Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Blog a Day...

Keeps the doctor away? Actually, I’ve been writing a blog a week for a couple of years now, and I must say, though I don’t have a lot of followers, my crew is loyal, and I’m having fun.
But you want to know what I like best about blogging? Nobody says to me, “No you can’t do that!” It’s all “Yes, I can!” I can write whatever I want (within reason). If I want to write about shoelaces, so be it. If I decide dogs are my topic, then I just go ahead with dogs. Goldfinches, toothaches, anything I want. I decide. No editor, no publisher, no advertising rep, nobody tells me what to blog about (though I do accept suggestions).
            Besides, you just never know who is reading a blog. It could get passed around all over the world. Maybe some day some big hotshot editor will read my stuff and say WOW. Maybe—like that book by Dr. Seuss called McElligot’s Pool—some big fish is out there just waiting for me to come along with a blog that will change the blogging world. Why not?
            So yeah, I’m not getting paid to blog here. And maybe not a lot of people read my stuff. And maybe I could use a copy editor or a proofreader or a censor now and again. But blogging is freedom. It’s liberating! It’s write-whatever-you-want day every day that you decide to blog (unless, of course, you’re blogging for a website that pays and has editors, which I also do).
            If you’re an aspiring writer (or even an old pro), why not try it? Just get up in the morning and say to yourself, “What should I blog about today?” You decide. No one says NO. No one says, “You can’t!” True, not everyone will like what you blog about. You may get some nasty comments, or people may simply ignore you. But that’s not the point. The point is you blog to blog, you blog to spread your wings, you blog to have the freedom to write whatever you please. 
            So even though it doesn’t pay well (and maybe pays nothing at all), the rewards are great. And remember…If you wait long enough, if you’re patient and cool...
Who knows what you’ll catch in McElligot's Pool!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


When we first bought our little home in New Jersey twenty-something years ago, I was so excited that I could finally have a garden (after living in Manhattan for seven years) that I went out and bought every seed and plant in the nursery (or so it seemed). I do remember planting lettuce, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and, of course, tomatoes.  My next-door neighbor at the time was also into gardening, and we often got together for garden dinners, with ingredients fresh from our own backyards.
            Then came children (actually, I had a two-year-old when we moved to NJ, but keeping one kid away from the baby tomatoes is easier than thwarting three children hell bent on destruction). Yes, as the boys grew the garden shrunk a bit. Some of the veggies were picked before they were ripe (a little green sphere is surprisingly fascinating to a toddler, I discovered), and other plants were inadvertently trampled when the kids were playing softball, kickball, or riding their bikes.
 I persisted in planting but gave up on the lettuce and zucchini (which the slugs liked a little too much, anyway). The growing family required that we add a deck to the back of the house, which though modest, nevertheless gobbled up a good portion of my garden. So I downsized again--this time planting only tomatoes, basil, and parsley. At least I could still make a tasty bruschetta or pesto.     
            Now, you’d think, with my kids all grown and off to college that I would get back to my gardening this year, but au contraire, I have decided to downsize even further. Today, I purchased exactly two tomato plants instead of my customary nine. My reasoning is that since I’ve neglected all nine for the past few years, perhaps it would be wiser to just get two plants, and really focus on nurturing them. I’m still debating whether to spring for the basil, but I have time.
            This was not an easy decision, because I have been planting and growing tomatoes for twenty-six years without missing a summer. But sometimes, one just has to take stock of reality. I seem to be busier than ever with writing, yoga, family, and friends. So busy, in fact, that my husband suggested I give up the garden all together this year. But I’m not there yet.
            As one of my yoga teachers said the other day, fantasizing is nice, but sometimes you have to face reality. I don’t think he was referring to gardens, but that’s okay. The fact is, though I would like to have all those beautiful veggies growing in some dark, rich soil, unless I change my life style dramatically or hire a groundskeeper (Lady Chatterley, anyone?…Oh, wait…he was a gamekeeper!) it’s just not going to happen. The reality is, like it or not, I’ve moved on.  There is simply no pretending that I have time for the garden; in the past few years, the withered and weed-infested tomato beds have made that perfectly clear.
            So, two tomato plants it is for this growing season from which I hope I get at least one beautiful, healthy, ripe tomato. For me, summer just isn’t summer without a sandwich made from a tomato I just picked in my own yard.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mommy & Me

A short post today, since it’s Mother’s Day and I’m taking a little “holiday.”
         But…the other day I had the pleasure of attending a Mother’s Day Tea at a local nursery school (no I’m not in the Guinness Book of World Records for “older” moms—I was there to promote my book, All About Motherhood!). From my position on the side of the room I had a perfect view not only of the three and four year olds who were entertaining their moms with old favorites like “I’m a Little Teapot” but I could also clearly see the mothers’ faces. I was struck by the love that was reflected and magnified in the room, and reminded once again that there’s nothing quite like mother love. And a child’s love for his or her mom is so clear and absolute. When one little boy's mother was almost late for the event, it seemed as if his tiny heart was about to break. Thankfully, she showed up at the last minute, but it made me realize once again how much mothers matter.
          As I observed a young mother watching her daughter perform, I knew that for this loving duo, nothing else existed in the world at that moment but the magnificent link between them.  I remembered looking into my own mother’s eyes that way, well into adulthood. Words weren’t necessary; we only needed to meet one another’s gaze to know what was in our hearts.
Motherhood is love, joy, challenge and hope, a gift, a blessing, a weight. It’s diapers, bottles, beer bottles (yes, I’m talking about teens), scraped knees, text messages, Band aids, heavy metal bands, your world, your universe, your past, present and future. And so much more. Truly, it is "the never-ending journey."
Motherhood is here, now, and always. Happy Mother’s Day to all! May your day be filled with love.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Mother's Lesson

As you all know, my book, All About Motherhood: “A Mom for All Seasons” and Other Essays, makes a perfect present for the moms in your life or for yourself. But here’s one essay I didn’t include in the book, and I’d like to share it now, in time for Mother’s Day. It’s an essay on my own greatest challenge in my role as a mother: letting go.
            For me, this is the most difficult aspect of mothering, and it starts on day one. Yes, I had difficulty letting the nurses scoot my newborn off to the nursery for a bath. And I wasn’t real keen on letting others hold him for too long, either. He was my baby, after all. I’d given birth to him, and even though the umbilical cord was no longer in service, for me, it was still there (in my case, x3).
            When my kids went off to pre-school, I’d often sit at my desk and cry. This happened again at Kindergarten, high school, and college. The truth is, once I’d given birth, the only time I felt completely and totally whole was when all three of my children were together, in one room, with me watching over them. The lesson of learning to let go has been long and arduous.
            Don’t get me wrong: I love and adore being alone. Solitude is one of my very best friends.  But for me, solitude is always best when at the end of the day the kids come home.
            I’m at the point in my life now, where the “kids” are young men building lives of their own. They come and go, sometimes for a day, a summer, or even longer, but only to leave again, to fly away to places like Qatar, Japan, Mexico, or England to study or work or simply to go home to their own dorm room or apartment.  I’m happy for my children, and proud that I’m able to say good-bye without a major meltdown (usually). Nevertheless, my heart breaks a little each time they walk out the door.
            This painful lesson of mine--to learn how to love and to let go--has taught me many things. I’ve learned not to judge myself too harshly (after all, my own mother was the same way). I’ve also learned that without the magnitude and weight of this love that I feel for my children, I would not be the mother I am.
            So there, I’ve said it. As the cheery Mother’s Day cards and flowers go out, and the mommies gather with their kids to celebrate their special day, I am also reminded of the commitment, heartache, and responsibility that comes with this kind of love. As mothers, our deepest wish and our most fervent prayer is for what’s best for our children. And that’s the very reason why we must learn the lesson of letting go.