Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Really? A Nightmare?

I had a nightmare last night. A real, old-fashioned nightmare that bolted me awake at 5:11 AM.

I was so shaken I actually wanted to wake up Sruli who was blissfully sleeping through a very real threat to his ever-lovin’ wife.

I lay, bug-eyed, for a few minutes in shock—until my ever-lovin’ bladder made a very real threat of its own.

Back in bed (after a freaky check on the babes) I remembered some long-ago psychologist-type who said that scary dreams are manifestations of unfinished business.

So the cause of nightmares is—unresolution.

I will add to that. I have day-mares every time Zachary borrows the car. Every time the twins aren’t right next to me in the mall, or Ilana tells me she is walking home, alone, through Washington Square Park. And now that Aaron is traveling all year—all those plane rides…oy vey.

So I know that the real cause of nightmares is fear.

Then, weirdly, I started to feel real anger—at Stephen King (! ) How could he contribute to the horror in this world, by writing it all down, making it into movies and thereby making the horror a real experience for millions of people who obviously don’t get off enough on their own nightmares?

Then, of course, I realized it was total jealousy because what I wouldn’t give to have written only three of his stories. (The Body—which became the movie “Stand by Me,” Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile.)

So the real cause of nightmares is—envy?

I did get back to sleep eventually.

In the morning, I called my Dad to check how his cataract operation went.

It’s been very hard to see my father slowing down and casting off his interests.

He was a very formidable man—I was scared plenty of him sometimes when I was little—he held my sisters and me to very high standards and ruled with an old-fashioned European potch.

But we were very close, too, still are, and I spent endless hours in his study just talking about life and feeling the pride and love that he had for me.

He shlepped me to orchestra every week and we performed together at nursing homes on Chanukah. Now he and Mom come to Zachary’s and my concerts.

He is a violinist, cellist, pianist, clarinetist, sax player and composer and has the sweetest tenor. He was a High Holiday Cantor every year at a shul in Pennsylvania. He still hosts a high level Gemorah shiur every Shabbos.  He is an amateur but ardent astronomer.

He was a Full Professor of Mathematics at Queens College—recently retired. He has published many books on prime number theory and statistics.

A Renaissance Man.

And then it hit me.

My nightmare. There was a long, dark hallway and the walls were hung with meters—meters that measured pain.

The red lights on the meters went up and down and I could hear muffled cries behind the walls.

I somehow knew I was representing my family. And then my turn came.

A large man filled the hallway, coming suddenly at me, sweeping me up into a dance macabre.

He released me and I followed him to a room where he held up two contact lenses.

He dropped one and I instinctively bent to help him pick it up but he warned me away with a look.

I then had to wait in that dark hall with the red lights.

I was frantic and filled with dread because I knew he was preparing something for me with those lenses.

I opened the door to the room again, and there he was, sitting and waiting for me with a pink and blue haze of light surrounding him, a meaningful look in his staring eyes and a slight smile.

I realized I was going to be in for pain like I never experienced.

He started to rise from behind this desk, still staring at me with that crazed half-smile and I turned and fled down that hall—and that’s when I woke up.

My heart was really pounding. Now, as I write this and try to recall crazy-contact-lens-man’s face I see only Dwight Schrute from The Office. But it wasn’t him.

I think it was Death.

And I wasn’t protecting my kids, or Sruli, or even myself. I was protecting my Dad.

What a turnabout.

But Daddy, biz 120 poopoopoo, is still someone I talk to every day and my sisters and I try to get him to exercise more (we got him to quit smoking 30 years ago) and I try to keep Johnny and Charlie less wild when we visit and I still try to amuse him and make him proud with the mishigena  stories that make up my life.

And at least I figured out what the real cause of nightmares is.
And I betcha Stephen King knows it, too.

The real cause of nightmares, is love.

Open that Door

A few days ago I ran into a friend.  She is around my age, very attractive and full of energy. Her husband is a tall, handsome intellectual.  Within ten minutes of our conversation she told me she would rather have an open marriage. 

“I’ve been trying to talk him into it for years, “ she said.

I am not usually at a loss for words, but—I was.

We didn’t talk much more about it.  At this point in our busy lives we “talk” more on Facebook.

But I got to thinking: First, isn’t it, albeit stereotypically, the man who would prefer an open arrangement? Second—how cool is it that she’s the one pushing for it?

Third, isn’t she telling me that her guy isn’t doing it for her in bed?

Fourth, shouldn’t that be private?

Fifth—ok, assuming that nothing is private anymore, wouldn’t the husband prefer it to be private?

Sixth—should I find her someone?

I personally would die a thousand miserable deaths of sexual jealousy if Sruli even hinted that he wanted an open situation.  I secretly don’t even like when he talks to other women in our congregation.

Then I got to thinking practically.

Ok. Who gets the night off? And who gets to watch the kids?
Do I get to ask details?
Do we have to be back by a certain time the next morning—like to get the kids to school?
Are certain phone calls taken in private?
Is it limited to one other lover, or is that private, too?
Say we limit it to one night a week (that comes around pretty often…) but is there a financial limit? Expensive dinner? Courting presents? Hotel rooms?

And what if he (I am already sweating and miserable) falls a bit in love, the way (swine!) men do?

What if she is better than I am? (Ha! No way, but she can definitely be thinner…)

Now ours is a second marriage, so you could say that we are kind of lovers already. But my friend also had a long-term relationship before. What exactly is she looking for?

I understand the urge for sexual experimentation (love Babeland!) and I really understand how experimentation changes when you also have to face each other across the pile of dirty laundry. I understand the need for a thrill.

Or maybe I really don’t, anymore. And maybe I’m just surprised that at our age (at our age, oy!) she doesn’t want to settle in and trade out that part of life.

Maybe it keeps her young.  Maybe, because I truly don’t want or need anything more, I’m not really lucky, I am just old?

The other night I wacked my head on the car door (my temple—the part with the throbbing vein?) and almost blacked out from the pain.

After observing my stunned position for a moment, Sruli said, “You know, that kind of thing is going to happen more and more as we get older.”

How sweet is that? Would a just sometime-lover ever make such an observation?

So in a fit of closeness, I asked him. Just, you know, totally hypothetically. If.

And he said, “Well, if you finished all the contracts we have to send out for our music biz, made all the calls for our camp biz, sent out all the emails for our shul biz, and the twins are totally fed, washed and happy and the dogs are walked—sure—go ahead.”

And I said—“WHAT?”

He smiled and crinkled up his green grey eyes.

“Just kidding.”


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


People would stare at us all over Manhattan; me, 5 foot 8 – him, 4 foot 2.

I was afraid when he’d cross Madison Avenue by himself, and I once saw a quick flit of fear on his face when we took the subway and he got jostled over to the center where couldn’t reach the overhead bar. I had to learn his PIN at Citibank because he couldn’t get to the keypad on the ATM’s. He could jump up pretty well to the cash dispenser, though.

When there were lots of stairs he would kind of dance upwards, flinging one leg straight out to the right and then the other to the left—the risers too high for him to bend at the knee.

We partnered up at the ad agency whenever we could and even got to travel some—ok, it was to Indiana—but we did do lunch and 4 o’clock chocolate together every day.

He was sharp and smart and kind of religious and proper-- a little prudish-- and judgmental in the best possible way.

Nobody in my life has ever made me laugh more.

We shared a secretary, Stephanie. She was an enormous young woman from the West Indies, and she called her husband Junior. She ordered fried food every single day from “Snowpea may I help you?” the Chinese restaurant all the way on 9th avenue.

Tony tortured her. Stephanie, you should eat something more healthy. Stephanie, why don’t you call your husband by his real name. Stephanie, try to catch me.

That last one would sometimes get a rise out of her. She would gird herself up, slide her shoes back on, roll back her chair—and BAM!

Tony, who had been teetering a few safe feet from her desk, his mouth down and open in slightly frightened delight would fly down the halls of Doyle Dane Bernbach,  “aiiiiiiii!” with Stephanie huffing in hot pursuit.

“I’m gonna get you, Toooooooooooony!”

She never caught him.

About a year later, the game stopped because she was trying to get pregnant with Junior Junior and all that fried food had messed up her cervix and even Tooooony felt sorry for her.

When I got pregnant, Tony barely left my side. He was a good and jealous friend. He made sure I downed the quart of skim I plopped on the top of my desk every morning and wouldn’t let Elizabeth G. smoke near me.

When I brought Zachary in for the grand agency look-see at 2 months, Tony came running down the hall first. “Oh my God it’s Lisa and her baby!”

Zachary’s baby head whipped around in total recognition of that voice. I will never forget it. Tony’s mouth had been belly-level for nine loquacious months.

By the time I gave birth to Aaron, 5 years later, we weren’t working at the same agency but we spoke pretty often.

I was at Beth Israel Hospital. “Howabout I take you out?” he offered.
I looked down at my wristband. “I’m kind of a prisoner, “ I said. “Howabout you come over with some milk and cookies?”

I hung up and turned to my roommate—a pretty black 20-year-old whose newborn son’s name my mother had helped her spell: Tyrece.
“Now listen,” I said, over the gaggle of girlfriends she had round her bed.
“My little friend Tony’s coming—and please don’t be staring at him or anything.” I actually said that, verbatim.

20 minutes later I heard a chorus. “Tooooooony!”  “Toooooooony!” In here, yo! Tooooooony!”

He had arrived, blushing slightly at the sisters, with milk and cookies for everyone. OU Dairy.

Shortly afterwards, I guess, we lost touch.

Tony has a form of dwarfism called Achondroplasia. He is what is called a short statured person. It’s not like you just took a man and pressed 50% on the copier. He has different proportions.

He used to joke that he could afford to dress so well because he bought his stuff in the Brooks Brother’s boy’s department.

He took stands on dwarf tossing, munchkin calling, staring unnecessarily and anything else to “stand up for the little guy,” a slogan he rode to victory as an elected councilman in Hoboken.

He has a big stature mouth.

Facebook helped us reconnect. I went to his Father’s wake, (his mother’s had been my first) and he was really touched.

A few years later he told me that he had flirted with Mormonism but balked when he had to go back and posthumously convert his parents. He had been a devoted son all his life.
“I couldn’t do it. I mean, what if they wake up and find themselves someplace and they can’t even get a good cup of coffee?” I cracked up.

Tony has since left advertising and become a successful boutique real estate guy. He looks handsome and seems happy.

I’ve never written about Tony, but something hit me when my 50th birthday hit, back in July, and then Tony’s in August.

Tony once told me that dwarves don’t live very long. He told me he expected to make it to about 55. We were 26 at the time and we both laughed.

I’m not laughing now.

However many years we both have, Toooooony, (and Google now says that actuarially, you will have a normal life span minus 10 years so that’s not so terrible) I will always be enormously grateful for all those jokes, and all that loyalty.

I will always remember the way you used to imitate Elizabeth G. smoking at her desk with one hand holding the cigarette and the other on her hip as she read the New York Times aggressively, looking for any signs of Republicanism.

And the year we went to Diet Center together and made everybody in the creative department’s birthday party anyway, serving Wasa crackers instead of pecan sandies.

And all the teasing you did because you thought I was jonesing for Charlie T., but you got it wrong, baby, and I will never tell you who it really was.

And because you gave me the best compliment the night I won my Clio and it had nothing to do with my Clio: “Wow, you don’t look like you had a baby five months ago!”

I am grateful for the way you dealt with my being Kosher and only eating the tuna fish at Hamburger Heaven.  Oh, and leaving early on Fridays when everyone else had to work the whole weekend. 

And how you defended me when I finally got Friday’s off to be a Mommy and everyone was jealous and you told them I took a salary cut even though you knew it wasn’t true.

And how you always came by my office with useful gossip and how you actually threw your head back when you laughed.

And I hope you forgive me for all those times I put your name plaque on your office door upside down because I knew you couldn’t reach it.

And because we were young and cool and living a dreamy corporate life together and making a lot of money and I totally trusted you and you totally trusted me.

And I still wish you had married that beautiful short-statured girl from Norway, Mary Magdalena—see? I remember her name. Your mother also hoped. I never told you that.

I find myself tearing up lately, thinking of you.

Of course, you’re still here and I’m still here, and maybe the only thing that’s not still here is our youth.

Maybe I’ll Facebook you later. Maybe we should get together in Hoboken. Maybe we shouldn’t wait too long this time, to re-reconnect.

Life is short you know, Tooooooony.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Marriages and Honey Cake

Bubby and Pop Pop Katz had the happiest marriage in my family.
It wasn’t just because she got up every weekday 6AM to cook him breakfast before he went off to his jewelry shop on Sansom Street in Philadelphia.
(Not cereal and milk. Nuh-uh. Oatmeal with fresh-squeezed orange juice, some nice toast , soft-boiled eggs.)
And it wasn’t just the twinkly way he looked at her every time she spoke, or that sometimes he would ask us, as teens say now, randomly, “Isn’t the Bubby pretty?”
They came every year for Succos—in their celery green car, which was probably the bane of motorists up and down the Jersey Turnpike. (Apparently, Pop Pop was a tailgater.)
We would wait at the living room window or in the driveway playing on the hopscotch board our Dad painted for us, my sisters and I.
We’d scream for my mother, jumping up and down as the little car pulled carefully up to our Queens house.
Pop Pop, tall, handsome and gallant, would open the driver’s door, then go around to open up for Bubby, who, (I realize now) might have held the holiday honey cake in her lap for the full two-hour trip.
My mother was very close to her parents, and, (I realize now) must’ve always felt a little guilty for leaving them, when my Dad became a professor in far-off NYC. Their reunions were very tender and I remember Pop Pop examining her face carefully, as if to take in every bit.
As soon as we all got inside, my Dad always poured a little shot of something for his shver to uh, resteady the nerves. (Probably lots of those Turnpike motorists were having this done for them, as well.)
What needs to be stated now is that Bubby Katz was a phenomenal and wondrous cook.
The honey cake was baked in a large, rectangular pyrex glass dish that had first been covered in wax paper. The way the cake pulled on the edges of the paper, like a juicy secret—I’m telling you, you couldn’t wait.
Also packed just for us in a special suitcase were the chocolate chip cookies that Bubby swore was “just the recipe from the Toll House chips package” but in her magic hands had just the right amount of bite and give—just the right ratio of chip to cookie-- so that you couldn’t possibly stop.
Her poppy seed cookies in the shape of—Yiddish pun alert!—moons and stars.
And, of course, the piece de resistance: Salmon Croquettes. Packed they were, glistening here and there with fried onions in an enormous Breakstone’s plastic tub. (I’m having a hard time because I want one so badly now.)
She couldn’t have come without them, so picture Bubby all decked out in one of those snap-front light-blue flowered aprons, grating carrots and onions, mixing “matzoh “mayl” (the way she said it) into the salmon and egg, with some freshly mashed potato and carefully placing those scrumptious croquettes to fry in those Bubbyish pans that no one else has.
Pop Pop, in a more manly apron, would be standing by with a spatula, ready to “turn them over.”
I know for sure that “As the World Turns” was playing loudly on the tiny kitchen TV. Which shouldn’t spoil the old-fashioned Bubbyish vibe, since she would be clucking her tongue the whole time at the rogues and rakes on the show, warning the pretty (actresses!) girls not to get involved and kiss them: “uh uh uh—he’s NO good—NOOOOO good!”
I can still smell that kitchen. I can still taste their visits.
Bubby and Pop Pop would sleep on the fold out sofa in our living room and in the morning we would run downstairs to snuggle with them and Pop Pop would turn over his pillow “to the cool side” but really so we wouldn’t go bald like him.
Bubby had even more superstitions and to this day I will never sew up a hole in something for my kids while they’re wearing it—lest I sew their brains together, nor will I walk over someone, anyone, say, who is sitting on the floor--lest they stop growing.
Bubby and Pop Pop spoke to each other like in the Yiddish song “Achtzik Er un Zibetzik Zi.” No raised tones, no clipped words, no snide asides—just simple back and forth, easy and natural. A question, an answer, a smile.
They used each other’s first names: Sam and Sara. They really had the utmost admiration for each other and an old-fashioned respect no one sees anymore.
He had seen her outside the synagogue, 18 years old (her skin still as smooth 50 years later—cold cream!) and had walked her home. And that was that.
Once I actually saw Bubby upset at something. I missed it but I heard Pop Pop say: “Sara. You have to tell me what you’re thinking. I can’t read your mind, you know.”
I remember being shocked—of course he could read her mind. Wasn’t that the whole point?
But now I realize. Happy Marriages are built on talking. Talking and talking and talking.
And I realize even more that Happy Marriages are built on talking nicely.
It took me a second try, but I’m trying.
When Sruli reads the Mourner’s Kaddish from the pulpit he always says to think of something good about the people you are remembering. Try to incorporate that good trait into your life and in this way your loved ones will always be alive—and a part of you. I always think of Bubby and Pop Pop Katz.
I baked my very first Honey Cake today. The twins cracked all the eggs and insisted on smelling all the spices and doing the mixing so it took twice as long. But, as I posted on Facebook, the best cakes are made of memories.
Sruli also always mentions during the Kaddish, that perhaps one day, someone will remember you that way.
The Honey Cake was fantastically delicious. Not a crumb left. Baked by a good wife, to sweeten the tongue.
And perhaps someday-- a granddaughter who will want my recipe for more than just Honey Cake.

Monday, July 1, 2013

My 4-year-old Twins Tattletaled on the Babysitter

My 4 year-old twins just ratted out their babysitter. 

They’re only with her a couple of nights a week—when we’re out playing Bar Mitzvahs—but gigs are long and there’s travel time and the babes end up with her for hours and hours.

The Babysitter, whom I’ll call Fabiola, is a mom herself, in her 40’s, very attractive, and often comes with her 10 year old daughter who seems to adore the twins. She is Spanish, and I encouraged her to speak a little Spanish to the twins—never too early!

She’s been with us for almost a year, and I never noticed the twins—a boy and girl who have that “WE” thing totally down—cringe or complain when I told them Fabiola was coming.

But tonight, there we were in the big family car on our favorite family outing—a trip to Target.  And Johnny (the boy) and Charlie (the girl) were chattering in their carseats.

“Fabiola says that if we don’t listen to her she’s going to give us away.”

We turned the volume down on 50 of the Greatest Silly Songs.

What did you say?

This time, Johnny verified it.  “Fabiola says this to us. Only if we don’t listen.”

My husband and I shot each other a look.

Now what?

Nobody gives children away, I tell them later as I shower them and comb out their crazy blond curls. Fabiola shouldn’t say that, but she doesn’t mean it.

Now what?

I trust her with the important things—she keeps them physically safe, feeds them from her own table, can sit through a zillion episodes of The Littlest Pet Shop and makes Charlie the most magnificent hairdos.

I guess I will talk to her about the other stuff that I feel is important. Talking to children honestly and patiently without threats—both real and not real. 

I will ask her if 7 or sometimes 9 hours is too long—and maybe I should split the time with another babysitter.

I will tell her not to say things like that to my children.

Or maybe I will say nothing and find another babysitter.

And she will always wonder why she doesn’t get called anymore.  And I will always feel guilty because I know she needs the money.

The twins are four but I believe them. And I don’t know if I would believe her not to scare them again.

Now what?

Saturday, June 29, 2013


My cousin’s husband Norman is the gold standard of Sweaty.
It drips from his ruddy forehead, pools at the edges of his beard, and (remember Roseanne Roseanneadana?) makes a good sized sweatball at the tip of his nose, so no matter which way he swings his head—that drop is gonna get you.
Unfortunately, I am not one to talk.
Sweat regularly frames my entire face, dampens my d├ęcolletage, and threatens to spray my pitying friends.
I apologize for my shvitzing on a regular basis—on a regular basis.
I’m shlepping speakers and a microphone bag—to the coifed Bar Mitzvah mom.
I’m playing my violin vigorously—to the horrified senior ladies after our concerts in their gated communities.
I’m making chulent/latkes/soup/tea—to my concerned congregants.
I’m circling the hot and steamy city for camp permits—to the surprisingly elegant workers at the Bureau of Child Care.
And, of course the easiest--I’m running after 4-year-old twins.
Still, I know my super-sized sweating has to do with weight, stress and a not-yet-settled life. (Same as Cousin Norman, frankly.)
But, as I sit—oy a mechaya!—in my AC’d bedroom at our “shul house,” I tell myself it’s because I am engaged with life.
I sweat not only the small stuff. I sweat it all.
Some people can deal with it—like 9-year-old Shoshi in KlezKanada who once, matter-of-factly said “oh, that’s how you always are” after hugging an apologetic me and barely letting go.
Some can’t—like the rich husband of a friend who pointedly looked at me while saying how much he loved his wife because she has barely any scent.
I happen to smell good—so there!—but I guess that wasn’t his point.
Lucky for me, Sruli sweats even more fiercely and I feel positively ladylike in comparison. And he always smells delicious.
I once saw Savion Glover live—tap dancing on a wooden platform while a Juilliard ensemble played for him. He was wearing this pale yellow shirt that billowed gloriously as he whirled like a tornado, but after a time clung to his torso and darkened in color.
At first I didn’t know what was going on—and then I realized. Jeez, that guy was sweating.
You could see the cloud of spray, too—we had good seats—surrounding him, following him like a comet’s tail, dangerously close to those (oy vey!) Juilliard instruments.
But there was something so raw and real that the audience held its breath—and when he finally stopped--panting and soaked—the people let out a loud and sweaty roar of approval.
If you can’t take the heat, baby…
One last story about my Cousin Norman—takke a very generous man who will perspire on anyone’s behalf:
Sruli and I were in Israel to play a gig and we stayed at my cousin’s apartment in Ramot. This was years ago.
Everyone was up late, yakking, and finally it was time to turn in.
I had just brushed my teeth and Sruli was waiting his turn when we saw Norman coming from the kitchen with a huge hunk of—wait for it—gefilte fish, mounded with horseradish, dripping with saucy, stinky yoych, a plastic fork protruding upwards—on a paper plate. A PAPER PLATE.
We stopped.
Sruli asked. Where are you going with that?
To bed, he said.
Sruli waited til Norman was gone, then he turned to me.
“THAT would be a dealbreaker.”
I cracked up.
Not yet did I know about the coming nightsweats of the 6-year hell and heartbreak of Sruli’s divorce.
Not yet did I know the years of hormonal torture I would endure to bear his children.
Not yet did I know about future job uncertainty, hastily sold businesses, moving 3 times or cranky board members of future shuls.
Not yet did I know about my current hot flashes that turn my head into one giant, flaming marshmallow.

“Ha,” I said. “No sweat.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


It’s actually happening for the first time in 4 years—our own personal Brigadoon. We’re going on Vacation.
Oh, I had big plans; my BIG birthday’s coming up, etc. etc., and I’ve been dreaming of going to St. Petersburg, Russia, forever, and let’s just expletive go!
But what with twin babies and not so much time or money…
So Sruli suggested a quick, booby-prize jaunt to Paris—oolala—I’ve never been and even got so far as to get Instant French CD’s and download them to my computer and got the Frommers—but—not this year.
So—we are going to Atlantic City, 53 bucks a night at Harrahs and the big kids are watching the little kids.
And I’m actually pretty excited.
Four days, right punkt smack in the middle of crazy camp prep, 2 graduations, 2 packing-out-of-the-dorms, a zillion gigs and the Rabbinate. Sruli promised me we won’t talk about work.
So I am hoping to do some reflection, pre-half century mark.
Like, what the hell? How did I get here? And—why am I still not thin? And—when did they start calling them Medical Centers instead of Hospitals, flip flops instead of thongs, and covers instead of playing a song that really belongs to another, more successful band?
And why DID I really give up my advertising job all those years ago instead of trying to do music on the weekends, knowing full well I’d never hit the stratosphere of performance since I started so goddam late and I seem to be working on the weekends mostly anyway? I would have been able to send my kids to any college they wanted AND had an apartment in the city (although living in a shul is fun and you should try it sometime) and I would be wearing real clothes like the kind that actually might have to be dry-cleaned, instead of yoga pants and long n lean tanks from Target. Every day.
And why am I still not thin?
And why do I have to pee ever goddam 5 minutes?
And why do I self-sabotage (this still has to do with the why am I not thin question) and ten years ago I managed to make myself look great for my last big birthday and  our big trip to play at the Cracow Festival and that Ann Taylor dress is still hanging in my closet, but this year I will, for sure, be the fattest parent at Aaron’s Heschel graduation dinner.
And I will also reflect why we go to bed so late, and why I can’t think straight any more. You know, remember things. And did I mention, why am I not thin?
I want to reflect on my next chapter, pending the Good Lord’s benevolence.
What I can do better. For my family, my shul, my community and maybe even the world.
How I can help Zachary more—as he battles the odds and gets up on a big stage tomorrow night—his first concert produced by a producer.
How I can help Ilana more—as she negotiates her new, free life, and help her make choices that even her Dad can agree with.
How I can help Aaron who is still figuring out how unbelievably fabulous he is—and how much I freakin’ love him and would help him if he would freakin’ let me. Like never sending emails to important grownups without me vetting them.
And—re the Twins: are we EVER going to really send them to school?
And Sruli, well—I can’t really change anything about him, can I? He’s even older than I am.
I want to be more patient.  I want never to grimace. Or roll my eyes. I want to stop sweating so much (see thin question above) but also not to anticipate fights and problems. Which I really do. It’s a double-bad whammy—you get the cortisol coming and going. Not a good situation for a flat belly according to the pop-up screen on my Yahoo.
So I will use the few days to calm down. Sleep. Read. Beach.
And count my manifold blessings.
And revel (ha! Atlantic City pun!) that at this crazy middle-age I can still go one or two rounds with my partner at the bar, and again, later, upstairs.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Every Day is Mother's Day?

There is one question that people ask me most often these days—after “Are you sure you’re ok, you look tired?”  and it is: “What’s harder—boys or girls?”

In fine Jewish tradition, and in fine fettle after a fine Mother’s Day, I will answer the question—with a question. A long question, heh heh.
If --you are changing diapers and you have to remember to keep some absorbent something over his little thing while you are also reaching down in what could be an advanced-intermediate yoga stretch, to pick up your entire ring of important keys that he needs to hold to keep his little hands occupied so they don’t end up in the poo-ish diaper, and which he threw down, mind you, in the first place—is that harder?
If--you are trying to get them into the car seat goddammit because you are late goddammit, and she has decided that the sequence of events must, by law, SHOULD have been: carry her out of the house, let her walk to the car by herself and climb up into the car seat by herself, but you, in your foolish and unforgivable haste, carried her out of the house, CARRIED her to the car and EVEN THOUGH you let her climb up into the car seat by herself, you must immediately go back in time and GO BACK TO THE HOUSE  and let her walk all by HERSELF to the car—is that harder?
If--you are at the playground with another mother who looks much, much, more perfect than you and there is a pirate ship that can easily and happily accommodate 15 toddlers, and your son and her son are the only buccaneers aboard, and her son will end up crying because your son will have walloped him because “I was standing there first, Mommy,”—is that harrrr-der?
If--you are again late goddammit, and you finally hold aloft a pair of CLEAN tights that match the dress that took many, many tries to be put, albeit with shrieking, on, they are deemed unacceptable because they have sparkles on them and you know, “Mommy, sparkles make my legs uncomfortable”—is that harder?
If-- you are at a diner, and it’s kind of crowded and you’re kind of starving and you know he never eats anything anyway, so what could be the harm if he climbs over all those built-in back to back mustard leatherette booths and she, the future chemist, who actually packs away pancakes and nuggets and pizza and soup with such efficiency that Sruli and I have no idea where she puts them--will be experimenting with the viscosity of an epicurean blend of ketchup, maple syrup and salt—which is harder?
In the meantime there are two of them and one of I, when Sruli and I tag-team which is often, and they say things like “WE want to go to the red swing playground” and “WE want to go to that place with the Ipads” and “WE want to go to the rice and beans store” and, almost every day, “WE want to go to Dunkin Donuts.”
AND they stick up for one another so that if Johnny cries because I potched him for RUNNING OUT INTO THE STREET RIGHT IN FRONT OF A CAR that was caroming down, Charlie will narrow her green eyes at me and say, with great articulation, “Mommy is bad.”
Or if it’s Charlie who is whining for yet another quarter to feed the evil machines, which, in their smug, glassy, colorful and silent ubiquity block the exit of every single—every single—store from the grocery to Wal-Mart, it is Johnny who wheedles it out of me, standing in my way and shaking his blond curls and holding out his firm, little, irresistible hand. He silently gives the coin to his sister, and reverently waits for her to twist those goddam twisters. “Are you happy?, he asks, when the plastic ring comes out in that stupid plastic bubble. Is that what you always wanted?
It’s a trip, what can I say?
What’s harder is getting ANY time to do what I have to do—call back my Bar Mitzvah Moms, call back my Camp Moms, deal with the camp permit, deal with my OTHER THREE KIDS, get on the bicycle, take a shower, write a little. And what’s harder is that being a Rebbetzin is also a job. A big, busy job.
What’s even harder to admit is that I am in serious need of an attitude adjustment, because I feel wicked complaining. I know it’s because my bum foot has kept me off the bicycle for a few weeks and my endorphins are low.
Sruli says I should be happy all the time—hey, he says, our life is working out! It’s true. We are going away together, week after next, for the first time in 4 years—the big kids are watching the little kids. AND I saw the podiatrist today and I can get back on the bike tomorrow (!) AND I finished a TV script that I have had in my head for TEN YEARS. It’s pretty good and I’m pretty proud.
So—here I am, mom of Boy/Girl twins getting back to the basic question. Boys or Girls?  Which is harder? IF you have boys—then you know. IF you have girls—then you know. IF you have both—do I really have to tell you?
And really, wouldn’t it be harder to imagine life without them?