Posted by Ilana Angel
The sun’ll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
There’ll be SON!
After 31 days my son will be home tomorrow. I have missed him more than I thought I would, and I thought it would be a lot. On one hand I feel like the time has been passing slowly, and on the other, I feel like he just left. He had an awesome holiday and I made it through without too much drama.
By drama of course I mean crying, and by not too much of course I mean I cried almost everyday. It has been a time of great reflection for me. In the end I came away with the knowledge that I have raised a remarkable young man and I don’t need to worry about him.
I have a lot of rules when it comes to my son. I like to know where he is, who he is with, and what he is doing, at all times. It drives him crazy and he hates it, but he does it, as he knows it makes me happy. He called me the entire time he was away.
We spoke all the time, he texted non-stop, and in the end he told me he appreciated how I watch over him, his staying in touch was not that hard, and it made him happy to make me happy. He also told me if I thought he would be in contact this often when he’s in college, I was crazy.
I never mention my son’s name, or show his picture, yet so many people write me about him and comment on our relationship. I appreciate that so many of my readers took the time to write and check in over these past few weeks. Your thoughtfulness has filled me with joy.
For my birthday this year, I had a photo shoot for my son and me, with a professional photographer. It was the first time I had ever done something like that and I was nervous even though I liked the photographer. Would she properly capture the love I have for this child?
Today, in anticipation of my boy coming home, I have been looking through the proofs and I go back and forth between crying and laughing. The pictures speak volumes. They go beyond being nice shots of a mother and her child, and are truly windows into my life with this boy.
My photographer’s name is Bryony Shearmur. Bryony is from London, lives in LA, and I can guarantee that after 5 minutes with her, she will have looked into your heart, and translated that image into a photograph. You will feel safe and free and forget she is even taking pictures.
My only regret in life is that I do not have pictures of my son and me together when he was growing up. I have millions of picture of him, doing every single thing from the second he was born, but I spent so much time documenting his life, that I forgot to include myself.
As a single mom, I was always taking the picture so you occasionally see my arm or the top of my head, but we are not in any pictures together. I look at the piles of pictures of my kid and my heart soars that I can look at his childhood, but it is crushing that we are not ever seen together.
That stops with the help of Bryony. I was introduced to her through a client and thank goodness! Her photographs of my boy and me are hanging throughout my house, are all over my Facebook, will be my holiday card, and made my mother cry. I plan on having her shoot us forever.
If you have not had a professional photo taken of you and your kids, I recommend it. If you live in the LA area, call Bryony. Even if you don’t live here, call her. From a wedding, to a Bar Mitzvah, to just a moment loving your kids, she will capture it as you never thought it could be.
It is Sunday afternoon and all I want to do is go to sleep so I can wake up to my baby comes home. Thanks to everyone who helped me through the last 31 days. My son will be home tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow I luv ya tomorrow! I am waiting, and keeping the faith.
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July 29, 2011 | 10:43 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
It is Friday and I have never looked so forward to a weekend in my life. My son will be home from vacation on Monday and so this weekend will undoubtedly be painfully long. I am so excited for him to come home I could bust. It has been 4 weeks and I want him back.
I was thinking about being a mother today, which made me think about my own mother. I love her very much. I am loyal to her, and protective of her. I wonder what it must be like for her to have all her children grown and living away. Does she miss me like I miss my son.
My mother is a remarkable woman. She moved to Canada with two young children, speaking no English, had another two kids, raised us all as a stay home mom, and when we got older, went to culinary school and became a chef. She is a fighter, with a kind and gentle heart.
I pray my son will love me when he is an adult the way I love my mother. Truth be told, if I love, trust and support him as my mother did me, my hope will not require prayer. I am raising my boy to be a good man. A man who respects me not only as his mother, but as a woman.
Last night I spoke with my son and we talked about his coming home and what we would do when he got back. He said he would like to just relax and not do much. I asked if the next day he wanted me to arrange something with his friends since he had not seen them, and he said no.
He wants to spend the day with me. When he said we could see a movie, or just chill at home, and spend time talking, I burst into tears. I have been so careful to not cry and be a crazy mom with his being away, but when he said he wanted to hang out with me, it put me over the edge.
I love hanging out with my son and his wanting to be with me made me happy, and at the same time I was sad for my mom. It does not matter how old me and my siblings get, we are still her babies. She is my friend certainly, but she is also my Mommy and she misses me the same way.
I am desperate see to my son but also feel a need to be with my mom. The plan is for her to come be here for the Jewish high holidays and once my son gets home on Monday, I will start counting down the days until my Mom comes to visit. I cannot wait to see her and hold her close.
I asked my mom this morning what it like for her now that her kids are all grown and she told me that she misses us everyday and wishes we could all live together in a big house. At first it made me laugh as she was kind of serious. Then it made me cry because she really was serious.
I never take the time to think about my mother in the same way I think about myself. She feels for me all the things I feel for my son. I am not only a mother who loves her child, but a child who loves her mother, and a child that is loved by her mother. It’s all rather profound really.
When I had my son, my mother went from being my mom to being his grandmother. It was an interesting transition for me. I viewed her differently, respected her more, and loved her for all the sacrifices she made. I was blessed to grow up in a loving home with caring parents.
I have passed on a lot of the teaching of my parents onto my child. My parents did a good job and as my son transitions into adulthood I find myself loving my parents more. I miss my father everyday and wish he were here to see my con grow.
My whole life revolves around my child and my heart is invested in his happiness. I forget sometimes that his grandmother feels the same way about me. I love her not only because she is my mother, but because she taught me to be mother.
My baby will be home on Monday and as much as I cannot wait, when my mother comes in September, and I am able to hug her, while he hugs me, it will be a perfect day. Love you kids, love your mother, and keep the faith.
July 28, 2011 | 2:57 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
I had a date last night with tall, handsome, funny Canadian. He also happens to be the boyfriend of my good girlfriend. I adore my friend, and I love her boyfriend so much, she lent him out and we went on a date. He is fabulous and we had a wonderful time.
The back-story is about my girlfriend “Shosh”. We met thirteen years ago when our kids went to pre-school together. Our boys spent 10 years at the same Day School, and during that time Shosh and I became good friends. I have loved her from the very first day that I met her.
She is a beautiful girl. When I met her we were both divorced, raising boys to be men, and had an instant connection. I can remember looking at her, with her killer body and take no prisoners attitude, and thinking to myself, is that what a divorced single mom is supposed to look like?
She was a stunner and while I tried to be offended by the perfection of her tuchas, she was so lovely and real that I quickly got over my deep seeded envy of her body and we became friends. We’ve been through a lot together and I have always admired her dedication to her children.
We spent less time together once our kids went to different middle schools, but we maintained contact, always checked in on each other, and saw each other when we could. Regardless of how much time passes between visits, I can call her and she will come running to help me.
She sent me a note on Facebook telling me she was in love, her boyfriend had moved in, and she wanted me to meet him. She was convinced I would love him. Not only because she loved him, but because he was the one thing I love more than anything. He was Canadian.
I went over to say hello and meet her new man “Gretzky”. My quick visit turned into 10 hour day by the pool, with lunch, then dinner. I had the best time at her house and fell in love with her delicious Canadian. I went to just meet him, and left with him being a new friend.
There is something about being with Canadians that is really wonderful. Gretzky and I both grew up outside of Vancouver, and we talked about everything to do with our motherland. From hockey to poutine, there was nothing we did not reminisce about. It was almost as good as being home.
Shosh and Gretzky are a super cute couple and are embarking on a new life together. I am impressed with their commitment to each other and their kids. Gretzky has two very young boys, and Shosh has two teenagers, the older one about to leave for college. I applaud her taking it all on.
I have chosen to not date men with young children as starting over when my own child is getting ready to spread his wings and fly, is something that I just can’t see for myself. Shosh has embraced this man and his children, and is changing her life to start over and build this new family.
They are all very sweet together and I don’t doubt that they will be magic. That said, if you are my friend, and you are dating a Canadian, knowing how I feel about my homeland and her people, you better be willing to share him with me. Thankfully Shosh is a giver like that.
Gretzky and I went out for dinner and it was fabulous. We speak the same language, which was heaven. There are certain things that are quintessentially Canadian and it was like I was with my brother. We talked about everything and I came home feeling connected to home.
With my son away for so long, time with Gretzky was just what I needed. Home is where my son is, and since he’s been on holiday, I am left feeling like home sucks. Gretzky reminded me my son is in my heart, and Canada is also home. It was an important thing to remember.
You have to love a girlfriend who will lend out her boyfriend. I love Shosh and our new boyfriend Gretzky. Thanks to them both for a great night. I feel reconnected with Canada, and with only 4 days until my baby comes home, I’m happy, excited, and keeping the faith.
July 27, 2011 | 10:14 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
My son has now been away on vacation for 26 days. It has been the longest 26 days of my life. I’ve been counting down until he gets home and I am thrilled to say he will finally be back in just 5 days. I am so excited I could scream. He is having a fabulous time, and I am happy for him, but enough already. I want him home and cannot wait to hug him.
I am friends with my son, and a lot of his friends, on Facebook. That’s a big deal considering they are teenagers. I am very proud of the fact that we are Facebook pals as there are a lot of kids who will not friend their parents. To be clear, he is not allowed to have a Facebook account unless I am able to see it, but we are friends by choice, not force.
It’s been hard for me having him so far away, and for so long. I’ve worked really hard to not cry when he calls, or to be crazy with questions when we iChat, but I have been unable to completely control myself on Facebook. I post on his wall, tell him I miss him, and comment on the things he is doing and the pictures he shares. Facebook has been awesome.
A few days ago, in a moment of complete madness, I wrote on his page, “9 DAYS! 9 DAYS! 9 DAYS! 9 DAYS! 9 DAYS! 9 DAYS! 9 DAYS!”. He never commented on it so the next day I posted, “8 DAYS! 8 DAYS! 8 DAYS! 8 DAYS! 8 DAYS! 8 DAYS! 8 DAYS! 8 DAYS!”. Before I could stop myself, I had added days 7 and 6. I also threw in a few, “I love you’s”.
I was in heaven. My son was safe and having a glorious time, and I was able to freely post on his Facebook page that I loved him, and missed him madly. With him almost home, I was flying high and totally in love with my son. I know it’s ridiculous that writing on his Facebook was so great, but if you have a teenager you get it. It’s a huge deal people.
I am protective of this gift as my kid will not allow his dad to be friends with him on Facebook. I have worked hard to build up the trust, and I treasure it. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I got a call from my son last night with one simple question: “Mom. Seriously. What the hell are you doing on my Facebook? I love you, but come on.”
Turns out my son had not been on Facebook in a few days, and therefore had no idea I was bombarding his page with displays of love. He pointed out that the last 12 things posted on his page were all by his mother. I guess his friends thought it was so funny they did not post so it would be all me, all the time, being a clinging and pathetic mom, missing her kid.
For a quick second I panicked and thought he would give me the “I need to unfriend you Mom” speech. Instead he told me that while he thought the posts were funny and sweet, it was a bit much and he wondered if I would be offended if he deleted a few of them. He assured me it was for my own good, as I appeared to be a little psycho on his page.
I love this kid. Knowing who he was dealing with, he gently let me know that as much as he loved my posts, they needed to go. Translation: “You are insane mom and I am taking your gross things off my page, but will make you think I love them so as not to make you snap and take away my Facebook because you are crazy.” He rocks.
And so was my first Facebook ban by my son. In looking at his page I had to laugh as it was clearly a desperate couple of days where I lost my mind. I love him for telling me, for deleting my madness, and for not trying to dump me. I cannot wait to see him. 5 DAYS! 5 DAYS! 5 DAYS! 5 DAYS! 5 DAYS! I’m counting, waiting, and keeping the faith.
July 25, 2011 | 5:38 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Gwyneth Paltrow has, at one time or another, announced that she does not believe in religion, is simply spiritual, and is raising her kids Jewish. Perhaps she is a little confused about what she wants to do, or practice, but at the end of the day, does it even matter? I say yes it does.
The Jewish population is getting smaller. With inter-faith marriage, people opting to not have children at all, or simply stepping away from religion entirely, there are less and less Jews every year, so I figure if a woman wants to raise her kids Jewish, who am I to judge?
We need more Jews! Our faith dictates our religion is passed on from mother to child, so by that criteria, Gwyneth Paltrow is not Jewish, so neither are her kids, so she cannot possibly raise them to be Jews. If you are not Jewish, can you raise your children to be?
Lance Armstrong’s mother was not a champion cyclist, but she raised one. Neil Armstrong’s parents never went to space, but they raised a son to walk on the moon. I have never won an Oscar, but I am raising a child who will be an award-winning actor and director one day.
I am Jewish by birth. My family has been Jewish, on both sides, for as far back as we have been able to trace, so does that qualify me to raise my son Jewish more than Gwyneth is to raise her children Jewish? Are Jews so elitist that we would tell her she can’t do it?
My son spent ten years in a private Jewish Day School and I had to Google half of the holidays they closed for because not only did I not know what the holidays were, but had never heard of them. I eat lobster and make my son cheeseburgers, so am I qualified to raise a Jew?
Paltrow is a big star, people listen to what she says, so if she can make it cool to be Jewish, should we let her be? Jews are cool. On behalf of my Jewish self, I say welcome to those who want to embrace the faith that I love. It’s important to give children faith, so go Jew.
To clarify, Apple will need to convert if she wants to marry my son, but no worries, Gwyneth will have done all the legwork so it will be a formality. In a world where Jews continue to struggle to be accepted, I welcome those who wants to take it on and say to you all, keep the faith.
July 23, 2011 | 7:16 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
It is Saturday afternoon and I am once again contemplating my dating life. Never a good thing. While at Whole Foods today, a man approached me and asked if I was Ms. Angel. When it was established that I was the Ms. Angel from The Jewish Journal, he asked if he could buy me a coffee and we could chat. It was interesting to say the very least.
His name is Michael and he gave me permission to use his real name and say a little bit about him. He is 41, going through a divorce, Jewish, and the father to a young son. He has been married for 11 years, and he is getting divorced because his wife told him she was bored and wanted a more exciting life. She is in a new relationship.
He is crushed, and not sure how to move forward. He has tried to date, but finds himself not caring about anything. He can’t seem to find the energy to bother dating and feels out of respect for his marriage, he should wait until his divorce is final. I am in touch with my feelings, as a woman, but it was fascinating to hear a man’s perspective.
He read my blog this week about the man who told me he was not willing to waste his time on me if I was not willing to give him oral sex by date number two. He shared with me that as a man, he was embarrassed for my date. To be clear, he laughed and thought it was hilarious, but was still mortified I had such a brutal dating experience.
We chatted about dating, sex, marriage, divorce, children, and how to start over after heartbreak. When all was said and done, I must ask the following: am I a single mother or a single woman? I’ve never thought about it before, and it’s a valid question. At the end of the day, I date as a single mother, which is perhaps not the way to go.
By only dating Jewish men, as a way to preserve my faith for my child, am I missing out on love with a man of another faith? If I don’t date men with young children, so my son does not feel like he is competing for my attention, am I missing out on loving wonderful children in addition to a caring man who loves his kids and being a dad?
I always thought I was open to love, but in the end I am rather rigid in terms of what I am looking for. I clearly date with my child in mind, which is important to me, but are they rules that ultimately don’t matter to my son? He will be off to college in three years and I will be here alone, with what I image will be 18 cats, waiting for him to visit.
Like Michael, I can hardly be bothered to go on a date these days. I go, but it’s more about the blog than a real search for love, and that is pathetic. My friend Liz, who I have known for over 30 years, asked me something similar after my blowjob date. Am I seeking out the weird ones so I can have blog fodder, with no real desire to find love?
Have I been alone for so long that I’m done? Is the rest of my life going to be as a single mother without a partner? It’s been 3 years since I had a boyfriend, and the relationship before that one, which was 6 years, is the last time I was in love. Dear Lord, am I destined to be alone because I have painted myself into a single mother box?
I am a nice girl. I am a fabulous cook, a great housekeeper, a brilliant mother, a loyal friend, a success professional, and funny as hell. I have pretty hair, beautiful eyes, adorable freckles, an appreciation for sarcasm, a tender heart, and at 45, am comfortable with my sexuality. That is a lot of good stuff to waste by being alone.
To Michael, you are lovely. Your heart will mend and you will trust yourself to love again. Instead of worrying about finding love, focus on finding joy. The love can come later, so just relax. As for me, it’s Saturday night and I am going out with my bestie Jel. Tomorrow, I will go online, play the dating game, and truly try to keep the faith.
July 23, 2011 | 12:04 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Amy Winehouse was found dead today in her apartment in London. I find myself feeling true sorrow at the loss of this young woman. They do not yet know how she died, but in the end it does not matter. What matters is that this incredibly talented human being died a sad and lonely death.
I have never had an addiction problem, and had to fight those demons, but I imagine it is an exhausting way to live your life, so the hope is that she can now close her eyes and simply rest. I pray she knew that the music created through her pain, brought joy to many.
It’s sad that on this day of her death, people write they knew her death was coming, and make stupid “Rehab” jokes. Her life was glorious and wrenching, and she was given no peace in life, so let this poor woman have quiet in death. Let’s just celebrate her.
Her music is wonderful and will become classics with the passing of time. I hope she will be remembered more for her voice, than her tragic death. I wish peace for her family and send them my condolences. It is a truly heartbreaking loss and I am left not understanding, but keeping the faith.
July 22, 2011 | 9:33 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
If there were ever a movie that needed to be made, it’s the life story of Tahl Leibovitz. My son suggested I write about Tahl when he came across him playing in a table tennis match on television. I wrote a blog earlier in the week about Tahl Leibovitz which was based on a lot of old information, as I could not find any current interviews.
I quickly got an email from Tahl saying that someone had sent him a link to my blog. He thanked me for taking the time to write about him. I wrote back, we exchanged a few emails, and by yesterday afternoon we were talking on the phone. He is soft-spoken, very articulate and has beautiful manners. He was lovely and kind.
I will not do his story justice, but let me share a few things that make this one of the most remarkable people I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with. Tahl was born in Haifa, Israel and moved to New York City when he was three years old. He is now 36 years old, married with no children, and living in Queens.
He is one of 4 children, having an older and younger sister, along with a twin sister. His father is an alcoholic, and his mother, who suffered from mental health issues, passed away from cancer about six years ago. When Tahl was 13 years old he was kicked out of the house. His parents had many issues and could not handle him.
He was living on and off the street from the age of 13 and on a visit to the Boys and Girls Club of Queens, he entered a program for at-risk youth, and discovered table tennis. Not only did he discover the sport, he mastered it. He is one of the greatest players in the world, which is unbelievable when you learn he also has Osteochondroma.
His body is riddled with tumors, including one in his playing wrist. It limits his movement and causes pain, but has not broken his spirit, or stopped him from creating an amazing life from a beginning that is heartbreaking. As he was sharing his history with me I sat listening in disbelief, wanting to simply hug him and tell him he was wonderful.
Having not gone to school full time after the 6th grade, he could not read well or complete basic math functions. He was homeless on and off from 14 to 21, sleeping in the NYC subway system. He worked on his education while homeless, and began college with limited knowledge, and the skills of a child.
His mother wanted him to go to school and he wanted to make her happy. This man with a missing childhood, managed to get a BA in Philosophy, another one in Sociology, and a Masters Degree in Urban Affairs. His first semester in college his GPA was .6 and he was being kicked out. He finished his Masters Degree with a 3.9 GPA.
It’s during the years he was homeless that Tahl became one of the greatest table tennis players in the world. He used that success to propel him through school. His mother was the child of Holocaust survivors and had a difficult childhood, his father chose booze over his children, yet this man has nothing bad to say about anyone.
He does not drink or do drugs which was interesting to me. Having led a life where it would be easy to make the choice to use drugs to numb the pain, he has respected himself and his history enough to not go down that road. He is a man of strong character and conviction, and I liked him very much.
He is grateful and gracious. He speaks with his father who lives close to him. His sisters are living and working in New York, and his twin sister suffers from mental illness like their mother, and has been in and out of hospitals. His love for her is touching and his voice changes slightly when speaking of her in particular.
I think it is a blessing when we are able to meet people like Tahl. He teaches me by example, and forces me to stop, take in a deep breath, not take everything so seriously, and be grateful for the blessings of my life. He has travelled a difficult path, but does not allow it to define who he is, which is a remarkable gift.
This guy is a poster child for the power of a child’s spirit to not lose their dreams. I found myself wanting to hear more and could have spoken to him for hours. As a mother, a Jew, a writer, and a human being, I think this story should be told. Tahl Leibovitz is an inspiration to me, a hero to my son, and a reminder to always keep the faith.