Happy and fearless this holiday season

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The faces smile out at me from other people’s Christmas cards. They’re so happy, I think, and I vow to take more pictures, maybe even to get it together to send cards, albeit late ones since it is already well into December.

And then I remember: moments captured in time do not tell the whole story. I know these people, the ones who send me cards. And while they are wonderful, often joyous people, Christmas card senders — like all people — have their difficulties.

Not too many people spill the darker deeper grapple-in-the night moments in their Christmas cards. They don’t say “Little Tommy was in size four tennis shoes for months before we realized he was a six.” They don’t say, “Most mornings I am in a panic just trying to find my keys,” or “I’m so tired of my job,” or “The husband and I rarely have sex.”

No. We get nothing from holiday cards except good tidings and cheer. And, I have to say, I’m on board. Or at least I’m getting on board.

Why, just the other day I was in such a good frame of mind that my son didn’t think I should drive.

“You’re drunk,” Eli said.

I’d had a glass of wine at a pizza joint, but certainly not enough to surpass the legal limit.

“I’m not,” I protested. “Why do you say that?”

He looked at me then, straight in the eyes.

“You’re just acting much happier than usual,” he said.

I laughed, because it was true that I felt happy, but not true that it had anything to do with alcohol, or at least not everything. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I wish it came so easily in a bottle.

I think it was because I’d worked hard all day on a project I believe in. I’d spent time with people who believe in that project with me. And I’d committed to spending quality time with my family outside the home because the previous night had been a horror show, with me acting out my favorite early scenes from “The Taming of the Shrew.” Or maybe I had been channeling “Mommie Dearest.”

Either way, I’d vowed to work on getting everybody out from in front of screens to sit face-to-face and interact. And it had worked, swimmingly.

Despite the cold and the dismissing of the idea to see the lights in Dyker Heights because they were too far away, we’d gotten in the car and taken a little adventure to a different neighborhood. The food was mediocre, but the service was nice and the company was spectacular, my little men, their bright and shining selves.

And so it was noted, that I was “happier than usual,” which didn’t even put a damper on things and make me think what a miserable sow I must be normally to elicit this response to my near-giddiness.

I took the opportunity to say instead, “I like spending time with you,” and he said it right back, my 12-year-old, without skipping a beat, “I like spending time with you too.”

And I just took it in, breathed in the wondrous moment instead of running to put it on Facebook or take a photo of us to put in the Christmas card I’m never going to send. And I realized. It is a law of averages. It is what good gamblers know, that you win some and you lose some, you’re dealt good hands and bad. Sometimes you have to switch tables to change the energy and find your sweet spot.

And it is with this thought that I’m moving forward into the holidays, to appreciate the moments when joy makes a beautiful surprise appearance and everyone feels it.

Read Fearless Parenting every other Thursday on
Updated 7:52 am, December 19, 2013
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Reasonable discourse

error from this page says:
Fealess?? Can't be--some shrews come with a steep 'fea' -- just ask the cuckolded hubby.
Dec. 19, 2013, 9:15 am
Spelled That Way from Being Drunk? says:
Kids, no matter WHAT this woman says:

Don't Drink and Drive.
Dec. 19, 2013, 9:43 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
I spend every holiday season feeling fealess
Dec. 19, 2013, 9:47 am
Kelly from Cobble Hill says:
I fea it is spelled fearless.
Dec. 20, 2013, 5:46 am
Just Shlopin from PS says:
HaHa-how funny that your kid recognizes your drunkedness. Happen that often?

And you send out Christmas cards? And you wrote previously about your kids growing up Jewish. Asked and answered I guess.
Dec. 20, 2013, 2:42 pm
RP from Park Slope says:
I have a hard time comprehending why is this woman getting so much of a hard time for this article, from the 5 cretins who responded above. Have you ever made a typo? I sure did many times; and isn't the editor then worthy of more deriding? Have you ever had a glass of wine in front of your kids? Don't you see the picking, true human aspect of the story? The social critique? Isn't it more worth it to wonder why we constructed a society where a happy person (motions can strike any time, in many ways and have a lot of complex components that are hard to pinpoint) comes across as "weird," as "drunk"? What does cuckholdery have anything to do with this story? A person is writing an article about an interaction with her kid, and what it means to her to have a moment with her family without the (American, sorry, but it is) need for crystallization of plasticky ought-to-be families; what's the connection with her/his degrees of freedom in the bedroom? Sad people grasp on what they can to give themselves a meaning, a sense of their being in this world. They'd rather obey by some mandated book of oughts and ought-nots; hence, sparing them from thinking and feeling. Embrace your utter insignificance, and you may be less bitter
Dec. 21, 2013, 2:41 am
pooki da lion from slip slope says:
Flealess, feeles - whatever.

Actually a few months ago she was trumpeting how proud she was to not raise her kids in the Jewish tradition. . But she is a vital important park slope woman - not - just another whiney Jewish chick.
Dec. 21, 2013, 11 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
A typo is a significant occurrence when that person is being PAID TO TYPE, wouldn't you agree. I guess it was just fealessness of the possible consequences which prevented any proofreading.
Dec. 21, 2013, 9:14 pm
RP from Park Slope says:
Absolutely, one ought to be more careful, in general, and proofread what one writes. But, it's a bit of a straw man fallacy to attack this person on a missing consonant, because her points (wether I agree or not is besides the point) may make some people feel uncomfortable. My only point was: address, discuss, build a critique of the actual points raised; who gives a damn about a missing consonant or what she happens to do or not in her private life. Does a missing consonant really discredit somebody?? Should I consider you an idiot because you forgot the "?" after "...wouldn't you agree" ? Or, the period after your first post? No. Obviously not. That would be preposterous. I'll just consider you as such for your hiding your weakness behind straw man arguments.
Dec. 22, 2013, 1:08 am
Where's MADD? from Park Sober says:
RP doth protest too much.

You think this is really about TYPOS?

No one should drink and drive.

And no mother should be defending herself to her children that it is ok to drink and drive.

And no mother should be writing in a newspaper that she is defending herself to her children about drinking and driving.
Dec. 22, 2013, 10 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Having a glass of wine with food with your kid is not encouraging drunk driving. If anything she was acting in a responsible manner. Bif fooing deal there are typos (most people are typos anyway). There is no need to ever have to defend yourself against a kid.

My daughter turned 18 a little while ago and we had champagne.

MADD and RP - you needs some serious bran muffins and chase it with a good Irish whiskey. :) mazel tov
Dec. 22, 2013, 10:56 am

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