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Jan 10

This is weird

Because I’m starting to wrap my head around the idea of being middle aged. Fifty is middle aged. I mean, assuming that all goes according to plan and I live to be 100, I’m about midway through. And things are different now, than they were. I’m tired. A lot. I’m in the middle of caring for my children and my parents, and feeling frustrated and powerless by one half of the sandwich and excited and relieved by the other. My body is changing, I don’t sleep as well any more, my sister is becoming a grandmother and I still sort of feel like i’m not quite old enough to be in this position.

Marriage is different now too – not worse, because it’s always been a good, strong relationship. But Marc is going through his own emotional turmoil, his parents are about 10 years older than mine, and I think he’s dealing with a lot of new and strange emotional weight around watching his parents. He needs a lot more from me lately, on a whole bunch of levels and I’m not always handling that as well as I could be.

I’m not at loose ends, if that makes sense. I still really like my life, value the role I play in a lot of different lives and feel good about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. But I can’t deny that there’s a sense that everything is a little weird right now. I’m in a new place. My baby is a teenager, my oldest is off in the world and my boy is exactly where he should be.

Jan 06

New Year, New Feet

I’m not a New Year’s girl. I don’t like drinking, and even before I had kids, I was never comfortable with the whole partying atmosphere. So I mostly ignore the holiday. New Years Eve, to me, is what Christmas is to most Jews. Not my holiday and I’m kind of confused and a little irritated that everyone expects me to celebrate.

But it’s a nice segue into this blog post, as I’m thinking about two different topics. One being the relationship between my daughters and one being New Year’s Resolutions. Because the girls vaguely recognize New Years, they decided on a night with pedicures, foot peels. The skin on their feet seemed fundamentally unchanged, until the night before last. Because now it’s peeling all the time and last night, they curled up on the couch and peeled each other’s feet.

Jessie and Julie haven’t always had the easiest of relationships. They are so alike in a lot of ways, and so very different in others. They’re both competitive and intense, and empathetic and emotional. Covid – when we were all home together all the time – did not improve their relationship. What did was Jessie moving out to go to college. Now that they aren’t rubbing up against each other all the time, there’s this space and freedom to genuinely enjoy each other, and to sort of celebrate and embrace the similarities and closeness.

I don’t expect that their relationship will be sunshine and roses forever – but I do think that they have grown into a relationship that will hopefully stay this way for the rest of their lives. They know each other so well, and they genuinely love and like each other. I envy them, because my relationship with my sister isn’t anywhere near as comfortable and familiar.

I don’t make New Years resolutions – but I do make birthday ones. Sometimes. When I remember and am in the mood to think about it. I find that this year, I am. I’m in a milestone sort of place, as I approach 50. I’m still wrapping my head around that. Everything is in a new place now – I’m still actively mothering, but general caretaking is starting to take more of my time. In laws, parents, nieces – I’m still raising the kids I have, but Jessie is going to start her senior year in college next year, Sam is going to be actively going to Perkins and starting to transition to more independence. Julie is starting high school. Mothering looks different for me now.

So I’m processing things – wondering what my life looks like for the next half. I take care of people – it’s my thing. I did it as an eldest daughter, I did it as an aunt, I did it as a mother. And going forward, I’m probably going to continue along that path. Even my job – I take care of babies for other people, and then I go take care of my in laws, or pick up my kids. Caretaking is my thing – and I definitely derive a lot of personal meaning from it. But is there space for more than that now? And if there is – what do I do with it?

I suppose on some level, I should start thinking about what I want now.

Sep 18

There is no stagnation

That’s’ the thing with life, it keeps moving into new and different stages. Everything is different now, in a completely different place than it was last year. The past year has seen Julie’s concussion – which lasted for the better part of a year, and Sam’s transition to full time in person school at Perkins. Jessie’s in Denmark and I miss her more than you can imagine. I’m working close to 30 hours a week now, for the first time in… 17 years, I guess. I worked 32 hours a week when I was pregnant with Sam. I’ve worked part time off and on since then, but never as many hours.

It’s an odd transition, into this stage of middle aged. Because that’s where I am. My kids aren’t fully grown up – Julie’s still only 13 (and I’m in no rush – I’d like to keep her there for a while), Sam’s still got a long way to go before he’s ready to launch and Jessie is rushing headlong into her career and life, but it’s still just beginning for her. She’s got another year and a half of college once she gets back from Denmark.

I’m spending a lot more time taking care of my mother, my in-laws. I’m the sandwich generation with a generation above and below me that I’m essentially in caretaker mode. With my kids – it’s constantly easing off, encouraging them to be on their own, and often getting shoved aside as they push for more and more independence. And on the other side – it’s a lot of begging them to let us help, to tell us about doctor’s appts and diagnoses and what the hell is going on. It’s a state of weird limbo – because so much of what I’m doing is in response to their (both kids and parents) needs. And I have so little control over all of it.

I’m also tired, a lot, and getting hot flashes like it’s my job. I’m incredibly aware that in a few short months I’m going to be fifty years old, and I’m not entirely thrilled. I mean, look at the alternative, of course, but still, fifty just seems so OLD. I’ve been trying it on for a size for the past year, telling myself that I’m 50 already, and hoping to avoid a the full on freak out panic that I had when I turned 40. 50 is just.. old. I still wear cutoffs and ponytails. I walk around barefoot (and my feet hurt because apparently that’s thing that I’m old). I can’t be 50. And yet… I am.

Jul 31

Summer Camp

Sam isn’t at summer camp, exactly. He’s at a UMass summer program for college readiness. He’s struggling, and I’m struggling.

There’s this mind-set of pep talking him, of being the mom in charge, of handling it, and I slipped back into that so fast. Relentless positivity, validation and breezing past the fear, focusing on the positive. And in the back of my mind, the whole time, this on-going prayer that we can do this.

He wants to do this. He really, really wants to do this. He’s also terrified and sick and throwing up and at least 49% of me wants to go scoop him up and bring him home and have him be safe. But all of me wants him to succeed. To know that he can do this. And there’s so very little I can do to make that happen.

All I can do is this. Sit at home, crafting pep talks and sounding like I’m filled with confidence and love. Send emails to directors and other staff, trying to manage his needs from half a state away.

In the end, it’s going to be Sam. If not now, than eventually. I know that. He knows that. Was two weeks too much to start? Is it unreasonable to think that a kid who has NEVER done more than a night away at a time (and even that was so incredibly rare) could suddenly go away for 13 nights? But then again… I mean, he has to at some point, right?

And this is such a good environment. He’s got so many people there, cheering him on and trying to make it okay for him. I want this to work so badly.

Apr 03

I’m drowning

Let’s just be honest. I’m not handling things well.

Sam is struggling in school. Mostly because he still doesn’t have the accomodations he needs, and I’m struggling to find the time to go through all the lessons with him. So it’s not so much that he’s struggling as I am. We’re in the process of re-writing his IEP, and I’m not at all optimistic that we’ll be able to keep him at TECCA in the fall. They aren’t preparing him for college. But will WPS be any better? I don’t know. I really, really don’t. I’m going from meeting to meeting, frantically searching for the right answer, or answers, and I’m not at all sure I know the right questions.

Julie is still not recovered from the concussion. She’s dizzy and gets super tired, and is now complaining of daily stomach cramps. I’m halfway convinced that she’s got celiac disease too, and can’t stop myself from frantically checking for blood test results to confirm. Knowing, of course, that a positive blood test result will only mean more doctor’s appts and an endoscopy. More missed school, and then a lifetime of being gluten free. For my girl who eats bread like it’s her job.

We’re less than five weeks out from the bat mitzvah, and the list of things to do is ever growing. It’s taking over her life, over my life, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a thousand different things. Everything costs a million dollars, and while we’re okay – it’s still scary as hell to spend this much money.

I’m planning a Seder for Thursday night. For 20 people.

And Jessie’s going to Copenhagen in the fall.

I’m… completely, utterly, and totally in over my head.

Mar 14

A three legged stool

This is me.

Jessie had a busy weekend. Which, of course, happens. And I’m grateful it does. I’m thrilled that she’s happy and focused and busy and living her best life. But it meant that I went two and a half days with no contact whatsoever from her.

I was busy myself, I had things going on, so it wasn’t like I was sitting at home, lost and missing her. I was running around, cleaning, grocery shopping, reading, spending time with Marc, the other two kids, my mother, walking the dog. Lilli and Sarah came over, I had STUFF.

I wasn’t at all unhappy. And I wasn’t worried about her, I knew she was away at a mock trial competition, and busy, busy, busy. But I felt just… off. It was there, in the back of my brain, that I was missing something critical. I felt off balance. I finally made the connection, after she called me on Monday morning. It’s like a three legged stool and I was just missing one.

There was this sense of being a little bit lost. Not entirely, but things were not right when I wasn’t in contact with her. I’m not sure what pushed it over – I think it was the second day that was too much. It was probably also that I knew it was going to be an emotionally intense time, so I was worried about her. But when she called on Monday morning, suddenly everything kind of fell back into place and I felt – like me again.

It’s interesting to me, because there’s this process you go through as your kids grow up. For so long, you are the center of their world, and they’re the center of yours. Then as they grow up – you just aren’t anymore. They’re still occupying this huge space in your life, and you’re pushed slowly to the periphery of theirs. It’s exactly what’s supposed to happen, it feels healthy and normal and I’m never not grateful that she’s doing so well. It’s on me to figure out how to feel normal when I don’t talk to her.

I know I’ll face this – I am facing it – with all three of the kids. It’s not unique to Jessie. And both Sam and Julie have different challenges. With Sam, I’ve been SO intimately involved in his education and adjustment, figuring out how to step out of that gently is really, really tricky. And Julie – because she’s my last, she’s my constant companion and buddy – I have to be really careful not to put too much weight on her. It’s not their job to entertain me, or take care of me.

But the transition from being Mama to being the mom of adult children is HARD. Grateful to be doing it, always aware that not all moms get to be where I am, but I honestly found it much easier to be the mom of babies and toddlers. Tweens, teens and adults is so much harder.

Jan 24


So this is happening.

I’m working hard at being okay with getting older. I’m practicing telling myself I’m 50, in hopes that when I actually turn 50 next year, it will feel normal.

Because it seems bizzare to me that I’m 50. I mean, I’m not, I’m still technically 48, but 49 is tomorrow, and I might as well jump to 50. I don’t FEEL any differently. Not really. I can see where I’m different. More confident. Less eager for approval. More aware of my own ability to handle whatever it is.

I’m very conscious of what I’ve accomplished, what I still want to do. I’ve raised a daughter, I’m coming to the last gasp of raising my son and I’m in the second half of raising my baby. Have I done it perfectly? No. And thank goodness, I’m not done, not at all. But I can watch Jessica move into the world, loving her so much and being so incredibly impressed and delighted to have the opportunity to be her mother. I can see where Sam is going, and know how hard he’s worked, how much he’s overcome, how much of an impact I’ve had, as a mother, on his life. I can see what’s still ahead with Julie, as she comes into herself and be so grateful for her, for the gift of being her mother. Being their mother has been the best part of my life, and I’m always, always going to consider it to be the biggest and most important role I have.

I look at my marriage. This incredibly safe, secure place that we’ve built for each other, with a man who is always on my side, always thinking about what’s best for our family. I’ve never doubted his commitment to me, to the family we’ve created, and I’m achingly aware, tonight, on the cusp of my 49th birthday, how profoundly that impacts everything else about my life.

So, 49. Or 50. It’s… okay. I can do this. My forehead is pretty much always a little bit wrinkled now, and I’ve still got six or seven grey hairs. And there’s a weird vericose vein in my left leg that bugs me. My knees ache, I get heartburn a lot. But I’m overall in pretty good health. I still fit into the same size clothes I wore in high school. I’ve lost the ability to drive in the snow – or rather, I’ve got too much experience about how bad it can be driving in the snow and don’t do it anymore.

Dec 31

New Years Eve

Not my favorite holiday – although not my least favorite holiday. It almost seems like one I don’t particularly celebrate. Other than the book lists – I’ve been happily jotting down all the book recommendations.

It’s a quiet morning today – all three kids are still asleep. I slept in until almost eight, which is crazy late for me. Marc got up early and made the coffee, as he does most mornings. I got up, and read for a while. Marc brought me two cups of coffee, and then he left to go to services. In theory, I was going to take Julianna and go, but she’s still sleeping, and honestly, I like being at home. Everything is quiet and calm, and I read for a few hours. Took Lizzie for a walk, emptied the dishwasher and made an english muffin for breakfast.

Jessie is home for a few more weeks, and I’m cherishing the time with all three of my kids at home. Julie is recovering from her concussion, slower than I’d like, but recovering. Things with Sam are moving faster than they have in a while, with him learning braille and tech and notetaking at a pace that he’s so incredibly ready for. Marc is happily ensconced at the JCC – and while the hours are hard and the work is harder, I think it’s better for him than Homeworks was.

Dec 15

Emotional Muscle Memory

For years, every February, April and July, I’d want another baby. I’d find myself dreaming about infants, thinking about how we’d fit another car seat in the car. I realized that on some level, my body, my emotions, remembered being in that state. Being nine months pregnant and so ready to hold my baby. It’s not conscious, it’s not deliberate, but my body remembers. And because it was so huge, because it was everything for me – I feel those feelings again.

And it turns out, when my child is in a car accident, I spend the next few weeks in a heightened level of stress and worry. I panic, a lot, all the time, and exist in this super stressed, impatient and slightly (sometimes more than slightly) angry. Even though she’s fine, and she’s going to be okay – I’m still a heartbeat away from tears most of the time. I could cry right now, and I was completely fine two seconds ago.

When that coincides with Sam coming down with a sinus infection and throwing up for five days straight, and Jessie’s computer breaking the same week as her final papers are due, and Hanukkah and Christmas all happening at the same time… I’m holding it together. I am. Not successfully, not all the time, but mostly. I’m holding it together.

Dec 06

Another concussion

My poor Julie was in the backseat of Marc’s car when it got clobbered by a sleeping driver. The car is totalled, my daughter has whiplash and a concussion.

There are so many complications with this – I can’t even process them all.

First of all – Julie is hurt. She’s got a concussion, and she’s dizzy and in pain everywhere. She’s bruised all down the right side of her body. I’m a heartbeat away from terrified – because a concussion and my baby is not a combination I ever wanted to be dealing with again. It’s just trauma – and I’m worried and feeling guilty because even her concussion is complicated by the fact that her brother was hurt so badly in another car accident about ten feet away from where she was hurt.

There are a thousand complications all over the place with this. School, after school, bat mitzvah – all of that. My life is a mess of doctors and paperwork and emails and appointments – like I can somehow make everything better by overdoing it on protecting her little brain. And I don’t know if her reactions aren’t being colored by the fact that her brother was so badly hurt.

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