New Me

by Alison Friedman in Mommy's Musings

They say to the moms, “Take some time for yourself.” Oh, I’m taking some time, all right. I don’t want to be taking the time, and I’m scared out of my mind to be taking the time, but one month from today, I am having surgery to correct all the *** SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ AHEAD IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR THINKING OF BECOMING PREGNANT *** destruction that my two darling daughters caused during each of their pregnancies.

After a handful of years of consideration, research, alternative methods to correct, and saving up some cash, I will be undergoing major surgery to correct the split abdominal muscles that never went back together after the girls were born. Due to this separation of my muscles, I have an umbilical hernia that is painful to the touch, chronic back pain, inflexibility, ill-fitting clothes, and no strength during physical exertion.

I asked the medical journal artist to draw me like one of his French girls.

I asked the medical journal artist to draw me like one of his French girls.

The fix? A tummy tuck.

For me, it’s not about the vanity. In fact, one of the plastic surgeons I consulted — who is great at what he does and comes highly recommended — swore that after surgery, I’d be so beautiful again and I’d be back in a bikini and will have never looked better. That’s how I knew he wasn’t for me. As skilled and as revered as he is in his field and local community, he wasn’t understanding my perspective. I don’t care about being back in a bikini. I’m not concerned with being a hot mom again. I don’t think I was even hot before, so I certainly don’t expect to spawn into hotness now. My concern is about my comfort, my health, and my ability to physically keep up with my kids. The team of surgeons — they’re brothers — I hired understood that, and while there is a slight possibility I may actually end up looking kinda-sorta potentially and relatively hot after the surgery, I am relieved they understand my main priority.

This is a big deal. I had two C-Sections. Moderately small humans were excavated from my innermost sections of my cavity with life connected to them. One was hard to recover from. One was easy. I asked a few different doctors about how this little slice-a-roo compares to C-Sections and one answered: “You’re going to WISH this was a C-Section.”


And that’s when I decided I will eat carrots and air for the rest of my life and surely my middle would go back to normal-person status. But it was explained to me that diet and exercise do not correct split abdominal muscles. This condition is called diastatis recti and most OBGYNs don’t spend a tick-tock thinking about this or educating their post-partum patients about this major change and way of life. It’s unfortunate because it’s quite common. Some diastatis recti can be slightly corrected through very specific exercises facilitated and overseen by an expert (a physical therapist or Pilates instructor), but once a hernia is involved (thankyouverymuch), no targeted movements can fix it. For two years after Madelyn was born, I worked out at boot camp in a super fun environment with a very motivating coach. I lost weight and my entire body slimmed down thanks to the high intensity interval training workouts and sensible eating. However, I was so frustrated that my belly never looked unpregnant. Unfortunately, I was doing unsafe exercises. I didn’t know yet that what I was doing was making my diastasis recti worse (crunches and planks are not safe exercises for DR). My abdominal muscles — as all women’s during pregnancy — stretched out to make room for a growing baby; think about the structure of a wooden barrel. But after pregnancy, my muscles did not go back together and stayed split making a gap for organs and other tissue and now those wooden slats of a broken barrel are sticking out and not reforming to its original state and there’s the discomfort of general insides poking out where they shouldn’t.

My diastasis recti is a parting gift from carrying these two ... these cutie pie faces make it all worth it. Kinda. Not really. I mean, they do. But. Oh dear.

My diastasis recti is a parting gift from carrying these two … these cutie pie faces make it all worth it. Kinda. Not really. I mean, they do. But. Oh dear.

Once there’s a hernia involved, surgery is the only way to fix the entire area. Once I’m fast asleep in lala land due to the medical cocktail traveling through my system, they’ll be able to slice and dice and tuck what should be behind the muscles behind the muscles, and then stitch those muscles back together the way they should’ve gone after pregnancy. And because they want me to look pretty and evened out, they’ll take away any unwanted excess stuff (i.e., the ice cream and pizza I enjoyed when I was pregnant with Arielle) in the abdominal area and my reward AFTER MANY WEEKS OF PAIN AND SUFFERING DURING RECOVERY will be a flat tummy and a functioning abdominal area and a pain-free back. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to wear something other than the Mom Costume and I’ll get out of leggings 24/7.

The good news is I’ve lost 15 pounds in preparation for this surgery thanks to cutting most sugars and grains from my diet while following a Whole30-inspired way of eating for the last few months. I don’t even miss the bad stuff and I’d like to continue it for life. I’ve also been doing private Pilates sessions with my friend Maya in order to prepare my muscles and strengthen them for recovery. I’m basically an Olympian (I highly recommend Maya Epstein who owns her own mini studio for privates and duets! She makes me feel comfortable when I’d otherwise feel very intimidated and she’s making sure I am practicing Pilates in a way that’s safe for my condition.) The leaner and stronger I go into this, the better my experience will be… or so I’m told.

It's harder than it looks. I walk like I'm made of Jell-o when I leave.

It’s harder than it looks. I walk like I’m made of Jell-o when I leave.

Riding on the carriage is like WHEEEE! It's basically exercise Disneyland.

Riding on the carriage is like WHEEEE! It’s basically exercise Disneyland.

How am I feeling about this? Oh, I haven’t slept since I booked the surgery a couple months ago. And I imagine I won’t sleep for the remaining 4 weeks until the surgery. I am so so so so so so so so so beyond scared, I can’t even put into words (and that’s how you know how scared I am!). Everything I read says that it’s going to be a really awful, horrible, excruciating week of hell after the surgery. Then, slowly, things get better. Apparently, by the sixth week, I will feel mostly normal as swelling trickles away and strength gradually returns. Other than my two C-Sections that I was awake for, I’ve had only two other surgeries; one was oral surgery for my wisdom teeth and the other was when I was 2.5 years old and had surgery to remove two extra toes on each foot (I had 12 toes when I was born. #themoreyouknow *rainbow swoosh*) I don’t really remember either surgery or what it was like to go to sleep or wake up from the procedure, but something tells me this will blow those two out of the water.

In addition to the pain, of course I am not feeling too great about how worthless I’ll be. No lifting for six weeks? Bye, Arielle. It was nice knowing you. Sorry for being a deadbeat mother for a month and a half. I won’t be able to drive and I won’t want to do unnecessary schlepping, so bye, Madelyn. Sorry I can’t be there for you at dance class and to volunteer in your classroom. Oh, and friends, I’m sorry for giving super half-assed RSVPs to all your holiday parties or birthday celebrations. But isn’t that the typical way of thinking for a mom? Worrying about how everyone else will get along? Thankfully, my rockstar husband who did an amazing job taking care of me after I delivered both girls will come through again to not only take care of me, but to hold down the fort here at home. And I’m so glad our parents live nearby so they can help with the girls as only grandparents can do best. Some women stay in hotels while they recover so they can be away from the chaos of the family or get professional nursing care, but I am choosing to recover at home because I know that all my people will be wonderful in helping as I recover. But I am still a Jewish mother, so I can’t help but worry.

I’ve read that no woman ever regrets this surgery. It’s brutal and scary, but once the worst is behind them, they say that they never looked back or wished they hadn’t done it. I am choosing to focus on that as the days loom ahead of me and while I’m suffering through the recovery.

So, November 18th, I’ll be a whole new me. It’ll be nice to be proportionate again and it’ll be heavenly to feel the pain fizzle away. I can’t wait to hold Arielle without my entire back supporting her and I may actually not mind doing the dishes without the counter hurting my belly against it. Jeans. Who wants to take me shopping for real jeans? Tying my shoe will be an easy experience instead of a cursed one. These are the things. These are all the things.

Gather all the king’s horses and all the king’s men. The doctors are putting mama back together again.

My current headshot.

My current headshot.

  1. 10/19/2016 11:44 AM

    I will be sharing here and probably Instagram too! @uawilma It’s always so helpful to know about other moms going through this procedure. Having a support group of any kind helps to calm our fear of the unknown since that’s of course what’s going through my brain! Eeeeeek!!!! Let’s fix us and get us back to 100%! We deserve it and so do our families. 🙂

  2. Holly Eggman
    10/19/2016 9:53 AM

    Hi Alison,

    We have mutual friends and one of them, Stephanie Cooper, sent me your blog because like you I am in the same boat after 3 csections. I am having a tummy tuck and breast augmentation at the end of February. I would LOVE to know how your surgery and recovery go, if you wouldn’t mind sharing with me. Best of luck!

Halloweenie No More

by Alison Friedman in Halloween Time, Marvelous Madelyn

Every Halloween, we go trick-or-treating with friends and I do my best to throw a little festive, pumpkiny cheer around the house in order to honor my Pinterest board. But in all honesty, and I know it’s going to get me in trouble, I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween. It’s a lot of stress to decide who you’re going to go trick-or-treating with (it’s kind of like the big question of where will you be at midnight on New Year’s Eve; or where will you spend July 4th in order to enjoy prime fireworks viewing), and I am also kind of cheap and don’t love spending money on seasonal stuff that sits in a box for 11 months out of the year, and I’m also still a little PTSD-ish about the pressure to be a slutty noun during college Halloween. But when you have kids, Halloween gets reborn and Mom-o-ween unfolds.

Madelyn's First Halloween. as a cow. I dressed up like a farmer and phoned in my costume that was a pre-existing outfit that consisted of a plaid flannel from Target.

Madelyn’s First Halloween. as a cow. I dressed up like a farmer and phoned in my costume that was a pre-existing outfit that consisted of a plaid flannel from Target.

I want Madelyn to have a pretty normal childhood and she’s a little behind in the Halloween department right now. At Jewish preschool, there are no Halloween festivities (pumpkins = Fall!). They get to don costumes for Purim, but not Halloween. I was secretly glad about this because Madelyn escaped that month-long buildup of anticipating October 31st. For her, Halloween was just a few hours before the start of November. For me, Halloween was easy.

But all I’ve been hearing about since Starbucks released their first PSL of the season is that “OMG Halloween is this mooooooonth!” and Madelyn keeps asking if it’s Halloween yet. Public elementary school is to thank for the constant talk of costumes and candy and decorations.

I had a pretty weak collection of Halloween decor — a few decorative pumpkins, a wreath, a witch that hangs from the bushes in the front of my house. My mom buys me scarecrows every year that Madelyn has affectionately called Mr. Corny. But I’ve kept it pretty light; more cutesy Halloween than blood-curdling screams scary Halloween.

Today Madelyn and I were walking through a parking lot for some errands and she saw the Halloween pop-up store that peppers the shopping centers where we live. She begged me to go in, but I hesitated because we had a to-do list to complete and this wasn’t on it. Also, Madelyn tends to be a delicate flower (read: wuss) and I knew there was no way in H E double hockey sticks that she’d enjoy the interior of the Halloween store.

The girl knows how to beg so I gave in and knew she’d want out of there the second she walked in. After all, right at the front of the store was a whole display of expensive animated figures that jump out and make noise or flash bloody machetes.

Well. Joke’s on me because Madelyn could not get enough of these new friends. Cloaked ghoul, zombie girl, giant hairy spider, werewolves with a fog machine — she. did. not. blink. She giggled and smiled and basically found her new Disneyland. It’s like I don’t even know my own spawn anymore.

Wheeee! Scary things that jump out at me! Yay!

Wheeee! Scary things that jump out at me! Yay!

She was unstumpable. Surely, she’d completely freak out at the bloody appendages hanging from chains?

No. She held them up and swung them around like a lasso. If anything, she thought it was kind of gross that there was fake blood on them, but the concept of a plastic foot made of raw details didn’t even faze her.

"Look, Ma! It's like a necklace with a hand charm!"

“Look, Ma! It’s like a necklace with a hand charm!”

Madelyn is so thoughtful that she's always willing to offer a helping hand.

Madelyn is so thoughtful that she’s always willing to offer a helping hand.

There was a section of skeletons whose bones looked pretty real. There were all different sizes and some even wore capes. They were hanging on a rack in a row. Among them was a scary-ass clown.

She laughed and pointed.

In the back was the equivalent of the XXX movies at the video store from the 90s. There were entire scenes of the scariest creatures I’ve ever seen inside dioramas with pretty gory details and if you push a button next to each scene, it lights up and makes loud shrieky noises. One of them had the unfortunate luck to be electrocuted with zap sounds and all.

I was absolutely sure Madelyn would lose her mind and need therapy after exploring this section despite my suggestion to walk a different way.

Instead, she gleefully pushed the buttons down the line of the display and frolicked through the cacophony of dioramas that were a heartbeat away from becoming real, live Charles Mansons. She was like Maria in the mountains in the opening scene of The Sound of Music. I tell you. I do not know where my daughter went this afternoon.

She seriously just saw the scariest thing i've ever seen and she was hysterical.  Cracking up. Comedy club.

She seriously just saw the scariest thing I’ve ever seen and she was hysterical. Cracking up. Comedy club.

We explored the costume department with the kitschy crayons and slutty fairytale characters, and cheapened 1920s flappers. Then she found the political costumes where people can dress up like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They even had masked heads of donkeys and elephants, just to really camp up the joke that is this year’s election. Halloween is a scary holiday, but the real Halloween happens a week later when we all get to vote. Trick or treat? What will it be?

Madelyn for President!  Make America Silly Again!

Madelyn for President! Make America Silly Again!

And after all this — after all the creepy, gruesome, horrific, and nail-bitingly scary things she saw and heard in the Halloween store today — Madelyn still insists on dressing up as Rapunzel. She may play a toughie on the outside, but deep down, she’s still a soft princess at heart.

Milked It: A New Era for Arielle and Me

I didn’t really mean for it to happen when it did, but it’s sort of symbolic that Rosh Hashanah, the start of a new Jewish year, known for wishing health and sweetness to loved ones, would also mark the final time I breastfed Arielle.

It’s a [Hanukkah] miracle I even breastfed her as long as I did. Or at all! The journey was nothing short of my share of uphill battles and it never came easy for me when it truly mattered, but I was so intent on being able to do what I couldn’t do for Madelyn. The complications from my c-section with Madelyn in 2011 left me feeling quite depressed and defeated and I knew that if I ever had another baby, I would try to do my best to be able to breastfeed.

First day on the job as Arielle's personal dairy farm.

First day on the job as Arielle’s personal dairy farm.

And I did! For 18 months, just two days shy of 19 months, Arielle and I weathered a storm — Hurricane Boob — for the benefits of bonding, comfort, and the magical science that IS breastmilk. Do I think breastfeeding is the only acceptable form of nutrition for a baby? No. Madelyn did just fine on her powdered cocktails of Nutramigen. But I did feel like I missed out on an experience, and I am so glad that Arielle and I have had a very special connection that I’ve never had with anyone else. So, perhaps, it was about me all along; satisfying the curiosity of wanting to know just how special breastfeeding can be, as many women — friends and strangers — have expressed.

But it was time. She was hardly nursing anyway. She would go days between nursing sessions and didn’t seem to notice because she really didn’t need it. I started to wear my nursing tanks and bras less. I wasn’t really nursing her out in public anymore. She was starting to just ask to go straight to bed and skip the milk before naps and nighttime. And then yesterday, Erev Rosh Hashanah (that’s like New Year’s Eve), we were cuddling, she was thirsty, and really, I was too lazy to go downstairs to get her a drink so I figured she could have breastmilk because I am nothing but a walking pantry, and she wasn’t into it; a few suckles and she unlatched. I tried to get her interested again because, I mean, I really didn’t feel like going downstairs (it was cold!), but she shook her head and kept asking for “wa wa.” I suddenly felt like a chef whose patrons were sending entrees back to the kitchen. Where did I go wrong? Why did she not want me? My recipes had always been tried and true! I straightened my chef hat, twirled my tiny mustache, and in my best French chef accent I thought to myself, “Well, what’s that famous French saying? “A little dab’ll do ya?” I tasted a dab and — sacrebleu! — my milk was salty! That’s a sign of milk that hasn’t been emptied and neither of us had been very interested in emptying!

And that’s when I realized that this was the end of our journey. It had to end eventually. I knew that when I first started. People would ask me how long I’d plan to nurse Arielle, as if I was a carton of milk branded with an expiration date — tssssssssss 18 months — but I always just shrugged and said, “Whenever either of us get sick of it.”

Well I came to learn that neither of us were sick of it. Trust me, I was sick of it many times along the line, but I had recently actually gotten to a point where it was easy and drama-free. But we just went with the flow — literally — and I knew it was looming after she turned one, but I also didn’t seem to have any reason for us to stop. But now, between her display of needing breastmilk less, my sudden salty milk, and an impending surgery I’ll be recovering from in about six weeks (more on that later), this feels like the right time that will be stress-free for her and not painful for me.

For the past 18 months, our nursing sessions have always been accompanied by my phone in my lap. Bad habit, probably, but early on my phone served as a distraction when breastfeeding was painful, and then it was kind of a time killer when she wouldn’t stop pre-gaming before bed, and recently it has been a quiet time for me, away from the rest of my household and able to just rest my mind on quiet, brainless activity. But last night, for our final nursing session, I put my phone down, and drank her in, and told her all the reasons why I love her and why we went on this journey together. I cried. She had no idea. But I cried because this is my last baby. My second baby, and my only one to successfully breastfeed. I was sad when my pregnancy experience was over because I’d never know that again (and I’m also weird and liked being pregnant), and I was sad when she left the newborn stage because I’d never love another tiny, little baby again, and I was sad when she started walking because she’d never really need me to explore the world again. I know I sound like a total nutcase, but each milestone, though exciting, leaves me a little older and less needed by these wonderful daughters of mine. Well, I suppose less needed for this period of life (I anticipate being very needed when they want money for shopping or for soap opera breakups). But with each of these milestones achieved, I always knew I was still providing her nourishment and comfort with breastmilk. (That, and if we ended up like Tom Hanks on a deserted island with a volleyball, I could totally keep my family alive!) Now, though, I am two deflated B-cups away from having any biological purpose: I am finished making humans and finished feeding them. Send me out to pasture. Moooo.

As I sat in the comfy chair with Arielle during our last nursing session, I went through all of the major moments of our breastfeeding relationship and tears trickled down my cheeks. My mind showed me the good, the bad, and the ugly, like a time lapse of all the highs and lows of or our 18+ months together: from our first suckle in the hospital on 3/4/15 to the first successful feeding after her tongue tie release; to breastfeeding at Disneyland and on airplanes and at carnivals and Shabbat services to various dramatic blebs and plugged ducts that had me flirting with mastitis; to hating nursing and threatening to quit 13 times to accepting the amazing help of my husband who washed pump parts and set alarms and propped pillows; to having to change my diet completely in order to help Arielle’s digestion of my milk to over supply and under supply at various points of our journey; to sweating bullets while figuring out how to cover up at the mall when a screaming baby was frantically hungry and searching for food and comfort to not giving a shit about what other people thought and hoping to teach others less fortunate to understand and normalize breastfeeding and eventually leaving the Hooter Hider in the car in a fit of freedom; to hand expression when I realized it did more than my pump and blissful peaceful lazy weekend mornings cuddling in bed with Arielle at my breast while big sis and silly dog and daddy played around us; to the sisterhood of breastfeeding support groups and going from desperately needing the information to confidently sharing the information. I don’t regret it, though at times I thought I did. But now, looking back, I know that 18 months is no small feat and I cried because I was proud.

My job here is done. Boob drop.

My big girl is a party girl, probably thanks to her months and months of being up all night at the boob keg.

My big girl is a party girl, probably thanks to her months and months of being up all night at the boob keg.

Professional Kindergartener

It’s been about three weeks of kindergarten and so far, it gets a thumbs up. Everyone is happy and we are getting into the groove of the new schedule.

2nd day of kindergarten and it was just as strong as the first!

2nd day of kindergarten and it was just as strong as the first!

A week before school started, Madelyn got her placement for her class and she ended up in a K/1 split. I was pretty happy about it because I’d heard amazing things about the co-teachers who were doing the K/1 and I knew she could handle the challenges that come with being in a split class. As a teacher, I know that the split classes usually house kids who are independent workers and catch on quickly. I was in a K/1 when I was in kindergarten and I turned out OK. I was super excited for her to have that influence of the older kids while being surrounded by other kindergarteners who were just like her.

The same day we got the assignment, we also happened to meet her teachers. Madelyn was smitten. She thought they were so, so sweet and bright-eyed and I thought they were so, so creative and inspiring. We both walked off campus that day like we were walking on air. The first day of school could not come soon enough!

Madelyn's favorite part about elementary school is hanging up her backpack on the hook. It's the little things.

Madelyn’s favorite part about elementary school is hanging up her backpack on the hook. It’s the little things.

But two days after receiving our assignment, I received a call from the principal that a surge of kindergarteners had just registered and it was enough to make a whole new K class so the split dissolved, a new teacher was hired, and Madelyn would be in this just-created kindergarten class. My heart sank; everything I had wanted for her was busted and now we didn’t know this new teacher. The fear of the unknown was strong.

The first day of school was the first time we got to see her teacher, and Madelyn came home and reported that she was very nice. I didn’t get much else home for the first two weeks, so other than the hellos and goodbyes we exchanged at drop-off and pick-up, I didn’t have any interaction or information about the class. What mattered most, though, was that Madelyn was happy.

In the meantime, she was making friends and learning her way around a new environment. As a mom who was super involved at the preschool level, I knew all the kids and the teachers and everything that was going on in and out of the classroom. In elementary school, though, I had no idea what she was playing at recess or the order in which she was eating her lunch. I didn’t know the routines of the class or who her real friends were. This part has been the biggest adjustment for me. Also, Arielle comes to pick-up sometimes and she wants to walk around — everywhere! — and squeals in delight when she sees her big sister coming out of the gate. These are things she didn’t care about just a few months ago when we were doing the preschool circuit.

Reunited and it feels so goooooood

Reunited and it feels so goooooood

In the last week or so, I’ve gotten to know some of the other parents and everyone seems so nice. Madelyn talks about the same two girls from her class all the time, so I know she’s making friends. I am so happy for her because I really like these new friends and their moms a lot. Knowing that’s in place makes elementary school feel a lot less isolating and more like we are going through these experiences together.

Madelyn always wants one more hug or smooch or wave goodbye in the morning before walking into her classroom with a big smile on her face. I will give them to her as long as she'll let me.

Madelyn always wants one more hug or smooch or wave goodbye in the morning before walking into her classroom with a big smile on her face. I will give them to her as long as she’ll let me.

Last week was Back to School Night and Bryan and I had a date night out to meet the teacher and learn more about the class. It couldn’t have come sooner! I was so excited to have my questions answered and learn a little bit more about how Madelyn spends her day.

I am glad to report that not only is the teacher so sweet, but she’s very cool and approachable and keeps it REAL — yet still very professional! — so she is right up my alley. Of course I am so glad that things worked out the way they did, and I know the days will just get even better and better as the class grows together. I signed up to volunteer in the class one day a week, and I can’t wait to see Madelyn and her friends in action.

And this should not be a shocker, but when I saw that the “Room Parent” duty was still blank on the teacher’s volunteer sheet, I couldn’t let it remain empty. So, I filled in a random person’s name. No, just kidding. I wrote my own. I am such a sucker.

Oh! And homework has started! The first two weeks that the homework folder came home, I thought it was pretty weak. But now I see that those two weeks were practice because THIS week, homework got real. I don’t even mean that in a bad way, but it’s totally digging into the curriculum now and it’s not just coloring stuff. Thankfully, Madelyn absolutely loves homework. I know her tune will change eventually, but for now, she wants to complete her entire week’s packet of work the first night she gets it. I have to pace her, otherwise she’ll finish it all in one night. Thankfully, nothing has been hard or new for her since she’s been reading and spelling for a while now, but she enjoys the process of thinking about the work and always wants to do a little extra. If only college scholarships were based on kindergarten work ethic and standards knowledge.

So at just a little under a month, I give kindergarten an A+. I was nervous for this adventure to start because leaving our preschool bubble was so bittersweet. It’s been a big change for me as a mom: out the door on time; productive mornings to run errands and prepare for the week; oh yeah and taking care of a toddler; working part time; doing homework in the afternoons while also thinking about dinner and what to make and did I go grocery shopping because I don’t have ingredients; getting both girls to bed with actual bedtimes; cleaning the house watching TV before bed. But now that we are feeling like a professional kindergarten family, things are great and becoming more and more comfortable. The schedule is falling into place. The routine is good for everyone. I’m sure I’ll have it all down pat just in time for Thanksgiving break when we have nine days off.

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Old School. New School.

After a busy summer that started with preschool graduation, followed by three different summer camps, Madelyn began kindergarten at long last!

But let’s back up.

Preschool graduation was the sweetest. It was such an emotional day and a true icing on the cake to a fabulous preschool experience. I was so lucky to make some of my most favorite friends ever, and I was honored to have a part in helping create the graduation ceremony with some awesome moms. It was inspired by the movie, “Up” with the theme “Adventure awaits” and we decorated the day to feature colorful balloons.



Madelyn had been practicing all the graduation songs and the order of the ceremony for months and every night at dinner, we’d get a whole show. I knew the whole shebang from start to finish thanks to her sneak peeks, and if anyone was absent, I could’ve easily filled in because I was so well prepared by my little maestro. The irony, is that Little Miss Super Star totally and completely lost her mind when the actual ceremony started. I think the build-up of graduation and the realness of the emotions that preschool was ending hit our very … delicate… girl, and as soon as the processional began and alllllll the happy kids walked into the ceremony, cheerfully marching and singing, Madelyn covered her eyes and the waterworks almost caused a flood in the temple (#SaveTheTorahs). She stood up with her class with her head in her hands and that’s how she finished the song. Newsflash, girlfriend: That’s not how you’re going to get into “Hamilton.”

This is called: Four-Year-Old Freak Out.

This is called: Four-Year-Old Freak Out.

Eventually, with some water and a pep talk from her teacher, she got it together and was able to perform with the rest of her class, hand motions and all. Regular Madelyn was BACK! She finished strong and even collected her diploma.

Therrrrrre's my girl That's how you make it on Broadway. Confident, long arms.

Therrrrrre’s my girl That’s how you make it on Broadway. Confident, long arms.

They still let her graduate, even though she totally flunked the first song in the performance. Softies.

They still let her graduate, even though she totally flunked the first song in the performance. Softies.

And then when graduation was over, she ran toward us and celebrated with her bestie, Keith, as if she had just won a Tony for her performance. Did she forget Processsionalgeddon only 30 minutes before? Either way, we were super proud of her. Our graduate was sparkling the way she normally does, and she said it was the best day ever. She’s a good actress after all.


Madelyn and her bestie, Keith. If there had been a Preschool Prom, they would've totally gone together.

Madelyn and her bestie, Keith. If there had been a Preschool Prom, they would’ve totally gone together.

My Graduation Committee friends and I had so much fun decorating the room, that we also thought there needed to be a photo op! All the kids loved taking pictures and holding the graduation signs and the parents got in on the action too.

I’m so glad we captured some really fun pictures of Madelyn with her big smile on preschool graduation day!






One of the songs that Madelyn actually performed at graduation was a song called “Kindergarten Here We Come” and it did. Those lyrics don’t lie. Her first day of elementary school arrived and she yo-yoed between being super excited and super nervous. I was totally expecting a Processionalgeddon to make another appearance in the form of Drop Off-pocolypse based on her tenuous feelings about starting kindergarten.

It started to sink in hard core at the kindergarten orientation the week before school. It took place in the MPR/Cafeteria and I explained that this would be the room where she would come see shows, or assemblies, or receive an award. And without missing a beat, she asked, “And is this where we will come do Shabbat?” Crickets. So, yeah, I had to explain that there’s no Shabbat or any other Jewish holidays at elementary school and she wasn’t really OK with that.

Moving right along…

She continued to ebb and flow between nervous and excited. I did what any mom of a girl with fragile feelings would do: I took her shopping. We picked out a bunch of new outfits for school and one of them became her first-day ensemble. And then I showed her pictures of my first day of kindergarten. Her observations: “Mommy, your bow is very big.” “The teacher has white legs.” and “My hair looks better than yours.” All of these are mostly correct.

LITTLE TWIN STARS BACKPACK! Madelyn and her Pottery Barn Kids backpack are SO jealous of my 1988 accessories.

LITTLE TWIN STARS BACKPACK! Madelyn and her Pottery Barn Kids backpack are SO jealous of my 1988 accessories.

Am I going to school on a prairie? A dude ranch? And why is my waist so high under my non-boobs?

Am I going to school on a prairie? A dude ranch? And why is my waist so high under my non-boobs?

Teacher's dress confirms it: prairie it is.

Teacher’s dress confirms it: prairie it is.

Last night, we made sure to start off on the right foot by implementing our bedtime routine that we failed at all summer. She’s just a night owl. But she’s also not a morning person (I have NO idea where she gets that from. Hum dee hum dee doo dee doo), and we knew she’d have such a hard time waking up if she didn’t have an early bedtime. We tried to implement it all summer, but things got in the way and we couldn’t be consistent. Last night, we meant business. We read a story about kindergarten and we went to sleep talking about kindergarten. She had to have nothing but pleasant kindergarten dreams to really get into her subconscious, right? Both kids were in bed by 7:45 and Bryan and I felt like we won parenting.


This morning, the first day of school, Madelyn woke up all on her own. That’s good because I had a really hard time getting up (see above re: non-morning people and how it’s a genetic disorder) but I blame that on the tossing and turning I did all night because apparently, it’s not just kids and teachers who are nervous for the first day of school!

Chipper and cheery, Madelyn completed her morning checklist that we started a few weeks back. She loves checking off her must-do items each morning that help her get focused and ready for the day. I recommend this method to parents everywhere, especially if you have a kid who dilly-dallies in the morning like mine.

She ate a sensible breakfast (TJ’s frozen waffle and yogurt. I ain’t no morning Martha) and we took our First Day Of School photos like all the other parents took while breaking the internet today. I made her a sign because I’m too cheap to buy one and I got a little emotional as I saw my baby all ready to go to kindergarten. Elementary school is no joke. This is like the start of it all and I had Danny Tanner moments of seeing my girl grow up before my eyes at this front door: smiling in braces; dangling car keys to her first wheels; with a date and corsage before prom; move out day for college. YOU GUYS! This is like the runaway train to all that stuff. We can’t get off! She just grows up and we have to be OK with that! This is insanity! Also, PS, I have no idea where Madelyn gets her dramatics.




She was excited to go, but then as we parked and started our walk to the gate, she got a little apprehensive. I know that it’s a sign of doom to come; Her voice begins to sound wiggly and she starts to question things.

We walked to her classroom and we had about ten minutes until the bell would ring. Kids were starting to gather. All of them were bouncing off the halls. Madelyn began to cling harder. It’s funny: most people see videos of Madelyn or observe her with her friends and think she’s a total ham. And 99% of the time, that’s the case. But when she’s uncomfortable or unsure, she shrinks. This was no different and Bryan and I exchanged looks of dread and embarrassment and pity for the likely fact that she was going to lose it when it was time to walk in.

The teacher opened the door and all the kids lined up to meet her and walk inside. Madelyn mentioned she was missing her preschool friends and we reassured her that they were missing her, too, and they were all starting new adventures also. She was glad to know that they weren’t all back at familiar preschool without her. Girlfriend has some serious FOMO like her mama. However, before we could really get a grip on the situation, her head went into her hands and her shoulder slumped over and it was like we were looking at that scared little girl at graduation who just couldn’t get it together. We were losing her! She was a goner! Houston! We have a problem! Bryan crouched down and shared some words of inspiration; then I took my turn. And in the knick of time, she swallowed her tears and fears, and as the second-to-last kiddo to get to the front of the line, the teacher welcomed her and ushered her to the carpet where all the other kids happily gathered and we shrugged. Parents aren’t allowed into the classroom at kindergarten drop-off, so our job was done. It was out of our control now.



The day went slow for us back at home. I was dying to know what was going on back at school. It’s not that I’m a helicopter mom; I’m just a very curious mom!

When it was finally time to pick her up a measly 5 hours later, she offered up a pretty good report. She mentioned she only cried twice during the day (only) and it was because she didn’t know where her teacher went during lunch (answer: to talk about all the students with all the other teachers) and she didn’t get a chance to go down the slide because the “Orange Vest People” (campus supervisors) said that recess was over.

I asked a million questions about the day, but it was like pulling teeth to get answers and even the best dentist in the world wouldn’t be able to get her to offer up some juicy details. From what I gathered, there was something about a scavenger hunt and she made two friends. She also said the bathrooms are clean but there are no toilet seat covers so she lined the seat with toilet paper. I’m glad to know that the life lessons I’ve taught her have traveled to school. But as far as a play-by-play of what kindergarten was like: nothin’. I think tomorrow I’m going to strap a GoPro to her head so I can see what goes on in kindergarten!

Despite the roller coaster of everyone’s emotions in the Friedman house, I am actually really excited and looking forward to these school years. Our school feels like a really nice and tight-knit community of families which isn’t dissimilar from our preschool experience. I can’t wait to watch her learn and explore both academically and socially, and I know this is just the beginning of truly amazing Madelyntastic things!


  1. Mimi
    8/25/2016 8:29 PM

    Dear Madelyn! You will enjoy kindergarten so much because you like to learn and try new things. You will make lots new friends and many of them will be your good friends for many years to come. I can’t wait to hear about all the fun you’re having. Pretty soon YOU will be reading a book to ME!
    Go Madelyn! Go Roadrunners!
    I LOVE you! <3