When my daughter was a newborn, she flipped off the changing table onto the floor. I was across the room at the time, forlornly surfing Facebook to see what normal people with normal lives were doing, those lucky souls who weren’t trapped in the eternal twilight of breast-feeding, Sex in the City reruns and diaper... Continue Reading →
Here is the full text of the letter my daughter left on the dining room table after I forgot to pick her up at ballet lessons for the third time: Mommy and Daddy, It is the second time I’ve cried after ballet. It is the 8th time you’ve been late. It is the 83rd time... Continue Reading →
This is part of a new series that I'm calling "Rejected by McSweeney's." It will feature pieces written in sarcasm font (not yet available on Mac or OS platforms) that the editors of McSweeney's deem not quite funny enough for them. Someday, I'll post a link to something they actually publish, but until then, enjoy... Continue Reading →
“How was Cuba?” they ask. “What was it like?” And I struggle because I can’t distill the trip into a brief and pithy summary suitable for cocktail conversation or breakroom chitchat. Because now, even a few weeks later, Cuba is still a mosaic of discrete moments and images that I cannot make a story out... Continue Reading →
There’s a woman my age staying in our AirBnB this weekend, in town to visit her son at college. I can see them sitting on the deck in the sun. She’s handed him a plastic grocery bag, crumpled from her luggage, and he’s pulling things out one at a time: a Toblerone bar, Pocky sticks,... Continue Reading →
“My son is so emotional all the time. He’s angry, then he’s sad, then he’s excited. I can’t keep up,” said one friend. “I’m wondering if he needs therapy.” “My daughter spends most of her time reading in her room,” said a different friend on a different day. “Do you think she’s okay? Should I... Continue Reading →
Scene: 7:17am, in the car, one block from school. Jack: Sh$t. I forgot shoes. Me: <long pause as I process (1) that my son is old enough to curse without blushing but still forgets something as basic as *shoes* and (2) the tension between my natural-consequences, you-forgot-so-deal model of parenting and the fact that it's... Continue Reading →
Last weekend (along with 90% of Americans) I saw “Black Panther.” The movie itself was rad and subversive and set a new bar for Hollywood action movies, blowing up the idea that people of color and women (and most particularly women of color) can only carry the roles of sidekick, token or gooey-eyed love interest.... Continue Reading →
Last month, I helped some aspiring first-generation college students prepare for Ivy League admissions interviews and, as usual, I had to hold my jaw off the floor as they casually described their lives. Lydia*, for example, was explaining why she wanted to study biomedical engineering when she mentioned that she learned to speak English in... Continue Reading →
Dear WOM, I have a two-and-a-half-year-old who is incredibly smart and curious. He already talks in full sentences and wants to understand how everything works. Yesterday, I found him in the dishwasher trying to figure out how the water gets in and out. I’m worried that he’ll be bored in a traditional school where he... Continue Reading →
There's nothing like bathing suit shopping with one's teenage daughter to foster a more nuanced and perhaps sympathetic perspective on Snow White's stepmother.
This week's high school carpool conversation featured BDSM because the term had been heard and a definition was requested. My answer, which skimmed lightly over any meaningful definition to focus on its consensual nature and sharp contrast to relationship violence, segued into a question about how I define healthy relationships. So yeah, at 7:07am as... Continue Reading →
Once, at a dinner party, I mentioned where I work and the conversation — as often happens — veered into awkwardness. A woman across the table pointed her fork at me and said, “My daughter’s eighth-grade English class is having a debate. One of the topics is abortion. Don’t you think that’s inappropriate for 13-... Continue Reading →
Most of the time, I feel like I'm a perfectly adequate parent, but then my son insists that an label-less plate-of-spaghetti line graph is an appropriate visual display of scientific data and I wonder where I went so terribly wrong.
My daughter, when she was seven, ambushed me in the kitchen while I was chopping vegetables. “Mommy,” she asked, blue eyes blinking up at me, a little crease of confusion between her brows, “how does the baby get inside the mommy?” This was a delicate moment. I knew that how I handled these first few... Continue Reading →
Because of my profound lack of interest in entertaining an unenthusiastic 13-year-old at the Getty (mom-ing at a museum is all "What do you think the artist wanted us to feel?" and "What does this make you think about?" until I want to scratch my *own* eyes out) I hooked him up with a self-guided... Continue Reading →
Me: Okay, family, while the ornaments are technically on the tree, there are some weird gaps and places where they're all bunched up, so maybe if we just moved this one or... 13yo son: I'm just going to sit back on the couch and watch a Becca in her natural habitat.
“Those are great pants!” I said to the mom next to me at the beach picnic. They were embroidered and loose, hitting mid-shin in that perfect casually-chic way. “Thanks,” she said. “They’re great because no one should see 45-year-old knees.” The other moms in the circle nodded and laughed, and the conversation moved on. I... Continue Reading →
Dear World’s Okayest Mom, Dinner is pure torture in our house. I make us all put away our phones and turn off the television like I’m supposed to. But instead of quality family time, I get slouching and pouting and one-word answers. It is so painful that my wife and I are ready to give... Continue Reading →
Let’s admit it: our generation is a lost cause. Despite our Take Back the Night rallies, candlelight vigils and rampant use of hashtags, our generation keeps doing and saying terrible things to other humans. But when I think about a world where my kids have to post #MeToo and #TakeaKnee on their 2040 virtual-reality equivalent... Continue Reading →