Saying Goodbye

grandmaYiaya Julie was my birth-grandmother. I met her three years ago, when we went to New York and met my birth family. She cried and told me “I wanted to meet you before I die.” The sentiment was funny at the time. But now she’s gone, and I see how lucky we both were for those three years.

I’d never known an old person like Yiaya Julie. The old people in my family were bitter and complained all the time. Yiaya Julie was full of life, always smiling, hugging, and apologizing for her (perfect) English. We spoke to each other in a combination of English and Greek, and she was forever taking me or my kids to her apartment to do or see something special. She showed me pictures of her late husband – my grandfather – and the daughter she lost too soon. She showed my kids her pet parakeet and played games with them.

Since I only knew her for three years, I don’t know that much about Yiaya Julie’s story. I do know that she immigrated to New York from Greece and made a good life for herself. I admire her because I know I could never be that brave. read more

From Bad to Better

FriendsA few weeks back, we were desperate. My daughter’s tantrums had driven us to the brink of insanity. Well, not exactly the brink. We were over the cliff and plummeting to our imminent demise. (See “Major Meltdowns” and Surviving Easter ‘Break’) Well, I can’t say that we’re not insane anymore – that’s a very subjective state. But things have changed dramatically.

We took our daughter to a therapist who’s wonderful. My daughter loves her and gets so excited about her sessions. The first thing the therapist did was to recommend a book, “1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12.” I admit I haven’t finished the book (Because when do I get a chance to read? There’s a DVD too if you don’t have time to read a book either). But the basic premise is this: When your child acts up, you give her two chances to shape up, and if she doesn’t, she goes to her room for a time out. Doesn’t matter what she does in her room as long as she serves her time. read more

A Tale of Two Mothers

imagebot (10)This is the story of two mothers.

Forty-five years ago, a teenager in Queens went “all the way” with her high school sweetheart. She got pregnant. She told her boyfriend and he told his parents. Happy to welcome a new member of the family, they made plans. They said they’d get a bigger house so the couple could live with them, and they could help raise the baby.

The girl went home and told her family. Alarmed and ashamed, the immediately sent her to a home for unwed mothers s uptown. When her boyfriend came looking for her they told him she was gone. He was devastated.

The girl spent nine months in the home, making plans to give up her baby. Her parents and the  adoption agency said it was the right thing to do. She thought so too. read more

The End of the Innocence

the-muppets-2012That’s it, I’ve failed as a mother. First my six-year-old has to go to therapy and now this. Just a few words and I robbed my daughter of her childhood.

It all started innocently enough. We were snuggling at bedtime and she asked me the question that will ring in my mind forever. “Are the Muppets real?”

I hesitated. So many things went through my head. If she’s asking, does she suspect? Is she old enough to know? What if I tell her they are and she already knows? Finally, and much to my shame in hindsight, I went with the truth.

Tears built up in her eyes. “Then how do they move?” I told her. “Are the people real?”

“Yes, they are.”

“What about the princesses? Are they real?” read more