As a child, when your Mother believes in you, you believe in yourself, and when that happens, there is nothing you can’t do. As a Mother, that is the greatest gift we can give to a child

Caroline Kennedy- She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems

The holiday season has just left us. You’ve recycled the environmentally friendly wrapping, or put away the gift bags to be used next year. The credit card bills haven’t quite hit the mailbox yet. But the gifts have been given. The physical show of love has been exchanged…

I’m all for gifts. I still remember when my daughter was seven and she received the Hannah Montana Malibu Beach House, the years of the American Girl stuff…This year the highlight was tickets to see Funny Girl on Broadway. To be clear, I like the idea of giving gifts. I think it’s OK to want something tangible, or an awesome experience.


Even though I have given my daughter a lot of physical things…

The greatest gift I ever gave her was the that I believed in her- that I thought she was strong and capable and had the ability to set a goal and work towards it. I taught her that it’s is OK to make a mistake, to fail. I taught her that the greatest asset you can have is resilience…

Physical gifts are wonderful, but they won’t make you a better person. Buying something doesn’t give you confidence. Owning something doesn’t make you stronger. The things that really matter are the things that reside in your head and heart: confidence and determination and a thirst for knowledge. These are the things that a parent or primary caregiver can give a child.

So next time you’re with you’re kid, remind them that you think they are special. Give them the courage to try something new. Be there to pick them up when they fall, but then push them to try again. These are the best gifts to give a child- the gift of you believing in them.

Do We Owe Kids College?


I kind of gave it away in the title.

In America it is assumed that parents will pay for their child’s college education. It is somehow assumed that parents “owe” this to their children. But do parents really owe their kids this?

You know that my daughter is very academically focused. She works hard, gets good grades and takes school seriously. I don’t mind paying for her undergraduate studies. However, if my daughter was not studious, I don’t know how much money I would be ponying up for her education.

So what does the group say?

Do parents owe their children a college education?


You’re Beautiful

The world has evolved into a place where we all claim to respect the inner person…a world where we eschew ones’ physical appearance…where beauty doesn’t matter…

But let’s face it: Looks matter. Appearances matter. Beauty matters. And I don’t know anyone, male or female, young or old, who doesn’t want to be thought of as attractive.

So now that I’ve made this mornings controversial statement…

I’ll hit you with another:

I tell my daughter repeatedly that she is beautiful. Pretty much every day that I speak to her.

I know I am going against popular theory. I don’t care if I’m setting womankind back a thousand years. I just don’t care. I think people need to be told they are attractive by the people that love them. Because let’s face it- how many people worry that they are unattractive? There are entire industries that rely on being able to take advantage of people’s insecurities about their physical attractiveness… So this whole looks don’t matter thing we keep espousing clearly isn’t really working…

Sorry to say this, but kids who think they are physically less than are going to have confidence issues. They are going to think of ways to get people to like them because they don’t think that they are good enough. These little chasms of feeling less than are when the propensity to make not so great decisions creeps in… Kids make enough questionable choices- do we need to give them ammunition to make more?

Tell your kids they are attractive.

Tell your kids they are smart.

Tell your kids they are talented.

Tell your kids that they are special.

If you tell them enough times, they just might believe it. And when they believe that they are all these things, then physical appearance really doesn’t matter- because they become confident from the inside. And when kids feel that they are worthy…all sorts of doors open up.

Can Moms Help It

When my Daughter finally got back to campus in August, she had a lot of readjusting to do. She was living with roommates and not parents. She was adjusting to doing things in person once again, and she had a lot on her plate. Plus, COVID still had restrictions all over the place with certain things.

Her schedule included five classes, and one class that required her to go to an elementary school to observe onsite. She had an internship. Part time job. Deputy editor at the paper. At least two other clubs she was an active member. Some sort of scholar program. Homework. And President of a volunteer organization that wasn’t able to recruit new members last year because it wasn’t able to be done virtually, and they were still unsure of the status this year as to whether the university students would be allowed to go onsite to actually do the volunteering, and seemed like it was going to be an organization of three.

So August was a tad stressful for my daughter.

I was on the phone with her one morning as she explained everything to me. I heard her voice rise about five octaves. I made a suggestion about something.

One suggestion about one thing after she regaled me with tales of all the above things I mentioned, the stress clearly coming through on the phone.

I said one thing…

She bit my head off. Told me that she was an adult. Told me that my making the suggestion was making her more stressed. Told me I needed to butt out and not meddle.

OK fine. I dropped it.

Later that day, I was standing on the subway platform.

Young woman, late twenties probably, was waiting for the train, which was six minutes away.

Woman gets a phone call.

Woman: Hi Mom.

Woman: Yeah the apartment was really nice.

Women: Well, it’s a little small but…

See her walking in circles

Women: No its not a shoebox it’s…

She starts to tap her foot

Women: No there isn’t a window in the bathroom or kitchen but…

looking down track waiting for train to appear quicker

Women: But Mom it’s the best apartment I’ve found

runs her hand through her hair distractedly

Women: Yes I would love an apartment with big closets and lots of windows but…

look of pure distress

Women: But Mom...

exasperated sigh

Women: Oh Mom- there’s the train. Need to go.

She shuts her phone and waits three more minutes for train.

So my question is: Do Mom’s always try to give unneeded or unwarranted advice? Is it just hardwired into being a Mom?

Can we just not help ourselves?

Do Mothers always feel they need to tell there children what to do? Is it worse with Mothers and Daughters?

Pick Up The Trash

My daughter spent part of a High School summer doing community service work in Costa Rica. This is the norm for middle class kids in our area, whether you go to public school like my daughter, or private school like my Teen X. Teens show how community minded they are, and put it on their college application. My understanding is that colleges almost expect kids to have some glaring public service announcement that they pull out as needed.

When my daughter went to Costa Rica she worked in two areas: Housing and day camp. She poured a concrete floor for a family that previously only had dirt. I don’t know exactly what goes into making a concrete floor, but my daughter said it was hard and exacting. She literally saw the woman and the family that she was helping to provide with a new floor. She knew that if she screwed up, this family would be the ones to suffer. There was a literal face to the cause. She left her days exhausted but feeling good about what she was doing.

The other part of her trip revolved around working in a day care center. She lead the kids in games and crafts and spoke to them in English so that they practice their language skills. Her biggest takeaway was that these kids, though they didn’t enjoy the luxuries that her and her NYC friends have, still showed such a sense of joy and wonder. They were not jaded or sad or mean like some of her NYC classmates who had considerably “more” than they did. She loved this experience so much that it was one of the reasons that she is pursuing a minor in Education and Social Justice. No, she does not want to be a teacher, but she would love the ability to work on educational policy reform.

We also can’t forget about my daughter and water. When in Costa Rica, my daughter saw in real time just how precious a commodity potable water is. On her short list of causes she believes in, water is right there front and center.

My daughter chose to look past her upbringing to see what other parts of the world, what other people face. She is by no means a Saint, nor is she perfect, and sometimes she forgets that she has things come easily to her, but this experience really made her see and feel things she did not know about.

But does every child take away the same experience?

We know someone who did a service trip this summer, in America, and this was based on working with sea life and oceans. Teen X is very environmentally friendly.

I saw the parent of Teen X while Teen X was still on the trip.

Me: How does X like the trip?

Parent of X: Well, X hates the group leader. X has been arguing with the group leader since the beginning of the trip

Me: What does she argue about?

Parent of X: X doesn’t like the rules.

Me: Like what?

Parent of X: X didn’t realize how much cleaning up of garbage there would be. She thought they’d be helping the environment

At this point I mumbled my way out of the conversation because really, if you don’t see what is right in front of your face, my pointing it out isn’t going to help much.

So what’s the point of this? Was it just to humble brag about my daughter? Partially, sure. My daughter has managed to defy her spotty parenting to become a decent human. But it’s also to highlight why colleges kinda sorta want to see community service on a middle to upper middle class kids resume. The goal is to make the kids see what the world is really like, even if it’s just for three weeks during the summer between sophomore and junior years.

Yes we have a shortage of water.

Yes, some people live in huts with no windows and no electricity and dirt floors.

Yes, some kids are happy without the latest tech gadgets.

Yes, the oceans and beaches and whatever are filled with human waste products that must be cleaned up.

But sometimes you need to see these things up close and personal in order to understand them. The problem is, some people can be exposed to something and still not understand the issues. How often are we blind to what is right there in front of us? How many willfully choose not to look deeper at an issue? How many people choose to see things that way that they want to see them?

You can choose to look at the world the way you think it is, or the way it actually is. Which way will actually start solving the issues that we face?

Parenting is Hard

Parenting is hard….says my daughter.

She came to this realization this year, as she navigated parenting our puppy.

You need to watch what they eat

You need to pull things out of their mouths

You need to watch what they’re doing

You spend your days telling them No

You worry about them all the time

My daughter ended her diatribe with a question to me:

How did you parent me and not go crazy? Wait – not crazy because we aren’t supposed to use that word anymore. How did you parent me and still function every day?

I didn’t really have to think about the answer to that: You parent because you love. And love is stronger than anything else- except for maybe hate, but that’s a whole other post.

Parenting is a blessing and a curse. You get the opportunity to raise a child. You get to watch them grow and learn things and you get to see those adorable smiles and the tinkle of their giggles. You also get to wipe their butt after they poop. You get to smell them when they go through the adolescent phase of not showering. You get to hear them berate you.

So how do we parent and still function?

We remind ourselves that parenting a child is a privilege. When you have the opportunity to raise a child it is a gift. We know that even though there are some rocky moments, there is so much joy to be had with a child.

Being a parent is being an eternal optimist. When there are issues, it’s keeping the positive attitude that things will get better. It’s reminding ourselves of all the good moments of the past, and if we can just hold on a little, we will see more good moments ahead.

Being a parent is hard. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It has also been worth every moment: both good and bad.

The Parent/Adult Child Relationship

I’ve been wondering how to navigate the relationship between my daughter and I as she forges on into adulthood.

As luck would have it, I know someone whose Mom came up to town from Florida last week. As I watched their dynamic, I knew that I had the basis that I needed to start creating a better relationship with my own daughter…

  1. When you arrive at your daughter’s house, get mad that your daughter was working when you got there. Tell her explicitly that she should have been at the front door waiting with literal open arms.
  2. Complain, again, about the “no shoe’s in the house policy” that your daughter has. Repeatedly scoff at the suggestion of house slippers, because house slippers are stupid.
  3. Complain that your grandchildren are at school. What’s more important after all- algebra II or being there for your grandmother
  4. Remind your daughter all the things you did for her while she was growing up
  5. Tell your daughter that she doesn’t treat you with respect
  6. Cry that she treated her own mother so much better and she wants you to treat her as she treated her Mom
  7. start yelling at your daughter because your daughter doesn’t cater to your every whim
  8. Tell your daughter that she’s a despicable spoiled brat
  9. Call your son and tell him that she can’t stand his sister and she has to leave that very moment because she can’t spend another minute in the house
  10. Curse at your son because he dares to say that he will call her a car service- a good son would rent a car and drive over and pick up his Mother
  11. Remind both your children that they don’t respect you
  12. Tell your children about how you worked to support them and without her you would have nothing
  13. Spend so much time talking about a gift that you gave, that the daughter hands you a check for the amount of the gift because no gift is worth it being thrown back in your face a million times
  14. Ask why they treat their Father, her ex, so much better than they treat her, because he was despicable.
  15. Give a birthday toast that doesn’t say anything about your daughter, but tells all the sacrifices that you made for your children

Do you understand why this example showed me exactly how to further my relationship with my daughter?


What would we do without them…

Pick Yourself Back Up

My daughter has a lot of trophies and medals and awards. This is a fact.

This fact has led some people in our circle to think that my daughter is “charmed”. That she snaps her fingers and accolades just appear, as if by magic.

I need to remind people that for every trophy, for every plaque, every medal, there are so many things that she didn’t win…

Maybe she has fifty wins…maybe she’s entered 1000 things…


She has lost 95% of the time…

Which means that 95% of the the time she has picked herself up, dusted herself off and went on to the next thing.

This doesn’t mean that she wasn’t upset by the losses- she has shed a tear, kicked a wall, screamed in frustration…she has shown emotion. She is upset every time she doesn’t get something that she wants.

But she doesn’t let that stop her.

People ask me how she became so resilient…

So, the question is…

Is it my skill as a parent?


Was she born this way?

Is resilience a learned or an innate behavior?

While I would LOVE to say that it’s my superior parenting skills that raised a resilient child, is it?

I do know that I have always told her that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes. I’ve encouraged her to try out things even if they are out of her comfort zone. I know her singing voice is, let’s call it, average, so when she wanted to try out for glee club I helped her practice and encouraged her to go for it, even though I knew that there was no way she would be picked unless literally no one else showed up at the audition. I figured it was better to try for something you wanted instead of spending your life wondering if you would have made it.

Whenever she lost something, I would giver her a hug, ask her if she did her best, and then ask her what comes next.

Did I teach her to be resilient?

Or did I enhance something that was inherently part of her personality?

Even with all the encouragement in the world, would a different child act differently in the face of adversity?

So here’s the part where I ask your opinion:

Is resilience a personality trait or a learned skill?

Anything Can Happen Friday: The Train Ticket

This is a totally fictional tale about some mother and some daughter.

Some mother and some daughter are having a perfectly lovely conversation over the phone. No Zoom. No texting. Just an old fashioned cell phone call on speaker because some mother hates holding the phone to her ear.

After much pleasant chatter:

SOME DAUGHTER- OMG I bought my train tickets for Thanksgiving. I need to leave Saturday night at 10pm and get into DC at 2am

SOME MOTHER: Really? They’re already sold out?

SOME DAUGHTER: No. The tickets for Sunday were more expensive.

SOME MOTHER: You know I’m paying for the ticket. How much of a price different are we talking?

SOME DAUGHTER: The Sunday afternoon tickets are X, about 50$ more than the 10pm train.

SOME MOTHER: I don’t want you getting to DC in the middle of the night and going back to a mainly empty dorm. Change the ticket.

SOME DAUGHTER: I’m not happy about the train time either.

SOME MOTHER: If neither of us is happy about the time, change the ticket. I am paying for the ticket and frankly that price is cheaper than I thought it would be.

SOME DAUGHTER: Morally, I can’t pay that much more for a train ticket strictly for the convenience.


SOME DAUGHTER: Don’t you think it’s ridiculous that the afternoon tickets are more expensive?

SOME MOTHER: Supply and demand

SOME DAUGHTER: I just can’t pay more money than the other train.



SOME MOTHER: Where were these morals when you chose to go to a private college that didn’t give you a scholarship as opposed to the colleges that gave you handsome merit scholarships? (OK- some mother didn’t say this, but she thought it…)

SOME MOTHER: Can you please change the ticket?

SOME DAUGHTER: Can you respect my decision and treat me like an adult?

In today’s adventure, who was right and who was wrong, or are both parties being stubborn?

Should Some Mother allow her adult daughter to make her own choices? Or should Some Mother back off?


My sister lives across the country. When she comes to visit, she stays with my parents. This is not an unusual family situation- out of town relatives often stay with one another.


My sister and my parents have diametrically opposite views on just about everything. I mean really, everything…

And when my sister comes to town, they verbally spar. They verbally spar about 90% of the time. When my sister came to town a few months ago, her plane landed about 6pm. By 9am the next day she was already texting me about the arguments…

I understand my sister’s point of view. She is just trying to be herself. She loves our parents, wants to see them, yet…

My parents are not always easy to get along with…

And some of my sister’s ideas on life are a bit out there…

I clearly understand both sides in this situation.

I understand the cross words and raised tempers.

I just wish that all of them could be quiet sometimes.

I understand the need to get one’s point across. I understand wanting to be heard and not wanting to be marginalized. I understand that we are all allowed to have our own opinions. I get that opinions can never be wrong.

But…at the end of the day…my sister visiting is a lot of grief for everyone. I don’t know if my sister or my parents are actually happy during the visits. I receive calls from both sides…complaining…

I am very stressed out when my sister visits because I hate to be in the middle. I hate trying to broker peace.

So my question is thus:

If a visit to family causes angst, should you visit?

Do you continue the visits out of a sense of obligation? Out of trying to assuage guilt?

Is there a time when you shouldn’t visit your family?

Which regret is worse: not seeing your family because you drive one another crazy or feeling bad that you don’t see your family?