Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Family dinner

DB came back from snowboarding in France.

MB was studying all day.

We waited for NED to get home from work.

Ely stayed up late for her siblings...starving!

Ari made the delicious salmon. And tried to make rice. ;)

I finished with my last client at 8, and made the stir-fry vegies and whole wheat cous-cous.

We sat down at 8:45 pm for a family dinner. Around the kitchen table. Not on Shabbat.

Ely made a comment about us all being together. NED did too. They both said, "This is so nice."

DB told us about his trip.
MB told us what she was studying.
NED cried when we spoke about wedding plans and the army's control over that.
Ely made us laugh.

I tried to take it all in. Every moment.

Our grown children laughing together and supporting each other. Enjoying being together.

And then it was over. Everyone put their dishes in the dish washer and went on with their lives.
DB went to study.
MB went to study.
NED went to her room to cry more.
Ely got ready for bed.
I wonder if those 45 minutes will change their lives as much as it did mine?

Family dinners - so necessary!
And I'm very thankful.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I remember when...

I remember when I used to lay in bed talking on the phone to my boyfriend for hours at night before we went to sleep!

It was a little different then.
I didnt have a cellphone of my own.
I had to hope no one would pick up the house phone.

(Except for that one year when I had a separate Baltimore line from Frederick - THAT was the new technology - for NCSY. Which I used and abused - I admit!)

My mother had rules though. I wasn't allowed to be on the phone late at night.
I guess I was still in high school then, so she could still have those rules for me.

I would hide under the covers, with the lights out, pretending I was asleep when my Mom would come to check on me. Until I was caught. Then the phone was taken away.

So now, I knock on my daughters' doors, late at night, to give them a kiss and say goodnight, and find them snuggled under their covers, speaking to their respective boyfriends.

I smile, my heart flutters for them, and I remember when...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

That moment before...

If I could hold on more consciously to that moment before, I might be able to appreciate and accept the moment after, with so much more understanding and presence.

You know what I'm talking about, right?

Like that moment before you start high school.
Or that moment before your first kiss.
That moment before you walk down the aisle.
Or that moment before you find out your pregnant. 
That moment right before you go to the hospital to give birth.
Or that moment before your baby takes her first step.
That moment before your child starts his first day of school.
Or that moment before she has her first fall and has to get stitches.
That moment before your first child asks you what sex is.
Or that moment your 2nd child has her first sleep over at a friend's house.
That moment you find out your pregnant AGAIN.
Or that moment right before you are handed your masters degree.
That moment you move to a different house.
Or that moment you move to a different country.
That moment you realize your children are speaking a foreign language with their friends.
Or that moment your children start breaking curfew.
That moment right before your son signs himself over to the Israel Defense Force, and then that day he becomes a civil again.
That day your daughter tells you she is going to live in South Africa for a year, and her presence is gone from your home.
Or that day your daughter passes her driving test... (actually still waiting for that one!!)

All these and so many more moments right before.

But the one I am having the most trouble understanding right now. The one that seems to have such a huge impact on my life at the moment. The one that is giving me butterflies in my stomach and causing confusion in my brain, is that split second moment right before your daughter tells you that she is seeing a boy, and she really likes him.

Suddenly, nothing is like it was a moment ago.

It's that moment right before you realize she was out all night endlessly talking about who-knows-what?!? 
Or that moment you realize she is floating around the house with a huge smile on her face.
That moment THAT boy is in your house more than her many friends who are boys used to be.
Or that moment right before that boy asks for your permission to marry your daughter.

And then there is that moment right before SHE becomes engaged to marry this wonderful guy who is going to take care of her for the rest of her life (please G-d)!!

It's that moment when you realize life for your family, and for your daughter, is really about to change. 
And the second that moment is over, you are no longer in that moment before. Life is now drastically different. 

This week, for me, is about that moment before. Trying to hold on to and remember forever the moment before. Feeling it. Tasting it. Breathing INTO it and accepting it.

If I hold on to that moment before,
I wonder what difference that is going to make for my moment after....

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You Are Going To School Tomorrow

Ely came home at 11:00 PM tonight after an all-day tiyul (trip) with Bnei Akiva (the Zionist Youth Group here).
She left early this morning, with a backpack of food and water and snacks. It was a long fun day...

She walked in the door tonight, exhausted, with no voice, and filthy dirty. She announced in her bearly audible voice, "Im not going to school tomorrow, K?!"

Time for tough love.

"You are going to school, now go upstairs and take a shower and get into bed."

She argued for about 5 more minutes and went up.

Tomorrow morning will be the battle.

Not looking forward to it, one bit!!

Forgot to update: She never made it to school. I lost that battle. Let it go won over tough love...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What are your values?

Thinking more... continued from my last post...

What are my values?
And where do they come from?
Why are they my values?

Why is that value important to me?
And how did it become a value?

Was it from my parents?
My rabbi?
My friends?
My community?
My religious beliefs?
My environment?

When do I get to decide what MY values are? Based on what, do I truly believe for myself that something is right or wrong?

Had a great conversation with an old friend last night. A friend who used to influence me a lot.
I remember having a conversation with this friend when I was in high school about keeping kosher and how I should stop eating at McDonald's. I stopped eating non-kosher, because this friend influenced me. When I was young and influencable (is that a word?!), I took upon myself a lot of values that I thought I believed were the right choices for me then.

Maybe that's how our values are formed. We listen, we take it in. 

I'm not saying I think I made a mistake by keeping kosher. This friend's influence - in this area and many others! - was clearly important for me. And I will be forever grateful.

Now, not so much anymore. My thinking has changed.

My thinking and personal decision making feels clearer. More personal. More about what I think is the right choice for me. And how I might influence others.

All the developmental psychology research says it's normal. Women in their 40's begin to reassess their values. They make changes in the way they live their lives. They go against the mainstream or the norm. (This is why so many divorces happen later in life -- don't worry, I don't intend on going anywhere!!)

I'm reassessing now. My values are different.

The choices that were deathly important to me years ago, are no longer.

I'm feeling internally quiet and content for the first time. More sure.

All because I'm listening to my own voice and trusting myself to be able to make the choices that are best for me. And then my family...

It's amazingly freeing!

You should try it.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Parenting mistakes

We all make them. At least we should.

It's what we do after we've made the mistake that makes the difference in the lives of our children.

I made a big mistake last week. One that bothered me the whole day, until I could talk it out with friends who know me and my children, and I was able to make amends.

It took me making myself vulnerable, swallowing my pride. It was embarrassing and really hard to do!

It's the tough love against letting go.
But it was more about maintaining a relationship.

Trying to control our children can destroy a relationship. Trying to get them to think or act JUST LIKE us is dangerous. It's confusing sometimes: When is it tough love and the knowing that your child needs you to be tough? When is it trying to instill YOUR values into a child who might be old enough to begin to think for him/herself and not agree? And when is it more important to let go so as not to drive a wedge in your relationship?

Those who knew me as a teenager know I didn't have the best relationship with my parents. There are a lot of reasons to point to, but I think mostly it was because my parents, with all their love and caring for me, just didn't understand me - I didn't understand me?! - I was a complicated, emotional teenage girl. I did a lot of things they would not have wanted me to do. I snuck around. I lied. I led a secret life my parents knew nothing about. I was exploring my world and trying to figure out my own values.
But the one thing I can admit today is, that even though I snuck around and didn't tell them anything about my life, I always knew deep-down, that my parents would be there for me, with no anger or judgement, even when I was puking in a toilet after a high school party!!

Many of the values I have as a parent are based on what my parents, my friends, my community, my religious life, and society made me believe. Ari and I had (and continue to have) many discussions about the values we want for our children and family and home. Most times we agree...

It's hard to separate out what is it I believe from what everyone else has made me believe. Or I have chosen to believe?

Last week, I had to think real hard about what I believe. What do I really care about? And what I came up with is: nothing is more important than my relationship with my children! Letting them know that at the end of the day, I love them unconditionally. I can choose to not agree with what they are doing, and maybe even be frustrated or disappointed (my kids call it the "D word") in their choice. But I can still accept them. And let them grow and face their own difficulties. Letting them also know I am here for them whenever they might need.

It's not a natural response for me always. I battle with the voice that says he/she has to do exactly what I want them to do. Or behave the way I want them to. I don't want to embarrass myself in my community. I don't want people to question my values or lifestyle. It's easy to say we don't care what others think, but is it really, honestly true?

When I can be quiet enough within myself, and listen to what it is I really believe, then I can maintain my relationship with my child and let go, feeling content to know my child will be ok. He/she isn't going to die from his/her choices. (Of course we aren't talking about doing something illegal or life/death choices!) They might just struggle and suffer a little. They might cry or feel sad or guilty for making a mistake. OR they might revel in knowing they made the right choice for THEMSELVES!

And then I get to be real and honest with myself. Knowing I chose to listen to my OWN VOICE!

THAT is the best feeling in the world.

So learning from our mistakes CAN be healing. If we let it...

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Not sleeping..

Although I should be - need to be - want to be.

When Ari is away, it's so difficult to get into bed alone. Knowing he's not coming anytime soon.

So I'm writing.

Writing about my daughter who is dating. In love.
It's a new experience for me - for us.
It's serious. He's serious. She's serious.

They want to get married.
I think of the "Butterfly Kisses" song.

Reality is so weird sometimes. Weird. Not real.

It doesn't make sense.

She was going to be my little girl forever.
Who is this stranger coming in and taking over?
Suddenly she only wants to be with him. Only he can make her happy.
I can't do that anymore.

"...She'll make a promise, and I'll give her away..."
"...She ask me what I'm thinkin, and I said I'm not sure.
I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl..."

So many wonderful, confusing, scary, happy, sad, loving feelings.

It's the sad and grateful again. Gotta put them together and make sense of all of it.

'Cuz it's happening. I can't stop it. I don't want to.

Announcements forthcoming... in the Right time.

Good night.