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What I Needed to Learn, I Learned in Kindergarten


I was invited to a  Shabbos party at my pre-school grandson’s school, where he was chosen to be  the Shabbos Abba.  On Friday morning, I dropped everything and drove over to his classroom, met my DIL there and we observed my grandson  having this special party with his friends — with grape-juice, challah and other goodies.

It was at this party that I realized something about myself that I hadn’t known before. Something that made me feel more grown up than I’ve felt in years. More mature, evolved and settled.

I may have thought about it briefly over the past years, but hadn’t articulated it clearly in my mind.  Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I was too embarrassed to admit it. Maybe I never even thought too much about it.

What was this feeling?


Doing a Mitzvah!

Zooming in on my Mitzvah Guy!

Whew. There. I admitted it:  Having the sensation that it is okay to have done the Mommy thing years ago, and moved on.

As I viewed  the classroom with its bulletin boards, various stations, book shelves, colorful cubblies, circle time rugs, toys and art and musical instruments, I felt kind of detached.  Yes, it was all very sweet and nice but I zoomed right in to view my own grandson (who of course was the most adorable), snapped a few pictures, felt the pride and enjoyed. He, and my role as Grandma were key here. Nothing else.

There was none of the nostalgia for the good-ol’-days as a Mommy.

I felt completely comfortable in my role as middle-aged grandmother. Call me old. Call me complacent. Call me whatever you want to call me. But I really was not in the least bit sad about being older than every other person in the room – even the teachers.



It wasn’t easy to come to that conclusion. I’ve been so busy the past few years writing and reading about the empty nest syndrome with its intermittent loneliness, alleged boredom, painful nostalgia, ubiquitous regret and all the other supposed symptoms ot the midlife  crisis or period. It’s been a given that we  midlifers are forever  pining for the good-ol’ days of carpools, soccer practice, PTA meetings, and child bearing years.

To an extent we are. We miss the past, and want the feeling of watching our little ones grow and develop. The feeling of the unknown, how it’s all going to turn out is kind of exciting and non-threatening.  And when that is all over, it feels as if we have nowhere to go now. Nothing  to look forward to. Nothing to plant and grow anymore. We feel as if our work is done.

But me,  I’ve reached a point where I no longer miss those days. I’m seriously grateful for being at the stage that I am.

I don’t want to go back to those early parenting days anymore. No way.

Do I have the feeling of life having passed me by and that the good times are over? Nah.

I remember the good times and fun times of the cute kids and watching them grow, develop and learn alongside their peers and cousins, but I do not miss them. That’s because I also remember the difficult times.

The calls from the teachers that my kid has to sit detention. The endless carpools, the hours with them doing homework, the arguments and debates with those sons who were not as docile (euphemism here. Use your imagination, okay?) as the others and whatever angst raising children entails.

All that is over. No more having to get babysitters. No more dealing with discipline and rude behavior (yes, kids were sometimes disrespectul).

Bottom line, knowing that our children have turned out really well is a comfort to me. We’ve done our work as parents, and now we get to be a couple. My husband and I have done a great job, and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy our own stage.

The kindergarten visit taught me the lesson of being happy with the stage that I’m in.

I had my lesson about the true reality of  Empty Nest Syndrome, and it was time to go home to my own peace and quiet. How wonderful is that?

How do *you* feel about being in the Empty Nest Club? Do you pine for the good ol’ days? Do colorful kindergartens make you wax nostalgic?

(Photo credits: Property of M. Hendeles and  Image credits


“Imagine If…” – A Children’s Book Review

By Rabbi Zeegel; Illustrated by Darrel Mordecai

By Rabbi Zeegel; Illustrated by Darrel Mordecai

Way back  when Theodore Seuss Geisel wrote a zany                 rhyming book for children, I wonder if he realized that he’d be so successful with the series that future  authors would attempt to imitate him.

I mean, imagine imitating green eggs and ham. Or a cat in a hat. Or a fox in socks.  It’s kind of ridiculous, wouldn’t you say? Still,  for  years, wannabe Dr. Seusses congregated in coffee houses, libraries and living rooms trying to mimic the flavor of the venerable Dr. Seuss. Continue reading

For Jewish Mothers-in-law Only?? (not!)

I have always admired Erma Bombeck.  I enjoyed her self-deprecating humorous writing about motherhood in suburbia at a time when most mothers were not admitting to the problems of raising kids. Raising kids was supposed to be noble and exciting and a pleasure for moms. The idea that someone would poke fun at being a mom and even complain, was novel.

I read almost all Bombeck’s books when I was a teenager.

No, that is not me- but it is Erma Bombeck, whose writing I admire...

No, that is not me- but it is Erma Bombeck, whose writing I admire…

Now that I have written a book using a similar style to Erma Bombeck (so I’ve been told), albeit with a Jewish twist (since I’m Jewish!), I have some splainin’ to do about my book.

You see,  since my book, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! has been out on the market for 9 months, I can assess how well it has been doing (great!), regroup slightly (why not?), and dispel just a few misconceptions that may be floating out around there.

Let’s discuss one particular myth that surrounds the book, such as:  Is The Joys and Oys of Being a Mother, Mother-in-law, and Grandmother book only for Jewish mothers, mothers-in-law and grandmothers? Continue reading

Grab a Sale – “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!”

Just a short post to inform all my blog readers that in case you have not purchased my Grandmother book yet for that Grandmother, mother-in-law or friend in your life, here’s your chance to get it really really low-priced. This is a wonderful gift, I am told for Mother’s Day which is coming up soon.

Ready? On (link in the sidebar to the right) you can get  “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!” – The Joys and Oys of Being a Mother, Mother-in-law….or Grandmother  for about ELEVEN bucks (and change)! Yes, that’s correct. The book retails for 19.95 and recently has been reduced to eliminate the remaining books that have not sold yet. We have almost sold out the first printing, so here’s your opportunity.

Continue reading

Orange and Pink Pocketbook

The other day I realized it was time to buy myself a present, a new bag or purse. The purse I already had, aside from being worn out, too small, and without the necessary number and placement of zippered compartments, had a broken outer zipper.

I had just flown to New York and twice had items fall out of my open purse/pocketbook at the airport. (In New York, a “purse” is called a “pocketbook” or “bag”).

Now which (skinny) one is me? Hmmm. (hint: I'm not that skinny)

Now which (skinny) one is me? Hmmm. (hint: I’m not that skinny)

Continue reading

On Languages – A Grandmother By Any Other Name Is….?

I love languages. My own father speaks 8 languages. But that’s not a fair statement, because when my father was growing up, his family traveled a lot. Continue reading

My New Tagline: Grandmas and Stretching

Anyone who has been following my Bubby or Grandmother blog since I began back in June 2012, will be familiar with my tagline under the main title of “Bubby Joys and Oys.” — -A Place for Bubbies to Kvell and Kvetch. Continue reading

Klempner’s blog today: (Oy – I’m sooo farKlempt!)**

Nachas from friends

by beccakinla

**  In my original version of this post, I had attributed Rebecca, the wonderful reviewer to being Farklempt, which is German  for being choked up, touched, emotional and basically all flattered. Well actually, I am the one who is farklempt (choked up, touched, emotional and flattered). Why?  because Becca wrote this beautiful review for Judy and me.  I’m so touched. See below why I am  FARKLEMPT, or VERKLEMPT (a la Mike Myers from SNL)

So without further ado….


A couple months ago, I published about being farginen–taking pleasure in other people’s success. So today, I’m going to share reviews of two of my friends’ new books:

I’ve known Judy Gruen for at least a decade, and she’s as funny in print as she is in person, which is saying a lot. Her articles on and in magazines are not only funny, but touch the experiences of women everywhere, which is one of the reasons her writing is so effective. Readers can’t help but identify with Judy.

Judy’s <Till We Eat Again> is a rollicking trip through Judy’s attempt to shed 15 lbs prior to a reunion. We follow her struggle with conflicting and often wacky weigh-loss advice, the apathy of her spouse, and her children’s hatred of health food. Her self-deprecating humor allows us to laugh at our own propensity to cheat when confronted with chocolate or be jealous of the effortlessly and relentlessly thin among our friends. Fortunately, Judy survives her fight slightly thinner, but with her humor completely intact.

Note: this book is not even remotely an attempt to give accurate weight-loss advice. It’s more like a stand-up act. Fellow warriors in the battle of the bulge will, however, appreciate the humor and may even loose a couple ounces laughing (I almost fell off my bed at one part). Also, some very conservative (little “c”) readers might not approve of a few very slightly racy situations. Until We Eat Again can be found on

I’ve admired Miriam Hendeles’s work ever since she started out in the late magazine, Jewish Life Los Angeles. After she moved on to Binah Magazine, she became a friend, too, so it’s with great excitement that I’m reviewing her first book, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!

Mrs. Hendeles is a native of New York, but has been an active member of our L.A. community since her marriage. A former Bais Yaakov teacher, she currently works as a music therapist. Even more importantly, she and her husband have—bli ayin hara—raised a family of several boys…boys who are steadily growing up, marrying, and starting their own families, providing plentiful material for her magazine columns. Mrs. Hendeles’s new book is a compilation of those columns, along with additional material touching on the life of the contemporary Blackberry-wielding, Skype-viewing, master’s-degree-holding mother-in-law and grandmother.

Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!  is an upbeat book about a topic that is fraught with anxiety: the transformation from daughter-in-law and mother to mother-in-law and grandmother. Mrs. Hendeles’s self-deprecating humor and positive outlook set this book apart. She invites us along in her attempts to be a “Model In-Law” and “Model Grandparent.” Her efforts are usually successful, but occasionally flounder. She takes the missteps in stride, poking fun at her foibles, but also seizing the opportunity for introspection and improvement.

That’s not to say that Mazel Tov! It’s a Baby shies away from tumultuous emotions. We waver right along with her when she knows her “new couple” needs space but her hand keeps reaching for the phone. We see her mixed feelings about giving her adult children independence when her opinion just wants to leap out of her mouth. And we witness her nostalgia for her children’s youth as well as her hopes for their future. This is a book that touches the heartstrings as well as tickles the funny bone.

There is another common thread among the essays in Mazel tov! It’s a Bubby! In Judaism, particularly in the mussar tradition, we see the events and the challenges of life as opportunities for personal growth and character development. When the author writes, “Often, individuals refuse to think out of the box, since that may imply a perceived weakness…When we sense that we are spinning our wheels and getting stuck in the same patterns of thinking, perhaps we should ask ourselves, ‘Is it time for a change?’” she’s planting her book squarely in the mussar tradition. Mrs. Hendeles is urging her fellow in-laws and grandparents on to further self-improvement at a stage in life when some give up.

The opening chapters of Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! depict the typical milestones that follow the marriage of one’s first child. We smile as the entire Hendeles family debates the various merits (and demerits) of “Grandma,” “Oma,” and “Bubby” before the first grandchild is even born. Our heart flutters when the author reflects, “…something inside me longed for the good ol’ days of PTA meetings, play dates, Mommy-n-Me’s, and strolls to the playground.” And we giggle when the author suggests her teenage son lie down next to her grandchild to help the latter tolerate “tummy time” or when a well-planned, first-time sleep-over goes amok.

As the volume progresses, the stories branch out a bit, with increasing hilarity and insightfulness. The author struggles with keeping family traditions of letter-writing and multi-lingual proverb-spouting at the same time as embracing emails and text messages. She juggles the needs of her teenage son living at home with the young grandchild visiting there. I laughed along with Mrs. Hendeles’s list of preferred traits in mechutanim and her “Diary of a Shadchan Wannabe.” Mrs. Hendeles discovers that middle age—with its less rigorous daily demands—offers opportunities to branch out into new hobbies and professions.

Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! would make an excellent gift for the new—or not so new!—mother-in-law or grandmother in your life. However, it isn’t limited to that audience. As a woman whose oldest child is still in elementary school, I found plenty to enjoy in this book.

Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! is due in Jewish bookstores and at on September 5th. (A version of this review appeared previously in CitySpirit Magazine.)

Future Bath Tubs and Playgrounds


Yes – Grandma is always available whenever we want.  Hmmm.

I was thinking along those lines the other day and I suddenly had a fantasy. Right now, we grandmothers are able thank G-d to care for our grandchildren when they need us. We are there for them, as long as we want to (and have the strength)  and then we go home (or send them home, if they are at our house).  Unlike the kids’ perception in which they – the children – are done having us so we leave…we know the truth. Right?

But never mind all that. What if it came a time when G-d forbid, we couldn’t care for our kids? We couldn’t care for them – not because we didn’t have the energy – but simply because the stuff they had around their house, and the technology that they used, were way too advanced for our Baby Boomer Generation minds.

So here goes my fantasy. Imagine in the year 2020, I want to give my little grandson – (or grand-daughter!) born in the year 2018 a bath. So I go take the kid to the bathroom, get him or her undressed, and lo and behold I look at the bathtub and it does not resemble the one I have at home – in my circa 1990-2000 remodeled home. Instead the bathtub is suspended up high, and there is a staircase to get there. The knobs are not the usual – left for hot, and right for cold – but they are buttons on the wall which I have no clue how to use.

Another fantasy: Imagine in the year 2025, I want to take my grandkids to the park. I walk with them to the park, and we find the playground equipment, but somehow nothing looks the same as how I remembered swings back in the olden days of the 1980’s or even in the times of my older grandsons – born in the 2010’s.

What is a grandmother to do? Is she to ask a kid nearby to help her? (in the case of the park?)

Is she supposed to risk G-d forbid burning the 2-year old, by using the wrong temperature of water, and/or not being able to climb the steps to the raised tub?

I really don’t know what I’m going to do. I tell you – I’m pretty grateful that right now I’m kind of savvy and know how to use a computer, how to do things that are similar to the skill set of my grandkids.

But when I think of the future, I tell you – I’m pretty scared.

I guess this is where faith and trust really kick in. Because when it comes down to it, if we can’t give our grandchildren baths and take them to the park, what is left to the grandmother-grandchild relationship?

Trust in G-d, and all my scary science fiction fantasies will either not materialize in a negative way, or my grandchildren will patiently teach me the ins and the outs of the skills.  I will march along to the tunes of the new inventions.

Otherwise, I will be sent home by the kids on the first plane (rocket ship by then?) out of their hometown.  What use will the kids have for us if we can’t even keep up with their technology?

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