Parenting Teens in Middle Age: Here Be Dragons

My fourth child turns ten in June, which means that I have been writing this column for over a decade; this is my 299th column.

Back when I first pitched this column to John McCright, my patient and kind editor, I envisioned writing from the perspective of a mother with young children who had recently moved to Vermont and was experiencing all the quirky joys of this unique state for the first time. That’s what I was back in 2012. That’s not what I am anymore.

My husband and I are no longer particularly young; we’re middle-aged, closer to 50 than to 40. Our five children still live at home, and since our son was born in 2019 we do have one child who qualifies as young — but we also have two teenagers and a tween. And while there are definitely still new Vermont experiences to be had, we tend to stick to the same familiar, comfortable, large-family-friendly activities. 

I’ve noticed lately that it’s more challenging to decide what to write about. The seasons come and go. The garden is planted, grows, and dies. Chicks and ducklings arrive, and sometimes they die. We go to the lake, to the apple orchard, to the Christmas tree farm, to the ski slopes. We drive the kids to school and activities; we cheer at their games and performances. Every so often the cycle is disrupted by a tornado, a pandemic, a seriously ill child. Then the machine creaks back into motion. I’ve written about all these things.

It’s not that there aren’t soaring joys and crushing tragedies. Life hasn’t become dull and predictable. Rather, at this stage of life, I’m discovering that there are more and more things that we don’t talk about. That we can’t talk about. That we won’t talk about. 

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

The Therapeutic Benefits of…Ironing?

“Vacuuming can be therapeutic,” the middle-aged woman told my 22-year-old self.

We were standing in the bedroom that I would occupy for the next year, located in a wing of her Greenwich, Connecticut compound. I was a recent college graduate, working as a classroom teaching assistant in a tony private girls’ school by day and taking graduate classes at night. Until recently I’d been living with two other young teachers in a dingy apartment in Stamford, but when this woman, whose three daughters attended the school at which I taught, invited me to move in with them, it was like manna from heaven. I’d pay no rent, eat meals cooked by the household chefs, live minutes away from work, and have access to the compound’s gym, pool, and tennis courts. In exchange, I would serve as an additional “responsible adult,” with some occasional duties driving the children to school and activities. 

I’d also be responsible for my own cleaning. 

“You don’t mind vacuuming your own room, do you?” the woman of the house asked apologetically, before adding, “I find that vacuuming can be therapeutic.” 

It struck me as an absurd statement from this woman with perfectly highlighted and coiffed blonde hair, her toned body clad in spandex as if headed to a workout (with a personal trainer, of course.) In addition to my humble presence, this household was kept going by a staff of cooks, cleaners, gardeners, trainers, and tutors. Right next to my bedroom was the office of madam’s personal secretary — although she did not work outside the home, she somehow still required a secretary. Her husband was employed as a high-level investment banker at a Manhattan firm; he disappeared in the predawn hours each morning into a chauffeured Town Car. 

Of course I didn’t mind cleaning my own space – I’d spent the past six months cleaning up after two housemates (and their boyfriends.) But when was the last time this woman had actually vacuumed? For her to suggest that she occasionally practiced vacuum therapy smacked of Marie Antionette skipping around on her tidy personal farm.

That was over twenty years ago, and I can honestly say that in the decades that have passed I have never once found vacuuming – or any household cleaning, for that matter – to be at all therapeutic. I complete my household chores with resignation because I want my home to be comfortable, welcoming, and attractive. (Also, if I’m honest, because I’m driven by the voices of my Puritan ancestors whispering that other people will judge me as slothful if my home is messy.) 

But there is one chore that I have refused to do on principle, except when absolutely necessary, and that is ironing. 

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

Letting Go Of Balloons

On Valentine’s Day, my parents hosted all five of my children and me to a lovely after-school dessert party at their house. We left with two shiny red heart-shaped helium balloons. 

The balloons were of greatest interest to our three-year-old son, who delighted in bringing them carefully home in the minivan, releasing them into the living room, and making his sisters retrieve them for him all evening.

The following day was warm and blustery – for a Vermont February, at least. Two of my daughters went outdoors after lunch, and my son, in a classic little brother move, wanted to follow them. The only problem: He wanted to take one of the balloons with him. 

This is not my first rodeo. I am well aware of the expected result when a child takes a helium balloon outside: One way or another, that balloon is likely to float away, leaving potentially harmful environmental impacts and a hysterical child in its wake. 

Try explaining that to a determined three-year-old.

“You shouldn’t take the balloon outside, because it might fly away and get lost,” I reasoned.

“No! I’ll hold on tight!” he countered.

“Okay, how about I tie it to your wrist? Then you don’t have to worry about it flying away and your hands will be free.” See what a professional parent I am?

“NO! I will HOLD ON TIGHT!” he persisted. Just like that, I was launched into a perennial parenting dilemma: Do I double down, insisting on the rightness of my way (and likely spending the next 30 minutes dealing with a child in full-on tantrum mode), or do I let him have his way, lose the balloon, and learn from his own mistakes? 

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

A Story of Marriage in Three Beds

“You spend 1/3 of your life in bed,” my husband, Erick, tells me.

Our beds are where we sleep, of course, and we need sleep: Sleep is when our bodies repair and recharge. Bed also tends to be where we lie awake, tossing and turning during difficult times through the watches of the night. We take to our beds when we’re sick. And the most intimate and vulnerable moments of a marriage happen in bed; moments that can lead to the creation of new life.

Our beds, then, are pretty important.

When Erick and I got married, we had almost no furniture. I spent the three years before our marriage in a studio apartment on East 91st Street in Manhattan. It was the size of a large walk-in closet, and my furniture consisted of a futon, a bookcase, a steamer trunk that served as a coffee table, and a large and uncomfortable wicker chair (which, for some reason, we still have.)

Erick spent those same three years sharing a rental house in Cos Cob, Connecticut with three colleagues from the hedge fund where he worked. His belongings consisted of several large plastic bins and a mattress.

So we were in trouble when, just prior to our wedding, we purchased an apartment in Manhattan complete with a large living/dining space and two bedrooms. (Granted, the second “bedroom” could fit nothing larger than a crib, but still, it was a huge step up.) 

Thankfully, gifts are a part of getting married – and thankfully, cash is the gift of choice if you’re marrying into a Chinese-American family. Clutching our wad of wedding cash, Erick and I quickly bought what we needed to furnish our first apartment. “Quickly” is the operative word: Neither one of us particularly enjoyed furniture shopping, I just wanted to get our home decorated as soon as possible, and Erick didn’t have strong opinions. Except when it came to beds.

“I’ve heard that it’s important for married couples to get a king-sized bed,” Erick said, with authority. “That way, they each have their own space.”

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

How to be an Undertaker

Our family said goodbye to two remarkable women this past December: My grandmother and my aunt died within two weeks of each other.

Although the proximity of these events, along with their timing – just before Christmas – felt particularly unfair, it was, perhaps, statistically unsurprising. It turns out that the death rate spikes during the winter months, likely due to the prevalence of seasonal illness and the increased stress that colder weather places on the immune system. 

My grandmother, at 104 years old, enjoyed a sharp mind and relatively good health right up until the end, and had been able to remain in her home thanks to the diligent care of her nearby children. My aunt, at 78 years old, had fought for three years with health issues related to a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, buoyed by the love and support of family, friends, and neighbors. Both women figure prominently in some of my happiest childhood memories. They were warm, loving, incredibly funny, and they showed up: both were still sending my children birthday cards right up until they died. They were also tough: Both were single mothers for a time. In raising a combined seven children to adulthood, my grandmother and my aunt each endured more than their fair share of tragedy. 

How do you write about two entire lives? Perhaps the best I can do is to tell you that when her daughter-in-law told her that her beloved Boston Celtics had played well in a recent game, my grandmother – literally on her deathbed and barely conscious – mustered enough strength to gasp out, “Wow….Wow.” And my aunt insisted that the upbeat Beatles song, “When I’m Sixty-Four,” be played as the processional at her funeral. 

The circumstances surrounding their deaths were different. My grandmother was my father’s mother; my aunt was my mother’s sister. I was able to say goodbye to my grandmother, but not to my aunt. I was unable to attend my grandmother’s funeral in person, but I took my four oldest children to my aunt’s services.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

Reflections on the New Year’s Fireworks

For a moment, it looks as if the weather might reshape another holiday celebration.

Like many others across the United States, our family’s Christmas was altered by the collision of a bomb cyclone and polar vortex, which brought gale-force winds and frigid temperatures to our corner of the world and knocked out our power for nearly two days. Thankfully, my parents, who live across town, never lost power. As the sun set on our cold, dark house on Christmas Eve, we packed up all our children, food, and gifts and unleashed Christmas on the grandparents. Sadly, our church never regained power in time for either the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services; my children felt this loss more keenly than I expected, but we all adjusted. God knows we’ve all gotten used to adjusting since this decade began. 

So when it begins raining as dark falls on New Year’s Eve and my already-exhausted children seem increasingly unenthusiastic about carrying on our tradition of attending Middlebury’s annual fireworks display, I prepare to adjust our plans yet again. 

As it turns out, the rain slows to a manageable drizzle and we’re able to muster enough momentum to load everyone into the minivan and be driven very slowly by our 15-year-old (who just got her learner’s permit) to the elementary school. 

This is where the peculiar magic of small-town fireworks begins. 

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

Of Hospitals and Hawks (Faith’s Version)

If you’re celebrating the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas, today is “The Feast of the Holy Innocents.” It’s an odd celebration to place in the midst of a joyous holiday season, reminding us that Jesus’s birth came with some serious collateral damage: the deaths of numerous baby boys, killed by King Herod in a delusional and paranoid power play.

This is what I love about actual Christianity — not the American prosperity gospel version of Christianity that’s too often in the public eye, but the real, Biblical Christianity that parks itself in the midst of unanswered questions like, “How do we rejoice at the birth of one baby sent to begin God’s great rescue plan while also lamenting the senseless deaths of multiple innocent babies?” Christianity deals directly with real life, with the intersection of pain and evil and joy and good and how, to quote Taylor Swift, “Both of these things can be true.”

It seemed like an appropriate day to share one of my favorite pieces that I’ve ever written, which appeared in The Addison Independent on January 14, 2020. That holiday season was our family’s initiation into evil’s random attacks — and re-reading this piece today, I realize that it was just a training ground for what was to come. Because the Independent re-configured its website after the piece was published, it’s hard to find (though you can still find it here.) So I’m re-posting the entire thing below, as my own sort of “Taylor’s Version.”


One thing I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that we are able to endure a great deal more than we believe is possible. Life is not a benevolent tutor, handing down lessons one at a time in order of increasing difficulty; instead, life often feels like an opponent in a boxing match landing a punch in your ribs and then throwing a jab to your eye while you’re still catching your breath. The remarkable thing is how many of us remain in the ring. We may be hanging on the ropes, bruised and battered, but we don’t go down.

This is why, when I found the mangled carcasses of two of our chickens (the rooster in the shed, the hen on a snow drift next to the coop) after having just switched places with my husband at the bedside of our ten-week-old son (who was beginning the second week of his second stay at the University of Vermont Medical Center in less than a month) – on the same day that my husband discovered fraudulent charges on our credit card – I simply thought, “Of course: Another predator.” 

We never did put a name to our son’s predator, but it was assumed to be a virus. He’d been admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at UVM for “acute respiratory failure with hypoxia.” This started as what appeared to be a mild cold – gloopy eyes, lethargy, no fever, lack of appetite. The lack of appetite was our biggest concern, since a week earlier he’d been admitted to UVM after being diagnosed at a routine appointment with “failure to thrive.” Thankfully, our son had another routine checkup the day after his cold-like symptoms began, so I planned to consult his doctor then. 

At that checkup, our doctor examined our son and got very serious. 

“He needs to be seen at the hospital,” she said, her voice trembling.

“Okay. Should I drive him up to UVM?” I asked, having just been through this drill.

Her response is burned into my memory: “You don’t have time.”

It turned out that our son’s mystery virus was causing sepsis and apnea; in other words, he was having episodes during which he stopped breathing. 

There is a moment, right after crisis strikes, when you freeze. You stare at the bloody piles of feathers and think, “Where do I start?” You hand your baby over to the EMTs and wonder, “Who needs to know first? Who can watch the girls? What do I need to cancel?”

Somehow, you don’t go down. You secure the surviving chickens in the coop and grab a shovel and a trash bag. You call your husband on speakerphone while following the ambulance to the hospital, and give your son’s health history in a calm, steady voice to the ER doctors who are running tubes and wires into his little body. 

I’d never spent much time in hospitals until recently, and I was surprised at how they bolster this calm, steady, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach to crisis. Hospitals are their own world, with their own language and culture. Learning the language –  speaking of intubation and extubation, pulse-ox, cc’s, ng tubes, and vitals – was how I first learned to normalize a horribly abnormal situation. 

And hospitals are so quiet. These are places where the very worst happens — and I spent three weeks along corridors where the very worst was happening to children — yet never once did I see anybody break down. There were no tears, raised voices, or cries in the night, just the beep of monitors, hushed whispers, and the swish of the floor buffer. The closest I came to breaking down was when I stood by my son’s bedside that first night in the PICU. He was sedated, his lips taped in a fish-pucker around a breathing tube; a feeding tube ran through one nostril, an IV delivered fluids into his arm while a backup IV protruded from a vein in his head. Tears welled up in my eyes; as I brushed them away his nurse watched, puzzled. 

“Oh,” she said, “I guess it’s hard to see him like this, isn’t it? We see them like this all the time, so we’re used to it.”

Hospitals make it hard to feel sorry for yourself.

Our poultry predator turned out to be a hawk. The day after I discovered the two dead chickens, I startled him off the body of a third. He flew out of our shed and perched on a tree nearby. 

“Hey!,” I shouted, stomping after him through the snow, “Cut it out! Leave our chickens alone!”

He didn’t make eye contact; he stared straight ahead, impassive and unimpressed, before winging off across our field.

If the virus that infected our son had eyes, it wouldn’t have made eye contact, either. Predators are like that: It’s nothing personal, they’re just doing what they must to survive. If it’s your chickens or your child in their path, they swoop. After two weeks of testing, we were told that our son’s repeated hospitalizations boiled down to “bad luck.”

Hawks present a unique challenge, because they strike from the air. Had our predator been a coyote or a weasel, I would’ve known what to do: Keep the chickens fenced in their yard with the electric fence turned on for a week or so, until the predator gives up. But fences mean nothing to a hawk. The immediate solution was to confine the chickens to their coop all day, transforming them from “free range” to “no range.”

In many ways, having a hospitalized child is easy. Life shrinks down to the barest essentials: your child in the hospital and your children at home. Everything else drifts away. During my son’s time in the hospital, the world was ending: missile strikes, assassinations, impeachments, planes dropping from the sky, wildfires flaring from the earth. None of these things was my problem.

Gradually, my son shed the wires and tubes that had tethered him to monitors and bags; he became a free range baby once more, and we returned home. 

Home is more complicated than the hospital. How do you protect a baby’s fragile health from all of the predatory germs circling constantly? How do you rebuild a family after weeks of stress and separation?

We can’t lock our chickens in the coop forever. My husband bought shiny disks to hang on the shed, and a fake owl. He installed netting over the top of the chicken yard. These safety measures might work, or they might not. I am certain that I’ll shovel up chicken corpses again – if not thanks to this predator, then to another.

Tonight there are parents who sit watching their child’s pulse ox pleth, while nurses arrive at regular intervals to take vitals. But for tonight, at least, I am holding our baby in my arms next to our woodstove, and I am watching him breathe.

Throwback Thursday: A Still Small Christmas


As we head into Christmas, I am always thrown back to Christmas 2019-2020, which was one of the most difficult Christmas seasons our family ever experienced. It was also one of the most real and meaningful. 

I know that many of you are walking through difficult seasons now. In fact, this year there have been two deaths in my own immediate family over the past two weeks: my grandmother and my aunt. So often in life, our mourning and our rejoicing are commingled. 

So I’m reposting this piece, which I wrote next to my infant son’s hospital bed, to remind us all that hard things are not inconsistent with Christmas; that our holidays don’t have to big big and shiny and perfect, but can sometimes look like still, small moments of awareness.


I hesitate to assume that there’s such a thing as a “typical” Christmas, but if it exists then I feel quite confident in stating that this has been a very atypical Christmas for our family.

As some of you may know, I have spent the past five days in the pediatric inpatient ward of the University of Vermont Medical Center with our 7-week-old son. This was completely unexpected and sudden. Our entire family – including all four daughters – had driven happily up to Burlington for some scheduled testing for the baby. We’d planned to have lunch and look at holiday decorations after what we assumed would be an hour-long appointment. But, to quote Joan Didion, “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” And in that instant, we were being told that the doctor was concerned about our baby’s growth trajectory and wanted to admit him to the hospital for “failure to thrive.”

So, without any preparation or planning, without a toothbrush for me or extra clothes for the baby, and with a long list of pre-Christmas plans and to-dos that was going to require sudden and extreme revision, I found myself ushered into a pediatric hospital room. I found myself discussing who-takes-the-girls-where-and-when logistics with my husband (whose birthday was the following day.) I found myself groping through my own dashed expectations as I tried to explain to four teary girls what I knew of the immediate plan, and how little idea I had of anything beyond the next couple of hours.

This is not a medical drama, so I will very quickly set your mind at rest about our son: He is fine. He was tiny at birth and has always been a robust spitter-upper. His pediatrician has been monitoring his weight since birth, and everyone was pleased with his steady gains until his spitting up increased dramatically after a routine outpatient hernia repair surgery. His weight gain never stopped or reversed, but it slowed. After a couple of days of testing at the hospital to rule out Big Scary Things, he was diagnosed with severe reflux, which we will manage at home until he outgrows it eventually.

But I didn’t know the end of the story as I sat in our hospital room that first night, trying in vain to sleep in a pull-out chair while my freaked-out baby fussed beside me and nurses came and went all night long. The next days would be the darkest of the year; this made a certain narrative sense to me. What I couldn’t quite manage was to find the sense in our situation – I couldn’t figure out where God was in the whole thing.

Even though you know better, it’s so easy to fall into thinking that life should reward the good and punish the bad. We are adopting our son, not to earn brownie points with any person or deity, but because we love children (this one in particular; he’s our son) and we wanted to provide a good home for a child who needed one. Since his birth, our sweet boy has not had an easy road: Each of his seven weeks of life has brought some new health wrinkle – none deeply serious, all treatable, but most of them involving a degree of disruption and discomfort for him and for the rest of our family. All of this is outweighed by the extravagant amount of love the little guy has brought into our lives. Still, the temptation every time we hit the next hurdle is to say, “Really, God? This kiddo has been through so much; can’t he just get a break? We’ve all been through so much; would it have killed you to make this just a little less hard?”

On that first night in the hospital, I looked out the window at a narrow strip of dark winter sky barely visible between the buildings opposite our room, and my heart screamed, “Where ARE you, God?”

A passage of the Bible that I’ve always loved for the beauty of its language is 1 Kings 19:11-12. The backstory is that the prophet Elijah has been doing everything right, risking his life by warning the Israelites and the corrupt King Ahab and Queen Jezebel to turn back to God. In response, Ahab and Jezebel kill all the other prophets and threaten to do the same to Elijah. Elijah escapes into the wilderness, where he is on the run for forty days and nights until he reaches a cave on Mt. Horeb.

11 Then He [God] said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. [New King James Version]

When Elijah hears that still small voice, he knows it’s God, and God gives Elijah instructions about what to do next.

It took me three days in the hospital to realize that the answer to my cry, “Where ARE you, God?” was: Right here. It took that long because God’s voice didn’t boom down from heaven, there were no chariots of fire, comets, flashy miracles, or apparitions. But there was a still small voice – a series of them, in fact.

God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire:

God was in the nurse who, while tenderly giving my son a bath, told me how she’d switched from geriatrics to pediatrics seven years earlier, when she learned she couldn’t have children.

God was in the young man from Patient Transport who, while wheeling my son down to a swallow study, told me how he drives his mother an hour to her haircut appointments in our town. (“She used to go with my grandma, but after my grandma died, I started taking her.”)

God was in the doctor from radiology who, observing me walk the halls for an hour as the barium solution moved through my son’s digestive tract, ushered me into the staff break room. “There’s a nice, big window,” he explained.

God was in the gentle hands and kind words of the countless doctors, nurses, and staff throughout our stay who counseled us and brought bottles, warm blankets, white noise machines, and mobiles to make my son more comfortable.

God was in the faces of the hospital patients – the really ill ones who passed us on gurneys in radiation, the other children on the pediatric floor – and their caregivers.

God was in my parents, who took our daughters at no notice and provided them with love, security, and fun.

God was in my husband, who couldn’t have cared less that his birthday had been overshadowed, and who drove an hour up to and back from the hospital numerous times to bring me clothes, toiletries, and Chipotle dinners.

God was in my daughters, whose primary concern was never their own plans, but the fact that they were separated from their baby brother.

God was in the stunning sunrise in the strip of sky between buildings on the morning of the darkest day of the year – a reminder that there is always light in the darkness.

And God was in our baby, because this experience taught us that he needs us, and we need him.

Since this all happened days before Christmas, I was thinking of another baby, too: A New Testament baby who was the embodiment of the “still small voice” in 1 Kings. Isn’t that just like God? He doesn’t show up like you’d expect, in the earthquake, wind, or fire, or with the rich, powerful, or lovely; He shows up in the hospital corridors, amid those who suffer and those who serve. He shows up as a helpless newborn baby, born in a barn on the back edge of an empire. There may have been choirs of angels in the sky, but God lay in the straw crying for milk.

On this most atypical of Christmases, I learned to stop scanning the skies for those angel choirs, and to listen instead for the still, small voice in the dark.

A Nearsighted Holiday

As I am writing this there are nine days left until Christmas, and we still don’t have a Christmas tree.

Bear in mind that we live next door to a Christmas tree farm. Not only that, but for the past month our two oldest children have been working at said Christmas tree farm. So we don’t really have any excuse: This December hasn’t been more busy or stressful than any other December; there just hasn’t been a good time for our entire family (because, yes, it requires the entire family) to walk next door and pick out a tree. Sometimes the nearest things are the hardest to do. 

Sometimes the nearest things are also the hardest to see. 

My annual vision checkup always falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, my optometrist gave me a Sophie’s Choice: My distance vision had worsened to the point that I was going to have to sacrifice clarity at close range in order to see far off. 

And so I have become a wearer of reading glasses. 

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

Holiday Film Review: Disenchanted

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, our entire family sat down to watch the new Disney film, Disenchanted. In a rare occurrence, all our children were excited to view the long-awaited sequel to 2007’s Enchanted. The original film, which we’ve seen multiple times, follows Giselle – a stereotypical Disney princess in search of “true love’s kiss” – as she’s transported in modern-day New York City. The film is a smart satire of the more absurd elements of traditional Disney films (including singing rats and pigeons), but of course Giselle’s dewy-eyed goodness wins over the cynical Manhattanites in the end. 

The two films bookend my parenting years: I first watched Enchanted with a visiting college friend while my newborn firstborn slept upstairs; the release of Disenchanted corresponded with that first child’s 15th birthday. 

Disenchanted reunites the stars from the original movie, including Amy Adams as Giselle, Patrick Dempsey as her husband, Robert, and Idina Menzel and James Marsden as the King and Queen of Andalasia (Giselle’s native fairytale kingdom.) Fifteen years later, these actors are all decidedly middle aged. The sequel addresses the question: What comes after “happily ever after?” When it begins, Giselle and Robert are still living in an increasingly cramped Manhattan apartment with their daughter Morgan (a young girl in the original film, she’s now a sarcastic teenager) and their baby daughter, Sofia. In a rather predictable middle-aged move, they decide to relocate to the suburbs, where Giselle is sure that they can make a fresh start. Disney-fied chaos ensues, including talking animals, large musical numbers, and the eventual triumph of goodness and love over evil. 

The movie has received a tepid response from critics. It wasn’t even released in theaters, but was streamed directly to Disney+, which says something. My own children were lukewarm-to-negative in their reviews. A friend who watched Disenchanted with her family said her response was, “What am I watching?” 

That’s all valid if you’re watching Disenchanted purely as a film. But I thought it was brilliant, because about partway through I realized that it wasn’t just a film. That’s when I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “This is the perfect metaphor for perimenopause!”

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.