But I Want to Be a Prodigy

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The chalkboard outside my local yoga-pilates-zumba studio reads, “‘You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start, to be great.’ – Zig Ziglar.” It irks me every time I pass it. First, I want to erase the extra comma. Second, I hate that a catchy phrase, posted to sell glorified fitness classes (of which I have taken many, in search of flexibility and salvation), resonates and stabs me a little in my soul.

As a child, I wanted to be awesome at everything I did, right away. Inflating my unrealistic expectations was the tremendous ease with which so many early school milestones had come to me. Reading, writing, arithmetic—check, check, check. Watching classmates labor to grasp the same skills enforced a sense of difference and superiority and the belief that I should be able to conquer anything, first try. Teacher talk about hard work and different people having different strengths sounded like pap for the strugglers. (read more…)

An Angel Investor

A Pair of Shoes

A while back, I emailed my husband Tim an article about the Sony email hack. It was about the child of a Sony executive who – the email exchange suggested – was given favorable status as an applicant to Brown University due to her influential, wealthy family. I was outraged.

Tim’s response came in the form of a Gchat: re: the gawker article about rich ivy leaguers… that may be an interesting small answers…since that happened for me

What followed was an intense, occasionally contentious, and ultimately not-fully-resolved discussion between us about privilege, guilt, and personal responsibility. This interview has been edited and condensed, and “Paul” is a pseudonym.

(read more…)

My Baby Stole My Confidence

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What if I told you that my one and a half year old son stole my confidence? What if I, a 32-year old woman, explained to you that my son grabbed the sense of self I’d gathered from my once-somewhat-assured hands and I don’t know where he put it or how to win it back?

You would laugh at me uneasily, smiling and raising your eyebrows at the invisible studio audience nearby, like, “IS SHE UNHINGED AND SHOULD I RUN AWAY NOW?”  

Stay, please, I’m kidding! I know that my lovely, willful, fascinating kid didn’t abscond with anything of mine, aside from several pennies and a grocery receipt for bananas. I’m not going to foist all that on any human being, least of all one who, with great sincerity, refers to sheep as baa baas. I may be a mess, but I am not a piece of shit.

I wish I could pretend that my career was chugging forward beautifully at age 30, when I got pregnant, but that upon birthing him, he ransacked everything, hijacked my dreams and my heart, and I am now stumbling through the detritus, blindly seeking a path, any path. While that part about the detritus is true, the rest is somebody else’s story. (read more…)

The Disappointment Antidote

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It’s easy to be disappointed as a mother.

We spend most of our “free” time doing things for our children, or making sure other people — our spouse or partner, nanny or daycare provider — do those things. While some of these tasks are rewarding, most of them aren’t very gratifying. We don’t often hear from our families that we did a good job cleaning the house, doing the laundry, or juggling making dinner with driving carpools.

In my first year as a new mother seventeen years ago, I was often disappointed. (read more…)

“Do I Have it Figured Out?”

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When you grow up witnessing your dad beat your mom, does that shape what you do with your life? Saeeda Hafiz focused on school, going to college and landing good job in banking… only to realize that this wasn’t for her. She started taking cooking and yoga classes, and was captivated by the power of holistic living to nurture and heal her. (read more…)