Wednesday, September 21, 2016

8 Years and Counting

What kind of aliyah blog is this anyway, if I let our 8th aliyahversary pass with nary a mention? So first I thought, but what is there to say, really? Then I thought, you all have come all this way, all the way over to my blog, so I should say something, at least. 

Well, 8 years later, Donny and I are as fresh-faced and youthful looking as we were in 2008. As if that had to be said. However the 5 year old who got shoved into gan not knowing a word of Hebrew and the 2 year old whose massive diaper in the bank as we were trying to set up our account is STILL something Donny and I recall with a shudder – well, they have aged greatly. Plus the three little eye twinkles are now full-fledged kiddos. The house is full of Heblish and one child has no clue when “January” is (“It’s around Shvat” I have to tell him.) But, the 3 talkers speak fluently in both languages so yay for that. I, however, do not. (“Mommy, when you read me that book, it not sound so good.”) But as Chief Family Communicator with Outside Parties, I think that I get on pretty well with what I need to do, mainly doctors (“We’re baaack!”) and teachers. So I think I get a kappayim for that as well.

I am still, and will forever be, an immigrant parent, though I now do understand “nyloniot.” At least, I understand what they are, if not the Israelis’ unbridled love and devotion to them. With each passing year, there are fewer and fewer “aliyah” moments that I feel the need to run to the computer and regale you with. Also, let’s face it, I’m tired. Too tired to think, write, form coherent sentences – and definitely not all 3 simultaneously, which blogging kind of depends on. These kids are constantly needing things, like rides, food, money and attention. The big ones go to sleep late so there’s none of that “quiet evening” anymore. And the babies still haven’t figured out how to sleep through the night, and now we’ve become the type of parents who bribe one baby to sleep with the sword (foam, don’t worry, we’re THAT type of parents) because the other one already claimed the little plastic broom. (They use “we need security objects” as a way to push off going to sleep. They think they’re rather clever and we haven’t cottoned on, but really, we have totally cottoned, we’re just too tired to argue. Or maybe that’s what they were counting on the whole time? So they’ve gone to sleep clutching everything ranging from the normal – stuffed animals – to the whaaaa???? -- mommy’s sneakers.) 

Anyway…back to aliyah thoughts, which is what we were talking about, right? Even though the memories of our own aliyah are getting more and more distant and fuzzy, I still get anxiety when I see the fresh olim coming every summer. It brings back all the feelings, most of them "stress" and "omgwhatarewedoing." They're asking all the questions. Looking for a place to live. Trying to meet people, get their kids set up, figure out the Israeli doctors, schools, shopping and sirens. (Although perhaps aliyah has gotten even easier than it was 8 years ago, because it seemed the most pressing question by the latest batch of olim was “How can I watch American TV?”)

Making Aliyah was probably the hardest thing I ever did, and I include my drug-free-by-accident birth AND a twin pregnancy in that statement. In fact, you see that it is harder than childbirth because while I did go on to have more children even after the epidural-less one, if you said to me now, ‘Go back to America and make aliyah all over again,” I would say “If you need me, I’ll be over at Dunkin’ Donuts, with my English, my magazines and my blueberries.” So I am thankful that I am here, I am thankful that Donny and I are raising little Israelis – if perhaps always a bit on the periphery ourselves (“So what did Daddy do when he was in the tzavah?” “Um.”). And honestly, I am very thankful I never have to do it again. So kappayim to Israel, to the awesome view from my mirpeset, to kafe hafuch, even if they are never large enough, to my fellow immigrant parents who always “get it” and of course to you, the loyalest of all Loyal Readers, who come by even when I don’t really have much to say at all.


Friday, August 19, 2016

I'm Here!

Just not here, here.

Kate and I have co-written a blog that she is kindly hosting for us over at One Tired Ema.

It's about Shabbat and how we calmly and holy-ly prepare for it all week long.

Bah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!!!!!!!

Check it out!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Semi-Coherent Rant about Princesses

Or in the words of my Tired friend: PLEASE CALM DOWN!

It’s Purim time! Which means it’s time for the Facebook feminists to get their panties in a bunch. Sorry, didn’t mean to stereotype. Panties or boxers, either way, your choice, no judgments, you’re a rockstar.

Purim brings out the feminist hand-wringing among the members of the League of Progressive Women. Mothers literally weeping over their precious Future Leaders wanting to be princesses and sparkly things instead of a fire chief or Congresswoman. Like they have let down the entire feminist movement and have failed as mothers and women if their smart, athletic, strong, opinionated (but god forbid never beautiful) daughters want to wear a tiara.

These women need to do princess therapy. I suggest locking them in a room with a dozen tiny Elsas and make them mutter over and over “Princesses can be feminists too. Princesses can be feminists too.”

I cannot figure out why for self-proclaimed feminists, “feminism” must always equal “Do not be feminine.” Isn’t feminism all about “we can do whatever the hell we want?” Why does “whatever the hell we want” have to exclude anything that smacks of femininity? Why is our goal to be as un-womanlike – and as much man-like – as possible? Isn’t that the exact opposite of feminism? (Side rant: Who says men are doing it right anyway? Example: A mother is feeling guilty about something, say, missing a school function because of work, and we say “Stop with mom guilt! Would your husband feel guilty?” Well, first of all, he probably would. But his guilt would be more along the lines of “I feel bad that I cannot be at this school function. But there is nothing I can do about it so I will move on in life,” and not tie his worth a father and a person to whether or not he is at this one school play. Second – let’s say he truly feels no guilt – who says that’s a better way to be????? End side rant.)

Also – you say you are raising your opinionated strong athletic glowing smart daughter to have her own thoughts and opinions. And what if that opinion is “I would like to dress as a princess for Purim?” Why is that a non-legitimate thought in your eyes? “You can be feminist, but only as I define it.” Sometimes, parents, – this may come as a shock – it’s not all about you. Your child’s opinion or choice is not necessarily a reflection on you or your parenting skills (or lack thereof). Children are entitled to their own opinions because – wait for it – they are not actually you. Your daughter is her own separate, individual person with her own thoughts and brain and ideas.

I would also like to ask these progressive women: Do you wear makeup, nice clothes, heels? Do you shave? Yes? Is it because you are conforming to some impossibly high standard set by our patriarchal and misogynistic society? If so, and you simultaneously bemoan your tiara-wearing daughter – you’re a hypocrite. If it’s because you are doing this for yourself to feel good about yourself, then why can’t you daughter wear what makes her feel good and special?

A final note by my Tired friend: The princess phase ends. By the time they are in upper elementary/middle/high school, they will have moved on to other types of costumes (many of which are much more time-consuming to prepare, btw, so say goodbye to pre-packaged ease). If they dress up as a princess, it will be in an ironic sort of way. So just enjoy the cute sparkly princess phase while it lasts, because along with adorably mispronouncing words and liking you, this too, will end.

This post has no ending because I believe endings are something contrived by our male-dominated society and I am a progressive woman who will only end her posts if she damn well feels like it.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

In Which I Remember I Have a Blog

Dear reader, do not think that funny stuff (well, funny for you) has stopped happening. It’s just that I have lacked the energy to form the events into cohesive sentences.

Also, my alarmingly dwindling attention span means that I can’t focus for longer than a Facebook post. (Facebook, as I recently found out, is the social media for OLD PEOPLE, doncha know. The cool kids today are all on Instagram – sorry, “Insta” – and Snapchat and Twitter and other things for the young and cool and not the rapidly closing in on middle age harried looking mom types. The only thing more old-fashioned than Facebook is actually going to over a friend’s house in person to complain about stuff and pull out pictures of your kids from your wallet. While maybe drinking tea. Basically I’m the equivalent of mailing a letter.)

But here is a short summary of what is going on here these days:

We are on the spaceship hurtling toward Planet Teen. I am piloting the spaceship, which is a really dumb idea, because I clearly know nothing about this planet we're about to land on. Is the air breathable? Is there water? Scientists have confirmed signs of life in the form of clothes all over the ground. The inhabitants seem to sustain themselves with WiFi. Although I am going in for a blind landing, I am sure of a few things: I don't speak the language so I will say something wrong, I will not understand All the Things and I will definitely yell too much even though the inhabitants DID NOTHING WRONG, and it was probably the inhabitants of the neighboring planet (Neptween) that are at fault.

Meanwhile, the fourth grader is spending a great deal of time creating a cache of paper weapons. We have a spear, club, ninja star, gun, sword and sheath. You guys, when the paper zombie apocalypse comes, we are going to be SO READY.

5.5 year old loves the doctor. What’s wrong with that kid? He cannot wait to have appointments. And he lovingly peels off the sticker he receives after each visit and places it on his window. A doctor sticker collection. I guess they will come in handy when we need to corral our paper zombies after clubbing them to death. (Does one club a zombie to death? I’m still in 1998 with Buffy – omg how many plot lines would be solved if those crazy kids had cell phones? – so I’m well-versed on vampire-killing methods but fuzzier re the zombies).

Babies continue to adhere to their strict schedule of emptying drawers, getting their fingers caught in said drawers, falling down, banging their heads, finding my pocketbook, fighting over toys, poking each other’s belly buttons, climbing on furniture, spilling their spill-proof sippy cups and testing gravity ("Gravity Log, Day 1: I dropped the pacifier. It fell. Now I am sad." "Gravity Log, Day 237: I dropped the pacifier. It fell. Now I am sad."). They are also speaking fluently in the language of Grunt. In addition, they continue to enjoy middle of the night parental visits to adjust blankets and reinsert pacifiers. I will never not be tired. I know that now.

Piles of crap (yes, they are members of the family and deserve their own update) continue their relentless takeover of the house. They’ve gotten more brazen. Not one week after we did a big POC cleanup, a new generation arises, stronger and more insidious than ever before, spreading their many-tentacled grasp onto every flat surface of our living space. And even some of the bumpy spaces. They are creative, I'll give them that. One day I will give up and graciously give over the house to the POCs. I will let them grow wild, as they are meant to be -- the heaps of papers "to be filed," serving dishes from Shabbat, the remains (or beginnings, they look similar) of someone's art project, bits of tape, elderly magazines. Also toothpicks. As for me, I will go live in my car. I'll be okay – there’s a hardy supply of half-finished water bottles, granola crumbs and used tissues.

As for me, I’m busy working, parenting badly, losing my patience/temper, screaming and then feeling guilty, cooking food at least one person will groan about, doing endless loads of laundry (we are overachievers in the wet towel on the floor category), opening the dishwasher to load it and then yelling at the child whose job it was to unload it, looking for a dishtowel to mop up the latest spill (cups of water are always strategically placed to maximize spill potential) and then yelling at the child whose job it was to fold the towels and put them away, prying potential choking hazards/poisonous objects/our Maccabi cards out of the babies’ hands, holding lengthy discussions with the children about whether they should take a sweatshirt to school today (because I’m also a live weather app, able to foresee not only the outside temperature but also the inside classroom temperature, so I can accurately determine the most appropriate outerwear for the day), listening to passionate monologues about the unfairness of 1. homework, 2. who got picked for a thing today in school (spoiler alert: it that was not the child who is talking to me), 3. the responsibilities and/or privileges of a different child in the house (spoiler alert 2: the other children have way less of the former and way more of the latter than the child speaking to me), despairing at the state of my house while muttering “oh my god this place is a wreck,” looking for the missing: library book, shoe, USB stick, school project, tiny shekel store toy, cell phone or water bottle cap, attempting to listen empathetically, shouting things about dirty dish placement and homework completion and fight stoppage and omigod will I ever stop saying these same sentences????? and of course throwing out art projects, math tests and assorted memorabilia when the children aren’t looking. (ProTip: Hide the art projects under some paper towels or vegetable peels in the trash because the children WILL discover your dirty deed and there’s only so many more years you can blame the babies for it.)

So that's what we're up to. How are you doing?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Milestones

I often feel that we celebrate the wrong things. Birthdays are great and everything, but really, what do they represent other than “time has passed and you’re still alive?” (No small feat, to be sure, especially when you spend your waking hours climbing bookshelves, falling into toy boxes and ingesting Lego heads. But still. More a “lack of screwing up”  than an actual accomplishment.)

Instead of a first birthday party, we should throw a “You’re Walking!” party or maybe “You’re Talking! (Actual Words that Adults Can Understand)” party Or “You’re Sleeping Through the Effing Night!” party.

Instead of 3rd birthdays, I would have a “You’re Toilet Trained!” party. Which may or may not be after the 3rd birthday, not going to mention any names of any specific children I may know or have birthed.

I would throw parties for “You Brushed Your Own Teeth!” “You Arranged a Playdate by Yourself!” “You Made Your Lunch!” “You Walked to and from School on Your Own!” “You Know How to Take the Bus!” “You Stayed Home by Yourself When I Went to Pick up Your Sibling!”

These are the true parenting milestones, but we tend not to throw parties. (Come on kids, gather round for a fun game of “Pin the Colgate on the Toothbrush!” “Aim Your Pee for the Toilet!” and “Don’t Open the Door for Strangers!”), and often they go unnoticed, with maybe a mention over dinner. “So he woke up dry last night.” “Cool. Hey are you getting up? Could you get me some water?” (Sometimes Donny and I play water chicken, because we’re each too lazy to get up. Whoever stands first has to get the other one a glass of water.)

We had one of the big milestones last Thursday night, when Donny and I went to a wedding - as in, leaving Modiin - and Ariella babysat for the troops. With help from her lovely assistant Yaakov, of course. She even re-pacifiered Shoham when she (Shoham) started crying. Donny and I were a little in disbelief that we now have a live-in babysitter. We grew and fed her for 12.5 years, and now she’s ours. If we could have arranged a hall and a DJ for the Friday morning after, you all would have been invited to the “real” bat mitzvah. (“Today, dear daughter, you are our babysitter. Mazel tov!”)

Another recent milestone, one that went quietly into that good night (literally) was weaning the babies. I totally get why they made a weaning party for Isaac our forefather back in the day. It’s a big deal. [Warning: I am going to use the word breast, like, so many times now. If that offends you, keep reading so you can yell and tirade after.]

After a year + of breastfeeding, we ended it. Though the sore lump in my breast is protesting a bit. Damn it, milk ducts, did you not get the memo???

It happened kind of suddenly. At 12 months, it was going strong. I knew I was getting ready to end, but I wasn’t sure how it would happen. Then, one Shabbat, I just did not have time for the pre-nap and pre-bedtime nursing (the only daytime feedings left). So they made do without. Shoham was fine; she was basically only nursing to indulge me. Sivan protested with deep, sad, guilt-inducing cries. Oy.

The next day, I wavered whether to bring back those feedings or not. But I decided to push through and continue the weaning process. The time, it seemed, had come. I figured I would keep nursing Sivan at night for a few more nights. Donny was away that week, scheduled to get back on Thursday. I told myself that Wednesday night would be the last hurrah for Sivan and me. Once he was back, he would do the middle of the night wakings, eventually getting her used to the fact that the breast was just not happening.

I was all prepared as I went to sleep Wednesday night. I planned a small reception in the room after the final nursing. Nothing big. A little diploma, some tea and mini sandwiches, a platter of cookies. Tasteful, you know? I would speak, of course, and ask Sivan if she wanted to say a few words. It was all ready to go.

And then, for the first time in her young life, Sivan did not wake up at night. You heard that correctly. She slept through the #$#% night. And for the first time, I was a little upset! Our final nursing! The reception! My speech!!!!! So our last feeding had been Tuesday night? But there was no to-do! I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye!! 

But I suppose it’s fitting, because it seems the most important milestones just happen like that, without fanfare.

And so ends my breastfeeding career, which started 12.5 years ago. I have always been an amalgam of BF and bottle feeding (and when I say bottle, I mean “formula” for as much as I love breastfeeding, that’s how much I hate pumping). I’ve breastfed exclusively, I’ve breast and bottle fed at the same time (I mean, not at the same feeding, their mouths are only so big, but you get it.) I’ve done breast and then switched to bottle. I’ve breastfed single babies and I've breastfed twins. Sometimes I've breastfed twins at the same time. I’ve breastfed for a few months and I’ve breastfed for more than a year.

(The nice thing about my amalgam-ness is that everyone can roll their eyes at me. The pro-formula people can say, “Geeze, what a lactivist. My kids have formula and they’re the bestest smartest kids ever so why does she think she’s so great because she breastfeeds her kids?” Probably they use the words “whip it out” also. And the pro-BFers can say, “Formula????? What kind of monster mother is she???? She might as well just give them sugar water!!!” So everybody wins!)

I have enjoyed breastfeeding my children, holding them, watching their little eyes close as they nurse, having them reach out and grab some part of me to hold onto, enjoying the satisfied milk face when they’re done, bringing them for weight checks and knowing “Hey I did that!”, the sheer contentment of being able to just sit and be like, “Sorry, can’t wipe your butt now, I’m feeding the baby!” (In our house, there is always one child at the butt-wiping stage when we have a newborn around. Also: This is what they mean when they say “breastfeeding is also beneficial for the mother.”)

So it’s over, and while I’m a little sad (and astounded when I realized that probably by now, the babies have completely forgotten about it), I’m glad I had the chance to do it. Now, onward to the next milestone. (“Stay here till Mommy gets back from getting the kids. If the phone rings, don’t answer it. Also, don’t eat it.” Yeah, we’re ready.)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Oy, the Guilt

(With thanks to Abbi for her edits and "you're not totally crazy" reassurance.)

One of my best friends has been getting a bad rap lately: Guilt, specifically of the "mom guilt" variety. I am here to put in a good word for her. (We're good buds.)

From various comments, Facebook posts and blogs, it seems that if you're an Empowered Woman, "mom guilt" is a bad thing. To prove this, we denounce it roundly and heartily.

Moms have mucho opportunity for guilt in their lives. Remember those English classes where you learned about different kind of conflicts? Man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs nature, man vs. piles of crap, man vs. leftover Shabbat babka. (Spoiler alert: POCs and babka always win).There may have been more examples; I think I was reading Sweet Valley High books under my desk that day.

So, too, there are lots of different kinds of guilt we can feel, when all the things in our life come into conflict and we can't give everything the attention we want to:

Kids vs. spouse
Kids vs job
Job vs. housework
Kids vs. other kids
Housework vs. kids
Sanity vs. everything
Kids vs. babk--actually, kids, sohelpyou if you get near that babka

However, expressing such guilt (especially of the "job vs. children" variety) is seen as anti-feminist, a stain on our working mom cred and generally a bad thing. "Why should we feel guilt?" we demand of our ourselves and others? Get rid of the guilt! We are good enough, we are smart enough and goshdarnit, our family likes us 87% of the time! Buh-bye guilt!

Here are two things I want to say about that:

1. It's not so easy to "get rid" of an emotion, just stamp it out like that [insert finger snap].  Like those saggy stretch marks, it's a part of you. I don't agree with or like the underlying sentiment: "Error 404. Guilt feeling not valid." Because guilt is a valid emotion, like any of the thousands of emotions we feel each day, from the rage we experience when all the peanut butter cups are gone from the Ben & Jerry's ice cream, to the ecstacy we feel when we discover there is, in fact, one last well-hidden chunk. Telling someone the emotion they are feeling is "bad" or "invalid" isn't going to make them feel better. They'll just feel guilty about feeling guilty! And who's got time for that??

2. Let's say we could just get rid of our guilt. Why should we? Guilt is just an expression of wanting to be there for all of our things all of the time and feeling sad when we can't. Feeling some distress or guilt when we leave a sick kid with the babysitter, or get home too late at night to see the baby, or  let them watch too much TV because we're exhausted, or just having that tug of "I need to be here but also there" is okay.

Should we let guilt consume us? No. Should we engage in nonstop beratement of our fine selves? Of course not. Should we dwell on the guilt, unable to move on and lie facedown in the pile of babka crumbs? Obviously no. (There are no crumbs left anyway; we consumed them.)

But it's better to acknowledge the feeling, know it's there and move on than try to crush it because we're supposed to be - I don't know, past that? Better than that? It's a feeling; it's not good or bad, and it certainly doesn't make us a better or worse woman or mom.

[Disclaimer: And of course, if you are a mom that doesn't have guilt - guess what? Awesome! Don't go saying that ABA is promoting mom guilt. Just that if you do have it, it's okay.] 


So to sum up:

1. Feel guilty - is ok
2. Not feel guilty - is ok
3. Feel guilty about feeling guilty or not feeling guilty - is not ok

Now I can't think/write/say guilty anymore. It's starting to look funny.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Return of the Blogi

So I have started and stopped this blog post many times. I would start writing, and then stop and think, “Maybe I just don’t have anything left to say. Is any of this funny anymore? How long can I keep making the same old jokes?” But, despite my advanced age and tendency to repeat myself, I still have a lot of thoughts, most of which I mumble to myself throughout the day. So perhaps I will write them here, and perhaps you will read them. No worries if you don’t. Also, if you are an auditory learner, you are welcome to drop by anytime and eavesdrop on my mumblings.

So first, to clarify: I am now old. I know this for a few reasons:

1. Weddings always make you think of your wedding. But a few weddings ago, instead of reminiscing about July 3, 2000, a thought about a future wedding popped up, unbidden, into my head: Wow Ariella will be such a beautiful bride one day. Wait, huh? What was that? And with that thought, I quickly transitioned from “bride” to “mother of the bride.” The coup was silent and bloodless, you’ll be glad to know.

2. When we watch TV shows with teenagers, I realize we have more in common with the teens’ parents than the teens. (“Oh Buffy, you really should open up to your mother. She just wants what’s best for you.”

3.  A few weeks ago, someone posted in one of my (many) Modiin groups that they moved here with their baby and are looking to make friends with other young Anglos. And before I could raise my hand and say, "Me!" I read her comment that she and her husband are in their 20s. Oh. Or, not me. I mean, I'm not so old that I don't even remember my 20s anymore, but I'm old enough that my kids could babysit for her kids. We cannot be friends, young Anglo. But if you are looking for some sage advice from the local elders, well, this is probably the wrong place, too, since you are young and most likely are still planning on being a Great Parent and are probably not trying to test the absolute limit of how much you can ignore your kids before total chaos ensues. (“Mom’s log: Babies got into the toilet again and Nadav has paint on his hands. Older two nowhere to be found. Ignoring Level #215: Too high. Tomorrow, pull back to #214.5”) However if you want to know the ins and outs of Modiin Coffee, well, just pull up a rocking chair.

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Anyway, I will probably use this space to rant about stuff now, since I’ve found that being old has made me extra crotchety. And I hate the word “crotchety” because it's an uncomfortable word, like someone is trying to walk around with their underwear full of Lego pieces. But I’m using it anyway. Because that’s what crotchety people do.


And remember: Even when the world is full of scary things and stabbers, you can always come here to grumble about the little things. Because at ABA, we never let true suffering get in the way of complaining about life's minor annoyances. It’s kind of our thing. That’s all for now. See you here again soon.