finds you more attractive today than she did the day she met you.
That your girlfriend would sit on the cold floor of a dark room...as long as she was sitting there with you.
That the neighbor you’ve known for years has always considered you stunningly handsome and remarkably trustworthy.
A whole season of birthdays is about to begin. I wonder what will happen if I make the effort to share with everyone in my life exactly what they mean to me. The “secrets” I’ve been keeping for so long.