The last week.

This isn’t how I thought it would end.

I didn’t think the end would begin with a deep soreness, tiny stabs of pain, highlighted by stinging tears; the added torture of me trying to hold all this in and stay strong for you, to avoid the chance you’d feel unwhole, to acknowledge your instinctual longing, to turn away in the hope you wouldn’t see me holding back, and cry yourself to sleep.

I just didn’t see it coming, I didn’t know that’s how it would go.

Day by day for this last week, I held back while you went ahead. How each day, you could start a little more fresh, a little more optimistic; how you could then end each day a little more fulfilled, a bit brighter, that much more ready.

Without me.

You were slowly moving on, and I wasn’t seeing it. My time was occupied waiting for us to reunite.

Day by day, you managed; surpassed; moved on.

One week later, you are the happiest I’ve ever seen you.

Running ahead, a vision of fresh opportunity, arms open, drawn to people who are not me, people who have not nourished you with love and comfort for the last year and a half. At the other end of these last few days, you haven’t run to me in desperation, clinging to the crutch I nurtured. Now you see me and smile while you hang back, greet me brightly from a distance. Even Ruth, she said to me today – one week later – “you know, she’s just so happy. I can’t even explain why. She’s just been happy – changed.”

It’s been a week. And I never thought once in this time that this is how it ends. You, reborn. Me, at a loss.

I didn’t want to hurt you, I absorbed all the pain. And I didn’t see it coming.

And here we are. The physical pain has passed – it’s been a whole day without the break in my chest, the throbbing, the feeling of being shattered, burst open, bruised. That’s subsided and now I look up from this dark week and the tears are receding with the tide, the cracks are filled, the sores are healed; but the pain in my heart is encased in a crust that is raw and fresh and choking.

And you – you’re happy. And tonight, I hold you in my arms, your tiny head resting against my shoulder, the slow, mellow motion of your breathing against my upper chest… as I hold you like this, in the dark room, quiet and at peace… as I hold you I know you are happy. And I know I am, somehow, too. And I know this pain is about my loss and my failure to never consider it could end like this, but knowing – somewhere, between the tender bruising that is both reminder and revelation – somewhere, deep inside my chest, right behind my deflated, soft, healing breasts – baby girl, this is for the best.

Working mom chronicles: 4 skills I’ve proudly mastered

Good evening, fellow working parents! Are you relaxed after a long day of <fill in various blanks>?

Let’s not focus on the negative. Sure, being a full time working parent of multiple children, equipped with the partnership of a similarly full time working parent is, well, rough.

But there are perks! I’ve picked up new skills. It’s like someone famous and successful once said – “you never know what you are capable of until you try absolutely have no choice but to get that shit done.”

The 45-second pedicure

Ingredients: Feet, nailpolish (in a bold color, because you’ve got nothing to lose), closed toilet seat to prop the foot, then the sink because baby will inevitably reach the top of the closed toilet seat. Also, base coat if you really want the extra challenge.

From the second you’re finished, you have about 3 days 1 day 12 hours 7 minutes before something smudges or chips. Congrats: you’ve achieved the 3-day old look.

The half-decent haircut

By haircut I mean random snipping of dead ends, and by half-decent I mean it’s so ‘layered’ no one notices because, let’s face it, it was a mess before and it’s still a mess now.

But check off haircut from your to-do list! You just bought another 6 months.

Grammatically correct, formatted email communication – including attachment

I took to one-handed typing fairly easily. It only gets better with time and number of kids. Now I can send full emails – no typos, perfect structure, with attachment – by one-hand typing.

This, I believe, has lead to another skill which I am utterly ashamed of: texting while walking. I’m so ashamed about this I cannot elaborate. I hang my head in shame. While texting. Perfectly.

Lots of mistakes with very few fucks to give

My favorite new skill. I don’t mean, leave your house messy and not care. Or forget details because you’re tired. I mean letting go of being flat-out wrong at least 29357293875 times a day. Not always being nice because that requires, literally, too much energy.

Not batting an eye when your son comes up to you – while you’re laying down – pats your stomach and says you remind him of his 8-month pregnant ganenet.

Not reading over this post 57248574 times before just hitting publish because dammit, you miss blogging and you’ll make teeny tiny time for it when you can.

See? So much going on and I still have time to pick up new skills.

What are some new skills in your “goddammit, I’m gonna make this work” toolbox?

Some kind of ‘mom rite-of-passage.’

So… this happened.

After picking up the kiddos, deciding to be spontaneous, bypass the way home, stop in Mevo Beitar to let the kids play in the way-better park, call up Koala’s lil bestie to come, split up an hour later to drive home, put the kids in their car seats, shut the doors, and try to open mine…

I locked the kids in the car.

I tried the doors 21897543 times, pleaded with the keys, tormenting me from the front seat, and then I rallied. I spoke to Koala through the window. He was surprisingly calm. That’s one thing that I kept feeling relieved about – he can rally in the face of panic. We spoke through the window for a few minutes as I tried to tell him how to undo the carseat. He couldn’t do it, though he did follow my instructions pretty well.

I told him I was going to go somewhere, and I’d be right back. I ran back to the park, but none of the kids there had cell phones (aren’t we in Israel for god’s sake?!). So I went back to the kids, then to the nearest house, from which I turned away once I spotted the enormous horse dog guarding the front door.

Ran back to the kids, then back to the second nearest house. Knocked on the door. A guy who looked familiar opened it. He acted like he knew me, and then as we walked to the car together, it hit me – his daughter, perched in his arms, goes to Koala’s gan.

(Can you imagine how odd this must have all been to the boy?)

Anyway, after trying a few things, and refusing to wait for the huz to get back from Modiin or Shagrir to find their way to Mevo Beitar… I decided I wasn’t going to traumatize my kids any more than they already were by waiting outside the car, forty more minutes for help to arrive.

Instead, we broke a window.

And that’s when Koala freaked. And rightly so. It was a violent act, an attack on Ima’s car. So again, I was pretty ok with his ability to rally in the face of violence.

He also had a hard time leaving the thousands of little glass shards on the ground when we drove away… All he wanted was to put them all back…

Both kids were pretty shaken by the time I got them home. The whole thing had been 40 minutes, and we got home and discussed what happened. It’s not the first or second time Koala’s been visibly traumatized, and deconstructing what happened is the best medicine.

So I’m out a window, but at least my kids are ok, it wasn’t a hot day, and they both were able to keep their cool for most of the event.

I guess it’s better this way; I’d rather pay the price of a broken front-seat passenger window than the price of my nearly 3-year-old knowing how to get out of his carseat.

Automatic door-locker lesson learned.

Turns out, my mother did the same to me as a baby.

I’ll have to warn my daughter in advance.



So, for just a minute, humor me.

I make an ongoing effort to forget how hard this is. I swallow a lot in order to make the daily grind seem easier. And I try to push away my lucky, amazing, beautiful problems because I know so many people have much worse challenges: poor health… empty wallets… loneliness… family strife… career drama…

But for just a minute, this is about me.

Living here – living anywhere – without your family backbone support is tough. There’s no way around it and there’s no way to sugar-coat it. When people leave Israel after having kids, citing ‘we needed to be closer to our family’ I have no response. I get you. This challenging existence – becoming a parent and making all the pieces fit, every single day – I imagine it would be fairly difficult even with your parents in the same country. City. Community. Street.

But to do this alone… especially when neither of you have parents or aunts or uncles or siblings or cousins or childhood friends nearby. To know every day you’re coming home and it’s all you. All the time.

If you’re going to go out, it’s a babysitter that eats up half your going-out budget. It’s a babysitter who, let’s face it, you’re going to constantly be wondering if the kids are ok for her, if she’s able to put them back to bed, maybe we shouldn’t stay out that late because it’ll be too much for everyone else.

To not be around your family as everyone grows older, changes, morphs into the next chapter – including your kids, including your parents, including the family culture you grew up with. Or even the opportunity to create your own.

To not have any of that family lifestyle. To be naturally independent but then forced to be independent.

To watch as so many people in this society around you do have it. That it’s an integral part of it.

Well, I don’t like to whine too much; I did choose this, it’s now complicated, and let’s face it, I want to raise my kids here and not where I grew up.

But it’s hard. And I’m allowed a few emo days now and then.

Ahem. I now pronounce the self-pity party over and I’m left with this container of amazing, creamy Israeli ice cream in my favorite flavor.

Koala update: Two years.

Happy birthday, Koala! I appreciate that you woke up today at the same hour you were born two years ago – 6:10 am. Could be worse; we’ve been there together, haven’t we?

And here I thought the first year saw the most change from start to finish… But the second year definitely held its own; there’s been a whole lot of moving, talking, and personality-developing. And of course, tantruming.

And here we are, Koala.

You are, in short, a love. Incredibly sweet. Curious. Sensitive. Funny. Careful.  And when you’re not those things, you’re loud, expressive, intense, demanding, dramatic. Essentially, you’re two. And you’re buckets of fun.

There’s nothing like laughing at your antics, but I notice that lately you’re becoming self conscious about being seemingly laughed at. It’s with, Koala. Don’t shy from your inner funny – keep us cracking up. It’ll get you far as a child of immigrants.

It’s been a helluva month, too – you became a big brother, and you’re adjusting in stride. We’re riding out the initial wave together, and then soon we’ll be focusing on some lesser – but still toddler life-altering – changes. You’ll be getting a bed soon. You’ll be toilet-training very soon. And you’ll be in the older group at gan next year.

What I’m looking forward to as we toddle ahead to three: Watching, listening, and learning from you as you develop your bilingual language skills. Being an audience to your growing imagination. Witnessing you grow from little baby to big brother.

Koala update: Twenty three months.

Well, this is it, Koala. The last update before you become a big brother, assuming all goes as planned.

I can’t believe it’s been two years. I can’t believe it’s only been two years. And now your whole life is going to be turned upside-down.

And you’ll be even more awesome for it, I promise.

I know you’re as ready as you can be. We’ve been prepping you, and I’m pretty sure gan has been too; I sure didn’t teach you to crumple up your bib, gently take it in your arms, rock it, and say over and over again, “boobah… boobah…”

But we’ve been doing other things. Like introducing you to the ‘bebe’ in mama’s belly. Or encouraging you to feed, share, and care for your own bebe doll.  And you really do.

I love the mornings when, even before you request your ‘bilk’ you point to your water bottle and direct it towards bebe. Or insist on giving her some of your chocolate, your blankie, or even your motzetz.

It’ll be challenging, sweets. For both of us. But we’ll be fine. And I know that you’ll be there for me when I’m having new mother moments of doubt and fear.

Or maybe I won’t have them this time, since it seems in two years I’ve managed to do a pretty o.k. job.

Koala update: Twenty one months.

I’m having a hard time believing we’re three months to two-years-old. I’m having a harder time believing we’re three months to two children.

It’s a really great time for Koala lately. The teeth are in, the whining has been at a minimum, we’ve learned more about identifying his moods, words, wants and needs to avoid meltdowns.

Well, at least for now. A lot of my time with Koala lately (aside from enjoying every second of this age) has been wondering how the Ultimate Meltdown post-NewBaby will play out. Well, it’ll be what it’ll be.

For now…

Social life and public speaking.

The visit to Australia did wonders for Koala’s social life and public speaking. Hanging with eight cousins for four weeks (and all the squealing and hugging and emoting that comes with it) opened Koala up even more than he already was. And between Huz and I, we know it’s clearly not genetic, so go figure.

The word count soars every day (the latest: ‘cheese and vegemite!’). We even have a couple of phrases – ‘don’t want,’ and one of my favorites – ‘aww, man!’ Obviously I taught him ‘dude’ and obviously he says it in a way that sounds like an Israeli arse trying to look cool in New York. The most fun word to hear him say is ‘juice.’ It comes out like ‘jooshz.’

And better yet, combining both achievements, Koala can now say both his girlfriends’ names (Shira and Talia).

Introducing’pee!’ and ‘poo!’

Hello there, have you met our new friends, Pee and Poo? Koala has, and I’m finding that:

  1. He likes to make their presence known.
  2. He likes to accompany Mama when she, well, you know.
  3. He insists on trying the toilet out for himself when nature’s call rings.

So, armed with a Sesame Street mini toilet seat (Elmo! Ernie!), we give it a shot every once in a while. Mainly going through the motions (and diapers). I think we’re going to take it one day at a time; the Big Shakeup in April is enough for one tiny toddler to handle (see above, Ultimate Meltdown).

Bathing Beebee

But it’s not all Meltdowns and Shakeups around here. For a little while now we have been getting Koala acquainted with ‘Beebee’ (it’s how he pronounces baby). ‘Mama’s beebee’ refers to my bulging belly. ‘Bath with Beebee’ is nightly quality time for Koala and his little baby doll. And any photo of Koala before six months ago is quickly labeled ‘beebee’ (how they forget so fast…).

Happy Australia Day, by the way.