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.