Drop Off

The final drop off. We had two days together before the big move into my son’s dorm. He’s moving in, not me…I have to keep reminding myself. It was crazy hot and humid and although I was having my first real ‘I know how to get around in NYC and isn’t this all exciting’ moments, my son was beyond anxious. We fed him, a lot, and talked of budgets and balancing whilst dining on $40 steaks. It was a mish-mosh of emotions building in him, and Husband, and myself, and I suppose we were all waiting for the moment when we were going to say goodbye.

Then Sunday came.

His room was as small as I expected and perhaps a bit bigger than he pictured. His roommate already had flashes of OCD mixed with a boyhood mess when it came to anything on his bed. We noticed all his button downs and ties that lined his side of the closet as we unpacked my son’s leather jackets and t-shirts. They are both the eldest sons of an all boy household so I’m hoping that common denominator alone will bond them…because by the looks of their wardrobes, they are miles apart. His roommate’s mom was there and invited my son to dinner any Friday night he wanted…she has no idea what she’s just done and how much he can eat!

His other two flatmates were global kids who look like potential buddies, although one did resemble my friend in high school who was a drug dealer. Hmm. Husband dealt with his nerves by greeting everyone moving into the flat as my son and I made his bed together. Dare I say for the first time?? I bought him the most ridiculously expensive tempur-pedic mattress topping, and a mattress allergy cover, and a mattress pad that goes over the whole thing to keep it together, so with all of those additions, his bed was about a half a foot higher than normal and looked like a throne of some kind. It gave us something to laugh about for sure.

My son didn’t want us to fill the fridge or put up his posters or buy him more lights. He, dare I say, didn’t want us to take over in any way. So we fed him one last time at a local restaurant and then walked down the street away from his dorm to say goodbye. He took my hand as we were walking and I kept looking forward so as not to lose it completely. I did catch a tear running down his face and I literally gulped mine down while we walked. He told me not to be sad and I told him I wasn’t; we were just going to miss him – easiest explanation for the torrent of emotions crashing into each other in my heart. And then we all stopped walking and my son now turned to his dad to say goodbye. And there he was, big and strong dad, leader of our family, sobbing and sobbing and sobbing on the streets of New York. He just couldn’t stop; it was the funniest and sweetest thing I had ever seen. There was nothing left to do but to laugh at him – Husband was literally hysterical. All my gulping down and helpful hubby is like Niagra-friggin-Falls next to me!

Our son used the comic relief as his exit and left us on the sidewalk waving goodbye with our puddle of emotions. We stood there, sobbing and laughing and waving for a while, and then walked slowly back to our hotel crying the whole way there. Life moves on as it should and dropping your first child at university is one of those defining moments when a cycle is completed. I’m grateful I feel I did the best job I could and gave it my all because that is the only solace I have to take away. That, and that massive smile on my son’s face.

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New York, New York

I am confused. And emotional. And flustered all in one. I want to articulate so much about how I feel, about what’s in my heart and yet seem to stumble through it. My eldest is going away to college this week, – the college of his dreams – and I am feeling everything from gratefulness to desperation. I remember when I was pregnant with him and the idea of having this son took form and began to shape my thoughts as a woman slowly transitioning into a mother. It wasn’t obvious for me; I was the first in my friend group to get pregnant after being told getting pregnant was going to be impossible for me. Needless to say it wasn’t, but I equally hadn’t given much thought to having babies either. Over 18 years later the first cycle of life concludes for my eldest which in turn means I have to gracefully exit this chapter as well. And it’s hard; and I don’t want to necessarily, but it’s not up to me anymore.

I made a lot of my mistakes as a mom with my eldest; I’m sure we all do. I was the most paranoid, the most nervous and unsure, and the most confused. But I was there for nearly all of it, always. Between life in London and LA we traveled as a team, and as each son came along for the ride, my eldest naturally took on the role of co-pilot. I think I have relied on his strength of character his entire life and I will be eternally grateful to him for that.

I suppose that’s what’s difficult; not sad, but challenging. I am two people at the minute. One knows I couldn’t pick a better program or greater city for him to begin his next journey; New York, NYU Clive Davis Institute, the whole enchilada. He’s been wanting to bite out of that Big Apple ever since he laid eyes on it a few years ago and it’s so damn exciting. His music comes from the depths of who he is and I see, and hear, the complete beauty in that. The other me, though, is devastated for the change his absence will carry in our house and for the understanding of the term empty nest. It’s one of those phrases that I’ve looked at without emotion, until now, even though I have three more to go. Of course it’s not over, he’s not out of our lives, gone forever. But there is a turning of the page and while the excitement is tangible for him now, the deep ache of wanting Time to move a bit slower; of the reconciliation that this stage of my life of motherhood with him is over; that letting him fly means prominently stepping aside and not spotting him every time he climbs, just in case he falls…is all so much to take in.

As much as his leaving is about him, it’s also largely about me. Having been a full time mom all these years, I have honestly put most of my time into raising my kids so marking their departure is real for me, in real terms. Who am I? What am I going to do when they’re gone? These are questions I have battled with before but always had my boys right there, front and center, unabashedly demanding attention and invariably there to fill me up again. Perhaps part of the emotion I’m feeling is about the spotlight I’ve been able to avoid (or haven’t had the space to indulge in) to see who I am after all these years of motherhood?

I have lost a father before; I know what loss looks like, and feels like. So I also know not to dramatize loss if I don’t have to. But the words that keep coming up for me are how much I’m going to miss him, which feels a heck of a lot like loss. His life, as we all have known it, will forever change with the flight to NYC. Where will ‘home’ be? Will coming back here feel like a visit? It will never be the same again for all the right reasons and for that I am overwhelmed with emotion and not quite sure yet how to deal.

My sis in-law says I’ll just get used to it; like any change in the household, once a few weeks pass you sort of just get used to it. That thought also depresses me a bit right now as I don’t want to get used to him not being an everyday inspiration and pain in the ass to all of us! Sadness, however, isn’t on the cards for one simple reason: at 18 he was clearly ready for stage 2 to begin, clearly ready. Having an 18 year old live in your house can feel like trapping an outdoor cat and making him live indoors. There’s a lot of scratching that goes on…and if you’re completely honest, it hurts more to get scratched than to chuck a few chicken chunks outside and let them wander a bit.

I’ve long since known that children teach you as much as we teach them. For me, my boys have shown me how strong I can be, along with patient, moral, capable, loving, the list goes on. They have brought out the very best in me for sure. So when I see passion and the wonderment of having a dream and the leap of faith needed to take the steps towards it, I suppose it’s a powerful reminder that passion prevails and happiness truly comes from doing something in life that makes you happy…simple lesson. I’m going to hold onto that for now, while I try to gently let go.

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I am sitting in my home in London at the end of a very long and twisted year. It all started off with the right amount of Christmas cheer, but then the energy surrounding me, and Husband, took a turn for the worse. It truly felt like dark shadows were following us. People we love got sick; our home here got hijacked by squatters; our nanny betrayed me in the most profound way; jobs were dangled and then snatched away and I began to lose my confidence in my perception of the world. And all the while my boys seemed pretty oblivious which was wonderfully real at the same time.

That is not cynicism or a pejorative comment towards them; it’s the incredibly powerful ability children possess to remain selfish enough in their endeavors to not see or feel the chaos around them, and the expert ability of their parents to hide it. What I learned, again, is to dig down deep when pain and suffering or just pure fear enters the soul. Dig down and figure out what I am made of, how far can I push myself and what do I need to keep it all together. It is only when the chips are down do you really know who you are. The boys, for me, actually kept me sane because they were unaware enough and their needs remained constant.

When spiraling occurs, I tend to simplify life – it’s a control exercise that gives me the ability to have a greater cause and affect ratio in my day to day living. Stop spending, cut down on the social occasions where I have to lift myself up insincerely, and stay on top of the boys’ lives so there are fewer surprises. Oh…and keep the pile of unopened post at a minimum. And then, wait for the shift. Look for the signs and as soon as the light comes back into my life, dive in.

And that is what happened this year. Husband got his film and although he had to move away to do it…for SIX months!!…he was so fulfilled and happy it only brought me joy. (Until last week, that is, when I had had absolutely enough of being a single parent and hit the wall in the most spectacular meltdown). The squatters finally left our house and with a bit of sage (and an almighty legal bill) they were gone. Our nanny got replaced by a very sweet Manny – a much better energy to have in our lives all around. And most importantly, our friends and family got healthier, all of them. Obviously this all didn’t just ‘happen’ without a crap ton of worry and paranoia and tears and fears being rattled around on what felt like an emotional roller coaster, but each scenario did happen and the lesson for me was to dig down, find a new threshold for coping and give myself what I needed to not lose the battle over all the stress.

What I didn’t realize by Fall was that all my new found understanding about coping was to be utilized immediately as my eldest started applying to college/uni. My patience, love and understanding have never, ever, been pushed that far as I journeyed with him on the road to getting his applications ready. Oh, my, God. Pause. The reason being is that his method of work involves the deadline being so close to him he can smell it, feel it tickling his nose, and then he works in a frenzy of often genius to get it all done. All I need to say is that I don’t work quite the same way. I need to feel the deadline, for sure, but more boxes need to be ticked along the way to get my creative juices flowing. I gave myself the deadline of this morning to write this blog, and have managed to make a coffee and check my emails while writing…but I will finish. My son and I went through the entire Fall with the same conversations circling us like vultures preying on our relationship, until finally he was ready to rock and roll and finish, well, start and then finish, his applications. And while we were waiting for the results, I was finally able to express to him what was so palpable to me this whole year; dig down, find what you are made of and know that whatever the outcome from the schools, you will figure it out and be ok. It is in the darkness you know where your light is.

Sage advice; not really. But words that were very meaningful to me this year had resonated with him through their simplicity. He told me he was always the kid who didn’t get in, or got waitlisted, and even though he wanted this more than anything, my words made sense. He applied to a school that takes 3% of its performer applicants – he’s a musician – so the odds are stacked against most getting in. The day came for him to log in and find out if he was accepted to his school of dreams. His four best friends flanked him on the roof top of our house in LA to lend support which was a sight to behold. ‘Updated status of application’ button flashed on the school’s website. And in one push of a button, his journey would be revealed.

He got in! It was an insane feeling to watch him get the validation he wanted, needed, as a musician and as a student. His path was definitely not an easy one as he often fell outside the golden box where other kids sit comfortably. And as for me, I put every ounce of energy and wisdom I could muster into helping him so yes, it felt great to get the result we wanted as so many times before we watched from the sidelines.

Haven’t quite allowed myself to ponder the beginning of the emptying of our nest, but no doubt that’s for another post. In the meantime, a healthy and happy new year to all.

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Cycle of Life

My son is 18. What has grabbed my heart most about this is watching him grapple with the beginning of his adulthood. He is a deep thinker and so has tenderly stepped into the role with a thoughtful mind, holding onto the last of childhood days as if he was about to be physically taken from one journey to the next. He wants to build a fort, watch silly Saturday morning telly shows and eat pizza for every meal. He wants to literally touch everything that makes him feel like a child knowing that it’s now a memory rather than his reality. On the eve of his birthday he commented, “When you’re a kid and do something stupid, like jump off a high roof or skateboard down a dangerously steep hill, you’re just a kid doing something silly. But when you’re an adult and you do the same thing, you’re just an idiot.” True is true.

As a mother, I can feel his cycle from birth to adulthood wrapped up in this birthday; it gives me chills and has made me weep. I cry not for anything lost, or found, but for a deep understanding of all that I have tried to instill in what is now this young adult in front of me. He stands at the precipice of so much and yet still stumbles; he sees how far the road is stretched out with wonderment and I see the curves, the hazards as well as the excitement. It is most definitely a letting go that quietly happens as mother bird acknowledges the strength of her baby bird now able and willing to fly.

But there’s flashbacks of drool and skinned knees; of first steps and first words and first songs sung; bursting grins from victories and the red eyes of defeat; of all that connects us. The cycle of 18 years is a rainbow arc of so many colorful moments of his growth, awareness and self expression. At nearly 6’1, he embodies all those years on his shoulders and my job must now evolve into spectator as well. It’s not that I don’t want him to grow up, I’m just finding the delicate balance between being the harvester and guide to an observer very difficult to judge. When am I meant to butt in??

I have been micro managing his life for so long because he’s a boy who’s needed it and wanted me to do it. And, in my defense, the stakes always felt too high to back away. But somewhere in me I know that he must take charge and figure out how to fire up those neuro-receptors himself and learn how to organize without me. Of course I know that. He will rise and fall because of his choices; cause and effect is the best learning tool there is at this point. But even knowing this, I still find it so uncomfortable to stand back and watch where the chips fall; like I’m not doing my job properly.

There was no manual handed out to us at the hospital when we walked out 18 years ago with our bundle of pure joy in our arms; just the bundle. We drove ridiculously slowly to our home, holding our breath over every bump in the road, praying we weren’t going to hurt him. We honestly had no idea what we were doing. And now, here we are at the end of this first major cycle of time with so much knowledge that has been learned, absorbed, experienced, since. We gave our best, no regrets; our job isn’t over but there is a noticeable shift and now it is his turn, his time, to really learn how to live.

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Into The Light

I have written in this blog at least a dozen times since the last post, but only in my head. It’s often during a morning hike with the dogs where I literally talk out loud to them, cuz they’re such good listeners, or am fortunate enough to have a close friend to explore the wonders of our sore bodies and sore heads. I’ve been reluctant to put pen to paper because Life, for the most part, these past few months has been kinda shitty and there’s not often a good time to write from a bad place until the heart stops racing and perspective comes back. But out of darkness comes light and apparently the ‘living’ part of life happens when you get up from the fall.

I’ve had three friends get diagnosed with Cancer – I use the capital C because it feels deserving of it – and with each brave woman I’ve watched dignity, inner strength and true passion prevail. Each friend is different and yet there have been remarkable similarities; each thought of their children almost before thinking about themselves; each reached out to friends instead of shutting down; each found a way into acceptance without feeling defeated. Women are unbelievable humans, capable of such depth of emotion and power. I’ve learned by watching them and have been inspired by their resilience and nerve. They have taught me again to be awake in my life and let go of negative people and situations that can cloud my days. Through their struggles so many have been taught, helped, even saved and I really hope they all know that.

In the midst of the vulnerabilities illness brings, Life tossed up an interesting medley of mishaps. Our tenants became squatters in my UK house refusing to leave and costing us thousands over many months to get them out. More than the money was the stress and hatred I developed for them. They played us as fools and dare I say, won. Every morning for months was wasted from 6:30 am onwards on how to deal with feeling victimised and held hostage by them. There was a part of me that was trying to remain distant from the house, as seeing it as a rental took a lot of time and perspective on my part, and a lot of letting go. But it is personal; it’s not a rental, it’s our home and I attached a lot of emotion to claiming it back.

Then, at the same time, our nanny of two and a half years did a Jekyll-and-Hyde-disco-freak-out on us and threatened us in more ways than financial, leaving me disgusted, disheartened and dispirited. The boys quickly got over her (which was interesting) but somehow I was left holding onto the betrayal and bewilderment that I could have trusted her so implicitly with my kids, while she could leave in a crazy storm without even saying goodbye. Having just got back from downtown LA where I sat in a deposition (cue Law and Order music now please) of a labourer who claimed he magically broke his foot at my house a year ago without actually having an accident, I’ve been more than a little paranoid and preoccupied these days with ulterior motives and disguises worn.

But as my three friends dealing with the truly big stuff have shown me, this bad energy blanket that seems to be slightly suffocating me right now will pass. If you sit long enough and quietly enough, you will see the light on the other side of it all. It takes on different forms, but it’s always there. A plan of action or non-action to the diagnosis; an unexpected friend telling you she’s an employment lawyer; a reconciliation made out of common ground found; a real and true and proper understanding of how much love and support your partner and you share. And, of course, the kids…how you’re love for them is so extremely honest that your ability to hold onto darkness, in order to keep them in the light, is possible.

It is true that you learn a lot about yourself when the chips are down and it’s important to give yourself the space to feel low, and even depressed. The shift then comes with what you do with your new found knowledge of yourself and how to apply it wisely. For me, I’ve had to keep things really simple whilst all this discovery is going on and tell myself, almost as a mantra, that I have everything I need to remain in the light.

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I’ve had an uncomfortable couple of weeks. I’ve struggled with wanting to write about it because how I feel keeps shifting. My eldest turned 17 and in that my recognition of my role in all of my boys lives has changed. I am no longer the loudest voice in my teenager’s head, next to his own. I am no longer wanted for intimate conversations, even at bedtime, and pillow talk will slowly be handed over to the female of his dreams. This is normal, and to be expected based on all the stories one hears. But I really didn’t see it coming. Is that stupid?

It’s not so much rejection or sadness I feel, but more not wanting to accept the new reality. Friends with older boys say they all come round again; that their quest right now for independence and privacy allows the space they need from you in order to return to your relationship as a man. I don’t know. I’m only on this side of the journey of discovery and as with every other ‘first’ in my years as a mom, my eldest going through something is my first time too, and I have no idea what I’m doing.

I drop him off at Union Train Station downtown – yes, LA has a central AMTRAK train station that is pretty gorgeous – and realize he has not only not complained about going on a school trip (oh, the times before:), but also is looking forward to it. These small moments of recognition of growth I have become accustomed to, however many the tears still do fall. But it’s the greater jump, the manly one, I am struggling to wrap my head around.

It is healthy and right for boys to emotionally detach and my rule so far is if you do it with respect, then off you go. The lines are blurry right now – I keep reflecting on what I did as a teenager and what I needed and wanted from my parents. Need? Probably total independence to make my own decisions about every aspect of my life; want – for my parents to allow me to do whatever I wanted. So with that, I parent my boys, wavering between being hypocritical and realistic in saying yes or no. Safety first, but then after that it gets really confusing on where to draw the line.

What has been a huge source of comfort is all the conversations I’ve had with other moms going through much of the same stuff. I’ve realized we are all in this together – that however personal my issues feel, they are not unique. And sharing enables me to hear a new idea or perspective on how to deal with raising teenagers. Frankly, and I’ve said this for 17 years; it’s other moms’ stories, more than books or doctors or the internet that have guided me throughout motherhood and I’m eternally grateful each time.

All my boys are full of sweetness. I am proud of that. That was there from the get-go. If I added anything it’s the rough map of how to be kind, and how to feel successful by your own actions. I can only hope that the foundations are laid and that if they all need to explore a private emotional path in order to return again as young men, then I have to find a way to let them go and not let my heart break every time. They are doing what they should be doing; it’s their mother who needs the guidance this time.

In the words of Husband…’Don’t take it all so personally, I don’t’. Touche.

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Terrorists…the clue is in the title


We left two days before the latest troubles broke out; before public opinion across Europe and the greater world, once again, but more loudly, was spewing ‘Death to the Jews’; before I felt I had to defend a nation and a heritage that I belong to, but don’t often define myself by; before I could even download any of our incredible photos of the most joyous of holidays ever. Our two weeks found us discovering a land where Jews, Muslims, Christians and Catholics live side by side harmoniously. And in Jerusalem in particular, where everyone’s spirituality resonated from the ground up, inter-crossing and interconnecting through the Arab markets, the holiest of Churches, the glorious golden Mosques and the sanctity of synagogues. The chanting, the praying, the aromas, the heat…all the night’s chorus for us to infuse our soul; a symphony of a blessed land at each sunrise and sunset.

I am not normally political and I am not religious. I am a human being; a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. I am also an American and a Jew. I believe in God as a higher power but not often defined by my religion, which is why I am often at odds with being a practicing Jew. Nonetheless, I am outraged at the treatment Israel is receiving on the world stage and unfortunately on my own, small personal stage as well. Friends, both here and in London, seem to discuss the Gaza conflict with me assuming I have a bias towards Israel because I’m Jewish and therefore won’t accept or understand the Palestinian plight. And these same people don’t see the antisemitism in that simple comment.

I am indeed outraged but not because I’m Jewish, because I’m a human being who requires my government to treat me as such. The plight of the Palestinians is deplorable and the videos and photos shown by the global media make me horrified and afraid for them. They are indeed victims, but the aggressor to blame isn’t Israel, it’s their own government, Hamas.

Hamas is a terrorist organization voted into power who have neglected to care for the people they rule over. They have had thousands of tons of materials brought into Gaza for years for the sole purpose of building a network of cross border tunnels with the singular goal of killing as many Israelis as possible, instead of building a foundation for their people; hospitals, homes and schools. Israel left the ground there in 2005. What would Gaza look like if they had spent the same energy creating something on their own soil rather than trying to destroy Israel?

Gaza is 49 miles south of Tel Aviv. For us Los Angelenos, that’s not even LA to Laguna Beach. Standing on the beaches in Tel Aviv where the Med is met with a booming hotel business and a boardwalk of boarders, bikers, joggers and excitement, one can imagine what could have been for the same shimmering shoreline just a short car ride away. Same warm salty sea; same white soft sand, same sunsets. I was constantly amazed at how small Israel is. We drove only a few hours north of Tel Aviv and we were entering the Golan Heights – looking across to Syria and seeing the border hospitals set up there by Israel. We traveled south, with the Jordanian border following us to the East and saw how the Israeli soil had been irrigated and farmed and the Jordanian soil was left as dust. This continued all the way down to the Red Sea, Israel making lemonade as one friend pointed out, as her neighbors just had lemons. 27 Nobel Peace Prize winners have come from this tiny country. 27. Israelis are resourceful, intelligent and forward thinking. A race to be despised? Is it the green eyed monster? Why do so many people innately hate the Jews?

Every night we were in Israel we lit three candles in honor of the teenagers that were taken by Hamas. To be honest, we thought that the unbearable saga of news about them would go on for months – that they were kidnapped to be traded for Hamas prisoners. Then the candles went from a sign of hope to a symbol of despair. And then retaliation. A few Israeli extremists avenged their deaths by taking an innocent Palestinian boy and murdering him in a terrifying way. The difference between the frightening events? Israel is punishing these men through their court system and condemned their actions publicly. Hamas celebrated their ‘soldiers’ in the streets and most likely hid them in their bloodied tunnels. Saying that Hamas use their people as human shields is not just a saying…it’s a war strategy. They built their tunnels under hospitals and schools; they instill fear and punishment as a way of life; they publicly murder those who disobey, or even think they disobey, their mandates.

Why the world thinks that Israel is the only threat to this terrorist organization and not simply the first on the firing line, I don’t know. Israel, the only democratic nation in the region, has a right and an obligation to defend itself, especially when the tactics used against it include suicide bombers. It continues to use their missiles to protect their people while the Hamas strategy uses their people to protect their missiles. And when they release footage of Palestinians lying dead from an Israeli air raid and the world blames only Israel, the strategy seems to be working.

The eye for an eye mentality does not lead you to peace; but how can Israel negotiate with an organization who denies their existence and whose stated mission is to see Israel wiped off the face of this planet? And why social media ‘friends’ endlessly focus on the Jews instead of the greatest religious group under persecution today by ISIS, the Christians, is beyond me. Where are all those posts? Surely we are all so inter-connected now with the Internet that there has never been a better time for democracies around the globe to join forces in the campaign against terrorists. Terrorists…the clue is in the title.

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If These Walls Could Talk

For the first time in over 16 years, I’ve been home alone. Husband is back in LA and my sons are scattered. My mind is so used to multi tasking that it took me some time to settle; to recognize that once I put myself to bed, that’s it, I just need to go to bed. A few weeks ago Husband caught me so upset and wondered what was wrong. I told him that our eldest was going to go to college soon and that our lives would never be the same. He tried to be caring through his laughter and wonderment that I could be bereft of a situation that isn’t going to happen for two more years! I looked at him equally incredulously wondering how he couldn’t feel the same way.

Empty nest. Now here I am in London, in our home, alone. It’s only for a night or two and my eldest does come back during the day, a bit. But it’s like a trial test for me to see what I feel like when they are all gone. Answer…alone/ish. It’s not a real test when I know next week will be loud and chaotic again, but sensing the nest emptying makes me feel a bit nervous and sad, if I’m honest. Husband’s been telling me to make sure I look after myself during these years so that I have my own sense of Self when they all go. How the hell does a full time mom do that?

The dilemma is in the title of the job description – Full Time Mom. Like any other job, it leaves time for hobbies and ‘other jobs’ on the side and often left unfinished. No moaning here, just reality check on what is possible for me, anyway.

Having said that, the quiet allows me to think longer than a minute and carry those thoughts to words. I haven’t written in a while because I haven’t had time to get into that zone of reflection. LA end of school year followed straight into our trip to Israel for my son’s bar mitzvah with his cousins, bnei mitzvah it’s called. We traveled there for two weeks with our whole family and some great friends. Insanely beautiful country; both the people and the place. Israel is rich in flavors and colors and culture. The troubles there leave you walking away profoundly sad for all the common ground shared that is a missed opportunity for peace. Much of the people we met were non political and wishing for peace. They had kids and dreams and hopes that don’t involve hate or judgement. The radical few dictating the future of the masses resulting in sirens in daylight forcing you to take cover. This should not be.

And now here in London. Our tenant left unexpectedly and even more of a surprise was the state she left our house in. It’s too annoying and disgusting to dwell on but needless to say, it’s taken a month to fix everything and get our family’s energy back into these walls. My conflict with renting this house remains; I don’t want to. The reality is in the obvious financial gain and the hopes that the house is better off with someone living in it. I look around the space as I sit here on my own and actually sense that these walls can talk. They are telling me of the disrespect of the last tenant and her groupies that lived here, and are wishing for better people next time. It’s madness I know to project emotions from plaster board and brick. But there is a soul to this house, this ground, and I can feel it.

Maybe I’ve been home alone too long? Think it’s time to venture out and get a coffee and stop talking to my house. It probably thinks I’m crazy.

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All these years I have focused on the life I lead in my two countries: USA and the UK. And during my obvservations, my mind looks to our homes, schools and raising kids, the culture around us in each place and then feeling placed or displaced during our moves. But the real divide and then, common ground, comes from Husband and myself; he is UK and I am USA in our core habits, rituals and upbringing and our marriage is what happens when common ground is discovered.

For example: I like to shower. Most hotels around the world will profess that Americans want a good shower in the bathroom and not a tub. We have no desire to soak in dirty water and it takes too long to fill. Husband likes to bathe. Drawing a bath is a ritual that all of my British friends and family do. He farts around the bathroom, literally speaking sometimes, waiting for the water. Even if he takes a five minute bath, he will wait 15 minutes for the tub to fill up.

I like to wash the dishes by running the water and cleaning them if we aren’t using the dishwasher. Like a shower, in fact. Husband likes to fill the sink with water and let everything soak…like a bath. We have huge domestic arguments over how to properly wash up and save water. We both feel the other way is ridiculous and inefficient. He gets water everywhere and uses my nice DRY towels meant for DRYING as sponges and soaks them through. Just the mere sight of my lovely dish towels sopping in wet makes me crazy. But then I stop and remember that there are men out there who don’t ever wash up and so what’s a little puddle and ruined French towel?

Then there is the school issue: I put my foot so firmly down about not sending our boys to boarding school that I wore my heels out; Husband went to boarding school and would still send them there if he didn’t fear I meant over my dead body. I hear about A levels and GCSE’s and don’t really understand the time frame and structure and Husband still has no idea what a 4.0 is.

Sunday lunch; it really does always involve gravy and is almost never at lunchtime. Whereas salad really is considered a meal at lunchtime in LA, one would never present a salad as an entree for a Sunday lunch – or really as a side dish either. And now the car…for our newly licensed son of 16. To buy or to lease and what kind of car? The common ground we share is that the car has to be symbolically unpretentious, safe and constitute a ‘box standard’ version of a starter car (for the privileged, of course – yes, I know the irony in this). But Husband quotes his father and tells son that he graduated university after being a ‘bin man’ all the summers leading up to it to earn the money to buy the piece of shit car himself! He could, and I quote, see the bottom of the motorway from the inside of the drivers flooring, and he was still thrilled to have it.

I, on the other hand, believe in leasing a new car, full of warranties and MPG. We seem to agree to disagree at the moment. No worries other than our eldest watches this ping pong match and wonders if anyone is actually going to win? Meaning…is he EVER going to get ANYTHING that he can drive????

And finally, the dogs. Scarlet born on the streets of London and rescued from the Battersea Dogs Home. Rusty born in the hills of Malibu and rescued from Star Paws. Scarlet is street savvy dog through and through; will show her canines if she feels threatened, is cunningly aware of whose ass to kiss and takes no prisoners when she wants something. But, she’s a bit lazy and not so sure of this hiking kick we seem to be on at the moment. Rusty, on the other hand, has golden hair, gallops up the mountain looking for more and more ways to exercise, plays around the house licking everyone and everything near him…he will lick your entire leg if you let him…thinks he’s tough and yet would never survive being outside alone past midnight.

The differences are indeed seeped in our culture; the common ground is the magic. Like purple; blue and red makes purple. I’ve always thought that was cool. It’s become a favourite color of mine and now I know why.

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Licensed to drive. 16 and licensed to become independent. My son facebook’d that simple phrase at 3:30 pm yesterday from the Santa Monica DMV. He passed his drivers test and I nearly passed out. First off, we were using my nanny’s car and she arrived 30 seconds before our appointment time because she was getting her car fixed. Not a feeling of confidence for the safety of her car, I must admit. Note to self; check the bloody nanny-mobile before kids get in it rather than after a year! Then it was the simple act of dealing with a government office that made my heart race. You always feel like you’re gonna get it wrong or worse, done something illegal; I check out the officers in the room and feel their eyes on me, like they know I ran that last stop sign or don’t have my registration sticker. My hormones weren’t helping me and I tried so hard to remain calm and smiley. “You’re going to do great. The DMV makes money off of you becoming a driver…they want you to do well….” I said reassuringly to my son. But I was so nervous. In fact I was too nervous, which told me it was more about the moment in front of us rather than whether he would pass.

I remember the day I got my license. I drove to the top of Greystone Mansion parking lot that overlooked the city of angels and thought to myself ‘I can be anything, go anywhere’. And with that, I drove straight down Sunset Boulevard with The Police tape playing in the stereo all the way to the beach and put my feet in the water. Why? Because I could. And now, here I am all these years later. I cried at the DMV. My son was pretty mortified but he too was flushed and full of emotion. It’s a moment for sure in the life of an LA teenager. My British friends think it’s completely insane to let a 16 year old drive, the same way I think it’s insane to let a 16 year old drink. Good thing the 16 year olds can’t do both in the same country!

I’ve been panicking these last few weeks about each of the boys growing up and moving out. It’s not entirely rational because I still have two and a half years before my eldest is off to college. It could be that I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking through old photographs. They were so small and each photo brings all of the sentiment behind the camera to the front of my heart, all over again. And now I have two sons who are taller than me. At 5’4 it happens quicker than I’d like, but looking up into their eyes is a strange wonderment.

I’m having a hard time navigating the snoopy vs good parenting issue with my sons social lives. The ‘they sayers’ tell us to know everything, have access to all social media, phones, up until high school (secondary school). That it’s our responsibility as parents to do so for all the right reasons. But I would like to add another point; boys don’t talk. All the girl mom equivalents to my boys know so much more than I do. They know who likes whom; who is cheeky and who is pleasant; who is racy and whose parents are insane. They seem to have the whole thing figured out because most girls talk. My eldest was in a band of teenagers – four boys and one girl. Every time we wanted to know what was really going on we asked the girl mom because none of the boy moms knew a morsel of descent information.

I don’t want to snoop and I don’t want to force my boys into awkward conversations, but come on…I get nothing from the eldest, strange and inconsistent questions from the second; strategic answers from the third and the little one tells me everything but changes the entire story mid way through so I can’t believe any of it. (Currently five girls have a crush on him yet at the same time, all the kids in his class hate him – both stories told last night).

I want information. I want gossip. I want to know more than my instincts tell me because I don’t get to meet and greet most of the teenagers in my teenagers’ lives. I want to know how they are feeling, what they are thinking, if their heart aches. I realize that I am acutely aware of how they are just by looking at them, but I still want details! One of my sons has a higher emotional intelligence than I do – he has his own zone, his own way of seeing and dealing and feeling. But he too chooses not to talk. Husband isn’t worried about these things in the slightest. I tried voicing my concerns with him and watched as his eyes slowly glazed over. He answered my question of how men really deal with their emotions with the yawn that proceeded the glaze. He wasn’t being rude; he was being honest.

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