March 11 20

For a chronic oversharer, 

— Yes. It’s true. OMG, today I gave a ride to two people with whom I work peripherally, but barely know at all — it’s a long story but we were going to the same off-site meeting — and when they got into my car I apologized (of course I did) for the tampons that were strewn across my backseat that were there because I had them in the car when I drove back from Nashville and Emily opened the back door and they went flying all over the front of Elgin Hall at Western and so in an embarrassed panic, she threw them into the backseat of my car where they will live indefinitely until I pay someone to clean my car for Pesach. And so, I decided in that moment to tell people I see sometimes but don’t really know about the tampon party in my car —

having teenaged children is so hard. I used to be able to share so much about raising my wee people. And it was so good because you know what? When a mom is carrying hard things on her shoulders, knowing that other moms are carrying the same is helpful. A “me too” on a post before me too had an actual important meaning could make my hard things somehow feel like less hard things. 

I feel, often, in person and online, that I’m constantly lying to you. 


But, this, this is just not true. 

My children are 19, 17, and 14. 
It’s not true. 

But it’s the easier answer. 
Because the truth is complicated. The truth is just not only mine to tell. And the truth isn’t what you really want to hear when I run into you at parent-teacher conferences. 

I recently ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while and when she asked me how the kids were, I said my usual “We are so busy but so great!” but then she looked at me, and the look she gave me when she said things were exactly the same for them …. busy but GREAT! …. I knew.

I knew she knew that I was lying and I knew that she was lying too. 

My son called us on Sunday while we were driving back from Nashville. 
When we answered, even though we were on a crappy uconnect speaker in my car, I knew something was wrong. I could not hear a word he was saying, but what I could hear were sobs. You know, the kind of sobs where you feel the neeed to tell the other person to breathe because you are pretty sure he or she is not actually doing that whole breathing thing. 

Many fears ran through my mind in that moment. 
“I …. got …. into …… University. “

I actually could not even believe what I was hearing. I lost it completely in that moment. Well, after I asked him to repeat it four times. Huge, sigh-of-relief crocodile tears came pouring out of my face holes. 

You see, here’s the thing. 
I never knew as a child, and an overachiver, that not getting into University (although I’m American and we called it COLLEGE but that’s an argument for another time, eh?) was a thing that could actually happen. My decent grades, my decent SAT scores, my decent writing skills, and my dazzling personality (HAAAAAAAAAAIFONLY) meant that I got to choose where I went to school.

I never knew as a parent that this could happen either.

But then came Aaron Joshua Martell. One of the smartest minds I know. {NOT AN EXAGGERATION} Smart mind, SUPER LAZY.  Somewhere around the time we moved Josh from one school to another in another country, and then back to the first country but to another school, he decided that he just wasn’t cut out for WORK. And so he started flying under the radar and slipping. From A+s to regular As. and then from As to Bs. and then slipping some more. 

And because I don’t always make the best decisions, I figured that at some point, he’d start realizing that he needed to bring those grades up to get into University. Because he wants to go to University. And study Broadcasting and/or History. And he did. He brought the grades up. But it was about halfway through his 12th grade year. And you guys, the minute he started to care, he brought home 98s, 99s, 100s. 


But I worried every single second of every day. 

I stopped sleeping. Because, you guys, I did this. I moved him from school to school to school. 

I stuffed my face with cinnamon buns and an assortment of carbs deliciousness. Because, you guys, I did this. I thought he’d figure this out on his own. 

And I cried A LOT. Because, you guys, I did this. And because I had to entertain conversations I didn’t want to entertain. 

“Mr. and Mrs. Martell, we need to start thinking about what Josh will do if he doesn’t get into University.”


“Yes. There’s a strong possibility that he won’t. We need to decide if you want him to another year of high school or summer school to try to bring those grades up. He could do a gap year in Israel and then decide. He could work for a year and then just see.”

But if you asked me I’d tell you that Josh is loving high school!
And we are just patiently waiting to hear from some programs before we’ll know what he will be doing next year. 
But, then, he got in. 

HE GOT IN. To a history program that he wanted to get into. 

And now I can’t stop crying again. Because he did it. He pulled those grades up to As. On his own. Because I know how much he wanted this. Because now I can stop lying to you about it. 

I really wish I could tell you the truth. I really wish when I ran into you at Tov Li or when I wrote posts on Facebook or even GASP! on my mostly defunct online blog space here, that I could tell you what I’m struggling with. 

Because I know I’m not the only one. And I know that just hearing a “me too” from another mom would help me tremendously. And it might even help some of you too. 

Oh, and also, my children use a new towel every day and leave then in wet heaps on the floor of their rooms.


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