- (Earlier this week)…
- This morning after I kissed my children as they ran for the bus, I called after them, “make good choices”!
- I ran upstairs to watch them cross the street. Safely climbing aboard the bus I still watched, perched from my window, as the blinking lights of the school bus stopped and it slowly drove away.
- Finally, exhausted from all the morning madness, I plopped back down on my bed to take a few deep breaths…when I heard something awful.
There was screaming coming from the park. Jumping out of bed to look out the window, I notice other children were waiting for the next bus for a different school, and I see none of them in a scuffle, all in a huddle with their other teen friends, and younger ones lined up waiting patiently. Where was that noise I had heard coming from? Then, out of the park came a young mother pushing a stroller, hair stuck to her face and her body tight with anger. She screamed again, very upset at her young child who was dragging his feet towards her. “C’mon, I’ve had it with you!”. He started crying. She stamped one foot and meanly with teeth gritted said, “and stop crying already!”. She started crossing the street and he chased after her whimpering, “waaait!”, and she whipped her head back at him and says way too loudly, “SHUT UP!”.
Oh man. I was so sad for that child. That poor crying child whose mother had lost all patience and control.
Who knows what happened before I came on to the scene perched there in my window?
Suddenly, my heart ached not for the child but for the mother. That poor, poor mother. Stressed and angry at her possibly willful child.
How many times have I raised my voice at a child for jelly-legs or whining for no apparent reason? Many. I wonder how many voyeurs tsk-tsked as I passed them in the market or out of the playground. Sure, there are lots of excuses, and this is probable the 300 millionth blogger-mom writing in to say, exhaustion is the main cause of irritability.
- we don’t eat proper meals
- we don’t sleep enough
- we worry ALL the time
- some of us “exercise”
It’s a problem, we acknowledge it and ignore it because there are life-hacks and we try to cut corners. How do we deal? Mostly by complaining in what used to be called a chat room, but has recently turned into a Facebook group entitled “Tired Angry Mamas” or “My Kids Are Killing Me” or something less obnoxious like “Under-appreciated Mom Thread”.
What are we doing? Why turn to social media and complain about our “rotten-behaving toddler”? Why scream out in the middle of a public area, in front of other children? No one cares about feelings or reputation anymore. It’s sad. We need positive role models for behaving like good parents so that our children will learn how to behave from us.
I’m not belittling any one and the issues that they are dealing with, you’re right. I don’t know you. I don’t what you’re going through. What I do know is that I have been that frustrated, exhausted mom. I have been so angry at the lack of money or time or sleep or patience that has led me to act like a moron. However, we need to change.
We can’t all pay for weekly therapy sessions and while misery loves company these groups on social media are a band-aid on the real issues. But we can take stock of what are the core issues we suffer from and finding out ways to really make a change. Honestly, your 6-year-old will still freak out if you take him/her though the candy aisle even if you preface, mommy NEEDS her 5 lb bag of M&M’s, and no, they may not choose just.one.thing. Because unless its absolutely necessary, never take your kids food shopping with you. Problem solved. Its money well-spent to get a sitter rather than fight the fight of a child who whines through every aisle but the fruit and veg section.
Think of every situation through their eyes. It’s okay to say no. It hurts to have to say I’m sorry. Let’s be better than that poor woman or sad child of yesterday. I want to leave for work every day feeling like my children were happy to go off to school. (Well, as happy as anyone is really, I mean, seriously – it’s school)!
I want my children to reflect on their childhood and NOT have hated me as a teenagers. I want them to already see that I was generous with my time, and paid attention to their needs and didn’t look like a dish-rag at the end of a day. I want them to see that even though they may upset me, I chose my words carefully. Without bitterness. With love.
Every year I cringe on Mother’s Day. Since we left our life in America to live a new one in Israel this traditional “holiday” has become erased from my little family’s customs. I remember as a child my principal saying every day was mother’s day as a was for us to show appreciation all the time – not just that one day a year. So I held on to that message year after year and on the actual Sunday, when about 700 of my 800+ Facebook friends are flaunting photos of happy mother/children or generational photos or pictures of fabulous breakfast-in-bed with homemade cards. Reminding myself of all the little things throughout the year when my children showed appreciation for all I did for them.
But who was I kidding? I wanted the goofy crooked heart-shaped card. I wanted the throat-culture-Popsicle-stick picture frame painted and glued together by little fingers…or the day to sleep in…or the bouquet of flowers.
Then 2 days later, I received a message on my work phone from my 10-year-old angel, wishing me a happy mothers day. That she was sorry she didn’t know and that if there was anything she could do around the house before I got home, I should call her to give her specific details…My heart… and when I called her back, she was quick to tell me she already put away the groceries, and was ready to wash the floor, but was there anything else she could do?
And then this happened: Not sure when, but when I woke up this morning I found this taped to the front door:
Every day IS Mother’s Day – so today I wish you all many blessings, most of all the ability to appreciate what you have without needing reminders.
That’s Hebrew folks! When a person in the immediate family dies, the mourner sits (literally) shiva (for 7 days) in a low chair, stool, sometimes even a mattress. It’s meant to be a healing period and gives the mourners proper time to lament and reflect on the lives of the deceased. It’s a time to conjure up old stories and funny memories, happy and sad times and to really honor the deceased in a way, helping those left behind to cope with the loss.
Then there is bris, the covenant between man and G-d, a Jewish ceremony of circumcision, which occurs 7 days after a baby boy is born. The mohel, (or as Seinfeld made popular, can be pronounced: “moil”) is trained and performs the ritual, more often than not, this ceremony is serious and not as humorous.
It’s the circle of life – people don’t live forever and this week at least 4 death notices came across my e-mail and I knew people connected to those that passed on. That is a lot. I’m not THAT old…where that should be the status quo, seriously!! So it was especially comforting to know that at least 2 of my friends had babies.
It’s hard to see my friends and colleagues lose their loved ones and especially for a person like me, I feel EVERYTHING, I am so super sensitive. I cried at the bris this morning during the ceremony as the congregants sang about angels. The translation is roughly that the Angel of Redemption is with us through any bad times, so of course even though I was at a happy event it sort of tied in last night’s shiva visit as well.
This weekend was one long party as I hosted my nephew, his 3 (out of 8) sisters, 3 brothers, parents, cousins, future brothers in law and friends. People were everywhere! There was so much food, fun, laughter, alcohol, and not enough time. Living in a different country than most of our family has a real downside. Not getting together all the time for holidays and weekends or special occasions is a real bummer and it weighs on us. We feel like we miss out and it’s more often than not too expensive to fly everyone in. So we send a representative. BUT, this time, we get to party in our neck of the woods and it feels great!
This plus Chanukah is right around the corner, my baby just turned 7, miracles are abundant and all around us. The Maccabeats put out a new song and besides that I was already addicted to the original version, their parody has me smiling from ear to ear and really just makes me feel like making a batch of latkes (potato pancakes) and dancing and being merry! I know some people think it’s cheesy, but I know some of those guys since they were teenagers and I feel like a bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother), I just want to pinch their cheeks and say good job, yingele (Yiddish for ‘children’)!
Now is the time to spread joy and happiness. With my nephew’s wedding and Chanukah just a few days away, there are dresses to be bought, hair to be coiffed, presents to be wrapped and sufganiyot (Hebrew for donuts) to be eaten. Spread the love and share good news, or dog videos on YouTube (like the one my cousin posted, of a dog dancing disco style – which I generally am annoyed about – but sometimes they are funny!) and be nice to one another, try to greet each other with a smile and share a kind word. Happy holidays to all…
It’s been a while since I posted though my life has been anything but dormant or boring, I’ve had lots to say but it never felt like the right time to say it, until now. This week, the 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the time each of us must make the last-ditch effort at amends and ask for forgiveness from our fellow Jews, friends, associates and G-d. The Good Book is closing and as I child I would actually visualize this, this, this massive over-sized giant book and have to squint to see if my name was written in it.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had time to reflect about the past year – what happened and how I handled certain situations and what this year has planned for me, rather what goals or dreams or accomplishments would I like to achieve? Perhaps not letting time go by without reaching out to make more of an effort to tell those I love them, even if they live far away.
This year I said goodbye to my Grandpa Mickey, Michael Marks, who more recently was referred to as G-pa. Though we didn’t really communicate too much the last few years he was always so special to me and I had always secretly wished we lived closer. I felt even as a child that my paternal grandparents were more “for me” and that my maternal grandparents were more “for the cousins”. They all lived in Florida and we lived in the tri-state area. It seemed only fair that we each got to be spoiled by at least one set of grandparents so as a kid, there was always a slight distance that I kept. Once I moved countries with my family as an adult it became increasingly difficult to connect on many levels however the memories and love I had as a child really carried me through the years of separation.
At the end my grandfather was recognized as the true hero he was, but to me, he was the funniest grandpa ever. He had a twitchy mustache and was built with muscles that reminded me of Pop-eye. He had the warmest eyes and the roughest hands and the baldest head and the best voice. When he held us, he hugged with strength. When he helped us, he did it with a good heart. When we vacationed, it was the best of times. And when we danced?
Seriously, that’s the very best memory of all. While we didn’t dance at my wedding for religious purposes, my grandfather blessed me as all the fathers do and then we honored him with the prayer over the bread that initiated the dining. He would tease me and my cousin Lisa, mercilessly, dance his pectoral muscles and then made us squeal when he said it was the girl’s turn next. While many thought he resembled a ninja turtle, to me he was larger than life and I will always miss that smile. He was mischievous and would make my grandmother use his full name when she reprimanded him, but this too is just a faded sweet memory. He was from what I could see from afar the most supportive great-grandfather, always in the bleachers, cheering his kids on. He was generous and kind and funny and everything grandfathers are supposed to be. He made everyone smile (except grandma – sometimes) and that’s the way I’ll always remember him.
Well, I’ll be…
To quote the group Men At Work: “Last night I had the strangest dream” – only it wasn’t a dream. It really happened. As a guest at a wedding, I was overwhelmed by the sense that it was the makeup for the perfect prank and I was getting Punk’d. But the wedding was as real as the unique guest list that had people from my past and present converging all at the same place at the same time.
How often is it that in the same social environment you’ll have your:
Architect who designed your home
Student Adviser from the year abroad post-high school program
High school crush
Computer tech guy
ex-boss turned friend
lady that you were GOING to buy your wig from but didn’t in the end who the last time you saw was not married and watching our kids play on the same softball team together NOW married. – that one made me happy 🙂
It was really weird for me. But weddings are great like that, I guess.
But more than it being like an episode of the TV show, This Is Your Life, it was a— this is your ‘life moment’. To me there are a few ‘life moments’ that really get me all worked up, and while I was proud of myself for not crying, my chest swelled with emotion as I watched the bride and groom smiling at each other under the stars, then looking out to the sea of people invited to wish them well with the sun setting behind them. Watching the father of the bride glow with pride *and maybe trying to capture his own life moment* smiling from ear to ear, getting the crowd to clap along when the music got festive, and encouraging all those around him to dance. He even did cartwheels!
These are the things we forget when we go about our day-to-day lives. That glowing charge of lovey-dovey-ness because the kids got sick or we missed the bus, kind of gets lost until someone’s birthday or anniversary arises as a reminder – hey buddy – it’s time to buy roses and chocolates…or diamond bracelets or a fancy island weekend getaway. (I dream big). All I really wanted this year was a light that stayed on for the duration of the Sabbath that I could cover without causing a fire – and I got it, though there is nothing really romantic or lovey-dovey about it. Perhaps next year I’ll ask for that weekend getaway ;).
So, while I continue working days until 5PM, making dinners and bathing kids, switching loads of laundry, ignoring the sink of dirty dishes, helping kids with their homework and making doctor appointments, I realize that these labors of love are my life moments. Sure, they’re not all glamorama, but they are mine. Watching my kindergarten cutie on his third day of school made my chest swell with pride as he skipped up the ramp and waved goodbye. Watching him sleep, as I did with all my babies, gives me those goosebumps and kissing their warm necks as I wake them from slumber gives me that same gushy feeling. I just need to remember these moments when I see the wrinkles form around my eyes and the grey creep out at my temples for before I know it, there will be my own child-bride that I watch move to the next stage of her life.
I just spent the last hour cuddling with, kissing and hugging my children before bedtime. Now go and do the same. Make a mental note to create a life moment for yourself and a warm and fuzzy memory for them.
There is so much bad in the world today. I mean literally, today. Murder, rape, starvation, abuse, terrorism, political scandal, prostitution, abduction, raging fire, sickness, divorce, ugh the list goes on an on. That was just a snippet from news articles I read today until I finally put a stop to it. My brain and heart and eyes needed a break from all this awful negativity.
I wished there were more articles on good news than bad but alas the way to true journalism I guess is exploiting ourselves as much as possible. So I searched and searched until I found a few things that lightened the mood.
These are some of the things that made me smile:
- ‘Dad jeans are making a comeback’ according to The New York Times fashion and trend section.
- The Huffington Post added a video of a porcupine eating a banana – you can check it out HERE
- Apparently, according to the BBC, if one is too fat – he can not live in New Zealand. Some would contend that this is bad news. But imho, it’s so bad that it’s good.
- An affordable eye shadow has hit the market thanks to Lady de Cosmetic.
- Two Prince Georges were born, but only one is an ass.
So there you have it.
Today is a much better day. My son went to camp happily in his new t-shirt and shorts. I avoided reading anything newsworthy. I am having a decent hair day *which means my wig is washed and clean and soft and smells pretty, (girly-stuff-bla-bla-bla) and best of all I am starting to make time for blogging again. I cleaned more of the piles on my desk that I kind of just shoved into one massive pile. I broke them down and organized them in a way that actually makes sense and that I can hopefully find something now when I need it. I redecorated my little desk area so now it’s more functional. However, being programmed to look towards the right at my phone to find out the date and time is getting annoying since I moved the phone to my left. Other than that its been…
…I was going to say quiet and then tons of people came into the office all at the same time! It’s noon and I re-checked my incoming email to find some really interesting things (read busy work items) I need to tend to. What happened to my chilled out planned day? Life is like that –
A small story before I sum up:
Once upon a time there was a happy little monkey. The monkey wanted to play all day, lounge in the tree and eat bananas until her belly was full. There was only one problem. It was raining outside and this little monkey hadn’t mastered climbing trees when they got a bit slippery from the rain. She had 2 choices. The first was to make a new plan. The second was to go outside and try to climb the tree, even though she had been unsuccessful before. Both options had positive measures with possible positive outcomes. Whatever the monkey decided would be the right thing to do. Making the decision was that hardest part.
Often in life we are given choices or options and are forced to make decisions. With a positive attitude, any decision can made infinitely better from the get-go.
Today I chose to bypass the news sites. Not because I am ignoring the problems that face the world today, but because I am giving my heart a break. To read such awful outcomes, to fathom that some people are choosing to destroy the lives of others, to contemplate the people of the world as a whole unit doing harm unto one another is too big a pill to swallow day after day. I want to enjoy the beautiful things, the happy moments, the funny and the absurd that we miss because of the negativity that eclipses them.
So here are the things today that made me smile:
I call this the grandmadillo:
Sad Ending but Inspiring and Always Makes Me Smile:
So with this I end with a message to show some love today. Make choices that help others, that encourage your loved ones, that make you a better person. Feel good about your place on this earth and help make it a better place for our children. Sending out wishes for peace and harmony to all those that struggle today with decisions not in their own hands.
Today is a big day. In my own world Valentines Day was never celebrated but the rest of the world is spreading love everywhere. Plans for surprise proposals that will surface on Youtube, pounds of chocolates and heart-shaped everythings have been sold, stragglers are sure to pay for a hefty overpriced love trinket or single wrapped rose because they waited until the last-minute to prove their love, and women all around await with bated breath and big hopeful eyes that they will not be forgotten on the most romantic day of the year.
I get to have romance 24/7 with my loved one. Cheesy? You bet. Can you guess why?
Fine, I’ll just tell you. He never cooks dinner (unless you are a man reading this, so I guess grilling up some hot dogs once in a while and making a bbq a few times a year counts). He never leaves love notes on my pillow (though once I found a nice note in the car reminding me some stuff – errands – for the day (..that was at best thoughtful). After year one I can’t really remember getting flowers (don’t cry for me, I have terrible allergies).
So it’s not traditional but I can best describe it with an example.
We were up pretty late watching a show when I remembered to tell him that I needed to work a special event Sat night. He phrased his question funny and I couldn’t resist responding appropriately, plus it was pretty late as I mentioned and I was kind of silly (who me?) at that hour. He asked: What do you need to work as? My response: as a waitress in a cocktail bar.
Those of you who know Billy Joel will catch the reference. As it happens the only concert we ever went to was a Billy Joel concert. (back-story folks). I was really pregnant and we lived in Jersey, the concert was in Jersey, but blondie left our tickets to the concert in his government office drawer in NYC. So even though the couple that we were supposed to meet were already there and enjoying we got stuck in traffic, naturally, and government bureaucracy (why would he NEED something from his office after hours, he may or may not have forgotten his ID badge), we got stuck in traffic on the way back, got lost in the parking lot until we found an open doorway, walked half way around the stadium before we found our seats and made it just as Billy belted out, “a bottle of red, a bottle of white” and the crowd went wild. We made it for like 2 songs. They were at least 2 we knew…so it ended well. That typical funniness, the quirkiness, the oddball actions – that’s real romance. I’m not joking, when I can make my bestie laugh out loud in the middle of the night with a quick one liner and a Billy Joel quote, that’s romantic! We get that every day here at the fun factory.
Just the other day when I reached into my purse for my keys and magically there was some ABC gum stuck to them, I laughed in a grossed out kinda’ way. I would NEVER share that with him because he suffers gumphobia (a story that’s all his to tell, sorry, kids), but to me laughter is romance, those crazy kids are extensions of us. They remind me daily of the love I share with my partner in this really weird (read: romantic) way. That’s love and you can’t wrap that up in a heart-shaped box.
Saturday Night! Time to PARTY!! Or in my reality based lame high-school life watch Saturday Night Live whilst living in America and here in Israel really means time to fill the dishwasher. I know, I’m a wild card…
It is a strange thing to have been at a party for someone you’ve never met. I mean it’s one thing to tag along with a friend and even though you feel like a third wheel or act like a wall flower there is the possibility that you might meet someone new, or at least eavesdrop into a really cool conversation.
Because I was super popular in high school, as mentioned before, I think I went to a total of 2 parties, not including the sweet 16’s. I mean real parties; no parents, music, dancing, people pulling off into private corners for who knows what…well I really had no clue ‘what’ at the time. Now that I think about it, one was a fairly tame graduation party where the parents were present and it was still daylight. However, that ONE party that I did go to included going in a car, driven by my friends, to a really fancy house, with cool colored lights bordering the driveway. The front yard had real landscaping, not mother’s day sprouts in a 6th grade homemade earthenware pot by the front door, but real palm trees and in the backyard a patio with a pool and lights that wreaked of wealth or a really good architect. Even though I knew mostly everyone there I was truly out of my comfort zone. The hostess and I were not close friends and I don’t even think we spoke more than a few times all throughout high school but the whole class was invited and my friends dragged me along.
This was not my only experience participating in someone’s get together where I really did not know the main person the party was being held for. When I was 18, I along with my other 4 shana bet (2nd yr studying in Israel) classmates were invited to our rebbe’s son’s bris, at a yeshiva, FULL of guys, and I probably do not need to express how uncomfortable we were. We stuck out like a vegetarian at a steakhouse (not that there is anything wrong with that). We must have spent hours with our curling irons, hair dryers, diffusers, bottles of mousse, gel, de-frizzer, lip gloss, what have you…and WE DID NOT EVEN KNOW ANYONE! (Besides the new dad). What’s even more weird – or not so much because it did happen to me – was that I was at this same little boy’s bar mitzvah 13 yrs later, after I made aliyah with my husband, and 3 children. I listened at both of these smachot (happy occasions) to others praise the little boy and all he was about to accomplish, how he was destined for greatness and how the contributions he was about to make to the Jewish world were magnanimous! No pressure, kid, good luck with all that!
In the last year I have had the privilege yet again to be at 2 gatherings for someone I never even met, but walked away truly knowing. There was a new neighbor, someone who created small amounts of fame by sharing her story with others and while I had heard of this women a few times she was new to my block and I was eager to meet her. We had happened to have met randomly in the supermarket and talked about banal things and shared a quick laugh. I had heard a short while later that her husband had died from an illness, leaving her alone with 3 children. In my amazing community we all banded together as we always do, pitching in during the good times and the bad. I decided to participate in the funeral. I cried and cried which may seem strange for I did not know this woman, I did not know this man, I did not know these children. But I am a friend, I am a wife and I am a mother. I cried for all these reasons. Her pain was tangible and as I listened to the loved ones talk about this wonderful man it became personal. So an unspoken connection began. I went to visit her that week and was greeted by one of her daughters outside the house who looked up at me, a complete stranger, and asked me simply, “are you here to see my mom?”, I responded yes obviously, and her response just blew me away. “That’s good, because she is really sad, and you have a nice face, you’ll make her feel better.” I entered the house and just sat. I don’t even think I spoke more than a sentence. I just listened. Listened to more stories about what a great father he was. What a great brother-in-law/husband/friend he was. I was connected and wanted to get to know them better.
I had a chance to host the children and mother once for a shabbos meal and my life was made richer for it. Tonight, one year later there was an azkara (memorial ceremony) for this gentleman. I cried and cried. It was personal. I listened to his mother-in-law speak about him (and generally these relationships aint the greatest) but she felt she had gained a son when he married her daughter. I cried along with her. Since tissues were kept close to the immediate family, I was so thankful when someone finally passed around the napkins. Those napkins, taken from the beautiful table decked with all sorts of delicious food and candles. The ambiance on the porch with a string of lights above and all our neighborhood friends seemed to be a gathering of festivities. The mother spoke to her children in their father’s words, praising them, encouraging them, sending love through their very wise and sensitive mother. With kindness she spoke and with humor. And I cried. Now, that’s no great surprise since I cry at almost EVERYTHING (even kleenex commercials). I connect easily. This was personal. I left as someone was playing a soulful song on a guitar wishing all those I passed a good week. I cried all the way home. It seemed like it took forever to make it up the hill. After a year there is supposed to be a sense of closure. I felt raw because though we had never met, I knew him, and it was painful.
I thought a while before putting my thoughts down. Why would I cry so much for someone I never actually met? This shabbos I heard a great rav speak about the power we have just by smiling at someone and greeting them. Even if you do not know the person, by taking but a few seconds to acknowledge another person’s existence, one has the ability to affect how that day will continue. I could have very easily never made a point to meet this new neighbor. No one would have chastised me if I had chosen not to attend the funeral. Our lives are busy and it would not have seemed unfriendly if I had never invited her family for a meal. But I took the time, and it was never a lot of actual time, a minute here, 30 there, 1-2 hours tops. Sometimes that smile or simple hello will help the other person, but I can guarantee it will always make you feel good. How many people will you have the ability to affect daily? How many will I? Challenge extended…