And, poof! Just like that, Koala and I are in the States.
The only thing accurate in that statement is that Koala and I are in the States. Koala and I, minus husband, minus mother’s helper, minus sanity. I took my 7-month old on a business trip to New York. Namely – I managed a trans-Atlantic flight with a baby, minus a parent.
It was a challenge. I’ve seen other ‘single’ moms do it and they just seem so cool and casual about it. Maybe I’m forgetting all the not cool and casual moms I’ve seen do it. I was not cool or casual. Or maybe I was, but Koala wasn’t. Nope – tooth #2 decided to make its debut over the 12 hours it takes to fly from Tel Aviv to New York.
So there I am, sitting in the front of the middle section on the plane. My baby is coughing, sneezing, at one point possibly running a temperature. There’s Acimoli everywhere, snot everywhere and a lot of whining and groaning.
And so it was: I was that mother with the annoying baby.
Even stiff old charedi men were reaching out by the end to try and shut the baby up. So that’s what my conflict resolution degree was for…
They grow up so fast. They grow up so fast. They grow up so fast.
Dammit, I’m surrounded by cliches. It’s getting kinda repetitive.
But I’ll take a cribful of cliches for all the milestones Koala has experienced in the last month.
He worked really hard to sit – every day, one leg under the tush, push ups… And then after a while, sit he did… Man, when he finally got it – what a look of satisfaction. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard to accomplish anything in my life (except maybe sitting). And all the while he worked on sitting, he worked on moving, too. And then a couple days ago, wah! He was one hand in front of the other, moving towards Papa. These last few days have held many surprises for newly-crawling Koala, as well as many surprises for various home furnishings. God help you, potted plants.
And all the while he’s been crawling, he’s been picking up a leg as if to stand. That’s the point where I’m like, whoa, cowboy. Not so fast. Mama hasn’t childproofed the kitchen yet.
But crawling has opened all new doors for Koala. Or should I say floors? Speaking of the kitchen, he has begun his licking the floor-under-the-fridge immunization program. We’re all very proud. All wonderful things, yes. But what about the teething front? Notes from the teething front:
It’s rough out here on the front lines… of the bottom gum. The parentals are hallucinating as they wake up every 2 hours to rub bottom gum with Orajel and then fall back asleep.
Just in from the teething front – Right bottom tooth has cracked through! Repeat, right bottom tooth has sprung!
Report: Right bottom tooth has sprung after an excruciating and sleepless and excruciatingly sleepless week.
That was the beginning of the month. On the eve of the seventh month, left bottom tooth has begun its trouble. Always on a weekend, folks. This kid cracks teeth on weekends. But the very best development this month: The first major syllable milestone. Out of nowhere, laying on his back, staring up at the ceiling, Koala burst out into a chorus of da da da da.
They were soft sounds, angelic, cherubic syllables I wanted to hug for a long time. Da da da. It just rolled off his tongue. It was probably as good as the first smile and the first laughter. Of course, he communicates in all sorts of ways, but this just feels like the beginning of a higher communication, a human communication.
There are some modifications, of course. I serve the big holiday dinner on Friday night, since this Thursday is a weekday in Israel, like any other. I don’t have every exact ingredient; fresh cranberries are near impossible to come by out here.
But I do manage to order a whole turkey from my favorite meat counter in Jerusalem. And I don’t have to look very far (not past Emek Refaim street, anyway) to find some good ole Shop Rite brand canned cranberry sauce.
And this year, like any other, I will participate in the American holiday – no matter how sketchy its roots, no matter how exaggerated its celebration. And while no one ever takes seriously the ‘going around the table and saying what you’re thankful for’ – why, this year I will.
It’s been an intense year since last Thanksgiving, when I was just visibly pregnant and we all joked about everyone at the table wearing maternity pants after dinner. I have a lot to be thankful for, and luckily for me, it’s all corny and wonderful.
My little start up family is awesome. I’m thankful for my not-so-start up job. A good trustworthy landlord is always something to be thankful for – and on top of that, a good trustworthy apartment. Living in Israel has its many moments, but I like living here, I like that this is my culture right now, and I like that I’ve been mindful enough to make good decisions and end up where I am today.
And, most of all, I’m thankful that even thousands of miles across the world, I can pre-order a whole turkey one time a year and cook that sucker well.
I’ve been going through a bit of soul-searching lately; one begins to feel more responsible for one’s actions when constantly being watched by the cute, easily-influenced eyes of a littler one.
May I come clean for a moment?
I’ve been in Israel for almost five years. It’s an aliyah faux pas to actually admit at any point that you may be tired of, out of love with, or in my case, bored of Israel. And it’s not really living in Israel; it’s Israel itself. Let me clarify the distinction.
What is Israel? Not the country – the entity.
Is it a:
Safe haven for Jews to get away from Western Antisemitism?
Home of an army where a Jew can put on a uniform and fight for his own land as our grandparents never did?
The magical land of humus and falafel culture (shared with Arab cultures and beyond)?
A place with both historical Jewish significance and beautiful bikini-clad Jewesses?
I’m bored by it… Birthright ads. Debates about the ‘C’onflict. News from my alma mater about an anti-Israel speaker on campus.
I know it’s not fair; I’ve been exposed to it since I can remember, and others haven’t.
It would be cliche and boring to say being a working mother is like a big juggling act. Or jigsaw puzzle. Would it be any more exciting to call it an Unscramble? I used to love those.
There are so many pieces involved to making a day go by successfully. Or, at the very least, passably. So many compromises… Milk over meetings? Conference calls over bath time? So many explanations that come out of my mouth sounding like lame excuses.
I did a decent job of enjoying maternity leave while keeping work in the back of my mind. Aside from the fact that being a stay-at-home-mom is one of the biggest luxuries I can think of, I have come to admit that I’m one of those women that has to have a global purpose during the day, even if by global I mean serving the world wide web for a medium-sized hi-tech company.
Then of course, there’s the Other Woman, the milking, the shlepping.
It’s so kinda definitely hectic. What happened, self? There was a time when I worked, went to school, socialized and planned a wedding at the same time.
But then again, I wasn’t being haunted in my light-sleep by evil tooth fairies (the kind that implant them in the cloud-like gums of cherubs at the price of your sanity).
If you ever need an exercise in humbling yourself, become a mom in the midst of working in a fast-paced industry while dropping off your new baby at another woman’s home every day, carrying glass jars of your own milk. All while being chased by the evil tooth fairy.
Hi everybody! I’d like you to meet Dreadlock. He’s about a month old and has already made himself quite comfortable atop Koala’s normally thin, straight ‘do.
The plan for Koala’s hair is to grow it until he reaches age 3, as is the custom in many Chassidish families. Partly for that reason, and partly because I think it’s important for Koala to get down with his African roots (don’t we all have African roots?), I’m not going to cut it out.
It’ll be a handy tool when Koala comes to me at age 13 for permission to get his ear/eyebrow/tongue pierced and I say, “Now, Koala, you know I’m a cool mom – I even let you keep your dreadlock when you were 6 months old – but this is where I draw the line, sweetness.”