Two nights ago I woke up at 2:30 in the morning confused. I was wide awake while Aaron was actually sleeping. My heart was pounding. I could feel the beat beat beat of my heart against my chest. I had a loop of horrible thoughts about Aaron in my mind. I was petrified he had passed away in his sleep (God forbid). I sat in my bed and refused to check on him. My inability to sleep for longer than two hours since having Sadie needed to stop. I understood I was having an anxiety attack.
As a parent the horror stories of other parents waking up and finding their children dead has instilled a fear of the night deep within my mind. I hate the night. The quiet silence of darkness is a void where anything can happen. When we sleep we are at our most vulnerable, I almost want to take shifts at night where either Logan or I keep watch over our household. It's almost unnatural to accept a scenario where we both sleep and leave our children defenseless in a room separate from our own. I co-slept with Sadie for 2.5 years and kept her in our room for another 6 months out of fear that something could happen to her while I wasn't watching.
When I mention my fears to other mothers, many of them more optimistic, tell me to trust in God, have faith, everything will work out. I hate to admit how little comfort I find in those words. The Torah is riddled with stories of very good people having very difficult lives.
And then, what about the Holocaust? Or the Pogroms? Or all the amazing wonderful people in this time, this era, who have lost children or have known sorrow? I know of two different fathers with several kids each who have been killed by car accidents in the past six months. How can I have faith when bad things happen all the time?
Obviously I believe in God. But I don't pretend to have any understanding of his ways. And I know the idea "that everything happens for a reason" - but is it a reason or is it people doing what they best - making the best out of any situation?
Perhaps that is the ultimate answer. At the end, everything works out.
The problem lies with my demand that everything in the end works out the way I want it to.
Until I can reconcile my belief in God and that everything is for the good versus seeing a lot of bad in this world, I don't know how to conquer my anxiety.
Edit: Upon further consideration I realize that having faith in today's world is having faith in a broken system. We are taught that now we are in exodus and God has turned away from us. Only in the time of Moshiach (the Messiah) will we live in the world God intended for us. Where can I find peace knowing that the system itself is broken?
One of the biggest concerns I have regarding living in Israel is the Jewish custom of married women covering their hair.
Some groups expect women to cover their hair entirely, some are okay with only some of the hair covered, some wear scarves and others wear wigs. There is a great variety of ways to cover your hair; the only constant is the requirement you cover your hair when married.
Last time we visited Israel I covered my hair with a hat or a scarf whenever we went to a synagogue or a religious community. I did not want to stand out or offend anyone so I covered my hair out of respect for the customs followed by the people around me. It was almost a lark learning how to cover my hair with beautiful head coverings.
This time, it's different.
We are spending six months in Israel and Logan wants to go study in Yeshiva and he is encouraging me to study at a seminary. I am terrified of the idea that I will have to cover my hair for six months while in Israel. At this point in time I don't want to do it. I feel that if I cover my hair only in seminary or in synagogue and then walk around the community with my hair uncovered I will be seen as a hypocrite.
I don't know how to reconcile these two concepts - covering my hair sometimes and not pretending to be someone I'm not. I don't want to give the impression I always cover my hair when I am open to only covering my hair sometimes.
Also, this ties in with covering my hair, I don't know what to do about clothes while in Israel. I have full intention to dress modestly (down to my knees and to my elbows) while at synagogue and at a religious community; however, I don't intend to dress like that every day.
How can I live among religious people and still maintain my identity?
My house is not particularly big as American houses go. I have around 1,800 square feet: three rooms and two bathrooms. We have some storage space but not much, this house was built in 1953 and I think people had less stuff to store. Today this house is brimming with stuff. It's an assault on the senses. There are toys everywhere. I am constantly tripping, slipping, kicking and stepping on toys.
One bedroom is Logan's office (we also store a piano and some random stuff in there). The other two bedrooms are places we sleep. I used to have many toys in the kids' room but decided it created a distracting sleep environment and moved all the toys into the living/eating room/kitchen area.
It is a total disaster.
I have packed boxes of toys and stored them outside. I thought we would do the cycling of toys. I cycled some toys in and some toys out ONCE in the past six months.
We are literally drowning in toys and stuff in this house.
I am not prepared to sell or get rid of anything (pack rat and totally unable to part with things).
But, I am starting to feel like I am part of the problem.
Every time I buy a toy I throw away or recycle a ton of cardboard and plastic. I am literally filling a landfill every time I buy something new. Stuff comes with more packaging than product. At the end of the month, my credit card bill is something I have to think about because I needed to buy more stuff that is suffocating my household. (Don't worry, I am not overspending, but, I am spending money on things we don't necessarily need and we could save instead.)
How much stuff do I need before I am happy?
I thought the more toys they had, the more occupied my kids would be throughout the day. I was totally wrong. Other than a few select toys (bicycle, tricycle, the toy kitchen, a few other items) toys are awesome for a week and then forgotten. They become something thrown around the house, something I have to pick up and put away on a daily basis. I can't keep my house clean because I can't keep up with all the stuff laying everywhere. I can't wait to get rid of all the toys and box them away. I want to see my floor again. I want to be able to sweep my floor without having to pick up stuff for an hour first.
I am starting to hate stuff. The more stuff I own, the more stuff I want, the more money I spend, the more I have to work and then I want the latest and greatest new stuff and pretty soon I am drowning in stuff and debt and also polluting the world with plastic that isn't biodegradable and it's a vicious cycle I can't leave.
I am hoping Israel will be a cleansing of sorts. A place where I will be living rather sparsely. I won't have most of my stuff and I am going to live for six months without all of my shoes or clothes or books or kitchen gadgets. I crave this Spartan lifestyle. I want empty bookshelves, bare floors, a space with no clutter.
I want to spend this time cleansing my soul on all levels.
This crazy American consumerist lifestyle where I feel the need to own the greatest and latest and newest is preventing me from living with freedom where money does not dictate my happiness.
I am crazy stressed.
I feel overwhelmingly overwhelmed.
Completely over my head.
We are going to Israel in February for six months.
This should be something to dance a jig over, I get it. It should be one of the most exciting things I've ever done.
Instead, I feel stressed to the max.
I need to fix my house, I need to find amazing renters, I need to pack my house and put it in storage, I need to get passports, paperwork, rent a house in Israel, figure out health insurance, find a preschool for Sadie, find friends for me, keep this house reasonably clean for prospective tenants, and give up my dog Emma. We got lucky and found an amazing forever home for her, but I am going to miss her.
Sadie has also started preschool. We have gone from never being sick to dealing with something every week.
Last Thursday at 2:30am I jumped out of bed and caught Sadie throwing up. (Motherhood has given me bat-like hearing. I literally heard her gagging and ran into her room as she threw up cat barf.) I carried her to the bathroom where she continued to vomit on the floor and in the toilet. Logan and I let her sleep with us where she vomited a few more times; thankfully I caught her just as she was starting and Logan was able to run with her to the bathroom and get her to finish in the toilet.
Today I was at the DMV (trying to wrap up my official last name change and get my passport ready for our trip) when Aaron started to throw up. I was at the DMV for an hour and forty minutes and my number was the fifth one in the G series. He threw up on the floor twice and then started to get upset. I hugged him and then he threw up all over me, down my chest and people were making crazy noises "oooohhhh.ahhhh.iilllll" Someone got up and brought me paper towels to clean up the floor while I continued to soothe Aaron and act nonchalantly about the whole thing. After he was done throwing up he behaved normally so I decided to finish what I was doing there in the first place. I asked the lady working in the front if they could take me earlier because my baby threw up and she asked me why I would bring my sick baby to the dmv. I, naturally, was offended and replied ", uhhh he wasn't sick when I came here... i wouldn't bring a sick baby here obviously." Some guy felt bad for me and gave me his number ("i've got two kids of my own, I understand" he said to me with compassion). It was one ahead of mine but I took it and was grateful. Some people gave me the side eye for staying but Aaron didn't have a fever and I was covered in vomit consisting primarily of breast milk so it wasn't so bad. We came home and he threw up at the door, near my computer, all over me several more times until I finally called the doctor who told me to stop feeding him and giving him stuff to drink. I was petrified he was going to have dehydration issues but realized three hours of not eating and drinking were not going to send us to the hospital! When I told Sadie we needed to avoid giving Aaron anything to drink for thirty minutes she told me I was wrong and he was going to be hungry. That's my yiddusha-madela.
We have gone from fevers, to runny noses, to coughing, to sore throats, to throwing up... it's been a month. I'm feeling overwhelmed with all the diseases we are handling. Somewhere in between all those things I need to get them flu shots to protect them from the real nasty bugs flying around.
Also, around three months ago we did the cry it out method with Aaron. It took nearly a week and it was agony. It lasted for maybe a week. Now he wakes up several times a night crying. At first I would nurse him every time he woke up but two weeks ago I decided to night wean him between the hours of 10 pm and 5am. Now Logan has to go in and give him a binkie and comfort him repeatedly through the night. We continue to get poor, inconsistent sleep. I have tried keeping him in my bed but he does not sleep well in my bed either. It seems we are doomed to never sleep a solid 8 hours a night ever again. When I hear of other babies who sleep through the night I am overwhelmed with jealousy. I lie to myself and say the next one will sleep through the night.
I also had to quit playing guitar and stop taking lessons. Aaron went from sleeping a lot during the day to only sleeping in the stroller or car seat. Otherwise my hands are occupied holding Aaron or tying to get something done around the house. I feel like a failed housekeeper, I cannot keep this house clean.
So, this is an update, a journal entry and my way of introducing the next crazy stage in our life - HALVAH - err, I mean ISRAEL.
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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