Author: Aliza Sherman

Making Room for an Older, Adopted Son

Aliza’s biological daughter and adopted son playing together in the fields (Photo courtesy Aliza Sherman) When you renovate a home, you tear down walls, gut rooms, rip out old pipes and wires. You empty out to rebuild and refill it. When you renovate a family, you push, stretch, pull and shift, too. You push past fears of it “not being the right time” or of you “not having enough money.” You stretch your thinking about the structure of your family and where everyone will fit in with a new addition. You stretch the shape of your heart to fit a new child into it, one that didn’t come from inside of you but is placed with you. You shift the space within your mind, your heart and your home to make room. “I want a baby brother,” my 9-year-old daughter told me for the umpteenth time. My “bio” daughter, or “biological daughter,” as she would soon be known, was eager for a sibling and no amount of “Mommy can’t have any more babies” satisfied her …

The Life and Death of Roses

There is a dead rose in a vase on our dining room table. “It needs more water, Mommy,” says my eight-year-old daughter. “It’s dead,” says my husband, looking up from his breakfast. “What can we do?” asks my daughter. “Throw it out,” says my husband, who goes back to eating. “No, I don’t want it to be dead!” My daughter looks at me pleadingly, and I feel another gentle lecture coming on about life and death and dead flowers being a natural part of the whole process. * * * The first time I realized that there was something dying inside of me was in my mid-40s, in the checkout line at the wine section of my grocery store. When I got up to the counter to pay, I looked up at the attractive young man at the cash register and smiled. Then he called me “Ma’am.” My age was staring me in the face, in the blank look of an attractive, young man who was simply taking my money, unmoved by my smile. I …

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Learning About Bravery from My 10-Year-Old Daughter

Aliza’s daughter sliding into the water with a huge splash. (Photo courtesy Aliza Sherman) I watch my daughter come out of a long, twisting water slide, arms thrown out triumphantly, eyes and mouth wide open, soaring for a moment through space before crashing into the pool with a loud splash. We are on a two-week family road trip and are at a hotel pool. She turned 10 just a few days into the journey. And she is brave. I’m afraid of water slides and afraid of this one. I marvel at how one moment, my daughter can be fearless, climbing to the top of a water slide and jumping into it without a second thought, laughing all the way down and going back up and down again. Then the next moment, she wants to be held, comforted and protected. At one truck stop on the trip, she strides into the convenience store, insisting that she can go to the restroom on her own. My eyes dart vigilantly about as I try not to follow her too …

My Year Driving Solo: Navigating the Road Back to Me

Five-thousand dollars changed my life. In September of 2000, I left New York City in an old RV with my two Chihuahuas and spent the next year living on the road. The RV was my ride out of the high stress and low reward of living life in the city, of endless days of loneliness hanging over me, of anxiety filling me up like a storm. Driving away was my escape from a 10-year, going nowhere relationship where I’d lost myself and couldn’t recognize the nearly invisible woman staring back at me whenever I looked in a mirror. With visions of Thelma and Louise in my head, and without the driving-off-into-oblivion part, I dreamed of taking an extended road trip. After some Internet searching and a few trips out of the city, I found and bought an RV from a retired couple based in Northern Virginia. [pullquote]One week into my journey, while driving south out of Maine on I-95, the Apache’s engine turned from a roar into an angry scream.[/pullquote] I knew nothing about camping, …

The Mermaid Tail and Other Stories About Being Different

My 8-year-old daughter asks me if kids teased me at school when I was younger. When I ask her if she is being teased at school, all she will tell me is “sometimes.” Then I wonder: are her classmates teasing her because of her imagination? My daughter has a beautiful and vivid fantasy life. The other day, she was waiting for her mermaid tail to grow because she followed all of the rituals she found in a video to turn herself into a mermaid. When the day her mermaid tail was due came and went, she was unfazed. “We live in a dry climate here in Arizona and that makes it harder to grow a mermaid’s tail,” she explained. “If we lived in San Diego, I’d have one by now.” I agree to buy her a mermaid tail online if her real one didn’t come in soon. “Were you teased when you were in school, Mommy?” “Sometimes I was,” I tell her. “Like people would call me Aliza Pizza.” I don’t tell her about the times …