Blogging 101 – Happy Anniversary


I wrote my very first blog for the Jewish Journal on July 9th, 2009. It is hard to believe I have been sharing my life here for nine years. When I started my son had just had his Bar Mitzvah, which was the catalyst that got this blog started. Charlie becoming a man changed how he viewed me, and how he viewed our life together. He turned 13 and immediately became concerned with taking care of me. I had been a single parent since he was a baby, and he felt his Bar Mitzvah marked a change in our relationship. He was going to be the man in my life.

He was very vocal about being worried about my being alone. At 13 he was looking ahead to a day he would be grown up and moving out, and he didn’t want me to be alone. He had a well thought out conversation with me, explaining that I needed to find a good man. He had clear ideas about what type of man it should be, and did not hesitate to share his opinions with me. It was sweet and kind and lovely. It was also daunting, intimidating, and stressful. There was now a clock ticking for me to find love and so I started to not only date, but blog all about it. I never could have known it would last this long, and am surprised it has.

There were good dates, bad dates, and nightmare dates. There was hope, love, and heartache. I have learned a lot about myself during the life of this blog. I became a better mother, a more grounded Jew, and an increasingly vocal liberal. By sharing my opinions about things, and inviting people into my life with Charlie, I discovered I was a great mother, and a decent and kind human being. I am a survivor of many things and have written with bravery and freedom. There is nothing about my life I have not shared here, and that is both empowering and scary.

I have often referred to this blog as a love letter to my son, and it really is. I have written with sometimes painful honesty about my life. I have no regrets about anything I have shared and am blessed beyond measure to have had people share their stories in return. I have built a family here of people who have become my teachers, friends, advocates, protectors, and cheerleaders. I have received real love and unbelievable hate. At the end of the day the good always outweighed the bad, and I know how lucky I am to have this platform.

Thank you to the Jewish Journal. They have encouraged me to share without fear. Rob Eshman is my hero and I will forever be grateful to him for bringing me on board. David Suissa is my celebrity crush and inspires me to write. My writing brings David headaches with demands to fire me. Important to note that every time I say Trump has dementia and his supporters are morons, there is a call to fire me, which only makes me want to mention Trump is a loser and his inbred supporters are garbage every time I write, even if the blog is not at all about Trump.

As I begin my 10th year with the Jewish Journal I am hopeful that this will be my last year. I have said I would write this blog until I found real love and got married again. I honestly thought that day would have come long before now, and thought I was close a couple of times, but here I am. Charlie is now 22 and currently on vacation in Japan. He calls me every day, and video chats me from places he thinks I would like to see. Yesterday we looked in amazement at the bamboo forest, walked along the flooded river, and fed monkeys and deer. I am truly blessed.

Thank you to my son, who is the love of my life and the most incredible person I know. Thank you for letting me write this blog and share our lives Charlie. You are an amazing young man and I am proud of you. Keeping the Faith is for you. I love you. To my readers, there are no words to properly express my thanks to you. You have held my hand for nine years and I am grateful for all of you. You make me laugh, wipe my tears, and embrace my voice. Thank you for reading and thank you for reminding me to count my blessing while keeping the faith.

 

Happy Father’s Day


I have been a single mom since my son was a baby. I was divorced before he turned one and while his father lives close by and has a relationship with our son, I raised this boy with no financial, emotional, spiritual, or physical support. My son is a wonderful human being because even though he has a dad, I have been his mother and father. Being a single parent is a remarkable job for remarkable people.

I taught my son to ride a bike, took him on his first fishing trip, passed on my faith, comforted him through loss, explained sex, taught him to respect women and himself. I encouraged him to follow his dreams and that no dream was impossible. He was raised to help those less fortunate and embrace everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, the name of their God, or who they love. He is a good man.

Being a single parent is as difficult as it is rewarding. I raised my son in a city where I had no family, so I created one. I leaned on my friends, temple, Rabbi, teachers, parents of his friends, and employers to help raise this remarkable human. I did not and could not lean on his dad. In looking back at my life as a single parent, I am proud of myself, wish it had been different, and am grateful for our life together.

When my son was one, my father sent me flowers for Father’s Day. He told me he was proud of me and said I was a great mom and a wonderful dad. It meant a lot to me that the man I loved and respected more than any other man in the world acknowledged I was doing everything and being everyone for my son. I raised a boy to be a man on my own so Father’s Day is interesting for me.

Life as a single parent is full of blessings. There is an us against the world connection. As single parents we cry harder, laugh deeper, worry more, and pray longer because we are alone. Life is loud because it is just you listening, and life is silent because you are by yourself. It is a life of sacrifices and rewards. I am a strong and proud single parent because the title makes me a super hero.

This morning my son made me breakfast and bought me flowers for Father’s Day, then he went to spend the day with his dad. He always makes this day special for me and I appreciate it. It makes my heart swell that he understands the roles I have played in his life and honors me, I am wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, and to all the mothers who are sometimes father’s too. Enjoy this day.

Happy Father’s Day those who have lost their dads and wish they were still here. Happy Father’s Day to sons of single mothers who are the men in their mom’s lives, and to the moms who are everything for their kids. Happy Father’s Day to men who are going to become dads for the first time, and dads who are raising their kids alone. Do right by your kids and respect the women who made you fathers.

To my own beloved father, Bob Angel, I love you and miss you every day. I want to call you and tell you what is going on and have you guide me. I will never be too old to need you, and I will never stop missing you. Your children love you and your grandchildren are perfect pieces of you, carrying on your legacy and keeping you alive. We love you Dad, and we know you are watching, so we are keeping the faith.

 

Happy Mother’s Day


When I woke up this morning I went into my son’s old room, crawled into his old bed, snuggled up with his old cat, and let my old body go back to sleep. It was fantastic! This is the first Mother’s Day in 22 years I didn’t wake up and see the face of my delicious boy. He has his own apartment now, but will be here any minute. We are spending the day together and I cannot wait.

He is taking me out for lunch at the beach, followed by some painting at Color Me Mine (our Mother’s Day tradition), then we are heading to the LAFC game. He has it all planned out and I am excited for every minute we will be together. I love my kid. I have raised him on my own and it has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. He is a wonderful human being and my absolute favorite person.

I have learned to love my empty nest, but look forward to his coming home. I am blessed that he comes home often, usually with laundry, but that is cool. We are very good friends, always have been, but have managed to keep a respectful line drawn in the sand that maintains my role as his mother. I am a very lucky girl, but also an awesome mom. Yay for me! Yay for moms on our day!

To all the mothers, enjoy this day! Be kind to yourself. We can be tough on ourselves, and are our own worst critics, but we must take time today to be proud. Proud of not only our children, but of ourselves. Being a mother is hard. Being a single mother is tough. Being a Jewish mother is exhausting. We are remarkable. Happy Mother’s Day! Be safe, enjoy your kids, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating 101: Hookers and Judgment


Yesterday I was written to online by a 59-year-old man. He was attractive and had written an honest and funny profile about himself. He stated he was newly divorced and just starting to date. It was charming and I appreciated the honesty, so I wrote back. After 2 notes I gave him my number and he called. We are grownups, and texting and email is painful when getting to know someone, so we quickly jumped to a call. He reached out and we began the dating interview.

I found him to be interesting and witty, and was enjoying our chat, until I wasn’t. When he said he was newly divorced, what he meant was that he had signed his divorce papers last week. While he has been out of his marital home for a year, he is barely divorced and still hanging onto his old life. He spoke a lot about his ex-wife, which is fine, until it wasn’t. I suggested that perhaps he hadn’t been divorced long enough to know how it would affect him. I also told him dating had changed a lot in the years he had been married.

I explained that while I had been divorced forever, I remember my first relationship after divorce and it was doomed from the start because I arrived with so much baggage that still needed to be unpacked. He let me know he had unpacked all his bags already and was good to go. I explained that after 24 years of marriage, perhaps he should sew some wild oats and have single fun before diving into a relationship. Sleep with new people and discover who he was at this stage of his life.

He then assured me he had sewn his oats already. Without being prompted to go on, he let me know he had a sexless marriage and had spent the last few years of said marriage sleeping with hookers. He felt it was the respectful thing to do because he wanted the marriage to work, just needed sex, so he made it a business decision rather than an emotional one. Oh. My. God. Who tells someone they just met, and are interested in dating, they not only cheated, but paid for sex with hookers?

Important to note I have no issues with women who have sex for money. I have a good friend who worked as a prostitute to put herself through college. We met a few years ago while getting our nails done and I not only love her, but have no judgement about how she makes her money. When it came to this man however, I found myself sitting in a pile of judgement. I don’t care that he paid for sex, but that did it while married “to respect his wife”, is ridiculous and disgusting.

I can applaud him for being so honest I suppose, but no. He asked if I would like to go out on a date and I chose to decline. I also chose to suggest to him that perhaps he withhold some information from women moving forward. There is a lot to be said for honesty, but there is some information that simply does not need to be shared. I cannot think of any good that come out of my knowing the man I am dating not only cheated of his wife, but did it with hookers on a regular basis and over a long period of time.

It has been an interesting few days in my dating life. I was asked out by a man who was 82. I was also asked out by a man who was 25. They weren’t even the weird one. I was asked out by a man who is on parole and has limited mobility. Whoever said dating was fun, was drunk. Not tipsy and cute drunk, but vomiting on yourself and falling down stairs into a gutter drunk. I have been dating for a long time and I am tired. Not tired of dating, because I know it is necessary, but tired of the game.

I remain hopeful, which is key. Without hope there is no need to keep dating. I will meet a great man one of these days. He will be Jewish, not married, not wearing a parole tracker, and the only hooker he is interested in will be the one I am roll playing while we have a sexy night in Vegas. There is the right man out there looking for me. We will stumble upon each other one of these days. I simply need to pay attention, keep my eyes open, keep my heart open, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating 101: Three Strikes


In the never ending madness that is my dating life, I’ve been asked out by three men this week, and it is only Thursday. It would be fair to assume the odds are in my favor for at least one of them to be worthy of meeting for a cocktail, but when you remember it is MY dating life we are talking about, you must know that each man was stranger than the one before him, and I struck out three times.

Man #1 is 54 years old, Jewish, divorced, and estranged from his three grown children. He is coming out of a long term relationship with a woman who has a young child. When I asked how long it had been since they broke up, he said he was actually in the process of moving out of the home they shared. He was at their house when we spoke, taking out her garbage. Dear Lord, I simply can’t.

He assured me that even though they technically still lived together, he was moving out and their relationship was long over. I quickly realized he mentioned her a lot, so I started to count. For the next three minutes he referred to his not-really-ex-girlfriend by name 26 times. He then explained that in the interest of full disclosure, he wanted me to know he voted for Trump, and would do it again.

His living situation was no longer the grossest thing about him. This man is a personal mess and a political nightmare. No good can ever come from dating that combination. We ended our conversation and that was the end of that, which brings me to man #2. This man let me know he had been divorced for three years, but was still living with his ex-wife. They have four kids, one of them still at home.

Rather than disrupt her life, they agreed to live together until she went to college, which would be this fall. He assured me I didn’t need to worry about dating him, because they had a system in place. She slept in one room, he slept in another, and they took turns dating on weekends. To clarify, they alternated weekends at the house so they could both pursue fulfilling sex lives with other people.

On his weekend at the house, his ex-wife and daughter sleep at her parent’s home. Then when it is her weekend, he goes to his mother’s house with his daughter. Really? How can this be a thing? I think this is going to screw up that kid in worse ways than a divorce would. I don’t want to judge, and everyone should do what works for their family, but I’m going to have to say no on this one. No.

Man #3 is 58 years old, not Jewish, educated, handsome, and the father of five kids. Important to note he has never been married and his five kids have four different mothers. Interesting fact, two of the kids were born sixteen days apart. Yup. His kids range in age from 8 to 36, and he would really like to have more. Fun fact: he has two grandchildren who are older than his youngest children.

I don’t have any women in my life who would find his story attractive, but bless him for sharing it so proudly. Ugh. I have struck out without ever having even made it to bat. All I can do is laugh because at the end of the day it is funny. There is someone for everyone though, so I’m sure all three of these men will find love. I’ve got 20 bucks that says they will all find it before I do, which is hilarious.

I find my dating life to be very entertaining, which is a good thing or I may want to impale myself. One day my prince will come and the only things I am certain of, are that he won’t live with his ex-wife, have multiple kids from multiple women, or think Donald Trump is anything other than garbage. So until my bashert finds me, I will continue to be entertained and remain hopeful, while keeping the faith.

Happy Birthday Son


Today is my son’s 22nd birthday. I don’t really remember what my life was like before he was born, and every single day I have been blessed to be his mother, has brought me joy. I have not always done a great job, but he has always been a great son. He is a true blessing to not only me, but to everyone who is lucky enough to know and love him. In honor of this special day, I would like to share 22 things I love about this wonderful human being. In no particular:

  1. He makes me laugh daily.
  2. He is a fantastic chef.
  3. He is compassionate.
  4. He is talented.
  5. He is funny.
  6. He reminds me of my dad.
  7. He is socially aware.
  8. He works hard.
  9. He appreciates me.
  10. He follows his dreams.
  11. He is going to change the world.
  12. He respects women.
  13. He is a Dr. Doolittle.
  14. He is fearless.
  15. He respects the planet.
  16. He is brave.
  17. He makes good choices.
  18. He is a great friend.
  19. He is my sunshine.
  20. He lets me take a lot of pictures of him.
  21. He forgives me when I misstep.
  22. He is a feminist.

Happy Birthday Son! I love you very much and am proud of you. I hope this year brings you all you wish for yourself, plus more. Having a front seat to your life is my greatest blessing and I can’t wait to watch your dreams come true. Thank you for everything. I wish you health, happiness, and peace. Mahashooshoo. Always remember that life is better when you are keeping the faith.

My New Reality


Last week was the first time in as long as I can remember when my schedule was not dictated by reality television. As someone who has blogged about reality TV between 2 and 5 times a week for years and years, it was liberating and brought me real peace and happiness. I did not rush home to watch a show, I did not interview a reality celebrity, and I did not spend any time with Jose Cuervo.

I went out for dinner with friends, I went on a couple of dates, I spent quality time with my son, and I wrote about my own reality. It has truly been life altering and I found myself wondering why I didn’t retire Keeping it Real sooner. I did not realize how it had consumed my life until I stopped doing it. I watched a couple of the shows I used to write about, and enjoyed them more as a regular viewer.

The most interesting discovery is that while I enjoyed watching, I did not feel invested, or have any great need to watch them again. It is fascinating how important I thought these shows were. Not only are they not important, they are not particularly entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking reality television, I am just viewing it differently now that it is not part of my job.

It turns out my reality is much more interesting than what I was watching. From my dating life, to exploring my faith, to my newly empty nest, to wanting to spend uninterrupted time with my son, my life is reality television worthy. I would never do a reality show of course, even though I have been asked, because some crazy blogger would come and share her unsolicited opinion of me, so no thanks.

Last night instead of watching Real Housewives of Atlanta, I watched 60 Minutes, and I must tell you it feels better. I have not engaged in social media other than to post pictures of sunrises, sunsets, cocktails, and food. It is a whole new world and I am happy. Instead of waking up and checking my Twitter to see the reaction to my blog, I woke up and celebrated the announcement of a new princess.

Keeping the Faith has been a very important part of my life, and she has been neglected due to the demands of reality television. That stops today. I look forward to posting often and welcoming you back into my life in a bigger way. My longtime readers have been through a lot with me, and I take comfort in knowing you are out there, wishing and praying for good things to come for me.

You carry me through. I went back to read Keeping the Faith over the years and it is wonderful to see how many people have come into my life through this blog. People who matter to me in profound ways. I’ve made friends, dated readers, battled hate, embraced love, and defined who I am as a Jew, mother, friend, daughter, and partner.  My life is truly blessed because I am keeping the faith.

 

Happy Thanksgiving Jose Cuervo


Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

This time of year inspires people to reflect on their lives. We take the time to say thank you and count our blessings, even if it is just for a day. Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday, but as a woman who gives thanks each and every day, saying thanks is just a small piece of the pie. In the spirit of the holiday however, each year I like to pick one thing or one person in my life that has gone unappreciated, and say thank you. This year’s selection happens to be both a person and a thing.

My son has moved into his own apartment and it’s been hard. Even though we talk all day and I see him regularly, I miss him so much it aches. I am not ashamed to share I have cried every day since he left. I have also slept in his room twice, and sat in the middle of the floor weeping. By sitting, of course I mean I was in the fetal position while looking at baby pictures with my boyfriend. By boyfriend, of course I mean Jose Cuervo, which leads me to my special thank you for 2017.

Thank you to Jose for helping me through this difficult transition in my life. I have spent almost 22 years preparing my son for this moment, but sadly forgot to prepare myself. The truth is that even if I had prepared myself, I still wouldn’t have been ready. He stayed at home longer I did when I was young, but I could have used a little more. Another five years would have been nice. Pathetic to be sure, but still nice. It has been him and me for so long it feels strange when he tells me he is going home after dinner, but it is not our home.

He was six months old when I got divorced and so our bond is special. It has been him and me against the world so long, I guess I’m just scared about how I will do it on my own. It would keep me up at night if it weren’t for Jose. He relaxes me so I can stop thinking and get some sleep. I love him. Important to clarify I don’t love him so much that we are together all day, but I do love him some evenings and imagine it will be a couple more weeks before me and my tequila boyfriend cool off.

Being a mother is the highlight of my life and most important job I will ever have. I am proud of my son for taking this milestone step in his life, and proud of myself for raising such a wonderful human being. He is living his best life and his successes are mine. I respect and admire him. I also trust him. He makes good choices and that is because of me. He is fearless, compassionate, aware, and kind. In the interest of full disclosure, it has not been all bad. There are blessings.

My home is always clean! There are no clothes on the floor, there are no dishes in the sink, and there is something quite liberating about walking around your home naked, just because you can. I am actually writing this while naked on the couch with Jose. I’m not sure I will ever get used to my empty nest, but with Jose by side I will learn to embrace it. Happy Thanksgiving! Count your blessings, acknowledge someone worthy, and raise a glass to keeping the faith.

The Journey of a ‘Single Mother by Choice’


Photo by Shiloh Kanarti.

“How many of you bother reading all the emails from your kid’s school?”

When a presenter asked that question at a Tel Aviv conference for working mothers, it was met with peals of laughter and the shaking of heads. Only one woman in the entire auditorium raised her hand.

Yael Ukeles reads every note regarding her 6-year-old son, Amitai. She attributes her conscientiousness to the “tremendous power of choice” that brought Amitai into the world.

Part of a growing network of religious women who have chosen to raise children without a partner, Ukeles is a co-founder of KayamaMoms, an organization that supports such women and advocates for their needs in the wider community. Bordering on a misnomer, she said, the term “single mother by choice” fails to incorporate the emotional anguish that comes with the choice between being a single mother and not being a mother at all.

“You speak to any single mom by choice — Jewish or not Jewish, in America or in Israel — and it’s really the same story,” she said.

Unmarried and approaching 40, Ukeles realized that if she wanted to become pregnant, she would need to act quickly.

“I felt angry — well, maybe angry is too strong a word — but I felt pressured at having to make this choice. But I understood that no decision is a decision,” Ukeles said.

So she started to do research, speaking to psychologists, financial advisers and, being an observant Jew, to rabbis. She also had to let go of her lifelong vision of what her future would look like.

“The literature calls it ‘mourning the dream,’ ” she said, adding that clinging to vestiges of some ideal long past its expiration date was an irresponsible way to bring a child into the world.

“That child shouldn’t feel anything but 100-percent wanted,” she said.

Apart from letting go of ingrained paradigms, Ukeles’ advice to women considering to go it alone is to, well, not go it alone. Although she credits her family with being “150 percent on board” with her decision, it was really her community of Tekoa — a mixed religious-secular community in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem — that eased much of the burden.

“Find a community that you want to live in and raise a child in and be a part of that community by giving,” she said. “Give, give, give.”

That way, she said, by the time you need to ask for help, you’ll already have a built-in support network.

“I felt pressured at having to make this choice. But I understood that no decision is a decision.”

As her voice cracked, Ukeles recalled the exhilaration she felt at Amitai’s brit milah.

“It was beyond … just beyond. … When I walked into the room, I felt this swell, literally a wave of love and support. Every time I think about it I almost can’t breathe because it was just so beautiful.”

Six years on, is Amitai aware of his uncommon origins?

“Oh sure, we speak about it constantly,” Ukeles said.

Ukeles told Amitai before he turned 2 about how she wanted to have a baby, so she went to a doctor. When he was a bit older, she added that she had wanted to get married but didn’t find anyone, so she went to a doctor.

“And then I added a little biology,” she said with a laugh.

She has revealed to her son details about the sperm donor so that “it’s not a ghost in the house.” She has information about the donor because she used an American sperm bank. Israeli law requires that sperm and egg donors remain anonymous.

Still, in most ways, women wanting to become single mothers have it easier than their U.S. counterparts. In religious circles, the subject is less taboo in Israel, so there are more single mothers by choice than in comparable U.S. communities. And the state covers fertility treatments, which can be prohibitively expensive in the U.S.

To date, Ukeles — with KayamaMom co-directors Dina Pinner and Dvori Ross — has supported some 80 women in Israel and the U.S., and welcomed more than 100 KayamaMom babies into the world.

Although she never imagined her “Plan B would be this awesome,” she said, she hasn’t entirely lost sight of Plan A: “I’m still hopeful that I’ll find myself in a nurturing relationship someday.”

Motherhood 101 – Growing Up


I survived week one in my empty nest. It was really hard, but I did it. The simple truth is I really miss my son. We talk several times a day, and I saw him during the week, but I miss having him at home. Not only do I miss him, but so does Fiddles the cat. When he came over today she about lost her mind. She followed him around like a dog and could not get close enough to him. When he left we both cried. Literally. We sat together on the couch and cried like a couple of babies.

When he said he was coming over I started to cook. I cooked as if I was having a dozen people over for dinner, even though it was just us. He walked in with a load of dirty laundry and I was so happy I thought I would burst. I did his laundry, fed him, watched Fiddles snuggle up, and stared at my grown up baby. He is a wonderful human being and I am proud of him. There is a piece of my heart that will always wish he was still with me, but a larger piece that is happy he has gone out on his own.

We are both out on our own for the first time and it has been bonding. We are going through the same changes and emotions. If you want to gage who is handling this time in our lives better, and make that decision based on the number of tears shed, I lose. He is thrilled about being on his own and I don’t think he has cried. I on the other hand still cry a lot, but for different reasons. I cried in the beginning because I was sad, and now I cry because I am so proud and excited for him.

I also cry because I am proud of myself. I have raised a good man. He is very much like my beloved father, and has all the good parts of his own dad, but at the end of the day this kid is just like his mom. I don’t have to worry about him because like me, he will always land on his feet. Maybe that is why I love Fiddles so much, we share that skill. My son is going to be fine and I am quickly realizing that so will I. My life is blessed and this time is important for a variety of reasons.

Life changes when you are not cleaning up after someone. I don’t have to pick up clothes off the floor, because I never throw my clothes on the floor. I never find dishes in my sink, because I put them straight into the dishwasher. I don’t have meat in my fridge, which as a vegetarian matters. Important to note I cooked a vegetarian feast for my boy on Sunday and he loved it. This are all really good things. Plus, there is the joy of walking around naked, simply because I can.

I am ready to shake things up. It is time to live my life out loud in new and different ways. I am going to slow things down so I can properly enjoy everything that is happening. My Rabbi taught me to meditate and I am going to implement her teachings into my everyday life rather than just my religious life. It is time to not only take a deep breathe, but listen to the air going in and coming out. I want to live a purposeful life, all the way down to my breathing. Listening to not only people, but things, matters.

The truth is I am lucky my son stayed at home as long as he did. He was ready to move out a long time ago, and only stayed to take care of me when I got sick. He did more than was required or expected, and I will be forever grateful. His leaving means not only have I done my job, but I have kicked cancer’s ass. I look forward to seeing my boy embrace all life has to offer. We are both growing up. It is time to count our blessings and focus on keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Naked in an Empty Nest


After living together for almost twenty-two years, my son has moved out of our home. The countdown to his leaving was long, and though I tried to write this blog every day for two weeks, I couldn’t bring myself to finish it as I felt that if I didn’t post a blog about it, it wasn’t true, and therefore he wouldn’t leave. Genius thinking really. It has been very difficult for me to accept he was leaving, and even harder to understand why he would want to. I cried more in the past month than my entire life.

I am not ashamed to tell you I would spontaneously burst into tears daily since he started to pack. I would start crying for no apparent reason. I didn’t have to be talking to him, or even thinking about him, I just started crying. Not a pretty or ladylike cry either. A snot pouring out of my red nose while I was heaving cry. It wasn’t cute. I’m sure people thought I was not well as I looked truly horrible. If I saw myself on the street I would cross to the other side. I was scary and found myself talking out loud to myself quite often.

I was 18 when I left home, and beyond ready to go. I cannot imagine what my mother thought sending her baby away, and she did it with four children. It has just been my son and me so there is the additional bond of being a single mother to an only child. We are connected in special and important ways. We take care of each other and his fear and nerves are the same as mine. He was nervous to leave home and worried a lot about how I would be on my own. He is a wonderful human being and I am a lblessed mom.

In anticipation of his leaving, I purged my home. For every box he packed, I got rid of two. Each day I would take a load to Goodwill and they’d ask me how I was doing since I turned up with swollen, red eyes. It was rough and an aching I had not ever experienced before. I love this young man more than anyone or anything, and aside from knowing I would miss him being in my home, I have never lived alone in my entire life. It is the beginning of a new and unchartered life for me, which is both exciting and scary.

When he left last weekend I cried like a baby, but each day since Saturday has been a little bit easier. I find myself wondering where he is, and if he is home safe, so I haven’t been sleeping very well. Yesterday was a turning point for me. As I was sitting in his empty room, wondering if I would ever get used to his not living with me, my girlfriend called to check on me. Before I told her what I was doing, she asked if I was sitting in my son’s room crying. She knows me well.

I told her I was whimpering not crying, which was a big step. She told me I needed to snap out of it and the first step to embracing this stage in my life was to get naked. She pointed out I had a child in my home for over two decades and with him out on his own, it was time to be a grown up in new and exciting ways. She insisted I take all my clothes off and walk around my home naked. I told her she was nuts, but I did as instructed, mostly to be able to mock her stupid idea. I was suddenly crying and naked.

I then spent the next hour walking around naked. I made a cup of tea, straightened up, had a chat with the cat, organized my closet, and chose a new paint color for my room to brighten things up a bit. There was something very liberating about being naked in the comfort of my own home. I felt like a grown up in a whole new way. It was great. Really, really, great. It was also the moment I stopped crying and started to appreciate what an important time in my life this is. Stripping down put things into perspective.

I have raised a man all by myself. He is funny, smart, rooted in his faith, compassionate, empathetic, and supporting himself financially. He is almost 22 years old, working, pursuing his passion, finding his way, and unaware that the last three times we spoke on the phone, his mom was naked. My nest may be empty, by I’m naked, and it is all very exciting. I am embracing being alone. By embracing, of course I mean I am trying really hard to embrace being alone. Change has begun.

I will worry about him every minute of every day, but the truth is that I would worry the same way even if he still lived with me. That is how motherhood works. I love him and am blessed that he loves me back and left because he wanted to spread his wings, not flee the nest. We are close and his leaving will only make us closer. Important to note I did hire him to help me with something at work so I get to see him during the week. Don’t judge. I really needed the help and why not him?!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am writing this blog while naked. I am in my bed, naked, and it is fabulous. I put a chain on my front door so should my son come by unannounced, I can grab a robe. You think of these things when you begin a naked life. This has been the hardest two weeks of my life. I honestly did not think it would hurt so much to have him go. I have put all my energy into preparing him to leave, but never prepared myself for the day he would go. Motherhood is tricky like that, always throwing surprises your way.

This weekend I will paint, reorganize things, and turn his room into a guest room/office, rather than the shrine it has been since he left.  I will always have a room for him, and he will always know he can come back any time he wants. He just needs to call first because chances are I will be naked. I am happy today. Happy with my accomplishments as a mother, happy my boobs look so good at 51, and hopeful that one day I will have a great man here with me, naked, and keeping the faith.

Motherhood


I am blessed to the mother of a wonderful human being. My son is a remarkable young man and I love him very much. Every mother thinks she loves her kid more than every other mother on the planet, but I’m certain I do. I adore this kid and am proud of him on all levels. He makes me happy and I don’t remember what my life looked like before he was in it. He means the world to me and I love watching his life unfold and his dreams come true.

I am blessed to the daughter of two wonderful human beings. I lost my dad quite a few years ago and miss him a little bit more everyday. My mother is amazing and has been visiting from Canada for the past couple of weeks. She will be in LA for another 3 days and the thought of her leaving makes me cry. I literally start crying if I think about taking her to the airport. She makes me happy and loved in a very profound way. She is both fun and funny.

It is an interesting revelation when you realize your mother loves you in the same was you love your child. I have had many revelations about my relationship with both my mom and my son this week, and with the clarity comes deeper levels of love for my mother. My son is moving out of the home we have shared for almost 22 years in 17 days. I am anticipating his leaving with pride, fear, happiness, and sadness. The countdown has begun has put me on edge.

My mother had four children move away from her. I don’t know how her heart handled it. I feel sad about his going, and she felt that sadness four times. I feel worried about what his life will be like without me there. My mother felt that worry four times. I have actually never lived on my own in my whole life. I went from home, to school, to a roommate, to a husband, to my son. He has been my roommate for over two decades.

There is joy of course because this is the natural progression of life. I am blessed to have a healthy and accomplished child. I suppose one could look forward to walking around home naked, not having to do another person’s laundry, and not having to clean up after anyone but myself. I may get to a point where I enjoy those things, but all I can do now is cry at the thought of them. I don’t want him to go, but at the same time I am ready for him to go.

He is my only child and I raised him on my own, so there are multiple levels of connection between us, which makes it all just a little sadder and harder.I will be sad when my mother leaves this week, and sad when my son leaves at the end of the month. I will wonder around my home, probably sleep in his room for a little while, call him nonstop, worry nonstop, and call my mother for comfort as she has been through it all herself, four times. It will be a challenging couple of weeks.

I am emotional on a normal day, but every emotion is now on high alert. I am willing myself to not lose my mind when I get home and see moving boxes everywhere. I am praying that when he walks out the door I don’t grab onto his legs and beg him not to go. I am hopeful that not only will he spread his wings and fly, but so will I. Motherhood is my greatest blessing. Being a mother and loving my mother combine into true happiness. Everything will be okay if I just keep the faith.

 

 

My London Life


I have been spending a lot of time in London over the past year and I love it here. I am sitting in my room, looking out the window as the sun is desperate to break though, watching people walk past, and feeling very happy. This city is alive and hopeful and even though there is palpable stress and fear, my soul is at peace here. On many levels, and for many reasons, it feels like London is home.

To clarify, home is ultimately where my son is, so with him in London with me this week, it truly is home. We have had a terrific time and he feels the same way in London that I do. It is a great city, with great people, namely our friends J and S, who I have written about often, and call Victoria and David Beckham. They are wonderful human beings and we truly love them and their children.

We spent last night at the Beckham Castle and I slept like a baby. I have not slept well since I got to Engalnd because internal clock has been screwed up due to all my traveling. I went from Los Angeles, to London, to Los Angeles, to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles, to Toronto, to Los Angeles, to Melbourne, to Los Angeles, to London, all in 10 days. Sleep has been elusive, last night however, I slept like a baby.

I went to bed at 10:00 pm and was Sleeping Beauty for a divine 9 hours. I don’t worry about anything when I am there, and that peace invites sleep because I’m very comfortable and happy there. Today my son is at Wembley stadium with the oldest Beckham son, watching two football teams compete to get into the Premiere League. It makes me happy when these two young men hang out.

My son spent the past week on holiday in Greece and Italy. He went on his own and it was a great adventure. It takes courage to travel on your own and his bravery inspires me. (To be clear, it also scares the crap out of me!) I am seeing my son in a new light following his trip. He has grown up somehow and it is exciting. He is 21, and will always be my baby, but he is also an amazing man.

Tomorrow I am going to take my favorite person on the planet to Paris. We’ll spend a glorious day walking around, seeing the sights, and eating the perfection that is French cuisine. It has been over 30 years since I was last in Paris, and to take my son there for his first time is special. We’ll be there for 28 hours, so will jam pack as much as we can into our day and I hope it doesn’t rain!

I love my London life and being here has allowed me to have my son come over and see parts of the world he has wanted to visit since he was little. He always wanted to see the world and it is an honor to watch his face as tells me about what he has seen and done. He is a remarkable child and being even a small part of his dreams coming true is the greatest gift I can receive as his mother.

Israel is home because I was born there and it is where my parents met and fell in love. Canada is home because it is where I grew up and where my family is. Los Angeles is home because my son was born there and it is where he is building his life. London is home because it makes me comfortable and happy. I’m a lucky girl to feel connected to so many places. I’m grateful and keeping the faith.

Dating 101: Snakes & iTunes


My dating life is interesting. By interesting, of course I mean slightly more pathetic than interesting, but still interesting. I truly have to laugh at the absurd things that happen to me, otherwise I would cry. Cry and scream. Cry and scream and adopt a cat. By cat of course I mean a dozen cats, two dogs, and perhaps a parrot. One I could train to laugh every time I said “I have a date”.  I am good at a lot of things, but detecting crazy in men is not one of them. I suppose in the big scheme of things this is not a terrible gift to be saddled with, but some days the inability to see exactly how insane a man is exhausts and depresses me.

I was chatting on Match with a man from Beverly Hills. He works in mining, was sweet, and if you took out one contact lens and squinted with your other eye, looked a little bit like Kelsey Grammer. We were texting back and forth as I am in London, and made plans to go out when I get back. He asked me to tell him something interesting about myself every day that I was in London. Seemed like a cute thing to do. I told him I was Canadian and had a Canadian flag tattoo. He told me that he had a very large penis, that he refers to as “snake”, and you can see it even when he is wearing a suit. You can’t make this stuff up people.

I marveled that of all the things he could have told me as we did the dance of introduction, he opted to tell about his genitals. I told him I thought it a was strange and disrespectful choice. He told me he meant no disrespect and was simply sharing. I reiterated it was offensive, and he told me I had no sense of humor, sent him mixed messages, and should “fuck off and die”. He then proceeded to tell me I would remain alone because I hated men. Dear Lord. I don’t think I hate anything, other than Donald Trump as President, so his outburst was hilarious. The snake charmer was anything but charming and I was in shock.

He was texting nonstop, then started to talk about my son, who he knows nothing about. Well that’s no fun, so I blocked him on my phone, blocked him on Match, and sent them a screen shot of his text telling me to die. This is a guy who has put his picture online, given me his phone number, then threatened me, all because I told him it was disrespectful to talk about his penis with a stranger. His name is David and he’s 48 years old with glasses, so if anyone comes across him run because he is unstable and dangerous, with or without his snake. As of this morning Match had not suspended him. Dating is strange to be sure, but this is terrifying.

Cut to James, also from Match, who also happens to do something with mining. He is originally from Brazil, and is looking for love after having his heart broken. We exchanged a few emails, then exchanged phone numbers and started to text rather than call as I am in London. He wrote to say he was going to Boston and would let me know when he had arrived. He did as he said he would, and when I asked him how it was going, he told me he got an iPhone. I am a diehard Apple person, so I congratulated him on stepping into the light. I asked what he was up to on a Sunday in Boston, and he told me he was downloading an app he needed for work.

He then told me he did not have his credit card and could I buy him an iTunes card and send it to him by email. Really? Yes. Really. I’m not sure how he bought the phone since he said he left his credit card at home, but I’m guessing details are not important to James. Details or the truth. When I told him he was insane to think I would send him anything, he stopped writing. Not a word since I said he was creepy and I would report him to Match. It makes me sad because there are women who will fall for things like this and in an attempt to not be lonely or feel desired, will buy into this type of scam. James should be arrested, not dating.

Cut to today, when James wrote to tell me I misunderstood him and he expected more from me. He doesn’t know me, so I’m not exactly sure what exactly he was expecting, or what was disappointing. He said he wasn’t asking for money, just asking for an iTunes card to get some apps, for his work, so he could give a great presentation. He said he has a daughter, and friends, and a boss, and family, so why ask a woman he does not know? This is insanity and makes me sad for people who are dating from a place of deep loneliness, as I am sure money is being sent and snake selfies are being taken. It is very sad and frightening.

I looked this morning and the profiles for both James and David are now hidden from the Match website. I am not sure if that was done by them or Match, but they should be looked at more closely. These men are predators and ruin it for others who are online genuinely trying to meet someone. I invite Match to get in touch with me at angel@jewishjournal.com and I will give them the details of these two loser who are polluting their website and good work. Dating is scary in general, but when you do it online, there are risks involved that perhaps women don’t think about. It can be creepy, but if you want to find someone, a necessary evil.

I date not because I love to date, because who would love something so revolting? I date because I would like to share my life with someone, and dating is how I will meet that person. I am hopeful, which is truly the most important thing to have when dating, because without hope you’ve got no shot in hell of ever meeting anyone. Please just be careful out there, and I don’t just mean the ladies. There are women online who are scamming people just as often as men. Do not send anyone any money, do not tell anyone where you live, meet in a public place, and don’t let anyone pick you up at home. You cannot be too careful.

It is sometimes hard to trust people you know, let alone strangers, but you really must try to be aware. If you come across people you sense are dangerous, tell someone. Write to the dating site you are using and tell them. You owe it to yourself, and also to the other people who will innocently stumble across these people. If you’re wrong and they are not dangerous, just crazy, still better to have said something than to be quiet. James and David are bumps in the road and I will not be scared off by a couple of idiots. I will be cautious and I will be brave because my bashert is out there and he is keeping the faith.

Force of Nature


Where does a parent — a Jewish mother — begin a frank consideration of her daughter’s sexuality? As the Zen master says, you have to start from where you are, and then let it flow.

I am a single mom, and as a single mom, my sex life is pretty much on display. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve known single mothers who crawl out of the window at midnight to visit their lovers, but I’m not good at taking off the screens. I have secrets from my daughter, but they happen during the daylight.

Because I’m a single mom, in some ways it is easier for me to discuss the facts of life with my daughter. My mother left this particular job to my father, and, finally, just the other day, he got around to asking if there’s anything I’d like to know about men.

Avoidance just doesn’t work with Samantha and me. We’re not obsessed with the mechanics of sexuality (she gets too much of this from reality-based TV, see further on) but, rather, with its operational flow. Samantha looks at my life, a virtual relationship laboratory right in her own home. She sees me dating, making my own mistakes, frisky in perfume one minute, wearing my heart on my sleeve the next. She notices when a guy comes by, bringing flowers, and she’s right there when the flowers stop. Recently, when I was on the phone with a guy for a full hour, she came in to give me a hug. The lesson my mother could never teach me — that the heart is a sexual organ — my daughter already knows.

Sometimes, I feel I’m a failure in this department, but it’s as much history’s fault as my own. Sadly, the “sexual liberation” that I’d hoped to bequeath to my daughter doesn’t mean much in today’s terms. For my generation, the “Fear of Flying” crowd, liberation means the freedom to participate in one’s own sex life, to enjoy passion and fantasy, to understand lust as a natural hunger, as related to but distinct from love. See, it still casts a romantic glow.

I was hardly a libertine; I wanted then what I want now: a stable partner with a great imagination. I’m a ’60s Gal, electrified by the right to be alive during lovemaking, to choose my partners (rather than to be commanded by them), to own a wakeful body, and to never fake satisfaction just to be polite. The other side of the equation, the part I try to stress to Samantha, is that I believe in self-protection, taking responsibility for bad choices and learning from my mistakes. No matter what has happened since — no matter how naïve we were about the fragility of males, no matter that even great sex sometimes pales next to good companionship — I still regard the women’s movement as the purest time of my life, when the battle was waged for a full definition of female adulthood, a battle only yet partially won.

In my fantasies, I’d hoped my daughter’s generation would take up the fight. But woman plans, and God laughs.

One day, when she was in fourth grade, Samantha came home from school with the report that Magic Johnson got AIDS from unprotected sex. All her life, we had been talking about sexuality, body parts, where babies come from and the rest. But nothing like this. Looking at my little girl, my heart sank, and I still think of that moment as the true “fall from grace.” Her news (she said it just this way, “Magic Johnson got AIDS from unprotected sex”) meant that Samantha, along with every little girl and boy in America, was learning about sex not as joyful, loving, free and natural (if strained with emotional complications), but as a health crisis, tainted, diseased, stained. I flew the flag for sexual freedom at half-staff.

Even today, so many years after accommodating to our new, darker era, I still well up in a protective rage on behalf of our young girls. The bad news broke too soon. Samantha didn’t yet know what love means, what physical ecstasy evokes. Before she could develop her own unique metaphor — a fantasy of bliss or a vision of herself locked in a “From Here to Eternity” love embrace on a pristine beach –she was already thinking mechanically, clinically, of sex as “safe” or “unsafe.”

She knows too much about the wrong things, and not only about AIDS. She has been warned against child abusers, sexual disease and sexual harassment in a wide variety of forms. A macabre sideshow of twisted sexual images come to her from “Jerry Springer,” MTV, Angelyne, Michael Jackson’s androgyny. She’ll never be allowed a moment’s purity, naivete or nonchalance. I grieve for her imagination’s prematurely lost virginity.

I’d be less than forthright if I said that being a Jewish parent provides security, or spiritual advantage, in this regard. Like every parent, I worry about my child’s friends and her values, and I seek to insulate her from the dangers of the cruel world. Where Jewish tradition helps is: 1) in providing a long list of women who survived their own child’s teen-age years, and 2) in offering stories that encourage independent thinking, even in the midst of chaotic times.

Increasingly these days, I use both parts of that heritage: I think of my own mother, scared to death throughout my adolescence, while I felt certain I could take care of myself. And I

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