Being a mother is the hardest role I've ever performed. My children depend on me for everything. Many times I have to step out of my own inner dialogue and engage in their worlds. My problems are silenced when faced with their needs.
I love being a mother and sometimes, honestly, I hate being a mother. When Sadie is melting down and there is nothing I can do but listen to her rage, I want to run away. Those are the moments I feel like a failure and I hate my role. Thankfully as she gets older the hour long every day rages I faced starting after her first birthday have slowed down. I have a complicated relationship with Sadie. She reminds me a lot of myself when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I, like Sadie, was a tough kid. She, like me, struggled to manage her outbursts and contain her frustration. There are moments I clearly see patterns passed down from my childhood emerging between us. Sometimes I am successful in stopping the repetition of poor interaction and other times I melt into the comfort of losing myself and accepting my emotional needs versus my rational needs.
Becoming a mother has taught me to appreciate my own mother. I look back now and mourn the times I behaved inappropriately, furthering the rift between us. It took me becoming a mother before I finally could build a loving relationship with my mother. Only when I understood how difficult it was to deal with a willful child could I step back and forgive my mother for our past.
Those times when I yell at Sadie , those moments when I wish I could stuff back the words into my mouth, I try to step out of my anger and remember I am yelling at one of the most precious beings in the world. My daughter. She is my wonder. She is the reason I became a mother. And when I do, despite my feelings, I take her in my arms and I say how sorry I am. I can't change what I've said but I can apologize. I can teach her despite our mistakes we can apologize and move on. With as much passion as I had when angered, I hug her and tell her I love her and then apologize for losing my cool. Thankfully she forgives me every time. Thankfully I am better at maintaining my composure despite the stresses of parenthood. And please don't think my kids get yelled at everyday. Instead, I hope to attain a state of mind when I NEVER yell at my children. I hope to parent only with peace in my heart and kind words on my tongue.
Motherhood has taught me to drop the ego. Again and again I need to forget the principled thing to do the right thing. Righteous anger has no place with children. Instead I forgive again and again until only my love for my children exists. The floor covered in food fives minutes after I cleaned it because Aaron refuses to eat at the table, I let it go. The little grievances that are "wrong" and aggravating are ignored or gently corrected to maintain a loving, healthy relationship with my children. I work very hard to not get angry. I have my children to thank for this lesson.
I am not sure I have shared this story before, it's one of my favorite stories about Sadie. When Sadie was born the epidural didn't take and I needed to be put under for an emergency c-section. For the two hours that it took between her birth and us meeting after my anesthesia wore off, Sadie lay in her daddy's arms looking up at him not making a sound. Her little eyes were open, waiting for me. When I was wheeled into the room Logan took off her blanket and laid her on my chest. She immediately took to nursing and closed her eyes, content, happy to be with her mother. I fell hard for her that moment. She was mine. She didn't leave my arms for 1.5 years after that moment. We co-slept until Aaron was born, I wore her everywhere and we only hired a babysitter when she was 2.5 years old. We were attached as two people can be attached. Aaron's birth forced us to renegotiate our relationship. She could no longer sleep in my bed or be worn throughout the day. It was hard but Sadie accepted Aaron and our circle of two became a circle of three. She took on being the big sister like anything else in her life with passion and love, Aaron could not have asked for a better sister.
I pray to be an amazing mother to my children. They are my presents from God. They are my blessings. I am grateful to have the right to have them in my life. I love them more than anyone or anything. My love is infinite for my children. The lessons I have learned in the past five years (I count pregnancy as a time of being a mother) are too numerous to count. My children have humbled me. They have raised me. They have taught me love. They have put a mirror to all my flaws. They force me to grow, to leap forward in order to stay ahead of them.
I celebrate Mother's Day because despite the difficulties, I would never go back in time and change my decision to have children. I am a richer, deeper person because of my children.
Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers. Each and every one of you is amazing.
When we originally decided to come live in Israel for a few months I secretly wanted to live here for an entire year. I wanted to experience all of the Jewish holidays in the holy land at least once in my life. In the past three months I have celebrated Purim and Passover here. I loved the celebrations and cherished the experience. I savored the meals with friends, the prayers at the Kotel and the holy atmosphere making each holiday alive and real.
Last Sunday night, May 4th, at 8pm a siren sang through Jerusalem. I was with my best friend walking her to a lecture. We stood together in silence outside the building filled with people standing straight and proud. The siren let the citizens of Jerusalem know that Yom Hazikaron had started. We are a people of the moon. Our days start at sundown. I was told by several people that Yom Hazikaron was a very special day in Israel. TV stations honor the deceased for 24 hours. Two sirens are heard, one in the evening when Memorial Day starts and one in the morning at 11am. I didn't know what to expect but I was very open to any experiences coming my way.
Yom Hazikaron is translated as "Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism," it is Israel's Memorial Day. In 1949 and 1950, the two years after the declaration of the State, soldiers who died during the War of Independence were honored on Independence Day. Their families argued for a separate Memorial Day and so Yom Hazikaron was created, to be celebrated the day before Independence Day. Originally the day was only meant to honor deceased soldiers; however, as Israeli citizens became victims of terrorist attacks (i.e., bus bombings, rockets, suicide bombers killed innocent people) Yom Hazikaron became a time to remember and honor all killed by our enemies.
The next day I took Aaron to daycare and I attended a special lecture given by Rabbanit Golda Warhaftig at my seminary. If you are ever in Israel and have an opportunity to hear her speak, do it. She is an unbelievably amazing speaker. I wish I taped her speech. Rabbanit Warhaftig immigrated to Israel in the 1960's from England. She has been here since the Six Day War and has seen Israel grow into a thriving country. She has children who live on settlements - she is a pioneer of this country. She is a true zionist. Unfortunately, she has also seen people she know become victims of terror.
She started her speech by mentioning that over 25,000 Israelis have died due to terrorism. And then, she slightly shook her head and said, "these people are not a number, they are a name. They are a story." She proceeded to tell us stories of people she knew who were murdered by terrorists. One of the first stories was about an American, the only son, who decided to join the Israeli army and fight in the front lines. He died, leaving a grieving family behind. And then she told us about a husband and wife who moved to a settlement, had a child, and were stabbed repeatedly in their sleep. The husband was killed and the pregnant wife ran from the house to a neighbor's house as she spilled blood on the rocky ground. She lost her baby and her husband in the same night. This woman, Mara, lay in bed broken as her mother-in-law sat beside her, touched her arm and told her,"listen Mara, when you get remarried, I'm still your mother-in-law." Mara did remarry and had twins with her new husband.
Then she shared a story about a soldier who was kidnapped. His mother saw him on the tv with two guns pointed at his head. His parents rallied the Jewish people together to the Kotel to pray begging God to return their son. Rabbanit Warhaftig said she never saw the Kotel as packed as it was that day. It was filled with all Israelis - secular and religious. We are one family. When one of us is hurting, we are all hurting. The boy was killed. Afterwards his father was on television, the interviewer asked him how did he feel after his son was murdered despite the prayers of so many people. His father responded, "sometimes father says no." The last story she shared was of an engaged soldier who wrote a love letter to his fiancee before serving on the front line. He died and his note was found when they were sitting shiva. For a room full of seminary girls mainly unmarried reading his love note out loud was a delightful setting for an excessive amount of tears. The part where he apologized for not being the man who would make her happy for the rest of her life nearly broke the room.
Each story was shared to bring the person back to life. Rabbanit Warhaftig explained that Memorial Day is not for the families who have lost their loved ones. The families mourn every single day. A parent never stops mourning for their child (mayIt's for everyone to mourn the loss of each individual. We are to learn their stories in order to bring them back into the world, even for a moment. The week before was Holocaust Remembrance Day or in Hebrew: Yom HaShoah. Rabbanit Warhaftig shared a story about her grandson. At seven years old he came with a yahrzheit candle. On the candle was the name of a Holocaust victim. The candle is traditionally lit on the anniversary day a loved one dies and it burns for 24 hours. It is a memorial candle. The children were given candles of people who perished with no one left alive in their family. No one was left to mourn them. No one was left to remember them. They became a number, a statistic quoted in class. She shared how proud she was that he lit the candle in memory of the man who died due to senseless hatred.
We are a people of the past. If the past is not remembered, we cannot know who we are and where we are going. Rabbanit Warhaftig explained that just as an amnesiac does not know what to do because they cannot remember what they did, we cannot assume to grow and fulfill our highest intention if we do not remember where we started.
I left the lecture speechless. I was shocked and honored to experience such an amazing speaker who really brought down the meaning of Memorial Day for all of us in the room. I wish America would do the same for our fallen soldiers. We lose precious men and women every day fighting in other countries trying to save the world and protect our nation. Unfortunately Memorial Day was meaningless to me. It would do our nation good to have the news actually honor our soldiers for 24 hours so we can all understand the depth of their sacrifice.
I rushed from seminary to Aaron's daycare. I wanted to experience the 11am 2 minute siren at Jaffo - a main street in Jerusalem. I ended up frustrated, stuck on the train at 10:57 at the Central Bus Station. I was going to experience the siren on the train. I was so sad. And then, when the siren sang, old and young, religious and secular stood up in silence to remember our loss. As I stood there filled with grief I looked next to me and was surprised to see an Arab woman sitting talking on her cellphone. An Arab man sat across from her. Neither stood to honor our heroes. I could not see one Jew who gave them a second glance - we are, after all, the only true democracy in the Middle East. Seeing first hand the strength of Israel's freedom allowed me to break through my disappointment.
When the sun set Israel transitioned from mourning to celebratory as Independence Day was kicked off with fireworks and partying in the streets. Memorial Day was intentionally set for the day before Independence Day to remind everyone the cost of freedom.
To be continued...
I started the journey of covering my hair a little over a month ago. At the time I did it to fit in with my local community. I used it as an opportunity to expand my wardrobe. I bought different colors, textures, sizes and shapes of head coverings. Although I loved the different fabrics, I resented the way my head hurt after an hour of wearing them. I would come home and rip off the scarf exasperated with its inconvenience.
After several weeks of frustration I walked into a store that sells head covers and bought a simple black beret. I paid the sales lady, walked to the mirror and jauntily placed it on my head. The sales lady and I locked eyes, she nodded at me with approval and off I went. I felt great. It was the first my head didn't hurt when covered. The beret was 100% cotton, a lightweight knit and felt good without pulling on my hair. It's only flaw was it did not cover all my hair but I was happy. It was a step in the right direction.
(In modern Orthodox it is acceptable to cover only the top of your head; however, my husband attends a very Orthodox Yeshiva so I have made it my goal to cover all my hair when in public to fit the status quo.)
I wore it every day until I got tired of seeing the same black hat on my head. I wanted a change in color. I decided to educate myself on how to properly wrap my head with a scarf. I have been a facebook fan of Wrapunzel since she started several years ago. Reluctantly I clicked on her site and watched the beginner video. She mentioned a velvet headband she wore under her scarf. I knew of the velvet headband before watching the video. I had hoped I could avoid needing to put another thing on my head when covering my hair. I realized I needed to wear the band to stop the scarf from pulling my hair. The next day I took Logan and the kids through the city until we found a scarf shop and a velvet headband.
The headband changed my hair wrapping world. The scarf stopped slipping off my head. I finally could wrap my hair without suffering. I'm not convinced I will spend the rest of my life covering my hair; however, it has been an interesting experiment of my identity.
I turn 30 this year. Unfortunately it is freaking me out. Thirty feels legit. It's a grown up age. It's not 24, it's not 21, it's not 16. It's 30. What you do in your 30's matters. People see you as a fully formed person. Prior to covering my hair, I continued to see myself as a 20 year old with two kids who followed me around throughout the day. I did not see myself as a full fledged adult. Now, when I cover my hair and look in the mirror, I see a grown up. I'm not sure if I like it. I'm not sure I'm ready to grow up. Sometimes I worry that wrapping my hair ages me.
Other times I worry that wrapping my hair means I can't hide my face behind my hair. I am in the world. My face is there for the everyone to see. I feel vulnerable. On days when I feel my face is puffy or I feel ugly, I wear a hat covering the top of my head and leave the rest of my hair out. (The need to cover all my hair is a great motivator to prevent me from eating food that is not good for me since a lot of that food causes my face to break out or bloat.) It's my shield, my armor, protecting my insecurities with a cascade of long hair. As the day progresses my hair shifts from covering my face, to sitting tucked neatly behind my ears to sometimes all the way up back in my hat. It's a constant shift trying to balance religious expectations with my own comfort.
I'm starting to feel more comfortable seeing my hair covered versus uncovered when I look in the mirror. I am really enjoying the different styles and colors of hair coverings available in the shops.
More importantly, covering my hair is changing the way I relate to the world. A simple act of covering my hair allows me create stronger boundaries between my private and public world. I no longer feel pressured to look sexy or attractive when dressing in the morning. My sexiness, my attractiveness is private - for my marriage and my husband. This separation between the private and public does not mean I feel pressured to be ugly or frumpy when I get dressed. Instead, it's about being regal - sophisticated, a lady. The typical pressure to have perfect straight hear, skin tight clothing, and sexy shoes no longer applies to me. I want to emphasize I am not knocking anyone who chooses to dress in this manner. For myself it is freeing to not feel the need to dress sexy when going to a party or stepping outside. I don't need to compete. Other women can dress how they want and I don't feel pressured to keep up. In a strange way I feel that covering my hair has helped me find inner peace and contentment with my identity. I don't understand the connection but I'm happy with the results.
This is the hair covering site, check it out if you area interested in learning how to wrap your hair: https://wrapunzel.com/
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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