Let’s Begin at the Beginning


I look over my shoulder in his direction, “What?”

He whispers, “Come here and look at this.”

He places his finger against his closed lips to caution me to remain quiet. We make eye contact. He nods his head in the direction of our living room sofa.

I peek around the pantry. There sits Waldorf. His favorite cat on his lap. A book in his hand.

I retreat back into the kitchen, smile at B&B, and whisper, “That’s sweet.”

He frowns. Shakes his head. Whispers, “Look again.”

I do as instructed, looking more closely this time. He’s not holding the cat against his will. For a change. His feet are on the couch, but his shoes are off. He’s not eating candy. He’s reading the new book he got for Christmas. He just started it. Wait. He’s practically finished it? How could he have read it that quickly?

Waldorf is reading the last few pages of his new book. As I watch, unnoticed, from the kitchen, he flips to the first page of his book, settles in, and begins reading.

I retreat once more into the kitchen. Eyes wide, I look at B&B. “That right there is blasphemy.”

B&B wears a pained expression, “He read the ending of the book first. Who does that?”

I shrug and smile, “Evidently, Waldorf does it.”



We are firm believers in the notion that birth order shapes personality. Unfortunately for our oldest son, he is our guinea pig. Not only is he our first, he is the product of a middle child and a youngest child. Many of his seemingly indelible first born tendencies are lost on both of his parents. We recognize our oldest siblings in his behavior. We recognize all four of our parents…each of them oldest children…in his behavior. While the dynamic is familiar to us, neither of us can relate to him as readily as we can to our other kids. Our experiences as middle and youngest children make those emotions accessible to us.


I sit up in bed, propped against two pillows.

“What are you doing?”

His voice takes me by surprise. Reading intently, I haven’t heard him ascend the stairs, open the bedroom door, or sit down on our shared bed.

I keep my eyes on my book, answering, “I’m reading.”

“I can see that you’re reading. What are you doing with your hand?”

I look down at my right hand, which deliberately covers the last two paragraphs of the page I’m currently reading. “I put my hand there so I don’t skip ahead to see what happens.”

He smiles. “Is that right?” Raises his eyebrows, “Waldorf?”

I dismiss him. “You’re out of your mind.”

He laughs, “That’s funny. Considering I’m not the one who is placing my hand over the unread words to keep myself from skipping ahead in the book.”



B&B is onto something. I admit that. Under protest.  

There are several aspects of our oldest son’s personality that remain an enigma to me. But there are more things about him to which I can relate.

He is private to a fault. He isn’t overly affectionate. He strives for perfection. He wants so desperately to be funny.

He is the physical image of his Father at 11 years old. But, Waldorf is his Mother’s son.

And I feel as though I’ve burdened him.


I’m not much into New Year’s resolutions. While I admire the intentions behind them, I find they are often lip service.  And make for overly crowded gyms until mid-February.

Despite my feelings toward them, I found myself resolving, last January, to take more chances. Stop being so private.

To be vulnerable. Be more affectionate.

To open myself up to new possibilities. You’re only human.

To try. Knowing I’d very possibly fail. Everything you say and do doesn’t have to be funny.

I’d spent my life reading the last chapter of the book first. Planning. Controlling. Knowing what to expect.

And I found myself ready, finally, to start a new chapter. With a different book. Without my hands blocking the words. With no glimpse at the ending.

So, in 2012, I started cross training. I began practicing yoga. For the first time since I’d become a parent, I resumed working “outside the home”. And, I started writing.

When I walked into her cross training gym, owner Pamela asked me what I wanted. I told her I wanted to be less tired. She spent 7 weeks sharing her nutritional expertise and recipes with me. Throughout those 7 weeks, she showed me that I can get the same results working out for 20 minutes that I’d been getting in triple that time exercising. It’s 20 minutes of sheer hell, punctuated with lots of cursing. But it’s 20 minutes. And, when I eat what she tells me to eat, I’m less tired. Which explains why I’m dragging after eating pizza last night. Seeing the results of my hard work makes me happy.

When I tiptoed into yoga for the first time, everything about it was foreign. The music, the temperature, the physical proximity to strangers, the entire situation. I was overwhelmed and intimidated. Over the past 8 months, that studio, once so unfamiliar, has become a place of refuge for me. I love my yoga instructor, whom I’ve deemed my spiritual bartender. I’m physically challenged and mentally balanced. I get an intense workout and an attitude adjustment each time I hit my mat. Feeling the energy in that room makes me happy.

Every time I leave my house to go to work, I stress a little bit. Should I be leaving the kids?
Yes, it’s only 4 hours/week. And I’m leaving them with B&B, who is their father. And, yes, I ate cake and got a chair massage while working this past Sunday. Semantics. But those four hours recharge my batteries. I come home refreshed and happy to see them. I love being in the store. I love the vibe. I love the clothes. I love connecting with the customers. I love the owner, who’s become a dear friend and pimps my writing like she’s my john. Being a part of their team makes me happy.

The leap I took in 2012 that’s impacted my life the most happened one year ago today. I posted my first story to my blog. It has been so much work. But it has been so very worth it. Over the course of the year, I’ve chronicled the chaos of our household, one anecdote at a time. I’ve wheezed with laughter over my keyboard at times. I’ve pushed my chair away from my computer, and allowed my body to wrack with sobs at others. I’ve been lucky to develop friendships with fellow writers in all different parts of the country. I’ve connected with readers, who’ve touched my heart with their beautiful e-mail messages. Through mutual friends, I met a literary agent in NY. She is now my literary agent in NY. She is a rock star, and she puts up with my crazy. We are overdue for margaritas. Writing makes me happy.

It feels like I’ve grown more in the past 12 months than I did in the 20 years prior to that. Opening myself up to new experiences and being vulnerable has connected me with so many new people. It’s left me content, at peace, supported, inspired, challenged.


How do I tell an 11 year old boy that I know firsthand what a burden it is to be so private, to reserve affection, to demand perfection of yourself? How do I explain to him that the most important thing he can do in this life is let his guard down and connect with other people?

I don’t.

I just continue to be his Mom.

And encourage him to continue to be who he is.

And quietly hope he navigates his way…eventually…

…to a brand new book…

…on the first page of Chapter 1…

…because this, my friends, is a good place to be.

Thanks to so many of you for connecting with me to make this past year…and my life…so extraordinarily full.


Please note my blog has moved to http://bethanymeyer.com/ .


This is week 3 in our This Is Childhood series. My friend, Nina Badzin…my Jewish sister from another mother…provides her honest insight into 3 years old. Please read her here. She is so much kinder about this age than I have ever been….

I was slow to motherhood. Painfully slow.

To be perfectly honest, I was scared of my first…(continue reading here)

IMG_13073 year old Kenyan
Interrogator 3 yearsWaldorf 3 years

Up and Away he Grows


A curious thing happened last week. I was in the throes of everyday life with B&B and the kids…trying to squeeze in exercise, pressuring myself to continue the good food choices I’d committed to making before the holidays, frustrated by the pull of each of the boys needing me simultaneously, counting on more than 7 fingers how long it had been since B&B and I had done the deed…and I was looking for a light at the end of the tunnel.

I saw the light.

And I turned right the hell around and tried to claw my way back into that tunnel.


His thin arms, growing longer it seems by the minute, envelop my neck.

“Goodnight, Mom,” whispers my oldest boy.

Ours is a dance I know intimately. As well I should. I’ve been doing it nightly for over 11 years.

I rest my head against his, clear my throat and begin singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…”

He interrupts, “You don’t have to do that anymore.”

“I don’t have to do what anymore?”

“Sing. My song. You don’t have to sing it anymore.”

Unaware, I smile, “I sing your song before bed every night, silly. I like singing it.”

He looks away, cracking the knuckles of his long fingers, a brand new ritual for him. “Yes, but…well, I’m getting too old for that now. So, you don’t have to sing it anymore.”

Up and away he grows.

He quickly kisses my cheek and, careful not to look wounded, I conjure a smile for him.

“OK. Goodnight, sweetheart. Have a good sleep.”

He turns and bounds up the stairs, two at a time. The exact replica of my husband, in a tween size version. I sit on the sofa, gazing at the empty space on the stairs that his body just occupied. The lump in my throat is big enough that it threatens to choke me.

A few hours later, before succumbing to my exhaustion, I peek in on each of my boys. Another nightly ritual. Our 4-year-old lies on his back with his arms and legs splayed wide, the fist of one hand closed, all but the thumb, which is up. He’s lost the thumb that he sucks, and I grin at how it gives him the appearance of hitchhiking in his sleep. I kiss him gently on both cheeks, inhaling deeply, looking for any trace of the baby smell that no longer clings to his little body. Nope. Gone. I hoist myself up to the top bunk to look at our 6-year-old, sound asleep on his belly. I kiss his cheek and smooth his hair, taking extra time to coax the Superman swirl in the front to play by the rules. I close their door quietly, then tiptoe into the older boys’ room. Pausing first at our 9-year-old’s bed, I smile at the twisted and tangled mess of sheets, blankets and limbs. In perpetual motion, even when he’s asleep. I kiss his cheek, pale and warm, nearly as soft as the day he was born. My final stop is alongside the boy who, on a Friday night one September, turned me into a mother. 11-years-old. He lies on his back, his favorite cat asleep at his feet. He spans almost the entire length of his bed. His hair, which grows thick like mine, is matted to his forehead. I run my fingers through it without fear that I’ll wake him. For he is, and always has been, our only heavy sleeper. It’s happening too fast. Just last week, he abruptly stopped calling us Mommy and Daddy, transitioning instead to Mom and Dad.

Up and away he grows.

I kneel beside his bed, take his warm hand in mine, and begin singing more earnestly than I have since he was a baby, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.” For a few moments, it seems there’ll be no end to the hot tears that flow down my cheeks, dripping from my jaw onto his comforter.

He may not need his song.  And I want him to know that’s OK. But, I still need his song. At least for now I do. And so our ritual has assumed a different shape. What was once an enthusiastic duet punctuated by dance and accompanied by air guitars has become a whispered solo, performed by a voice quivering from unshed tears, sung under the cloak of darkness to a slumbering boy who is blissfully unaware of my presence.

And just like that, it’s happening.

Up and away he grows.


I’m stoked to be a part of this series. I’ve been gathering my thoughts, jotting them in notebooks, typing them into my iPhone. I’ve been stressing a little bit too.

“Knock knock!”

Who’s there?


6 who?

“Oh, puleeeze! You know What Six Looks Like!”

Sure do. No pressure there. 

We’re chronicling the chaos of the first decade of childhood. My oldest son is one year beyond that decade, and already he is taking leaps toward independence. It’s what he needs. It’s what we want for him. I just wish someone would tell my heart to get with the program. This writing collaboration is occurring at a time when I’m feeling heaviness in my heart as I’m tasked with loosening my grasp on the boy who turned me into a mother. But it’s given me the opportunity to immerse myself in memories of who Waldorf was…and who his brothers were…on each step of his journey to becoming the man he’ll eventually grow up to be.

Please join Kristen Levithan at Motherese as she walks us so eloquently through the second year of childhood.

***An abridged version of this piece appeared in the Parenting section of the Huffington Post on January 19th, 2013.

This Is Childhood: One


I feel like I’ve graduated to big girl panties.

Last January, I told my sensitive husband that I was seriously thinking about starting a blog. His reply was, “Any idiot can write a blog.”

And while there is a certain amount of truth to his words of encouragement statement, I’ve discovered the opposite to be true as well…there are many incredibly gifted writers who blog. Writers whose stories have me slapping my desk and heaving with laughter. And writers whose authenticity leaves my keyboard wet with tears because I’m so moved by their words.

Some of my favorite bloggers, all of them Mothers, are collaborating on a writing series, titled This Is Childhood. From Allison, so well known for The Mom Stays in the Picture, to Lindsey, who wrote 10 Things I Want My Daughter To Know Before She Turns 10, each of these beautiful writers will chronicle one year in a child’s life from ages 1-10. I am thrilled to be joining them in this series. Big girl panties. 

Every Tuesday, a different writer will offer her thoughts about a year in the first decade of childhood…

Aidan Donnelley Rowley   Age One   (Read her here today)

Kristen Levithan  Age Two

Nina Badzin   Age Three

Galit Breen  Age Four

Allison Slater Tate   Age Five

Bethany Meyer   Age Six

Tracy Morrison   Age Seven

Amanda Magee   Age Eight

Denise Ullem   Age Nine

Lindsey Mead Age Ten

10 unique voices. Not one idiot in the bunch. 

Aidan’s piece almost makes me want another one. Almost. 

(Comments are closed here, but Aidan would love to hear your feedback…)


10 Steps to Ensure Your Kids Will Need Post-Holiday Therapy


1. Reserve a weekend in December for the annual choosing and cutting down of the Christmas tree. Make sure to choose a tree farm almost an hour’s drive north. On the day you make the trip, bring a friend of your oldest son’s along. Because 6 people weighing in on a tree could lead to a dreaded tie. You’ll need the extra set of eyeballs…just in case.

2. Arrive at dusk on a rainy, overcast Saturday, just as they are closing. Look at your husband in disbelief when he tells you we’ve been turned away “for legal reasons”. Some nonsense about navigating the farm in the dark and the possibility of falling in holes. Leave without a tree. Take the 5 children to Dairy Queen and give them each a Blizzard for dinner. Hock a loogie into your husband’s Blizzard when he isn’t looking. After all, if he hadn’t tried to reclaim his youth by organizing that tackle football game in your backyard with the 5th grade boys, you’d have been there before closing. And left with a tree.

3. Wake up early Sunday morning. Pack coats, hats, gloves, donuts, water, baby wipes, and children into the minivan. Arrive at the tree farm an hour north for the 2nd time in 14 hours. Watch in horror as the children leap from the car directly into the mud because you’ve forgotten to pack their rain boots.

4. Walk to the farthest left corner of the tree farm with your husband, who amuses himself by pinching your butt cheek every 4-5 trees. Refrain from tackling your two older sons when, with ninja-like stealth, they jump out from behind a tree and scare the be-Jesus out of you. Keep your face expressionless when your younger two sons hand you a dozen colored tags that they’ve pulled from trees other people have marked and paid for already. Nonchalantly toss the tags into the nearest hole. Kick mud into the hole to bury the evidence. Point to the nearest tree and tell your husband, “cut it down fast before they kick us the fuck out of here!”

For the love of god, let's get out of here!

For the love of god, let’s get out of here!

5. Take a family picture with the tree before it’s bailed and strapped to the minivan roof. Promise the kids that you will decorate the tree tonight. When you arrive home, ask your husband to put the tree in a bucket in the backyard. Forget to check to see if he has put water in the bucket. Be too tired to decorate the tree that night.

6. Put the tree up five days later. Play Christmas music. Make hot chocolate with marshmallows for the kids and homemade Bailey’s for you and your husband. Turn on the gas fireplace. Unwrap each ornament slowly, pause, smile, then begin the story of where each ornament came from…because every ornament has a story, and you remember each and every story. When no one, including your husband, listens to your stories…when they repeatedly interrupt you, when they rip ornaments from your hand with their dirty, ungrateful little fingers, when they fight over whose turn it is to place the star on top of the tree…tell them they are taking all of the magic out of Christmas.

7. When your husband announces he will not be watering the tree this year because it’s “a waste of time”, look at him quizzically. Narrow your eyes. In your mind’s eye, recollect the year he created a device for watering trees he felt should be patented. The funnel he duct taped to the PVC tube that allowed him to stand at his full height of 6’2″ plus an additional three feet away to water the tree without brushing against so much as one pine needle. Walk upstairs to the hall closet. Open it. Peek inside. Yep. It’s still there. Nope. Still no patent. Close the closet door. Scratch your head. But, for god’s sake, hold your tongue.

8. Spend the next three weeks giving the tree a wide berth. Admire it from afar, as though you’re a stalker. Or a peeping tom. Instruct the kids to do the same. On Christmas Eve, after the kids have gone to bed, take every piece of furniture from that room and move it as far away from that fire hazard the tree as possible. Scowl at your husband when he raises his eyebrows and suggests you do the nasty on the carpet of razor sharp pine needles that now covers your family room rug. Leave a note for Santa to place the gifts 3-4 feet away from the tree. And, above all else, instruct him not to light his pipe until he’s several houses away from that goddamn tinder box.

9. Spend Christmas morning watching the joy on your kids’ faces as they unwrap each of their presents. Watch those looks of joy morph into masks of pain as they slip their unsuspecting fingers into new ski gloves riddled with needles sharp as splinters. Spend Christmas night snuggled up on the sofa with your husband. Listen to the cats chasing each other up and down the Christmas tree. Hear the sound of 2 million pine needles hitting the presents. Cringe at the shattering glass, as the precious ornaments…each with its own story…fall from the tree and hit the Lego sets below. Do. Not. Turn. Around. And. Look. At. The. Carnage.

10. The following morning, announce that, “we are getting that miserable excuse for a Christmas tree out of this house today”. Tell the kids to pipe down when they beg for one more day. When your husband walks past you on the way to his shed and you overhear him mutter, “I just need my chainsaw,” take a tug of that Bailey’s. It matters not that it’s only 8:30AM. Chainsaw + Christmas tree + Family Room = No one will judge you. When he returns to the house with a pair of pruning shears, breathe a sigh of relief. Keep the children occupied while he desecrates the Christmas tree that you grabbed in a flash they chose so lovingly. After he’s hacked off every single branch, beg him not to show the children the naked trunk that used to be their beloved Christmas tree. Dry their tears and offer hugs of compassion when he disregards your plea because he believes, “this is one of the greatest ideas I’ve ever had”.  Silently vow to head directly to Target to purchase an artificial tree on clearance the minute they are all back in school.

Follow these 10 steps to ensure your kids too will need post-holiday therapy. Until next year…

**This post appeared in the parenting section of the Huffington Post on January 4th, 2013.

photo (11)

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree! How lovely are your branches…er….um…