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Archive for September, 2010

The Making of “The Relationship Revolution:

Friday, September 17th, 2010

This entry, initially posted on my Consequential Strangers blog, has been slightly adapted for Mother U.

A week ago, “The Relationship Revolution,” the lead story in the September/October issue of The Psychotherapy Networker , was finally published (online and IRL).  The piece has been in the works for nine months, because the story kept changing.  Tech is moving so fast that trying to capture it is like taking an action shot on a slow shutter speed.  Also, my editor, fairly new to the Internet and social media when we first talked, kept changing his vision of where he wanted the article to take readers.  “Up the mountain” was how he kept putting it. (more…)

Remembering Mom in the New Year

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

L’shana tova–Happy New Year.  Even if you’re not Jewish, fall is a reminder of the cycles of life and of milestones. Each new school year is, in fact, a “new” year. You look at your children or grandchildren with fresh eyes as they trot off to school. There’s no denying the passage of time.

For those of us whose mothers are no longer with us, the fall can bring sadness as well.   In the last 37 years, I can’t count the times have I said to myself, I wish my mother were here to see…Jen walk down the aisle,  Jen becoming a mother, my eldest grandson reading, his little brother going off to kindergarten, and the littlest one lurching across the floor like Frankenstein as he takes his first tentative steps and falls into my arms.   I want to believe that she still “sees” us, but my heart aches nonetheless.   Earlier today, as I sprinkled salt, garlic, onion power, pepper, and paprika on a five-pound slab of raw meat–brisket, vot den?–my mother was with me.

That’s the theme of our newest offering on The Buzz, a sweet piece by Esther Mizrachi Moritz, Keeping My Mother’s Spirit Alive that begins…

Directly after my mother’s funeral in February of 2009, a crowd of people filled my parents’ tiny Brooklyn living room.  I made a beeline for the freezer.  Heart pounding, I opened it, hoping to find some sambusak. I was obsessed with the idea of bringing home my mother’s Middle-Eastern delicacies to my children, Alexis and Jesse, then 13 and 16.

Moritz shares how she’s learned to sustain memories of her colorful mother, a woman of Latin American and Egyptian descent.  We hear often enough that death is part of life, but most of us feel as cheated and alone nonetheless.  I was only 29 when my mother died. Jen was four; Jeremy, only six months at the time, never knew her.   Moritz was 48 and her children considerably older.  But it’s always “too soon” to lose your mother.

When I hear a woman complain about her mother, I often say “At least you still have one!”  So, ladies, whether you’re annoyed about the fact that Mom meddles in your business or that she insists you do things her way or perhaps that you now have to take care of her, take a deep breath.   Try to find some moments to cherish and freeze them in your mind.  I guarantee, you’ll want them one day.

Mother to Daughter: I know more than you realize

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Over the five years we worked together on our three “Baby Whisperer” books, the late Tracy Hogg and I often marveled at the fact that so many modern mothers had stacks of parenting books on their night tables, went to parenting classes, consulted the Internet and various child-rearing sites when they were confused or worried–but overlooked an important, and often better,  resource:  their own mothers.   Some worried that their mother’s advice might be “out of date.”   (Admittedly, we don’t know how to close that damn stroller, but babies haven’t been similarly modernized!)  Others feared that if they turned to their mothers for advice, they would somehow open the door to endless intrusions.  Still others felt as if asking Mom was a sign of their own incompetence.

Of course, mother/daughter collaborations run the gamut, from women who don’t feel they can function without their mothers to those who believe that Mom has nothing to offer.   In “My Mother, the Parenting Expert,” our latest addition to The Buzz, psychologist Mindy Greenstein, author of the upcoming memoir, The House on Crash Corner, was solidly in the latter category when her son was born.  Daughter of a Holocaust survivor, she had spent most of her childhood fending for herself–and struggling to understand her mother and to be understood.  She couldn’t imagine calling on her mother for anything.  But as is often the case when a young woman joins the Motherhood Union, circumstances forced her to take a second look.

Could You Live With Your Mother/Daughter…Again?

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

New on the Buzz this week, You Can Go Home Again— Moving in with Mom, in which social psychologist Susan Newman explores what happens when three generations live under one roof.   It’s certainly not the standard living arrangement–only 4% of households, or 3.9 million families, qualified in 2001 when the Census Bureau first began tracking this phenomenon.  But that figure has increased–among other reasons, because of the economy.  A 2009 report by Peter D. Hart Research Associates noted that  more than a third of workers under age 34 are living with their parents:  “The deterioration of young workers’ economic situation in those 10 years is alarming.”

Although the report doesn’t break it down this way, it seems that many of these “boomerang kids,” as Mary Quigley calls them on her Mothering 21 blog, are unmarried and/or childless twentysomethings who have flown the coop and come back again.  But others are probably a bit older, married, and may even have kids of their own.   Three-generation households can also be the byproduct of a divorce, illness (parents’ or child’s), and other types of crises that call for what some might view as desperate measures.  Indeed, according to a Pew Research Center analysis entitled, “The Return of the Multigenerational Family,” as of 2008, a record 49 million Americans, or 16.1% of the total U.S. population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation.

But even if you don’t actually live with your mother/daughter, Newman has some good advice for all of us.   As she explains:

There’s a shift in power—or should be. Ideally, parenting becomes a cooperative effort, with adult children in the leading role.

That’s good advice for all of us!