Family

  1. Previously by Teri Vlassopoulos: Odds and Omens: Superstition and IVF

    After my daughter was born, I thought about getting her astrological chart done. It would be fun for her to have the information when she was older, if only to roll her eyes at her mother. I realized, though, that maybe it wasn’t really a present for her.

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  2. It’s a perennial question—whenever I meet someone new, be it at a bar or at church coffee hour, the question arises with a renewed intensity. The questioner grasps my hand, peers into my eyes, and sweetly asks: “But what do we call you?” It is one of those unique queries reserved for female clergy—right up there with “Where do you find decent-fitting clergy shirts?” and “Do you have to have a horrible haircut?” The handful of women…

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  3. Turned in my arms to find a breast to suckle. Finding nothing, he sucked at the air instead, gaining neither nourishment nor satisfaction.

    Writhed against his confinement whether he was swaddled or not, as though trying to free himself from bonds that were interior to his psyche.

    Reached out new hands for something firm to grab onto; found nothing but emptiness.

    Screamed for hours without stopping.

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  4. When he goes to her in the morning, I listen for the words I know: buenos dias, ojo, pelo, bébé. The morning words will be simple ones. Nouns. I remember nouns. I can remember most numbers, too, when we sit on the floor and count blocks. I often forget siete, so I start over, hoping it will come back the next time around.   “The way you go about helping your child become bilingual isn’t…

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  5. The version of me that my mom spent my whole life trying to bring into existence came alive eight months ago. She took her first steps on Facebook, using my name and my face to hide behind. She used the version of my name that I adopted when I left home and stepped outside the margins of acceptable femininity as drawn and reinforced by mom and her idea of respectable religiosity. Her profile picture, ironically enough, was a…

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  6. 1982 Gina whispered, “Things are going to be okay now, they will take us away to a better home or maybe back to our parents!!” as we nodded our heads believing her. I was the youngest at age 10; then there was Patti, who was a year older; and Gina, who was the eldest and also our fearless leader, who tried so hard to keep us safe. Earlier that day, we’d

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  7. Like many Jewish grandmothers, my grandmother's measure of success for her granddaughters is babies. (For her grandsons, it’s a medical degree and babies.) This is nothing new. But for Grandma Eva, a great-grandbaby holds special significance. She reminds me of this fact often, in ways she thinks are subtle, discreet. That’s great that you got into graduate school/are moving to New York/landed a teaching gig, but what about boys? Work isn’t everything, you know. Her…

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  8. Laura Passin's previous work for The Toast, which is lovely and always makes Nicole cry when she edits it, can be found here. I don’t exactly remember when I first encountered the writing of the great neurologist Oliver Sacks--I think I was in my teens, and somehow I heard about The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, which remains the most charmingly titled science book not…

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  9. Felix Kent's previous work for The Toast can be found here. When I was applying to colleges a lifetime ago, my atheist father suggested I write my application essays about Sai Baba. He said there were lots of smart kids more or less like me applying to college -- this part of my life set me apart. It was good advice, perhaps. I didn’t follow it. Sathya Sai Baba, who died in 2011, was…

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  10. I apologize for claiming Peak Dad last week. I was wrong, and am not ashamed to admit it. A man has created a car-horn for his armchair, that he might honk at cars passing by his house. I learned about it just now, and am wasting no time in sharing it with you.

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  11. When I was in high school, I saw myself as someone who moved between cliques. My main friend group included smart athletic types, potheads, and nerds (we wouldn’t have classified ourselves in that way—we would have said we were “normal”). Many of us were in Model U.N., mostly because it meant a trip every year. A few of us were friends with the more popular kids. A few of us who played sports were friends…

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