Fifty-Two Frames: Dirty.

Visiting my hometown this week: Staten Island.

Need I say more? So much opportunity: the landfill, the sanitation building, New Jersey, the beach, American cash, the natives, the tanning salons… But I ran out of time and good weather.

Week 8: Dirty

There was a Snooki the day before, but I messed up and forgot to take it so I settled for Paris. Who doesn’t settle for Paris, though?

So *this* is mother guilt.

I’m panicking. I’m even kind of shaking. I know it’s ridiculous, but then again, I really don’t.

Bebe and I are leaving tonight on a two-week trip to New York and Florida to visit family. I’ve been really looking forward to this trip for weeks. It was an ‘on a whim’ thing, and I think I’ve been more anxious about life here than I admit. I really need the break.

I figured, when I booked it, it would be a quick and easy thing, and so I’d opt out of bringing Koala. He could stay with his abba (they are very close) and have some fun dad-son time while staying mostly on schedule.

Turns out, you can’t ‘opt-out’ of anything having to do with your kids.

Since yesterday (after no less than three mothers who I spoke to looked at me like I’m insane for doing it) I’ve been overcome with what feels like panic and fear. Am I screwing him up? Is he going to have mommy issues? Am I abandoning him in his little eyes? He’s not even three yet. Is this a mistake? Am I horrible, selfish mother?

Then I realize – this is it. This is the guilt. The real maternal kind. Anything I thought was guilt until now was the stuff of playthings. This – this shaking, this nausea, this panic – it’s guilt.


And when I pull away the dark curtains of despair, just for a moment, I see this –

  • The three mothers from yesterday are all cut from the same cloth, which is to say, a very different fabric than me. They didn’t make aliyah, they don’t travel as much as I do, and they don’t realize they have a motherhood ahead of them involving traveling to see faraway family with perhaps one affordable kid at a time.
  • Koala is going to be with his abba, who he’s very close to. They’re going to have a great time. And sometimes it will be hard for Koala. And for abba. But on the whole, it’ll be fine day-to-day. As much as an almost three-year-old lives for today.
  • I’ve been prepping him for weeks. I even booked him to come with me when I go again in the summer. He knows he’ll have his turn soon. Even if he’s not totally sure  when that is.
  • And as my travel agent said, when I frantically called her this morning to see what a last-minute child ticket would cost ($1800, by the way!): “They’re all gonna go for help anyway. This way, you save the money on the flight towards the therapist!”
I feel selfish. I feel terrible. And I feel guilty. I’m not gonna rationalize it away. I’m just gonna start focusing on the good I’m giving Bebe – getting to know her family and some time in the spotlight.
And, hello there, Jewish mother self.


Einstein spending Purim in Beitar Illit?

One of the best things about Purim is the idea that you can enjoy the humor, the sass, the tongue-in-cheek quality of opposites. You can turn the world upside-down, you can defy the laws of gravity with a sprinkle of humor and darkness.

So why was I so amused to find, in Beitar Illit, my charedi neighbor-town, a mask resembling no one other than the secular god of science, Albert Einstein himself?

I suppose it could be an angry old man. Or an angry old anti-Semite. Or an angry old Haman, if he had continued living past the pole.

Either way, it made me smile.

Color ignorant.

The innocence of babes is alive and well… even if it’s for just a few short years.

Koala and I were looking at a book last night. He pointed to a picture of a brown-skinned teacher.

“What’s that?”

“A teacher.”

Pointing lower, “what’s that?”

“Her legs.”

“What’s the brown?”

I’ve been wondering when he’d ask.

“That’s her skin.” I rubbed my arms and face. “Do you see your skin? It’s everywhere.”

He rubbed his face.

“Her skin is brown. What color is your skin?”

Koala looked at his arms and hands.


“Ok… what color is Bebe’s?”

He looks over at her on the floor. “Green.”

I laugh. “There are different colors. But everybody has skin.”


Moving to Israel? Make sure you Stick Around.

To ulpan or not to ulpan? It’s up to you, but it doesn’t have to end when you leave the musty, dingy premises of the classroom…

Take ulpan home with you with Stick Around.

The story behind Stick Around goes something like this:

“Aaaahhh!!!” my wife yelled, and even though it’s not a word, I could easily understand that she was yelling in English. As a new immigrant she was loving life in Israel, but there was one huge frustrating obstacle: Hebrew.

It’s a rite of passage for olim: the language barrier, climbing over the language barrier, falling backwards behind the language barrier, and so on. We have good days, bad days, and oh-my-god-I’m-tired-of-sounding-crazy days.

So this gingy huz-wife team took their own experience and turned it into a product: Stick Around. For thirty bucks, they’re a set of over 500 Hebrew vocabulary stickers to stick around your house on relevant objects to slowly osmosis your way to recognizable Hebrew skills. And that way… you’ll more likely stick. around.

Good luck – b-hatz-la-cha – בהצלחה

Fifty-Two Frames: Line From A Song.

All week, it’s been the ‘I’ word.

Which brings up the ‘w’ word, which brings up the ‘b’ word and so on and so on…

When I did this photo shoot, I was nearly in tears the first take. My son was around, watching me take the boxes out of the closet and arranging them on the floor so I could get a shot of Bebe playing around them.

“What’s dis?”

“A box.”

“What’s inside?”

I didn’t really know  how to answer… I have an honesty-within-age-context policy. But dealing with the topic of war eludes me.

“Something for when things are dangerous, that only Ima and Abba can open. Do not open the boxes, ok? Only we can open them.”

He kept asking and I went frozen for a while. What would he think if we ever had to use it? How would I even get him to look at me without freaking out?

How do you make war on a nearly 3-year-old?

Week 6: Line From A Song

Balkan Beat Box: War Again. The photo’s line is: “Who’s gonna gain outta this war again?”

In case the photo is lost on someone, some background: for the last year or so, Israel has stepped up the giving out of gas masks. War is brewing, whether it’s directly with Iran or with Iran’s favored trust fund babies, Hezbollah and Hamas among others. The country is gearing up and the government has been more vocal about that fact lately.

The boxes in the photo are gas masks. Our area was given them shortly after Bebe was born this year. The big ones with orange lettering are children’s gas masks and the black ones are adults’.  

I often look around wondering what everyone else is thinking. Haven’t figured it out yet though.