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What I Have Learned From My Sons

I often say that my biggest teachers have been my kids. It is a strange feeling to be walking down the street with both of them towering over me, and poking fun of all the strange things I do. But believe me, life with them keeps getting more and more interesting with each year.My older son, Phillip, went to study abroad for a semester and gave us a boost of energy and inspiration with his notes from abroad. The new living arrangements, the new culture and language were a shock to the system—but Phillip loved the feeling of exploring and experiencing a new environment. They say that parents shouldn’t live through their kids, but in this instance I can tell you that Phillip’s sense of adventure and his natural inquisitiveness fulfilled a part of me as well. I guess this past few months have only shown how new experiences unleash a part of ourselves that we may have never known existed.

This past year was a big year for my younger son as well. Eli is a senior and has been looking at various colleges around the country. Last summer he surprised us all when he came back from a four-week business leadership class and announced, “This is it! I want to apply to the best business schools in the country!” There is no other word to describe him, but to say that he has a lot of “chutzpah”. You see, if he were playing the odds game—he could have played it safe and applied to a highly selective liberal arts college—the ones that he had all along thought of applying to before his summer experience. But, he told us that he was ready to be rejected, but what he needed to do was be in a business program that he loved. Needless to say that for the following months he was laser focused on getting interviews at his top school of his choice and making sure he had the best application possible.

The last few days leading up to getting the admission news were truly nerve wracking for him. My husband and I noticed how invested he was in his decision and wondering what may happen? Good news is that he was accepted to his school of choice!

But why am I choosing to talk about this story? I was noticing how naturally Eli followed his instincts, his passion and how he was willing to put himself on the line and risk rejection to get what he wanted. His decision paid off, but I have a feeling he would have coped with a rejection and would have applied to other business schools of his choice. I have been thinking about his actions quite a lot. Here he was as an enthusiastic 17 year old, grabbing life with his two hands and believing that his new found passion is worth his time and worth risking hurting his ego.
He reflected something for the whole family to see—that we can be more open with our choices, and put the necessary time and dedication to bring a dream to fruition.

This coming year, I hope to keep this lesson alive in my heart! I hope that you too draw inspiration from those around you, and in turn, use it to lead an inspired life!
Happy Holidays.

In a State of Transition

This week marks the start of the Jewish New Year. It is also the start of the school year as well. One son is going to be a sophomore in high school and…..drum roll please…..the other one is leaving for college! Yes, please bring out the violins, because this is the part that I start getting emotional.  Just last week, my son and I went to a Stanford new student barbecue in Brentwood. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and 20 Stanford- bound, fresh-faced kids gathered around to talk about their upcoming move. Us parents stood around in the shade and shared our excitement and our inevitable angst. We couldn’t be happier that our kids are going off to such a fine school. This part of our lives, fits in the natural progression of our lives, doesn’t it?  But it is still a bit of a bumpy ride for most of us.

When my son and I left the barbecue that day, I took a deep breath and looked down the tree-lined street. I turned and I looked up at him.  (He now towers over me).  I touched the back of his shoulder and pointed in front of us, “Do you see this street?”

He turned to me and said, “Yeah Mom. Of course I do.”

“When you were just born, we used to live 2 blocks away from here.  Every afternoon I would put you in a stroller and walk down this very street. I loved it because it’s wide and has beautiful blooming trees,” I told him. “You know, I had this idea that kids love being pushed around in a stroller, that they would sit happily and watch the scenery. But you….you used to scream. After a few minutes you would want to jump right out of your stroller. I guess you didn’t like being strapped in, and so half the time I used to hold you in my arms and push the empty stroller along.”

My son’s face lit up. He likes to hear stories of his childhood– how his basic self-determined nature and his independent streak was even apparent at six months. Here he was at age eighteen, some things about him haven’t changed but one thing sure has.   For all you moms out there who don’t have a teenage son, let me save you from a bad mistake : the most embarrassing thing for a young man is to be caught hugging his mother.

So, while walking back to our car from the barbecue. I casually looked around to make sure that none of my son’s new friends hadn’t come out. I had my perfect public moment– the coast was clear. I quickly leaned into him for a hug. My voice was breaking, but I managed to get out what was on my mind the entire time at the barbecue.  “Here we are in this very street and you are ready to go my dear.” I tried to hold in my tears in front of him, but a few managed to escape.

I have a few days with him this week until he goes on his next adventure.  Who knows where we will be in our lives when we next walk down this magnificent tree-lined street.