HOMETOWN South Orange, NJ
+GOOGLE Deborah Goldstein
ON THE WEB
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two boys, ages 4 & 7
FAVORITE CHILD if applicable* (we’re joking*)
My first-born, Asher, is tightly wound, cynical and full of worry. He over-communicates when he isn’t painfully shy, and he never met a cuticle he didn’t want to peel. He is definitely his mother’s son. Looking in a mirror every day is suitably painful, and, because he is so much like me, he pushes my every button.
Our second child, Levi, is more like a golden retriever than a child. He is super-friendly, playful, loving and he loves to pee on trees. Of course, I would throw myself in front of a bus for either child (I mean, if a bus were headed for them as opposed to just for fun), but Asher is the more challenging because of who we are to each other. Is Levi my favorite? He is definitely easier, but Asher and I have a deep connection that I hope will become something special…after we both get the proper therapy.
DAY JOB / HOW DO WE COMBINE WORK + FAMILY?
I’m home with the kids, but I try to do as little as possible every day. Gabriella works full-time, and she cooks all the meals for our family. I reheat. Furthermore, I don’t care for any kind of housework. I do write the occasional piece on my blog Peaches & Coconuts, and I have a bi-weekly column on the South Orange Patch.
IT’S COMPLICATED…but only because the world is a wacky place at the minute, not because we don’t know who we are to each other. We are civil union partners in New Jersey, married in Canada, wed by our rabbi in London and roommates according to the United States federal government. We’ve been together since 1994, and we still like each other a lot. Call it what you like.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
I’m proud of squeezing the kids out the old-fashioned way without surgery or drugs. I gave birth to Asher in London where midwives and active birth are supported rather than feared. That experience gave me the confidence to do the same the 2nd time around in New York —where most of our friends look at me as if I’ve just eaten a puppy when I tell them I gave birth without drugs.
So, have I been proud of any parenting moments since birth? I’ll let you know when the kids are independent, productive members of society in healthy relationships. I’ll have the benefit of hindsight, and the children will be old enough to tell me about all the things I did wrong – and hopefully some of the things I did right.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
I lost Levi for fifteen of the most horrifying minutes of my life. My mouth still goes completely dry when I think about it. Asher was taking swimming lessons inside this colossal monstrosity of an indoor amusement park called FunPlex. It is the size of Montana. In actuality, it boasts 100,000 square feet of indoor rides and attractions, but it felt like Montana when Levi darted ahead of us and beat us to the pool’s exit by ten seconds. That was enough time to lose him.
The employees split up with their walkie-talkies and searched the entire building. Eventually, they asked me if I wanted them to call the police, and I had to say YES. I felt faint describing my 3 year-old son and the clothes he was wearing to the police officer. Horrible images ran through my mind, and I pictured the milk cartons with Levi’s face on them and I thought to myself, “This is the moment my life changed forever. Our family will never be the same because I have lost our child.” It was agony. Eventually, a woman walked into the building and asked if anyone was missing a child. She spotted a small boy playing under a tree just outside the building. I’m sure she was a little startled when I hugged her, but I couldn’t have loved anyone more at that moment. Levi was covered in dirt and happy as could be. I cried all the way home.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
Well, I used to be able to sneeze without having to cross my legs, for one thing, and I used to have a much filthier mouth. The truck driver in me still tries to make an appearance when I’m not around the children, but she is still a softer, gentler trucker than she was before the kids. Why do truck drivers get such a bad rap, anyway? Is it possible that truckers swear more than prisoners or people with Tourette’s or suburban middle school students? I think not.
Parenting also forced me to deal with difficult truths about myself that I never would have had to face if I didn’t have kids to raise. I always tell people who are considering parenthood that if they don’t want to face the good, the bad and the ugly about themselves, they might not want to procreate.
HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
As far as sex goes, Gabriella and I have always been challenged by differences in libido. Jewish girls are voracious, you know. Luckily, children have evened the playing field a bit by rendering us exhausted.
The fact that Gabriella works outside of the home, and I’m at home with the kids changed everything about our relationship. We lead very different lives during the workweek, and it’s easy to focus on our own stresses and take the other for granted. On the weekends, Gabriella wants to spend quality time with the family, and I want to lock myself in a room and hide. I love my kids, but I never understood the need for alone time until I became a mother.
We both agree that life didn’t suck before parenthood, and we do occasionally miss our childless days of freedom and spontaneity. But we are enjoying the ride, for the most part, and we appreciate how parenthood has brought out the best in both of us. Gabriella and I are each other’s biggest fans.