On Parenting and Pronouns

If you spend any time with me at all, I will talk about my children. I will tell you about Josh’s latest cooking adventures, about Sammy’s internship and about Miriam’s plans to move to California.

And I will correct your pronouns.

My oldest is non-binary – neither male nor female – despite appearances, name and everything you think you know about them.

gender-neutral-pronouns

We have learned to refer to them with the pronouns they, them and their, which, I will admit, makes for some awkward sentences, but the underlying issue is one of identity. As a parent and ally, I can learn to live with (and eventually even let go of) this discomfort. For my child, being mis-gendered (or mistaken for the wrong gender) is a daily occurrence, and it hurts.

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When Your Congregation Isn’t As Inclusive as You Thought

I recently was asked to write an article for Keshet, a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life. The request came as a result of my last blog article about “coming out” as the parent of a non-binary, queer adult child.

You can read the Keshet piece here.

While I draw from my own experience, the Keshet article is not meant to imply that anyone in my wonderful synagogue has done anything wrong or dismissed requests for more inclusive language, programming, etc. I have not made such requests. Change begins with awareness, and I’m doing my part to promote that awareness. Frankly, if we ask many of our teens and young adults, they will say they are somewhat uncomfortable or disinterested in religious institutions for a variety of reasons. That’s normal. Then they come back or find a good fit elsewhere. And we learn too. Continue reading

I Am the Parent of a Non-Binary Child

The essay I have been looking for either hasn’t been written, hasn’t been published, or is hidden beyond my search engine’s reach. I have been composing it in my head for months, but now I can write the first draft, because Friday my child came out to the world. image-they

The essay I’m not done writing is about becoming the parent of a queer, non-binary, young adult child. I say becoming because until my eldest came out, I told myself I had a daughter. Now I am getting used to the idea of having a non-binary child. And while that distinction may seem merely a clumsy trick of the English language, the implications run deep. More on that another time.

My husband and I are experiencing something that is both utterly unique and increasingly common. Here’s a peek into the types of conversations I’ve had during the last year with well-meaning relatives and friends. Continue reading

Mixed Berry Pie

Yesterday I attended the most beautiful funeral. My cousin Minda died Saturday, and the rest of this week has been a blur.

Did I mention that we’re celebrating her niece’s bat mitzvah this weekend, and that there will be 70 people at my house Saturday night in her honor? The occasion was moved to a synagogue here in Detroit from Southern California a few months ago because Marcia, the bat mitzvah’s mom, knew her sister would likely be too ill to travel, and might even die. Continue reading

Distraction

Perhaps the dog wants to meditate too.https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81bN9zMeYML._SY550_.jpg More likely, he wants me to get up and walk him around the block. I have tried so hard to incorporate ten minutes of sitting into my mornings. Many days I skip it, and today the dog visited. I heard him walk in, tags jangling. Dog face in my face. Deep dog breaths. And then he sat down, nearly on top of me, all 70 pounds of big black lab. Continue reading

New Year’s Resolution

Let’s not pretend any of this has been easy.

I am not going to write the “This is not normal” blog or the “What the hell is happening to our country?” blog or the “Let’s band together against tyranny” blog. I am only going to say this: Other than escaping from burning buildings, nothing good ever happens when we act out of fear.

I have told my children that many times. And I am afraid. Very afraid. Am I as afraid as those workers who don’t have the luxury of worrying about my reproductive rights because they’re too busy figuring out how to feed their children? Am I as afraid as the people who thought they lived in a Christian country? I can’t be sure. I only know I Related imagehave never felt this scared to be an American. Continue reading

Tradition

Now that Pesach is nearly behind us (one more two-day chag ahead…), here’s a poem about getting ready. It’s been that kind of holiday.

Tradition

The repairman has been here
before. This is not the first time
I self-cleaned the oven
into oblivion. And despite how deeply
I’ve polished a single silver tray,
crumbs still lurk
beneath the fridge, between cushions,
in the depths of my purse. Some years
I clean for Pesach with abandon
but this time I am worn down
by funerals, music lessons, the dog
vomiting on the dining room rug.
We’re T minus 3 hours pre-seder, and the repair guy
has replaced the oven fuse; the table is set
with my mother’s wedding flatware, one
grandmother’s gold-rimmed
china, jewel-tone plastic water cups,
a tablecloth covered in seven years of scribbles. I
am remarkably calm, stunned into stillness,
waiting for guests to arrive.