I go to all of my son’s games

I’m sitting at my son’s baseball game, the fourth one I’ve been to in five days. My husband has left work early to come, my son isn’t even pitching, and all I am thinking is: why am I here?

Deep down, however, I know exactly why. It just feels right; it’s who I am as a parent. Whether his team is playing home or away, whether or not my son himself actually takes the field, I rearrange my day to make sure I can attend. So that I can support the team, and support my son. And because I enjoy chatting with the other parents on the sidelines.

But on a recent afternoon, as the sky began to turn the color of smoke, I was reminded of an article I had read about watching our kids play sports, and it made me wonder whether I am guilty of treating my son’s games as yet another childhood performance we overinflate with importance and whether there’s something more to my self-inflicted expectation to attend every single one.

When my son was younger, in addition to attending all of the parent-inclusive events, I’d volunteer at his elementary school—to update classroom bulletin boards, or as an extra hand in the school library. I’d carve out time to assist in the cafeteria at lunchtime, or help his teacher with a first-grade math lesson. I did it because I wanted to help out, but also because I wanted to catch a glimpse of my little boy “in action”—among his peers, in the classroom, away from home. It made me happy, fulfilled, and I had the time to do it. I was a stay-at-home mom, and my son was the younger of my two kids. He didn’t seem to mind my presence or involvement in the least. In fact, he too seemed to enjoy it.

But as he got older, the landscape of parental involvement shifted—there was no longer the same need or want for parents in the classroom, and the school events and themed celebrations dramatically dwindled. It was around that time when I came up for air from the early days of parenting, and became more focused on what I wanted to do, for myself, instead of revolving my days around one or both of my kids. Of course I still attended band concerts and back to school nights, and I volunteered here and there, but mostly I pulled back, especially with the extra things, and I became less involved. 

Yet lately I find myself in a unique place, like the pivot of a seesaw. My son plays high school baseball, my daughter is away at college. He is here, she is there. And I am balancing somewhere in between, knowing full well what lies ahead: zero games and school events I will have the option to attend.

Read the rest here, on Motherwell.


My College Freshman Won’t Be Coming Home For Spring Break


I had no fantasies that my college freshman’s winter break would look much different than her time at home over the Thanksgiving weekend. I quickly got used to the inevitable cycle of appearance and disappearance, punctuated with “what’s for dinner?” texts. Things would be different for her second semester spring break, though. Unlike the synchronized timing of Thanksgiving and Christmas, this vacation didn’t overlap with her high school friends’ breaks. She’d come home for 10 full days, and she’d be ours.

“See ya, Mom,” she said within the first five minutes home from the airport over Thanksgiving and then again in December, dropping her duffel and backpack inches from where we had just entered. This was the first of many indications that when home from college, my daughter would rather spend her time with high school friends, her boyfriend, all while texting and Snapchatting her new friends away at school. While it’s becoming increasingly clear that’s how she wants to spend her time home from college, the truth is I don’t always want to share her. I don’t want the sliver–the thinnest, smallest piece left behind, the one that’s left over after everybody else gets the other parts of her.

Not so long ago, my daughter loved our family togetherness. She would get excited about make-your-own taco night or sharing a hot potato knish at our favorite neighborhood deli. Back then, time wasn’t so sparse; she wasn’t pulled in every direction, forced to choose how and with whom to spend any given hour.

Read the rest of the essay here, at On Parenting/The Washington Post






What I Learned From Florida Dinner Theater With My Grandparents

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” It wasn’t until I became a parent myself, with memories of my own childhood I wanted to share, that I finally understood what our annual fancy nights represented. The idea of merging the past with the present, of linking generations, of engaging in activities and sharing traditions with those we love and those who love us—with the kind of whole-hearted fullness and pureness we might never realize possible until having children of our own.”

Read my piece, part of Brain, Child’s grandparent blog series.

Why I Won’t Be GPS Tracking My College Freshman


The scheduled FaceTime call the night before my daughter’s first day of classes was an epic fail. Just a few days after we’d left her in her new dorm room, we were still trying to figure out the best ways to communicate with our college freshman. So far, there had been some texting but not a lot. “Do I get all three meals a day on the meal plan?” “Can I put dirty sneakers in the washer/dryer?”

After dialing her number, the initial maternal tug of “There she is!” was immediately dwarfed by her distracted, “Oh I forgot we were speaking.” Our one minute conversation included a matter of fact “you know I just saw you” and, although it was said with no tone or irritation, it was still a punch to the once pregnant gut.

I had thought my concerns after drop-off would fall more on safety and health issues—is my daughter getting enough vitamin C, is she walking from the library to the dorm at night with a friend? Or whether she was finding a healthy balance between fun and academics. But somehow, on the ride back to the airport, the lingering image of our goodbye group hug stayed with me, and unexpectedly, my focus shifted away from her and onto my own immediate and acute maternal need for contact.

But what would that contact look like? So far, it had seemed ours was a parent-child dance based on practicality rather than emotion, which left me wondering, in all the months leading up to and preparing for the college send-off, had I missed one of the more important conversations with my daughter: How would we communicate while she was away at school and how often?

Then came the impromptu phone call while she was walking to dinner with friends. “Everyone is calling their moms right now,” she said. “So…” I smiled. At least she was honest. But I’d take it. I’d take anything she was willing to give.

Read the rest of the essay here, at On Parenting/The Washington Post

Why Elementary School Kids Shouldn’t Be Labelled As Gifted 


How useful is it to label students “gifted” at the elementary school level? Does it provide important differentiation that will have a lasting impact on a child’s education? Or does it prematurely saddle that child with expectations and create an unnecessary dividing line between him and his peers?

Read my opinion piece, “Why Elementary School Kids Shouldn’t Be Labelled as Gifted,” on Brain, Child.