Dear Mr. President; Love, A Jewish Mother

Dear Mr. President,

Over the past few months, hundreds of bomb threats have been called in to Jewish Community Centers (JCC) around the country.  Yesterday, a bomb threat was called in to two such centers just miles from my home.  My friends and I have children of preschool age, many of whom attend school programs at various temples across our county.  Frighteningly, these children participated in lockdown drills yesterday due to their schools’ proximity to the JCCs.  Many had police presence within their schools for the remainder of the day and this morning, welcoming their children to school.  These children are between the ages of one-and-a-half and five.  That’s right, toddlers and small children of the Jewish faith around my county are being escorted into school by police simply because of their religion.  Their parents are frightened to send them to school.  The children themselves are confused as to what is going on, and in turn, scared.  Let me reiterate just how young these children are.

I watch you sign bill after bill allowing guns to be places in schools.  Why?  Because you claim that you want to keep students safe, and this is how it will be done.  I watch you make speech after speech about closing our borders.  Why?  Also, in your eyes, in an effort to keep the children and citizens of your country safe.  You will no longer allow refugees into this country.  Families and children whom are being killed daily, hourly, in the name of religion are being deemed unsafe by you and your cabinet.  However, your silence with regards to what is happening in your own country is making my children, my friends children, and my families children unsafe from fellow citizens born and raised right here on U.S. soil.  This threat isn’t come from any refugee or immigrant, it comes from our neighbors.  Yet, you remain relatively silent.

You put a woman like DeVos in power because you preach the idea of a free and better education of a parent’s own choosing for our children.  My friends send their children to these temple schools, yet are now considering removing them for their own safety.  I ask you, is this your definition of proving an education of a parent’s own choice? I want my children to learn their letters and numbers, shapes and colors, play skills and interpersonal skills; but I also want them to learn about their faith.  These threats are making that impossible and your stance, or lack of stance, on the issue is allowing this to continue.  My choice is no longer where my child will get the best education, it is where they will get an education safely.

I have heard you make one single speech on this subject.  You claimed that, “No one was less anti-Semitic then you.”  You pointed out that you had a daughter and a son-in-law of the Jewish faith, and three grandchildren.  Are your grandchildren getting threatened every day?  If so, how can you stand by and watch that?  No, Mr. President, having family members by marriage, does not make you anti-Semitic, it just makes you another person who has Jewish relatives, plain and simple.  I watched your Press secretary, Sean Spicer, claim that it was ludicrous that the murder of two innocent Indian men in the name of hate, could have anything to do with you and your rhetoric.  Are you blind? Deaf?  Ignorant?

You campaign promised to “Make America Great Again,” to make it safe again… Is this what safety now looks like for my family?  You spend so much time pointing out the threats from other countries that you have turned a blind eye to the increasingly severe threats right in our own back yard.  You want to spend 45 billion dollars to increase our defense fund.  Why not spend that money on programs to teach the people of our country tolerance, love, and acceptance?

Fellow citizens filled with bigotry, and the numbers of those citizens are growing exponentially every day, need your guidance.  They need you to denounce the killings, the prejudice, and the threats.  They need to see that you are a man of peace, and love, not one that drives this country through hate.  What kind of a leader are you if you can’t keep all of your citizens safe, not just those of religions you deem acceptable?  Please, I beg you to do something about this, something meaningful, something drastic, something now.

 

Love,

A Jewish Mother

It’s Not My Pussy That’s Powerful

I’m sitting on the couch right now next to Man.  We are eating our lunch and watching Senator Elizabeth Warren deliver one of her fiercely powerful and inspiring speeches at the Women’s March.  I began tearing up and Man asked why.  I explain to him the significance of this march, the importance of protests, and the seriousness of standing up for the equal rights of all citizens worldwide.  He seemed to understand it at his six-year-old level.

“Oh, so they are saying that a woman can be a President too?”

“Yes,” I explain, “They are saying that women can do everything that a man can do.  Do you believe that?”

“Sure, I don’t understand why they can’t.”

He is blessed to be a young child, bathed in his innocence.  As his mother I will protect him, but continue to raise him with the attitude that he so plainly stated.

For various reasons, I am not attending a march, but by no means am I sitting back and remaining silent.  I am of sound mind and body, and therefore, take responsibility for doing my part in this historic movement.  It’s within the crux of my last statement where the crucial message lies, “of sound mind and body.”  My body, my entire being, is strong, not just my pussy!!

This word has been tossed around lately (thanks, Trump) and used colloquially as though it doesn’t hold a most lewd meaning.  I am filled with pride to see women wearing their “pussy hats”, but we are SO MUCH STRONGER and SO MUCH MORE than just our pussies!!!!

My heart is strong: it allows me to have empathy and give kindness to those less fortunate.  It helps guide me when teaching my children the important difference between right and wrong.  It serves as a beacon of strength even when it’s wounded by injustice.  It acts as a monitor when deciphering the intricate ways of the world.

My eyes are strong: They remain wide open and take in all that is around me.  They have no trouble noticing acts of unimaginable kindness, but they see clearly the evil in the world.  I am not blind to what is happening around me, and because of that, I can do my part to create change.

My hands are strong:  They sit here typing my words for all to see.  I might not be marching today, but my hands allow my message to be carried.  They allow the strong women marching today to create and holds signs of anger, signs of hope, and signs of change.  They allow our message to be carried worldwide.

My lungs are strong: They fill my body with the breath I need to scream my message loudly to all that will listen.  They lend timber to my voice.  My mouth is strong: It formulates the words with which to call out inequality, unfairness, prejudice, and discrimination.  It provides me with the opportunity to instead begin a meaningful dialogue about change.

My ears are strong:  They allow me to hear the cries of those less fortunate.  They allow me to receive the ideas of those smarter than me, and with them I am afforded the opportunity to hear the significant and dynamic messages of every woman speaking at the marches today.  These messages inspire us to get up and act!  In conjunction with my eyes, I can gather knowledge on how best I can work to bring about change.

My uterus is strong:  It incubates a new generation of people which will continue to bring our message of strength and hope into the future.

My brain is strong:  It allows me to understand my strengths and my weaknesses and focus my abilities on where I can best make change.  It tells me that I am more than just my pussy.  It shows me that when I use it, I am equal to every other human on the planet and there are no limits to my potential.

My body is strong: when used together, all my parts create a tough, nasty woman, who will sit quietly no longer.  A woman who deserves equal pay, choices over her own body, and is as powerful as any man out there.  I am a woman who will stand up for equal rights of all people, who will call out injustice when she sees it, and who will teach her children to do the same.  WE are our strength, not our pussies.

 

Election 2016: The Red White and Blue Lining

I teared up this morning as I propped my four-year-old daughter on my knee so she could help me vote. Her tiny hand gently held my arm as I filled in the bubble to cast my vote for the first female president.  I wanted-no, needed her to be a part of making history.  As I then watched her feed the ballot into the machine, I could fight the tears no longer and I let them flow.

 

My daughter and I making history!

We have always been a very civic minded family, at five weeks old; my husband carried my son in his arms as he cast his vote on Election Day.  Every year since we have brought our kids to the polls along with us and added to the album we call “Voting with Daddy Year By Year”.  However, not all in this country share this passion.  Just because our citizens have the right to vote, it doesn’t mean that they have been exercising that right.

voting-with-daddy

 

This year the election has been emotionally draining for each and every citizen.  I was told that the AMA actually put out special guidelines for health care professionals to treat the resulting anxiety produced by the campaigns.  However, if we take the time to look beyond the stress we see that something very important has happened- people have passionately backed a candidate in a most wholehearted and democratic way.  Democracy, at its finest, has been achieved.

 

This country was founded on the basis that every citizen has the right to elect the official of their own choosing. The person who secures the majority of these votes wins the position.  People died in wars fought to establish and maintain this very idea.  Brilliant men debated and labored to form a Constitution which holds these ideas as law of our land.

 

This election has been teeming with more passion and dedication by our citizens than one can recall in recent history.  Social media is bursting with pictures and posts of mothers, brothers, friends, sisters, millennials, elderly, African American, white, male, female, transgender, gay, straight, bi, priests, nuns, and rabbinical voters- you name it, EVERYONE in every group has been driven to the polls to vote.

 

I have especially seen parents bringing their young ones to the polls.  As stated, we have visited the polls yearly and our children have been the only ones under the age of 18 in the room.  This year, however, parents are making it a point to vote as a family; thus, passing on the vital importance of the idea of democracy to the next generation.  We had once become somewhat complaisant with our right to vote, but no longer do we feel this way.  A new life has been restored to the idea that our vote matters, that without it, we would not be the incredible and free democratic society that our founders fought for.

 

Everyone agrees that this has been an incredibly challenging and particularly emotional election year.  Some even say that, as a result, the cavernous divide in this country is irreparable.  I will argue that there is a silver lining- the entire country has been filled with such a passion for our democratic right to vote; that the next generation is already being taught how important it is to maintain and continue this right; that we will never become complaisant again!

 

 

Parenting Is Scarier Than Halloween

It’s Halloween, be safe in the knowledge that being a parent far scarier than anything else you will see on the streets this evening.

Man vs Mommy

The first time you meet my mom, she will undoubtedly disclose my most embarrassing moments within the fist thirty seconds of saying “hello.”  Among her arsenal of mortifying stories from my childhood are two that reflect what an absolute, total coward I am.  The first- when I was three my Dadie (grandpa) took my brother and me to see E.T.; the minute that freakish little alien came onto the screen I began screaming and would not stop until I was carried out of theater.  And the second- two years later- at five, the parent of a friend took me to see Ghostbusters, despite my mother’s protests.  Mom had to sleep in my room, holding my hand, for seven months following this blessed event.

My overwhelming fear of horror movies continues to this day; even now I will cover my eyes when I see a preview for The Ring or The…

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Rape, There Is No Gray Area!

It has been impossible, recently, to avoid the story of Brock Turner, the Stanford college student convicted of three counts of sexual assault.  I have read, with pounding heart, the movingly penned letter from the victim.  I have fumed over the shortsighted, ignorance that seeped from the paragraphs of the letter from the assailant’s father.  However, nothing distressed me more then the letter written by Leslie Rasmussen, the defendant’s longtime friend.

 

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Leslie Rasmussen and her band, who have since been dropped from many gigs.

I have no desire to quote her dangerous words; but, in short, she directly blames the excessive use of alcohol and partying “encouraged” by college campuses for this unconscionable crime.  She has since written an additional statement explaining how her letter, “has provided an opportunity to misconstrue my ideas into a distortion that suggests that I sympathize with sex offenses and those who commit them or that I blame the victim involved.”

 

No, Leslie, your letter has done so much more than that.  As a mother raising a daughter (and a son), it frightens me to think that a 20 year old, seemingly educated, woman believes that there is anywhere, other then on Brock himself, for which to place blame for this heinous crime.  The only thing, the only person, responsible for the sexual assault and rape of a woman is the rapist himself.  I am stunned, and frightened that our young women still, in 2016, believe that there is any scenario in which a victim asks to be raped.

 

It is a very simple, black and white concept- if you don’t have clear, undeniable confirmation that the initiation of sexual intercourse is consensual, then the answer is, and always will be, NO.  The dilution of this idea has resulted in the belief that there are varying shades of gray when it comes to consent.  Let me be as clear as I can, there is no gray area, there is only an unquestionable “yes”, anything else, falls into the only other category, “no”.

 

We continue to live in a world that sees anything and everything besides the word, “yes” as a sign of consent.  Consent is not if or how drunk she is, it’s not what she is wearing, or how much she is flirting, it’s not if she invites you to her room, or kisses you, or how she dances with you- no, none of these are ever an invitation, or permission for sexual intercourse.  Consent is, and will only ever be, when one hears an undeniable “yes”.

 

I recognize that when on the brink of getting laid, we don’t often stop to ask consent and wait for our partner to confirm with a “yes, sure, absolutely, or let’s get it on”- it’s sex, not a business transaction.  However, if there is any uncertainty, any hesitation, then go no further until all doubt (one way or another) has been eliminated.

 

Leslie had her friend’s best interest at heart with her letter, and, no one can fault that.  I truly do not believe that she thinks rape victims are always to blame or is dismissing the severity of the crime.  She is, however, highlighting the fact that young women are continuing to grow up considering that there are situations in which they are inviting rape- namely, those situations that involve drinking and drug use.  Additionally disturbing is that this young woman has narrow minded, single scope view of a rape/rapist.  A distinction is made between a man who randomly blindsides a woman and forces himself upon her and someone who is drunk and having uninvited sex with another person who is drunk.  There is no distinction, rape is rape.

 

She is right in one way; alcohol does play a significant role in the excessive sexual assault of women, there is no denying this.  It robs each party of the capacity to ensure that consent was sought and given.   This fact alone does not mean that blame can be placed solely on the bottom of an empty shot glass; the alcohol did not commit the crime, only a person can rape another.

 

 

I lived alone, as a single woman in New York City for many years during my mid twenties.  I went out and drank with girlfriends.  I stayed out until the sun came up, wore clothes that made me feel sexy, and met guys at bars, parties, through friends of friends, at restaurants, and sometimes even just standing on the street.  I went out on dates, first dates and group dates, set ups and ones I wish would end after only five minutes.  I did these things with the expectation that I would not be a victim of rape.  I wasn’t being reckless or careless, I had friends, family, and neighbors who always knew my whereabouts, calls were made and texts were shared as confirmation that we were all home safe and sound.  No, I wasn’t stupid or naive, I carried (still carry) the belief that it was (is) my bodily right as a female human not to be touched unless I made it CLEAR that I wanted to be.  I was (am) of the perception that all it should take, at any time, is to say, “We’re done now” and a man should stop.

 

 

Brock Turner was found having sex with a woman while she was unconscious.  Without her permission, he put his penis inside of her; that is rape.  There is nothing gray area about that.

brock turner

Don’t Judge A Blog By It’s Title

As a mom blogger, I, of course follow fellow mom bloggers.  Today, one that I call a personal friend was attacked solely on the name of her blog, Next Life, NO Kids http://www.nextlifenokids.com/.  Another mom, a stranger, took it upon herself to post a nasty and inappropriate comment on the blog’s FB page.  The comment boiled down to this; if she could use such a horrendous title, a “child shaming” title for her personal blog, then she is clearly an unfit mother who should not have children.

 

Now, if this random stranger had taken the time to actually read any of the blog posts, or memes or FB posts, it would have been evident that not only is this NOT accurate, but the exact opposite is true.  This blogger dedicates her blog to the #mommitment, a movement to end mom shaming between fellow moms.

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End mom judging

Her followers immediately came to her defense.  The author of the nasty post responded by saying that child shaming should never be tolerated and that we, other mothers, were what was wrong with the parenting community and the country today.

 

Yes, when you open yourself up personally by writing and sharing with the masses on social media; you are going to get some flack. It’s just to be expected.  However, when you take a snapshot of a person, or their blog title in this case, and make an inaccurate, quick assumption that calls this person’s parenting into question, it’s just downright wrong.

 

I too heard something today.  A rumor about me that was both horrid, and untrue.  A person took a small assumption or tidbit of information from wherever and crafted an entirely false story around it.  This was a downright hurtful story, not only to me, but to my family.  This one tiny assumption, crafted into a larger story, was told to others as a truth.  One small kernel of data, suddenly grew into one large boulder of a lie.

 

People always ask me why I get so upset by what some silly stranger in FB land says about children with ADHD.  I’m most often offended when I see people say that it doesn’t exist and/or that it is caused by bad, lazy parenting.  Well, this is why.  It is so easy to see my son in all of his tantrum glory, while I just stand there and try to ignore it and assume that I’m a crappy parent.  I see the looks from other moms when my little guy performs the same inappropriate act over and over and over again no matter what I say or do.  The looks that say, “Only a terrible parent can have so little control over her child.”  I see the glances and the side talk when all of the other children are participating and my lovely boy is busy using the soccer net as a climbing wall.  Looks that scream, “How is he ever going to learn if you don’t teach him how to play?  She is soooooooo lazy!”  I even had moms ask me how I could send my child to Kindergarten when he was clearly not ready.  How would you even begin to know if he was ready or not?  You see us in the pre-school hallway for a minute at drop off and a minute at pick up and you are ready to make a serious judgment call based on that alone.

 

These are assumptions that call my parenting skills into question.  Assumptions that are made from a 30 second snapshot into my life.  Assumptions, that if you took the time to see, you would know were false.  I am a competent and wonderful parent; facts that you could never know about any parent just by looking at them for 30 seconds.  Just like a snap judgment of my blogging friend’s right to have children are called into question simply from the name of her blog.    If you took the time to look further, you would see that Next Life, NO Kids, is the embodiment of her #mommitment, to end mom judging for good.  But no, you couldn’t get past the title before calling her an unfit parent.

 

I know it’s so much easier to make a quick call, a quick verdict based on a single episode.  It’s the way have been brought up, go go go, get it done, don’t waste any time.  However, when it comes to learning about people, and calling their character into question, it is imperative to go beyond the 30 seconds and really take time before making a genuine and accurate conclusion.  I read a FB meme once, and in summation, it said something of this nature, “I got my little sister and I up and dressed in the dark because the electricity had been turned off.  I got us to school in time for early the early breakfast because there was nothing in the fridge.  I made sure she was in class on time before going to my school.  When I didn’t have a pencil, the teacher gave me detention because I was unprepared.”

 

It’s time to learn to go beyond just looking, but to start truly seeing each other.  To understand that the pencil was irrelevant, what she had already done that day was incredible.  Stop mom judging, stop people judging, start being human.

 

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I Still Need My Parents, Even Though I Am A Parent

I have come to the point in my life where most would call me an adult. I am in my mid-late 30’s and married with two small children. I take on many adult-like responsibilities and, though divided between my husband and I, the pressure of adulthood weighs heavily upon me.

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Man, my first child

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Lady, my second child

The simple definition of an “adult”, according to Webster, is as follows: n. someone fully developed and mature.

 

Well, that seems pretty broad. According to science, women are fully developed between the ages of 8 and 15 (according to womenshealth.gov) and men begin puberty somewhere between 9 and 14 and it can last, in some, until 20 (or forever…) (as told by plannedparenthood.org). But “mature” is a little more of a gray area. Does having children and a mortgage really make me mature? Wasn’t I so mature when I told a boy, “I love you” for the first time? Or when I drove off all alone with my newly printed driver’s license?   Was I finally mature when I went off to college, 1200 miles away from home at 17 and left to my own free will? How about when I said, “I do”? For some, it comes far sooner then hitting any of these milestones. Without choice or discussion, they are left to make adult decisions and carry on adult responsibilities while still inhabiting childlike bodies.

 

If I really had to think about it, I probably fall somewhere in between. I handled far more than many at a young age, but still remained a child in most areas.

 

A decade ago I would have never considered even questioning this. I was an adult, of course! I lived alone, maintained a job, paid my bills, had begun a serious relationship—there was no question about it. However, now that I am older, and the complications of life have wormed their way in, I question it daily.

 

The bottom line is that despite fitting the definition of what an adult might be, I still need my mom and dad.

 

I have struggled recently. I will not bore you with the details, but you will have to trust that with maturity comes an understanding that you can no longer act like a child in certain ways. That you must take on a level of responsibility that is far greater then you have ever bargained for. I look around and it seems that others have been able to rise to this occasion with grace and confidence, while I still find myself floundering in the corner. I know this is likely not the truth of the matter, that your brain can play tricks on you, see things that are not necessarily the way they really are- but it makes it harder nonetheless.

 

In these times, I find myself reaching for my dad and my stepmom more and more. Not because I need anything tangible from them, although the occasional hug doesn’t hurt, but because of their unwavering love and strength. Yes, I am an adult, grappling with adult problems, but having people who care about you, love you no matter what, and stand by you with steadfast support is a gift. Knowing that there are people who can feel joy simply from being in a room with me and who can prop me up, no questions asked, after I have bled my darkness onto them, reveled truths that I can barely stand to acknowledge even to myself, is the greatest of what parents have to offer.

 

Maybe being an adult is coming to an understanding that I will always need them. That no matter how old I get, or how many responsibilities are put on my plate, I can always call on them for assistance. Having one person who will love me and be proud of me for both my accomplishments and my failures is a gem, and I am lucky enough to have two such people in my life.

 

For some this person may be an aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, friend, teacher, religious figure, spouse, etc. It doesn’t matter who they are, as much as what they stand for. We often attempt to isolate ourselves during our most challenging times, which is just when we need people the most. Even today, I told my parents not to come over, that I didn’t want to talk to them, or anyone for that matter. Of course, as parents do, they insisted that they see my face despite my refusals. In a few short hours, my shame, anger, and sadness had melted away and a smile had returned to my face. While saying goodbye I made sure to tell them, and remind myself, that they are the best medicine. There is no substitute for the love and acceptance of the people you hold in the highest esteem. To feel the darkness inside replaced by the light reflected in their eyes as they look at me proudly. My parents give me a reward I can’t often give myself, they make me understand that I am worthy of love, that there is nothing that can happen, no situation that I can find myself in, where they won’t be there to catch me as I fall, and to help make sure I get back up. There is nothing that will make their love disappear, simply, nothing.

 

On a side note, I would like my readers to understand that this does not mean that the love and support of my husband is any less significant or meaningful. However, it is different. The love that a parent bestows upon their child (and this does NOT necessarily mean a biological child) is the most altruistic, the truest and purest of loves, there is. It is a love that comes with no questions and no strings attached. In a sense, it is given, with very little, if anything, expected in return. My husband and I are partners, we support each other through thick and thin, but it’s a give and take, as a spousal relationship should be. Yes, I give thanks and love to my parents all of the time, but I would like to think that they would still be by my side just as willingly if I did not. In fact, being the bratty teen that I was, I know that that is, in fact, true.