Best Birthday Gifts for Mom

Does a mom experience any sweeter feeling than watching quietly from the staircase as her child, unknowing that he is being observed, makes French Toast for her birthday? Dad is out of town, and this is my boy’s own idea. “I thought of it last night before I went to bed. If you were still upstairs, I would have cut a flower from the garden for you.” He is his father’s son.

His brother comes downstairs sleepily, “You woke me up!” He is his mother’s son. He needs ample sleep and many reminders of things like other people’s birthdays. Consoled by news that his brother has made French toast, he lumbers to the table and puts his head down on his beloved Calvin and Hobbes anthology. His brother and I don’t mention the occasion for the French toast, giving him a chance to remember on his own. After a while I figure I won’t hide the ball, I’ll put it right in front of him, give him a break.

“Can I tell you something?” I ask. I lean in to his warm body wrapped in footed pajamas and reveal, “Today’s my birthday!” He consents to a hug, a smile, and a “Happy birthday.” That’s a whole lotta lovin’ from this one, in his current phase, and I know it. It’s a good reminder to accept my boys as the people they are, brilliantly unique.

The birthday morning brigade


It’s no lie that these small gifts from my two vastly different soul-boys fill me up. (The icing on my cake? No morning squabbles, no rushing out the door for school. Birthday miracles is the only rational explanation.)

Arriving at school, another hug is reluctantly offered by the tough guy: “But in the car, mom, where no one can see us.” I take what I can get. But when we are on the sidewalk, I do something dumb. I can’t help myself: I hug him again anyway. I know it’s not good for our relationship. I know I should respect his boundaries. Aachh…I’ll start tomorrow. “Hugging you is like eating a cupcake,” I say, trying to explain my weakness on his terms.

Cupcake and photo by Jessica Heisen

(Cupcake and photo by Jessica Heisen)

His countenance brightens. “Speaking of cupcakes…!?”

I smile and say, “We’ll see.” If I play my cards right, there may be another hug and kiss in this day yet.

Mother’s Day: Be Prepared

In anticipation of Mother’s Day…

It has been a magical seven years since I first published Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. Seven! My 9 year old was celebrating his first birthday when I began assembling motherhood stories as a project to save my sanity, not knowing what it would become.

I can say without bragging — because 19 of the writers in it are not me — that the book holds up. I am embarrassingly astonished that this is true. It’s a good little book! A shiny gem. My third baby.

If you would like to give Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood as a gift — for Mother’s Day, a baby shower, or a birthday — I would be delighted to send you a signed bookplate to stick in the front. It is available on Amazon or Or, I’m going to go all full-service here, I can ship you signed copies myself, if you would like to order 2 or more.

Supplies are unlimited, so ask away!

You can let me know how many you want by e-mailing me at, or leaving a comment (click the little word box at the top right of this entry to leave a comment).

With love and appreciation,

Throwback Thursday: My Kid’s Words Take Me Way Back, Deep

If you’ve been on Facebook at some point in your life, you’ve seen people calling out “Throwback Thursday” and then sharing some cool photo they dug up. 

See, this one just came up while I was writing!

See, this one just came up while I was writing!

It’s odd how things catch on. Like why not Throwup Thursday, why isn’t that a thing? Why not dust off some college era shots of you and your pals tossing back tequila shots and the aftermath.

Well, I guess we know why not. You have to do more than alliterate. You have to have intrinsic value. And there’s something valuable, something that moves us when we see our loved ones as they were in times gone by. The retro shot of them their underwear on a slip ‘n’ slide, or riding a bike sans helmet, or cuddling a baby. It’s a sort of mirror. It’s nostalgia porn. We’re addicted.

Since I’m about more about words than images, I enter the throwback craze with a quote from my kid that I wrote down two years ago, age 7. I found it by accident just now. I never would have remembered it, my memory becoming increasingly unsticky and riddled with holes. I tell you, it’s worth writing down the things they say, even if like me you have no system for finding or saving them. Because, like me, you may happen upon one while looking through worn yellow legal pads for something else that you can’t find but need right away, and you will be taken to another place, by something you thought noteworthy enough at the time to pause, find a pen, and record.

“I believe in two things that are probably impossible…”

That caught my attention. That must have been when I grabbed for the pen.

“…The Loch Ness monster, and when I die I’ll come back in other lives.”


(Hope ol' Lochy isn't in here!)

(Hope ol’ Lochy isn’t in here!)


To believe in something that you simultaneously deem to be “probably impossible.” Is that the definition of faith? I said I believed in them both, too. No one’s proved us wrong yet.



“Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs” free eBooks for all…until tonight!

Thanks again to Susan Schaefer Bernardo for offering a free Kindle download of her beautiful children’s book “Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs” to Confessions of Motherhood readers.

To get it, click the link below, but don’t procrastinate because it’s only free through tonight (Sunday).

Of course, if you forget, you can buy a copy (virtual or hardcopy) on Amazon.

Don’t fret if you are like me and have resisted Kindle. You can download the Kindle app to any device — laptop, iPad — and read it that way.

Thanks again to Susan. This was a fun way to connect a great book with great readers, and I’ll be on the lookout for more.

Happy Sunday.



A Giveaway for International Book Giving Day!

I didn’t know there was such a thing as International Book Giving Day until my friend, writer and do-gooder Susan Schaefer Bernardo, told me. So it was inevitable that I would ask Susan, the author of a children’s book, Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs if she’d write a guest post and yes, give a copy of the book to a Confessions of Motherhood reader. Everyone who leaves a comment will receive an e-book, and one commenter picked at random (scout’s honor) will receive a hard copy of the book. So make sure to leave a comment at the end of this post!

Susan says, “Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs was born out of love and loss.  I wanted my kids to know that I love them wherever they go — that we are connected even when we are physically apart.” 

Here is more from Susan:

When Laura asked me to write a guest post for this beautiful blog, I sifted through my memory for a captivating confession.  I’ve got lots, what with sixteen years of mothering two boys under my belt (a larger belt these days — I’ve been eating the crusts off their pb&j sandwiches).

I’ve got more confessions than my son has little-bitty Legos.  All those times they wore mismatched socks to school because I didn’t get the laundry done…Or how about the infamous day I threw my son into the pool to end a tantrum (he held tight and pulled me in with him!).

Here’s another confession: I was glad he clung to me, because I absolutely, positively hate letting go. I know, I know — it was clearly stated in the job description. Moms are meant to help their kids grow strong wings and show them how to fly the nest. I do…but at every step – the first day of pre-school, first sleepover, first driving lesson – it feels like part of my heart flies off with them.

My children’s book, Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs was born out of love and loss.  I wanted my kids to know that I love them wherever they go — that we are connected even when we are physically apart. 

Mother love transcends all the “bad mommy” moments: it’s a love that isn’t conditional on how clean their rooms are or whether we got enough sleep last night. It’s a love permanently etched onto our hearts like the stretch marks etched onto our bellies. Love is an ever-present force of nature, as powerful as the moon’s gravity:

“It’s true the moon cannot reach down to hold your hand,

but she’s strong enough to pull waves onto sand.

Her invisible arms rock the tides by night and day,

Like my love holds you safely when I am away.”

The last few years have been challenging –a painful divorce (is there any other kind?), a transition from stay-at-home mom to working woman. The hardest part for me has been sharing custody. I miss my kids intensely, even though they are safe and happy with dad, too.

My friend Courtenay Fletcher and I take a lot of long “walk n’talks.”  In 2012, I shared how I missed my boys…and she shared her sadness about a friend dying of breast cancer and leaving behind a 5-year-old daughter. As we consoled each other, Courtenay recalled something her mother once said: “Even when we are apart, we see the same moon – and we can send each other hugs that way.”

That idea inspired me to write a poem. That poem inspired Courtenay to create beautiful illustrations. A book took shape, and we became two moms with a mission. We raised $10,000 on Kickstarter and printed 3,000 copies. (The book took nine months from conception to birth – how perfect is that?)

Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs is a book for every child – it reassures kids they are always connected to the ones they love.  Soothing words for bedtime…and for hard times, too, when kids suffer grief or separation anxiety.  Writing the book helped heal the ‘child alone’ inside me, too.

Whenever I miss you, I will find a way to hug and kiss you….

Hugs by moon, and kisses by sun,

I’ll always love you, Little One.”

So that’s my big confession. I love my kids like crazy, and I’m willing to do the time for my crime. In fact, like every mother I know, I will happily serve a life sentence – and beyond.


Author Susan Schaefer Bernardo and illustrator Courtenay Fletcher love to share Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs with kids and families in need…so they donate lots of copies to great charities like A Window Between Worlds, United through Reading, hospitals and more.  Once in a blue moon, they offer the e-book FREE so EVERYBODY can share the love. It might not be the world’s most profitable business model, but it works for them. Hardcover and Kindle versions are available at…if you love the book, please leave a review!

Be sure to comment below to receive your free e-book and a chance to receive a hard copy in honor of National Book Giving Day.

Love Is in the Air

We’ve had the sex talk, my kids and I. It’s nearing the point where I’m going to start learning from them, heaven help me. The littler guy has demonstrated what passionate kissing looks like, with the help of a mirror.

“Where on earth did you learn that?” I asked.

Harry Potter,” he answered. (Which Harry Potter did I see?)

Ah, yes, the birds and the bees are the gift that keeps on giving. Today I’m pleased to have another of my stories shared on WhattheFlicka. It’s good for a few laughs, and provides valuable instruction on how to (and how not to) talk with your pre-schooler about sex, and — more importantly — how to keep said pre-schooler from sharing all he knows with his friends.

Go ahead and comment below or over there, if you like.

Thanks for reading and sharing, as always. And happy early Valentine’s Day.


Ancient Words Speak: I’m Speechless

Hi, again. I hope you’ll forgive my absence. I was otherwise consumed. We had a Bar Mitzvah last weekend.


My mind has been so occupied with it that I could not think. I’m not talking about the detail-y things (the suit fitting, the speech-writing, the catering questions, the back-and-forth e-mails planning the ever-increasing number of events that unfold when you are blessed with a family that loves to be together and will travel across the country en masse to celebrate your child’s milestone).

I’m talking about the high frequency emotional tautness that has vibrated through me for the past few months, a nameless feeling that sent me to the ocean to cry three weeks ago, just to get some release. “There should be a word for eloping a Bar Mitzvah,” I declared to my friend of infant twins, thinking she had 12 1/2 years to prepare herself.

Some cousins asked me if I was going to write about the experience. I wanted to, I said, “but I don’t even know where I’d begin.” I was in the emotions stratosphere. I could not find an entry point through that thick mass of tension and joy, anticipation and anxiety that ran through me the past two months. Try as I might, I could not come down to ground level, let alone go underground deep enough to find the buried treasures of meaning in the whole process.

It’s too bad, because a ritual to honor your child’s maturation strikes me as a moment made for reflecting.


I’m hoping that now that the whole shebang is done, I can go back to look for the golden nuggets.

I am beginning my descent from the high wire, from the astonishing magnitude of pride, from the celebrations and hurt feelings, the wonderment and messiness, the beauty and chaos that happen in moments of heightened living, all of which somehow get squeezed into regular 24-hour days.

Stuff happens that you don’t expect. I didn’t expect to feel so “filled up,” as my friend put it. I didn’t expect my son to play in his team’s basketball game 90 minutes after his Bar Mitzvah ended.


I certainly never expected my meat-and-potatoes father-in-law to order (and to enjoy), probiotic yogurt with Chia seeds and raw organic honey at an organic restaurant the morning of his return to stone-cold and sensible Pennsylvania. (Will wonders never cease?)

It has been six days since I watched my little boy stand with unprecedented composure (where did that come from?) and read ancient Hebrew from a book that has not changed for over 3000 years,   Reading from Torah

a book that essentially teaches, “Be upright. Be kind. Love everyone.” Six days since I listened to him say that he wants to grow up to be a person who makes other people look good. (His best basketball stat being the assist.) Since I heard his younger brother “admit” in front of everyone that he admires his brother “a little bit.” Since I nearly burst with fervent wishing when our rabbis and cantor graced him with the traditional blessing for protection and peace.

Six days ago, my husband thanked our parents for teaching us how to love so we could raise our children with heaps of it, and I told our son how grateful I was to be his mom. Seeing my eyes glisten, with a grin he handed me a tissue.

Aaron with tissue

As I took it, I leaned over and encircled this boy who was at once my baby and the generous young man who was blooming right before our eyes.

More to come.

Cirque du Soleil, Blows Mere Mortals Away

Every time Cirque du Soleil’s Grand Chapiteau rises from the asphalt in the Santa Monica Pier’s parking lot, I get goosebumps — indelible sense memories born of watching superhumans perform mind-blowing, out-of-the-box artistry so terrifying and exhilarating that you cannot clap until you are sure the performers are okay.


The last time the Cirque transformed the parking lot into a blue and yellow striped festival of enchantment and daring acrobatics, my friend’s daughter proclaimed she was thrilled to be heading to “Circus L.A.” Attending on Opening Night was the typical Circus L.A. — red carpet entrance, shouting photographers, VVIP pre-show.

It’s got to be weird for these actors who were once mere mortals, being fetishized because their work puts them on movies and tv screens. But I do give credit to these professional performers for being an audience that offered genuine and unabashed appreciation for what was happening before their eyes.


I haven’t loved every Cirque du Soleil show I’ve seen. (Ovo comes to mind.) But for sheer chutzpah and scare-you-out-of-your-pants acrobatics, not to mention inspiring lighting and sets, Totem is among their best. But since the excitement of the performance is in not knowing what to expect, my job is to preserve the pure experience for you, not to ruin it with the blow-by-blow. If you can, Go.

STOMP your heart out

This is totally how we sweep around my house.

Of course not. This is STOMP, which I saw for the first time when I wasn’t all that much older than  my kids are now. It blew my mind when I saw it. Nothing had ever been so downright funky-to-the-beat, imagination-en-fuego as this. It is deservedly an international juggernaut of a show, with permanent companies running in London and New York.

It has been in L.A. before and I’ve missed it. Not this time — I’m taking my boys this Wednesday (yes, a school night, yes, a test the next day), and I cannot wait to watch their minds blown. Especially my budding drummer. There is a chance that I will be the most excited of all of us, that I will embarrass them by shrieking like the Beatles are on stage. All I can say is, that’s a chance I’m willing to take. Look out kitchen drawers, look out mops and buckets, look out whatever we will get our hands on.  It’s gonna be epic.



Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd. (near La Cienega) Beverly Hills

Tuesday, December 17 to Sunday, January 5