Posted by Ilana Angel
I know Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday that really means nothing and is overrated, but I also know that I love it and it matters to me. I am a romantic and I love everything about love. This Valentine’s Day marks my first with my Englishman. Important to note that the Englishman does not think Valentine’s Day is a big deal. This should be interesting.
When I was a kid I remember we would get cards at school and it was exciting. My son went to a Jewish Day School so he never celebrated Valentine’s Day at school, but I always gave him a card, some candy, and a small gift. He is my Valentine but last night told me he is not that into Valentine’s Day. And so it begins. Is he over it because he is a man?
I know a lot of women who don’t like Valentine’s Day, and to be honest, most of them are single. Even when I was single I loved Valentine’s Day. I would always do something special for me and my son to celebrate love. I would buy him those candy necklaces and he would eat it throughout his dinner and thought it was so cool to have candy with dinner. It was our thing.
I told the Englishman that we did not need to exchange gifts. I then told him we could max out gifts at a certain price. I then told him we could make gifts. I then suggested we just do cards. I was trying to take the pressure off of our first Valentine’s Day because the truth is I feel loved by him everyday. In the end he just thought I was bossy and said to stop.
He thought I was bossy before my suggestions, so no worries there. It got me to thinking about Valentine’s Day and presents. There is pressure of course, but why? Does the gesture of a gift not matter more than the actual gift? Does it matter if you get a piece of jewelry or a crock pot? Do flowers express love more than a new vacuum cleaner?
I was alone for a long time before my Englishman and to be honest with you, having him is the real gift. I love him. He is my everything and I remember what Valentine’s Day is like without a romantic love, and it was lonely. I am not ashamed to say that I would long for the Valentine’s Day when I would be in love and now that it is here, the gift does not matter.
I get cards in the mail for no reason, chocolates at the end of a long day, and surprise flowers all the time, so Valentine’s Day is not about those things anymore. Instead of a day where I long for love, it is now a day where I am grateful for the love I have found. I feel lucky and blessed to have this man in my life and today is a day to marvel at my good fortune.
I still love this day and just because it is a new kind of Valentine’s Day for me, it still matters and I will buy cards and gifts because I love it. Even if I get a spatula or toilet plunger from the Englishman, I will be happy. First off, it is a gift from the man who loves me, and second, it will make for a brilliant blog. There is no losing in the situation. It is all good.
My overall view of love has changed in knowing the Englishman. Things that I valued as important in a relationship have all been chipped away to discover that at the core, love is very simple and does not need to be complicated or difficult. I am a different mother, friend, and woman because of this man and that is a gift you cannot buy, but are blessed to receive.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I wish you health, happiness, and love. If you are in love, embrace your partner and remember what it was like without them. If you are alone but searching for love, believe in love and it will come. If you are alone and not looking for love, enjoy the peace that comes with loving yourself. Love is grand and I am keeping the faith.
12.5.13 at 3:16 pm | Heaven has received a blessing today.
12.3.13 at 3:05 pm | Every time I go into the kitchen I half expect to. . .
11.30.13 at 10:42 am | "The only correct actions are those that demand. . .
11.29.13 at 1:56 pm | My nest will never empty as my son will always be. . .
11.28.13 at 7:59 am | Think. Laugh. Cry.
11.26.13 at 7:06 am | God places love where we don't always see it.
7.25.11 at 5:38 pm | We need more Jews! (303)
9.15.13 at 3:14 pm | I love you Russell Brand. (257)
12.3.13 at 3:05 pm | Every time I go into the kitchen I half expect to. . . (245)
January 6, 2013 | 7:28 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
It is over. After 2 weeks in London, we made our way back to Los Angeles. In some ways the trip felt like we gone over a weekend, and in others it felt like a lifetime. Trips to visit family are more work than vacation, and while there was stress, pressure, and a few tears, it was a vacation I will always remember.
I went to London with a lot of expectations. I wanted the Englishman's family to like me in a way that made them tell him he should never let me go because I am fabulous. He is 53 years old and so his opinion matters most, but I guess my silliness comes from insecurity that I will lose what took me forever to find.
I thought we would go to London and have 14 days of romance driving through the countryside, walking through the city, wining and dining ourselves into memories that when gathered, create a life together. In the end we spent our time living a real life, with a real family, and in doing so I saw a life that I really want.
My Englishman has a remarkable family. They love deeply and in learning of their history, I saw things that match my own family. There is love and respect, but also stress and complications. In seeing the man I love trying to make everyone happy, I saw sides to him I do not see in our everyday lives. Sides that are interesting.
Everyone wanted a piece of him and he was trying to please us all. His children, my son, his parents, his brothers, his nephews, and his girlfriend. We were all vying for his attention and quite frankly, it made us all a little bit nutty. On top of the tug-of-war, he had to deal with his oldest daughter becoming very sick during our visit. We spent 4 days at the hospital as she was treated for an infection and it was scary. This man that we all love was forced to deal with a bunch of adults acting like children while taking care of his baby. By bunch of course I include me. In the end I discovered things about him I did not know and would never have guessed.
My Englishman is a very special man. His loyalty to his family is solid, and his view of fatherhood and the two young women who call him dad is remarkable. He loves them from a place in his heart that is reserved for a daddy's little girls. His oldest daughter is 22 but when she became ill, she was his baby again. I sat in the hospital with this man as he looked after her and I thought of my own father. I spent a long time in the hospital when I myself was 22, and seeing him with her brought memories of my own dad crashing back. How blessed she is to be loved by him as I was loved by my father. Fathers like this are rare.
On any given day during our vacation someone was upset. There was lots of laughing, but also yelling and tears, some of it from me. I was in the middle of a family I did not know, felt I was finding my way more than I was being led, and it was stressful. In the end I had many people to hold my hand through it. I love these people. His parents, brothers, sister-in-law, nephews, and daughters love him as I do, and in the end the stress does not matter. I am not leaving with nothing other than memories of a life that is beginning. In spending time with these people I have clarity on the life I want with my Englishman.
This man makes me laugh. A real and authentic laugh that can only come from a place of joy. He makes me mad in a way that comes from a place of fear. He makes me think in a way that comes from a place of calm. He makes me dream in a way that comes from a place of hope. He is my life partner. I was so worried about expectations that I almost missed out on the experiences that mattered most. I spent 14 days with a family that embraced me enough to treat me as a member, not an outsider. They became my family in a very real way that would not have happened had my unrealistic expectations been met.
I had so much fun stumbling through two weeks with this family that I feel like they are now my family. I will call them and see them as I would my own family and that is the greatest gift I got this holiday season. Important to note: the diamond and pearl necklace and earrings were also a very nice holiday gift. The Englishman's daughter is feeling much better and she is going to be fine with some rest and relaxation. She is a very special young woman and I love her. Her sister sat on the plane next to me sad to go home, and my son smiled madly as the trip was a dream for him. How blessed we are to love these three children.
Family can bring out the best and the worst in each other. I was treated as a member of the family and I feel honored. I survived the initiation and could not be happier. Happy that my love took me to England and happy that in meeting his family, I saw who he really is because I saw where he came from. I love London and hope to live there one day with my Englishman. He is my friend, my teacher, my partner, my filter, and my love. He makes me better, crazier, funnier, and wiser. I am excited for the future and whatever it holds I know he will be there beside me, holding my hand, and keeping the faith.
November 29, 2012 | 11:32 am
Posted by Ilana Angel
When I was young I took piano lessons. I hated them. I begged my mother to let me stop and she said I would regret it if I quit. I told her if I was not allowed to stop I was going to lock myself in my room and never come out. I quit piano. My mother was right, I regret quitting to this day.
When I was young I took ballet lessons. I hated them. I begged my mother to let me stop and she said I would regret it if I quit. I told her if I was not allowed to stop I was going to scratch off all my freckles with sandpaper. I quit ballet. My mother was right, I regret quitting to this day.
I love the piano. I would give anything to be able to sit down at the piano and play. I love ballet. I sit and watch the poetry of movement and am transported into the beauty. I never understood the importance of the arts as a child, but as a mother I am passionate about their importance.
The arts are a relevant part of the life I lead with my son. He is an actor, director, comedian, and writer. He wants to pursue a career in the arts and so I support him. I was hoping medical school was an option, but will happily watch him playing a doctor on the big screen instead.
I am blessed that my son goes to a school with arts. It is very sad to me that so many art programs are being cut from schoos due to budget cuts. Arts matter and should be provided to all children, in all schools. Arts make kids happy and help them to become well-rounded adults.
I complain about the budget cuts at my son’s school and I try to make a difference by volunteering and donating money. This week however, a child schooled me in how to really do it. A remarkable girl by the name of Jennifer took matters into her own hands and kicked ass.
Jennifer put on a show this week to raise money for arts in her school. This young girl and her mother, my friend Elizabeth, produced a show called “Pure Broadway – A Cabaret for a Cause” and brought in $30,000 to Jenny’s school to use toward putting on a musical theater production.
It was a wonderful evening and I enjoyed every second of it. Hosted by Broadway legend Carole Cook, it was a mixture of professional performers and theater students. If you didn’t know who the students were, you’d be hard pressed to know the difference as everyone was that good.
Carole Cook was amazing. She is a real old-fashioned broad and she had us all rolling with her shtick. A woman named Kathy Deitch sand a song from Wicked that gave me goose bumps, and Timothy Quinlan sang a song from the Full Monty that made me swoon. The talent was insane.
Jenny sang a song that blew me way. She is so talented and beautiful. Her friend Allison channeled Judy Garland in her number and I was amazed by these kids. Not only by their talent, but their heart and soul. If this is the future of the arts we have a very bright future indeed.
I am in awe of this young girl, and am so proud of her amazing mother for what they did. Instead of complaining about the cut of arts, they jumped in with both feet and made a real difference. They entertained us all and showed that change is possible if you are willing to work for it.
If you have children, are a patron of the arts, and understand how vital these programs are to our children, I hope you will be inspired to help in your own way, for schools that are important to you. I am proud to know Elizabeth and Jenny, and was honored to see all their show.
School is hard. Not just academically, but emotionally. For me the arts provided a fun and safe outlet for me to be me. For my son, the arts will shape his future. When it comes to arts being cut from the education of our kids, we need to take a stand, and keep the faith.
October 26, 2012 | 3:31 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Earlier in the week I was running an errand when I came upon a homeless man standing outside a Payless Shoe Store. He appeared to be in his 60’s, but I bet he was younger. As I passed him he asked me if I wanted to go with him to Paris for the weekend. I let him know that I was flattered, and was I not dating someone, I would have happily jetted off with him. I gave him $2, told him he made me day, and we parted ways.
I immediately called the Englishman and let him knew he better be on his game because there was a line forming of men who wanted to whisk me away to Paris. He laughed, but seriously, I was not kidding. I have had an emotional week. I’ve been stressed, tired, worried, and somewhat overwhelmed. Not anything in particular, just a bunch of little things that gathered all together have been quite draining and Paris souded pretty good.
I am one that always counts my blessings. There are days however when I forget. By forget of course I mean I’m just not in the mood. It’s not that I can’t be bothered, or that I’m wallowing in self-pity, it’s just that I’m tired and I know God will lead me back to gratitude. No matter how stressed I am, or how much I think things suck, at the end of the day I am very aware of exactly how lucky of a girl I am.
Today I was back in the same area and I saw the homeless man from earlier in the week sitting on the sidewalk. As I approached he asked if I wanted to go with him to San Francisco for the weekend. I started laughing and reminded him that earlier in the week he had invited me to Paris. Without skipping a beat, he looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve fallen on hard times this week, but it will still be a great weekend”.
I started to laugh and before I could control myself, I began to cry. I hit a wall and it all just came pouring out. The man looked at me as if I was crazy, then started to dig through his backpack. As I told him I was sorry, and he offered me a handkerchief. Who uses a handkerchief anymore? I had already grabbed Kleenex from my purse, so I thanked him and blew my nose in a rather unladylike way. That made him laugh.
We got to talking and he shared a story with me that I am going to keep to myself, and cherish forever. I told him I was a writer and was going to write about how kind he was. He told me, “No names and no pictures. I’m so old I’ve forgotten who could be looking for me, so you must protect me.” We were now both laughing and in the middle of the street, I was able to see my blessings with profound clarity with the help of a stranger.
I asked the man if he needed anything and he said he could use some shoes so if he needed to run, he’d be ready. We walked up the street to a Payless Shoe store and I bought him some new sneakers. I gave him $20 cash, and I thanked him for being so kind. He thanked me in return, gave me his handkerchief as a thank you gift, and we parted ways with the promise that if I ever found myself single, I’d look him up.
Being kind is free, and it really matters. This man showed me kindness and his sense of humor put a smile on my face, and in my heart. I am going to spend the weekend with my son, who is my greatest blessing. I hope you all take a minute to find a blessing in your life and be thankful. Shabbat Shalom and have a great weekend. Be safe, be brave, be kind, breathe deeply, and remember to keep the faith.
October 23, 2012 | 3:54 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I sometimes feel very alone in terms of my life as a mother. I don’t always relate to other moms. I often think people just don’t get how hard it is to be a single mom, or even how much joy I get from being the mother to only one child. I am raising him alone and it is hard. It is really, really hard.
When I see mothers at the store with a bunch of kids, I stare, wondering what life would be like if I had more children. When I see families together, I wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed in my marriage. I often wonder if my son thinks I am a good mother to him.
I am outspoken as a mother. I don’t worry about upsetting my child in terms of my choices. or embarrassing him. Whether it means not letting him take the car, or missing out on party, or staying home to do homework when everyone else is out, I don’t care. I am focused on his wellbeing.
He may not always like the choices I make, but in the end he understands. He knows that I am a worrier and can be over protective, but he also knows I want the best for him, am his number one fan, and that I want for him all the things he wants for himself, plus more. My love is clear.
We may not be the richest people, have the biggest house, or the nicest cars, but we have each other. We are close in a way that is defined by our path together. It has been him and me against the world, and with the world now knocking on his door, we are both scared.
I have always been scared. I am actually scared of a lot of things, which is weird because in many ways I am quite fearless. When it comes to motherhood though, fear is ever present. I worry about his safety, his choices, his future, his health, his heart, and his emotions.
I am clear on what my fears are, but as he gets older, I don’t know what his fears are. He used to be afraid of the dark when he was little, and now prefers to sleep in darkness. He used to be afraid of thunder and lightening, and now likes to sit outside to watch nature at work.
Last night my son came into my room, laid his head in my lap, and said he loved me. I said I loved him too and he sat up, looked me in the eye and said, “No really Mom. I love you. I want you to know I really love you”. I sat up and waited for the shoe to drop on really bad news.
I was certain he was going to tell me he crashed the car, did drugs, or had a drink. My mind was racing through all my fears as I calmly asked if everything was okay. My little baby, who I love so much, told me he was scared to leave me and go to college. He has fear about his future.
He said he did not know how he would handle college, and was worried about not only how he would do, but how I would do. He spoke of being worried about me being alone. He said I spend so much time being him mom, he wonders if I will be sad when he goes and my job is done.
I have been afraid of his leaving since the day he was born. I wanted to raise a good man, and if I allow myself to reflect on our time together, I can see that I have accomplished exactly what I hoped for. My heart will break when he goes to college, but it will also soar, and burst with joy.
I have often thought about my fear, but rarely think about his fear. His fear is actually more debilitating than mine because I am a grown up, and he is just a child. I have lived a full life out in the world, and he has lived a full life within the boundaries of the safe world I created for him.
When he was young he used to worry I would find love and not love him as much. I promised him I would not have a man in my life until he told me he was ready, and I would never have another baby so he could always be my number one. I have honored my promises to him.
My son will soon turn 17 and begin his journey to college. He has clear ideas of where he wants to go, what he wants to study, and the career he wants. He is doing exactly what he wants and I support him 100%. I get his choices, understand his passion, and believe in him.
He is strong and focused. He understands my fears and embraces me as I sometimes struggle to do it on my own. Last night he gave me insight into his fears and it was sweet. I never knew he was scared. It turns out I am not alone in my fear because we have one heart.
It was a touching moment for me as a mother. In hearing of his fear, I was able to quiet mine. I need to focus on assuring him we are both going to be fine. He has become all the things I have raised him to be, and my job now is to teach him to see himself as I do.
He is going to change the world for the better. He will be an amazing boyfriend, husband, father, grandfather, and professional. With every dream he makes come true for himself, will be a dream of mine coming true also. I want him to live his life out loud and without any fear.
By without any fear of course I mean I want him to have enough fear to help him make good decisions. When I gave birth to this child I was able to see God. Not only see him, but feel him, thank him, and share my good fortune with him. My son is a blessing.
I am proud of him. Proud of his Jewish worldview, proud of how he loves me, proud of how he takes care of me, proud of how he dreams, hopes, prays, laughs, cries, hopes, and thinks. I can see myself in his heart and that is all I ever wanted. I can let him go because I am a part of him.
It is an interesting time in a mother’s life when she realizes her baby is heading out into the world. I am one mother, who has raised one child. We share one fear, and one day, sooner than I can believe, he will wave goodbye. The day is coming, and together we will keep the faith.
October 17, 2012 | 7:57 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
A friend of mine lost his mother last week. I went to sit Shiva and was truly touched by the loss. I cried for the pain I felt for my friend, and also for the loss of my own father. Losing a parent is crushing. My father has been gone for over 10 years and I still find myself calling him on occasion. When I hear the recording telling me his number is no longer in service, it still takes me a minute to understand. I miss him so much.
My father died from cancer, and while it was devastating to watch him suffer, the blessing was I got to spend time with him, knowing he was dying, and being able to leave no words unspoken. My father passed way with a true understanding of how much I loved him, respected him, and thought he was a wonderful human being. I miss him every single day and am blessed to see glimpses of him in both myself, and my son.
Ever since I became a mother I have had an irrational fear of death. I cannot bear the thought of leaving my child. I want to see the dreams he has for himself come true, as well as the dreams I have for him. I want to give him a standing ovation when he graduates from high school, kvell when he gets into his dream college, dance at his wedding, babysit his children, and grow old while I watch him grow old.
One of my irrational single mother fears is that my son will not ever understand how much I love him. By irrational, of course I mean I feel it in my heart, even though my mind knows it is silly. Should anything happen to me, there will be nobody to tell him. My family will help him know how much I love him of course, but they live far away and don't see our life up close. There has not been a real witness to my life as a mother as it has simply been him and me.
I have had a stressful week with work, family, relationships, and motherhood. Work is busy and there are not enough hours in the day. My family is far away and I am feeling the void that distance brings. My Englishman is a wonderful boyfriend, terrific father, and business owner, so with our busy and full lives, our time together is limited with both of us having teenagers at home. I want to be with him more, and I miss him.
My son is almost 17 and I can honestly say he has been a true pleasure to raise. There are challenges to be sure, but I am very lucky because he is a hard worker, with a strong moral compass, and a kind heart. He loves me in a profound way and we have a strong connection. He is dealing with an insane amount of homework, and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Those pressures, along with regular teenage angst, are causing tension.
I found myself crying today for so many reasons. I have a spider bite on my right eye, which has caused it to swell shut. I yelled at my son over homework. It was my sister’s birthday and I was not there to hug her. My mother told me she misses my dad so much she can’t breathe. I was so tired last night that I stayed home instead of going to see the Englishman on one of the rare nights my son was sleeping out. It all came crashing down and I cried like a baby.
I am clearly wallowing in a bit of self-pity, which I think is perfectly fine and totally allowed on occasion. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming and you need to break down in order to build yourself up. My Englishman called whlle I was crying and I shared all my concerns with him through sobs. He listened, let me go on and on, then spoke to me in a kind and gentle tone, in his divine English accent, with words that dried my tears and brought me peace.
He told me I was a brilliant mother. He shared that in the time we have known each other, he has seen how I love my son and that while nothing is going to happen to me, I can rest assured that he will make sure my son understands how much I love him, and what being his mother has meant to me. He said he admired me as a woman and a mom. The Englishman is my boyfriend, friend, father, lawyer, therapist, lover, teacher, nurse, Rabbi, and financial advisor.
He is the man of my dreams and has become a witness to my life. Relationships are hard. Not only relationships we have with each other, but the relationship we have with ourselves. I am very critical of me, and don’t cut myself a lot of slack. It is a blessing the Englishman can share how he sees me. At the end of the day I must remember that if God leads me to it, he will lead me through it. I am not going anywhere, so I need to relax, and continue to keep the faith.