Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Control what I can control

The only thing I had to worry about when I was in 10th grade was getting caught by my parents for taking a ride to school in a friend's car, instead of taking the bus!

It's seemingly easy for me to send Elysheva off to school in Jerusalem and tell her not to be afraid. I don't have to get on the bus, or walk the streets to school every day scared that there might be a bomb or an attacker. I have taught my daughter, and all my children, that we cannot let the terrorists terrorize us. We will not be bullied into fear. We must hold the pepper spray, be alert, and try to stay with another person. We must send out positive energy into the world with a smile or a kind word or action.

I can't promise her that everything will be fine. I have no way to promise her that. But I can send her off to school with a hug and a kiss and an "I love you."

I can only control what I can control...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

You just never know...

While I was driving home from my office in Ramat Bet Shemesh tonight, my phone rang from an unidentified number.

I couldn't get my headphones on fast enough and missed the call.

I almost never call people back unless they leave a message.
For some reason, which I cannot explain, I called the number right back.

I announced myself and said, "You just called me?"
"Yeah, hi," the unfamiliar male voice said, as if I should know who it was. "Thanks for calling me back."
"Who is this?" I asked cautiously, not wanting to insult the person.
"Do you remember (let's call him AJ) from a couple years ago?"

I recognized his name right away and his voice fell into my memory as a client I worked with about 3 years ago. I was never sure why he left therapy. He just decided not to come back one night and I never heard from him again. He was a serious, deep thinking, tortured young man who was afraid to deal with his deeper issues and, I guessed, got scared and ran away. I have thought of him often and wondered how he was doing…

"Of course I remember you AJ. How are you?"

"First I want to tell you that I don't know why I left therapy. It was a long time ago, and I always regretted not continuing. You helped me as much as you could. I always think about I how much you helped me and how I should have just stayed."

"Well, I'm glad to hear from you now. What are you up to these days?"

"I quit the job I was working at and am now in yeshiva. Nothing much, really."

"That's something," I answered.
"You always did that. you always made nothing into something."

I didn't know what to say? Was that a good thing…?

He went on to tell me that he needed the name of someone who can give pills for a friend. He wasn't sure what that person was called? "I thought of you and maybe you could help me. I hope it's ok that I called."

Firstly, I was impressed he still had my number.
Secondly, I was happy he felt comfortable to call after he had disappeared.

We spoke for awhile about what he was looking for and for whom and why.

Then he said he had another question.
"Was there a name for what I had when I saw you?"

After I clarified that he wanted to know so he could tell his friend (his girlfriend), I answered him:
"Well, if I remember correctly, you came to me right after you had a suicide attempt, or were talking about wanting to kill yourself. You were feeling pretty desperate. I'm not a diagnostician, but I would probably say you were depressed, or were struggling with depression. You weren't sleeping at night. You stayed up all night watching movies and slept most of the day. And you only watched meaningful moves or movies that had a message."

He was surprised that I remembered so much of his story.

I told him I think of him often and have really wondered how he was doing. He caught me up a little on his life now, and I assured him I would look for a psychiatrist for his friend. I asked him to give me a day and he should call me back tomorrow.

I hung up and looked up to the stars in the clear crisp dark sky.

And I said out loud to myself, "You just never know."

Friday, December 05, 2014

It's not worth it.

Many people ask me, "How do you do it?"

How do you let your son go off like that?

Let me remind you, my son was in the IDF for 5 years.
I learned not to ask questions that I knew he couldn't answer. Wouldn't answer.
If I wanted him to speak to me about anything, I needed to learn to accept that he would tell me things when he wanted, and not make a big deal, otherwise, he wouldn't tell me a thing.
Which he basically didn't!

Let me also remind you, my son is now a 25-year-old man. He has his own money and can go and do whatever and wherever he wants.
While he was a soldier, I learned how to let go.

It wasn't worth it not to.

While DB was in the IDF, my mother always told me that having a son in the army would prepare me for being a mother-in-law. She said, "You can have an opinion, but who cares. You can want him to come home. But too bad. You can want him to tell you what is going on in his life, but he probably won't."

So I learned, it's not worth it to get upset, or worry. Just to accept the new normal.

I trained myself to know what questions to ask. And not react to his answers.

If I want him to tell me things, it's not worth having a strong reaction.
I nod.
I say, "Okay."
I ask another basic question. And I take his answer as if it's normal.

So when he told me he hitch-hiked from Honduros to Nicargua, with an ex-drug dealer. And then stayed in his house for a night or two.
I nodded.
I said, "Okay."
And I took that as if it was normal.

When he told me he's been traveling with a 20-something year old Austrian girl and sharing a room in the hostel with her.
I nodded.
I said, "Okay."
And I jokingly asked when the last time he took a shower was?!

And when he told me he went scuba diving in Belize with sharks. And he was so close he could have kissed the shark.
I nodded.
I said, "Okay, cool."
And asked if he saw any pretty fish?

So, you see, it's not worth getting upset, or disciplining him, or criticizing, or begging him to just come home! He's on an important journey in his life.

As I see it, I have two choices: Either worry and be nervous about him and the things he is doing. And spend my days wishing he was home.
Or let him go. And accept that he is not coming home anytime too soon. He is having the time of his life. He is consciously not living by any rules but the ones he has decided to put upon himself. He is experiencing things that most of us only dream about.

And frankly, I'm envious as hell!!

So that's how I do it.
I just do it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Devoted Mom or Annoying Israeli?

That's the question I asked myself yesterday:

Am I a devoted, caring, responsible Mom who would do anything in her power for her children, or am I just an aggressive, annoying Israeli who pushes to get what she wants when she wants it?

I ask myself this because I believe if I was still living in the States, I might not have been as aggressive as I was to get what I wanted. It's not proper behavior to call the doctor's office over and over again. It also wouldn't be proper to follow the doctor around the clinic to insure I get the prescription I needed for my child.

On Sunday, Ely told me she had only 4 more pills of Concerta left. She needs the Concerta in school to help her concentrate and get through a day of learning. She is very good about taking it when she needs, and not taking it when she doesn't. I had exactly three days to get the prescription refilled so she would be able to go to school today and concentrate.

*Side point: She needs the Concerta for the exact reason that she waited until she had 4 pills left to tell me!*

The system here in Israel to refill medications is not always so simple. And, I remind you, it's all in Hebrew. I am usually able to refill prescriptions online through my health service's website. I have taught myself how to navigate through the Hebrew and usually get my prescriptions.

But I found out that Concerta, because it is a controlled substance, is a different process. The doctor cannot issue a prescription that I can print up online. I have to go to the office to pick up the piece of paper. And because I couldn't understand the Hebrew on the website that said that, I decided to call the doctor's office directly. I was running out of time and needed to get the medication.

I called yesterday in the morning to ask for a prescription. I told her I didn't understand what the website said and could she please get the prescription for me. The secretary said she would leave a message for the doctor and they would call me back. I requested that she put a "rush" tag on the request. Then I hung up.

Two hours later, the devoted mother in me was starting to get nervous that Ely wouldn't have her medication for school today. So I called again when the afternoon secretary arrived. I wanted to know when I would know if the prescrition was ready? She asked me to hold while she searched for it.

"It's here," she said. "But our offices are closing now. You can come back in the morning at 8:00 am to get it."

That wasn't going to work for me. Or for Ely.

In my broken Hebrew I pleaded, "My daughter needs this medication for school tomorrow. Isn't there anyone there you can leave it with and I'll come now?"

She was being surprisingly accommodating, "If you can be here in 15 minutes, I will leave it across the hall with the women's clinic."

I was there in 20 minutes, and both offices were closed.

Now what?

I noticed down the hall that the door to the doctor's office was still open and the light was on. I headed towards her room, when the doctor walked out of another door heading towards her room. I called down the hall to her. (This is the part where I think I became Israeli!!)

Thankfully this pediatrician is American and very caring. I explained what happened with my not understanding the website, ordering the prescription from her through the secretary, blah, blah blah. She walked me to the secretary's office to see if it was still unlocked so she could go in to get what she had already prepared for me. Locked.

I started to whine. "What am I supposed to do? My daughter needs this medication for school tomorrow. I can't wait until tomorrow to get it, and I know the pharmacy is open for another hour. Can you please help me?"

Ten minutes later I was standing in line at the pharmacy with a new prescription that the kind doctor had reissued to me. I thanked her profusely, knowing she stayed after hours to do this for me!

Twenty minutes later I walked out of the pharmacy, Concerta in hand!

I thought to myself: I don't think I could have done this in the States? I've become such an Israeli. Calling the office over and over - asking for a special favor. Then pushing my way into the doctor's office to get that prescription! I've become so annoying.

And then, Ely went off to school today with her Concerta and a "Thanks Mom. You're the best."

And then I just became a good mom again, living in Israel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reality is allowed to be hard!

I'm finding it so fascinating that when I say that I don't like my reality or that it's hard, people I love dearly, seem to feel the need to suggest that I find things to do to keep myself busy. Or be happy or be thankful for what I have. Or don't think about the reality - distract myself. Why is that?

No where have I said I am not grateful, thankful or feeling blessed by the good I have in my life.
I appreciate every blessing I have been given.
I recognize it.
I'm thankful for it.
I love it.
I know all the things I "should" do or feel.
I know. I'm very deeply aware.

Yet, none of that takes away from the fact that the reality is hard.
I'm not depressed by it. I'm not wallowing in it.
I'm only recognizing and accepting that what I am feeling about my reality right now is hard.

I am feeling it.

Suddenly, my children - who I have put my full heart and soul and energy and life into for the past 25 years - have gone off alone or with their significant others and are creating their own lives where they don't need or want me.

So what if that is what I have raised them to be able to do. So what if that is what I have prayed for them to be able to do.
The reality is hard.

I don't need anyone to try to make me feel better. I'm fine.

Validating might be nice, though.
Why do people around me seem to have such difficulty validating negative feelings?
They seem to be uncomfortable with real and difficult feelings.
Hard and difficult does not mean impossible.

Reality is hard. Period.
Yeah. It would be different if I was wallowing or not functioning. But I'm functioning.

I'm actually celebrating how great it is!

Yet. It's still hard.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Today. Friday, July 11

I woke up today and decided I needed to write.

Last night I baked two batches of chocolate chip cookies and two batches of ginger cookies. MB will make two trays of potato kugel.

Our yishuv will be bringing Shabbat food to the soldiers on the border of Gaza.

NED went to bed alone last night. Not knowing where her soldier husband is.

DB helped me make the cookies, saying, "I can't believe I'm here making cookies, and not there."

Ari is on a bike ride. Hope he has his gun with him.

ELY has a friend sleeping over.

I'm going back into the kitchen to prepare for Shabbat. We will be hosting one of DB's army buddies, as well as MB's newly married friend who has been in and out of bomb shelters in Ashdod.

It's so hot. I think about our soldiers out their in this heat. I worry about them and then get frustrated that there is nothing I can do.

I want to go to the beach, but there are missiles flying over the beaches. I feel a little guilty for going to the beach when others are hiding in their shelters.

This is my existence right now. And I will not let them beat me.

My reality and your reality

My reality is different than your reality.

And yet so much is the same.

Both our lives go on.
In my reality and your reality, we both wake up in the morning to start our day and go to work.
In my reality and your reality, we both have to go food shopping, and clothes shopping, and run our errands to the bank and post office.
In my reality and your reality, we both have to balance our checkbooks and make sure we can pay our bills.
In my reality and your reality, we both have to make dinner for our families.
In my reality and your reality, we both have to run a load or two or three through the washer and then dry, fold and put away the clean clothes.
In my reality and your reality, we both have to scrub our toilets and sinks, and vacuum and/or wash our floors.
In my reality and your reality, we both have to take out the garbage.
In my reality and your reality, we both have to brush our teeth and wash our faces.
In my reality and your reality we both have to hug and kiss our children.

So many things are the same....and then so many are different.

Today I am sensitively aware of how different.
I chose to live in Israel, and therefore I chose to see how different our realities are.
I do wish my reality was different.
But I don't wish to live your reality so that I can have that different reality.

I'm staying here.
In my reality, which is a lot like yours, but so very different!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I wanna write....

I wanna write about my cousin Philip dying.

I wanna write about my daughter getting married.

I wanna write about my finishing teaching my classes.

I wanna write about my Rebbetzin passing away without warning. And,how lost and scared I feel.

I wanna write about my new relationships with my new sons (in law).

I wanna write about my other daughter getting married.

I wanna write about how different my kids are. And how after 25 years of parenting, I still struggle with parenting each child differently.

I wanna write about my frustrations and disappointments.

But right now all I can really write about is how, if I was to die tomorrow, my family and this house would fall apart. I seem to be the only one who knows where anything goes.
No one pays attention to the details. No one notices what's out of place.

No one sees the pile of dishes or laundry. Or things to put away.
No one seems to care 

So it all becomes my responsibility. And it pisses me off. I don't want it.
Maybe I've been a bad parent and enabled my family not to take responsibility. 

Whatever it is, I'm thankful to have healthy children and friends.
The rest is just stuff to complain about.