Monday, January 1, 2024


Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning sixteen.

And I have to admit, I'm a little ashamed that I went a solid year without posting anything else on my blog since your last birthday letter. Especially because it's you who tells me to write again more than anyone else. You see everything in life through a story-telling lens, and it makes you an empathetic teacher. But anyway, here we are (and yes, I know how much you disliked that show).

Your busy-ness clearly rivals your sister's, with the last months requiring an almost daily activity to be driven to: guitar lessons, Teen Beit Midrash, mock trial, extra jazz classes, Tizmoret, Kol Keff, HaZamir, Student Senate, the environmental club, and the latest edition, The Evergreen Trio. You played in the pit for "9 to 5," helped lead Maalot to win Zimriyah, and had your throne challenged in "Pippin." You sat through driver's ed and can't wait to get your license. You regularly play piano and drums in addition to the constant guitar. You've become the best songwriter in the family (apologies to my Dad, but it's true). 

Thursdays are for burritos but you also cooked a vegan Shabbat dinner for your friends, and your consumption of Vitaminwater Zero XXX has outpaced soy milk. Your hair is the shortest it's been in a very long time, but it's amazing how great you look with it at any length. You think a lot about the future, probably more than most people your age, but it's because you can't wait for it to arrive. And you know Hannah will be right by your side for it, and Shira will think you just live in your room (so confuzzelating). 

I am endlessly proud of you. Thank you for always wanting to talk more, for watching Saturday Night Live, and for occasionally still holding my hand. Happy birthday, bud. I love you.

(You can also see letters for ages threefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleventwelvethirteenfourteen and fifteen.)

Sunday, January 1, 2023


Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning fifteen. 

It’s the second birthday post in a row (third overall) where you’re pictured with a guitar in your hands, but frankly, it’s when you’re the happiest and most yourself. But getting to see you share yourself musically over the last year has been a real highlight for me too. You and I, we’re a little band of two around the house now. I’m glad you’ll still go to shows and movies with me. And thank goodness we still have Shira to anthropomorphize together. 

You’ve read Torah a lot, continued as a madrich and at Teen Beit Midrash, and added HaZamir. You were “just a Bill,” a role that only you could have played so well, and then you were elected to the South Student Senate. You found a new community at South Stage and new strong friendships and deepened old ones in jazz band. And somehow, you got super into the World Cup, and let me enjoy watching every moment of the (very long, suspenseful) final match with you. Camp is still your happy place, but the comfort you have in who you are really allows you to be happy, wherever you are. You never seem to doubt yourself, which is something I really admire. 

You’ve added tomatoes to your favorite turkey sandwiches this year, and taught yourself how to make fresh pasta. You hate reminders to brush your hair and do your homework (I’m going to remind you anyway). You’re balancing your time between all of the things you want to do, including having a social life, with your need for downtime. You’re learning to live without Hannah right at your side, though she’s thankfully only a FaceTime away. And Shira is still the most bestest princess, the president, founder and only student at Couch University, and never enough. 

Just keep going. You are one of the most interesting people I know, never without something to say or share. I am so lucky to be on this journey with you, and to learn as much from you as you do from me. Happy birthday, buddy. I love you so much. 

(You can also see letters for ages threefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleventwelvethirteen and fourteen.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Reminders for 2023

So Julie, who made her first appearance on this blog back in 2007 after delivering an egg (just go read it!), gifted me with a page-a-day badass calendar for my birthday last year, wanting to present me with an actual physical gift that year. And I tore off those pages with relish for about five days in a row. It's not that I didn't want to be a badass, but that I was storing it far away from my recycling bin, and I felt bad about all those little pieces of paper. I ended up reading them in chunks, probably about once a month, and just completed the last of it heading into the end of 2022. I thought I'd share some of them with you.

"A setback creates opportunity for a comeback." While my social media profiles make my life look like a highlight reel, this year has had its complications. I particularly wanted 2022 to be a stellar year at work, and while I'm proud of how I've handled myself, I can't make things happen that aren't going to happen. I've spent a lot of this year stressed about things I cannot control, and while that's a trait I'm unlikely to change, perhaps there will be more wins in the years to come, and the seeds have been planted now. Maybe it's the same for you, too.

"I deserve time to rest."As many a meme states around this time of year, I am spending time becoming one with my couch. I normally keep pretty busy (ahem, still living up to the name of this blog), and I love the time I get to spend with friends or even going out alone. But I'm also just really, really tired. And there is a lot of good TV out there. Resting is still doing something productive and I need to remember and be okay with that.

"I am deserving of love and attention." Oh how I struggle with this one. I generically know this to be true, but I'm not sure I believe it's meant for me. Which I also know is ridiculous. So, something I should work on.

"Ask someone else: What was the best thing that happened to you this year?" I've already shared a lot of my highlights in my birthday post. So this is me asking you. What's the best of 2022? And what are you hoping for in 2023?

Whatever it is, I'm wishing you all the best things. Happy 2023!

Thursday, October 20, 2022


A birthday present to myself

I've just realized after way too long that I may have been copying Adele with my birthday blog post titles. Oh well.

Another year has come and gone and I'm back here at the blog to reflect a bit. I've really come to appreciate having these posts to look back on, because who can remember what 32 was like exactly? And Max was excited about cake? That's totally not who he is 13 years later.

Some highlights from the last year:

- I attended over 30 live shows and concerts, plus all of my kids' concerts and events 
- I survived 7 weeks of trial empty-nesting, with trips to NYC and to see my family in Ohio, and with separate sessions of my best friend from high school and my Dad visiting me here in Boston
- I drove 600 miles all by myself
- I got Hannah through her senior year, the college process, and successfully launched without breaking my heart in the process
- I got Max off to a really amazing start of high school and saw his photo in the Museum of Fine Arts
- I attended weekly sessions with my personal trainer for a solid year and have gotten regular massages
- Nothing new, but I've worked really hard, put myself out there, handled a lot and got amazing feedback on my presentation skills
- And recently, I threw a party, just because I could

I feel like I generally said yes this year - and sometimes that yes was to a much needed nap - and said no when that was the right answer for me too. I guess I'm starting to feel less like the youngest person in the room, especially when I was telling the youngin's at work a story and realized it was 15 years old. I still think too much about my hair, even if I don't bother to blow it out that often anymore. I've got great friends and I still feel pretty lucky every day. 

Here's to the second half of my forties. I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Story Changes

Over the past 12 months with Hannah, her senior year and last one as a child living at home, I’ve had plenty of opportunities for crying. There were so many “lasts,” particularly from March through June, and many nerve-wracking, stressful, crazy joyous moments. Hannah wears her heart on her sleeve, and seeing her cry always makes me cry (I think that phenomenon goes both ways). For example, we cried both before and after she got accepted to NYU, her dream school. But most of my tears have been fairly well-contained, at home, in private. 

I didn’t cry at graduation. I didn’t cry at prom, even when the sight of all of her closest friends in their finery literally took my breath away. I didn’t cry at her final South Stage performance or Senior Showcase (maybe because I immediately had to launch a letter-writing campaign to save a teacher’s job, but anyway). 

I could have cried the other day, in the Target parking lot, as it hit me that this last shopping outing to buy dorm supplies was at the same store as her very first shopping outing, or outing really anywhere beyond her pediatrician’s office. At two weeks old, on a Saturday night in January, her dad and I took her to Target for the first time. We needed more diapers, of course, but I remember feeling desperate to go *anywhere* at all. It was cold, she was tiny, I didn’t really drive then, and being at home alone with a newborn was so hard for me. Hannah was a good baby, but I was missing the rest of the world, and so excited to roam those aisles. I could have cried today for that me in 2004, for how much I’ve changed since then, as much as I could have cried for the tiny infant somehow buying very different items today. 

I’ve said it a million times already, and I’ll say it a million times more: I am so incredibly proud of her. She has worked so hard, been a good person and a great friend, and she deserves every bit of happiness (and some struggles to be sure) as she enters this next part of life. But I’m also so incredibly proud of myself. Eighteen years of making so many decisions on her behalf. I won’t claim to have done everything perfectly, or that there aren’t other paths that could have been taken, but I am really satisfied with the one that led us here. 

I recently spoke with several old blogging friends, most of whom don’t write anymore, citing “the kids got older” as the excuse. It’s really hard to know where the boundaries are in writing, and we all didn’t want to get it wrong. It’s why I’ve written less too. But so much of her story is my story too. And my story is changing too. 

So I’ll definitely feel the lump form in my throat when we drop her off in her dorm later this week. And I might actually cry a bit. I’ll rely on Max to get me through it, though I’m sure he’ll just ask how I’m going to manage when it’s his turn in four years. 

I wonder who I’ll be by then.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Grief in the Form of a Coat

Today marks 15 years of writing here. It doesn't seem possible, and yet the adult-sized Max, who I wasn't even pregnant with then, exists fully today and is going to high school in the fall. I don't write as much as I used to, but I still often think about life as I would write it. A lot has changed for that 29yo me, but the 44yo me still feels like I have a lot more to go. Here's a piece on grief and a coat. My mom passed away two years ago next week.


As the parent of a theater kid, it’s not unusual for them to go rifling through your closet, looking for potential costume ideas. For my daughter Hannah, I think that’s been happening since she was in the sixth grade, and needed to dress as a somewhat “professional looking” character for her role in a production called “A Play Without Words.” For her latest role she was to play an everyday teenager, but for some reason her everyday puffer jacket wasn’t appropriate, according to the costume department at her high school. So she went to my closet and found a blazer that she liked, and then I suggested she look through the coat closet, because who knew what might be lurking in there.

The following morning I came downstairs around 6:45, before my son was due to leave for school, and saw her findings hanging on the back of a chair at the dining room table. There was the blazer that I had already seen, and then another coat that looks, well, a lot like the coat I wear every day: black and white checkered. Knowing that it might be the last time I saw the coat for a while, I walked over to get my gloves out of the pockets because I didn’t want to be without them for the next couple of weeks. Reaching in the pockets to retrieve the woolen gloves I expected to find, I found a wadded up ball of tissues instead. I didn’t remember having left any tissues in there - usually I’m throwing out used masks these days - but there were tissues. I reached for the other pocket only to find more tissues. That wasn’t right at all. But it wasn’t until I turned the coat around and saw the black mourner’s ribbon still attached to the front lapel that I knew I was looking at my, well, not everyday jacket.

Apparently I hadn’t worn my heavy black and white checkered, fancier jacket since my mother’s funeral in March of 2020. 

It’s been so long now that I didn’t remember I even had that jacket anymore. I’d completely forgotten about it because I hadn’t had an excuse to wear a nice jacket like that in the past two years, other than the funeral. I’ve barely left the house over these last couple of years, much less needed a nice dress jacket. Who was I going to impress, the people I was going to see driving around the carpool lane as I picked up the kids from school, or maybe going to the gym? No, I hadn’t needed that jacket.

So being confronted with it just moments into the start of a regular day? It wrecked me. I wasn’t expecting a reminder of my mother’s passing. Those days after the funeral are a blur in my mind. We rushed to Ohio for the funeral and returned late at night a few days later. I probably came home and shoved that coat into the closet and never thought about it again. Never thought about needing to remove the mourner’s ribbon because I didn’t remember getting a ribbon. I don’t remember much about standing beside my mother’s grave, because it was freezing, and there were so few of us there in those early, terrifying days of Covid. We huddled under a tent, just a handful of us, my brother’s family over FaceTime from San Francisco. And that was it. Because it was less than two weeks into the lockdown and my mother passed away so unexpectedly, nothing happened in a traditional way. No shiva, no people back to the house, no deli trays. Not even a Zoom memorial; I thought surely we’d get to something when this all ended in a month or two. But it didn’t. 

So now, two years later, why would I have had this ribbon still attached to my coat? Almost nothing about that time even seems real to me, and yet here it was, a very stark reminder that it did indeed happen. That my mother is still gone, and that it still hurts.

Of course, I let Hannah take the coat to school. I removed the ribbon, threw out the tissues, and let her take it to be judged by the costume department. They agreed, and the coat was in the show. Hannah was great, and the coat was barely on stage for a moment. Nobody would’ve known that the last time someone wore that coat, it had been worn at a funeral. But I knew.

After the production run, Hannah brought the coat home and I hung it back up in the closet. I’m due to go back to work in person soon, and it will likely still be cold enough that it might make sense to wear that coat again. But I’m not sure that I can anymore. I’m not sure that after two years, and this vast experience that I have had to navigate without my mother, I can go back and put that coat on ever again. It’s still a nice coat, and I’m going to pass it on to somebody else who could use it well, without my memories attached to it. Maybe they can make better memories when they wear it. 

Hannah wearing the coat

Wednesday, January 5, 2022


Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning eighteen. 

Wow. Just taking a moment to let that sink in.

I think this will be the last letter to you that I share here on the blog. I'll still write them if you like, but it's not going to be the same. Because if all goes according to plan, in a few short months you'll be off to NYU, and maybe I won't know all about the little accomplishments of your life anymore. I'm not ready for that letting go yet, but I'm trying to get there.

I've been incredibly lucky to have a daughter who shares as much of her life with me as you do. I like to think that I'm helpful in whatever I bring back to you in this journey, but I also know you could do it all on your own. You are an incessantly responsible, thoughtful and empathetic young woman. You even out-busy me, and that's how it should be at this point in both of our lives. You got your license and drive yourself everywhere now. You were a merry murderess and a swashbuckling Musketeer. You had your first internship and learned all about managing corporate email and slide decks. You had a HaZamir solo and floated on stage during a choir concert upon receiving your first college acceptance.

You are TikTok musicals and sticker-covered water bottles. You are USY events and feminism and singing alone in an empty house. You're a good friend to many, and you take that role very seriously. You love love and you cry easily (never stop). You look after Max because you just can't help yourself, because you love him so much. And yes, I accept that you might miss Shira more than you miss me next year.

These next few months are going to go so fast and have so many major moments: HaZa festival, your last South musical, prom, graduation. I know you're ready for the rollercoaster of emotions ahead. And New York City better spend some time getting ready for you. Proud isn't a big enough word. Happy birthday, my BusyBee, my Hanniebelle, my Han. I love you so very much.

(You can also see letters for ages seveneightnineteneleventwelvethirteenfourteen,  fifteensixteen and seventeen.)