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.

Friday Poem – Light My Fire

Do you think Jim Morrison imagined his music would become the soundtrack for 11 year-old bakers in the suburbs? Me neither.

 

Light My Fire

The boy is rocking out in the kitchen
browning butter to The Doors
wearing a cap
reminiscent of his great-grandfather
while the dog snores and snoozes
beneath the bulletin board

You know the one – my super mama
drill sergeant schedule – all black tape
and dry erase – fencing practice,
piano lessons, dinner ideas – maybe Tuesday
we’ll have farro, and doesn’t that sound
so self-congratulatory and wholesome, when really

it’s more like butter and sugar, a box of spaghetti,
some broccoli, steamed again, and I pray
we don’t run out of milk
before breakfast. This whole damn business
is mostly seat of the pants, and it does not

get easier, except sometimes
the house smells like caramel, and piano music
drifts from the living room –
a sonatina starting
then stopping, then starting again

Five Paragraphs: Unloved and Unnecessary

Mine may be the only dinner table in America where family members engage in heated discussions about both Monty Python and the five paragraph essay on a regular basis. Monty Python? Lots of people have something to say about that. But the essay? Yeah, that’s my family.

Even my sixth grade son, who has only written a single five paragraph essay, back in fifth grade, has an opinion on the matter, having heard his high school siblings (and me) rail against it for years.

What’s my problem? Let me lay it out for you.

Continue reading