Questions I answer for my kids on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Winner of this year’s national Poster Competition for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

I’m not against the early, introductory Holocaust education of nursery and kindergarten aged kids. I think it’s a reality and if done right and age appropriately, it can enrich as opposed to stir excessive fear. It’s a hot debate in Anglo-immigrant circles; many people are taken aback by the openness. But I didn’t move here to hide from reality. I would have stayed in America for that.

During dinner tonight, after my kids sang a song that involved a certain debatable chocolate cake, we got to talking about race – you know, the כושי conversation – and navigated toward American slavery – and swerved through what it means to have different skin colors – and landed on Holocaust. What can I say, my older kids had talks, lessons, ceremonies about it today.

“Those bad guys… ummm… what are they called again?”

“Nazis.”

“Yeah, Nazis – so did the Jews say nu nu nu to them?”

“Ummmm no…”

“But you said when someone is bad to us we should yell at them.”

“Yeah… but Nazis had a lot of power. The Jews had none. You know, a lot of people died.”

“Six million!”

“…oh. That’s precise. Did anyone say that had savtot rabot or sabim rabim that were there?”

“Yeah!”

“You know, ours weren’t. They were in other places. Like America.”

“And did they help?”

“Umm…”

“But America helped them?”

“…did they?”

“And England.”

“Yes… they eventually helped. England helped.”

“And Hashem!”

“Uh huh.”

“But if our savta raba is now 101 she was 30 when it happened?”

“I guess about that…”

“Because it was 71 years ago…”

“That’s also precise…”

“I did subtraction!”

“You sure do learn a lot in school.”

 

 

 

 

Next year in… your country.

Something really extraordinary happened at work today. In startup world. In the center of Jerusalem.

We had the pre-Passover הרמת כוסית, or company holiday toast. Our CEO spoke a few words, leading to how blown away he is by how the company is growing, both in team… and in the number of pregnant women.

Then he asked a question that’s been on my mind for nearly two years since I started there: **How do you manage to do it? Work full time, maintain your home, care for kids/manage pregnancy?**

As a woman, a mother, a full timer in the work force, it will never get old for me to hear an accomplished 60yo man wonder about this. Without a patronizing tone. Without cynicism. Pure wonder.

I was raised on a lot of equality talk – the power 80s, Take Your Daughter to Work Day, one day there could be a female president.

But nothing means as much or says as much as raising a glass at a company lunch where the CEO calls for blessing the pregnant team members, hiring even more women, and further supporting growing families.

On the eve of a paid maternity leave courtesy of a family-oriented country… it’s not something I take lightly.

Next year in… your country.

Dear unborn baby.

Dear unborn baby,

I wanted to give you some reasons why I haven’t yet acknowledged you out loud or here or written you an encouraging letter about life on the outside or my hopes and dreams for you.

Haven’t been reflecting, haven’t been meditating, haven’t been exploring.

I wanted to do it elegantly, passionately, beautifully… but that’s not going to happen. Here are four reasons why:

1. Work life balance is more work than balance these days. I will regret this. I already do. This could be the last time for me, and it’s gone by in a blink. I wish I was stopping to smell roses. Excuses, excuses. We’ll bond more on maternity leave.

2. I’m not ready to admit it’s almost over. I usually end up opening up about it all towards the end. This time that’s been harder. For a few reasons. The one I listed above. The fact that it may be the last time I do this. If there’s something 90% mental about giving birth to a baby, then this is the thing that will probably shape it the most.

3. Hate to break it to you… but this ain’t my first rodeo. You’re being born to a world where you already have three overlords. You must have heard it by now, in stereo. One will steal the spotlight, one will smoosh you to pieces, and one will mess with you constantly. The reason I’m saying this is because that’s what it’s like for me, and I’m their mom. What will your super power be?

4. Maybe there’s been plenty of bonding after all. I’m not much of a complainer. And the past year has been up and down and inside out. Priorities busted, losing myself. But you’ve been in there the whole time. You know everything. You’ve felt it with me, for better or worse. Way too much caffeine. Then no caffeine. Panic. Anger. Stress. Laughter. Success. Joy. More laughter, so hard, I may have peed a little. That’s on you, baby.

By the way, I took you all the way to Australia. Before you had eyeballs. Ok?

It would seem this letter was more for me than you. To convince myself that for a fourth time, I won’t really be screwing it up.

Right, baby?

See you on the fun side.

Happy International Women’s Day to me.

Here’s how I found out today is International Women’s Day: My classy huz.

International Women's Day

And I suppose I was in a celebratory mood since all I ate before noon was a yogurt mixed with Fiber 1, which the marketing world tells me is the most feminine thing I can do. Girls be regular, amirite?

For some reason I agreed to a conference call for the same time I promised my kids the park, so if you’ve ever been there, you know this episode of Working Mom Sitcom fairly well:

  • I’m straining to hear about a new website feature in one ear.
  • I’m negotiating animal cracker terms between two hungry girls.
  • I’m handing a near-empty water bottle to a kid that’s not mine because ‘only keeping track of your own brood’ is for weaklings.
  • I’m thinking ‘soon there will be an action item for me and I’d love to agree to it knowing what it is.’
  • I’m being summoned post-scooter accident… my eldest is bawling like he’s birthed three humans and knows that level of pain.
  • I agree to an action item AND know what it is! Ten points!
  • I’ve run out of time with the animal cracker negotiation because toddler is now inconsolable doing The Clock on the park floor. (I totally get you, Serial Season 2 Episode 9.)

Half an hour later, rounded up kids, car, dinner, emails and – yadda yadda yadda – I’m covered in human shit.

Is that a nice way to describe my nearly two-year-old’s leaky poop?

So there’s all that hardcore scrubbing, me and her, some more kids, laundry. And – ‘Honey, I’m home!’

(When’s International Men’s Day?)

Oh, P.S. – I broke a nail.

Actually, make that two.

The pregnant working mother perseveres in the face of conf–erence.

Credit: The Real Jerusalem Streets

Credit: The Real Jerusalem Streets

A little while ago, I was approached to speak at a marketing conference for end-of-February in the new Hub Etzion shared workspace.

I was in the middle of other conference insanity, but January Liz was all like, shrug whatevs let’s do it so I agreed. Knowing fully that in another month I’d be presenting a marketing talk about audiences to an entire room of marketers – eight months pregnant.

So obviously last week, end-of-February Liz was like oh crap. I’m eight months pregnant. is that an excuse?!

It’s not. Not for me, not right now. So I’m glad I pulled through and didn’t go the route that comes naturally – opening with a stereotypical female apology, explaining that I need some slack cut considering I’m creating a human, bla bla.

I thought about it. I kept it in my back pocket while developing my talk. But by the time I was on the drive to the conference I knew I wouldn’t go there.

The last time I spoke at a conference, it was when I was pregnant with my second. Interesting, right? It was the beginning, I felt horrible, and was trying to hide it still. So no one actually knew. But I knew I had to pull through.

I’m lucky to live in a culture – especially the Israel -> startup -> Jerusalem scene – where mom-friendly is fairly normal, where even if things aren’t totally ideal, pregnant women aren’t a shock to see presenting at (or organizing) conferences.

I owe some of that to some of the most family-friendly bosses I’ve had in my career here. Including the CEO of my current company, who routinely encourages expansive working motherhood.

Considering I’m about to upgrade from a couple to a bunch (a gaggle? a murder?) of daughters, I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for spending the last year and a half attempting to figure out this whole nursing working mother/pregnant working mother thing.

By the way, BlueCon 2016 was a great morning spent with peers (thanks to BlueThread Marketing), and Hub Etzion (founded by women!) is a lovely beginning to something positive and encouraging growing in Gush Etzion.

Nettles update: twenty three months

If I had to sum up 23-month Nettles in one picture…

Here’s the story: One night last week, we hear a loud thump and screaming. We dash upstairs and Nettles had climbed out of the crib and fallen, presumably on her head.

The next day, it happens she’s home from gan and I put her down for a nap in the crib and go back to working in the kitchen. A few minutes later, I hear the pitter patter on the stairs… the little socked feet. I look up, and like a freaky child ghost, she’s standing there, staring at me, smiling.

She knows what she did.

So we move her to a bed. And the predictable happens: Put her down, she gets up. Put her down, she gets up. Leave her down, come downstairs, five minutes later… pitter patter.

Take her hand and bring her back up.

And then, last night, we come down. Sit at the kitchen table, chat over dinner.

And then.

We hear a shuffling sound.

“She’s coming down.”

I turn my head to peek around the corner of the kitchen. The stairs are right around a corner.

And there is Nettles. She’s crawling military style, backwards.  Her bum is up, her legs kicking her forward, her head facing away from us, nonchalantly sucking away at her pacifier.

She is acting like we can’t see her if she just comes down backwards.

We burst out laughing. Tears start rolling from my eyes.

Slowly, deliberately, Nettles turns her head.

She looks at me, she looks at her father.

And there it is, that shit-eating grin.

I actually laughed until I cried, and then cried some more, and crawled into bed to keep laughing, and then I hear, between gasps, the pitter patter, and Nettles is facing me, head cocked, smiling, knowing she won the day.

Again.

So Nettles, yes, you finally fall asleep. Yes, you will get used to your bed. Yes, this happens with most kids I’m sure.

But no one takes us for a ride quite like you.

No shoes are too big to fill.

And no one is going to mess with your style.

 

Nettles update: twenty two months

Nettles,

One of my favorite things, on the days I pick you up from maon (daycare), I love walking up the stairs to the second floor and before there’s any way you know it’s me you come running. Or do I have distinctive footsteps? Or do you do that to everyone until you finally get it right?

And then there are the days you play it cool, too cool, and put on a show of whining and crying that I’m there and you’re torn about leaving all the kids you’ve been pushing around the gymboree.

Either way.

Pushing yourself around is something you’ve been doing more. No one is going to put baby in a corner of calling baby ‘baby’. So yes, I need to stop.

You’ll get dressed in your brother’s pants if you damn well please.

You’ll help do the dishes no matter how much more of a mess that makes.

You will sort the silverware while my back is to you as I’m trying to finish work, and by sort the silverware I mean take everything out, lick some of it, and put it back.

You also will take care of all the baby dolls in the house. With blanket wraps, stroller pushes, the occasional toss.

But you will.

 

Expat life: Eleven years.

As of today I have spent a third of my life living as an expat, having made the choice to leave what I knew and start over somewhere else, with specific goals and ideology fueling the decision. And 11 years later I really don’t have much to complain about, which I appreciate is incredibly fortunate.

Sure, over a decade later taxi drivers still balk at the fact I left New York City. Even other olim balk at the fact I left New York City. But I maintained during year one and I maintain now that I was born in the wrong city and it took me (only) two decades to find the right place to grow, breathe, build, and live.

The one thing I tell people and grows truer every day is that the cost of leaving family never goes down; it gets more and more taxing as you build a career, settle with a partner, have another kid, watch your siblings and parents move on without you.

For myself, I made the right decision 11 years ago and it set my life on a course I’m proud of. Not all my goals have been met yet and the ideology that fuels my perspective and life has transitioned. And no matter where I am, I always feel like an outsider and, oddly, that’s where I’ve realized I operate most naturally.

But I’m happy feeling as natural as I can as an inside-outsider here in Israel rather than an inside-outsider back in New York.