My son turned two months old yesterday. I am happy to report that, in my entirely unbiased assessment, he is objectively the best baby who ever babied.
I am about halfway through my maternity leave, and everybody wants an update on how it’s going. The first question I get is, why haven’t you written anything yet? You’ve written about everything else, whether or not it was worth writing about. Why this silence from you on this of all subjects?
I could say something about sleep deprivation and having trouble finding the time to shower, but the real reason is that I fear I have nothing new to say. This thing I’m doing is ancient and universal, older than language, older than civilization. It’s not even uniquely human — it’s mammalian. I gave birth to live young and am now caring for my immature offspring. I share this distinction not only with all the previous generations of homo sapiens, but with dogs and otters and Pizza Rat. How could I possibly say anything about motherhood that hasn’t been said before? …
Today I am 24 weeks pregnant.
That makes me officially six months pregnant: a big, momentous number. I’m in the glorious honeymoon phase of the second trimester, where I look obviously pregnant – pregnant enough to be offered seats on the subway and cooed at by strangers – but haven’t yet arrived at the notorious discomfort of the late third trimester. I’ve even been accused of “glowing.” It’s a special, exciting time.
I have lived in this pregnant body for half a year, and before 2018 is over I will be a mother.
But this is a bittersweet and terrifying milestone, because as of today, my body no longer belongs to me. …
I don’t find Mother’s Day inspiring — I find it exhausting. I’m tired of watching this one-day performative celebration of motherhood from a country that has demonstrated again and again that it does not care if mothers live or die. I’m tired of brunch specials and saccharine videos about the strength of a mother’s love, while the rest of the year we ignore the unnecessary suffering of millions of mothers.
What if, instead of waxing poetic about the beauty of maternal sacrifice, we asked why mothers are being asked to sacrifice so much in the first place?
If we really cared about mothers in America, we would do something about all the American mothers who die in childbirth. We would be urgently asking why the United States saw a 26.6% increase in maternal deaths (60% of which are preventable) from 2000 to 2014, while rates in other similarly developed countries decreased dramatically during the same time period. …
Today, the New York Times published an article titled, “Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Others Say Weinstein Harassed Them.” The New Yorker has a similar piece, detailing decades of abuse and assault. There’s so much to be said here.
Both articles are full of stories of women who never reported Weinstein’s abuse out of fear of retaliation. One woman told the New Yorker:
[S]he said that Weinstein brought her to a hotel room under a professional pretext, changed into a bathrobe, and “forced himself on me sexually.” She said no, repeatedly and clearly. Afterward, she experienced “horror, disbelief, and shame,” and considered going to the police. …
Tonight Yom Kippur begins with Kol Nidre, often considered the most important prayer in the High Holiday liturgy. It’s beautiful and haunting and I look forward to it every year. But to me, the most important prayer this Yom Kippur is the unetaneh tokef, the prayer that asks: “who shall live and who shall die?” It doesn’t stop there, leaving us to contemplate in abstraction the idea of life and death. Instead, it elaborates:
Who shall perish by fire and who by water;
Who by sword and who by beast;
Who by hunger and who by thirst;
Who by earthquake and who by plague;
Who by strangling and who by stoning…
In the wake of Charlottesville and the literal Nazis chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us,” there’s been an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity from non-Jews in the wake of Charlottesville. Thanks for that, goy friends!
Along with the (very welcome) renewed discussion about anti-Semitism on the right, some of us are also taking this opportunity to push forward conversations about anti-Semitism on the left. It’s real, and it’s a problem, and we need to do something about it.
Friends on the left, this is your reminder that denouncing literal Nazis is the easy part. Being an ally to your Jewish friends also requires the uncomfortable work of fighting anti-Semitism in progressive spaces and recognizing how rhetoric and attitudes on the left contribute to hatred and violence against Jews. …
In a study published earlier this week, a multi-national team of scientists announced that they have done what was previously believed to be impossible: permanently altering the DNA of a human embryo.
It’s an astonishing achievement, arguably a leap forward in medical science on the same level as the discovery of penicillin.
As everyone immediately understood, the implications and potential uses of this new technology are staggering. It will likely change everything we think we know about disease and the way it is treated. …
The practice of making chicken soup for the sick is one of the most recognizable foodways of European Jews and their descendants. In fact, chicken soup is often called “Jewish penicillin,” and was recommended as a cure for the common cold in the medical writing of the twelfth-century philosopher Maimonides. Chicken soup is important because of its physical benefits as a folk remedy, its symbolism in thinking about the structure of the family, its role in defining familial and kinship roles in American Jewish homes, and its status as a means for making statements of identity in Diaspora Judaism.
As it turns out, chicken soup is measurably beneficial to people with colds. Because it is mostly water, it helps to hydrate sick people who have lost a lot of fluids during their illnesses. It is also very gentle on the stomach, so it is often the only form in which sick people can keep down nutrition. It is warm and soothing on a sore throat, and the steam that rises from a bowl of hot liquid such as soup helps to clear stuffed noses. But most importantly, recent studies have shown that chicken soup actually serves a very real medicinal purpose. …
It’s supposed to be heartwarming. Strangers work together on a project and get to know one another, not knowing anything about each other’s politics. Then they watch videos of each other describing their views, and they’re given a choice — leave, or sit down and discuss over a beer. They choose the beer and connection, and all goes swimmingly.
Look, I get the premise. Build bridges, see each other as people, talk through the discomfort, etc. Kumbaya all around.
But here’s the problem. With the exception of the two white men who disagree about climate change, the participants in the experiment are not on equal footing. The trans woman is being asked to have a beer with a white man who thinks her existence is wrong and she is disgusting. The Black woman is supposed to empathize with a white man who thinks women should “have our babies.” …