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.


  1. Im crying tovah...once again you speak the deep dark truths and its so beautiful! Your children are lucky to have you as their mom, your hubby is lucky to have u as his wife and your mom is so lucky to have you as her daughter...and I am so lucky to have you as a friend. Tovah all we can do is our best in life...we do what we feel is right and we let God do the rest! Hugs!! Your awesome and beautiful and wonderful and perfect in your way!!!

  2. wow. i've really been thinking about the memories and self image i am helping create for my little angel/devil as well. it's so so hard to let the annoyances, defiance, fights, complaints and other shitty behavior just happen with unconditional love. i meet them with anger and frustration. yuck. i don't have an answer for how to skillfully navigate the unreasonable behavior but i have the same history of mistakes and words i wished i'd left unspoken. i love you tov. i'm with you.

  3. I'm so proud of you Tov, but mostly for taking a shower. Lord knows you need it! Love you like crazy! xoxo - Eli Stinky

  4. I love you too Tovah. I won't go ahead and add my mistakes. If I felt brave enough to do that then I could start my own blog. But for now just know that I'm here with you too, in spirit, in parenting, and in many other things. Maybe our family could come visit and stay with you on the farm. Then maybe we could stay up talking after the kids go to sleep... By the way, when will Micah join you guys? Hugs and kisses. ~Rachelli

    1. Yes! Come visit! Oh, my heart fills at the thought. And Micah will be up here as soon as the house sells. G-d willing sooner than later!

  5. Tovah,
    I do love you, along with your many friends.
    Yes, take a shower. Forget the people in a 10 mile radius. Do it for yourself. I just feel more capable when I'm freshly showered.

    Second, may I suggest (not tell you what you should do at all) looking into the Five Languages of Love for Children. I think I have a copy but I'm not at home so can't send it.

    One of the most remarkable ah moments is when one (I, you, any soul) realizes that each person has his/her own menu of what love looks like and feels like. And when we heap love on that person from our menu of what love (should) feel like, look like . . . it doesn't get received as love!
    Amazing. Here I am loving these people to pieces but oh, gee, it's not in their language.

    So, just consider that concerning your son.

    You should have expectations. He is needing you to. But, you need to get really clear about what they are. What is essential. And then have a little pow wow with him, preferably in a setting of his language of love and say these (3?) things are things I expect of you. Other 10,0000 things are not the most essential and so we're going to put them aside for now.

    It might be interesting to hear his 3 essential expectations of you.

    And if brushing teeth is one, (cavities cost a lot of money and are not fun) give him the freedom to choose when. Then let him check it off on a chart so there doesn't have to be reminders (nagging) and he feels some responsibility and control of his own choices.
    Don't you feel good about doing something that has to be done but you don't want to and yet you know you should???

    Hey this might work for a day or a week or never. But as moms we are entrusted with the job of being creative and never giving up. And that is a pretty tall order.
    This is one of the reasons you should take a shower. It's for you.

    He will teach you more about yourself than perhaps any of your other children.
    You may not have the relationship you dream of until he is much, much older.
    Love is messy and not always easy and usually not balanced and all those things magazine articles say it is.

    You don't have to be perfect, or even near. Neither does he.

    Find something to laugh about together. That is oh, oh, oh, so healing.

    Love to you and your precious ones.
    And thanks for having the spirit and honesty and humor that is so REAL that it amazes and inspires me, and others.