Tag Archive for: parenting

home for the holidays

Home for the Holidays: Parenting in the College Years


My last two blog posts covered far-reaching trips I’ve recently taken to Africa and South America.  When people asked me what our plans were for this holiday season,  I think they were expecting a more exotic reply, but I was happy to answer, “A good ‘ol family staycation…”  The two kids that are still in college requested that we don’t go anywhere this year, and John and I were more than happy to oblige.

The lack of plans allowed them to spend time with high school friends as well as for us to visit with other families in Boston.  Yes there are dentist appointments in the mix,….  but here are some highlights of our staycation:

·      Home cookin’…..  after months at college, the kiddoes are craving family classics

·      Lighting our menorah – first time in a long time kids are home for all nights of Hanukah

·      Shabbat dinners – Jack, our son in the workforce and Emily, his girlfriend, will be able to join us on 12/30!

·      Fires in the fireplace

·      Chinese Food (when we’re not home cookin’)

·      Family squash /yoga / soul cycle

·      Going to the movies – “Lalaland” was great, next up “Office Christmas Party” and “Star Wars”

·      Playing hearts at the kitchen table

·      Rocking to The Roots at the House of Blues

·      Going to the TD Garden to watch the Celtics and the Bruins

Best of all, time for reading – I’m reading Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh – which I am loving.  Jennifer will be joining our book group for a special dinner party in early January !!

…AND writing!  I set a goal of finishing a manuscript by the end of 2016 and I’ll be damned, with some late nights, I am going to make it!  So after you wet your appetite with EDEN, you shouldn’t have to wait too long….

If you are enjoying your own staycation this week, I would love to hear your highlights…

Melody Beatty’s daily meditation in Journey to the Heart for December 26 gets to the core of it:


We search for sacred spaces, spiritual

experiences, and truths.  But the holiest

places are often found when we spend

time with people we love.

May your home be the sanctuary you crave.

Love and Peace in 2017



Have you read the Book of Ruth? Ruth is the ultimate daughter-in-law in the Jewish Bible. Even after her husband dies, Ruth remains with her mother-in-law, Naomi, refusing the request that she return to her own people. Ruth adopts Naomi’s religion and travels with her to the land of Judah. Ruth and Naomi have a special bond of friendship. Ruth is depicted as the first convert to Judaism in the bible and interestingly, it is from her line that David, the great king is descended.

A convert to Judaism myself, I feel a connection to Ruth. Not only is she the first convert, but a revered and important figure in the history of the Jewish people. To me, the story of Ruth is a testament to Jews always welcoming converts and was partly responsible for me publicly owning my new religion.

Besides being a convert, Ruth is a true friend and source of support for Naomi, her mother-in-law. In Eden, Ruth is the consummate daughter in law to Sadie. She stays by Sadie’s side even after Robert dies, and coincidentally it is her son that is the family’s financial savior, purchasing the home, and keeping it in the family.

Being a daughter-in-law to people who have no daughters of their own, I also feel that connection to Ruth. In my case, it was not my mother-in-law who leaned in me for support, it’s been my father-in-law. I am his surrogate daughter. Even in this modern age, when my husband is willing to pitch in on an equal basis, there are things his father just feels more comfortable coming to me for. Is it because I am a woman? Because I am more comfortable talking about emotions and relationships? Because we share the vocation of writing? Because he just assumes I’m more available to help with domestic and medical matters? We have a friendship and share points of view that are not shared by my husband.

Being a daughter or son-in-law, is often a delicate dance. I certainly stumbled and mis-stepped in the beginning, but figuring it out, and disproving the caricature of in-law as “out-law” has resulted in one of my most satisfying relationships.



What gets passed down in a family is an important theme in Eden.  What do we inherit? Money, possessions? Possibly, but usually not without angst.  Behaviors and opinions are also passed down, for better or worse. The obvious things like physical traits are easy for the outside world to see.  What is not apparent are our feelings about ourselves, what we like about ourselves and dislike about ourselves. We inherit recipes and histories, oral and written. We inherit a way of doing things, a set of expectations, approval and disapproval. We inherit love, we inherit disappointment. The estate planning and the last will and testament is the least of it!

As we mature and find ourselves wedged in the middle between aging parents and children coming into adulthood, it is a logical time to think about some of these things.  As our closets and basements and attics become depositories for family heirlooms, it is a time to think about how the intangible heirlooms will also get divided up.

Is inheritance a privilege or a responsibility?  Is the younger generation beholden to its elders? Some will walk away from everything, while others will accept their inheritance with gratitude and refashion what they receive to work in their lives.



During my lifetime, the closest thing my family has had to a matriarch was my grandmother, not in the fact that she “ruled” our family but she lived until she was 96, was elegant and stately and was greatly admired by the generations that came after. She was my father’s mother, and come to think of it, she probably was the only one who could influence his thinking with a subtle nod of approval or disapproval.

The first matriarch of the Meister family in my novel, EDEN, is Sadie (Sarah). In the book of Genesis, Sarah, wife of Abraham, was also the first matriarch. Sarah was venerable and beautiful, and it is from her that all Israel is descended. But in true Old Testament fashion, Sarah is also depicted as an imperfect human. It is said that Sarah was a prophetess and knew the way things should play out, but when she insisted Abraham banish Hagar and Ishmael to the wilderness, it probably wasn’t her finest hour. One can just imagine her in a jealous snit, putting her foot down with Abraham. The subsequent matriarchs in the book of Genesis are Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah who go on to birth a nation despite their human frailties.

It has always been comforting to me to study Genesis in that it emphasizes that the holiest figures in the Jewish religion are just regular, imperfect, people. And although the book is not without its patriarchs, it is first and foremost a book of matriarchs. The insights of its wives, mothers, and midwives, who often made things happen behind the scenes are responsible for the flourishing of the Jewish people. In addition, the book’s themes of familial struggle, including sibling rivalry, jealousy, and rebelliousness are those that we recognize in our own families today. And although, it is sort of discouraging to think that humans have had the same weaknesses and relationship issues for ages, I find it a consolation.

Patterns in families repeat themselves, in Genesis as well as in real life. The pattern of unplanned pregnancy repeats itself for three generations in the Meister family of my novel. A wise matriarch once said that one shouldn’t be defined by the surprises in her life, but by the way she responds to those surprises. So, possibly, as we evolve as people and as mothers of a people, may we learn from history and try to do a little bit better in our lifetime.

mother and daughter

The Mother – Daughter thing

mother and daughter

I remember how painful our arguments were. Worse than arguments, they were downright fights, awful to even recall now. As a daughter I failed at the mother/daughter relationship. But as a mother, I am getting a second chance. So far I would say it is going pretty well. Annie is 19 and heading off to college in the fall. She is strong and intelligent and driven and caring. My mother would be so proud of her namesake. I am so proud of her. She is kind in a way I never knew how to be. She is by no means perfect, and can have plenty of attitude as any teen might, but she and I are very close. We laugh about the myriad ways I have ‘ruined her’ as in set her up for emotional trauma later in life, but the important thing is that we laugh about it. If I can get this relationship right on the second go round, it will be the greatest accomplishment of my life.