What if we don’t wanna be the toy? A Eurovision post.

It’s can be so hard to be Israeli. It’s can be so hard to get shit all the time, from every direction. To never be able to ‘choose’ a side because the game is always changing and anyway, there is no side to choose; you’re at the center of it by existing where and when you exist.

It’s exhausting to read headlines. To constantly decide what to believe and by how much. To feel like a pawn. To feel out of control.

And… I don’t even like music contests.

But… hearing a woman who has the same name as my sabra daughter make the odds after two months of soft hype from all over Europe…

…carry herself with the confidence of a first world Olympics host country…

…win the goddam thing with message in tact…

…tell Europe to think different, celebrate diversity…

…dare to exclaim that she loves her country…

…and invites everyone to Jerusalem next year…

that just has to take the wind out from your chest, even for a few seconds.

You know what was weird? The feeling of waiting with bated breath for every country to speak their vote and to actually believe, truly feel, to, completely normally, expect, that any one of these countries’ representatives would let Israel float from their lips…

To be Israel, and feel normal.

I watched the second half of my first live Eurovision alone, in bed. When it started to look grim I felt a deep sadness that this fantasy would end but it was, after all, just fantasy. And when the ending became inevitable – when it wasn’t 100% yet but it just might be – I wanted to hold so many hands, nervously sway with so many people… And when second place was announced, I wanted to scream. I’m not a screamer. But from under my covers, in my little dark room, in my little suburban town, in my frighteningly small but mighty country, I wanted to run out into the street and scream and laugh and cry and jump up and down with everyone, with anyone, all the oddballs who call this place home.

After the live broadcast ended, I went straight for the headlines. Even though I usually avoid Israeli headlines. There’s only so much pain you can feel daily. I just wanted to see matching headlines. I just wanted to feel ‘normal’. And hovering above the smoke and gun powder and falling apart cement and police uniforms and rocket trails was… Netta. Was a winning Eurovision country.

Being Israeli is so damn hard. There’s no normal. There never will be. I guess every country has its shit. But I’m not convinced it has to be this hard for every country. But for a second, it felt normal.

…and then I opened Twitter.

The Prime Minister makes a PowerPoint

It’s night three of my daughter’s cough and it’s gotten much better. I’m sitting uncomfortably on the Hello Kitty stool next to the crib, with my forefinger making lines in her palm, my phone on ‘play’ in the other hand, and in my left ear, an earbud is loosely holding on.

The prime minister is making a point.

It’s been there all along. The Americans have been briefed. Iran lied, in large Times New Roman font.

A curtain is removed, revealing mischief, and another curtain is removed, revealing added mischief.

Binders and discs of menace. 110,000 shards of threat.

Slide after slide, graphic after graphic. Warhead drawing. Embedded incriminating video. Shabab in Times New Roman. Project Amad in Times New Roman. I wonder who was responsible for cleaning up the slides before they went on stage. I wonder if they felt like I do before my work goes on stage.

On some level, above or behind or despite the Prime Minister’s choicest phrases, we’re all wondering the same thing: how the hell did the Mossad agents on this project get away with this? And which non-Jew will star in the leading role someday?

The theatrical prime minister is making a point. In the age of social media, all he needs is a 90s-era PowerPoint, tens of thousands of documents stolen and smuggled from Iran in one January night, and Times New Roman.

Times New Roman, the universal language in making a point.

And then it’s morning, and I’m walking my daughter to gan, she’s shying away from the big black dog that hangs around the area. Parents are mumbling half-thoughts to their kids. Gates are squeaking open. Car doors slam. The sky is cloudy, the branches on the trees are ever-so swaying.

And looking around me, I remember last nigh. Huh. Just as simple as Times New Roman. We put ourselves out there in Times New Roman.

Koala update: Nine years

What a year, man.

This time last year I was terrified to break your heart, making the decision to change schools. You are a deep thinker and a deeper feeler… but somehow your intense curiosity got the better of any fear… open minded to trying new things, when they feel right… and here we are. You did it – new friends, while still excited about your old buddies. New interests, while still on the old ones (I’m sorry I will never understand what Ninjago is). I’m so so proud of you. Keep pushing yourself to grow. Keep pushing me to be better at helping you to grow. I love our honesty with each other, and I love that we work on each other.

Happy 9, Koala.

Zooey update: Two years

You’ve been watching us for two years, and now you’re coming out… lessons in dolls, headbands, jewelry… lessons in ‘enough!’ and hitting back… lessons in climbing to the top bunk… lessons in dogs and cats and preemptive barking… lessons in wanting to do it all, by yourself… and teaching us to never underestimate you, and also how to eat with table manners (thanks, nursery?).

Happy 2, Beanie.

At 70, you get your own Snapchat filter.

Independence is affording the time to celebrate your existence.

Independence is getting your own Snapchat filter.

Independence is being proud of someone you never met named Netta.

Independence is the freedom to openly mourn your dead on your terms.

Independence is enjoying making choices on a global scale.

Independence is watching your kids grow up in a place where you chose to be and you are always.

Independence is being able to defend the people you love and the principles you live for.

We should all know and feel true independence, no matter where in the world you currently consider ‘home’.

Thoughts on another Israeli Memorial Day

All around, kids pick up bits and ask their parents…

“What is בן האבוד בלבנון?”
“What is מבצע אנטבה?”
“What does רומנטי mean?”
“Why is that kind of flower everywhere?”
“Did that שיר really happen?”
“Why do they put the flag down?”

On a walk through Har Herzl (Israel’s national cemetery) this morning, hearing about many many dead sons, it occurred to me that it will never matter what age my kids are; I will always wonder where they are, and the comfort of knowing where they are at any one time could maybe help ease the hard parts of being a parent.

And then I thought,

a., it’s not realistic, and

b.,

they may be somewhere that is as painful as not knowing where they are.

5 Things I’ve Learned About Career & Family: me in a video; lotta honesty; who needs role models

Hi. Because I have decided to step up this year in ‘challenging my comfort zone’, I said yes without thinking that hard when the BreadWinners* co-founder asked me to interview on camera for their new project.

*Whether it’s essays on topics about the complexities of having a career and family at the same time, or original video content that is actually relevant to your life, this is the long-awaited voice of our generation…our ultimate goal is world domination, but we’ll settle for a world where women feel comfortable taking up space at the table- both in the boardroom and at home.

Yes, usually I’m the one behind the camera, torturing startup CEOs and average (industry) joes to answer questions and look charismatic while doing it. Mwahaha?

Anyway… I did it and it was fun. Here’s the video, and below are my rough cut answers as we prepped for the video. Bonus: if you watch through #4-5 you get to watch my fourth upstage me.

Watch 5 Things I’ve Learned About Career & Family

Read Behind the Scenes

To prep for the video, I responded to some prompts with train of thought answers… which I thought I’d share in addition to the final video since they didn’t all make the cut.

  • ‘Self care’: This is a tough one for me, if by self care we mean stopping to breathe, taking a break, treating ourselves. I think I’m not alone here that a lot of us are the types who, to get everything done, we have to keep moving… stopping would mean a break in the system… it’s a huge problem and I recently experienced what I think was the biggest burnout I’ve experienced during the last nine years of being a career-oriented person crossed over with being a mother. It’s harsh but we’re not allowing ourselves enough. And the hardest part is probably asking for the break – asking yourself for it.
  • ‘Lack of female role models’: When I started my current job nearly four years ago – and this is by far my most demanding job in my career – I spent the first year searching for a female role model. Who was out there, outnumbered by their kids, first time in a management role, working full time, a partner working as full time as I was, no parents in the country – who was like me, but ten years ahead and could tell me it would be ok? It took time for me to realize – STOP LOOKING. I’ll never find another me to tell me it’ll be ok. Instead, I have to hope to find people like me now to tell me they are at least struggling as hard. I’ve found more and more of that as I’ve opened my mind about it. But there aren’t enough role models or mentors. I think we are all still figuring it out – but I pledged and still do to serve as an open book for my peers and the up-and-coming women watching me. (I have an anecdote about being the first woman in my office to need a pumping space and how pioneering that felt and how scary and intimidating it was… but three years later, I’m so proud that we now have options of pumping-secure offices and around-the-clock pumping moms throughout the year).
  • What balance actually looks like: It’s doing the best I can. Some months, it’s terrible. Some it’s better. Sometimes the marriage is winning, sometimes the kids, often the job, it’s not balance… clearly.
  • Relationship with boss: I’ve been really lucky in my career to have very family friendly bosses. It’s a gift, I know it’s not to be taken for granted. I try to pay that forward to my workers. when I’ve had less family friendly or understanding bosses, I take what I didn’t like from that experience and reverse for my employees. Especially when it comes to being pregnant at work. I would never want a hard-working pregnant employee to feel afraid to ask for support – I’d rather she didn’t even have to ask.
  • Male coworkers: There are a lot of good eggs out there… from all generations and walks of life. But specific to my generation – I think men are getting better at seeing this anew. I really do. I’m married to a really great man. In the sense that I don’t know any other guy as supportive of his wife’s career than mine. And it’s vice versa of course. But let’s just say I’m partnered with a guy who gets angry when things like picking up the kids or making them dinner or taking them to the doctor or going to PTA meetings are called ‘mom jobs’. We need to change our vocabularies and support our men if we want change. I look at the men around my office rushing off to pick up their kids and I’m proud of where we are (where some of us are). At least in my corner of the world.  A note about the older guys… I try to filter it through the world they come from. I get really belittling comments. I get called ‘gal’ or ‘girl’ or whatever bullshit. Those guys are older. I shake it off. They’ll be gone soon and we’ll run the place.
  • Female co-workers: I think among the moms, no matter what team you’re on or what age you are or what number kid you’re up to or if you actually like each other or not – there is an underlying thing of, “I get it.” At least I feel that way… I hope others do. I try to be as supportive to my mom peers as much as possible. especially the younger moms.
  • Pregnancy and working: The guilt sucks. I spent a whole pregnancy planning one of our annual global summits and to this day I still look at my daughter two years later and quietly tell her I’m sorry for how hard I pushed myself then, and however that may have impacted her. I spent the night before the big event in agony in my hotel room, berating myself for putting work first before my unborn kid. I’m not sure I did or not but it felt that way. On the other hand, I was happy that my management could look at me ‘normally’ and not get annoying and awkward about working alongside a ‘delicate flower’ of a pregnant woman.
  • Maternity leave and its effects on the job: Maternity leave is scary – whether it’s your first or fourth. I’ve seen things happen I wish I could unsee. The fact is, no matter how loved and appreciated you are at your job, being gone for 3-6-9 months at a time is just going to have an effect. There’s no getting around it.  And I could speak for a full hour about how to survive coming back. Giving yourself time… it takes 6 months in my opinion. The pumping at work. The feeling low. The wondering what the hell you’re doing here. The lack of sleep and its effects. Missing milestones. Missing meetings. Missing both somehow, at the same time.
  • Relationship with kids: My kids don’t know me any other way. For them, their parents have jobs and work hard. They don’t get exactly what I do which is obviously fine, but I do think they are ‘inspired’ by it as much as a kid could be. They are curious… they ask questions… they complain I work too hard. More and more it’s becoming an issue. I’m working on it. First step at least – being aware of it. I let them call me out. It’s the most direct way to make me work on it. I’ve recently admitted to myself that I am addicted to my work and I can’t stop and it’s meddling in my life and it’s time to work that out. I was thinking, wow, if I didn’t have kids, what would I be doing? But not in a fantasy kind of way. In a, how far in could I have lost myself completely? kind of way.
  • Ambition: in my own introverted way, I’ve always been ambitious. My parents instilled a really tough sense of work ethic in us. They’re both career people who care deeply about what they do and that they do it well. I don’t think they were taking us aside and teaching us anything directly, but we learned by example. I appreciate that in other people. And I can’t not be doing something meaningful. it’s not in my DNA.
  • Relationship with husband and how it’s effected by working: Marriage is one tough project. As mentioned, I happen to be married to a good one and I couldn’t have been with someone who didn’t support me having a career and feeling strongly about whatever I choose to do. Is it hard? Yeah.  One thing I will say is. when I took my current job and we just had our third kid, I would come home every single day, throw down my bag, and declare THIS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. There is no way we can both work full time office jobs outside the house. No one else is doing this. It has to end somehow. But it hasn’t ended… I have no idea what the long term effects are. They may be horrible. But we are definitely bonding over doing A LOT of problem solving together.

Ask What’s Next?

I don’t know. I’m figuring a lot out at the moment. But I know it was fun doing this. I’ve wanted to do this since I forced myself to be the ‘pumping pioneeress’. So if you know of more opportunities for me to bare my soul in an effort to help others, let me know.

If you are interested in participating, or want more content and discussion, check out BreadWinners.

Bebe update: Seven years

To my Goon… for your jokes that make us laugh whether we get them or not (keep workshopping), your knowing what you want (and getting stronger about asking for it), your self awareness, your basic instinct to share, to smile, to make others feel good about themselves, your honesty, your allergy to napkins and silverware, your living in the moment, your absolute need to feel everything and everyone, especially when that everything includes mud, beetles, muddier mud, homemade clay, and also mud.

Happy 7.