יום שני, 10 בדצמבר 2012

Whistle while you Work

Whistle while you Work

Since the girls were born, I have revolved my life around them.  That is to say, I have essentially worked very limitedly in order to spend most of my time with them. In short, the freedom I have had, upon checking my bank balance, is that the time to go back to work full time has arrived.

I am very lucky that I have been able to do this.  In retrospect, this might not have been the right move financially, but as a mother, and particularly an old(er) mother, it was important to me to invest the time and resources in them.

But now, I need to return to the full time work force. This topic is universal. Most mothers today, single or in a relationship need to work. Having said that, until you make the transition yourself, it is just words, platitudes, and you really cannot empathize.  When my kids say to me which babysitter is picking us up today, I feel a piece of my heart shatter. They seem to like the babysitters and they even told me last night that they wanted Naama (one of the sitters) to come and bathe them and not mommy. So it is a relief that they like the sitters. But…I wonder if all the night time “bed warming” of late has to do with my absence.  I assume that it does but…maybe not?

We mothers seem to absorb the ills of the world upon our shoulders…at least I do. Everything that happens to them is because of something I did, or more likely didn’t do.  While it makes me appear to be a caring, involved attentive mother, as the grown daughter of a mother who still does this, I find it annoying at best and most days completely maddening. I tell my mom regularly that the world does not revolve around her.  It is ironic, for those of you that know her, since she is a giving and caring person. But I think when your kids are little you are the focal point of their lives and feelings of responsibility  for everything that happens to them is a hard habit to break. Their dependence on you and your connection to their loves and losses goes down exponentially as they get older.  Maybe this sense of guilt or responsibility we moms carry with us, is why we children always blame our parents or more often, our mom.

I wonder. In a few years from now, I will stop being the center of their universe. Will it feel better to leave them then? The truth is, according to many of my mom friends, I go out “a lot”. I do work two evenings a week and have since they’re small.  In the last year, I have added a play date to one of my work evenings. That is to say, after work is over, I generally meet a friend, for an hour or so before I go home.  I do not feel bad or guilty about this.  I need it and there are days I even crave it.
The milestones of crawling, walking, and talking are over but sometimes I still feel that I am missing out. The other day, we were at the park. I noticed how they now use the “big girl” swings exclusively. How they climb up the slide with greater speed and confidence. They slide faster, swing higher and spin seamlessly. I marvel at their new found independence and feel bittersweet pride; thrilled for them and their growth and sadness that I wasn’t there when they acquired these skills.

 Likewise, our bedtime routine has advanced. The songs and TV shows have evolved. However, the feelings of joy, serenity, and tranquility aren’t. That half hour before they go to sleep is sacred and while I now have to work several evenings a week, and miss it, the nights that I am home have become that much more special and important to me, and I think (hope?) for them as well.


יום חמישי, 15 בנובמבר 2012

Who's yo Daddy?

The theme the last couple of weeks in our house has been abba (daddy).

While I have prepared myself endlessly for the question "why don’t we have an abba" or “where is our abba"? I was completely unprepared for the statement, "My abba is…..”         

I had no idea how to respond and so I did the next best thing, I completely ignored it.

 The next day, I took out our book about the different kinds of families and read it to them and talked with them about who is in our family and who is in their friends' families, even though I was pretty sure this was not what they were asking.  Since a statement was made, I presumed, it was clear to my little girl that she has one.  She didn’t inquire as to his whereabouts he or his identity. In her mind he exists. Not that I know what that actually means. I am guessing he exists in a vague story book way, since at gan (nursery school) and at home all the books have a mommy and a daddy.

 Several days later a male friend of mine was over.  She kept coming over and asking to sit on his lap. Instead of listening to him I was watching my little girl.  She was looking at his face and his chest.  I could just tell that had she been less shy she would’ve reached out and touched him.  Another male friend told me that my baby keeps asking him about his chest hairs and why he has them.

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting with my dad on Fridays in the bathroom watching him get ready for shul (synagogue). I remember being fascinated with watching him shave.  It was part of our pre-shabat ritual.  I also recall watching my grandfather shave.  So, when we are in America, or when my dad is here, I invite the girls to sit with him and watch.   

I have recently been forced to contemplate who isn’t in our family.  In the last few weeks a lack of male presence is definitely noticeable. I guess it is true, that a mother (father too?!) can feel their children's pain or in this case non-verbalized question.  It has made me confront a self-declared uncle and tell him he needs to continue his commitment to my kids, even if it is 10 minutes a month. They need it, want it, and deserve it.  So maybe these men are friends and they will never be an abba replacement but some male presence is necessary even mandatory.  This is not to say that children who grow up with no males whatsoever are not emotionally stable or successful people.  But I'm beginning to see and not just philosophize how important it really is and to understand far better the choice to not have kids if a male figure isn’t present. Or women who choose to have a child with a gay man. I don’t regret my very conscious choice to do it on my own. These other options weren’t suitable for me.  Frankly, having had a difficult relationship with my own dad as a child, I never gave too much thought to the value of the male figure, and so, absent a love partner, I didn’t want a business partner.

Kids do need a mother and a father.  This is not to say they can't manage without one or the other.  Kids are adaptable…everyone says that. But lately, I look at other kids who are with their dads or with both parents and I wonder if my girls are suffering and what the long term implications are for a dad-less existence? Is it like taking the highway or surface streets; you never know which way is faster if you can't drive them simultaneously?   I don't never really know how this has impacted them.
  As a child, my dad was my least favorite person.  As a forty plus woman, he is my hero.  My dad, even at his worst, always took care of us.  He was always committed to our family.  He has always been there for me although not in that “Father knows Best”, “Brady Bunch” or Dr. Huxtable way.  His child rearing methods lacked warmth and sensitivity in the best of times.

But as a grown woman, my dad rocks.  He has stepped outside his comfort zone to provide support, love and assistance.  He has spent extended periods of time here, in Israel, out of love for his daughter and granddaughters.

I am dating a widower.  He too is a dad who rocks.  While some of his parenting methods are outside my scope and do not mesh with what I “assume” I will do when my kids are teenagers, his commitment to and love for his children is clear. He is there for them and I guess that is all any of us can really provide.

When I see these men in my life, I feel sad that my girls don’t have a daddy  to provide them with this perspective.  I am sad that my girls won’t have a man to walk to shul with on Friday nights, down the alley, holding pinkys like I did with my dad.

I try to be the best mom I can.  But no matter how hard I try to fill that void, I know I can never fill it.  I cannot be what I am not. It will just have to do.   www.andbabymakes2.co.il

יום ראשון, 23 בספטמבר 2012



My girls and I spent three glorious weeks in the US this summer with our family.  Aside from the shopping, going to the United States is wonderful because while my parents are here for an extended period each year, going to the States gives my girls the added benefits of spending time with their aunts, uncles, and cousins; using their English 24/7; visiting places that I went to as a child and of course, the seemingly endless supply of love, hugs, treats and the presence (and presents) from their grandparents.

While there, we spent five days at the beach with my sister and her family.  On Friday night, before Kiddush (blessing of the wine), my brother in law, as is his habit, blessed his children.  I never paid much attention before.  In my childhood home, my father's custom was to bless us only before Yom Kippur and while I do include them in my blessings when I light my Shabbat candles, I don’t actually put my hands on their heads and say a special blessing.  For those of you unfamiliar with the blessing, it basically asks Gd to make them like the four matriarchs; Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.

 If you have been reading my blog for a while, or if you actually know me, then you can attest to my "zagginess" In other words, when everyone zigs, I zag.  Not in a rebellious way, but with my very own "Ellie twist".  So while I do think the four mothers have many traits that I would like my girls to have, I can't help but add my own values into the mix.

Today at gan (nursery school) the teacher told me that Shira, my eldest, can take care of herself and that I did an amazing job instilling independence and the ability to know her own mind in her (and Maya).  I took the compliment.  But it got me thinking. I too am an eldest child.  Maybe it is part of the burden we first born carry; survival, independence, strong wills.  These, in my opinion are important qualities.  But, as I get older, and look back on my life, I'm not sure that these qualities have always served me well.  I have an incredibly difficult time showing vulnerability; how sensitive I am, how hard life can be, and how it would be so nice to have someone to lean on, to give me a hug and show support.  Not always to have others assume that I'm fine, capable, competent, "amazing".

 In the last three years I have heard my own accolades sung so many times. "Two kids on your own", "you made a holiday meal for 12 AND you have two kids on your own", "I barely get through the day with one and a husband and you have two kids on your own". I do all that, yes… but I am a mom with two kids on my own. And it is HARD and lonely and sometimes scary and overwhelming and wrought with decisions that may or may not be the right ones.  While it is nice to not have to check in with someone all the time, sometimes it would be nice to have to check in with someone. It would be nice for my kids to have more balance in the value system they are taught. So as we come closer to the Day of Judgement, this is the blessing I wish you angel girls:

My dearests Shira and Maya, I wish you strength and the ability to achieve anything and everything you want.  That you have the humility, courage and modesty of our Four Mothers, that you learn independence and survival from your mother but that you also are able to show your sensitive sides, your vulnerabilities and yes, sometimes your neediness. That you are competent and can take care of yourselves but sometimes it is nice to be taken care of. Learn how to let people see that side of your personalities.

I wish you both health, joy, peace of mind, and that you continue to grow into the most beautiful, amazing, smart girls that I have been lucky enough to have and to raise. I love you always and forever.

Wishing you (and all of you) a gmar chatima tova.  May you be inscribed in the book of life.

יום רביעי, 19 בספטמבר 2012


There are moments when you look at your child and realize how worth it all the hard work is.  Before I had children I never really gave much thought to the work entailed.  I would see moms in synagogue on a long day, say, Rosh Hashana, who came with toys, treats, food, changes of clothes and never once  did I give a thought to how much is involved in getting all that packed and a clothed, kempt child out the door and to the destination of choice in a (somewhat) timely fashion.  The kids were usually adorable; especially at my kids' age (three) and the moms were usually pretty well dressed and smiling.

Let me draw you a picture of the behind the scenes:

Me: Shira, let's go get dressed for shul (synagogue).

Shira: No, Maya! As she goes running across the house gleefully contradicting mommy

Me: Maya honey, let's go get dressed.

Maya: No, Shira! As she too erupts into usually darling peals of laughter but at the moment not such a cute sound.

I then go into their room, pick out clothes and as they come running in with shrieks of "No ME!" or "SELF" we finally get dressed.  My girls put on their own shoes and after 7 requests to put them on the correct feet, we go to the bathroom to brush teeth and wash faces. 

I then go to shower. By the time I'm dressed, they are naked. Lest you suggest I try dressing first and then get them ready, this is an option but one that I have tried and rejected due to the hot sticky summer weather. In other words, by the time I get them dressed I'm so uncomfortably hot and sweaty that I want to get right back into the shower. Maybe we will try this method again when it cools off a little. 

Then with packed bags that make some people's suitcases for two weeks abroad seem sparse, we leave.  There are of course last minute problems like pacifiers, blankies and crying since we (meaning ME) has decided that blankies no longer leave the house. We then have the good bye ceremony whereupon we  say bye bye bayit (house) bye bye blankie…and then we actually leave, make it all the way downstairs, into the stroller, out the front door and….."Mommy PEEPEE".

I am by now feeling trickles of sweat dripping down my back.

Peepee finished we go! I am by now thoroughly exhausted. Have I mentioned it is 10am???!!

The stroller ride is pleasant and calm is restored. My dress is now stuck to my back but I look down at my angels with their hair brushed and coiffed, their clean rosy faces, their little holiday outfits and I melt.

I have never once even for a second regretted my decision to have children. Having said that, I do often wonder what is it that makes us WANT to have them to begin with? I assume it is for all the reasons we are familiar with and sometimes societal pressure and as I've discussed in previous posts; our maternal (and paternal) instinct.  But this is hard stuff. I thought the first year was hard, and it is but in a completely different way.  It is physically exhausting. You completely lose yourself in the wants and needs of your infant and you are constantly trying to figure out what is wrong and how to make it better.

But three…this is hardcore. True, there are far less physical demands. They walk and talk and eat and use the potty by themselves. They can tell you if they're not feeling well. But GD FORBID you put an apple with a blemish only seen under a microscope on a blue plate when they wanted the red plate. Or the shrieks and cries if you put six Cheerios into the cup instead of seven. Indescribable meltdowns over what adults consider nothing.  In moments of calm I feel for them.  They are trying so hard to be big girls and independent and constantly learning new things. Every day is new and fascinating…how cool is that? But they are really still babies in very many ways and it is our job to help them. I love explaining things to them but how many times can a person ask why???!!! How many times in the space of five minutes can someone repeat your name? Or the same question? How do you keep your sanity? I am finding three to be thoroughly challenging and spectacular at the same time. I wish I could keep a video recorder on constantly because the things they say and do and dress themselves in is priceless and what builds that indescribable feeling of family. 

Last night I was watching Project Runway.  It was the episode where they bring the designers' families onto the show.  The families always bring the photo albums. It struck me that no matter what, our family is our roots, our support, our network, our love, our comfort, and the thorn in our side.  Those pictures are the fabric of our lives together; of all those moments threaded together, of holidays and arguments and family vacations and sick days when my mom made me tomato soup and grilled cheese and bought me paper dolls to play with. I remember this as though forty years haven’t passed. This is family. And so, the meltdowns and endless trips to the bathroom, the testing, the defiance, the beauty, the joy is so perfect that my heart swells remembering my past and my girls' present and how I pray for many future moments with them.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, fertile, peaceful, and prosperous year filled with all the ups and downs that are part of family.

יום שני, 23 ביולי 2012

Life of Honey

This past Saturday, we had friends come over for a play date. The mom is a little older than I and she too has twin daughters slightly older than my girls.  Once they warmed up, the kids and the moms had a lovely afternoon.  During the course of our chat, the mom and I eventually shared our stories.  She told me that her family had not been at all supportive when she told them she was embarking on the journey to solo motherhood. She went through a long arduous process wrought with ups and downs hormones and frustration on her own. My heart ached for what she went through; especially because I had been there. I wished I had known her then so I could’ve been there for her.

She then asked me if my family was supportive all along.  Although I have been asked this question many times before, this time a light bulb went off (on?) and I was able to give my family a huge "like". Other than an initial conversation with my mom that was mostly a Q&A session with silly questions like "why would you want to have a baby?" and "do you think you can handle the responsibility?" she was completely supportive.  My dad, who is usually kept out of these sorts of discussions in our house, once confronted, not only gave his blessing but showed love and support in a way I had never seen before.  I had no doubt that my mom would be behind me, she always has been no matter what.  She is that kind of mom.  My dad has always been far more critical. He is also of a generation that doesn’t really get the ways of 2012. He is far more traditional, although ironically, his own life has been one of "off the beaten path" as well.

Lest you think the support ends there, my family lives in the neighborhood I grew up in. When we moved there I was 12 and about 75% of the families were Jewish of which 50% were observant.  Today, the neighborhood is mostly observant, even black hat (hareidi) and it is very common to see the bathrobe/snood set walking around on shabat followed by four to six kids…you get the picture.

Once I decided that I was going forward with my decision, I gave very little thought to my parents' circle or the people of the 'hood.  I live 10,000 miles away.  My community is very diverse, modern and open minded.  My synagogue is orthodox as well but we have gays and straights, marrieds and singles, more observant and slightly less observant members.  Egalitarianism is greatly respected.  The women in our shul (synagogue) actively participate.

The year my girls were born we went to Chicago for the holidays.  I really didn’t think about how my presence with two kids no husband or head covering would be perceived. People knew, my dad, the now great supporter had thrown a kidush (party in synagogue) in the girls' honor.  What completely awed me was my former elementary school principal's reaction.  This is a man who I have always believed to be one of the lamed vavnikim. (36 great righteous men).  I have always admired and respected him greatly.  I had asked him to make a bracha (blessing) at my wedding and when he agreed to my request he told me that he rarely accepts this sort of invitation since if he did he would likely be at a wedding or two or three daily, but in my case he made an exception, although I don’t know why. I am hardly a paragon of virtue or religious observance.  One of the heartbreaks of my marriage falling apart was the shame that this man had blessed me and I was letting him down.

In any event, fast forward to the day in question, a Saturday afternoon, August 2010.  It is shabat afternoon. All my mother's friends have come by to see the babies.  A knock on the door. My rabbi's wife!!!!

Now, the Mrs. is a woman that I have always greatly admired and respected as well as her husband but in a completely different way.  Any of you who have grown up in a strictly orthodox community know that one of the cornerstones is the cookie cutter quality. The Mrs. Was anything but.  Intellectual, attractive, outspoken. She always dressed appropriately but fashion forward and cool.  Her wig was cool, she never looked dowdy, frumpy, or well…cookie cutter.  She always had something to say and it was always intelligent, thought provoking and slightly different from the template responses of the community which I found, even as a teenager, to be stifling.

So here she is, standing in our doorway.  Coming to wish me mazal tov from her AND THE RABBI!!!!!!!!

So yes, I have a life of honey.  G-d has blessed me in so many ways.  I have amazing parents who have always been supportive and "there".  My extended family and friends too, have been loyal, loving and have taught me many important life lessons.

My community here in Tel Aviv; I cannot say enough about the support they offered after my girls were born; meals and groceries brought to my door.  Challot and visits to the hospital, which was a distance from where we all live.  When they found out I was staying at a hotel in the hospital on shabatot to be near my kids (I don’t drive on the sabath), they chipped in and paid for a weekend.  Yes, I have a life of honey.

It has taken me a long time to appreciate my parents. I must admit for a long time I had a sense of entitlement that is something most children have and outgrow but this child took longer than most.

I am blessed. Hashem (G-d) has given me two gifts and because of them, in three short years, I have grown and stretched and dug deep to become a better person and someone they can hopefully, look up to and respect.

Maybe the July heat is getting to me; those who know me well know I don’t generally gush. I want to thank all those near (and far) and dear that your support and kindnesses are NOT givens. I don’t know what I have done to deserve the outpouring of benevolence but you have inspired me and humbled me. Thank you.www.andbabymakes2.co.ilhttp://andbabymakes2.co.il

יום שני, 9 ביולי 2012

The Mean Elephant

My girls are almost three. I cannot quite pinpoint when, but sometime in the last few weeks, a mean elephant has taken up residence in our home.  He is generally anywhere that is not attached to me.  I have yet to see him but I hear about him quite often.  He lurks in the hallways, the room I ask them to go to without me, the stairwell if I am not holding their hand or carrying them.  In short, he is very mean and scary and I am the only thing that seems to give them comfort….or its simply a manipulative ploy to get me to do stuff that they are old enough to do. I think it is the former with the latter thrown in unconsciously…kind of like croutons on a salad. They serve no real purpose, the salad is fine without them but they definitely add a kick.

It occurs to me that we all have at least one mean elephant lurking in our homes. Our fears, anxieties and past hurts, whether objectively significant or not are very real and traumatic for us.  They are our mean elephants; and they do lurk. 

In my last post I talked about a guy that had unilaterally decided I didn’t want to be in a relationship. Now I'm dating someone else.  He is nice, really nice, quite possibly too nice.
Is that possible? I mean I don’t think he is a pushover and I think, like everyone, he has his limits, but he is trying very hard to please me and it makes me want to be very unpleasant. The nicer he is the less nice I want to be. Am I evil? Deranged? Masochistic?  I really don't think so, and I certainly hope not.
  It occurs to me that while I have made significant changes in the last three years and my perspective on relationships has changed somewhat, maybe there is still that girl who is magnetically drawn to complicated, exciting and ultimately unavailable men. If that is the case, then I still have a lot more work to do because I really do want to be in a relationship…don't I?  It's not as though I am a party-er. I don’t jump out of airplanes or travel to exotic places.  The most exotic place I've been to in the last three years is the NICU at Tel Hashomer Hospital.  So what makes my body sing when I meet a man like that?

It is irritating me that this guy doesn’t make me tingle.  In reality the guy before him didn’t either.  I am afraid I have lost my mojo or if not, when and how will it come back? Is it really going to be with a guy that once wowed me, but even then I knew was wrong for me? I don’t have the time or emotional energy for predetermined heartbreak and I feel I am so far past that.

And so, I do believe I have a mean elephant in residence in my heart.  I hope I can slay him, on my own; that I don’t have to wait for Prince Charming to come and save me. I don’t really believe that prince charming is a savior, rather an equal partner who has had his share of mean elephants and maybe he too has been able to slay them on his own, grow, learn to be open to new possibilities and less drama.

יום שישי, 8 ביוני 2012


With the all the challenges and difficulties of single motherhood, the day to day isn’t that different from what moms in relationships experience. Most kids tend to be whiny at the end of the day, and for the most part, the kids all go through the same phases and stages that we need to figure out, adjust to and understand. As moms, our patience runs out at different points depending on our personalities and we all tend to reach levels of ecstasy when looking at our sleeping child or smelling their yummy baby smell.  The basic dilemmas, problems and highlights are similar. We are all exhausted at the end of the day.

 Last night I was out with some of my mom friends and at 10 pm we were all stifling yawns. They are all married; some have one, two and in one case, four children; some are pregnant, but at ten at night we were all ready for sleep even though we bravely battled on with smiles until the first soldier (me) fell at 10.45.

The one thing that is definitely different between solo moms and coupled moms is what happens after the kids go to sleep. Let me preface my remarks by saying that while never a party animal, and always a fan of sleep by 11pm, in my heyday, I definitely went out quite a bit more than I do now. Additionally, while a multi tasker with jobs, errands and tasks, I am definitely not one to divide myself amongst people…specifically men. Never have I dated more than one man at a time. Even if it was just a couple of dates, I generally tried to start and stay with one guy before embarking on another potential relationship. 

Frankly, I am at a loss about dating with kids.  So far I have not come across an article in Vogue, Glamour, Elle, Laisha (Israeli women's magazine) or even a magazine as "intellectual" as Vanity Fair or Time that discusses dating and the single mom.  And I do differentiate between the single mom and the divorced mom.  Because my kids do not have a father and I don’t have an ex - spouse who at least to some extent helps out; either financially or actual face time, the man who enters my life will to some extent become my kids' dad.  Unless I get a babysitter or my parents come, we're not going to have a free weekend twice a month and on alternate Wednesdays. This is not because I am daddy shopping, necessarily, but because my girls are almost three and in their world man=abba(daddy) or saba (grandpa) depending on the gentleman's hair color. So while before I may have jumped into any potential relationship for a variety reasons, today I am much more deliberate and careful in my choices and in including a man in our daily life.

So here is my question for coupled women with kids….How do you do it all? And more specifically, because I'm pretty good at juggling, how do you change roles so quickly and easily?

Today I had coffee with a friend who is married with a child.  I remarked on this phenomenon.  She admitted that at times, especially during the first year after their child was born, it would’ve been nice to be alone with the baby and not have to navigate a personal relationship with her spouse as well. How even now, when their daughter is three she knows that she neglects her husband to some extent. Personally, I barely made it through the day that first year. If I had had to think about cooking, cleaning, straightening up, shaving my legs or nether regions, or even chatting with someone, let alone doing anything other than sleeping in my bed, I don’t know if I would have survived.  It seems to me that the most natural state of being; the "normative" family is something very difficult for me to conceptualize in terms of the mom vs. woman aspect.

Ladies, I am looking for input here. How do you manage to be mother earth by day and sexy goddess by night? Does the sexiness start seeping through your torn and tattered "play clothes" as soon as the kids are in bed or do you need to shower and put on lingerie? Do you need a glass of wine first? If you have spent a Tel Aviv summer afternoon in the park and made dinner, given baths and read 2000 stories and cuddled your babies to sleep, how do you make the switch to woman and not simply maid and caretaker? How do you not simply crawl in a heap of exhaustion to bed and to hell with your womanliness, his manliness and your hazy memory of sex?

I was recently kind of dating someone.  I say "kind of" because we didn’t really see each other that often. He decided that I didn’t want to have a relationship because I was very involved with my kids and because I told him that for the immediate future I didn’t see the need to get together every day, although had he bothered to ask I would’ve told him that every other week was a little meager, in my opinion. While it is disappointing that it didn’t continue it is far from devastating. I learned two things from the experience; that I do want to have a relationship and that I need to feel more comfortable with these two roles coexisting.

So ladies out there, please tell me your secrets, since I am trying to get back into the land of love, romance and relationships and enjoy life more fully.

יום רביעי, 30 במאי 2012

Us and Me


As part of the final exercise for my coaching certification, we had to give feedback to each of our fellow students on which behavior/s each of us exhibited that really stood out during our eight months together. I thought it was a great way to see how people viewed me and was excited to hear the comments…after all this has been a very introspective process.

The one remark that I haven’t stopped thinking about is that I spoke a lot during the course about my space, my room, my time etc.  It struck me because of other things that have been happening lately. My babies are no longer babies.  They are almost three. They have opinions, likes and dislikes and they are not shy about expressing themselves.  How do establish a friendship with them while still enforcing rules and boundaries and repeating the endless NO that is part and parcel of life with a toddler.

In different conversations with various people from diverse walks of life I have had a similar discussion; the things I don’t do with my kids. I rarely take them with me on errands, unless it is one that lasts under five minutes. I rarely go to the grocery store with them, unless I just need to pick up five or less items. If we go on a day trip, I either go with family or my babysitter. They didn’t come to the Passover seder and if I am having a Friday night dinner, it starts after they go to sleep.

Part of this is simply that until now, that is when they were smaller, it was much easier to do these things on my own and I always had a babysitter for several hours a day, so I had the time to do it. Also, while that age is farther away from me than I like to admit, I still shudder when I think of having to go with my mother to do all these tedious errands. Some of it is that I don’t have a lot of friends with kids, who  a. live nearby b. have kids of a similar age or c. at all. But some of it, I must admit is that I have divided myself between us and me.

I am a compartmentalizer.  I have files for everything and to some extent this has also extended to the people in my life. I have my Chicago friends, New York friends and Israel friends. My Jerusalem friends and my Tel Aviv friends; my religious friends and my not religious friends; friends with kids and friends without children. I have begun to realize that while this method has worked for me in the past (maybe) it is not working for me now. At least not with my kids.  They aren’t outsiders; they are my family. The grocery shopping and laundry and holidays are for them and a part of them and are memories for them.  Now that they're almost three it is time to include them and watch them enjoy and learn.  When I look at them I see they are no longer babies. They're bodies have become little girl bodies and when we converse I actually understand what they're saying.

The other night a friend from the United States was here and suggested we go out for dinner…with the girls.  I immediately said no…but then I remembered what my friend from school told me and how my new approach is to relax, enjoy and include. So I said yes. It was certainly not a relaxing dinner over a glass of wine with meaningful conversation on a variety of subjects. It included spilled drinks, seven trips to the bathroom in 20 minutes (we're in the midst of potty training) crayons, stickers and about 100 wipes. But it was dinner at a restaurant with my family. And it was fine, pleasant, even fun…although of a different variety than once upon a time. It certainly helped that my friend was good natured and helpful.

Maybe I'm just a slow learner, but only now am I  realizing that my adjustment to motherhood is still ongoing. While I have adjusted to getting up at 6am and the 24/7 nature of my job and the midnight wake up call, I hadn’t really internalized that I have little people in my life who are part of my social life. Maybe when they're babies it's easier to separate because essentially you are a caretaker albeit a very loving one. But now they are little girls and they are the joy and loves of my life. It's time to become friends and not just a custodian. I am so looking forward to the continuation of our journey together and establishing an even more complete bond.

יום חמישי, 3 במאי 2012

Maternal Instinct


Maternal instinct: a mother's innate instinct to protect and care for her offspring. Why is there no term "Paternal Instinct"? Does the concept exist? Is it learned and not innate?

I have a friend who is in his early fifties. He desperately wants a child. He is looking into all the different ways to have (get?) one. I think it is cool. I wonder why I don’t think it is especially "cool" when a woman friend does it. It seems normal to me whereas a guy, well, that is something extra. It sort of bothers me that I have a different standard. While ruminating, I think of what a woman friend said to me just this past week…that wanting to have a child, the yearning for a baby, is completely different from actually having a child. At the time I laughed and thought "how true". But now, on second thought, isn’t that how most experiences are? Don’t we have an idealized picture of a life partner? marriage? "happily ever after"? Is the fantasy of motherhood really any different than the fantasy mate or the fantasy life that we create for ourselves? I don’t think so.  I have concluded that like everything, it is all about our expectations.

The difference, I imagine, is that with marriage and relationships there is a trial period; you can live together and get an idea of what your life together will be like.  With a baby there is none of that. You go from the dream state of pregnancy (assuming it is an easy pregnancy), fantasizing, decorating the baby's room, and choosing names to BAM! crying, exhaustion, and constantly trying to figure out what he wants and why he isn’t happy since you’ve just fed/changed/burped him.  You dreamed about this perfect child who eats and sleeps on schedule, goes six hours without waking and because of your maternal instinct you just know what he wants. You answer his need -of -the -moment and back to sleep he goes. Ahh…..not so much. If you’ve been reading my posts, or any other real moms' posts, you know, at least intellectually, that it doesn’t usually work that way. Of course there are moms with dream babies…I just don’t know them. I hear about them usually in baby books but I have yet to meet a real mom with a dream baby.  Is it possible that the dream baby is a figment of baby book gurus designed to make the rest of us feel incompetent, guilty and even more overwhelmed and out of control? Or is it simply an unreal expectation? 

When my girls were teeny, they cried almost daily from 4-6 in the afternoon. Most of us experience those hours as difficult at best. It still remains the hardest time of day. They're tired and crabby and demanding and now that they're older they can "gang up" on me. What makes it somewhat easier is that I know it is not just in my house. I hear whining children up and down the street (one of the true "pleasures" of living in a warm climate is open windows and the sounds from all the other houses on the street). I am able to stress out a little bit less. Somehow, knowing I am not alone makes it easier to cope.  My natural instinct is to cry, scream, yell out of frustration and run and hide under the covers. I would like to think that it is my maternal instinct that allows me to plod on, but more likely, the knowledge that I don't have a choice is what spurs me on….or the knowledge that in another hour they will finally be in bed sleeping and then I can go back to thinking how beautiful, gorgeous, brilliant and amazing they are.

I would love to have another baby; the warm smell, the nursing the cuddling and bonding…. That is maternal. Then reality sets in…the crying, bouncing, pacing, rocking; endless hours of no sleep and maternal instinct runs to the hills. I adore my girls; seriously I am madly in love. I treasure every second, as hard as it is, even the most trying of moments but now that I know what to expect I'm not sure I want to do it again.

I wish someone would write a real life story without rose colored glasses. That finding a mate, if at all, is not easy; that there are disappointments, frustrations and heartbreaks along the way. That even when (if?!) you find him it isn’t easy, that it still requires lots of work and attention. That having children is challenging and the most difficult thing most of us ever do, and juggling spouse, kids, home and job is a full time job in itself. But, even with all the challenges and obstacles we can live happily ever after.

יום ראשון, 1 באפריל 2012

The Thermos

For those of you unfamiliar with IVF in Israel, here is a brief description of the process. The procedure is done in private hospitals. The frozen sperm is kept in public hospitals. So the obvious question is how does it get from one hospital to the other? Well, this is Israel; and while I hear lots of olim (new immigrants) complain about the bureaucracy, having lived in the United States as well, it is not any more bureaucratic. BUT, here everything is always funnier, more charming and makes for wonderful anecdotes, but I digress. So, how do you transport frozen sperm? Well, in a thermos of course.

Let me digress again. I live in Central Tel Aviv, the equivalent to Manhattan. I don’t have a car because most everything I need is steps away and also, like in Manhattan, but even more complex, if that is possible, is the parking situation.  One needs a special PH.D to decipher the parking signs and a direct line to Gd in order to find a parking spot. 

Back to the issue at hand; one can go pick up their sperm by bus, bike, car, or taxi.  Since my sperm was at a hospital 30 minutes away by car, and since I was saving all my shekels for supporting my future children, I opted to go by bus.

So, picture this: I go to the private hospital to check out my thermos. I leave an enormous check as a deposit, because they're afraid I might not return it… Yes, I am planning to put my coffee in this thermos after the sperm is delivered (?????!!!!). I get on a local bus to the intra-city bus to the public hospital where my sperm is ladled (yes, ladled) into my thermos.  They don’t close the thermos tightly because of something to do with air pressure and the temperature of the sperm (never very clear to me). Now I go back to the bus stop to get the intra-city bus to the city bus to the hospital.  The entire way back I'm thinking if the bus stops short and my not so tightly sealed thermos opens and out flies the sperm, not only will I have lost the money on my sperm, but will the hospital give me back the enormous deposit if the top goes rolling, and someone trips and falls, and is sperm slippery, and is the bus company liable, will my insurance pay for said slippage and is slippage anything like shrinkage and boy that’s pretty Freudian especially since I'm transporting sperm…

ANYWAY, I finally make it to the private hospital with no leakage, slippage, spillage or shrinkage; leave the sperm, get my check back and carry on.

This happened four times.  On the fifth try, my friend Gila, who had just gotten a new job and a new car befitting her new position, offered to drive me.  She had cute little quips the whole way there and back which were pretty gross and inappropriate but had me giggling nonetheless and wondering if I was really meant to be a mom. Needless to say, there was no spillage or shrinkage and in fact, two little miracles came from it.

I have been studying to become a life coach. One of the principals is win-win. If a relationship isn’t win-win, both sides are not getting a relatively equal degree of benefit from it. This is a win-lose or even a lose-lose relationship and is doomed.  Gila is one of a few friends that I feel I have a win- win type of relationship with.

When I got pregnant with the girls, I realized I would have very little time to myself.  I decided that all the people in my life who I didn’t have a win win friendship with needed to be uprooted, that I finally had a good enough reason to do it.  (Let's not delve for now into the obvious; if it wasn’t working for me then it was a good enough reason to end it).

Through it all my friend Gila has been a constant source of biting humor and staunch support. I read blogs all the time about the non-mom friends who don’t get it. I have a few of those myself.  She is a non-mom friend who gets it and I feel lucky to have her in my life.

יום שני, 26 במרץ 2012


Last night I was invited to a birthday party of a girl I know. The invite read "another year of being in denial". Considering that she is around 40 the use of the word girl on my part is my own form of denial. While there, I ran into another friend and we chatted and she said that she had been thinking that this year she was turning 40 and maybe it was time to really consider single motherhood. Just then, she got an email from me announcing my new business and website and she saw it as a sign that she was going in the right direction.

I feel that my entire life has been a practice in sign reading. From a young age, we learned bible stories, the snake and Eve, Moses and the burning bush. We were indoctrinated on signs.  I was always so sure that the "sign" precipitated an event or a major decision, and maybe it did.  In retrospect, I feel like the signs were a way for me to give up control of my power to choose and be responsible for the decisions I make… it allowed me to stay a girl, even at 40 +++.

Today, I feel like an adult.  There are things about it I hate. I look in the mirror and I see wrinkles. I have to color my hair every 4 weeks. I remember as a "girl" in my thirties meeting up with a friend of mine in her forties and seeing her hands and thinking "she has old looking hands". Now my hands look like that. I don’t see the girl I was. I see a grown woman.

 I won't wear a mini skirt anymore and I even wonder if I'm at an age where a bikini is a little too much. When I get dressed to go out, the clothes are different than before. Don’t get me wrong, I hardly look like some dowdy middle aged woman and I haven’t given up on my womanliness or sexuality; I don’t look my age and I am young at heart; just not as young as before.  However, I am aware that somewhere between the last relationship, the first fertility treatment, and the twins being born I became an adult.  It is scary to be grown up. It is terrifying to realize you are responsible for other people. It is also exciting and satisfying. At some point in the last three years I became aware that I am in control of my life and my destiny and that signs are for the undecided.

יום שישי, 24 בפברואר 2012

The Book

My girlfriend Eti has been telling me for years that I need to write a book. In my mind it would read like "Sex and the City". I have never asked her to compare it to a TV show, but I'm pretty sure it's along the same lines…with a little "Friends" thrown in.
My life today is more like "The Flying Nun". I fly about all day every day working, caring for my kids, caring for my house… The nun part I'm sure you can figure out on your own.
Life has certainly changed since the arrival of the girls. Whereas before I would spend the majority of my time thinking, obsessing and talking about men or a specific man now I think, obsess and talk about my children.
The book has changed to a blog. The topic has changed from my shenanigans and escapades as a single woman to that of a single mother. Today's book would have the following chapters.
1. My journey from singlehood to deciding to embark on motherhood
2. Needles and blood tests and ultrasounds, OH MY!
3. IM HAVING TWINS?!?!?!?!!!!
4. You're kidding, I'm having TWINS???!??!!
5. The NICU and neo natal unit
6. Exhaustion and Joy, who knew they could co-exist?
7. I am the luckiest person in the world to have the two most perfect, beautiful amazing children ever
8. Guilt – because of what I did, what I didn’t do, what I should’ve done, could’ve done, etc.
9. The mother vs. the woman…is she still in there? Hellloooo???!!!
10. Counting my blessings

יום שישי, 10 בפברואר 2012

It says in Pirkei Avot, (Ethics of our Fathers) "… acquire for yourself a friend ". וקנה לך חבר". From everything I've heard, read and listened to, the biggest problem mothers have, especially single mothers, even more than the sleeplessness, the financial hardship, and the loneliness is asking for help.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well in theory it is. But, after close to twenty years, of going it alone, we all become quite independent and adept at taking care of ourselves and we are out of practice when it comes to asking for help.  After becoming a mother, things can and do easily spiral out of our control. Of course, it always seems to happen whenever you need to do something else critically important; a long scheduled doctor's appointment, an important meeting, a project due at work. Living in Israel does allow more flexibility than some other countries; employers tend to be more understanding and forgiving of family emergencies than in some other countries, but still… there is a limit to the number of times you can leave early, arrive late or not come in at all because your little one is sick.

If you're in a relationship then you and your partner can switch off. But what happens if it is just you? What if your parents and family live far away or out of the country or for other reasons such as sickness or frailty can't help? Then what?

Well, another nice thing about living in Israel is that the neighbors, for good and for bad, become a part of your extended families.  This is one of the things I have always loved about living here and one of the main reasons I found living in Manhattan so difficult.  But still, can you really knock on a neighbor's door at 2am? Actually, luckily, I can. I have three neighbors who I really do believe I could wake up in the middle of the night for help… But would I??!!!

When I was pregnant I did a lot of things alone, that in retrospect, I shouldn’t have…carried groceries up stairs, prepared holiday meals for fifteen guests, gave up on sleep to talk to a friend in need, because that's who I am and that's what I do. I believe that although I slowed down, as ordered by my doctor, I didn’t slow down enough.   I didn’t really get it. I was still operating as I always had just with the slight addition of a baby bump.

Now that I have the girls, I still do things on my own for the most part.  Thank Gd, the road thus far has been relatively calm, safe and healthy and I haven’t had to reach out.

But there is another piece.  The emotional piece.  The drain.  The mental exhaustion.  You need a friend.  Sometimes you just need to get out of the house and have someone listen to you complain and to sympathize. Maybe you're lucky enough to find someone who can actually empathize. I think it is incredibly important to realize that while you may have run a successful business with tens of employees and managed fantastically under pressure, one baby can leave you bewildered and wondering what became of that successful person you once were. I read posts all the time in my mommy groups about new moms who talk about how they are going to figure out how to make their week/month old infant sleep all night so that they can too.  This process is humbling and this little 3-4 kilo baby is completely in charge of your entire life.  It is mind boggling.  Many of us don’t shower, use the facilities, or eat at the beginning for fear of waking the little princess or that the little one will cry for 32 seconds or that the sweet thing will be upset if you aren’t holding him.  You need a friend. You need someone to lean on, help you and relieve you, if only for an hour or two.

It gets easier, really.  But especially for older moms, in my view, moms who have been single independent women for a long time, it might be hard to reach out.  I am suggesting you do it anyway, for your piece of mind and to retain a remnant of the old you. The baby will still be there in an hour….

יום שישי, 3 בפברואר 2012

singlehood to motherhood: The Do(ulas) and Don'ts of my Labour of Love

singlehood to motherhood: The Do(ulas) and Don'ts of my Labour of Love: We all know that pregnancy is supposed to last nine months. Before pregnancy, when I asked someone what month she was in the answer was ...

The Do(ulas) and Don'ts of my Labour of Love

We all know that pregnancy is supposed to last nine months. Before pregnancy, when I asked someone what month she was in the answer was simple, second, fourth, eighth…. When you're pregnant it somehow changes to weeks.  I'm not sure if this is some new method of counting which is more accurate, but we no longer count months, but instead, weeks.

Since I was pregnant with twins, I knew that it was quite possible I would give birth well before 40 weeks and that it was also entirely plausible that I would need a c-section.  I decided without much thought or consideration that I wanted to go to Tel Hashomer, which is arguably the largest and best hospital in the center, if not in the whole country, because it was where my doctor was affiliated. Although he told me he only did scheduled c-sections and only during "regular" hours (the price of success allows you to pawn off nights and weekends), I still wanted to go there. I didn’t think about the distance from my house, or to be honest, anything. 

While it is only a fifteen minute drive with no traffic, anyone who lives here will tell you that between the hours of 7-9.30 am and 3-7 pm you really want to avoid crossing the Geha or Aluf Sade Intersections because it could take upwards of an hour.  I also managed to ignore the fact that I don’t have a car so traversing said roads would be by bus or by cab, the former taking at least 45 minutes without traffic and the latter costing no less than 60 shekels and in traffic or off hours close to 100 shekels each way. As mentioned in previous posts, I didn’t think much about details, more about the big picture.  I guess ignorance has its virtues.

At the time, another friend of mine was pregnant.  Talk about complete opposites. By 25 weeks she had already been to La Leche, the international organization which promotes breast feeding, which of course, after hours of research, she knew was "better for the baby, for bonding experience, and for the mother". She also had been on a tour of the local hospitals and the birthing rooms; she had a birthing plan, and a doula. I was completely unnerved and felt like the worst soon to be mother ever, a feeling that has carried through to motherhood itself.

  I knew I was pregnant and in approximately 10 weeks I was going to give birth.  That was about it.  I didn’t read much.  I bought "What to Expect when you're Expecting" and the Hebrew equivalent.  Once a month (oops! Once every four WEEKS), I would read about the physical changes I would go through and my baby's development in the following few weeks. My brain was still trying to absorb motherhood and twins and finances, I had no room for breast feeding and doulas. 

However, a few days later, I thought about my friend and her plan.  Actually, I thought about my LACK of plan. Who was going to accompany me during the delivery? Instead of contemplating options, I spent a few days feeling completely sorry for myself because I didn’t have a husband or a boyfriend. Then I focused. Who did I want in that room with me? My mother was out of the question. I adore my mother. She is my best friend and the most supportive person I know. But she tends to stress out easily and is not the person I want with me in a stressful situation. My best friend offered, but she is a wife and mother of school age children, so I felt it would be an imposition if my time came at 3am or if the labor went on endlessly.  She volunteered her husband and provided a glowing recommendation but I politely declined. So, who? A doula seemed kind of new agey and out there... not my style at all. One thing I knew for sure was no natural child birth. No bouncing on balls, soaking in tubs and "enjoying" the primal experience. I don’t like pain, don’t want pain in my life and screaming at the top of my lungs with my legs spread is not something I envisioned.  I wanted drugs, lots of them, preferably before the labor pains started.  So I guess without realizing, I actually had a birthing plan.

Once I realized the doula was essentially my partner and wasn’t going to try and convince me to give birth at home or some other alternative method, I decided I wanted one.  So I called a few and bonded with one in particular.  At that time I was 29 weeks pregnant and on house (ar)rest.  We met and talked and I explained what I wanted and she explained what she did and she gave me a list of what to pack in my suitcase.

Being a diligent student I immediately went to the local drugstore and bought disposable underwear, almond oil and nursing pads. Took out a suitcase and stuck it by the door. Of course, if you go full term these are items you need, as well as baby clothes to bring your little one home in. I packed all the above. Things like underwear, slippers, sweats didn’t make the list…I had time, a lot of time, right?

My next meeting with Carrie the doula was supposed to be at 31 weeks so we could start working on breathing and pushing techniques. The girls, however, had different plans. Early on a Saturday morning at 30 weeks and 5 days they announced their imminent arrival with an enormous gush of water on the floor of my bedroom. I took my almost empty suitcase and threw in essentials, grabbed a coffee to go, a cell phone and went out to find a cab to the hospital.

My two biggest fears of motherhood had always been the lack of sleep and the pain of delivery.  While most people think I'm a strong person I see myself as something of a scaredy cat.  I am terrified of pain and I also hate to show my fears and insecurities… maybe this is why I am perceived as strong.

Carrie was amazing.  She held my hand, rubbed my back, explained that my babies were coming very soon, since I was in a state of shock and did not fully fathom that by nightfall I would really be a mother. She advised me to switch to a hospital closer to my house since I would have to commute for a minimum of six weeks; at 30 weeks they would be preemies and not allowed home.  At some point my best friend came as well although when it came time to the actual delivery, the hospital staff required her to leave the room.

While my dreams of sharing this moment with a life partner who was the father of my children crossed my mind and made me momentarily sad, what I had was a sorority of women and mothers.  It was truly one of the most beautiful, intimate, special experiences of my life.  Not just because I became a mother to my children but because I entered a special club. I really felt a connection to Mother Nature.  I was experiencing something unique to women, something that would change me forever.  As silly as it sounds, I felt like Chava (Eve) and all mothers since the beginning of time were there with me.

And then out came my girls and another link in the chain was added.

My labor lasted from 6.30 in the morning until 10 at night.  Carrie was there with me the whole time. She was supportive and helpful, especially since I had never learned how to breathe or push correctly (and no, it does NOT come naturally). She was the last person I saw that night and the first person to call in the morning. She came to the hospital and helped with my breast feeding and again to the house to meet the girls and address any concerns or difficulties I was having.

Whatever birthing plan you choose, be it completely natural or drug assisted, have someone by your side that will keep you calm and has your interests and wants at heart and knows how help you relax, as much as possible, during a very momentous and nerve racking time.