Zooey update: three months

Zoooooooey!

Biggest mind blown moment of this month: when we weighed you and you were 5 kilo just after turning two months. So that means we have more to mush, kiss, bite, pinch and tickle than I ever had with your siblings at this point.

Obviously your smiling, silent laughing, coo laughing, and laughing in mini fits when warranted. Which is often because everyone here is all over you, making faces, touching, tickling. Is that why you’ve proven to be so sociable?

Sociable, and intense – that’s what a lot of people you’ve met have said about you. Your sister Nettles was intense too. What was going on in there all those months? Or maybe it’s because, like everyone else in the family, I make you nuts till you push back?

You’ve learned to fit right in. It’s not so much ‘fit’ as it is ‘just is’ When everyone’s playing in front of you, you’re content. And sometimes we’ve had to force it out of necessity, because, well, you know. Four.

And you’re slowly bonding with each of your siblings… but no one more than Nettles, who I’m pretty sure thinks you’re a new toy I brought home for her pleasure. She’ll talk to you, ask you questions, introduce you to her dolls, steal your diapers to dress her dolls, essentially she has spent your college tuition in stolen diapers.

And, when everyone else has gone to bed, she’ll come down, climb up next to you, and, well…

Zooey, you’re still new here, but at least once or twice a day I look at you and consider how I can’t wait to know you in another six months, year, two years, four, six, beyond…

What will you care about? How will you make us laugh? What will you teach us?

 

 

You love us, so listen: Here’s why we need a parade.

I’ll answer the question again and again.

It’s exhausting, and I don’t even have to answer it that often.

But I’m going to answer it again.

Even – especially – the most well-meaning people, including loved ones, ‘allies’ and beyond, ask it around once a year.

For the moms and dads, siblings, relatives, friends – who want us all to be happy but don’t want to understand or accept what that entails.

Or don’t want to ‘see it displayed in public.’

The question –

We love you. We accept you. But why do you need a parade?

Because all lives don’t matter yet. Because it’s natural for us to pay attention to lives similar to ours and disregard the others.

Because sometimes, a lot of times, to teach our children the values we keep close, we have to do something. To take action. To speak louder than words.

Because it’s not just about extremists; it’s not just about hate. It’s about turning a blind eye or not trying hard enough to grasp the idea of acceptance and tolerance.

Because it’s about the mainstream happy citizen who may just not understand yet. May not have met someone different yet. May not have a loved one who has come out yet.

Because this is for people with flexible minds. The kind of person who might be open to trying a new food they always thought they hated, but is capable of even higher levels of understanding and deserves to have that chance. It’s for people ready to have a discussion even if they prefer to have their heads in the sand.

Because the parade is an invitation for people with similar values who just may not see the light yet to come and meet other people living other lives.

Meet them in person. Meet them as people.

Because there are people in our schools, offices, supermarkets, post offices who are not that different to us.

In our families. Maybe in your living room, right now.

Because ‘live and let live’ is important in modern democratic societies.

Because society doesn’t work if we’re not reaching out to others instead of creating Others.

Because discomfort doesn’t equal right to prevent.

Because free speech is critical to progressive society – the same one in which we can shop, travel, learn, love freely.

Because your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, office mates, congregants need you to understand. To support. To love unconditionally.

Because we are only as good as we treat other people. Even if they don’t look or act like us.

Because there’s a difference between different and evil.

Because we don’t live in a theocracy.

Because we don’t get punished in society for not keeping kosher or not keeping shabbat or not tithing.

The parade is to help explain that. The parade is to help introduce you to the faces behind your fears and disgust, and to help you let down your guard a little if you dare to be open to it. It’s to show off what you claim are shared values. It’s to prove we all exist, differently, together, with the right to be heard and, if we’re good at what we do, to be better understood.

It’s the right not to remain silent. It’s the right to speak up in a society where a teenage girl is stabbed for existing. Where men and women are gunned down for existing as they are, where they are, where you have the right to choose not to be.

Now let’s go back to this for a second – those of you who ask – We love you. We accept you. But why do you need a parade? 

Can you glimpse the reason, just a little?

Can you understand why it hurts to hear the question, over and over?

What about this one: But why do you need to get married?

Maybe, just maybe, go to a parade – a parade in the spirit of the Jerusalem Parade for Pride and Tolerance – a parade featuring women, men, children and families who just want to live freely.

Women and men who want you to see that they have professions and hobbies and values and beliefs that you may share. Accountants. Tour guides. Programmers.

Children who don’t want to experience bullying for who their parents are. They want friends to come over. They want to stay innocent. They want to feel safe coming to you to talk when the time comes.

Moms and dads who want to believe their kids will have it easier some day.

People who just want a moment of peace, a moment not to hide.

Meet them. Remember their faces.

Then see if you can answer that question yourself.

pride rainbow sticker

All the books we must read

I’m about to say the most suburban, stereotypical, adult thing I have ever said, but… well… here goes: In my book club this month,

Ok, that wasn’t so bad.

In my book club this month, we read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I had never heard of it before, being as out of it as I am, but it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. So it’s kind of a big deal. I didn’t even realize that before opening the book, even though it’s right there on the front cover.

I started reading it and within pages, could not stop. This is the type of book you start reading because you saw it on the table, knew book club meeting is in a few days, need to procrastinate everything else, and forget you had a miles-long to-do list before you reach page 265 and realize you’ve forgotten you have a life outside of an orphanage in World World II Germany.

Anyway.

This book couldn’t have come at a weirder or more appropriate time. Donald Trump has made an entire first world country crazy. Brexit was literally happening while I read about the demise of Europe. Things in Israel are heating up again. Elie Weisel passed away at 87.

I absolutely adore this book – Doerr treats language like fine cooking… just enough this, not too much that. The language was beautiful – in the way I actually stopped in my tracks every 50 pages or so when I came across a line so perfect I had to stop and read it again and again. The characters are well-developed, imperfect, unexpected and I can’t help caring about each one.

And the plot lent itself to a healthy dose of good, classic storytelling.

There are so many themes and metaphors and philosophical musings displayed throughout the novel. Light. Technology. Awareness. Belonging. Mental health. Here are some of the book’s themes that have been stuck in my mind since:

Parenting during war:

“Isn’t life a kind of corruption? A child is born, and the world sets in upon it. Taking things from it, stuffing things into it.”

“There is a humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That’s how it feels right now, he thinks, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane.”

“This, she realizes, is the basis of all fear. That a light you are powerless to stop will turn on you and usher a bullet to its mark.”

Communication:

“Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth. Out of loudspeakers all around Zollverein, the staccato voice of the Reich grows like some imperturbable tree; its subjects lean toward its branches as if towards the lips of God. And when God stops whispering, they become desperate for someone who can put things right.”

“To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness. Beneath your world of skies and faces and buildings exists a rawer and older world, a place where surface planes disintegrate and sounds ribbon in shoals through the air.”

Standing up:

“How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?”

“All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, and are you ready?”

“Seventy-six years old, and I can still feel like this? Like a little girl with stars in my eyes?”

Fear-stoking, other-blaming:

“You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.”

“Is it right to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”

“Sometimes the eye of a hurricane is the safest place to be.”

“What the war did to dreamers.”

With Elie Wiesel’s death occurring just days after I finished… with all the talk of war and horror and hate in the world today… this line perhaps is what we’re left with if we plan to take heed:

“Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world.”

The impossible quest.

It was exactly two years ago that I started my current job, director of marketing at a fast-paced startup in a relatively new yet traditional industry. It was also exactly two years ago that I was finished with the mandatory paid maternity leave with my third child. I was coming off a full time marketing consultant position, something I had been doing for almost three years from home.

Newly minted director, newly commuting to an office, newly minted mom of three. It was also a war, it was also the heat of the summer, it was also a major reckoning which basically came down to: what the fuck am I doing?

It was the start of an impossible quest. For the first nine months, I resolved to uncover someone exactly in my position, but 5-10 years later – someone working a full time manager job at an intense company, whose partner also worked full time, who had no time for late night TV show binge watching or running or taking the kids out after tzaharon to anywhere further than a nearby park. Someone with a super intense job, thrown into a managerial position with no training. Someone who was a mother of a three, living in an apartment, no hired help, no parents in the country, no family support nearby. Not native Hebrew speakers, new to every step along the way. Someone who was hacking it to the finish line.

Me. But in 5-10 years, having lived to tell the tale.

I’d ask the female partners at my company. But they’d be disqualified, lacking these criteria or those criteria. I’d scope out women at conferences – my seeming peers. But, no – not full time, or full time less kids, or Israeli partner with parents in town, or some other thing. I’d look around on career oriented Facebook groups. I’d ask people outright.

I’d get a lot of ‘Ooooh I also need that! When you figure it out let me know!’

I honestly thought I could find that person. Surely she exists. Surely someone’s done this. Lived this life. Surely she’d mentor me. Tell me it’ll be ok. Laugh with me and cry with me.

That person does not exist. Not two years ago, not now.

But she will in 5-10 years.

As I look around, having added more to that plate – four kids seven and under, four different drop offs and pick ups next year, two doses of private daycare tuition, same full-time demanding jobs for both parents, still no parents within 30 minutes, etc etc – I know and accept there is no such mentor. No one has my life. No one has your life.

Unique special snowflake shit.

So I’m left to figure it out. I have no idea what the next 1-2 years will look like. I know that I am not limitless so we’ll figure out where that line gets drawn pretty soon.

I will say this: holding a two-month old in one arm and cutting cherry tomatoes with the other is possible. So at least there’s that.

Zooey update: two months

Eight weeks, eight questions for you, Zooey.

  1. How did you manage to form a perfect side-eye in just a  few weeks? 
  2. How do you feel about the fact that I keep dressing you in blue because Koala’s leftovers are the best kept clothes so far, and everyone tells me my son is adorable and I’m too lazy to correct them? 
  3. How do you manage to throw up exactly five minutes after I’ve bathed you, oiled you, dressed you, kissed you, and said to myself, ‘wow, at least she hasn’t thrown up!’? 
  4. What’s it like having three older siblings to help you, cuddle you, and annoy you? 
  5. What are you thinking about? 
  6. What’s it like to have already traveled across the world, at only six weeks? 
  7. What’s it like being on the outside? Is this what you expected? Hoped? 
  8. What exactly is so funny?! 

Oh, just another childbirth.

Here’s what I felt more than anything after the birth of my fourth nearly two months ago: so, so grateful.

I’ve felt very lucky to have had mostly positive experiences in pregnancy and childbirth, even if at times there has also been frustration, stress, and fear. My heart goes out to women and their partners who have experienced true trauma, pain, fear and loss – I don’t take for granted that the road for me has been smooth.

That said, here’s a little word on my most recent childbirth.

After Nettles was born, I realized something. All three of my previous births had turned out to be a good indicator of the child’s personality, which we only came to know deeply later on. I don’t know if that is some kind of hindsight bias, but reading the old birth stories and knowing my kids now makes it clear there is some kind of correlation.

If that proves true for number 4, then perhaps we can say that she is a ‘tachlis’, no-bullshit, in control and chill kind of person. That’s how it was.

We learned from Nettles that chances are it would be pretty quick this time too. So we went in prepared. Once again, I could not have a home birth unfortunately. This birth was like Nettles’ but with much less intensity.

I woke up at 3:30 am with a contraction and a cool head and, waited for two more – about twenty minutes later. Then I woke up huz. Next, called our midwife/doula, who promptly came over. She checked me out – 8.5 already.

“You must have been walking around in labor the last few days!”, which, if you know my work life, is probably just generally true for the last two years.

We had to make a call. Last time, I was 9.5 when I got to the hospital. Would I make it that far this time?

So the options were – drive and make it, drive and birth in the car, or stay home to birth and go by ambulance after. We chose the first.

We made it… calmly out of the car, calmly to the ward, calmly responded to 35734896 interview questions. I will point out, once again, the antibiotics situation was bullshit and I would have been better off at home with the proper antibiotics through an IV as needed, but I’m at peace with it.

Within three hours, in time for sunrise, my biggest by by a pound – 3.5 kilo – baby girl was out and into my arms (one after the other – first time I grabbed the newborn myself!). I had an absolutely lovely and encouraging midwife at Hadassah Ein Kerem. Don’t underestimate the value of excellent bedside manner.

One thing is for sure: when it’s the fourth, a major thought going on during pushing is ‘shit, I am TIRED.’ Like, existentially tired.

Like – I had to buy a seven-seater car tired.

Like – I have so many children now I have to keep track, tired.

Like – yeah I’m so tired but I’m actually also in control and calm and can think this through clearly, tired.

But it ends.

And when it was over, I looked at her and thought, so – is our experience symbolic of your personality?

We’ll find out.

Welcome to the weird, Zooey.

Hi Zooey.

Just taking this quick opportunity to explain to you why Zooey?

Nothing significant,  nothing overwhelmingly meaningful (or underwhelmingly meaningful).

When your mama comes up with a blog nickname, it’s not going to necessary mean anything at all.

In your case, it was as simple as this: I was watching this old SNL skit while waiting to get out of the hospital.

quirky with zooey

And it reminded me of when I first saw her name, I thought it was pronounced Zoo-ee. Like, if ‘zoo’ had to have a use as an adjective.

And I was a native English-speaking adult with a degree in English at the time.

And the video reminded me of this and I giggled. And looked at you and said, Zooey!

The lesson here, Zooey?

Welcome… this family don’t take itself too seriously.

The Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree“She’s like the Giving Tree!”

That’s what Koala said when I learned that my grandmother was at the end of her life, after I explained that his great grandmother was so tired.

“She is like the Giving Tree! She lived a long time and she’s like at the end when the tree is old and wrinkly and a stump.”

She is like the Giving Tree.

She’d give us a dollar to buy ice cream at her Brooklyn pool club. She’d relish in watching us enjoy it, smiling with her friends around her.

She is like the Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree | Apples

She wanted us all to be happy. “Better you spend it than I save it,” she’d tell us. Our happiness was her happiness.

She is like the Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree | Branches

Grandma, I’d think, is the quiet one.

“Everything is fine. No complaints here.”

She went through a lot as a widow and single mother for nearly 5 decades. For someone who went through all that, how had she never complained?

She is like the Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree | Trunk

Something I always thought when we’d see her – her hands, as she’d take mine in hers – her hands were so soft, her skin delicate and smooth like tissue paper.

She’d hold mine while wishing me everything good in life. Whatever I wanted. A good family. Great kids. Wonderful husband.

If she could have just given us all those things, she would have.

What she could give was her love, support, and the time necessary to figure yourself out. The patience to let you make mistakes. The acceptance needed for everyone to move forward.

“That was your great grandmother,” I’ll explain to Koala one day.

And she was happy.

The Giving Tree | Happy