American snapshots: new, old, cliches of cliches

Ok, that said, I cherish the quick snapshots I get hanging old school. Or new school, since we visited Florida this time.

Flying with kids… enjoying their curiosity…

The fruit lets you know…

The natives are still new to me…

The cliches who become even bigger cliches…

New places…

Old bedroom, old school…

And, really now, is there a term yet for when a first world country has surpassed its own first worldness?

 

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.

Oh.

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.

 

Me and Irene.

Our trip to New York City is down to its last 24 hours. It was too short, and I’m not just saying that because it’s always too short. It was actually on the short side. But, alas. We spent the weekend with Irene, same as the millions of other peeps across the East Coast. I tend to come to New York for the exciting times: the 2005 Blackout, the 2006 Blizzard, Hurricane Irene. The hurricane that wasn’t. Yet, was. Parts of Staten Island got smashed; we were five minutes into one that wasn’t. After the rain stopped, I walked in the drizzle and got dramatic:

Among the ‘wreckage’ I found a survivor…

Surviving. Another trip to visit family, another reminder of the long distance relationships I’ve created. Another dilemma. Another flight. Another next time.

Lizrael Update: Insane mom you hate on flights edition.

Bulletin:  I’m leaving tonight to New York, with both my kids, alone.

That’s one adult to two kids. Or, one adult to an infant and a terrible two.

So if you’re on my flight, sucks for you. Sucks worse for me.

Like I told my mom, who I’m sure is containing all the giddy-with-pleasure as best she can until we’re settled in and over the flight:

It’s going to be hard and I always come off cursing but this is the kind of life I chose so here goes…

Coming to Israel? Things to do.

Recently wrote up some off-the-top-of-my-head Israel tourism ideas for a friend coming in the summer (with a 6-month-old baby).

So, while I’m at it, why not share, right?

Short-term rentals

There are quite often short-term rentals of apartments in Jerusalem and elsewhere, which is probably a better bet than hotel if you’re coming for a ‘longer’ term, staying in the same city, or coming with kids. Lotsa people are doing it nowadays. Janglo and Flathunting have listings, and homeless.co.il might also. A coworker of mine found a place for two weeks on Israel-local Craigslist, which was impressive to me since I never heard of anyone actually using it.

Activities

GroopBuy and Groupon are available here if you want to take advantage of deals for restaurants/activities. You can watch the lists in advance and snatch up the deals for your trip.

I recommend taking hikes around the Ein Kerem/Jerusalem forest/Mazleg area. Gorgeous nature for just walking around freely. Good thing to do with 6-month-old too, if you have a good carrier or backpack.

Tzimmers are awesome, and with baby – well, if you’re baby’s a good sleeper, hey, who knows, you could enjoy some romantic secluded quiet in the north. I’d ask for recommendations on Twitter/Janglo. Many come with access to pools, so find one with a pool or on a farm or somewhere where there are nearby activities.

A coworker of mine bought on GroopBuy passes for hot-air ballooning; I think it’s somewhere near the center, near Modiin but not totally sure.

With a baby, the activities get tricky. I remember I came to New York with mine at about that age. We did a lot of strollering through parks. So if you’re into things like museums, parks, tours, hikes, it’s good with a kid that young because they just chill, if they’re calm babies. We took him to the Biblical Zoo around that time too, though it was more for the walk around and ourselves than him. Herzliyah has a nice boardwalk area with shops and food and beach.

Modiin has a relatively new park called Anava Park; they created a lake and have boating there. It’s near the mall. Thing is, with the baby, it’s tough; we tried with ours at a year old, and the sun was too hot and it was kind of miserable. And if you’re not going to Modiin in any case, not necessarily worth the trip.

Food

Things to do and eat… Well, lately I’ve been hanging out in Ein Kerem, which is gorgeous in spring. It’s an old-style Christian area and on the outskirts of Jerusalem, so it’s a quiet funky place to hang out and get something to eat. There is a relatively new kosher meat place called Charlotte I’ve heard good things about, and an excellent dairy place called Beit HaMaayan.

Oh, there’s also an awesome dairy restaurant by the windmill in Jerusalem – it’s called Montefiore. Gabriel is a meat restaurant with French flair in town (on Shlomtzion Halmalka or near there). I also favor Buffalo steakhouse on Emek (South American-ish). I highly DON’T recommend La Guta on Emek – had two terrible experiences there, food-wise and service-wise.

Also, if you want the whole Israeli grill experience, my favorite is Tzidkiyahu on Yad Harutzim in Talpiot – all you can eat salad course (salads, felafel, fries, rice, and more) with your choice of shishliks (skewers) – chicken, lamb, steak, pargit, etc. Lots of places do this but they are by far the best in my opinion.

I recommend looking up info on the restaurants on rest.co.il. You may already know about eluna and that you can get 15% discounts when you print the coupons for specific restaurants.

Nesiya tova!

Back to gan.

We got back from Australia/Hong Kong late Monday night, kept off the radar yesterday and went back to respective offices/gans today.

The report from Koala’s ganenet was – shockingly good, for a kid who doesn’t sleep much on airplanes.

  • He is definitely taller than when he left.
  • He went to the play kitchen and did netilat yadayim with a cup in the sink – just like his Bubbe taught him every day in Australia.
  • He hugged all the kids.
  • He asked for things he wanted using words – food, water, etc.
  • He pointed to each motzetz and matched it with the kid it belongs to, from memory, along with their sippie cups.
  • He kissed the mezuza (and forced me to kiss it) on the way out.

So much about being away, being with family, being with eight cousins, really did a lot for Koala. He’s opened up, he’s expressing, he’s figuring things out, and he’s gotten over his fear of monkeys.

More on that later; I’m jet lagged.

You can’t stay mad at me…

There are a gajillion reasons why kids are fascinating. Here’s one:

I spent last week on a business trip to New York City. It was my seventh time traveling since getting pregnant with Koala. It was my fifth time traveling since he was born.

It was my first time in seven trips traveling without him.

The morning after I left, I’m told he searched the second floor of our apartment as his father tried to explain to him that mama is not around right now. He went from my side of the bed, to the bathroom, to the stairs, calling, ‘MA!’

After that, he seemed well-adjusted. At his gan, the teachers told my husband, you’d never know anything was different – he was so well-behaved!

I did ok, too. There were harder times – like when I waited for my flight out at the airport the night I left. I started to wonder if I was ridiculous for doing this. How could I leave my baby like that? For work?

But the week was mostly ok. I was anxious by the end to get home; especially with the chance my flight would be delayed and I’d have to stay the weekend. But it turned out fine, and I walked out of the arrivals hall to Koala, half asleep, looking up at me, smiling.

Except…

Today, I went into the gan to pick him up. He ran straight for me, excited to see me there again as normal. It was obvious and incredibly cute. I chatted with the ganenet a little while; she told me how well-behaved he was while I was gone. How well he eats. Oh, but one thing…

He’s been hitting other kids. Funny, it just started last week. Has he done that at home?

Why, it just so happens he recently started – this weekend, actually. Hitting me, in fact. With a little evil monkey face.

So, Koala was mad. Or resentful. And he’s showing me that.

Actually, that makes me feel a lot better.

My travel agent’s words of wisdom.

Today my travel agent (la di da) and I were commiserating over traveling cross-Atlantic with kids.

Can I get a hell, yeah?

She had some words of wisdom; not necessarily advice but an appropriate sentiment I had not been able to express until she mentioned it:

Flying with children is like giving birth – it sucks for about 12-15 hours, it’s painful, it’s uncomfortable, it’s torture. But at the end, when you’re done, you’ve totally forgotten it and are happy with what you have…

…which is why we end up doing it, again and again and again.