Year of me.

Seeing as I’m a mother and there’s really no ‘me’ anymore, here’s what I’m thinking…

As of a couple weeks ago, when Bebe essentially weaned herself, thereby letting my body free into the universe where no one depends on it directly for sustenance, whether in utero or by breast… it marks the first time in four years I’m not trying to get pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding.

And though, I have to admit, a part of me is tempted to continue through to the next stop on the child train, I also think I’ll be a better mother if I give myself a break. Some breathing room. Some sleeping space. Some time to wear bras that are kinda pretty.

So I’m declaring Year of Me. Like I said… that’s pretty much a misnomer, but here’s what I’m thinking: I’m going to use the time to perhaps grow back a few of the lost brain cells my kids have eaten and learn a few new things. Do some cranial workouts. Explore the stuff I used to love before I home-made instant-and-forever all-encompassing loves.

Also, in about four months, I turn 30.

I’m all at once apathetic and squeamish. I don’t care about dates but I do care about milestones. I’ve already got a lot under my belt but I feel like there’s something memorable I should do to mark the new decade. It feels young and old. It feels tired and energized. It feels pretty and spent.

And, no, I’m not into skydiving.

Thoughts?

Oh, we’re nowhere near the end.

Not kidding about the handwriting. In honor of this ‘writing exercise’ turning 8-years-old this week, I’m posting a quickie writing workout (rapid-write) I did today at my newest adventure, a 6-session Writing Gym.

So I’ve been writing since I could write. Since writing was drawing. Since the drawings began accompanying the words. Since the words dropped the drawings and filled their own pages.

That’s mainly been manifested in ongoing journaling that hasn’t stopped to take a breath since I was thirteen.

Over the years I’ve written “on the side” – poetry, lots of poetry, what I learned later was called ‘prose,’ stories, chapters of non-existent novels, academic theses, newspaper articles, marketing materials, social media content.

It was only recently I finally came to terms with the idea that I don’t have to be a novelist to be a successful writer. To be successful. To be published. I realized somewhere in year seven or eight of my blogging habit that I’m – a writer. Successful. Published.

And it doesn’t much matter, anyway; something I subsequently learned. I just have to keep going, keep exercising, and maybe it’ll never stop. Maybe something amazing will happen. Maybe being a writer is never feeling 100% sure of yourself. Maybe it’s never being satisfied. Maybe it’s believing I will someday be satisfied, but that day will actually never come.

Maybe it’s about being able to express myself to you better this way than I ever would dare in spoken word.

So the pages and pages I’ve filled – in notebooks or blog posts – they’re doing something… I hope. For me as a writer. Proving me a writer. Being me, a writer.

Something else I’ve learned: my handwriting is a secret language you can only understand if you’re me at the time of writing.

THE haircut.

So this news is a month old… on the other hand, see how I ‘waited’ to post about Koala’s haircut until after Lag Ba’Omer?

The haircut went really well. I was a little reserved about it because I know my child, and he’s the type that if he doesn’t know you, doesn’t want you touching him, and doesn’t want to be anywhere near your scissors, well, it’s best we all just get out of the way.

But he had been talking about this haircut for probably a year. He knew what it was, and he knew he wanted one. “Like Abba,” he’d say. “And like Bebe.”

(“But not like Ima. Ima no have haircut.”)

We decided to have a little party with friends around getting his first kipa and tzitzit, and Abba snipped the first bit of hair symbolically. Then we went home and the haircut happened.

It helped that the hairdresser is an absolute sweetheart and excellent with kids. Koala sat great and loved every second of it. And when we showed it to him at the end, we could all feel the rite of passing, all around us in the room.

The Last Bath.

Enjoying the last hair toss.

The middle of the haircut.

The new look.

 

I was never an Israeli child so I’ll likely never get this.

Lag B’Omer. I’m leveling with you: as an adult olah, I will probably never ever understand fully the appeal and utter dismissal for environmental health and safety that is this 33rd day of the counting of the Omer… in Israel.

Until this morning I couldn’t for the life of me remember what we Americanos did as kids in school on Lag Ba’Omer. It’s like the memories just weren’t important enough to hold on to. Maybe that’s sad in itself. But after being reminded, it flooded back: the whole school going to a big nature reserve nearby, to sprawl out with packed lunches, frisbees, kickballs, hula hoops, general running around and being kids enjoying the grass, trees, blue skies… Turning it into some kind of Jewishly-oriented environmental appreciation day.

FYI, I have some fond memories and a healthy dose of reality in remembering my rabbis and Lakewood-y teachers getting down with nature.

Here, perhaps it’s more memorable – as the kids seem to have a blast – but at what cost? Why does everyone need to make their own bonfires? Couldn’t it be communal? Why must we do it at all? Why isn’t better fire safety taught? Where’s the environmental appreciation in burning anything you can find and watching your yishuv from under a smoky haze?

Why is it a day off from school instead of a learning opportunity? Couldn’t our kids be brought to local nature reserves? Gather inside a cave, simulate the religious-historical  experience? Hell, learn about cave survival?

Point is, the odd/mystical/violent/depressing background to the holiday may be a lot for kids. Then let’s reframe it. Make it educational… and fun. Not destructive.

Because I gotta say, whatever the religious significance of Lag B’Omer – and it’s been totally lost on me from under this insulting black cloud – it can’t possibly be to disregard our beloved surroundings, the land we’ve yearned for, for so long.

That said… Sigh. Here’s my own little Israeli child enjoying his gan’s celebration the day before.

Another one bites the smoke.

Bebe update: Thirteen months.


Welcome to being over the hill, babyhood-style.

We started the month, Bebe, with you taking me on a nostalgic trip to the college days, as you went through some kind of boob-spurt and practically tore my shirt off any time you wanted to nurse. It was like as soon as the clock turned one-year, you had a surge of assertiveness I hadn’t seen before.

You know what you wanted, and you wanted milk. Or comfort. Or dominance. I’m not sure. And for the first half of the month, I was too taken aback to ask you.

But then something happened. Something I don’t wish on any little baby or parent.

You contracted… this.

And it sucked.

But unfortunately, you didn’t. You ceased all sucking activity one day. No more pacifier, no more boob. I held out for the disease to pass, and pumped as a placeholder. But you never came back.

I tried every day since and you haven’t come back.

It’s over a week now, and you won’t have it, and I guess we’re done, B. I really actually enjoyed nursing you. I was debating weaning for a few weeks back there, but as soon as you stopped I knew I hadn’t really been ready. It was different with your brother… I think we were both secretly relieved and just didn’t tell each other. But you – we had something really special.

Now it seems you stopped from the pain, struggled, and now you’ve moved on.

And, moving on, you’ve begun taking steps towards steps. Somehow, this month, you’ve taken first independent steps on couches… Hey, I get it, we have really comfortable couches.

But you do love walking, holding on to whatever.

But perhaps, to make up for the lost mama milky moments, you’ve given me something else… your gift of gab. Today I asked you if you wanted more cereal, and you shook your head ‘no,’ and then I asked if you’d like water, and you nodded your head ‘yes.’

You call my name, you show me what you want, you tell me you want more. You try a new word on your tongue and look around for approval.

You read a goodnight story with me, you communicate your loves, wants, hates, curiosities.

And so we begin, Bebe. The rite of all mamas and bebes everywhere, from God to Eve, Yocheved to Miriam, my mother to me.

The mother-daughter talkfest.

 

 

The way the Internets are played in Israel.

This is a funny kind of report, funded by Google Israel, but it’s still interesting to note: Arabs in Israel blog more than Jews, study finds (or if you can’t stomach JPost so well, here’s Israel Hayom).

It’s not surprising that over 70% of Israelis surf the internet. It is kinda interesting to learn that Haredim beat out Hilonim (secular) when it comes to video-watching online – it’s 81% over 73%. Wonder what website all those shiurim are on.

Some more bite-size pieces:

  • On Captain Obvious: “The study found that the online habits of Israelis directly reflect the country’s social, economic, cultural and religious makeup, with the secular public being more connected to the Internet than the ultra- Orthodox, higher earners and young people spending more time on social networking platforms and Hebrew speakers preferring to surf Hebrew-language websites.”
  • On blogging: According to the study, Israeli Arabs prove more active in their blogging than their Jewish counterparts. 28.3% of Arab speakers reported writing a blog said they updated it daily, while only 12% of Jewish bloggers said the same. 37% of the blog-reading Arab population does so  everyday, with 24% of blog-reading Jews read with such frequency.
  • On video watching: “Comparing the Jewish and Arab sectors, research found that 76% of Jews and 63% of Arabs watch online videos, although more Arab users (27%) upload videos than Jewish users (19%).”
  • Pretty much true: And not shocking. All the recent immigrants aged 15-17 responded that they’re active in social media.

Also, 87%-98% of surveys are pretty much for entertainment value.

Fifty-Two Frames: Sound.

Here’s what I learned: Sound is tough to photograph. If you don’t want to be cliche.

I got some cool shots of construction trucks mid-scooping and dropping dirt (I can’t remember how to say their names in English, aside from the names they have on Bob the Builder. Seriously.). But they didn’t convey the sound of the machinery the way I wanted.

In the end, the movement of her hand seemed more audibly 3-D to me.

Week 18: Sound.

“Because you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop.” (RIP MCA)

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