So we’ve just finished the first leg of the High Holiday season, Rosh Hashana, with all the honey-dipping, marathon-eating, King-crowning fanfare the holiday entails. While the standard protocol for celebrants is to spend the day in synagogue in deep, introspective prayer, my Rosh Hashana was spent almost entirely at home, tending to my sick little guy, Akiva.
In past years, it’s likely I would have resented not being able to have my quality time with God in synagogue, hearing the shofar live and giving my soul a good shakedown. This year, however, I felt nothing but contented and peaceful being able to stay home and care for my child. As a Jewish mother, my primary work is to build a “Bayit Ne’eman”, an enduring home for my family, and tending to sick kids is part of the job description. So really, I was having just as spiritual a day in my apartment as anyone in intense prayer at the shul down the street. Plus, while Akiva slept, I got to have the quiet time I REALLY needed to focus on what my goals are for the coming year and what I can be thankful for in the year that has passed. I, for one, am grateful that Sima Ellie and Huvi, 11 and 9, walked Yonah to synagogue by themselves for the first time today (it’s about a four-block trek) and were very proud of themselves. Sima Ellie, in fact, turned around to squeal, “I’m so excited!” as they were leaving.
Now we enter the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, the ten days of repentance, when the Heavenly Gates are open to our prayers and entreaties to God, when we are capable of great changes and can alter the course of our lives in the year to come before the gates close officially on Yom Kippur. May we all take advantage of this time to look inward and make positive changes for this year. And for those moms who, like me, can barely think past the next peanut butter sandwich, let alone make a full-scale spiritual accounting, let us at least embrace this special season with joy and get through the demands of holiday cooking and cleaning with a sense of peace and purpose.
My mother, of blessed memory, always used to say that the sign of good parenting is an independent child. “If you still want to be around me when you’re 18,” she said, “I haven’t done my job”. With this is mind, I sent my babies off on their first day of school this morning - Yonah’s first year going for a full day and Akiva’s first year at school EVER.
I was happy to see Yonah bound happily onto the bus and later, when I looked in on him, eating lunch contentedly with his friends. As for Akiva, well, let’s put it this way: if the kid could cook, he would have no more use for me. As we walked into school, he kept asking quietly, “You stay with me, Mommy?”, but as soon as we entered his classroom, his eyes lit up and he told his teacher, “I came to see YOU, Mrs. Weiss!”. I gave him a smooch and left him coloring happily.
So I’ll admit it: while, according to the Mom-o-meter, my boychiks are ranking about 10 in independence, I kind of wish they were hovering around 8.5. My 2-year-old couldn’t have squeezed out a tear or two for his dear old Mom? Instead of waving excitedly from the bus window, Yonah couldn’t have stared back wistfully at me like Jane Eyre at the Moors? After the slaving away I do for these kids, the least they could have done was deadlock onto my leg and snot all over my skirt for a couple of minutes.
But I jest.
The truth is, the one with the most separation anxiety is me. A couple of years ago, my friend Paula gave me a card that said, “Having a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around your body”. She wasn’t kidding. Just my memories of elementary school alone are enough to want me to lock my children away until they’re ready for college - let’s just say I was the inspiration for the show “Freaks and Geeks” - but add in all the perils of our modern world - imminent nuclear warfare, pedophiles, natural disasters, Russell Brand - and I think sometimes it’s risking child abuse to let my children out of my sight for more than 30 seconds. Alas, if we want to raise independent children, we must release them to learn their way in the world, to navigate through confusion, pain, disappointment, high school. As a mother, that is the hardest. thing. ever.
I recently read something about The Steipler Gaon (Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky) , who when asked how to raise wonderful children, responded: “There are 2 ways: Create Peace in your home…and pray”. Notice that The Steipler did not say: Instill them with good values, be a good example or keep your house organized. His advice was simple, because he understood that at the end of the day, no matter how much effort we put into our children, the results are out of our hands. The most we can do is to create peaceful, loving homes where our children feel safe, and then pray, pray, pray that Hashem (God) bless them, because Hashem alone is the one who determines the outcome.
I once heard of a woman who blessed her children every morning before they went off to school. I LOVED that idea. Imagine: “Here’s your backpack and May Hashem bless you and keep you, May Hashem’s face shed light upon you and be gracious to you, May Hashem lift up His face to you and give you peace. Don’t forget your lunch!!!”. On the surface, these few words will surely make an impact on the child who sees her mother praying for her, but on a deeper level, it helps the mother remember that her child is being looked after when she is out of sight.
So yes, I have two little hearts I have released to the world, but I also have faith that they are in good hands (and I don’t mean mine). I bless all of you Moms out there that with this new school year (and the upcoming Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana), you have the peace of knowing that all of our children are lovingly, divinely protected.
For extra inspiration, check out this video:
Now off to make a triple-batch of potato kugel…
Last summer, my hubby and I took the four kiddos down to Florida for my brother-in-law’s wedding. As I was packing for the trip, I was practically humming, anticipating a relaxing getaway down south. I envisioned me, sitting poolside with a seltzer and lime, working on my tan while the kids played happily (and safely) in the background. It was only after chasing the kids around the airport, wrestling everyone and our luggage into our massive rented Escalade (to make us look thin), and three days of changing, laundry and picking up the house we’d rented that I collapsed into a beach chair in the backyard while the kids were swimming and realized, “Oh, right. This is a vacation for THEM.”
I think that was the moment I realized the true meaning of motherhood.
But in case a year had made that lesson a little hazy, I had this summer to remind me. All three of my men and I spent the summer on Cape Cod, where Yonah (who just turned 4!) went to morning camp, Akiva (almost 2 and a half) chilled with Momma, and the three of us afternooned at the beach, in the kiddie pool, and fighting over our ever-growing collection of rubber duckies (I didn’t fight so much as play referee). It was a blast for the kids. As for me, well, it was lovely to be there. I also fell into bed every night like someone with severe dehydration.
Recently, I discovered an old journal of my mother’s in which she had written about one of our summers on the Cape. Apparently, my siblings and I were constantly demanding her attention. “I love being here,” she wrote. “But I’m hoping I’ll be able to find some time to myself”. When I first read that passage, I felt a five-year-old’s foot stamping in my head. “What does that MEAN, time to herself? Didn’t she want to spend time with us?”. However, now that I have been through a summer of Mommy Boot Camp, I completely get it, which I suppose means I’ve crossed the threshold into adulthood, when you can identify with your parents as human beings, instead of envisioning them as (or expecting them to be) superhuman.
I will say, though, that this summer did provide me with an opportunity to make a major shift for the better. I found that I was doing way more yelling at the kids that I would have liked. And I don’t mean “Don’t touch the hot stove!” kind of yelling; I mean “Stop-fighting-over-the-ducks-you’re-making-me-insane!” kind of yelling. It was not something I was proud of and I knew it had to stop. Immediately. Every morning I would wake up, resolved to do better, but by day’s end I would be filled with remorse over a meltdown I’d had on the boys. Finally, when Yonah said to me, “Stop yelling at me! You’re hurting my feelings”, I knew something drastic needed to be done.
I rang up my friend Sara, a parenting coach in New York, and told her everything. She listened thoughtfully, giving empathic “hmmms” in all the right places. Finally, she said, “It sounds to me like you’re doing too much, and you’re trying to do it all perfectly. You have to give yourself permission not to be perfect and to lower your expectations of yourself”. Immediately, I felt myself relax. I knew she was exactly right. My frustration with my children was not so much because of their behavior - though, believe me, these ducks could make a hard drinker out of anyone - but because I was burned out with the million and one other things I was trying to accomplish that I had no patience left for them.
Allow me to explain. Although I am now a part of the Orthodox world, in which motherhood is considered the most important job there is, I was raised in and am surrounded by a society that tells me that what I do each day does not count for very much. The first time you meet someone, they ask, “What do you do?” because in our culture, one’s occupation is one of the primary means by which one defines oneself. So, if you have an uber-successful career, then you are an uber-successful person. Someone who stays home with children isn’t “doing anything”, and therefore does not rank very high on our society’s accomplishment scale (the sorry lack of maternity benefits in this country is a clear indication of how highly this country values mothering). Despite my belief in my decision to stay home and raise my children, there has always been a little voice in the back of my head that echoes those values: “What are you doing with yourself? Big deal, you mopped the floor and made pan de muerto with your kids. You better finish that book so you can count for something”.
So while I was with my children, part of me was torn about the time I was “losing” to “accomplish great things” - as if shaping two little souls is peanuts. I drove myself to do more, to write more and to keep a spotless home lest someone come in and see the place did not look ready for “House Beautiful”. By doing everything perfectly, I could justify being home instead of out in the world making headlines. No wonder I lost it on the kids; their need for crusts pulled off, blocks brought out and spills wiped up were all getting in the way of my being perfect superstar Mother.
Thankfully, I have since been able to refocus on my kids and to let the rest of the chips fall where they will. I keep my expectations way low (as in, if my kids get through the day fed, dressed and go to bed happy, I have done my job). I am reading parenting and pro-mothering books to give myself the chizuk (encouragement) I need - I especially recommend “Step By Step: Seven Secrets of Jewish Motherhood” by Chana Jenny Weisberg for all of you awesome Jewish Mamas - and making sure I surround myself with people who are in the same boat, and who can give me the validation that I am doing the very best I can.
Motherhood is amazing, fantastic, fun and absolutely relentless. You get no vacation, no benefits package, no stocks and no holiday bonuses. But, you do get the perks of spontaneous kisses, great stories you could never make up, and the feeling of offering something meaningful and real to the world. It’s also the only job that can transform you in every possible way - for better or worse.
Which way it goes is up to me.
Alright, alright. So I haven’t written in, like, 3 months. But I have a really good excuse. Yours truly has been busy training to become a Doula! I went to the 3-day workshop last month (Thank you for the zillionth time to my amazing husband for taking care of the boys while I was away), which was led by internationally-renowned Doula Debra Pascali-Bonaro, author of “Orgasmic Birth” and producer of the accompanying film, world traveler and attendant at births from South Africa to indigenous regions in New Zealand to NYC. In this birth world, this woman is like Celine Dion. Needless to say, I was like the really annoying kid in class who kept raising her hand and asking a zillion questions. I spent the whole training lit up like a menorah.
Well, today I went to a meeting with my first prospective client up in Central Jersey, and I have never been so excited in my life. I used to believe that a job is a job, something you have to suffer through in order to survive. But I don’t think so anymore. Today I believe that every person deserves a job that makes them say to themselves, “I can’t believe I actually get PAID to do this!”. Everyone deserves to do something with their lives that makes them feel, well, alive. I feel so lucky that I finally found that “thing” that does it for me.
More to come. I promise.
I’ve been around the 12-step block for a while, and one thing I’ve heard more times than I can count is how an “attitude of gratitude” makes all the difference. If I feel grateful, then I’m focusing on the good, instead of what’s lacking in my life. An attitude of gratitude ensures that I stay away from self-pity, resentment and fault-finding.
The problem with that is that I’m a human being with a default setting of: “There’s something wrong with this picture and I need to fix it”. Lack of gratitude has taken a variety of forms in my life, from my addiction to various geographical cures (do you know anyone else who lived in 3 cities in 1 year?) to an underlying feeling of discontentment that followed me around the globe and well into my sober years.
But an interesting thing happened recently. After a complaining session with a dear friend of mine a couple of months ago, she invited me join her “gratitude group”, an email list shared with a few other women in which we each write 10-15 things we’re grateful for each day and send them to each other. Even though she told me it changed her life, I was skeptical it would actually work for me, being the confirmed pessimist I was. But I agreed, since I figured I had nothing to lose.
And so it began. Finding things each day that I was grateful for was a lot tougher at first than I thought it would be. It started with the little things: My husband and kids. My car. A fridge full of food. Being employed. The basic stuff. After a while, though, it got easier. I could be grateful for someone who annoyed me because, if nothing else, I wasn’t them. I could be grateful for my messy house because that meant my kids were healthy and happy and having fun. I could even be grateful for the Mt. Everest of laundry in my bedroom because that meant we had clothes to wear. After a couple of months, I realized my thinking had shifted. When something “bad” came up, I could somehow find something about it to be grateful for.
Then, something interesting happened. At first, I was only sending my list to my friend, but then I started replying to all of the women on her list, and added a few of my own friends as well. I started getting their lists back and seeing all of the incredible things that were happening in their lives, the little triumphs of finding the good and exciting in the everyday, muddling through the tough stuff and still having a good attitude: A woman in her last few, VERY uncomfortable few weeks of pregnancy toughing it out. Two other women getting through the end-of-semester, crunch-time workload. Two moms chasing 2 kids and trying to stay sane. A newlywed just getting used to married life. We all have our challenges, and yet all of us are supporting each other each day and reminding each other that there’s always something to smile about.
Last week, I realized something miraculous had happened. My brain had switched: any time something came up, I automatically tried to find something about it to be grateful for. I even started looking for things throughout the day that I could put on my list. That old, nagging, discontented feeling had faded and was replaced with a continuous buzz of contentment and — could it be? — peace.
I have no doubt that this is the direct result of the my gratitude list, and the women I share it with every day. If there is such a thing as magic, this is it.
Then Shuie told me an interesting story. He said that he once heard Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the rosh yeshiva (head of school) of the Mir Yeshiva, one of the largest and best-known yeshivas in Israel (where Shuie was once a student), give a talk. R’ Nosson suffers from Parkinson’s, and despite his pain, is constantly smiling and still teaches his beloved students to the best of his ability. The evening Shuie heard him speak, R’ Nosson told his students that to ensure the maintenance of faith, they should make a list, daily, of things in their life for which they are grateful. I was so excited when he told me the story, but I wasn’t surprised. I am living proof that what R’ Nosson says is true.
I think that’s definitely something to be grateful for.
About two weeks ago, I looked at Shuie and said, “It’s not going to happen today, but at some point very soon I am going to hit a wall. Between work, kids, house and life as we know it, we are looking at major meltdown material here”.
So, we put our heads together and came up with the following solution: Mommy gets a night away, ALONE, and then takes the next day off.
Well, last night and today were Mom’s Great Escape. I spent last night in a hotel about 5 minutes from my house, nothing fancy, but little-Bochner-free. As I stepped into my top-floor room with a fabulous view of Rt. 70, I exhaled so deeply, it was as if I’d been holding my breath for months. After a hot bath and some writing time, I slid into bed for a full night’s sleep, with no commercial interruptions. Bliss. Today, Shuie surprised me with a spa day, and I mean the full sha-bang: massage, facial, mani/pedi, waxing and haircut. I felt like a queen, and came home invigorated and excited to see all of my boys.
I tell you all this not to show off, but to illustrate a VERY important point. MOMS NEED TIME OFF. This was something I didn’t get completely until today; I didn’t realize how worn out I was until I stepped out of the storm. I guess it had to get pretty desperate, because despite the strain, asking for this time to myself was a challenge for me on par with hiking Everest. I felt guilty for leaving my boys, for spending money “frivolously”, and for asking Shuie to take on everything for 24 hours, alone. But it all comes back to the Oxygen Mask Philosophy: When the plane’s going down, you put your OWN mask on first, because if you’ve got no oxygen, your kids are going without it, too. In this case, if I didn’t take time for myself and treat myself with something special, I would not have had the energy, patience or appreciation for the demands I juggle each day.
My dear friend Danielle has recruited me to join a Gratitude email group. Each night, we send each other 10-15 things for which we are grateful, and they have to be good ones. This is an important exercise for me because it is so easy to get caught up in everything I don’t have, start feeling sorry for myself, and if things get bad enough, justify picking up the food or the drugs or the alcohol (”If you had my problems, you’d eat/drug/drink too”.). It’s amazing what a concerted effort to find things to be grateful for can do for my attitude; it’s like a makeover for your soul. Even if I’m cranky, anxious, frustrated or just fried, I can end my day knowing that, fundamentally, all is well. So today, I am grateful to be able to share that with you on my blog, and I’m grateful for all of you out there who read it.
Speaking of reading, did you happen to read my new article, featured on the homepage of Aish.com? Here’s the link:http://www.aish.com/f/p/104758409.html.
As many of you know, in my former life I was a teacher for disabled students. I will always have a special place in my heart for special needs kids, and these days I am lucky to count many of them, and their families, among my friends. Chabad has developed an unbelievable program called “The Friendship Circle”, which pairs volunteers with disabled kids to spend time together each week, just hanging out or doing something fun. This program is a wonderful opportunity for kids who may not ordinarily have as much opportunity to socialize as their peers, and it is an incredibly rewarding experience for the volunteers (typically middle- and high-school age kids). The Friendship Circle has satellites all over the country, and now we’re trying to start one here in Cherry Hill.
To raise money for the program, the Bochner family will be walking in The Philadelphia Friendship Circle Walk on October 17th. We’re looking to raise $500, so I am asking all of you, my beloved readers, to be as generous as you can. It is truly a worthy cause, and can make a huge difference in the lives of some extraordinary people. To donate, visit The Bochner Family Friendship Circle Walk webpage at:
http://phillyfriendshipwalk.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&eventID=501&participantID=1113 Thanks for your help!
Brisk mornings and gorgeous afternoons have made the beginning of fall official here in Cherry Hill, much welcome after the relentless heat and cold rains of last week. As it is wont to do, autumn makes me nostalgic, reflecting on the various beginnings and endings in my life, and also hopeful, wondering what is to come as the seasons turn.
It also makes me think about Mom. Last week, Dad sent me pictures of her headstone, which will be complete after they sand her name into the stone. On the back of her stone is a design that my father had commissioned: a circle of hydrangeas around the Hebrew Words: “Em Habanim Smeicha” (A Happy Mother of Children). It is really beautiful. Dad said that Mom would have really liked it. I found the statement highly ironic, since if she was around to like it there would be no reason for it to exist.
I think I’ve entered the “reflection” stage of the grief process. As I wrote previously, I was shocked out of the “denial” phase when I watched my father get married, and the door was firmly locked behind me the minute I saw her name on a gravestone. So now I get it –She’s not coming back, ever –and it hurts like hell. In some ways, I wish I could still be in that crazy period when she was sick, even in the last stages when she was dying, because at least she would still be here. At least I could still see her and talk to her. Well-intentioned people like say that I can still talk to her now, but it’s just not the same. So now I just think about her all the time, and I talk about her as much as I can without weirding people out. For just a few seconds, she is alive for me.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about when she was sick, probably because a friend of mine will be going up to Sloan Kettering this week to have a growth removed. Thankfully, the growth is benign, but it’s still been a challenging experience for him and his wife. I wish I didn’t know what they were going through, but I do. I remember the trips to the hospital, the anxiety of waiting for results, the helplessness of knowing it’s all out of your hands. The day my mother had her very first surgery, I was so shaky I dropped my bowl of oatmeal on the floor and cut my ankle on a shard of porcelain. I paced a ditch into our living room floor the day we waited to find out if she was terminal or not. When she ran a high fever and I had to take her to the E.R., all I could do was cry through her intake. There’s no way to explain to someone the pain of watching someone you love suffer. The prospect of losing them is unfathomable, even after it actually happens. Although I am sure that my friend is going to be just fine and that he and his wife are going to get through this stronger on the other side, I know the toll it can take. I bless them with courage, strength, G-d’s protection, and a refuah shleima (full and speedy recovery) for my friend. They should both take solace in the fact that their friends here love them.
I’ve heard it said in meetings that our painful experiences serve us to help others once we have passed through them. If this is so, I hope that everything I’ve been through will be able to help others now and in the future.
Yonah has just arrived, ready for a cuddle. Back on Mom duty…
I just found a tiny piece of broken glass in my bed. Please don’t ask me how it got there, because I have no idea. I’m less concerned about the glass itself and more by the fact that I am barely fazed by finding something that could potentially draw blood in my bed. I suppose it’s part and parcel of having a toddler around; you find all sorts of interesting things in the most unexpected places, and while there is probably a great story behind why it got there, you just don’t know what it is.
My house is the perfect example of this. Glass aside, I have recently found an empty Cheerio box, mangled to a pathetic hexagon-type shape, on the floor of the living room. I have also discovered Yonah’s toothbrush next to the door to our patio, a soccer ball in the bathtub and, my personal favorite, a toy car in my underwear drawer.
Yes, Yonah is a busy bee. This afternoon we went for his two-year checkup, which he most definitely did NOT enjoy. He’s a big boy now, 30 pounds even, and talking up a storm. What struck me most, however, was when I asked the doctor when we should come for his next checkup and told me I didn’t need to come back until Yonah turns 3. I felt like, in that moment, Yonah officially became a big kid. I suppose I should have gotten the hint when he headed off to school with his backpack and packed lunch, but in my head I still thought of him as a baby. So, while he is still just 2, I finally realized today that Yonah’s babyhood is officially over. I had a sad pang in my heart for that sweet baby, and had about 2 seconds to miss him before Yonah crawled into my arms and said, “Ready to go?”.
Thank G-d I have Kivi around for my baby fix. I watched Shuie playing with Kivi on the bed tonight and listened to his angelic little laugh and felt a surge of that yummy baby love that is as potent as crack. Suddenly, I got the urge to have another baby (It’s the addict in me, I guess; something feels good and I want more). Just as suddenly, I gave myself a good mental shake. I can barely keep it together now between the job and the house and the kids and, once in a while, exchanging pleasantries with my husband. It’s so easy to forget the sleepless nights and hormonal roller coasters when they’re so cute and fat and sweet and smile at you like you’re the most perfect person they know. It’s not that I don’t want more children, but right this second, it’s probably not the best idea. I’ll just have to console myself by burying my nose in the rolls of chub on Kivi’s thighs.
If I may, I’d like to say something completely non-revelatory and grotesquely obvious, but needs to be said: Being a working Mom is really, really hard. The majority of the Moms in my community work, many full-time, and since this is a big medical community quite a number of them have insane schedules that keep them away from their kids for very long hours. I am one of the spoiled ones who only works three days a week in the same building as one of my children and around the block from the other. Still, I constantly feel like I’m playing catch-up and that there’s barely a moment to breathe. If I’m not working, I’m running errands or cooking or making phone calls or attempting to pick up after my children, who live by the motto, “Drop it like it’s hot in the middle of the dining room”. My apartment is a monolithic mess that I have to steal time in order to clean — I can finally be grateful that I don’t have a house; chances are, if I did, it would be condemned.
Thankfully, however, I’m not the only one who feels this way. The other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, a fabulous mom of three who also happens to work full-time. I asked her how she does it and she said she basically gave up her social life, outside interests and most of her free time. She’s constantly frazzled, trying to beat the clock, and has given up on a decent night’s sleep. Another mom I know had her daughter and went back to her residency after only 4 weeks. She said between the long hours on call and being up with the baby, she was a zombie for months.
Until now, I never understood what it meant to really juggle. Working moms always have many balls in the air at once and have to wear many different hats in one day (sometimes more than one at the same time). It’s like a constant whack-a-mole; after one challenge gets tackled, another one pops up. It’s almost impossible to keep up. As much as I would like to be a “SuperMom”, I can tell you that after just 3 months, I don’t see a cape and tights in my future. I will be the first to admit that I can’t do it all, and that it’s simply impossible without help. As I told Shuie: “I don’t need flowers or jewelry. I don’t want couture or fancy gadgets. What I really need is a wife”.
Official complaints have been staged due to my month-and-a-half-long blog “hiatus”. I assure you, people, that I have not spent the past almost-two months chilling out beachside or contemplating cloud formations. Mama’s a working woman now, which means between shuttling the kiddies to daycare and school, working, running errands, being social and (barely) keeping my house together, my free time has dwindled to the 10 seconds from Akiva’s crib to my bed, when he’s finally asleep and I can pass out.
Not that I’m complaining. I am beyond thrilled with life in Cherry Hill. The people here have been nothing but warm and welcoming, and it feels like we’ve been living here for years. I’m still getting used to the idea that we’re going to sticking around in one place for a while — my faithful readers know that at this time last year I was in Israel, one more knot in my world traveler’s belt — and I have to “Whoa, Nellie!” my brain at least once a day to prevent it from galloping off to plan the next big adventure. Everyday life can be an adventure, too, if I let it.
A few weeks back, my dear friend Chani was here with her family for lunch and sampled some of my Apple Challah, baked fresh for Rosh Hashana. “Oh my G-d,” she purred between bites. “I would pay for this.” And so was the beginning of my new business: Debbi’s Challah. Using my mother’s beloved recipe, I am now supplying challahs for holiday and Shabbos tables all over Cherry Hill. At least one night a week will find me pounding and kneading, shaping and baking away; last week I was so busy with challahs I turned around the night before Sukkot and realized that I’d been in the kitchen all week, but we had nothing to eat for the holiday (thankfully, you’re allowed to cook on Yom Tov!) It’s a delightful thing, making some extra cash doing something I love, and every time I sell one, I feel like Mom is winking at me. If you’re in the South Jersey/Metro Philly area and want to taste the love, check out my Facebook page for info (Shuie is building the website, to be up soon!).
Akiva is currently rocking out on his belly, wriggling his chubby legs like a fish. Kivi is almost 5 months old now (!) and is sweeter than sweet. Except for a not-so-fun croup episode which landed us in the E.R. at 5 a.m., Kivi has been thriving. Like his brother, he’s a hungry guy that my body can’t keep up with; my milk supply quickly went from main course to appetizer to last resort. I still wrestle with guilt over transitioning him to formula, but he’s doing so well I try to let it go. Recent reports of a bettle infestation in Similac was beyond unsettling (maybe that’s why they charge so much for it!); so I’m relieved I switched to the generic brand a while back.
Mr. Yonah is LOVING school. His teacher, Mrs. Weiss, is fabulous and he transitioned into life without 24-hour-Mom beautifully (if he wasn’t so happy, I might need some ego stroking), to the point where I bring him into his class and he gives me a quick kiss and takes off with barely a “Peace out, Mama,” before heading for the play kitchen. He comes home singing songs from school and bringing me various glittery/watercolory/markery art projects (the latest is a painted, glittered pine cone), with stains on his clothes to match. Mama is very proud of her little Van Gogh; we have enough material now to turn our fridge into a mini-Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The job is really nice. I’m enjoying working in a school and not having to teach anyone, and being appreciated for my creativity. I still go back and forth about whether or not it’s good for me to be away from my babies, but when you gotta do what you gotta do, it makes the choice a lot easier. For today, I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, a fridge full of food, two healthy, clothed kids, a husband who adores me and an actual, grown-up life. It’s not always perfect, pretty or fun — try changing puked-on sheets at 4 a.m. — but all in all I’d say I’ve got it pretty good.
In other news, Dad got married about a month ago. I would be lying if I said it was a fun night for me, because it wasn’t. In fact, I would say that I didn’t really understand that my mother wasn’t coming back until I saw my father under the Chuppah with his new bride walking around him. It felt like I was watching my mother die all over again. Like mine, Dad’s life has gone through a lot of changes in a very short period of time, and I hope that he’s as happy on the other side as I am.
Tomorrow night is the last round of high holidays for this year, the tail end of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, which marks the reading of the last portion of the 5 books of Moses, only to begin again the following day with Bereishis, Genesis. In this time of new beginnings, a new year, a new start, I hope we all have the chance to create the lives we dream of, slowly but surely, one day at a time.
A blog from the mind of Rea: mother, wife, writer, musician, seeker, health food kook, world traveler, film geek and 12 stepper. If you're looking for a sassy mix of music, tips and tricks, anecdotes and thoughts on life (lived on the front line!) you've come to the right place. Happy Reading!