Tag Archives: gratitude

Icy cold outside, warm inside-thank you


Dear Readers,

I’m working on a new post for soon, but just wanted to say:
Thank you and Welcome
to all the new followers of recent weeks
and days as well as everyone who’s been here
a long time.

I hope you stay warm enough or cool enough.
Wherever you may be on the planet,
I’m so glad you’re here, too.

Love &


In the final hours all the things we do with love

Dear Readers,

I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support by readers here. Many of you have sent me personal messages and  emails and all are so greatly appreciated. Thank you.


It’s harder the before part, isn’t it? When you know the end is inevitable, but yet, you watch looking to find glimmers. Oh, Ringo walked to her bowl. She’s still making it to her litter box. Oh, and she ate a bit more! She’s purring. After a few days of her withdrawing to under the table, resting and sleeping mostly, not sleeping on our bed, not jumping up on my desk to lounge on top of my laptop and help me…

After days of not, this morning Ringo jumped back up to my desk and sat in her usual spots. On the right side, behind the laptop, on top, on my lap, over my shoulder, and then circle back again to look out window at birds. She meowed and asked me to pick her up and I held her, Ringo Lite, so  airy and fragile, and she did that thing she does, nestling into my neck, hugging and purring. We sat like that for a while, while I cried and cried. I wasn’t sure I’d get to experience that one more time. But she came and gave that moment to me. One more time on my desk, inspired.

I thanked her out loud for being here with us for so long, and all her goodness. I thanked her for being there and helping us through tragedies and health problems and happy days and holidays, and boring nothing happens days, every day. I thanked her. I cried into her fur and she just purred. “What a good cat. What a good, good cat, you are. Thank you, Ringo. “

Then she got down and I thought, OK, she has given me her love for 15.5 years, a third of our lives. I have given everything I could to her. I’m lucky.

pic from 9/16/14 but she did this today, too
pic from 9/16/14 but she did this today, too

A little bit on how we found her is in this below:

Exhibit curated by Holly Metz, Cover -An Exhibition at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 2004
Exhibit curated by Holly Metz, Cover -An Exhibition at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 2004
The bit about Ringo starts on this page
The bit about Ringo starts on this page
And the rest is on this page
And the rest is on this page

This painting (sorry for not such great photo of it):

Ringo, 2001 by EH
Ringo, 2001 by EH

was inspired by this photo:

August, 2001 by EH
August, 2001 by EH

Today, Ringo enjoyed chicken and kugel (she can be such a little Jewish cat) cut up into the tiniest of pieces and heated up in the microwave. It’s hard for her to eat. It’s almost time.

Here we are with TableCat in September 2010 during Rosh Hashana.

September 2010
September 2010

When we first got her, she also couldn’t eat. So small, at 5 weeks and abandoned without her mommy cat,  we went to a vet and tried everything, used a dropper, but for days she seemed to not eat enough. On Mother’s Day morning, 1999, maybe a week after we found her, I was eating a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. Suddenly, Super Tiny Ringo jumped with all four paws into the bowl and starting chomping down. I let her (and got myself another bowl), but then I made her little cracker type things using the cereal as a base and smearing on baby cat food. She gobbled it up, eating from my hands. She’s been a great eater ever since and she grew into a whole cat.

Vintage Ringo Collection
Vintage Ringo Collection

In recent years, she’s been finicky with food, but that was fine, but really, she’s eaten very well her whole life, enjoying plenty of delicious home food courtesy of Andy’s amazing cooking skills. Now, at the end, she can’t eat enough to sustain. It is  almost time, soon, before she knows hunger, before it hurts too much, her pain meds keeping her comfortable for now.

M said, “Her work is done. She has achieved all her life’s goals. Now its time for her to rest.”

But denial along with that, “At least she doesn’t have cancer. She’ll be here, probably two more months. I’ll have one more birthday with Ringo.”

I had to tell him the truth. “Yes, Ringo does have cancer. She is going to die soon, but we don’t know exactly when. She won’t be here for your birthday. I’m so sorry.”

Watching him let that sink in was hard. His face fell. He bit his lip. I could see he was holding back tears. He gets it and doesn’t get it. We talk of the Rainbow Bridge. I told him whatever he feels is OK. I told him all feelings are OK. I said, “Let’s talk about FutureCat. Let’s eat more ice cream.”

I check on Ringo, watching her breathe. Making sure. I look around the house at all the spots where she has always been. The windows. The couch. The table. My desk. The beds. The hall. The litter box. Under things. There is fur in the screen of the window. There is fur.  More windows. She’s still so present and here. I’m already sad at the thought of her absence. All the above, but without Ringo in the picture. All the drawings I have made over the years which include her. There’s that empty space, the negative space, where she won’t be.

I cry a lot. I keep it together for when M is home. He’s so sensitive, we need to be careful, what we say, how we say it. But we still need and want to be honest and tell him the truth. We keep searching for ways to be as gentle as possible, knowing that while he often seems older than his years,  he’s also younger in other ways. All those feelings of loss and grief are certainly hard enough for an adult to process. I don’t think there’s any one right way or wrong way. We know our M and we make decisions that we feel are best for him, for us. So far, it is a mix but it is also calm and peaceful and is also a thing our family is going through together, each in our own different ways, and there really is no way out of it, just through it.

"Through the storm" made after Superstorm Sandy  in December 2012.
“Through the storm” made after Superstorm Sandy in December 2012.

This morning, M made some video of Ringo. He pet her head. He talked about names for his next Future Kitten.  He listed for me all the reasons why rescuing a cat is best, why we’ll get one from a shelter, why we won’t buy a cat from a store. M gets it.  He’s a real  cat person now. I’m glad for that.

I’m pulling out albums and looking through pictures and scanning and the time is going by too fast and it isn’t  just Ringo, but all the STUFF that has happened in the past chunk of time, 15.5 years, all rushing by. Little blips of images, memories, deaths, losses, snapshots of happy days and nights and all the days in between. Like a blur  going inward and backwards, but holding on to the pieces of the moment. I need to remember to eat. There is fur in corners and on steps and on my desk and on the window sill and —- and I like it that way.

Cat lovers know how special these creatures are. Ringo has been a muse for me. She heard me when I talked about trouble and when I triumphed. I have received and received. Grateful.

detail from illustration 2012
detail from illustration 2012

A silly ditty we had and rhymes…oh, there are so many silly songs and memories and things we have said:

“Ringo, bingo, bango, bongo, cat would eat a mango. ”

“Who’s good? Ringo’s good.”

“Ringo, Cat of Excellence!”

“Ringo, Cat of Destiny and Density.”

“Ringo, Cat of Constant Furrinness and Love.”

“Ringo, Healing Paws.”

Ringo is  a state of mind and an attitude. Ringo is pure love. We got to have pure love for 15.5 years.

How lucky is that?! Wildly, incredibly lucky to have Ringo in our life. All joy and love covered in fur. All goodness and peace. Our Beautiful Ringo, Angel Cat.

Ringo is made of StarStuff.

With love,


from Creative Systems Thinking
from Creative Systems Thinking



Day 30: I Did It!

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” 

——Nelson Mandela

Dear Readers,

….And we’ve arrived at my last post of the Wordcount Blogathon 2013! Yay! I did it!


GRATITUDE: Thank you to Michelle Rafter and her team at the WordCount Blogathon 2013 for creating and organizing this awesome experience for bloggers!

Thank you to every single person who read The Way It Is for the past month (and before).

Thank you to every single one of you wonderful readers, fellow bloggers, friends, family, neighbors, other parent activists, artists, writers, and those on the other side of the planet. Thank you for reading and supporting this effort! You’ve got  no idea how incredible it’s been to receive your kind words of support. It has helped tremendously. I honestly  can’t believe I did it! You helped. Thank you!

Thanks to my  amazing husband and son who put up with me and my daily, “I have to post” mutterings,  excessive un folded laundry piles, and all the time I took away from them in order to  do this (plus the activism, meetings, etc.) in between and on top of life’s already packed daily routine. If not for Ringo, our excellent cat, some posts wouldn’t have happened. That’s the truth.

As I write this now, M keeps coming in to check on my phone timer because I promised him I’d play with him in 15 minutes and I keep saying,  “I’m almost done!”  and resetting the timer. Yikes. I need to go.

Leaving you with these few things:

Perhaps one of the greatest songs ever written. Both Sides, Now by the singular Joni Mitchell:

From one of my favorite childhood books, Chicken Soup With Rice by one of my favorite authors and illustrators, the genius, Maurice Sendak:


My June calendar and laptop:


I remember getting star stickers for accomplishing assignments at school when I was little. I put one sticker star on my calendar every time I finished a post for the WordCount Blogathon 2013 this June:


I’ll be returning to a once a week posting schedule which I hope to maintain. I’ll continue to write about education and the goings on in our town, but not exclusively. I’m interested in too many things to pick just one, so it’ll be more of a mix like it was before this blogathon.

Good evening, good morning,
See you again soon.

Love and peace,


Day 20: A Day at the Zoo

Dear Readers,

I joined my son’s class at their year-end  field trip to the local zoo. It was a beautiful, sunny day and everyone was in good spirits. I was so happy to take a break from the revolution to spend time with M and his classmates,  parents,  and teachers.


After every experience with Ms class, I’m always left asking,  how do teachers do what they do every single day? I bow down at their feet in gratitude. Really. They’re amazing.

Today offered a beautiful reminder and I felt deep appreciation for hands-on learning, exploring, adventure, team work, cooperation, kindness, generosity, empathy, caring, humor, and love.  I’m especially thankful for the new friends I’ve made via Ms class this year.

On several occasions, when M got melty (hey, his mom was there so of course that would happen), his friends (and teachers) stepped in to help. It was incredible to see how they all look out for each other.

Plus, we rode the train.


And we met this guy, a red panda who I’ve fallen in love with.




Also thinking about James Gandolfini, being scared, and things that help.

Thanks, Sesame Street and Mr. Gandolfini, for helping us cope with big feelings.

Love and Peace and Hugs,



Dear Readers,

IMG_9108I adore Mary Oliver and her poem, “I Have Decided” (from A Thousand Mornings, Poems). When I read this  (or much of her other work), I feel understood. Yes, that’s  what I mean to say  —what I think  —what I believe —want to believe… Yes, I’m following you. This is a precise capturing of  complicated thoughts and feelings  distilled into what feels to me like having the best ice cream sundae with a cherry on top on a  sunny day where everything is clear and you’re with your favorite people.


I love that such big ideas are expressed in so few words. There’s nothing like reading something that resonates and feels true at exactly the moment I need to receive those words. They swirl around in my head, reaching into things I need or want to think about, or work on. They inspire me and answer questions I have and raise more questions, too. Gratitude to Mary Oliver.

Love and peace,





Sadness and Gratitude Holding Hands

Dear Readers,

There I was, writing about Kindergarten fears, when news of the shooting near the Empire State Building in NYC on Friday stopped me cold.

I started to write about that.

Then I learned that Jerry Nelson, longtime Puppeteer for the Muppets and Sesame Street, had died.

I started to write about that.

Then yesterday, the news that Neil Armstrong had also died.

I stopped trying to write and let it all sink in. I tried to focus on the good.

Two great men. Two kinds of heroes. Both figures that entered my world when I was just a toddler and have been around my whole life. Gone.

Jerry Nelson was immensely talented. He brought joy and learning to countless children and grown ups over his long and marvelous career.

I thought about watching Sesame Street as a child in 1969 when it first aired.

I found myself furiously sketching this:

Then I reached for a book, Sesame Street Unpaved, scripts, stories, secrets and songs by David Borgenicht

I thought of my friends who work at  Sesame Street and how sad they must be.

I thought about how incredibly fortunate I was to work there (on and off) in a variety of jobs for over 20 years. I first started working there in the early 90’s, just a few weeks before the late, great Jim Henson died. At that time, I was an intern, answering viewer mail. I’d never seen so many condolences letters. So many lives were touched and changed by his work. And we continue to enjoy his greatness even though he’s long gone from the planet. I think Jerry Nelson will also be remembered for a very long time, especially through his remarkable body of work as a masterful puppeteer, most notably as the creator and original performer of The Count, among many other characters.

How do you quantify or measure that?

I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein:

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

 Jerry Nelson’s  work and legacy lives on in the many characters he created; immortalized on film and video. It’s all there for us to enjoy for years to come. What a great gift we’ve been left with.

I thought about relationships and work colleagues. I met my husband at a party on the set of Sesame Street in 1995. Tomorrow, we’re celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary. I couldn’t be more grateful for that life changing moment when my friend, a writer for the show, introduced us. I love and admire her for many reasons. That moment, which has led us to 17 years together, is certainly one of the biggest reasons. That isn’t something I can quantify. It’s immeasureable. At the same time, it counts as a HUGE moment that altered my life for the better and in ways which I could not have imagined for myself.

Makes me think of when Andy plays the Elton John song so beautifully on piano, “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” (Lyrics, Bernie Taupin):

“And I thank the Lord for the people I have found.”

Oh, yes, minus the Lord, for me, but yes, deeply thankful for the people I have found. And what a beautiful song that is.

I thought about how when loved ones die and leave behind a family, friends, colleagues, those people will never celebrate another living anniversary or milestone or ordinary day together ever again. Life can be gone in an instant. I’m grateful daily for the people in my life. Gratitude helps with my sadness. It grounds me in what is here now and it lives along with the sadness. It isn’t one instead of the other. It is both. Sadness and gratitude holding hands.

I thought about respect, talent, and a love of children. And a belief that all children have a right to a decent, good education that is free from war, violence, and sorrow. They have a right that we do our best to provide that. They deserve that we don’t stop working towards that.

Here, two great men, one from the arts, one from science–both made remarkable contributions to our country and the world. I think about science and the arts and that they’re equally important and they’re both connected by imagination, exploration, and discovery, by hard work and requiring an attitude of humility, and open minds that creates a pursuit of life long learning, which in turn creates progress. I want Max to have role models and heroes in every area of life. And I want him (and all the other children in this country and beyond) to grow up in a place where both science and the arts are recognized as being of value.

And where they intersect–in places like Sesame Street, counting, numbers, and math delivered in a fun, playful, accessible way. Art, math, and music together! Do you remember that Slimey the Worm also went into space? Sesame Street pretty much covers it all. Then there is flight, courage, space exploration, walking on the moon, and from that we have heard and seen some of the most poetic words and images. There was an opening up of imagination and expanding limits beyond what was possible that still inspires today:

 “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

–Neil Armstrong, First man to walk on the moon

I get goosebumps every time I see that footage. I was three when I saw it happen live for the first time. It never gets old.

I thought about a disgruntled worker, killing another. Someone lost their job a year ago, and on Friday, killed a man, and created panic and fear in the heart of NYC. The news says what it says. The same story spins around again.

I thought about guns and why our country is hell-bent on self-destruction, so heartbroken, fearful, and angry. Quick to pull the trigger. So desperately sad. I watch neighborhood children with their toy guns and their water guns, and I wonder why their parents can’t (or won’t) find them something else to do with their natural, human aggression? Why the guns?

Then I thought about people like Jerry Nelson who brought light and laughter into the world. Our world needs people in it who bring fun, light, color, movement, creativity, and music. Then I think about those who suggest the arts, physical education, foreign language, libraries, and classroom aides are lines that should (and are) cut from the budgets. They are deemed unnecessary. Really? Imagine a world without art, music, film, tv, theater, or books.

We need to give children a fighting chance to grow up by making our country safer and healthier. We need people who inspire learning and play. We need science and math and ALL of it. We need people to end hunger. We need people to fight poverty. We need people to teach in ways that support and nuture children, not just test them into oblivion.  We need business, too, of course, but not instead of people and their basic welfare and health. There’s a way to have both. Not all businesses are evil, far from it. But priorities must shift. Maybe remembering these two men will remind us all what people can become and accomplish if they’re nurtured, educated, and fed both literally and figuratively.

I see people are incredibly unkind to one another. The anger is spraying bullets through easily purchased guns. I came across this:

 “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

 —Dalai Lama

I can’t say I’ve never been unkind, I know I’ve been unkind, and I know I’ll likely be unkind again, because I’m human, and sometimes people are unkind.  But what if we made this our goal? Something that we work towards. At least something we attempt to do with our children. Each other. Our city. Our town. Our country. Our planet. The only thing I can come up with for today:  to the news of the violence, to the news of death, to the news of endings–is to send  out words, colors, love, and wishes for peace.

I choose a rainbow of colors, fur, monsters that don’t hurt, but teach us how to be human.

I choose marveling at the moon and the men who walked on it.

Thank you, Jerry Nelson for the years of amazing characters,  voices, and songs. I hope you rest in peace. You have made a difference in so many lives, including mine.

I love this quote from him I found in Sesame Street Unpaved:

 “Don’t give up, no matter how far away you are from the mark.”

 –Jerry Nelson

For my friends who knew Jerry Nelson personally, and who worked with him, some over a lifetime, you have my deepest sympathy and I’m sorry for your loss.

For Neil Armstrong, American Hero, I’ll see you in the moon, there to remind me what is possible when dedicated people work together for the greater good.

A long time ago, a little girl saw images on TV and they lit a spark that continues to inspire  today. Thank you.

With love,


all words and images copyright 2012 Elana Halberstadt except where noted otherwise.

A Graduation Letter to Max

Dear Readers,

I’ve still got some graduating preschool/pre-K business to get off my chest. I’ve been wondering if I’m overly emotional or too sentimental or what. Last week, while signing cards for the teachers, I found myself crying. It really hit me that school is ending. There were several other parents in the room. No one laughed at me. I spotted tears in at least one other mom’s eyes. They said they felt the same way. One said that leaving preschool and moving on to Kindergarten wasn’t easy. That it can often be just as hard for parents, as it is for the kids, possibly even harder. She used the word, milestone.

So, because of that, I wrote this second post on the topic.  Maybe there are other parents who share some of my feelings. I hope so. If not, then call me  emotional, sentimental, whatever it is. I’m OK with that.

I won’t be showing this letter to Max anytime soon. But this  is inspired by, and for him, his friends, the parents and the teachers. This is my way of saying thank you to all the people who’ve brightened my life  the past few years. Thank you for everything.  

June 19, 2012

Dear Max,

Today is a big day for you and your class of friends, your teachers and assistant teachers, the staff, and the parents. Today is your graduation day.

It’s  been quite a ride. We’ve had our walks to school on sunny days. Sometimes we held hands. Other times you ran  ahead of me. I’d call out, “Max, stop at the corner… wait for me!” But you’ve worn your light up sneakers with super sonic powers and ran faster than me. We’ve had our walking chats and our in-the-car-chats on rainy days, too. We noticed things and said hello or good morning to them: flowers, trees, birds, stray cats, dog walkers.  We’ve skipped over cracks. You jumped in puddles. We talked about the sky, about everything and nothing.


You’ve come home with sand and wood chips in your shoes which I emptied out (and often forgot to empty out). Your clothes were caked with mud, dirt, and paint—proof that you’ve played well. You’ve told me about your days and kept secrets, too. Most days, you’ve played well and had fun. Some things remain mysteries. You’re more of your own person now. You have a separate life with details I can’t know.

As we neared this day, I watched the classroom walls become almost blank as your artwork and projects have been taken down and given to us to bring home. I’m adding these pieces to the enormous stash I’ve been collecting for years. Maybe one day, maybe when you’re in college, I’ll figure out a way to organize and store your art a bit better. Just so you know, I’ve kept everything. I love our walls covered in your art.


I noticed the class growth chart. I’m amazed by how many  inches you’ve  grown  since you were measured at the start of the school year, since you were born. You and your friends are taller, bigger, and stronger.  You’re growing  every day. Overnight, the sneakers which I bought for you just last month, suddenly don’t fit. Neither do the rain boots and of course it’s been raining a lot lately, so I yelled at myself for not having the next size ready. It’s time for new shoes, new boots, new everything. But it’s perfectly fine to want to keep mementoes and reminders of all the people you knew and loved, of places, of things that sparked your imagination or made you happy or made you  think.

I’ve made you the best lunch, the worst lunch. I’ve seen you come home with  no food touched, or everything gone. You’re hungry. You’re full. I feel like I never have the right food. If I have the right food in sufficient quantities, you immediately stop eating it. I can’t win.


I’ve dropped you off on time and congratulated myself on the effort, but we’ve been late a lot. I’m going to have to work on that schedule thing when it’s time for Kindergarten, but I know we’ll get there. I’ve managed to pick you up on time, but often it’s not the right time according to you. In your mind, I’ve picked you up too early or too late. I’ve learned to laugh that off. I couldn’t win this one either.

I learned to let some things go a bit easier. I forgive faster. Sometimes I needed help. But a parent/friend, or a teacher would help me see the light. There has been a village here. I’ve loved the come as you are, no judgment days. The doors held open for me, the doors I opened for others.  The comings and goings. The looks  parents gave each other to say, “I’m with you on this.” Or “I know what that’s like.” Or “I can see how hard this moment is for you and I completely understand.” Or “You look great today. New haircut?” Those glances and two-sentence-long conversations were soul saving and changed the course of my days from feeling desperate or alone, to hopeful and connected to others. You’re not the only one who can do an eye roll, mister. There have been hugs, and working out problems together. People have listened to me. I hope I listened to others.


You’re  writing. You’re learning to read. You’re jumping and leaping higher than ever. You  do somersaults and hand stands and climb up and down the playground fire truck, monkey bars like a spider, like a monkey, like yourself. You and your friends move like lightning. You’re all colorful, bright, shiny. You all sparkle. You make noise. You’re silent. Your laugh is the best sound on earth. You have also been my teacher.

You  dress yourself, use the bathroom, and clean up after snack or play time (you do this much better as long as I’m not around). Maybe one day you’ll also help clean up more at home, too. I need to work on that one. You  push me. You  test everything. I get that. I love you.


You still need me and your dad.

I know this because sometimes you curl up in my lap or reach for my hand. Because you say so using your words. I do my best to hear you and see you —“listening ears” and “detective eyes.” You’re proud of yourself for all the things you can do on your own. It’s still OK for you to come to us.

You and your friends have wonderful imaginations. You’ve started a band, written songs, put on shows, and have shared with us tales of Bartholomew Butterpants. The imaginary class friend, who, because of your marvelous descriptions and tales, has become real to us, but we can never see him because he’s only visible to you and your pals and only while at school and most certainly is not visible to mommy or daddy. Ever.


You’ve  learned (still learning) to make better choices (less throwing things, hitting, hurtful words). You’ve learned from your mistakes. You seem to have the capacity to forgive us parents our daily mistakes.  Overall, you forgive quickly—your friends or situations. Disappointments and  frustrations are a bit easier for you to handle. Some days are hard for you, though. Things are too much and you need more help. You’ve got big feelings. Everyone  at your school has helped you and your friends.

You might not even remember any of this when you’re older. But if you do, I hope you’ll remember the parts where you laughed a lot. We laughed a lot. There have been magical moments. I promise you, the fun isn’t over.


You went from needing The Goodbye Window, to a peck on the cheek and a “see you later.” Sometimes you ran to me as I left.  Running for one more hug and kiss. You’ve been comforted and  joined your friends in the “I miss Mommy/Daddy Club.” You’ve cried when I left. You’ve recovered. I’ve cried when I left. I’ve recovered. I missed you. I needed you to be at school so you could play and learn with friends and so that I could work. Think. I needed this time to get stuff done. I’ve had plenty of guilt about it. Less guilt about it. And on a handful of rare days, zero guilt about it. You’ve  run to me when I picked you up. You’ve run away from me when I picked you up, begging to stay longer. You win, Max! My timing sucks and probably will suck as long as I’m your mom because I’m your mom and that’s how it is.

You’ve said, “Brain match” when you and your friends wore the same color or exact same t-shirt or had a similar idea. You said, “It’s my choice.” I’ve said, “Use your words.” You’ve said, “Mommy, listen to my words!” and  “This is my creation in my style.”

And you’ve made beautiful creations: drawings, paintings, necklaces, bracelets, light sabers, books, wishing wands, trees, hearts, flowers and so much more. You’ve collaborated with your friends on team projects and helped people by bringing food to a food pantry. I’ve loved  your enthusiasm for your school, teachers,  friends, and cubby. You’ve celebrated holidays, danced around the Maypole and splashed in  sprinklers. You’ve gone on field trips to the pumpkin patch, zoo, a grocery store, a fire station, the park, a pizza place, and to the pool. You’ve had jobs: line leader, snack helper, animal feeder, door holder. You’ve sung, danced, rolled around, and sprung up and down. There have been turtles, rabbits, a female bearded dragon lizard named Harvey, various insects, growing things.


You’ve come home full of ideas,  declaring, “We must get this special kind of bead.” Or “Mommy/Daddy, I know that already because I learned about it at school.” You’ve stated: “I love school/ I hate school/I want to go to school/I don’t want to go to school.” Being 3/4/5 has its ups and downs. It isn’t always easy or cute and it doesn’t always make sense. It hurts sometimes. I’ve tried to be there for you. I hope I’ve been there enough.

You’ve come home crying and laughing. You’ve fallen, scraped or bruised your knees, elbows, forehead, chin. You’ve been angry at me for so many things: leaving you, getting you, the wrong food, the weather, existing. I’ve tried to keep up with your needs, wants, and dreams. I missed the mark sometimes. I tried harder to get it right. I’ve let go of feeling that I’ll ever get it right. I learned Good Enough. I learned do your best, then let go.

You’ve begged me for play dates with your friends. We’ve had some. Not enough. Scheduling them is tough. But that gets into grown up schedules and boring stuff like work. Your friends have asked for play dates. We’ve had some. But again, not enough. Not as many as you would have liked. The ones we’ve had were great.

Today, you’re taking a big step forward and there are probably lots of thoughts and feelings  swirling around in your head, in the room, in this place. I’m  proud of you as I am every day. Yes, even on the days you give me a ridiculously hard time. Even as you dilly dally and postpone doing something I’ve asked you to do 3959 times. “Brush your teeth!” Or when you don’t listen when I say stop jumping off the couch (because you could  hurt yourself and I’m not feeling like a trip to the emergency room)—PLEASE STOP! I love you. I don’t always love  your behavior. But I’ve seen that it’s how it is for everyone. I understand that you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do for your age. I’m frustrated by you. I learn from you. I’m grateful for you every single day.


I  want to remind you that friends can stay friends even when they don’t see each other every day.

We can keep in touch with your friends (and my friends) and we can have play dates. We’ll always have good memories. Our friends are in our hearts.

It is hard to say goodbye.

I have a feeling that we’re gonna figure out this ending and the new beginnings as we go along. Just like we always have.

An ice cream sundae seems like a good way to start celebrating.

Congratulations, Max!



From the ending of a beautiful book:

The boy looked out toward the horizon.
The star glowed steadily, reminding him that
he still had a long journey ahead.
But it was his own journey,
his very own wonderful journey.

The Beginning.

Excerpt from The North Star © Peter H. Reynolds 2009, Candlewick Press. 

From the ending of another wonderful book:

And whatever you do—
now or later,
big or small,
loud or quiet—
whatever you do,
don’t worry.
Just try it.
Whatever you do,
whether near or so far,
I know you’ll be great.

You already are.

Excerpt from: Yay, You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On  © Sandra Boynton 2001, Simon &  Schuster.

A Graduation Letter to Max, words and images © Elana Halberstadt 2012 except where noted otherwise.