Daddy’s Girl, a Tribute

Filed Under All Posts, Cathy Fischer, Family, Parenting, Relationships | 6 Comments

Ralph and Cathy, Fair Street (?), Paterson, NJ, 1959 (?)

This is an updated version of a post written for Father’s Day in 2008. Ralphael Benjamin Fischer passed peacefully on April 9, 2014, at age 91, surrounded by his loving family.

I don’t’ really see myself as a “daddy’s girl” but I sure do love my dad, and yes, he spoils me.

In some ways he’s typical of his generation, distant but close. Born in Poland in 1922, he lived through the horrors of WWII, lost his entire family, and amazingly rebuilt a life in France then the U.S. Both he and my mother worked in garment factories in New Jersey, then their own lumber and hardware store in South Central, L.A.; immigrants dedicated to giving their children everything they didn’t have.

In many ways my father Ralphie, as we liked to call him, was special — an unedited, unfiltered, tell-it-like-it is person, with a wicked sense of humor. He spoke his truth and people appreciated it. To say that he was a “character” is an understatement. Read more

The World in a Cup of Coffee

Filed Under All Posts, Health, Parenting, Prudence Baird | 26 Comments

For Prudence, a chance encounter at the local co-op reveals a road less traveled and the journey ahead

I noticed the woman’s skirt first. Made from a stretchy black polyester from another era, the skirt brushed the tops of her shoes, which peeked out from underneath like two pointy black snouts. She stared at the gleaming push-top coffee thermoses perched just out of reach as she fidgeted with an orange paper coffee cup, turning it over and over in her hands.

“May I get you some coffee?” I asked.

“No, I can manage,” she said, and promptly dropped the cup, which rolled under her wheelchair.

Our eyes met and both crinkled at the corners.

“Well. I guess maybe you’d better.” Read more

Naked Motherhood

Filed Under All Posts, Health, Parenting, Prudence Baird | 41 Comments

As if being a mother wasn’t difficult enough; Prudence illustrates what its like to be a mother of an autistic child, navigating familial relations, good intentions and bureaucratic ignorance

The popsicle stick-thin figure in rumpled pajamas who is my 16-year-old son stands in the darkened corridor in a fighter’s stance, small white hands clenched into fists. His face, lit by a shaft of light from the laundry room, is contorted with rage at being roused from his slumber—probably by me shutting the dryer door.

Casey’s eyes dart from the lit laundry room to the clothes in my arms; then to the crack of light under his brother’s bedroom door.

This could go any direction, including ones I cannot imagine, so I float a storyline: “I’m going downstairs with these clean clothes; time to go back to bed.”

“Mom? Who are you talking to?” comes from behind my oldest son’s door.

I dart a warning glance at Casey, whose free-floating anxiety wicks towards the sound of his brother’s voice. He erupts, “Shut-up! I’m trying to sleep!”

“You shut-up. You’re the one who’s yelling,” comes big brother’s voice. Read more

Teachers Come in All Sizes

Filed Under All Posts, Parenting | 7 Comments

We’re please to introduce our first guest blogger: co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition and contributor to the Huffington Post, Lisa Kaas Boyle describes herself as an environmental attorney, mother and life-long learner. Welcome Lisa!

I was one of those people who always dreamed of having children, even when I was a child myself. Naturally, I had a lot of expectations about being a parent. Many of these expectations turned out to be false — like the idea that having a child would be like having a part of me break off and develop into another me. I quickly learned that, apart from some obvious genetic similarities, my kids came to me as strangers I had to get to know. The next big surprise, and this was even more shocking to me, was that my kids would be teaching ME things.

My son Jake, who turned 13 this month, has been one of my greatest teachers. He taught me a profound lesson when he was not yet two. I had recently quit working outside the home to be a “stay-at-home mom.” Read more

Coming of Age: It Takes a Village

Filed Under All Posts, Cathy Fischer, Parenting | 12 Comments

Cathy ponders the question, “What did you wish you had been told when you were 12 years old?”

Lovely Lily, my best friend Leslie’s daughter, turns 12 and becomes a Bat Mitzvah this weekend. The Bat Mitzvah (Bar Mitzvah for boys) is a Jewish rite of passage. The classic joke goes something like this: A Bar Mitzvah boy stands at the podium having just recited a passage from the Torah, he begins his speech, “Today I’m a man. Tomorrow I go back to the 8th grade.”

To paraphrase the description from Temple Bet Alef:
The Bar and Bat Mitzvah represents a coming of age for a Jewish young person. On a physical level, it represents the age when young bodies become capable of reproduction and young people need to become responsible in a fuller way for their behavior in the world. On a mental and emotional level, it reflects entering the transition period between childhood and adulthood. On a spiritual level, the young person begins to reflect on the Torah’s teachings in regards to their own identity and journey.

To celebrate Lily’s milestone, I have been invited to partake in a tradition new to me, but grounded in ancient ritual—the “Women’s Circle”. Comprised of Lily’s mother’s friends and relatives, the discussion zeros in on this one question:

“What did you wish you had been told when you were 12 years old?” Read more

Enough with the Platitudinous Drivel

Filed Under All Posts, Parenting, Prudence Baird, Rants | 20 Comments

Triggered by her son’s question, Prudence unleashes a rant for our times

“Mom, is it true things happen for a reason?” Casey’s green eyes fringed by impossibly curly brown lashes widened with anticipation at the possible confirmation that some benevolent force is at work that can explain why bad things happen to good people.

“Who the fuck said that?” I snapped. Okay, I didn’t really say fuck, but I wanted to.

This pithy, saccharine saw lodges in my ears like the stinking turd of stupidspeak that it is. And whenever someone says it, whether the person is my friend or not, I cannot suppress my outrage that anyone dare to explain away the immoral, indecent, unfair and—in many cases—avoidable crap that rains down on perfectly lovely people and takes their lives, their health, their finances and even their children in directions that should only be reserved for those whose full names end in Cheney, Bush, Wolfowitz or Rove. Read more

Only When I Laugh

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Family, Parenting, Relationships | 7 Comments

mother_son_golfFor Christie Healey, time spent with relatives is just the ticket.

Many of us have recently spent time with our families over the holidays. Family has taken on a very broad meaning and I am blessed with a wonderful family of choice. But, for now I want to reflect upon those persons in our family that we had no choice of selection. Time spent with the relatives can be revealing, precious, stressful, hilarious, and restorative.

My former father-in-law comes to mind when I think of some of the adjectives I used above. He is an extraordinary person, a man of great persistence in certain areas. He loved golf. No, I mean he really loved golf. Practiced for over 50 years with no noticeable signs of improvement. He would swing a club in the apartment we shared whenever the obsession took over. Chips out of the concrete beam in the living room bear witness to his fervour. After some pleas, he agreed to use the “air” practice swing. One evening he was found lying on the floor in the bedroom. “What happened?” we cried. “I was going for distance,” he responded. Read more

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