Do online photos tell a one-sided story of motherhood?

Umm, yeh, they do. And for so many of us, even those fully versed in the magic of filters, Photoshop and staging, social media pictures can create pressure and unrealistic expectations.

For perspective:

1. That photo of mom and baby on a pristine white couch (why do they even make white couches), posing next to color-coded books and toys? That might be the only clean square foot in the whole house, which hasn’t actually been cleaned in weeks and now smells like pizza and air freshener (and you can’t really see the 114-load-pile of unfolded laundry shoved to the side of the couch).

2. The picture of a family laughing in a sunny park? It’s precious, but behind the scenes, they might have had a fight that morning or the kid threw up in the bushes.

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The New York Times: The Particular Horror of Long Commutes for Young Families

New York TImes

Credit: Brian L. Frank for The New York Times

“Traffic jams and delayed trains are infuriating for everyone, but they’re especially painful when they make you miss your baby’s bedtime yet again.”

This article was published by The New York Times on Oct. 31, 2018, the Well Family section. Click here for the complete article. 

 

Postscript to bilingual parenting article

I’m excited that my Quartz essay on bilingual parenting was picked up by social channels of The Atlantic, The New York Times (The Upshot), National Geographic, Vox, KQED, Flipboard and Pocket Top 10 and government and educational organizations, including Harvard and Stanford, in the past week.

Unfortunately, there seem to be some misconceptions, so I’d like to address them:

  1. Yes, many parents are lucky to raise bilingual/trilingual kids with less effort. That’s indeed wonderful. While this has been my experience, the process is as unique as each family member’s language ability and environment.
  2. Yes, bilingualism has lots of cognitive advantages, too many to list in a short article. It does not cause speech delays, confusion, retardation, measles or rubella.
  3. Yes, unfortunately, this is a particularly American situation, as much of the world outside the U.S. nurtures multilingualism.
In addition to the positive feedback from educators and folks who are in the same boat, it’s been interesting to read some personal comments and messages, calling me a lazy, bad parent and a dumb American (with jabs at my kid).
I encourage anyone interested to check out the work of the wonderful experts that were generous enough to speak to me during the preparation of this article, as well as the resources linked in the piece. I hope parents keep exposing their kids to many cultures and languages and don’t lose the link to their roots, despite the struggles. And that they don’t feel alone doing it.

 

Quartz: A lot of our ideas about bilingual children are total myths

This reported essay was published in Quartz on Aug. 13, 2017.

Note: There are many unique approaches to bilingualism that may or may not work for different multicultural families living in the U.S. This is just one of them. 

https://qz.com/1051986/a-lot-of-our-ideas-about-bilingual-children-are-total-myths/

“What’s that music?” my three-year-old asked as we listened to a song in a foreign language last December.

Could my toddler be showing an interest in her Russian heritage? Maybe this would be a chance to tell her about the revered winter holidays of my childhood in St. Petersburg, Russia—calling up images of the falling snow as schoolgirls in black-brown uniforms and giant bows in their hair sang carols about solidarity…

For the complete article, click here

22 funny things my students wrote

The other day, I came across some pretty amusing things my former college students wrote in essays, informal reading responses and the “Here’s what happened to me/my homework” emails. And though I don’t like to admit it, I’ve written stuff like that too – even beyond college. Haven’t most of us?  

1. She glared at me with her frightful open eyes, popped out.

2. Hearing [Alice Walker] talk about the small shit she worries about makes me think about the small shit I worry about, which makes me think I really need a cigarette.

3. In the midst of California’s prospering “Silicon Valley,” my adolescent purgatory stood like a fading ghost of post-war optimism.

4. In Russia, party without vodka and herring is not a party.

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17 Reasons why you may be the Person of the Year

person-of-the-yearTime Magazine has recently nominated their person of the year for 2016. (For the record, they’ve also had Stalin and Hitler on that list and their reasons are anything but complimentary.)

Of the seven billion people on the planet, many do pretty fabulous things on a daily basis. I’d like to propose someone that may be a worthier candidate.

So, gentle reader, you deserve the title, if:

1. If you’ve lost work and sleep to care for an ailing relative.

2. If you saw a nut job draw a weapon in an attempt to kill innocent civilians and you intercepted him.

3. If you grit your teeth and kicked a bad habit.

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No, our nation isn’t one of bigots – but here’s what to do if you meet one. Or two.

On November 8, the glass ceiling didn’t shatter, the balloons didn’t drop, though the champagne was consumed anyway, right out of the bottle, for different reasons.

It hasn’t even been a week since the election, and there’s already an uptick in racially-motivated verbal and physical violence, with Trump-lovers tearing off Muslim women’s hijabsscribbling slurs on public and private property and going on anti-Semitic rants. As someone who once moderated a Facebook page for an official U.S. Navy Command, I’ve never seen as much trolling as in the wake of this election and following it. And let me say, that Navy Facebook page saw some brutal content, what with people swearing like sailors and outbursts by enemies of the state.

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