Cookie

“Mom! Do you see that girl over there? I want my hair to look exactly like hers! It’s so thick  and she has the prettiest curls I have ever seen.” “Lauren,” I said sadly. “You will never have that beautiful hair. Why?” She asked. “Because she’s black. And black people have the best hair ever. And while we are on the topic, you should know that black people sing better than white people do, they dance much better than white folks, and they can name their kids the coolest names ever and totally make it work. “

Nodding in agreement, my little pre-pubescent teenager said to me.  “It’s true.  And they can also hide their pimples much better than I can.”  

I recently saw “Motown The Musical,” which tells the true story of an all-black record label trying to become a part of an all-white music business.  Sam asked me how the boy playing young Michael Jackson could hit and hold the high notes so amazing well.  “He’s my age.  How come he can still sing so high?” “Because he’s black,” I said, “They can do that.  It’s amazing, isn’t it?”

Are these inappropriate conversations for a mother to have with her child?  Some may say yes.  But I don’t think so. We live in a world where majority rules.  Differences are not celebrated.  We rely on negative stereotypes to define minorities or anyone we don’t understand.  Often, it’s based on ignorance.  But I think it’s also rooted in jealousy.

I myself have some serious ethnic minority envy.  White people just can’t make anything sound as cool or funky as the black folk do. When the black actors on my new favorite t.v. show “Empire” argue with each other, it’s intense.  It’s powerful.  It’s passionate. When the actors on my other favorite show about the music business “Nashville” argue with each other about country music, they are just shouting very loud.  (And let’s face it, no one can pull off names like “Cookie” and “Luscious” the way the actors on “Empire” can.  If a white person called herself “Cookie, no one would take her seriously.  On “Empire,” Cookie is the most well-respected, most powerful character on the show. )

Let’s face it: in the story of Dorothy blowing away to Oz and trying to go back home,”The Wiz” is a lot of fun.  It makes me happy.  “The Wizard of Oz” just stresses me out.

My ethnic envy, however, is not limited to one specific minority. Let’s be honest, no one can make tortillas or burritos like Hispanic people.  And true, a lot of successful professional people are Asian or Indian-but that’s because they are the hardest working students I have ever seen.  And let’s be honest, we would all rather go to a Jewish deli or an Irish pub because “those people” know how to run ’em.  They just do.  It’s in their blood.

We are finally living in an era where a former Olympic athlete can turn to his country and proudly admit that he is different.  Unlike other decades, today he is being celebrated for revealing what makes him unique.  In turn, our future generations will have a transgender idol.  Someone they can look up to and say, “That’s just how I feel too.”  They can triumphantly embrace what makes them stand out from the crowd.  It’s amazing.

Let’s keep it going.  We need to keep cheering on everyone who shows who they are and what they are made of.

I am envious of anyone who has special talents.  I am green with envy of people who can do things and say things that I can’t.  In Zumba class, I imagine I can dance like Latin women.  In my shower, I pretend I can sing like Diana Ross.  But I can’t.  As I get older, I am figuring out who I am and what makes me who I am.  I have stopped trying to hide the things that make me stand out from the crowd.  I’m learning how to be proud of who I am.

So cheers to Bruce Jenner and to everyone out there who shows off their true colors.  Let’s celebrate what makes us different. Because when I stop and take a look around, I realize that in this rainbow sherbet of a world, white people just feel vanilla.

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The Pyramid

I have always felt that I was born into the wrong generation.  I would have loved to have lived in the ’20s: the flapper outfits would have totally flattered my Jewish tushy.  I’m sure I would have loved smoking long cigarettes on a stick and listening to smooth jazz.   To live in the ’50s would also have been great: again, the wide angle poodle skirts would have been very helpful. And, according to movies like “Grease,” everyone in the 1950s seemed to know the lyrics and dance moves to the exact same songs.  I know that I would have loved the 1960s for a variety of reasons, but to remain politically-correct, I will just say that I love listening live music and sleeping outdoors.  I did get to grow up in the ’70s and ’80s and I loved them both: especially the seeming innocence that was most likely due to the lack of the internet.  (1970s caveat: bell-bottom pants were very unflattering.)

But this decade is a tough one, especially as a parent.  Besides the fact that women my age in this generation look way better than they should legally be allowed to look, it’s certainly not the Age of Aquarius.  It’s the age of the competition.  I am sure most parents my age cannot tell me one sports competition they were part of at age 10; but most children these days can name several. I don’t have a problem with competition.  It’s healthy and prepares kids for the real world. However, the phrase “it’s all fun and games” is no longer true.  It’s not really fun, and none of it is a game.  At least, not from where I’m sitting.

Sitting with other parents, I often feel like I’m the only one who says, “The only thing that matters is that these kids have fun!” or, “It’s much better than them being on social media all day!” or, my personal favorite for parents of girls: “It’s keeping them off of the pole.” (Credit-Chris Rock.)

My 12 year old daughter does cheerleading.  She’s a flyer-the one at the top of the pyramid.  If she falls down, the team loses.  No matter who is holding her up, her ability to stay up there can mean the difference between a win or a lose.  Last weekend, she went down.  Our team came in 4th place.  I was glad she wasn’t hurt.  It wasn’t the end of the world.  It’s an after-school activity.  But as I looked around, I felt like I was the only parent who felt this way.  To me, it looked like the end of the world.

I understand disappointment.  I really do (see: photos of my hair in middle school.) However, I’m more concerned with disappointment in things that matter in this world: friends that aren’t healthy, soldiers not coming home, and elections that are sure to be stressful.  For some reason, I’m also concerned that Bruce Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer will not be to announce that he’s transgender.  (I am worried that he’s going to announce something completely different, like he’s moving to Canada or marrying one of the Kardashian girls.)  I’m worried that everyone will be very disappointed.

The last thing I’m concerned about is whether my kids win or lose.  It would be nice, but it’s certainly not everything.  To me, it is everything to see them making friends, laughing, smiling, getting exercise, and feeling a part of something special and unique.

I want my kids to learn how to read and write well, to make good choices, and to be hard workers. I want them to learn how use their imaginations and creativity because amazing things are being invented every day. I want them to learn how to be a friend to everyone, and to fight hard and speak up for what they believe in.  I want them to be humble winners and gracious losers.  I want them to know how to both survive and thrive on their own without me.

Of course I’m proud when my kids achieve something. It is amazing to see them succeed and it’s even better to get to share the news with everyone who cares. It just doesn’t define me.  My  own successes and failures make me who I am: my kids’ successes and failures do not.  But just like them, sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.  No one ever created a world for me wherein I never fell.  I won’t let my kids grow up that way either.

So, if that makes me a parent that does not fit in with this generation: so be it.  I’ll pretend I’m in a different era where kids can be kids and memories are made based on the times you hugged your friends and encouraged them.  Not on the times you dropped them.

I’m glad to be at the bottom of the pyramid as long as the people that I love are down there with me.

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“Mom On The Road” Novel now available on http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Road-Allyson-Ochs-Primack/dp/1507809557/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428548764&sr=8-1&keywords=mom+on+the+road (Have you read it? Please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Thank you!)

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Elijah

I am not a very good cook.  I do not always keep what some people may call: “a clean house.”  There are a lot of crumbs and pennies inside my couch cushions.  I know that they are there.  I sit amongst them every day, yet I do not have the energy to clean them up.  I don’t like doing or using real dishes. I love paper goods. I have never, ever used the china that I got for my wedding 15 years ago. So, naturally, I am the perfect person to throw all of the holidays for our friends and family.

I have hosted them all: from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve to Fourth of July.  There is not a holiday I have not had at my house.  With one notable exception: the Jewish holiday of Passover.  That one just seemed way too much for me.  There are props and symbolic food items that are not easily found at grocery stores.  There is a production that accompanies the dinner which involves singing, the flinging of liquids, and historical re-enactments.

The table has to include more items that one can remember.  If one of these symbolic things are not properly placed on the table, it can ruin the whole holiday.  There are rules about the types of food one can serve.  There are commandments as to what can and cannot go into all of the required symbolic dishes one must serve.

So, I have always opted out of hosting that one.  Until last week, when I found myself hosting a small group of 35 people for Passover.

Listen, you Easter people: you have it made.  I’m still not totally sure what the Peeps and the Easter bunny have to do with your holiday, but it all seems a lot more fun that what we Jews have to do.  I’m assuming that you don’t have to re-enact Jesus’ death and his resurrection.  You probably don’t have to throw ketchup on Uncle Kenny to symbolize Jesus’ blood, or to eat a completely made-up seafood item like gefilte fish.   The only thing our kids get to hunt for on our holiday is a piece of matzah inside a pillowcase and only one kid gets to win.  So, just enjoy those easter egg hunts. Please take a moment to pause and think of us eating parsley dipped in salt water while you are eating your honey-baked ham.

The strangest symbol we have to have at the seder is an empty chair.  We must set a place for an invisible guy named Elijah.  No one really cares about Elijah once we say his name a few times during the service.  People step on his chair or knock it over in an attempt to grab a yummy macaroon when the service is over.  Elijah is there, but not really.

And such is the life of a parent of a teenager.  We are in the house with our children, but not really.  They know we are there, but most of the time, they really don’t care.  They are  busy watching t.v., playing on their phones, or skyping/texting/Instagram-ing with their friends.  We drive them where they need to go, provide food and shelter, but most of the time, they only remember us because we are in the way. We used to be the center of their universe, but slowly, we are becoming like Elijah: invisible.  It is normal, it is part of growing up and becoming independent. It is a ritual as old as time.

And so, like our ancestors before us, we are forced to wander in the desert, figuring out what to do next.  Wondering where to go and how to start over now that we have been set free.

Melodramatic?  Sure.  But, remember, I am a Jew.  It’s part of my heritage.  We have a several holidays where we make everyone feel guilty for what those before us have suffered on our behalf. So bear with me.  Because it will happen to you one day too.

You see, no matter your religion, watching your shy, cuddly little babies become strong, independent teenagers is every parents’ Passover.

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“Mom On The Road” Novel now available on http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Road-Allyson-Ochs-Primack/dp/1507809557/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428548764&sr=8-1&keywords=mom+on+the+road (Have you read it? Please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Thank you!)

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Dear Lena Dunham

Dear Lena Dunham,

I want to start out by saying that I love you.  I appreciate your humor and the fact that you do not look like every other Hollywood starlet out there.  I love you so much that when I was in the audience of “Late Night with David Letterman” two years ago and you were the guest, I peed in my pants so I wouldn’t have to get up and lose my front row seat.

In fact, I think of myself as the future you.  I am a 43 year old Jewish mom of three and also a writer.  I love to make fun of myself and the people around me.  I am not shy about revealing myself to the world.  I do not have a perfect body and most of the time I’m ok with that.

So, about your “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend” article in The New Yorker: I know people are upset.  Especially our people, the Jews.  But I have realized the real problem with your article and it’s not really your fault.   You are only 28, and Jack seems like your first very serious boyfriend.  So I’m going to tell you something that I didn’t realize when I was your age: men are all the same.  Jewish, Christian, or whatever religion they are (except Scientology since I don’t really understand that one): we are all dating or married to the same man.

I have friends of every race and ethnicity and every single one of them has the same comments and concerns about their husband.

In looking at your article, you should know that:

1. It is rare for men to remember an anniversary unless it is your wedding one and that’s because they are still questioning their choice (even if they don’t admit it).

2. They are all kvetchy and whiny.  They like to be taken care of.  This is not a Jewish man thing, it’s just a guy thing.  (Hence your boyfriend’s obsession with bellhops.  Someone whose job it is is to wait on them hand and foot is the ideal human being.)

3. Men get sick very easily. Even if we women have come down with the exact same illness that they have, theirs will be worse than ours.  (Not really-but in their heads it is.) Women are stronger and can deal with more. That is why we have periods and hot flashes and have to give birth and gain weight much easier than they do.  Men can only handle embarrassing, unexpected boners.  That’s it.

4. They do not like the food you serve, nor do they like the food in restaurants. This is because men cannot verbalize what it is that they actually like.  We women can sit down with each other and discuss our boobs, our vaginas and the liquids that come out of our vaginas.  Men only talk to each other about politics and sports (so basically they can only discuss other men.) They have no frame of reference for discussing their feelings about anything.  (This is why they don’t like going to therapy)

5. Men will never really like hanging out with your friends.  This is because they know that you told them every little detail about your sex life and he’s totally embarrassed.

6. They are all ass men and would all love to have sex with a tall, blonde Swedish anorexic model.  It’s part of their genetic make up. Nothing we can do.

7.  None of them like “Lean In” nor do they want us to be more successful or popular than they are.  Not one single man.  Think about all of the celebrity marriages that broke up because she became more successful than he did. As much as they want us to have careers and be productive members of our society, deep down, they really prefer the 1950s. They all wish that their ladies would be at home wearing high heals and pearls and cooking dinner.

8. The smothering Jewish mother stereotype is outdated. You don’t have kids yet so I need to fill you in. It’s not just Jewish mothers who smother their children these days. This is the era of helicopter parents. Not one child, Jewish or not, is allowed to fail. They all get trophies. Parents do their children’s homework, get them jobs and house them as long as they want.
It’s ridiculous and I am making it my personal mission to end this madness.

9. Women were blessed with a truly special gift: faking it. We can fake everything from being interested in conversations to liking the taste of beer or semen. Men can’t do that. It’s all or nothing. That’s why we can be nice to the annoying neighbor or the un-approving father in law and they can’t.

Men are just not wired the same way as women. This is why many women must decide to become lesbians.

When I was 28, I was newly married. I had never lived with a man for so long. I thought it would be like having a college roomie plus sex. But I quickly learned that men don’t want to stay up all night talking about fashion, gossip, and how much they hate their hair. They don’t hear half the things you say. They are obsessed with what’s for dinner. They still nap.

The best boyfriends are just like dogs: they get excited when you come home, they love to snuggle on the couch, and they never tire of sticking their heads in your crotch.

If you are lucky, you will find a guy who is your better half. Who will be the perfect partner and will make you feel happy and special in his own way.

Take it from me, your future self, he does exist. Just not in the way you want him to.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/30/dog-or-jewish-boyfriend-a-quiz

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Excuse Me, MIss?

Excuse me, miss? I just wanted to let you know that your butt check is hanging out.

I’m sure you know this. You probably think that this is sexy. And I’m sure to many it is. But not to us, your elders.

Listen, girls. Your foremothers had to endure corsets and hoop skirts. They had to pretend they enjoyed bell-bottoms and floor-length hippy skirts. My generation had to wear parachute pants and ZCavaricis. Do you know what those are? They are the most unflattering pants ever. We had to wear neon, for gods sake. Neon.

But you girls are in the age of the yoga pant. The stretch pants. The trendy sweatpants. You gals get to be comfy and still look adorable. You are so lucky. Even the jeans are flattering these days. They fit nice and tight at the ankle. Not one of you has to take a safety pin and wrap the bottom of your jeans tight to make your legs look better in jeans.

I know you think that showing off your ass cheek is a sure-fire way to land a man. And, it may be. But trust me when I say that the ass cheek, sadly, is the first thing to go as you get older. Like a deflated balloon, they start drooping lower and lower, until they simply cannot be raised into the air ever again.

You will learn how to rise out of the bed, post-coitus, and make sure that no one catches a glimpse of your sorry-ass. Forget the dressing rooms that have a three way mirror: even you won’t want to see it anymore.

Normally, I would not care how you girls dress. But I have a daughter who emulates what you older teenagers wear. And we ladies have come so far in today’s society. We are finally being taken seriously. We can do anything. We are “leaning in.” One of us might be president one day soon.

So please, stop doing this to us. Take that cute ass and show it off in a nice pair of Lululemon.

I’m sorry. I simply cannot turn the other cheek anymore.

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Jackie O

My husband is a weight loss doctor. He’s very passionate about weight loss. He’s on boards and committees all around the country. He speaks and lectures about the best ways to lose weight and to maintain it. And he recently informed me that in three years, he hopes to be president of the national bariatric society. Which, I decided, will make me the First Lady of Weight Loss.

This, of course, is a dream position for a woman in her 40s whose metabolism is on permanent vacation. I cannot wait until the nation turns to me as their weight loss Nancy Reagan.

I immediately began to ponder my upcoming role. Will there be an inauguration? If so, what should I wear? A pill-box hat and pearls? A pant suit? Everyone will surely look to me for fashion trends. Can I wear yoga pants? Sweats?

Do I have to pick a platform to push? What would it be? Just say no to drugs? (Um, no.) Michelle Obama is doing a great job singing and dancing with vegetables, so healthy eating is off the table. What was Mary Todd Lincoln’s platform? Did they have those back then?

Do we move into a special weight loss white house? I don’t want to have to pack my stuff again. Does it count that we just painted our kitchen cabinets white? Will I have to host foreign weight loss leaders in my home? Can I just make everyone sloppy joes? Do I have to get another dog?

I sat and thought about all of the good work I could do as the first lady of weight loss. I could make a national campaign to end the posting of unflattering selfies. I could banish all people who drive slow to Florida.

But I don’t feel that that would be making good use of my power.

Suddenly it hit me: my main objective. My very own Betty Ford clinic. My personal “whatever the hell Barbara Bush’s legacy was.” It will be called the “let kids be kids again” initiative. Upon my coronation, I will make it a law that kids only be allowed to do activities only one hour a week. There will be no competitive teams. Weekend competitions will be abolished. No child will be forced to declare their “thing” by age 5. Kids will simply be allowed to have fun, with the understanding that they are spending these years figuring out ALL of the cool “things” that exist in this world.

Today, I am simply the Duchess of weight loss. The princess of weight loss. The ambassador to the country of weight loss. But when my time as First Lady comes, America better get ready.

Not only will it be okay for children everywhere to wear pajamas and slippers all weekend long, but it will be perfectly acceptable (and fashionable) for their mothers to be wearing them too.

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First Professional “Mom On The Road” Review!

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From “SRP: Self Publishing Review”
3/10/15 Starred Review

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