Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Does G-d Have an English Accent?

Me: Argh!
G-d: Yes dear?
M: Well, I thought that writing this blog, writing these conversations with You is the right thing to do.
G: And now you doubt that because...
M: Because my crappy old laptop, which has so generously been fixed, twice, won't hold a damn charge and keeps turning off.  The charging cord is broken.
G: I see.  So if something is difficult or frustrating, then it is no longer My will.  Is that correct?
M: Well, yeah.  If You wanted me to write this, wouldn't You give me a leg up or something?
G: If you want your children to eat, do you spoon feed them, no matter their age?
M: Are you saying that You're challenging me on purpose?
G: I don't think you heard me right.  I simply let life progress naturally.
M: Right.  And when You flooded the earth, that was natural.  And when You spoke to Abraham, Isaak, Jacob, that was natural.  When You carved out the ten commandments and handed them to Moshe, that was natural.  When You-
G: A different time.  A different way.  You cannot keep comparing me to the way others knew me.  You must know Me as I am today.
M: But I thought You were an Eternal G-d.
G: Yes.
M: And yet You change.  Like in a thousand years.
G: No.  But you do.
M: Me?
G: No.  Humanity.
M: Oh. You know, this isn't really the conversation I had planned on us having.
G: Do you do that often? Plan conversations?
M: All the time.  Most phone calls.  Discussions with my husband.  Visits with friends...
G: And how does that work out for you?  Do they follow your script?
M: No.  And it's frustrating as hell when they don't.  Which is a good reason to have my own blog.  I get to write the conversation.  And yet, this isn't the one I was hoping to have.
G: And what conversation were you hoping to have?
M: The one where I talk about the difference in belief in You as a social religion that benefits (or harms) humanity vs. You actually existing and manifesting Your will.
G: And what were My lines?
M: Well, that's the problem.  I was kind of hoping they would get written as I wrote them, You know?
G: No, tell me.
M: Well, I kind of plan what I want to blog about.  But then other stuff starts coming out and I get to learn about myself and the way my mind works, and the way my heart works and I feel good when it's finished.  Surprised usually.  So, I was going to start that conversation and then let the rest get written as I wrote it.  Does that make sense?
G: Well let's just write it out then, shall we?
M: I can't.  I'm not in that zone anymore.
G: Well, then, what should we write about?
M: Well for starters, we could talk about why Your voice is coming out with an English accent.
G: Is it? Perhaps listening to Peter Rabbit read by Emma Thompson over and over in the car has something to do with that.
M: Yeah.  Or that episode of Downton Abbey I watched last night.
G: Is it good? I hear it's quite addictive.
M: See?  There it is.  Quite.  That sentence only makes sense when You have an English accent.
G: Well, perhaps it's like a font you can change.  Why not change it?
M: To what?
G: What would you like G-d to sound like?
M: That's not a question I've ever thought of.  And I'm kind of stumped.  I'm definitely not going the Alanis Morissette route.  And the whole Morgan Freeman thing is way over done.  In fact, I don't think I want You to sound like anyone famous.
G: So, what would you like me to sound like?
M: ...
G: This is hard for you.
M: Yeah.  It is.  Why?
G: Because you want me to be more concrete.  You want me to be an absolute.  Not something that changes according to your will.
M: Because if I have that much control over how I imagine G-d, doesn't that undermine His Absoluteness?  Because doesn't that just prove that I'm alone and everything that happens to me is simply a natural consequence of my choices, small and large? That there is no Divine Will guiding my life, leading me?  Because I could truly be in control of my life and make all the wrong decisions?
G: So for you it's either/or.  Either you are in charge of your life, or I am.  Either you are making choices that ultimately decide your fate, or I am guiding you where you need to be.  Is that right?
M: Isn't it?
G: Well, what if they're both true.  How good are you at holding paradoxes?
M: I used to think I was good, but I'm not sure I'm going to like this one.  But try me.
G: Well, what if everything you did had a natural outcome.  Or consequence, as you put it.  Which to Me implies that you hold many doubts about your own wisdom.  But I digress.  What if I let the world follow it's natural progression and it still followed a design.  What if My will is inherently designed in the fabric of this world and no outcome, though the outcomes are varied, can digress from the overall design?  Imagine you are playing music and your child comes in and starts banging away at the keys with you.  What if all the keys were tuned so that no matter what note they hit, or even if they hit them all at once, it still harmonized with your original tune?  Can you imagine that?
M: Then I would have to say that You are the worst song writer ever.  How could You write the holocaust, the crusades, the inquisition, Justin Beiber, CAFOs, GMO's, and cancer, among many other things, into Your song?
G: But you misunderstand me.  That is the child who hits all the notes.  And yes, they all harmonize and play together, but that does not mean that it sounds pleasant to hear them played that way.
M: So, You make the instrument, which only contains certain sounds, but we write the songs with our choices, and that's our soundtrack?  Your instrument, our song?
G: Simplified.  But yes.
M: I still don't understand how it can be our choices and Your will.
G: Then you can join the rest of the human race.  Why do you think I created Faith?
M: My sister-in-law?
G: No.  Belief in Me and My ways.  Without understanding or proof.
M: Well then I'm back to the question, what's more important, that You exist, or that I believe that You exist?
G: Isn't it getting a bit late?
M: Aren't You getting a bit of an English accent again?
G: Goodnight Tovah.
M: And a goodnight to Thee.

1. My kids are asleep
2. Fire in the fireplace
3. My awesome in-laws
4. Discovering Alec Baldwin's NPR show
5. Early enough to still get a shower without going to bed at midnight
6. Got to see some Pitt friends today and it was so nice!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Texting With G-d Just Got Real

Me: In this moment I don't know who I hate more: You or me.
G-d: Bad day?
M: Aren't I committing some terrible sin by saying that I hate You?  Aren't I going to be punished?
G: Who said hating Me is wrong? I am more concerned that you hate yourself right now.
M: Well You should hate me too after seeing how awful I handled bedtime tonight.
G: I saw.  It wasn't one of your finest moments.
M: G-d, my throat hurts from yelling at my children.  That is wrong.  That is bad.  I am bad.
G: That's a lot of judgement I just heard.
M: Well aren't You judging me?  Aren't You always judging us all?  Weighing the scales of our deeds and all that?
G: It's true that I see everything.  But that means that I see EVERYTHING.  I saw you get up over and over to take of your baby, night after night.  I saw your adrenaline glands almost empty and your oxytocin levels drop.  I saw that despite all that you took your kids to the library so they could see the puppet show.  I saw how badly you just wanted to stay in bed.  But you didn't.  You took them.  And then when your friend showed up and you wanted to stay and talk, I saw you load your children in the car because they said they were hungry and you knew they needed their naps.  I saw you feed them lunch and give them seconds before you could have firsts, simply because they asked for more.  And then, when lunch was all gone, I saw you eat pb&j on a rice cake, because they finished everything else.  I saw you help your son with his homework when all you wanted to do was collapse in bed for a nap.  I saw you make a healthy, nutritious and delicious dinner, when you could have warmed up some pasta.  I saw you put on a rated G movie for your kids when there are 10 movies that you have been waiting months to see, but aren't as appropriate.  I saw you tuck them all in bed and sing with them.  And then I watched as they got out of bed over and over, when you were just trying to clean up the kitchen so you could get started on making Shabbos.  I saw them resist sleep for three hours, while you tried everything from pleading, to bribing to threatening, and only then to yelling.  I saw you watch your entire evening's productivity go down the the drain, and your work load for tomorrow grow.  I watched as, when it was all over, and you were so distraught, and yet still angry, you sat down and held your son's head as he fell asleep because you knew he needed your touch.  You knew there was a hole in him that would've stayed a wound if he couldn't have that touch.  And through all you anger, exhaustion and resentment, you reached out and held him.  I saw everything.
M: I'm sorry.  I don't know what to say.  I'm scared of forgiving myself and loving myself the way You love me.
G: Why is that?
M: I don't know.  Maybe if I'm worthy of all that love, maybe I'll need to live my life differently.
G: How so?
M: I don't know.  It seems such a high place to fall from.
G: But how soft is the catch when you fall into loving arms...
M: But what happens when I forgive me, but others don't?
G: Yes, what does happen then?
M: I don't know.  I'll be self righteous... Or alienated.  Or wrong.
G: Being wrong is scary for you, isn't it?
M: Being wrong is like falling off a cliff.
G: But when forgiveness is what you fall into...
M: Not everyone will forgive me for being wrong.
G: No, but I will.  And you can forgive yourself.
M: And then I'm on that high horse again.
G: Do you really think that loving yourself and forgiving yourself puts you above everyone?  I imagine that you might start to forgive others their faults and perhaps love them in their entirety.  That's not very snobbish.  Or very flaky.  It's grounded and real.
M: So, if I love myself after being crazy bitch mom from hell, then maybe I will love my kids even when they are annoying little brats?  And if they know they are loved even though they are acting out, then maybe they will love and accept others who aren't perfect?  And then imperfection will be accepted and perhaps even made into unique strengths and no longer will we all act like sheep and do as society tells us but we will love each other and ourselves and make this world a better place?
G: Um, yeah.  Only with a few more steps between A and Z.  But We'll get there.  Now how about doing a few of those dishes so that tomorrow you don't act like that, how did you put it so eloquently? Oh yeah, that crazy bitch mom from hell, when you're rushing to get ready for Shabbos.
M: Okay.  Good plan.  Um, G-d?
G: Yes Tovah?
M: Thanks.
G: You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

If I Were Texting With G-d, It Would Probably Look Like This...

After being awakened by my little man, 17 months old, several times last, I resumed my nightly conversation with G-d.  Since the sale of my house fell through, right before I go to bed, I spend fifteen minutes speaking to G-d.  Expressing gratitude, asking for things, or just telling G-d about my day.  But after waking up over and over last night to take care of the babe, who was stuffy and cranky, I resumed my conversation.  But since I was delirious with lack of sleep, I played out G-d's end of the conversation too.  It went something like this:
Me: Seriously? Again? What The Heck, G-d?
G: Yes?
M: Do You hate me or something? Why won't You let me sleep?
G: I'm not keeping you from sleeping, your baby is.
M: Yeah, but You're G-d.  And nothing happens that You don't will into being.  So how 'bout willing some sleep into my life?
G: And how would you like me to do that?
M: I don't know.  Go to my son and put him back to sleep for me.  And then keep him asleep for the rest of the night.
G: You want me to intervene with nature?
M: Uh, yeah.  You used to do it all the time.  Remember? Splitting the Red Sea, Clouds of Glory, oil lasting for eight days.  Even two hundred years ago You had these Rebbes who could see the future and fly in their carriages.  So, how about a little miracle being sent my way?
G: You don't live in a time of revealed miracles.  You live in a time of Faith.
M: Well, I'm sorry to tell Ya, but I'm kinda running low on the stuff.  Have you turned on the news lately?  You're not exactly batting a thousand down here.  Murder of innocents, endless wars, Sponge Bob Square Pants.  It's kind of hard to believe this is Your world.
G: So who's world is it?
M: Right now, I'd say the world belongs to corporations, chaos and science.
G: I see.  So what would you have Me do?
M: How about some awesome miracles?
G: And therefore take away all free will?
M: A lotta good it's done us so far.
G: Well, it has brought together millions of moments of chance that all led up to you being the mother of those three little ones you love so much.
M: ...
G: Nu?
M: Okay, so yeah, whatever, they are the most amazing children ever.  But they drive me freakin crazy!  It's not all hugs and arts and crafts.  It's fighting, and exhaustion beyond belief, and heartache, and pain, and so much exposed ugliness.  I thought I was a good person until I saw how mean and ugly I can get when pushed by them.
G: So you don't want them because they show you all sides of yourself?
M: No.  I didn't say that.  Don't twist my words.
G: So what are you saying?
M: I'm saying that we're told that You never give us more than we can handle.  But I'm calling BS on that.
G: You do know that you're talking to G-d, right?
M: Yeah, but if You're going to let me get woken up in the middle of the night, You better be prepared for some bad language.
G: Fair enough.
M: Back to what I was saying.  You gave me too much.  I seriously can't handle this shit.  And I'm not going to get into the big stuff like the Sandy shooting or the evil in this world.  That's way too much.  But just the details of my life.  I am doing what I thought I was supposed to do.  Being bold.  Following my dreams.  Pioneering this damn Jewish farm thing.  And you can't even sell my house in Pittsburgh? You are leaving me in the middle of nowhere, in the heat of summer and the freezing cold of winter, without my husband.  And don't get me started on how much work our marriage needs.  Like all marriages.  But we only have the weekends to do it!  And yes, my children are amazing.  And yes, I think they are better, more awesome and more amazing than every other child out there.  But that doesn't mean that they aren't the biggest freakin handful of challenges ever! I mean, come on.  THIS IS TOO FREAKIN MUCH!
G: Go on...
M: What? No! This isn't a freakin therapy session.  I'm not talking to a therapist who's only job is to help me discover more about myself.  I'm talking to G-d! YOU can fix this shit!
G: Again with the language.
M: Sorry.
G: It's ok.  I'm used to it.  You wouldn't believe how many texts start with OMFG.
M: Wait, are You trying to be funny?
G: Would you like a G-d with a sense of humor?
M: Not if it's at my expense.
G: You know, your baby is still crying.
M: Yeah, aren't You going to do something about it?
G: Nope.
M: Aaahhhh WTF? What's the point of even talking to You?
G: Good question.  What are you getting out of all this?
M: I don't know.  Maybe just the feeling that I'm not alone?
G: Are you asking Me, or telling Me?
M: Oh man, now You really sound like a therapist.
G: Yes, but My rates are much lower.
M: Oh, You were trying to be funny again, weren't You?
G: About your baby...
M: Oh fine.  Whatever.  Don't help.  But don't ask me to be a nice and patient mom tomorrow.
G: Did I not create coffee?
M: This conversation is SO over.
G: Goodnight Tovah.
M: Yeah.  Night G-d... I'm still mad at You.
G: Okay.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Now?

It's happened.  The worse thing we can imagine.  The places we hold as safe havens, almost temples of purity, have been defiled in the worse possible way.  And we are left scared.  And scarred.  I am not trying to diminish the pain felt by those directly effected.  Their grief is something that I cannot comprehend.  I don't think anyone who hasn't lost a child can even begin to imagine the pain of those who have.  So this is for all the parents who are grieving, not for their own loss, but for others.  
The hardest part for me to comprehend is that this is happening all over the world.  In Syria people are being murdered by the thousands by their own government.  In Africa, mothers are watching their children starve to death.  In Colombia, kidnapping children is a lucrative business.  
But only now, since the shooting, have I been effected by any of it in a real way.  Only now has my heart been penetrated.  Only now do I hold my children close and squeeze them way past their comfort zones.  Only now am I letting my three year fall asleep in my arms, instead of letting her cry, simply because I can.
I think this tragedy hit me so much harder because now it's not something bad that happens 'out there.'  Now it is something that happen here.  Even in our safe havens, our elementary schools. 
"So where is G-d?" a friend asks me.  Me, who is an observant Jew.  Me, who supposedly has faith.  Well here's my dark secret: At times like these I doubt His existence.  Actually, I doubt G-d's existence often.  How could this world possibly contain so much evil?  How could parents be allowed to bury their children?  How could money be worshipped above life?  How could war still be the answer we are turning to?  How could this be The Grand Design?
It just doesn't make any sense.  
So why do I continue to be an observant Jew?  Because believing that there is a Grand Plan brings me comfort.  When I lay in bed at night and worry about my children, I oft imagine the Light of G-d surrounding them in their sleep.  I pray to Him to hold them when I can't.  To embrace them in a Love all encompassing of their faults and gifts.  
Because if I am to believe that I am all they have, I will never be able to breathe again.  Because I go to bed at night, handing my troubles over to SomeOne else.  They are too heavy for me to hold all the time.  Because the worst thing that can happen from living a life of faith, is being called naive.  And I'm ok with that.  I would rather that, than feel alone in a senseless world.  
As long as religion is never placed above life, as long as I treat humans with as much respect as I give my Torah books, I am not hurting anyone.  I am simply enhancing my own life.  That is my faith.  It is not a firm and undeniable belief in G-d.  It is a Choice to bring Something Above into my life.  Faith is not a personality trait for me.  It is not inherent in my being.  It is simply my Choice.
And since I don't understand why this happened or why it is happening all over the world, everyday, I will do with it what I try to do with all things in my life: turn it into a channel for good.  The only way to ever rid this world of evil is to use the very act as a source of light.  Here is my way:
It is too hard to constantly hold the grief in my heart.  It is too hard to constantly remember not to take my children for granted.  It is too hard to suddenly stop all the routine arguments and fights, nagging and yelling. So instead,  on my cell phone I have set an alarm.  It goes off once a day, everyday, and it says "Sandy." At that moment I take a minute to stop what I am doing and remind myself how much I love my children and how lucky I am to have them safe, healthy and alive.  I give them an extra hug and remind them they are a gift to me.  
There are so many tragedies the media reports on, so many it is overwhelming.  And I feel deeply about it for about a week.  Then I move on.  Well, the victims don't just move on when the news does.  So this time I will honor the victims by not taking my life for granted.  Everyday, once a day, I will not take my children for granted.  It is my way of paying homage to all the parents who would give anything just to have their children safe and alive again.  Let's not let the collective attention span of our society let us forget.  Let's show evil that we are using it's horrible deeds as a channel to bring Love, Light and Good into this world.  Imagine how much change could be brought into this world...Lasting change, if every parent used this tragedy as an opportunity give their children more love.  
Not just for a week or a month.  But for life.  

1. My almost seven year old son
2. My three year old daughter
3. My 17 month old son
4. The ability to hold them when they cry
5. The fact that they don't know of evil yet
6. The ability to hold the bad world away so that they can stay innocent a little while longer

Friday, December 14, 2012

In Response to Today's Tragedy

I don't have words of comfort or faith.  I have no explanations or ways to understand how something like this could happen.  What I do have is this:
How many times do we tell our children they are spoiled.  How lucky they are to have food, shelter, clothing.  How lucky they are to live in a place with clean water, education and hospitals.  We tell them this, believing it will somehow help them see beyond their wants and desires.  But how often do we say it to ourselves?  I'm saying it right now.  Tovah, you've been spoiled.  Never have I imagined having to say goodbye to my children.  Never has anyone ever had to tell me their days are numbered.  Or that when I shoved them off to school this morning, it would be the last time I saw them.
How many times have I complained about having to change another diaper?  Cook another meal?  Break up another quarrel?  How many times I have moaned about picking up after them?  How many times have I yelled at them to 'Just stay in bed already!'
But today I say that I would rather clean a thousand bums, listen to hundreds of quarrels, wash thousands of dishes and pick up endless toys and clothes, than EVER have to say goodbye.  Today I am reminding myself that I am spoiled.  And I am so thankful that I have been so spoiled my whole motherhood.  Not everyone has been.
Today I will not take my children for granted.  Today I will smother them with kisses and squeeze them with more hugs than they could possibly want.  I will smile more and yell less.  I am sorry it has taken such a tragedy for me to awaken to this.  And if I have anything to offer the parents who suffered the unthinkable today, it is that I will try to honor them by not taking it for granted anymore.
My heart and prayers go out to all parents who have ever known the word 'goodbye.'

Today my GoodList is simple:

My beautiful Children

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Usually I sit down to write a blog because I have something I want to say.  Tonight... well, tonight I have time.  Such a rare commodity in my life that I am almost paralyzed by its presence.  My laundry is done.  My dishes are done.  My room is clean.  The kids toy room got organized and cleaned today.  I mean, I even have lunch and dinner ready for tomorrow.  Seriously folks, I got time.  It's so surreal.  Now of course there are a million other things that can be done... Start plotting spring's garden so I can order my seeds.  Work on Matovu Farm's website.  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Take a looooong shower.  But none of those appeal to me right.  Except for the shower which I plan on getting to after this blog.  But for now I want to just be with me.  And by that, I mean share with you.  Because that is usually how I learn the most about myself.  So I thought that if I sit down to write without any particular point or subject in mind, I might just surprise myself by what comes out.
I imagine confetti and balloons appearing out of nowhere.  I think I imagine a lot of things that just never will happen.  I think I have watched way too many TV shows and movies and have a completely distorted view on what reality is and how it works.  For instance, when an extremely messy room needs to be organized and cleaned, it does not happen in clips with upbeat music in the background, finishing triumphantly back in real time with sweaty brows and smiling faces.  No, it happens in bits.  With kids interrupting.  And a lot of overwhelming anxiety of how it's ever going to get done.  And when it's finally over, it doesn't look amazing and polished, just a lot better.  And there's still some more drawers that you know you ignored.  And you just anticlimactically move on to dinner or whatever is needed next.
Or take love.  That one is definitely different.  And after watching so many movies, I too often find myself fantasizing my own death so I can finally see how much I mean to those who love me, because in real life, love is never expressed as often or as deeply as it should be.
Or mealtime.  Mealtime on TV is the focus.  In my house, way more time is spent on preparing the meal, serving the meal, and mostly cleaning up after the meal, than the time spent on actually eating it.
Or how about friends.  In Screen Land friends are always there when you need.  They don't try to change you.  They really accept you for all of your quirks and bad habits and annoying tendencies.  And they talk so damn honestly to each other.  They say things like, 'Stop being a bitch' or 'your wardrobe stinks as bad as your breath' or 'I hate you for ruining my life' and then they walk out of the room only to still be best friends an hour later.  Do you have any friends like that?  Friends you feel you don't ever need to impress or change for at all?  Friends you never have to make any explanations to?  Friends whom you never have to say goodbye to on the phone because there is absolutely no awkwardness in just hanging up?  I think I have one.  One.  Not six best friends.  Not a social network of these friends.  One.  And I feel extraordinary lucky that I do.  And I see her once every few years and we talk on the phone.
Am I the only one who feels incredibly let down by the lack of similarity between my life and Screen Land?  I thought that the sweet little happy moments of my kids telling me 'I love you' would help me through the exacerbating moments of poop and chores and all the rest.  Nope.  I turn into bitch mom from hell when I am overwhelmed and over tired and the kids are being brats.  I forget all those perfect little moments.  They disappear from my view completely and I am shocked at what a horrible mother I sound like (am?) when I start yelling.  I put them to sleep tenderly, with their favorite songs and kisses.  I am TV mom extraordinaire!  But when they get out of bed for the umpteenth time to 'tell me something' or to argue about whether or not the nightlight stays on, or to switch to a different colored blanket... I yell.  I threaten.  I growl.  And they go to bed with my voice yelling in their ears instead of singing them sweet lullabies.  I hate it.  That doesn't happen night after night in any family dramedy.
And then there are all the moments that seem like they ought to be witnessed by an appreciative audience who have been rooting for me the whole time.  Those quiet moments where it looks as though I am totally content with a wonderful moment and don't need to share it with anyone...  Like when I talk to the spider in my kitchen every morning whom I've made peace with.  Or after I totally keep it together while my son is having a meltdown about his school work.  And slowly I talk him through it.  And I do it so well.  And he gets back on track.  And I walk away to finish doing the dishes.  Theme music fades in.  Slow, subtle smile spreads on my face.  Audience takes a collective sigh at the challenge that our heroine has overcome.
Only there's no audience.  There's just me.  Me knowing that there will be a thousand more moments like that.  Where I triumph.  And no one knows.  And no one appreciates.  And I wish personal satisfaction was enough.  But more than often I wish for the unseen audience.
So here's where I want to go with this.  I think I have that audience.  G-d.  And I think G-d plays a theme song for me.  (I think it's probably an indie pop-ish song with a beautiful, but very un-produced, voice like Beth Orten.)  And adds background laughter to my more witty moments.  And I think G-d appreciates my little moments of triumph.  And if I can reach out and connect on my end, I think I will know this more deeply.  So G-d, tonight I will be on channel 13.  Please tune in as I sit in bed and speak aloud to You for fifteen minutes, as is now my custom.  And feel free to send any thoughts and/or comments to my network.

1. My amazing neighbor and all her help getting my toy room cleaned!
2. My amazing family who are providing me with frozen meals and cleaning help!
3. Time
4. Leftover lunch from Make Your Own Pizza Monday

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pizza Night

Well, this won't be the most well written or best spelled blog I've ever written. I'm sitting on the toilet (seat cover down) while my little ones take a bath. But I really wanted to reach out and connect. Since my kids seem to go into total panic mode every time I pick up the phone, I think this is the only option available to me.
So here's the latest in my life: Our house was almost sold and then the buyers pulled out and I'm devastated. I cannot comprehend how on earth I am going to keep up this single mother lifestyle. I have a great, I mean life-saving, neighbor, but she's my only friend for now. No community. I'm isolated, over-stretched, over-tired and just about ready to give up. But that seems so... So wrong. I haven't even started yet. All I've been doing here is surviving. Believe me, that is no small task! But I haven't yet begun to build my dream; a community of Torah observant Jews who love the land and want a better life for their children. I want to grow my own food and raise animals and teach my children how good it feels to work outside all day and go to bed exhausted. I want to make my own soap and sweaters and cheese and keep hives and make honey and beeswax candles and, and, and... Oh G-d there's so much more.
And yet I really don't see how I can keep going like this.
I've made a resolution. Everyday, for a minimum of fifteen minutes, I am going to talk to G-d, and listen. I want to let G-d know exactly how mad I am that things are not going according to my plan, and then listen for what G-d's plan may be for me. It's not easy. I'm a much better talker than listener.
But in the meantime, I wanted to share some things that I am learning. There are ways to make life just a little easier. And they are small, but important. Routine. I am soooo awful at following through with any routine I give myself, but when I do, my kids are happier and so am I. I've now started Make Your Own Pizza Night. And it's so much easier than it sounds. On Friday, when I make challah, I make extra dough and leave it in a large zip lock in the fridge. Monday afternoon I take out the dough, let it warm to room temperature and voila! They roll it out, put on jarred sauce and shredded cheese and I have three very happy, involved kids who can look forward to it every week!
Like I said. Little things.

1. Pizza Night
2. Thursday night is movie night
3. The Chanukah lights
4. My family who have shown me soooo much compassion. I love you guys

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blast from my Past

It's been awhile. I miss it. I miss writing my thoughts. I miss the moments of clarification when I'm a spelling out my tensions and a clarification blossoms on the page. I miss connecting to friends, family and perhaps others, through the stories of my day to day life.

But I had to prioritize. Kids came first. Feeding said kids. Cleaning up after said kids. Not killing anyone after feeding, cleaning up after, and spending every waking moment with said kids. Vegging out to a good novel (actually, right now it's a memoir called The Dirty Life which I highly recommend!) after all of the above is done. These were my priorities.

But now I have an hour. A whole hour. By myself. At the library. And so.
Hmm. This is slightly awkward. It's been so long. What do you want to talk about? What's new? What's been happening. It's like that conversation you have with a really good friend, three months after they've had their baby, and you don't even know if it's a boy or girl, because you haven't talked for so long, and you're all like, “so, how's the babe?”

So I guess I'll just talk. Fill the awkward silence with my ramblings. You haven't seemed to mind that in the past.

I still want to write a book. But I think I will have to wait until my hubby is living with me. I need to be able to write for consecutive days. And as a single mom, for the present, that just isn't going to happen.

Have I mentioned my incredibly profound appreciation for all single parents out there? This shit is hard! I mean really hard. And by the time I'm older, and I've home-schooled my kids, and built a homestead, and a community, and stayed married and not killed anyone, I am expecting myself to be the next Dalai Lama. Because I will have enough patience to fill Fenway Park. And more spirit than a Red Sox fan after the world series in 2004.

Instead of just rambling, maybe I could review a bit of history and tell you how this story, my whole story, got started.

And the best place to start is the day I met my husband.
At the time I was attending an alternative, democratic, founded-by-hippies school called Sudbury Valley. I was 14, but turning fifteen in a month. I was outside, because at that school I spent most of my time hanging out outside, and I saw him. Loose Jeans, soft t-shirt, baseball cap, curly locks down to his shoulders. A gorgeous face that said... Well, I didn't really know, but I really wanted to find out. And when I say gorgeous, I mean BoyHeartThrobRomanNosePerfectSmileTwinklyEyesStrongJawed-AbsolutelyPerfect gorgeous.

And right then and there I said to myself, I totally want to marry that guy. No joke. And as I slowly got to know him, I fell so hard in love. He was everything I wanted. Slightly shy in that super cute, not awkward at all, sort of way. He didn't seem to need to impress anyone. He had a shadowed past but he was good. Really good. The kind of good that doesn't make a slightly dorky, braces wearing, flat chested, slightly naïve girl from a wholesome family feel like a slightly dorky, braces wearing, flat chested slightly naïve girl from a wholesome family. He made me feel like I was a person worth getting to know. And sometimes, due to my lack of worldly experience, plain looks and small stature, I wasn't always sure that I was.

He tells me now that he saw something in me then. Something that attracted him. But he was so good at playing it cool, I had no idea. I thought I was going to have to do everything in my power to let this guy know that I was the only one for him. Even as I thought it, I knew that he would have to look past all the other girls in my school whom I deemed way more worthy of his love due to their feminine shapes, tattoos, experience with drugs or sex. And their height. I was so short, so small, so easy to overlook. I thought tall girls automatically earned more respect and were treated differently due to their ability to look a boy in the eye and look down at all us short girls.

Oh. And he had a girlfriend. Did I forget to mention that?

Sorry y'all.  Hours up.  Stay tuned!

  1. No damage from the storm
  2. my kids are driving me a little less crazy
  3. I just got an hour away, alone
  4. I just got an hour away, alone

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I AM a good mother, DAMMIT!

Laundry, dishes, groceries, they can wait.  I am tired and frustrated.  And I want to scream, “I AM a good mother!” But if I need to scream it, I probably don’t believe it.  Not in this moment anyhow. 

I’ve been listening to my voice.  Not my words.  Those I can control to some degree with careful caution.  No, it’s my tone.  No matter how much my words are saying “I love you,” my tone is saying “You’re an idiot.”  I know it is.  It is a tone so familiar it hurts.  I’ve heard it in my father’s voice.  I’ve heard it in my husband’s voice.  I even heard it in my sister’s voices.  It was the tone of my exasperated teachers, and other ‘authorities’ in my life.  And while I don’t believe any of those people truly thought me an idiot, I felt it in their tones.

And yes, I’m over sensitive to that sort of thing because I’m the youngest daughter of three. I always felt that I was too short, too young looking (I know, good at 35, traumatic at age 15), my chest was too small, I was too naïve, too inexperienced, too immature.  I could go on and on.  I have spent too much of my life seeking validation to make up for all of it.  But I really thought that, knowing how it felt to be belittled, I would never use that tone with my kids.  And here I am.  Tone and all.

Every night I tell myself, ‘tomorrow you’ll do better.’  Today is tomorrow.  I am doing it again.  And yet there are so many ‘buts.’  But he knows better!  But he’s trying to piss me off!  But he’s just being difficult.  Again!  It’s him.  Him.  HIM!

But it’s me, me, me.  I feel insecure.  I will be homeschooling all my children and I have no experience or qualifications.  Right now we are doing a bit of an ‘unschooling’ thing.  It’s summer, I’m still learning how to be a single mom all week long, we’re still settling into country life… Then suddenly I’ll start to feel inadequate and try to do something that I can claim outwardly is educational, so that I can feel better.

For instance, my son, like most kids nowadays, has an affinity towards technology.  The more time he can spend on the computer the better, according to him.  So I decide to take his love of computers and his love of learning anything new and combine them.  “Let’s do something fun.  Let’s a TV show!  Since you love telling me all about what you learn on Wild Kratts and other PBS shows, let’s make it so you can tell everyone.  We’ll pick a subject of your choice and learn all about it.  Then we’ll videotape you and make our own show.  What should we call it?” Excited, he answers, “Shavtiel’s Amazing Everything!”

So awesome, no? We go to the library and pick out all the books we can find on lizards, his chosen first episode subject.  We go home and start right away learning about lizards.  But his interest fades as soon as I suggest he writes down the points that interest him.  Or even just jot down new words he learns as we read.  He does not enjoy writing.  His fine motor skills are a bit behind his cognitive skills and he feels frustrated by the lapse. 

I don’t push.  It won’t be fun if the whole thing is bullied by me.  He has to want to do it.  It’s been two weeks since we started and he’s pretty much totally dropped the whole idea. 

Today we took out a book on CD from the library.  A kid’s novel.  I decided he was done with screen time for a while, so he is listening instead.  But I know the difference between passive listening and active listening.  While the CD’s on I give him a piece of paper with some colored pencils and ask him to draw any of the images from the story.  Whatever he hears that interests him.  Or, he could a write a neat sounding word, or just draw the colors he imagines while he hears the story.

Did I mention he was diagnosed with ODD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder?  Well, my suggestion was stomped on with a vengeance.  He was furious.  How could I impose such an imposition on him?! Nay, how dare I?! 


When I was a kid, I would’ve loved that sort of activity.  All the freedom with just enough boundary to be safe.  A project.  An assignment.  A chance for me to express myself.  When the kids break out the water colors I can’t help but sit down and paint with them.  I am no artist, but I love the chance to play creatively. 
But in his mind I am the cruel taskmaster, enslaving him with torturous work. 

Okay, not really.  I think we just fight about so much else, that anytime I provide him the opportunity, he takes it.  I show the slightest bit of interest and he knows there’s a fight somewhere in there.  And I take the bait too.  Because I do have insecurities.  And I do have an invested interest in the outcome.  I am setting myself up. 

BUT IT WAS SUCH AN EASY, NICE IDEA! I want to shout.  I can’t let go.  And yet… We don’t have the foundation of a trusting, loving relationship.  It’s not that my ideas aren’t creative and fun.  It’s that our relationship doesn’t hold a safe enough space to allow relaxation and pure trust.  I think we are always ready to be hurt by each other.  Me, by his opposition and defiance against anything that comes from me.  And him, by my constant disapproving, consequential tone.  Yes, you’ve done it again.  You’ve disappointed me. 

Until we find our feet in these slippery waters.  Until we can stand strong on our foundation of love and trust, pushing through any kind of curriculum is pointless.  You can have the best, most brilliant teacher in the world.  But if she doesn’t have the trust and love of her students, they are not going to learn what she has to offer.

So I will try to let go of the idea that it is a lack in me that creates this wall in our schooling.  And instead I will focus on building the ‘school.’ A house of love. 

One thing I still need to work out: Why do I take his disobedience so personally? He is a six year old boy.  He came into this world with things to work out.  So why do I see his problems as my inadequacy?  If I can let go of that, perhaps I can offer something that has been lacking this whole time.  Empathy.
           1.  This small break in the day
2.     2.  A dear friend is on her way to visit me right now!
3.    3.   The Amish store down the road
4.    4.   Amazing, friendly, helpful, awesome neighbors

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Spiders and Mulberries

Hello again,
If y'all don't mind, I'm probably going to throw some potential book excepts your way.  Please, if you have any criticisms, share! Positive or negative. I've never tried to do anything like this before and I'll need all the help I can get.  Thanks!

One thing that doesn’t get too much play in romanticized versions of country life is the sheer volume of spiders.  Arachnids.  Eight legged demon creatures from my worst nightmares.  Hanging out on my front porch, like hey, wanna catch a fly?  No I do not, you evil demon creatures from hell!  Go back to where the devil spawned you from!  Have you guessed that I’m arachnophobic?  

There was a time when I was truly afraid of anything that even resembled a spider.  It could be as small as a seed with six legs and two suspicious antennae, and I would reel in horror.  But I have gotten better.  I let myself get closer to the small ones.  I even let some of them live.  And the bigger ones, well, you’ve heard of high ropes courses?  People with a fear of heights can go into the woods where they have these lovely rope bridges connecting trees and a crowd of supporters beneath calling up with words of courage and support.  “You’re doing it!” “You’re so brave!” “Almost there!” Being here was having my own arachnophobic intensive workshop that never ends.  Except, I have no team calling to me with words of encouragement.  I could really use one of those!  
No, I think it’s more like this: moving out to the country by myself is like going to a one woman AA convention and being my own sponsor.  AA standing for Arachnapobics Anonymous of course.  Lots of coffee, and no good substitute to stand in for my real desire… A spider free life.

 “Mom,” my son shouts.  “Come quick! There’s a spider on the wall.” “Oh honey, it’s just a little bug looking for food.  Let it be.”  Then I turn a corner and find a large, black, eight legged, hairy monster with a spotted butt the size my big toe, owning that wall like he was paying the mortgage.  “Honey, grab me my shoe.  Better yet, grab me the frying pan!” Oh G-d, let that thing die quickly and not fall on the carpet and run towards me! I actually played the scenario in my head of what I would do if I found it on one of my children.  Shamefully, I fear I would casually say, “Gee look, there’s a spider on your shoulder.” And then quickly walk out of the room and hope that in their flailing they manage to get rid of it.  Maybe, in a moment of adrenaline infused heroics I could lift a car to save my baby's life.  But for the life of me I cannot imagine flicking a spider off my children with my bare hands. 

More recently the big butted black beauties have moved on and been replaced with a new kind of monster.  The gardner spider.  Sounds so quaint.  The Gardner Spider, lives next door to Caterpillar and every day at high noon they gather behind the potting shed for tea with Ladybug.  Oh no.  Not this guy.  He is huge.  He is bigger than my thumb.  His legs are long and black and pointy.  His body is thick, yellow patterned and shiny.  It looks as though poisonous venom should be dripping off his fangs.  No joke, this spider scares the shit out of me.  We have two living in the bushes next to our front porch. 

I have learned to tolerate spiders under two conditions.  1. I know where they are.  2. I know they are not moving.  A spider sitting in the middle of its web is not leaving that spot anytime soon.  A spider on my wall can be anywhere in thirty seconds.  I do not like that.  So the spiders in my bushes are allowed to live.  Every morning I wake up they are there.  When I go to sleep, they are still there.  Fine. 

However, my husband and darling son have recently told me that there are many more of these gardner spiders, not sipping tea behind the shed, but living amongst our tall grasses.  I vowed that from now on I will no longer leave the path.  Ever.  Except that today those two discovered a mulberry tree in our yard that I just had to see.  I’m a sucker for edible nature.  So through the grass we trekked and I stared down every blade of grass, lest it be hiding one of these monsters just waiting for the chance to jump on my leg.
I made it to the tree totally safe.  But on the way back I saw one.  There, up ahead.  Hoho I’ve got you now! There isno way I’m getting anywhere near you!  And your chance to catch a ride on this lady is gone forever.  Ha!  But in the next moment I watched in horror as my son WALKED RIGHT THROUGH ITS WEB!  I screamed and grabbed onto my husband (I couldn’t tell you why exactly).  This was scandalous in itself, as I’m a niddah. 
“What?” Both my husband and son wanted to know. “Nothing.” I said hoping to G-d that at that moment the spider wasn’t working its way up my son’s leg to a more vulnerable, skin-bared area.  “Mommy, why’d you yell?” “Nothing honey, it’s nothing.  Really.” My son also happens to be afraid of spiders and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that a monster was, at this moment, getting ready to crawl to his neck and plant her eggs in his ear where they would hatch in a month and surround him in his bed one night.  But then I saw that the spider had recovered from its broken web by grabbing onto a blade of grass and never touched my son.  In fact, I believe now that the spider didn’t even want to torture an obvious arachnophobe purely with its presence, but instead was a bit afraid of the passing giant with the power to destroy its web.  Huh. 

And as I learn more about spiders (and all the good they do with pest control, yada, yada, yada), I learn more about myself, too.  Like I really am a chicken shit mom who would rather let her child deal with an eight legged beast from the underworld, than bravely flick the spider away and save him from years of therapy.  Live and learn.  And now I begin to wonder: In that moment of adrenaline powered heroics, before I lift the car to save my child, would I check where I put my hands to make sure there aren’t any spiders under there first?
           1.    Mulberries
2.     2.   Watching thunder storms roll in (They really do roll!)
3.     3.    Butterflies (To counteract all the spiders spinning webs in my brain right now)

Monday, August 6, 2012

The First Chapter

Hi all,
I decided it's time for me to stop coming up with excuses and start really writing.  I want to write a book.  About my adventure.  And I wrote a chapter.  No, more like the beginning to chapter one.  I want to know what you think.  Please be honest.  Thanks!

I’m typing one-handed while nursing my son, longing for the coffee I just spilled all over the front porch before even getting one sip.  It was going to be so beautiful, so…perfect.  Just me, my coffee, a gluten-free cupcake my kids didn’t see me sneak out of the kitchen, on a rocking chair on the front porch,  a computer and magic; the first chapter of my book.  Instead, it was me, covered in the coffee I was trying to carry outside, while carrying the computer, tripping over the cat, and swearing so loudly my one-year-old cried. 

This is me.  Tovah.  Nice to meet you. 

I console my little boy, Shaya, and type in the most awkward of ways.  Inside.  Without any coffee.  A little nauseated from the cupcake.  And sore from the morning’s mowing.  Did you know that you can get sore mowing?  I didn’t.  I thought mowing is that fun chore my husband kvetches about so I feel like I’m getting a good deal washing dishes, changing diapers and doing laundry, while he walks around the yard, enjoying the sun and breeze and a break from the kids.  So yesterday, instead of doing the dishes I say, “Honey, why don’t you hang out with the kids.  I’ll mow.”  Now I’ve got him!  “Great! Thanks.” Huh.  Not what I expected.  Okay, well, let’s go!

At first it’s fun.  Pulling the cord like I’ve seen so many times on TV.  Walking around my yard, sun on my head, power beneath my hands.  Just back and forth.  Back and forth.  Wait, did I do that spot already? No matter, just more time to myself, while Hubby entertains the kids.  I’m getting a little hot, but hey, it’s summer right?  And it’s a bit more tiring than I would have expected. But I really need the exercise, so onward and upward!  Back and forth.  This is so great.  I mean, no one’s bothering me.  I get to think, without little mouths interrupting me.  So awesome.  Hey, look how much I did, it seems like so much! I’m so on a roll.  Maybe, I should just stop a bit and drink some water though.  Because I’m pretty sweaty and I gotta keep hydrated.  Yeah, that’s enough for now.  I’ll do some more later. 

But when I went inside I saw how little I had really done.  And my hands were hurting.  Like they were bruised.  And I told Hubby, “Thanks for letting me try.  I’ll do some more this week.”  “Oh no,” he said. “It all has to be done in one day so it doesn’t grow at different intervals and need different mowing days.” Was he smirking when he said that?  Well, I didn’t finish yesterday and had to do it this morning.  With my kids not being entertained by their father, as today is Monday. 

While I’m mowing I call to my oldest, Shavtiel, age 6. “Hey Shav, do you know where Nisayah is?” Nisayah is my two and a half year old.  “What?” The mower is loud.  So I shout louder, “DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR SISTER IS?” “WHAT?” “WHERE’S YOUR SISTER?!” “WHAT MOM?!” (Mumbled)  “Oh, fuck it.” “What’s ‘fuck’ mean?” “No, no, sweetie.  Duck there.  I thought I saw a duck fly over there.” Whew, safe. 

My language is just one of the many things about myself that I need to work on.  Patience is a big one.  Mommy rage, which I’m sure will get more attention later on.  Being non-judgmental. Learning the art of listening.  Which I believe means letting other people know, through your silence, that you give a crap about what they’re saying.  Which I mostly do.  But I like to illustrate the fact with an amusing yet genuine tale of my own.  I would like to be a better Jew.  For now that means connecting to G-d in a deeper way while keeping the mitzvoth.  The list goes on and on.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t think I’m a pretty decent person right now.  It just means there’s plenty of room for improvement.  In much the same way I like to leave some space in my coffee cup for cream.  The coffee is great.  The cream makes it better.
Speaking of which, I really am missing that coffee right now. 

There was a long period of time when I didn’t drink caffeine.  Then, when my daughter was ten months and I discovered I was pregnant again (here’s where, if I weren’t working on my language, I could insert many four letter words), I gave up pretending I was too good for him, and came back crawling on my hands and knees, begging Caffeine to forgive me my errant ways.  And so my love triangle was reunited, Me, Caffeine and Sleep.  It’s complicated.  When I miss Sleep, I turn to Caffeine.  When Caffeine is nowhere to be found, I collapse in the arms of Sleep.  But never have I been able to bring us all together.  It’s like, no matter how much Sleep and Caffeine love me, they just can’t find a way to love each other.

But Caffeine has scorned me in another way.  It has made me a snob.  Not just any caffeine will do.  No.  I have no time or patience for the sugary, carbonated likes of Coke or Mountain Dew.  I like my hipster coffee shops filled with glasses-wearing twenty-something year-olds who apparently have no other job but to sit in a dark coffee shop, wearing interesting haircuts and shoes to match, while typing on expensive laptops, drinking even more expensive coffee.  I like the man behind the counter to explain to me why the aromas in this cup bring out blackberries and hints of seaweed due to the fact that it’s grown atop a mountain inhabited only by celibate (and therefore endangered) Buddhist monks, too high in elevation to bear fruits of any other kind and far, far away from the sea. 

However, the coffee soaked on my shirt is Starbucks Columbian coffee, stored in my freezer, made by me, and bought from the discount Amish grocery down the street.  Because I no longer live in a cultured city inhabited by hipters and hippies and punks and suits and non-American ethnicities.  I bought 40 acres of farmland in rural Pennsylvania.  I am an orthodox, homeschooling, earth loving, all natural farmer woman. 

And this is where my story begins.  

Almost forgot my good list!

1. My super sweet husband
2. My second cup of coffee
3. Getting started on something exciting!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Speaking the Language of Love: Or Tovah's Guide to Being Cool

I don’t know why I’m writing a blog right now.  It’s 6am.  I’ve been up for an hour.  My mind is racing.  I went outside.  The birds are composing a beautiful symphony with frogs on the horns and crickets on the strings.  The sky is brightening in this gold-ish way. Leftover storm water is gently dripping of the porch roof.  And while I sit and take in the moment… I’m drafting a blog in my head.  A Zen monk, I was not meant to be.

But at least my computer is placed in front of large windows looking out at this scene.  So I’ll claim I’m taking it all in, while I write.  That makes me feel better about myself.  And that’s mostly what this blog is about, feeling better about myself. 

I’ve been reading this book called The Five Love Languages of Children.  As you know, I am always looking for ways to better understand my son, (all my children, but he needs the most deciphering) and this book was a pretty nice window.  Its premise is that there are five main ways through which we communicate and receive love.  And we all have tendencies towards one, more than the others.  They are: Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts and Acts of Service.  I won’t go into much more detail, save to recommend the book.  (A quick word of warning: I do not agree, as the authors seem to imply, that if you do not discover your child’s love language, he or she will be doomed to a life of low self-esteem, drugs and venereal diseases.)

It turns out that my sons primary love language is touch.  Followed by quality time.  And perhaps this explains why, when I think we are having a nice day, he spoils it by acting out physically against me.  He is asking for something he doesn’t even know he wants.  And that he drives me to spank, even though I never dreamed I would be a mother who spanks, also makes sense.  He wants the contact.  And if that’s the way he can get it, so be it. 

Now, I’m a pretty touchy feely person.  Almost to an annoying point.  But yesterday I tried to really turn up the juice.  I thought I was making a lot of physical contact with all my children, but I did touch on steroids.  Every time my son came anywhere near me, I reached out and stroked his arm, or tickled his back, or cuddled him.  I thought after an hour, two hours, half a day of this, he would push away and get annoyed (I mean, I was starting to annoy myself).  But he didn’t.  In fact he lapped it up like a little puppy.  More, more, more, he seemed to ask. 

Well, buddy, get ready for a whole new sport: Full contact life! At every chance I get, I am going to try to fill his apparently depleted love tank with all the physical affection I can possibly muster.  Do I feel like I’m suffocating at the very thought? Slightly.  Is it worth a try anyway? Absolutely! Are there any negative side effects? Unknown.  But unlikely.

But that’s all back story.  Here’s what I was processing in bed, that wouldn’t let me sleep.  For years I have searched out validation.  I mean, who hasn’t, right?  But for me it was in words of affirmation.  I want my husband to tell me I’m beautiful.  I want to be told that I’m maternal.  I want to be called sweetie and honey and any other name that causes a mental cavity.  I want long, sentimental letters describing all my amazing qualities.  One by one.  Preferably alphabetically.  

I thought this made me vain.  I thought this made me weak.  I thought this made me highly uncool, since cool people don’t need anyone to tell them what they already know.  But as it turns out, it just makes me normal.  I want to feel loved.  I feel loved through words of affirmation.  Perhaps that’s why, after writing each blog, I incessantly check the comments section.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve turned to writing.  Words are powerful to me.  They hold a lot of weight.  They make or break me.  A careless, or even hurtful action, I can often forgive.  But hurtful words sting me to the core.

And now I know that this is just me.  It's who I am.  And seeing that there are five love languages, chances are that a fifth of humanity is the same.  We can’t all be cool like you acts of service people.  Some of us have to remain cheesy and long for a Shakespearian-type love letter written daily.

It goes back to an earlier discovery I had which is that it is not my preferences which make me cool or uncool.  (Yes I am somewhat fixated on the idea (dare I say, hope) of being cool.)  I used to think that if I liked my coffee black, that would make me cooler than if I preferred cream.  Or that if I liked dark, bitter chocolate that would be better than liking milk chocolate.  (What is it about milk that is so inherently uncool?)  I wish I liked oil and vinegars as much as I like mayonnaisy things.  But I don’t.  And you know what?  It’s just my make up.  These are the things I cannot control.  And truly, if I spent too much energy on changing my personal tastes, I could not, with any confidence, ever call myself cool.  Cool people don't change who they are.  They embrace it, and say, "Go ahead, tell me to be someone else, if you dare..." No, I guess cool people don't really talk like that.  Maybe I am so uncool I can't even come up with imaginary cool dialogue. 

No, the things I have control over… Rather, the things worth putting energy into changing, are my behaviors.  My mother rage.  My listening skills.  My relationship to G-d.  My kindness towards humanity.  My judgments.  These are the things that can change.  These are the things worth changing.  My distaste for capers and really dry wine? Just a preference, not a character definition. I can only take credit for my character weaknesses I have strengthened.  No need to feel ashamed for them.  They were given to me.  It’s what I do with them that counts. 

So with that I say proudly, “I am a sentimental, touchy-feely woman who loves being told how loved she is. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.”

1. The air outside
2. Watching my children on the trampoline
3. My mom
4. The amazing songs my sister leaves on my voicemail
5. I still have a little bit of time before the kids wake up 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Making mistakes

I can’t stay long.  I’m truly tired, and desperately in need of a shower.  Not just for my own sake, but for the sake of anyone within a ten-mile radius.  Just doing my part to better the world, one clean armpit at a time.  But it’s been a bit, and I wanted to check in.  Plus I have a few revisions to make from the last blog. 

First, my apologies to John Hyatt (Hiatt?) the actual writer of Have a Little Faith in Me. 

Second, I have not mentioned the amazing wonderfulness of my mother in my blogs.  She comes to my aid, whenever I need, putting whatever she has going on in her life aside.  And she doesn’t complain about it.  And she doesn’t ask for anything in return.  She just does it.  Always has.  And because of that I’ve come to expect it, and have stopped appreciating it.  Well, let’s get the Good List rolling early tonight with number one.
1.    My most bomb-diggity, cool, ever loving mama.
You deserve more, but I'm tired and I know you would yell at me to go bed.  So, I'll move on.

Well, here’s a bit of what’s going on, and maybe y’all could help me with this one.  In raising my oldest son, my husband and I had too many expectations of him. We were hard on him.  We criticized him.  Now I’m not saying he came here a perfect little angel whom we messed up.  But, with all his stuff, I think we exacerbated the problem, rather than helped heal it.  When perhaps a softer heart could have melted his tough core, we hammered.  First children are like first pancakes.  They test the heat of the frying pan.

So now I have a tough little boy.  A very tough one.  A boy who is dying for love, acceptance, affection.  And he is trying to get it by fighting.  Fighting about teeth brushing, or dinner, or getting dressed, or going to the bathroom, or anything that could possibly be answered with an OK Mama.  So I have VERY little patience left for him. Remember, I'm also all alone out here, without a husband or anyone who could help out.  Just me and three little, needy children.  And if I try to collect myself, remind myself of the fact that he’s just a little boy, he’ll find a way to push my worst button at that moment.  It’s sort of a gift of his. 

And sometimes I tell myself, Fine, just let him be.  Have no expectations of him.  Let him act like a spoiled, selfish brat.  And love love love him.  Maybe, he’ll see that he doesn’t need to fight for love, but that he can just BE in it.  It’s free.  From me to him.  From his father to him.  From G-d to him. 

But then I see that I am raising a selfish, spoiled brat, and I wonder if that’s all he’ll ever be.  And I freak out.  How can I have NO expectations? How can I let all the little, stupid, petty insults slide by? How can I present this child to world, and still say, Yes, I am doing right?

Perhaps that’s it.  I feel that so often that what I do is contrary to what is done.  Contrary to what I have been told I should do. Becoming a religious Jew.  Marrying the man I fell in love with at age fifteen.  Moving to Israel.  Moving back to America.  Never getting an education.  Never trying to be a professional.  Not trying to make a ton of money.  Moving my family out to a farm in the middle of nowhere.  Homeschooling.  Not vaccinating.  I mean, the list goes on and on and on.  And yet if I can present myself in the right way then I can justify all of it.  No, I didn’t marry a doctor move to suburb and send my children to school… But look, I have the perfect, happy marriage, no financial needs outside of our means, and three perfectly healthy, brilliant, polite and well mannered children.  So I guess I’m doing something right and you can all shut your big, fat, judging, I-know-what’s-right-for-you mouths.  Well, not you guys.  Just the voices I imagine are in everyone’s minds when they see me. 

So maybe this isn’t about my son at all?  Maybe this is about me feeling the need to justify myself and my choices by creating the perfect kid?  And perhaps he knows that he can only disappoint, so he fights for love instead?

Oh my son, my love.  If you ever read this, know this: I love you.  I freakin love you so much it breaks me over and over.  And the brokenness fills me deeper than anything ever could.  You do not need to be my self-confidence in body form that I can show off to the world.  I will deal with my own insecurities.  No, you be you.  And you can make mistakes.  And you’re mistakes are not who you are.  I will not hold you to them for the rest of your life.  Mistakes are the strongest building blocks of life.  And I will let you make yours if you forgive me mine.  And perhaps we will build something so strong, so great, that we won’t even need to show it to anyone.  No one will need to validate it.  Because we can hold each other.  I love you, my sweetest. 

Whew, okay.  *Tear wipe* Thanks, doc, but I guess our time is up and this therapy session is over.  See you next week. (Maybe, I have a lot of company coming.  But since it’s family I’m sure I’ll get plenty of material for the following one.)

1.    Mom (just to repeat, because you deserve it)
2.    This moment
3.    I made my bed today, and I get to lay in it soon
4.    I’m getting a shower.  Now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Friends, Shame, and Bon Jovi

When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Let my love throw a spark
Have a little faith in me

And when the tears you cry
Are all you can believe
Give these loving arms a try baby
Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me  
 When your secret heart
Cannot speak so easily
From a whisper start
To have a little faith in me

And when your back's against the wall
Just turn around and you will see
I will catch your fall
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me

When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Let my love throw a spark
Have a little faith in me

Have a little faith in me

I've been loving you for such a long time
Expecting nothing in return
Just for you to have a little faith in me
You know time, time is our friend
I will hold you up, I will hold you up
Your love gives me strength enough

Have a little faith in me

Come on, I know you know this song, so sing it with me… Have a little faith in Meeeeee…….

I am imagining G-d singing this to me right now.  No, I don’t believe Bon Jovi is G-d.  I just really feel that if G-d were to serenade me on this summer night, this is the song He would be singing. 
Because the truth is I haven’t been turning to G-d.  I haven’t been turning to anyone.  I have been turning to myself, and telling myself, ‘You can do this! Just keep going.  You will do this.  Somehow, you will do this.’

Friends, readers, I did not do it.  I fell flat on my face.  And then I ate some mud.  I did not turn to G-d.  I did not turn to friends.  I used pride as a pair of fancy heels to make me taller than I am.  I fell. I fell hard.  I am a mother.  I fell on my son.

I never knew I had so much rage.  I never knew I could hurt a child.  I saw myself so differently.  My picture of me was this: I am a peaceful hippie.  I am an indigo flower child.  I am enlightened, self-aware.  I am a nurturing, empathic, wise mother; just check out my photos on facebook.  No.  When it comes to my son, I am a rage-aholic.  I am mean.  I am cruel.  And last night, I was out of control. 

I won’t get into the specifics.  He is fine.  But I am not.  I scared myself.  It was as though the reflection I had been seeing in the mirror shattered and the image left on the wall was horrifying.  This is me? No! Not that ugly creature! That’s not me!!!

All I wanted to do was hide.  Hide or run away.  I am feeling a million and one emotions run through my body.  But the words that are the loudest are FAILURE and SHAME.  I am failure.  I am filled with shame.  I have failed at the only thing in life you can’t fail at, motherhood.  And I am so ashamed. I want to hide away forever.

But I couldn’t hide from my son.  And I couldn’t be around him anymore.  I felt so stuck.  I cried to my father.  I told him what a failure I felt myself to be.  I told him I felt G-d smiling smugly, saying, “See? I told you you couldn’t do it.  Why did you even try?” But as I was saying this, another thought lingered deeper: It’s not G-d who wanted you to fail… G-d has been supporting you this whole time and still is.  The smug smiles I feel are from people who told me what to do, or how live.  When I went my own way, did things my own way, unconsciously I felt their need, desire for me to fail.  This could be real or imagined.  I don’t know.  And frankly, it doesn’t really matter.  All that matters is that I know that G-d has been here all along.  Supporting me.  Loving me.  Even loving the ugly, horrific creature I saw in the mirror. 

And with that knowledge I was able to come out of my hole.  Just a bit.  I couldn’t call any of my friends.  I couldn’t talk to them and let them hear my voice.  But I could email them.  I sent out an SOS to a few beloved girlfriends, explaining that I had lost control of myself and needed to take some time away from my son. 

From this little painful, inward push of myself, I received so much.  Words of love, acceptance, encouragement.  Not to mention actual help.  At this time, when I find myself so repulsive, unlovable, there is a group of women out there who accept and love me.  This is G-d’s gift.  This is G-d saying,
And when your back's against the wall
Just turn around and you will see
I will catch your fall
Have a little faith in me”

But dearest readers and friends, there is one thing that I need to emphasize, need to explain.  I did not just come about these friends.  I did not grow up, or go to school with these friends.  These are women in whom I saw something beautiful, and reached out to.  Without ever having really spoken to them, I reached out and told them I wanted them in my circle of friends.  And then I made the effort to keep up the friendships. 

And now I am reaping the benefits.  For some lucky people, good friends just happen.  I am not one of those people.  But if I would be willing to put myself out there and work for money, how much more so am I willing to put myself, my fragile ego, out there and work for these friendships which pay so much more than a paycheck. 

If you are one of the few who has a close network of friends, friends that see your ugly and still love you, take a moment and be thankful.  If not, tell your ego to go and get a coffee, take some time off, while you call up someone who’s always interested you, and tell them you want to be their friend.  Create friendships.  Maintain friendships.  They are worth all the effort.  They are worth a bruised ego.  They pay better than a 401k.  If you want more info on how I created my particular circle of friends, email me.  Let’s talk.  I will encourage you.  I will support you. 
Thank you to all those who support me.  I love you guys.

1.   Friends (duh)
2.   Sisters (kinda like friends, but way stinkier)
3.   Bon Jovi