A Mother’s Daylight Savings Lament

In ancient days
before light could be turned on
with a switch
chores were done by lanterns
two hours before breakfast
for all the important work
of the day required
the light of the sun

A race against
the golden chariot
until long shadows lit our way home
to a simple supper by candlelight
with stories and songs
around the fire
until the wicks
burned down to darkness

But not today
when alarms chime
with the sun already high
we block our eyes from blindness
on our way to buildings
lit artificially
lacking windows from which to see
the fire that ticks away the day

For we have no need of her
our watches provide us all
until such time that work stops
and if we are lucky
the last of nature’s glow guides us to our vehicle
in which we travel though lighted darkness
to music lessons, grocery shopping, soccer games
lit by strobes so bright they block the moon and stars

Then finally home to abandoned darkened shells
we flip the switch and make our way
to metal boxes
bright lit and cold
in which we hope for a miracle
that there will be something good for dinner

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Rant on Shame

I turned 47 today. I woke up thinking about the pros and cons of my full-time job – Mom – when instead, what ran through my head, where all things I’m embarrassed about. Here’s the list, as stupid and meaningless as it is:

 

I’m embarrassed to be a mom among all the nannies in the pick-up line at school.

I’m embarrassed to not clean my own house when Barbara Ehrenreich does — and that I secretly covet a team like Downton Abbey.

I’m embarrassed that I love to tend my own garden when other school families hire this out.

I’m embarrassed that I’ve never had a pedicure because I can’t imagine having a stranger sand my callouses. (Beside the fact I can’t stand the chemicals and working conditions in those shops.)

I’m embarrassed that I have more hair on my legs than my blond husband.

I’m embarrassed that my chosen career — ordained minister — is no longer relevant since I became a Jew.

I’m embarrassed that my graduate degree, which took as many years of study and unpaid internships as Law or Medicine, only has the title of MDiv. (This is because when Law and Medicine changed from a Bachelor to a Doctor degree title there already was a Doctor of Ministry degree so the initial degree was given the title of Master!)

I’m embarrassed that after all those years of soul searching and buckets of tears cried, I’m still not the enlightened being I aspire to be.

I’m embarrassed that I can’t handle two school age children, when I know many calm and happy mothers of five or more! Some who even homeschool.

I’m embarrassed that my body, which would look beautiful in a Renaissance nude painting, doesn’t look good in modern clothing.

I embarrassed that I’m clueless of popular music and culture, even though I really couldn’t give a damn.

 

Looking at this list makes me laugh. So many silly things to be embarrassed about. A new year, a new leaf, so the saying goes.

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One’s Life on a Bookshelf

Today, while cleaning out my bookshelves, I had an interesting revelation. In my preteens, I preferred fantasy; in my twenties, theory;  in my thirties, practice. Now, approaching my forties, with very little time to read, I spend most of my time in a reality outside of books. It reminds me of the Hindu stages of life:  Brahmachari (student – ages 12-24), Grihasta (Householder – ages 24-48) Vanaprasta (semi-retirement – 48-72), and Sannyasi (full-retirement -beyond 72) .

However, as one who started having kids in my 30s, I won’t be in semi-retirement from the parenting life until my 60s! Makes me wonder whether I should have started earlier. But then again, I would have missed all that wonderful time reading political theory! Aahh, those were the days….

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Ancient gender struggle plays out in modern Nomadic tribe

This morning, on the NPR Morning Edition’s short series “Climate Connections,” there was an article about the Tureng people of Mali. This nomadic people have been forced to move into cities and grow crops, rather than raise goats, because of effects of the 40 year drought. Although the men interviewed expressed dismay at the loss of their culture, one woman expressed joy at her new found freedom in the city:

Hadijatou, a Tuareg woman in her mid-20s, rises early to sift millet and prepare breakfast. Her parents had been nomads, but she is grateful she is not.

“Before, everything was given to us by the men. When you are given what you need by other people, you are dependent on them,” says Hadijatou. “But when you are producing what you need you depend on nobody. The life now is far better.”

I am reminded of the well-received theory that it was women who invented agriculture and even culture itself (the word “culture” is related to “cultivation”). As neolithic women chose to spent more time in settled areas to raise children they learned how to grow their own crops, grind grain and preserve food through fermentation and other means. As their children stayed close to home and learned from their first teachers — their mothers — how to do all the tasks of the home, schools arose along with the means to record the knowledge.

Throughout the Bible and other Near Eastern literature, the war between the civilized (agricultural) and the nomads waged for millennia. This war was intimately connected to the war between the sexes. Over time, patriarchy developed to appropriate all of women’s inventions, claiming them as their own, with many ancient myths told to explain this shift.

Despite the eventual negative shift, we must thank women for improving the lot of humanity. If men, like this Tuareg tribesman below, had not allowed our neolithic grandmothers to have their way, we might all live “closer to the land,” but it would also be a more brutal and less interesting world:

  Traditionally, the men don’t care what the women think. Children don’t count for much, either. Mohamed Ag Mustafa, the herder still living the traditional Tuareg lifestyle, says he sees no reason to send his children to school: “Maybe school is useful for people in the cities, but not for us. As far as we are concerned, children are only useful for getting water or keeping an eye on the cattle.”

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I miss the old paper yogurt cups!

One of my fondest memories of elementary school was sitting at those small tables at lunchtime and opening up my lunch box to find a cup of boysenberry yogurt (Does anyone make this any more?). I would take the cup, turn it upside down on a plate, and with my fork, poke holes in the waxed paper bottom. Then, like a cup of custard or flan, I would pull the cup off to reveal a nice neat yogurt mound with those sweet purple berries oozing down the side.

Today, as the parent of a toddler, I wish for those paper yogurt cups for more than the enjoyment of opening them. Now whenever we eat yogurt, we must find a place to recycle those darn plastic cups. When plastic cups first came out, they had plastic tops. These, at least, could be reused. Today’s yogurt cups — plastic with foil tops — are useable only for starting plants from seed or mixing paint. In the yogurt industry’s attempt to use less plastic, they have inadvertently made their products more likely to be sent straight to the recycling, or worse, the landfill. A return to paper yogurt cups would mean an end to the growing pile of little plastic cup accumulating in my house and around the world. It would also mean the return of the joy of eating yogurt with the fruit on top!

Posted in Environment, Motherhood | 2 Comments

Deer in Roslindale

This morning I looked out my window to see these two beauties!

smaller yetHow they managed to get to my yard, I don’t know. Our house borders the train tracks and then the Arboretum, but there’s a tall fence between the two. There is a small hole in the fence, but it seems too small for deer to fit through. Yet somehow, here they are!

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Haikus for a Greener World

The awesome Better World Travel Club (a green alternative to AAA) inspired these great green Haikus. Here one I like:

Leftover meatloaf
keeps cool and safe in my fridge,
but it heats the world*.

[*NOTE: The refrigerator heats the world, not the meatloaf]

– Erik N.
Portland, OR

However, I would beg to differ on his note that meatloaf does not heat the world. The meat industry is one of largest pollution industries in the world, growing larger every day as 3rd World people find more money to spend on meat.

Here’s a vegetarian Haiku:

Green leaves taste good

eating like a cow

instead of eating one

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The Importance of Naps

I’ve always been a fan of naps. I love hammocks, beach towels, and porch swings. I love couches in libraries and college student unions. Growing up, I especially loved to nap on long car rides, listening to my parents in the front seat; their words blending into pleasant background noise lulling me to sleep along with the sound of the wheels and the car motor.

Today, I appreciate being at home with a child who takes three-hour naps. On most days, I get to lie down for at least ten minutes and not always sleep, but at least I close my eyes.

Naps are important not just for babies and their parents, but for those without kids as well. In my previous career as a minister I found time for naps — even when I was in the office all day. One advantage of working in a church or synagogue is the presence of rooms with couches.

This afternoon while trying to nap, I found myself thinking about naps rather than sleeping. On a whim I googled “adult naps” and discovered some interesting information. According to “The Benefit of Naps” by Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs, July 27, 2004:

Several lines of evidence, including the universal tendency of toddlers and the elderly to nap in the afternoon and the afternoon nap of siesta cultures, have led sleep researchers to the same conclusion: nature intended that we take a nap in the middle of the day. This biological readiness to fall asleep in the mid-afternoon coincides with a slight drop in body temperature and occurs regardless of whether we eat lunch. It is present even in good sleepers who are well rested. Sleep researchers have also discovered that the afternoon dip in mood and alertness is associated with poorer performance, particularly after a night of sleep loss, and a simultaneous increase in sleepiness-related accidents. In fact, deaths from all causes show a secondary peak in the afternoon after a nocturnal peak, presumably from sleepiness-related accidents.

He goes on to say:

Research on napping suggests that an afternoon nap as short as ten minutes can enhance alertness, mood, and mental performance, especially after a night of poor sleep.

I also discovered some other Boston nappers who have written books on the subject. Bill and Camille Anthony wrote the following books, available on Amazon: The Art of Napping and The Art of Napping at Work. They both look like a lot of fun to read!

Now that I’ve written my piece, I feel tired enough to try to nap again. My daughter woke me up at 5:30 this morning. She has 1/2 hour left on her nap. I’ll see if I can catch a few zzz’s myself.

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Women and Food

I’m continually surprised by the strong connection I feel to women — both my ancestors as well as most women in the world today — whenever I’m in the midst of cooking, really cooking. On most nights I throw together some protein, carbs, fiber and call it a dinner. But today, being my daughter’s birthday and the middle of Passover, I’ve been cooking for the past five hours and I still have probably five hours to go. I made Passover granola and strawberry shortcake. I made a tofu salad for tomorrow’s birthday party and  am in the midst of making a cold potato and spinach soup and this incredible Italian mushroom, asparagus, potato dish for tonight’s dinner. And in the freezer is a homemade vegan passover ice cream pie all ready for the whipped cream before serving tomorrow.

My husband has been listening to me complain about the difficulty of the passover dishes and heard me scream when I burn myself on the granola. I had to send him out for wine for the mushroom dish and now he’s down in the basement riding the exercise bike. He has no apparent interest in helping me cook, though I haven’t asked and don’t really need his help. He would probably suggest we order out and take a nice walk.

The reality is that often to eat good food, which I love to do, means cooking it yourself.  The mushrooms (portobella, shitake and porcini) simmering in wine and thyme smell divine. As a vegetarian family at Passover, we wouldn’t find anything like we’re eating this weekend at a restaurant. The convenience of not cooking has it advantages, but so does cooking from scratch. Knowing that millions (if not billions) of women around the world are doing the same thing right now makes me smile. I do only hope they’re able to savor the smells as much as I am.

Posted in Feminism, My Life | 1 Comment

Village Market — Not For Jews

A number of months ago, I emailed Village Market in Roslindale asking if they would carry Cheryl Ann’s Challah on Fridays. I never got a response. This past Friday I went there hoping for some matzah meal to make Matzah Ball soup, but they had none. In fact, with only one week until Passover, I could not find a single Passover item. When I asked an employee where the Passover foods were, he had no idea what I was talking about. He called someone on the phone and then took me to a section that had sugar free and some some other diet foods — definitely NOT Passover food. I said I would be sending in a complaint email to the store and he told me he was the owner and would try to get some Passover foods. (He’s the young guy with bright red hair.)

If he really is the owner, he needs to learn something about a segment of his customer base that I believe is growing in Roslindale. I’ve noticed that Village Market is doing it’s best to compete with HI-LO in Jamaica Plain, but as for us Jews, we’ll need to keep driving outside the square to get OUR ethnic foods.

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