parenting

What Are We Doing?

  • (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.

    PERSPECTIVE

    moms

    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.

    Moms:

    • 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.

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An Audible Sigh Day

Not one of those, “I-keep-dropping-everything” days…

Not one of those “Holy @$#@&^%#^I-AM-IN-THE-BATHROOM” days…

Not one of those “I-have-3-hours-to-do-100-things” days…

It was a day where the body could no longer handle the physical, the mind no longer handle the mental, and the heart could no longer handle the emotional, so there was nothing but the sound of an audible sigh every few moments that made it bearable.

It shocks me how much easier it is to cry when one is too tired. Too tired because of a thousand reasons. The children, the internet, the worries, the thinking…how and why does this happen? You can be exhausted but the minute you lie down the brain has this way of making you go over your day, your conversations and everything and anything that may have flitted through it that day, that week, that MONTH and you lie there. Awake. Tortured. Until the eyes can no longer handle it and finally there is some rest.

sleep01Until your subconscious awakens you at 4:30 AM. seriously. 4:30 AM? I have no newborn. I have no bladder issues. Why? WHY?!? I internally scream.

So…I am tired. Which makes everything else, just bad. It hurts my face to smile. The effort to be sociable is overwhelming. Tears randomly pop up at every mediocre thought. Not a good day to cheer my favorite helper on, but as mothers and natural nurturers we put ourselves last. We are martyrs through and through and we put on a brave smile for those we love and want to protect.

And I find myself every few minutes audibly sighing.

Your Worst Parenting Moment

easy-hardIt’s what we all fear. Making the wrong choices for our children.

Usually instinct kicks in, but what happens when you are on the fence about an issue? Finding the right voice to listen to is hard when there are lots of opinions being thrown your way.

This week I struggled. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Among all the other day-to-day decisions, and feeling quite ill, I was forced to address a situation head-on. No one ever makes good decisions when they are not performing at 100% so I was in a bit of a pickle, I was aware that I could not trust my own judgement, and yet – there I was swaying back and forth on a specific issue. I felt tormented all week.  I needed sound advice – but that too seemed to be a struggle…whose voice to listen to?

I needed someone I could respect, someone who “got” me, someone who understood that the thing I needed to decide about was something I took very seriously. I had quiet panic attacks as I went on about my regular duties, I arranged play-dates and made shopping lists, while I suffered deliberating each side of that fence whenever a “free” moment arrived.

Usually if I see something I like or need, I purchase it, take it home and am fine, never second-guessing my choice. When faced with the challenge of making decisions for others? I take that to heart. I tried to look at every angle and there I was stuck between the pressure of my peers (which is insane considering my age – but there you have it), and separating from the pack and making a sound decision based on facts, and where my heart and mind were telling me was the right thing for us. For my child.

I knew not to ask too many people, too many people can cloud one’s judgement.

I chose specifically people who were good listeners, who understood this issue, like-minded people who could be objective without an ulterior agenda. It was hard to seek them out, for they are not my general go-to friends, or my spouse, but others whom I respect and were not emotionally connected like I was.

So here I am at the end of the week with my decision, not to be swayed by the masses, to forge my own path and judgement based on mutual respect and not peer pressure.

But I am frightened and I think this is natural. Since the day these children are born they look to us for protection and guidance and any parent knows this burden is the heaviest one ever to bare. In Judaism there is a concept that every woman is born with a natural sense of intuition. We all make mistakes and the smart ones learn from them, and don’t make the same mistake twice. But, now at this possibly life-altering moment, my nerves are frazzled, my mind jumps from one side of the spectrum to the other in an attempt for rational decision-making. My natural instincts are leading me in a different place than that of my peers and breaking from the pack is making me doubt myself.

And so today, I am feeling the brunt of possibly my worst parenting moment. Choosing the wrong path. Because this is not my life, this is the life of my child, and while they are healthy and strong and opinionated, they still need my guidance and look to me to help with their decisions.

I know what I want to do. I know what my heart and mind are screaming to do, and yet, I shudder when I think, what if I am wrong?

What if I am wrong?

The Countdown to Meltdown

What a rough morning. No one wants to see their child lose it. Especially from too far away to step in and diffuse the problem. 

Mommies always want to make things better, but this morning there was no way for me to reach my child on time and the fact that I could hear him screaming, “NOooo” as my daughter and others encouraged him to get on the bus, he was not budging, and I was left watching from my window across the street in my pajamas crying for what I was witnessing. Well it was between that, and this. 

OH-NO-YOU-DITTENT

He needed a tissue. A simple fact. He felt something icky and needed a tissue, which my daughter didn’t have on her. When he refused to get on the bus, even though they were holding it for him, and there was only one seat left, he wouldn’t go. My daughter was embarrassed by his behavior and then hers, for publicly admonishing him, for trying to push him too hard to do something he didn’t want to, for feeling like a failure in our eyes if he didn’t make it on time. I could see other kid’s fathers on the ground trying to encourage him to get on the bus, friends of ours who I am so thankful to for even trying. I even sent another daughter running to the rescue but she too failed and when they returned home, there was a heaviness. I was so sad. I was pretty angry. I was in a quandary…what to do, how to handle this delicate situation.

Little brother sat on the naughty step for creating a scene and missing the bus, but there will be a discussion and probably therapy about learning how to deal with difficult situations when feeling pressure. One daughter returned pretty disappointed that little brother used her sweatshirt as his tissue and had to change. The other daughter came home in utter tears and was an absolute emotional wreck. She was mortified but worse than that was suffering a shoe crisis. 

So one would think that little brother is the reason for this title, however he was just the beginning my personal mental meltdown, or so I thought. After trying to calm my daughter down, we managed to find suitable shoes for her outfit regardless of the fact that a friend made her feel bad about them the day before. She was self-conscious, I knew that, I understood that, but the fact was, the bus was coming and she still had no prepared food for lunch. The morning was so hectic there was little-to-no-time left to prepare a ‘normal’ lunch. So when I grabbed last night’s leftovers (which btw – were AWESOME) and threw something together she left with a hug only to walk back in 10 minutes later shoulders hunched and shaking, face sodden with tears. The energy it takes to calm down a hysterical teenager over wardrobe issues and a missed bus is like trying to grab the egg before it hits the ground – missing it, and then trying to scoop the goo off the tiles with a tissue. It’s almost impossible in one go. There was back rubbing, and tear wiping, hugging, deep breathing, and then finally there was a final sigh.  

I was like a ticking time bomb – waiting for the next thing to happen – not necessarily a BAD thing, just another ‘fire” I’d have to put out…another issue to deal with and honestly…I’m usually calm and deal with each thing as it hits me. Today, however it felt like I was in a batting cage with the automatic ball pitcher … without a bat. Ducking and dodging and every once in a while making a catch but really? I was just picking the balls up one at a time trying not to get it hit by the next one.  

QuotationBut the meltdown never came and I even got to work on time after dropping off my daughter at school and it was a rather pleasant day. I kept a lighthearted attitude, laughed things off and smiled at every one who walked in. I know I have work to do when I get home and there are going to be a lot of difficult conversations that we need to have, I just pray no one ends up crying. I aim to have an open discussion about how our actions create reactions and perhaps ways of coping when things don’t seem to go our way. Heck, I am just as guilty half the time of not having the best knee-jerk response, nevertheless we can all learn from listening to others. “Listening is key to all effective communication” and one of my goals is to teach my children to listen to each other, listen to us as parents and perhaps we can avoid more frustrating scenarios like this morning. I always try to learn from each incident and this was a huge lesson. The older I get, the more I can see why the people who were old when I was young were so cranky. Patience is a gift, one that I have been blessed with and never take for granted. My hope is that I never reach that ornary place and that I can always greet each person pleasantly, “b’sever panim yafot” as the Mishna in Avos states.

Wishing all a year of peace, good health, happiness and prosperity in the new year.  

  

Our Tooth-Fairy Has Celiac & An Email Account (Apparently)

This is how we found out:

Paco (6 yrs old): Can I ask you something?

Mommy: Always

Paco: Can you wiggle my tooth?

Mommy: I’d rather not, can you? I’ll just look

Paco: See how it’s almost ready. Can you take it out after dinner?

Mommy: Why don’t we try right now?

Paco: Nope. I don’t wanna’ eat bloody food.

Mommy: Sounds like a plan.

After dinner, and a bath, and an episode of some robot-y program on Netflix – I finally convince him its time.

Mommy: Okay, here we go, ready?

Paco: Never

Mommy: Open up! Wider, say “eee” …okay open while you say “eee”, enter tissue…gagging…begging. DONE!

Later that night in bed we discuss how the tooth-fairy will come by while he is sleeping and take his teeth and replace them with shiny coins. Unfortunately the tooth-fairy got completely distracted, side-tracked, and tired and never showed up.

The next morning…

Paco: Mommy! Mommy!

Mommy: jsdfbrfqerf still sleeping erjjrwnf, what?

Paco: We need to send the tooth-fairy an email

Mommy: Wha?

Paco: She is too sick to fly here and bring me the money, so we need to email her

Mommy: Why is she sick?

Paco: She has coughs and can’t fly. And she has Celiac.

Mommy: Really. Wow. Okay, I’ll ask Abba ( daddy) to send her one. oops

Conversations with this guy never leave me without a smile. 

Being There For Others

Not a fun morning, but definitely a worthy one. One with a mission.

This week alone, I went to pay 2 shiva visits (that means visiting someone who is mourning the loss of an immediate relative). A father and a wife have now moved on to the next world, leaving behind worlds that are shattering but with promise to heal. I heard about 2 car accidents of different friends that have left them injured and broken with a definite amount of financial loss heading their way.A conversation that alerted me to yet another neighbor diagnosed with the big “C” and a few emails about prayers needed for sick children along with a close  friend with a worrisome lump… heavy, too heavy to wake up to.

After a few minutes of  introspection about what lies ahead, my life, busy as it is, sure looks a lot better than some others right about  now. But I feel their pain and it is no surprise that my inner voice is not my own. It’s Stella’s voice. Creepy? Not for me, it’s so comforting. I miss Stella just like every other friend, but for some subconscious reason, whenever I feel my community’s pain, it is her voice I hear telling me what the right thing to do is. It may sound weird…reading this over, I even think it’s a bit wild. But that’s the plain truth. So today, I have a plan. A mission to go out of my natural comfort zone…a thing I end up doing when my emotions take over, and I am happy this happens to me. My natural instinct is to say “yes” whenever someone asks me to do something. (Admittedly to my detriment  sometimes). But I can’t help it. When someone asks, my heartstrings pull towards that sense of nurture that is part of who I am. Then there is the voice of reason and action. It calls to me when there is someone who needs something. Today, I have a plan on how to appease this voice. Sure, it may be slightly awkward, sure it may take up an entire lunch break – but to maybe have a the opportunity to put a smile on someone else’s face? Or to hold their hand and let them know that there are people whom they can count on for support? That would be worth it.

Today started with such a heaviness, and when that one tear fell, I knew in my heart that there was more we could be doing. More praying, more paying attention to others, more listening, more caring. hugs

We must work harder at being kinder and  being better than we were yesterday.

Naturally we can’t be there for our friends all the time. We ALL have busy lives and must tend to our own before helping others, but I often think: what kind of example am I for my daughters? For my sons? I want them to see that even though I could be doing A, B, and C, I chose D, E, and F because it meant that I wasn’t the center of my life. It meant that I put others before me, and I know it’s not an easy task for some. I’ve been in that other place many times. When I just wanted to do what I wanted to do, and not have others influence me for bad or good, but it’s not the person I strive to be.  I would like for my children and cherished loved ones to choose people in their lives who always want to be on the giving end, as well as be able to acknowledge and accept humbly when its our turn to receive.

Only one tear today, which for me is a big deal. Today, I’m listening to the voice of action and will be there for someone else, if only even for just a few minutes. Perhaps you can too.

If I Could, I Would…

…blink my eyes/click my heels 3 times and be home.

…wear pajamas all day.

…”buy” whatever I wanted because in my fantasy life money has no value and we all contribute to society evenly.

…always have patience for those who question with obvious answers.

…avoid fattening foods all the time.

…forget that society DOES have an effect on my body image.

…run away sometimes.

…own a really cool car.

…travel with no lingering responsibilities.

…take the time to learn how to gracefully move my body, whilst “swimming”.

…pamper myself with manis and pedis weekly.

…get the nerve to shave off all my hair…just once…to see the shape of my head.

… eat Duncan Hines icing as a main meal.

…relax.

But I can’t so I won’t…today. And probably not tomorrow. But perhaps one day when I’m rich (with money) and bored and feel like indulging  myself. But let’s be honest – whose life am I thinking of? Certainly not mine or any other working mom I know who dedicates all her free time running from one school to another bringing forgotten lunches and gym shorts  – that by the way  – he didn’t.even.NEED!

Last night this mama spent 2 hours at a parent teacher conference listening with her absolute-serious-face on so that everything being told to her in a foreign language would be caught. Yeah sure I’ve been reading this language for all my life and speaking it for the last 10 years – on and off but listening to someone speak it at full-speed and understand it? That’s something else! This is dedication people…spending the 2 hours, where my brain generally shuts down, focusing all attention on something other than Project Runway, a major I’m-there-for-you-moment.

So – here is the bottom line.

I love my kids. I love them to bits and pieces. I will do whatever I can to help them be as successful as they can be.  If I could just wear pajamas and pig out on Duncan Hines icing while driving around in a really cool car  listening to Yanni – I would.

The Very Happy Ending. By cheriblevy

Welcome to story time kids. Sit down while Aunt Chubby tells a tale of Frustration.  This is a story about mind over matter. 

Once upon a time the naughty body clock woke mommy up at 5:45 AM. This made Mommy very grumpy, but as hard as she tried, she could not fall back asleep. Her eyes were so itchy and she kept rubbing and rubbing them. This was terrible, and left Mommy with very red swollen eyes. That sure felt awful.

She decided to get dressed in some of her favorite clothes. This would certainly make her feel better. She had a  long drive to work and there was a lot of traffic. This made Mommy grumpy again. She finally made it inside and sat down at her computer and began to work.

Then she realized that there was no ink in her printer. And then she remembered that her computer was also not connected to the main printer. Even though she complained and complained for weeks to the person in charge to fix it, she was still not connected. Wow, Mommy sure was grumpier now.

Suddenly her telephone rang and she had to rush back home and pick up her daughter at school. Nina, who was 8 years old needed to go to a new school for 3rd grade, where there was a special class to help her with reading and spelling. But when they got to the new school, all the Mommy saw was children running around, acting very wildly. The teachers tried to tell them not to scream, run, blast the music or interrupt the adults talking, but they just didn’t listen. That was really bad. Nina was frightened and thought this maybe was the worst idea Mommy ever had.

Afterwards Mommy took Nina back to school and hugged and kissed her and whispered in Nina’s ear that there was still one more school to see, not to worry. Nina felt better and hopped off to class with her friends.

Mommy had to drive all the way back to work. She was happy at least there was no more traffic. Even though her eyes were still very itchy and even started to water, she tried to keep her fingers from rubbing them. That would have been very dangerous. When she returned to her desk, Mommy thought all about their trip and felt a little sad for Nina but had more work to do, so decided to save those thoughts for later. She worked and worked and worked some more. At the end of the day, she knew she had to go food shopping. Too bad Thursdays were the busiest day in the market. She’d have to wait to find  a parking spot, navigate her way through the busy aisles, make sure she bought Nina’s special cookies in the lane for gluten-free items, and then wait in the very long line to pay, unload the groceries into the car, return the cart and drive all the way home. Once she got home, she’d have to unload the groceries from the car, climb the stairs, empty the bags and then start dinner for the children.   Even though it would very late, Mommy was planning on making pizza for dinner, that would make everyone happy.

Mommy was going to be really tired at the end of the day. Waking up so early and keeping so busy can make someone get grumpy, especially with itchy red puffy eyes, but it’s important to remember one thing. To Smile.

When we smile it forces us to feel happy. When we feel happy and share our smiles with others, it makes them happy. So kids, if you see someone having a grumpy day, all you need to do is smile at them to help make them feel better. Even if they say something like, “Your computer should be fixed by Sunday or Monday, or maybe even Tuesday”. Even if you don’t believe that’s true – you’ll feel better because the other person is smiling at you when they tell you. So the lesson for today is,  don’t worry be happy. Turn that frown upside down. Smile and the whole world smiles with you.  And when that doesn’t work, eat ice cream.

Over 10,000 Views And I Still Have Stuff To Say

Wow – that is a big number for Silly Ol’ Me. It was a thrill to see it and it encourages me to write more. 

That having been said – I’ve been continuing the market research on this blog project and it never ceases to amaze me that the more serious, emo-heart-tugging, grab-a-tissue posts are the ones that get the most hits. I really thought Dr. Ruth had a chance.

I’ve been thinking of ways to expand, not my girth – THAT btw is ever so ridiculously slowly shrinking, thanks to a serious lazy gene, but conscious effort to eat better. I mean expand my blog – different things I should write about.

challah– I am obsessed with food, but there are already so many amazing foodies/ food bloggers out there. I’ve gotten a little better about baking with dough – see my Challah Bread here? So gorgeous – though this was the exception to the rule. They usually come out less evenly braided or with a big weird air bubble – but I am never discouraged and have often considered blogging about the food I create and the deeper meaning behind it or story connected to it. There usually is something that triggers me to cook or bake something and the stories are pretty juicy *see how I did that?

– I like to brag about my kids and their achievements but am not at all qualified to start blogging on good (or even mediocre) parenting.

– I often find the most random and silly products on the web but I already started writing Weird Stuff On Wednesdays and like to keep it a weekly thing.

– I sometimes want to write these Dear Diary moments and then think twice – some things really should be kept personal or anonymous. Some people share way too much on the internet and though I have been accused of this from time to time, I prefer to think I give people a glimpse but not the whole story.

– I see (like most people) what I want to see. I often want to challenge myself and wonder if there is a possibility to see things from a different perspective. One thing I learned from sitting in on one of the sessions at the Israeli Presidential Conference was that the brain has a way of convincing you that your opinion is the right one. I know a lot of lawyers that would agree.

– I want to learn how to play another instrument so I’ve been thinking seriously about blogging from day 1 with video footage of the process and progress. This is definitely the forerunner. I’m not worried about embarrassing myself  – Lord knows I do that often enough and most of the time not on purpose – so…no worries there.

ant

– I love photography, but have no real skills or fancy camera but have a keen eye when using my iPhone, see? I caught the ant/bug-thing on the leaf/ flower bud there. La-dida-ing in my garden and sure enough the opportunity presented itself. I call it, Bug On A Flower Bud. Perhaps one day there may be a gallery opening for iPhone Art and then I’ll have a place to display this amazing capture. (yes, I’m being sarcastic)

So – that’s whats on my mind in a nut-shell. I have really enjoyed blogging – met some really interesting people because of it and am looking forward to more opportunities to share and leave a part of me behind.

I don’t intend to be quoted one day but perhaps my messages will transpire the generations. It’s important to share our experiences. Paulo Coelho (a Brazilian lyricist and novelist)  once said, “Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience”, and I agree. Jump in and get wet people – life only happens once.

Optimization For Localization (for Parenting)

Uh-Oh…she’s using big words again!

What on earth am I talking about? Buckle up kids, here we go.

(Content) Optimization for localization means creating the very best most concise content you can by editing your work so that the client (or reader) gets what you’re saying. By creating better, easier, more readable content the person reading your blog will have a better experience and will more often than not return to read what you have to say.

  • sameeraWhile I did not read all 167 pages of Sameera S. Ponda’s paper for MIT on Trajectory Optimization for Target Localization Using Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, she makes a great point which I’d like to connect to this article. Using on board sensors to these UAV’s used mostly for reconnaissance, intelligence and surveillance missions – data is collected and the information is used to estimate a target’s location.

That is what I am talking about! I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we could place these sensors on people or in their brains so that we could gather up the intel and pinpoint the best way to sell them on our ideas? I can see how it would get sketchy and all big brother is watching though, so we are left to research other ways.

Knowing what will click with your readers or your clients is a key factor in writing a successful blog or having a successful business. If you are interested in achieving the best possible outcome, you need to understand what makes your target market (group of readers) tick,  by researching all the factors that encourage or discourage your readers/clients. And while success is measured differently by each person, I can bet you one thing. If you want a definite, very specific outcome, you must know what it is you want to say and how to say it. 

Gathering your thoughts and researching the habits of your clients (or readers) will give you the very best opportunity to edit and re-edit yourself so that you can catch their attention in the shortest amount of time possible. I want to apply this to parenting and how we talk or get our point across to our children.

Because I’ve been blogging for over a year…I am an expert…obviously (cough-wink-wink) so this advice is tried and true. I’ve created a few graphs and documented one dinner experiment, read fiasco and one Friday clean-up experiment, which resulted in a sore throat. Kids-1, Mom-0. Here are the results.

Dinner Graph-page-001graph2

This is what I learned: Kids will listen when they receive something more than a command. Recognition, Appreciation, Encouragement. Candy. TV Time. Praise. By turning the clean-up-your-room tirade into a game of “Who can do it faster?”, the job got done. By offering a dessert and 30 minutes of movie time before bed-time, I was granted with quiet polite diners. By promising to read ONE (and only ONE – very.short.story) at bedtime, I was able to convince most little people to change quickly into pajamas, by themselves, and their clothing was placed in the laundry bins. Blogging is like that, it’s a give and take relationship. Give a reader what they want and they’ll praise you (isn’t that really what we all want?!)

So I asked myself…what do I really want? The answer was to be in a quiet house by 8PM. I had to find (by researching) a way they heard me best. I found out how to say what I wanted to say so that my target audience would respond and so I stopped, regrouped, and re-edited myself. I wanted them to listen. Bribery worked just fine for me (sorry, folks). Now, if only we can manage to create those sensors so we’d know when the tantrums would begin…  

When The Egg Becomes A Chicken

Nope. Not a kid’s book in the making…although, don’t steal it, I reserve the right to use it at a later date.

Nah, this is one of those emotional posts. Milestones do that. While I held it together and didn’t cry last night, there were a few moments where I found myself taking a deep breath and capturing, savoring the here and now.

My eldest has ‘graduated’ from 8th grade.  Though not like an American affair with all the pomp and circumstance with caps and gowns, there was still no shortage of speeches and endless thanking and patting on the back. We sat in the stadium seating for over 3 hours, listening to some school bands rock out on electric guitars, keyboard and drums and even a violin. We watched the play (though a bit violent – but thankfully with a happy ending). We watched them get called up to the stage to receive their parting gifts accompanied with a smile from their teachers and sometimes even the man hug. (You know the one, sort of where they grab hands, bang the body and slap each other on the back).

Effy's Play

I waited with bated breath for my man-boy to come on stage and the dramatic way he portrayed his character surprised me. He played the small role of a Polish boy in WWII, but significant non-the-less. I sat in awe that he had no fear, remembering his lines and really acting the part. (Not like his mama when she got white as a ghost when it was her turn in the camp play). He was humble and shy at the end when it was time to take his bow but loud and boisterous when all the graduates rushed the stage and jumped in unison in huddle formation chanting their class something that sounded like a ‘go 8th grade, go 8th grade…’

He had his arms around the guys next to him when the music got emotional and it was so bittersweet. He was in the moment, as were they all, that this was their big moment and they were sharing it together.

My perception of this man-boy all through school was perhaps wrong. I always thought he was the awkward kid, who did not mature (socially) as quickly as some of the others, who was a little ‘off’ and never hung out with guys playing sports or just ‘hanging out’ on a given Saturday afternoon. However, yesterday, watching him with some of the other guys – I saw no awkwardness, I saw a comradeship amongst teens. It was really emotional for me as a mother to watch this transformation. He gets more comfortable in his new skin every day. There is growth by the millisecond, in physicality as well as maturity. He even took out the garbage just because he saw it was getting full. When I asked him why he was taking out the garbage (because it was just so out of the ordinary) his response was, “isn’t it obvious”?

Without getting to analogous to fertility and how babies are born, I’ll leave it to you to make the connection between the title  of this post and the content. My first baby is getting more mature by the day and I need to look back at pictures to remember him as a tow-headed toddler and our first every-things as parents. I still have some fine tuning to do and am glad he’ll be local for high school so I can still sort of mold this human into the decent man I have such high hopes for.  It’s just so bittersweet. I love watching him become something different, while I still yearn for the little boy who asked me to read Brown Bear for the 20th time in a row. I am beside myself with joy at the possibilities for him while at the same time cognizant that I need to cherish each moment as it happens for time passes so quickly when we get busy with life. He resembles me and when I see those features become more and more distinguished my breath catches. I know lots of moms that are going through the same thing so  on one hand its good to know I am not alone, on the other, I feel bad for us all being in the same boat. It’s weird to think of my life as 1/3 over (please G-d I should live and be well until 120 years old) and I am proud of what I have achieved so far, but there is still more work to be done. I take a deep breath, straighten my back and smile at the world. Every day is a new beginning.

Just Breathe

Finally, an official diagnosis. It’s not terrible, it’s manageable. But it’s a disease for life – which means she’ll have to maintain a serious diet…forever. That’s depressing – but people with serious food allergies deal with this all the time. I am thankful it’s not worse.

Basically my 8-year-old has been diagnosed with Celiac’s disease. She is at stage 3 (there are only 4) and there is damage to her stomach lining. As it happens, I have at least 3 neighbor’s who have children also with Celiac’s disease so I’ll be going to them for recipes and support I imagine. The silver lining is the doctor said after a few months of adhering to the strict diet the damage to her stomach lining is reversible. She’ll start to grow and not be teased that she is a baby anymore because of her size (I hear growth is almost immediate after a proper diet is established).  We all need to be tested as well, I fear another daughter will also be diagnosed as she is quite smaller than her peers – but at least they’ll do it together.

https://i1.wp.com/assets4.designsponge.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/rosie_the_riveter1.jpgThat was yesterday.

Today, after meeting with the psychologist from school, we have a final assessment that our 8-year-old is quite intelligent and has tons of motivation but she lacks in language skills, in both languages so she suffers tremendously in school. We are trying to get her into a new class, a smaller class so that she won’t get as lost or feel frustrated that she can’t keep up. The problem may be that even if she qualifies to be in the class, it may not be held at her current school, where she has her sisters to rely on when things are too much for her to handle. We’ll have to wait and see, if there are enough students in her current school to warrant a special class, then she wins. If the majority of students are from another neighborhood then she’ll need to switch schools to where the majority go. That makes me nervous. She’ll need speech therapy. She’ll need to read more books and play more language based games, we’ll try to make it as fun as possible, which means lots of extra TLC – lucky girl.

Lastly, she has a hearing problem. Well, well, well. No wonder she is not thriving in school! She has a belly ache half the time, she can’t hear what’s going on and when she can hear she doesn’t always understand.  My poor girl.

We will be vigilant. We will see the speech therapist, the ENT, the dietician. I will enter the health food store, regardless of its funky barn-like stench, I will learn biology and what this really means so that I can offer her the best information and choices for her to flourish and blossom.

https://cheriblevy.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/be3f6-apple.jpgAnother day, another hurdle. To add to this emotional roller coaster I started eating better myself. Tired of the roly-poly me, even though she is so jolly, Chubby is watching her weight and even exercising, alert the media! Just kidding, please don’t = even though I love watching The Biggest Lose (Australia) – I wouldn’t want to be a contestant. So even though I still have not surpassed that major desire to wolf down a sugar packet, I am making smarter choices and taking smaller portions, but I am still kind of cranky.  I want to love healthy food…but I don’t. Not yet anyways. I know it will come, I know I need to keep the pantry stocked with better choices and the fruit and veg bin full at all times – this will help me from grabbing something I shouldn’t eat. Now that I’ll be consciously watching my daughter’s diet, I think this will help me overall as well. Fingers crossed people. The longest I ever stuck with any diet was a week.

Being Mommy

I got to play mommy yesterday. 

Eh? Don’t I do that ALL the time? I mean, all.the.time.

Yes, even that second after I shut the bathroom door inevitably there’ll be a knock and a whiny “I need you right noooow!” high-pitched screech coming from the other side of it.  Like when I am on the phone with a teacher about a serious kid issue and there is another one interrupting me every 3 seconds. Also, when I claim I need to rest for a few minutes until the Advil kicks in, and even the noise of poking and pointing is too much to bear. I am always mommy. 

But.

Then.

There comes a day when they are sick or are having procedures and you see them in a vulnerable state and they really need you, that’s when you really feel it. When they ask you questions about why their bodies are changing or to help write a recommendation for their project on ‘family’ is when you know that only you have the answer they are looking for. You are the only one that can comfort them and help them get to where they need to be.  That’s when Mommy feels like MOMMY…like SUPER MOMMY – like chocolate chip cookies with milk, mommy. 

For me, that was yesterday. While waiting for my daughter to wake up from a local anesthetic I watched her little face and the linen’s movement for signs of her breathing. Every minute felt like an eternity. Holding her little finger, looking at the tape holding in the IV,  listening to the beeps of whatever machines were doing their things behind me, I was at the brink of crying too many times. It was like I was holding my breath the whole 40 minutes and then she started rubbing the tubes away from her nose, and I exhaled.  Relieved. One hurdle down. 

1 hour after returning from the hospital I was out taking my son, with a feverish head and stuffy, sneezy nose, to the doctor. We entered and after the prognosis went directly to the pharmacy for his antibiotics. He was sad and I was there to make it better with home-made chicken soup. It really does heal the soul, because it sure made me feel better about the whole day.

I was able to be there in a way they really needed today, and as any mommy knows, that’s what it’s about. Selfless actions day-to-day. Sure the never-ending errands are part of that along with the carpool runs and cheering for their teams but when the cheeks are flushed and they eyes are watery and the smiles are sparse, that’s when we do our best work. Our most memorable work. At least that’s what I remember most and I hope they do too.

Cookie Crumbs On My Cheek

Sure. I can be a goofball. That’s why the tag line on my blog is ‘Silly Ol’ Me’. But I can also be serious.

Today there was a brief moment where I wished I could stop time. I’ve had these moments before. A few times as a teenager, a couple more as a young adult and most often as a mom.

The first time I can recall I was 18 years old. I was up in the Catskills (upstate NY) and was working as a camp counselor for one of the hotels. It was very Dirty Dancing-esque. We lived in bungalows behind the lake and every day we would break for a few hours to wash up and dress nicely for dinner. I would take this extra time, waiting for my turn at the shower, and hike a path behind our bungalow. It was as if all my senses were heightened. My feet would crunch on the fallen leaves, I’d jump over tree stumps, I could hear the trickle of  water in the distance, I could feel the sun radiate on my face. I crossed a makeshift bridge of old wood planks precariously dumped into the small rivulet and climbed a small cliff. I’d sit with my feet dangling over the edge overlooking the most beautiful uninterrupted space. Nature had a way of turning this small piece of hidden land into a place of natural tranquility. I’d close my eyes and listen to the sounds of birds, or rustling in the leaves by some hidden chipmunk, or the water that was below me. I’d take deep long breaths and feel any tension release from my shoulders or forehead. I’d open my eyes and shut them, repeating this action, taking mental pictures so that if ever I needed, I could see that place in my mind, conjure it up whenever I needed to go to somewhere peaceful. Time stood still. This song reminds me of the thoughts I used to have as I sat there wondering if my current boyfriend would last and if not, who would be the guy I’d finally fall in love with for the rest of my life. Of course there have been many more moments like this one where I just wanted to capture forever.

This morning was one of those moments. It’s no secret how much I love my youngest son. Grabbing him whenever I can to kiss his ample cheeks before time escapes me and he grows out of these last stages of babyhood. Since he turned 5, he has been surprising me right and left and everywhere in between. He is so bright and interested in knowing everything. He speaks more clearly every day asking questions, inquiring if he can help me cook in the kitchen, and today he got dressed by himself. While it is age appropriate and I am proud of him, it was a moment for me that I thought, hey can we slow down? My baby is acting all independent and my breath caught in my throat. But this was not the moment.

We were in the car dropping him off at school, while my husband waited for him to climb out of the car, I wished my little man a fun day. He turned back and said he just wanted to hug me. He climbed to the front seat, grabbed on and hugged, then took my face in his hands, turned my face to the side and kissed my cheek, then gave me a really tight squeeze and jumped out of the car.

I flipped down the mirror behind the visor to apply lip gloss when there on my cheek were the remnants of his cookie crumbs he’d been eating on the way. Oh my, I teared up watching him skip away, climb on my husbands shoulders and happily go off for the day. I stared back at my reflection and had one of those moments. I shut my eyes and opened them once again, repeating this two more times so I could take mental pictures. I just sat there looking at my cheek for a few minutes more before I wiped away the evidence of his love. Wishing I could just stop time for the smallest bit and stay in that moment.

So, while this bittersweet time ebbs away I still look forward to seeing my children age and amaze me. My heartstrings pull as I watch them grow and thrive each in their own way. Time stands still for no one, in my own way I try to hold on to these small moments. When all my chickens leave the coop I’ll have my mental images and will be able to smile while I revisit those precious moments.

Paco

 

Supermom’s Cape

“Every Day Is Mother’s Day”. So said my principal in elementary school. Mother’s Day to most people translates into a day in America when moms get treated to breakfasts in bed, spa days with manis and pedis, and fun homemade cards colored with hearts and funny stick children smiling.

I always joke about lending out my cape to other mom’s when I see they are having a really accomplished day. More recently though I question what being a supermom really means. I know that I feel great when I manage to catch up on the laundry or clear the sinks of dirty dishes but my kids could care less which is obvious if we take a look into their rooms. So I guess what I truly am on those days is a decent housekeeper or at best mediocre. Being a supermom is subjective. Children are the judges and more often than not I fear it has nothing to do with the fact their clothes may smell like a fresh meadow or spring blossoms but whether we listened to their story about the mean teacher and the terrible homework assignment. Even if it takes them 10 minutes to get through a 3 minute retelling of their day because they use fillers, with lots of ‘um’s and ‘like’s – it can make us crazy but for mom’s like me with lots of patience, yeah, it can be trying sometimes as well, relax.

On days that I manage to tick off my list of things to do like shopping, cooking, dentist runs, laundry and cleaning it never fails. I reward myself by saying stupid stuff like: “Feeling like supermom!” or “Supermom strikes again!”, when in reality I just did a bunch of domestic stuff. No, I’m not diminishing those at all. When I was a stay-at-home mom with a part-time job (just so I didn’t go completely bonkers) I always told whomever would listen that it was by far the hardest job I had ever had. And I meant it.

Tonight, though I grumbled about it, I was to attend my 4th, in a week’s time, evening activity for one of my children. One night was the girls school singing competition, which was loud, held outdoors and got real chilly. My girl’s classes came in 3rd and 1st place so it was quite the squealers delight for the car ride home. There was the end of the year party for my 4-year-old son’s nursery class where my husband signed me up to bake a cake which is the WORST possible volunteer option, I mean we could have brought a bag of pretzels! True story, and thank you Duncan Hines. We sat on those teeny chairs for teeny tushies and the back of my knees got sweaty – so unpleasant, but at least he participated and even smiled a few times, and it was caught on film! Another night was the choral performance where my daughter’s face was covered by a big pink flower of the headband worn by the girl in front of her. That room was STIFLING and at the end I ran out and sent my daughter home with another mom so that I could go to the end of my business class – not a shining mom moment. I bailed on my eldest and made my husband attend an evening about family roots – phew – dodged that bullet of boredom.

Tonight, though I grumbled about it, was the dance competition. Only one daughter participated but another joined me to watch the performances. All the girls looked adorable. The music was entertaining and fun. The groups had quick turn around times and it was really a nice night out. I got to sit in the bleachers with lots of my friends that I’ve seen more this week than I’ve seen all year! What made it extra special though was while the judges were deciding the winners, music played and mothers and daughters and sisters and grandmothers were out on the ‘dance-floor’ giggling and swinging and spinning and swirling. I have no rhythm as mentioned previously and probably looked like a big idiot, but we had fun. We danced to Cotton Eye Joe, the Chicken Dance and a bunch of other things that basically I just jumped and clapped and did a few jazz-hands to make it look like I knew what I was doing. I dosey-doed with my 2 girls and we laughed.

My girls had big smiles. It was because I was there for them. I participated in what was important to them. Giving your children your time and attention is priceless. Am I Carol Brady? I do juggle everyone’s schedule and aim to send everyone out the door with clean clothing and brushed hairdos. But I have no Alice. Carol Brady was Carol Brady because she had an Alice. Then again, Alice is not the mom, she is the hired help to keep things clean and orderly. Sure she gave out hugs too because well that’s just good writing. But it didn’t make her a supermom. Tonight I wore my cape proudly. I haven’t had it for a while, so I thank whomever borrowed it last for returning it just when I needed it.

https://i1.wp.com/nerdapproved.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/super-mom-action-figure.jpgI found these action figures online, if you can call them that. I wish I had these toys as a child. Both these women are supermoms, I’m just confused why the toy-makers would create curler-in-the-hair mom looking grumpy while she’s holding her screaming baby. We should be teaching our young daughters early on that motherhood is just as amazing as it is difficult so while the stereotype here depicts working mom is happy, I’d much rather see curler-hair-mom smiling with her crying baby and working-mom grumpy with a happy baby. The message should be that we are happy moms who love mothering, even though it’s difficult at times. You can take it or leave it, I don’t aim or ever wish to be anyone’s prototype for the perfect mother. We all make mistakes from time to time, like when the baby rolls off the bed, bonks their head because we forgot they started to roll or not to leave the diaper creme tube open within reach of chubby fingers and come back to a Desitin facial. True stories. (insert awkward smile here)

Today, We Are Not Happy

   

And this is how my day started. It is only 9:30 AM and already what you see above you is the visual of ugly moods thanks to a chain of events that led me down a mean and nasty road.

Generally I don’t post a daily – what happened to me today- type blog.  However, since I am certain that no work will be accomplished until I let out some unhealthy angry feelings, by writing out, I figure I better get started.

Here is how it went down:

6:00 AM My husband woke me up to tell me he was really sorry about forgetting to give me an important phone message, which was to check my work email about a sensitive topic that my boss was waiting for my response. That was yesterday around 6PM. Oops. So I opened the laptop, checked the email and realized it was sent out to the masses anyway. Nothing I could do.

6:30 AM Started waking up the children for school, 2 wet their beds, changed sheets, cleaned them off while grumbling about the level of laundry due to soiled linens, made my way downstairs to prepare lunches.

6:45 AM  Climbed back upstairs to check on everyone, 1 still asleep, 1  sitting, staring into space, half-dressed, 1 whining about not finding the “right” underwear.  Another claiming simply she could not go to school because she had nothing that matched.  Sidenote: She often chooses to wear polka dots with stripes of all colors and layers. Lately though her “thing” is all about being monochromatic. Top and bottom need to both be solid and the same color. 

7:00-7:30 AM I am angry already. Not screaming angry, frustrated angry. Begging children left and right to hurry so they don’t miss the bus. Desperate search for separated shoes, fights over who gets which hair accessories, baggies with pretzels, cheese toasts wrapped in foil, corn-flake crumbs flying, a mound of apples slices waiting to be packed up are part of the last minutes before I hear, “BUUUUUUUS” – screaming I say “hurryhurryhurry”.

7:32 AM She refuses to leave the house. She has not stopped crying and complaining about EVERYTHING. From underwear to food, from hair style to water bottle. I panic. Am really angry this time, saying the bus is coming down the hill, toss a container of cottage cheese with a spoon in her bag and start rushing her to the door.

7:35 AM She turns crying and screaming at me that she needs a tissue. She walks ever so slowly to the bathroom. I am livid, begging, pleading, screaming about the unfairness, the lateness, the struggle that this morning has become. She walks out as I hear the roar of the bus. I grab her hand and say “this is rushing, the bus is at the stop you need to move extra fast now”. Her reaction was volitile. KABOOM. Did she let me have it. Screeching about my meanness, how awful I am and that she HATES COTTAGE CHEESE!!! Crying and screeching all the way down the stairs, to the bus stop.

The bus is already headed up the hill. I can hear her crying from across the street. She sits there making me feel guilty.

7:42 AM 2 children return, I beg them not to talk to me. I walk up the stairs, slow defeated steps.

8:00-8:30 AM Change the loads of laundry, fold some clothes try to remain calm. Get dressed and head downstairs to prepare the last 2 lunches. Putting away all extra baggies, wiping down the counter from peanut butter marks, sweeping the floor of corn-flake crumbs, I mumble the majority of the time cursing the mess. (Knowing it’s a blessing in disguise).

8:35 AM Drop off The Baby

8:45 AM Writing late notes in front of the school, waiting for them to exit. All is good, smiles and kisses, inner rage on the back burner until this idiot-woman decides she can turn around in the drop-off lane blocking both flows of traffic.

9:00 AM Not sure why, but even the red light makes me angry – fists up to the sky. Take the scenic route to calm my nerves. 120 km feels good.

9:15 AM At work. Need to just sit with a cup of coffee and breathe. Clearly too much to ask for. Returned the milk pitcher to the fridge, shut the door, hear dripping, opened the fridge door, milk everywhere. Every crevice, every shelf, under the fridge. nonabsorbent paper towels just move the milk in circles, clean up is a slow torture. Smelly milk hands. Turn water on to wash them, too much pressure, water all over my shirt. Soap plug is stuck, I pull harder, concentrated green gloop splashes all up and in my sleeve. Wash and rinse off my sleeve.

And that brings me here, typing with a soggy, stretched out sleeve cuff, a damp bodice and a cup of coffee that no matter how many cookies there may in the world to dunk in it, may not be enough to make me feel better. Who said you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk? I think if you want to, you should cry if you think it will make you feel better.

A steady flow of students enter and need attention, a great distraction until I get a phone call around 10:30 AM. A phone call that will hopefully change the pattern of the day,  a phone call with an amazing opportunity. I left the office at 11:30 AM to meet with Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, distinguished rabbi, philosopher, teacher and author, to sit and work together with the Rosh HaYeshiva a brilliant Talmid Chacham. Just epic. BOOM! Silver Lining. In.My.Face. We sat and talked and worked side by side, truly a surreal experience and I finally returned to the office around 1:30 PM. Just as I was getting close to the office, I saw an opportunity to help a friend, carrying a cumbersome but not heavy load and offered them space in my car and a short ride to their final destination. Small kindnesses, offering help to others, will give you a sense of positivity and enhance your personal growth. What an incredible afternoon! I was busy for the next 4 and a half hours straight before I shut down my computer…realizing that I did not save the last edited version of this post. Ugh, the roller-coaster of emotions, as I got stuck in serious traffic, walking into the house at 7:00 PM crunching on what I imagine were more corn-flake crumbs on the floor.

9:20 PM Last slam of the door. Last warning to children still making too much noise. Last load of laundry until tomorrow. Knock on my bedroom door. In walks a child in tears. There are good days and there are better days. There are sad days and there are happy days. Today, we are not happy.

10:00 PM We hash out what the problems are, wipe away their tears, all the while thinking: small kindnesses…helping others. I have the opportunity here to grow as an individual. Sure, I JUST want to relax. But it’s not about me. I am a mom. Which reminds me, I never put away the pizza. UUURGGRGGGGhhh, down the stairs….crunch crunch, has anyone seen the broom?!?