The big boy with Tatty!

The big boy with Tatty!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When the Mind Races

I’m making a concerted effort to try to spend more time writing. I know I do better when I write, I know it’s how I express myself, it’s how I connect to the world, it’s how I live and breathe. But I don’t do it nearly as often as I used to. Part of it is the more religious I became the more I realized there was no place in this world for the fantasy fiction I was writing. It’s taken time, and a lot of thinking and slowly I have found new ways of writing, that are still thrilling, but do have a place here. I dream of stories when I sleep at night, and laugh when I try to put them on the proverbial paper, aka my computer. But then when I do that, other thoughts constantly run into my brain and as I drifted in and out of consciousness today, while cuddling with my three year old who is exhausted until he slept, the question came popping into my head? What was Chava’s sin? What did she so bad that the punishment has lasted for thousands of years, pain through birth, being dependent on our husbands.
            This thought started with a thought I had this morning as I was making breakfast for my boys. I was considering the differences in how my husband an I attach to God. I tend to question everything, which means I have moments where I think some of what we do is utterly stupid and a complete waste of time. I hate that the thoughts come in but they do, why do we have to be so strict, why can’t I watch a movie? (Actually I do from time to time) but it’s only when no else, particularly little eyes can see. I thrive on solid, tangible facts and logical reasoning, but as I read this weeks parshah and try to explain it to my son, I wonder so many why’s that I wonder why I even do what I do.
            Then I thought about my husband. He has it, he has the secret that tethers him closer to Hashem than me. He has Kabbalas Ol (literally the yoke of heaven, you just do it because you do.) The realization is stifling. And so I struggle.
            Then I began thinking as I dozed what that really meant to me and I thought about it in the only tangible way possible, the relationship between men and women. Women are either encouraged to be dainty little helpless princesses, or self reliant. There is hardly an in between. However if we are completely self reliant, than how can a man ever provide for us, and truly get to be a man? If we take up enough of self reliance, when will he show us what a gentleman he can be? Because being such has become cliché. So what did Chava do? She did what her husband asked her not to, and when she took from the Tree of Knowledge and her eyes were opened, what did she do? It wasn’t enough that she had made the mistake, now she insisted on her husband doing the same thing, I don’t know if any sage backs up my thoughts, but it’s almost as if she made the biggest mistake of all time, and then did what any woman would, drag someone else down with her, in effect controlling him…
            And that’s where I struggle. To constantly be in control, but I can’t tell God how to run His world and to only do it in a way that makes sense and is controllable to me, and I can’t control my husband. My avodah right now, is simply to be a wife and a mother and rely on Hashem for all the rest God willing. It’s said that we are supposed to correct Chava’s sin, and there are so many ways we do, my biggest struggle is being subservient to anyone and anything, husband or God and I’m realizing that if I don’t make a larger effort I am cutting myself off from a deeper connection to my husband and to Hashem.

            And that’s what happens when I’m tired and lost in thoughts for the majority of the morning.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Day You were Born

            A few weeks ago I was having yet another trying day with my oldest. I promise you, he is not a bad kid, but active, curious, inquisitive and sometimes, just like his parents assertive and independent, and no one is going to tell him what to do. I’ve been reading every book I can get my hands on, trying to find ways other than raising my voice, to get him to either comply, or simply just stop whatever it is he is doing, no matter how three year old like it might be. These are most of the time major things, like taking toys away from his brother, which means my 14 month old cries, and cries and at some point the crying grates on my nerves, or getting into thing and making messes, all day, and trust me I spend more time cleaning the messes than I do with him, which compounds the issue that he is telling me he wants more me time. I am attempting to cut back my screen time, I suck at it, but I’m trying to. And finally I decided to take a page out of Jennifer Kolari’s book and sit down, give him some blessed one on one time that included showing him just how special he was to me.
            We opened the computer and I looked up the pictures of the day he was born. My children were born in two completely different settings, Menachem Mendel in the Hospital and Yosef Yitzchak at home.
            I showed Menachem Mendel, pictures of him inside my tummy, which consequently were his favorites. I told him how special he was, because he was my first baby, he was the baby that made me a mommy, I was already his mommy when YY was born. Then he noticed things that weren’t around when I was laboring with his brother. He was there through most of my three day marathon with YY, he did not see any IV’s, he didn’t see doctors, he didn’t see hospital beds, and the question inevitably came up, in three year old fashion, why was little brother born at home and he wasn’t?
            I stumbled and just said, because he was born in the hospital.
            What are those? The Iv’s sticking out of mommy’s hands. I told him they had medicine that the doctors were putting in me.
            Why wasn’t YY born in the hospital.         
            And while we were enjoying our connection, I sat and had to think, how do I tell him I hated the day he was born? I hated the days that followed? I couldn’t stand my life, until we were home, and you could feel the calm wash away my worries and pain like a warm bath. I hated that I did what was expected of me, from induction, to the worlds most painful epidural that I still cringe and refuse to remember in detail, to the 27 hours of sheer hell and embarrassment, all to make everyone else feel safe and comfortable. I didn’t feel like I could love my son until we were home, and we were able to bond, and no one was waking us every four hours to make sure I was still breathing because they were too lazy to sit at my bedside like my midwife did after my second.
            I hated my husband for not standing up for me, I hated the woman that went with me, who promised she would advocate for me, and failed and did more to encourage interventions, and stupidly I went along with it, because hey? Why not? It’s what made everyone else feel good. I hated that they refused me food and drink, and that my heartburn was so bad I puked on the nurse (on purpose) for refusing to give me something to ease it.
            I hated that the whole time they humiliated me and made fun of my weight and refused to treat me like a person, didn’t let me speak to a Lactation Consultant and misread my charts. For two days I could barely stand because they didn’t give me iron. I was at risk for hemorrhaging, because I had to read my own charts and tell them that I was anemic, and the doctor had iron to start forty eight hours ago, and why did I have to spend those days barely able to walk to the bathroom?
            I hated that his birth led to a shoulder dystocia, the doctors never told me how bad it was, what it was and nearly broke his clavicle and could have caused long term physical harm and I wasn’t even given the option to know what was going on. I hate that it lead the Midwife Center, who are supposed to be natural birth minded, to abusing me, talking down to me, and acting like someone who is obese with no complications must have a C-section or else they will and did drop my care less than two months before my next baby was supposed to come.
            Of course I can’t tell my son those things. Maybe when he is going to be a father, and he asks me how he can best aid his wife, and what their options should be, will I come forward and explain why I hated his birth…but all I said was, “the doctors gave me medicine that made me very sick and I didn’t like it. So I decided to hire Valerie, and not get the medicine.”
            He knows nothing of the mechanics of birth. As far as he cares, Hashem puts the baby in my tummy, and then Valerie comes and takes the baby out. But it was a moment, that I realized how much I thank God for giving me the strength to make sure that the second time around, I made the right choices for myself and my family and that thank God I had the most empowering experience giving birth at home, giving birth with a midwife who respected my choices, spoke to me not down and at me, was my partner in helping to birth my baby, and who I trusted. We don’t have to do this to ourselves, birth should be beautiful, it should be sacred, it should be as peaceful as it can be, for everyone.

            I had the thought that after 5,000 years or more of birth, aren’t we done paying for Chava’s sin? Haven’t we experienced enough pain and humiliation in birth for the apple in the Garden of Eden? Hashem should send Mashiach so all women can know truly happy and peaceful births, with no more trauma, and no more pain. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Enjoying Peace

I’m sitting on my porch watching my three year old wander around with his best friend Wamy. Wamy, has been around since he was born and we’ve had some close calls with losing the little guy. Seriously, I had palpitations, how do you tell someone his best friend is gone? Thank God, Hashem had mercy on my son and us and someone found him, and the second time we thought we lost him, he was inside a bathroom. It’s peaceful, it’s amazing and I’m in heaven. The temperatures this summer have left us with many days where we don’t need air conditioning. Just open windows and lots of time to breathe in fresh air.
            The summer has been nice, not without it’s stresses but the weather has been calm and cool, instead of roiling and hot. We attempted to buy a used car so that I could still make it into town and the parks, and the kids could still see their friends, but it’s sitting happily broke down on my front stoop. The stress of trying to get someone to fix it, has been close to overwhelming, but then again, it’s just a car right?
            I have been busy completing a few of my projects this summer. One unfortunately won’t be completed, I can’t find the information and I hate making phone calls and never getting an answer in return. Maybe making a non-profit account for women to afford doula and midwifery care, should be something I try to do without getting a grant. Also something I try to do when I don’t have transportation to get to any government offices. I have to ride the bus and let me tell you how easy that is not with two little kids.
            Thank God though, my husband and I have started writing a short pamphlet together. Details to emerge as they continue.
            I honestly haven’t had much to write about. Things come to my mind, but as I mull them over, I realize I don’t want to sound redundant and a lot of these things people know or try to avoid knowing.
            I spent the last month glued to facebook and, because my homeland, my country, the place where I left my heart six years ago was under brutal attack by a terrorist group and my heart wrenched with pain as we started losing our loyal and loving soldiers. It made me reminisce about my time there, a time where I felt a love that encompassed my entire being. Community in Israel runs deeper than just living on the same street as someone. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone knows where the other person lives and no one is ever bereft of a hand to help them. I remember a soldier helping me to get my bags to the train station to go to K’far chabad before I boarded the plane back to the US. I remember seeing them on the roads, and they were the first to give up their seats for someone. I remember feeling like for the first time that I really fit in somewhere.

            Now that the conflict is in a lull as they are calling it, I’m praying that the world wakes up, before it’s too late. I don’t fear for Israel’s safety, I fear for the safety of the rest of the world. Muslim Extremism is growing and festering. And where you call them evil in one state, you try to excuse their behavior in another. What no one realizes, if we do nothing, if we say nothing, if we allow terror to exist, one day God forbid, it could end up at our peaceful front doors, and by then, our time to speak out would have passed.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Israel the Consolation Prize

I cannot escape wanting to spend the entire day waiting for updates on Israel. Have they gone in by foot, are they going to? What about rockets, are my friends safe? I cannot stop thinking about the war and the constant anti-Israel propaganda like somehow we are supposed to stop everything and show restraint while rockets are hailed down on our civilians. Undoubtedly whenever these thoughts cross my mind, I drift back to the 1940’s and what accelerated the declaration of the state of Israel.
            The Holocaust.
            It is common knowledge and recently declassified information that yes, all of the governments knew about the Holocaust and the Death Camps in Germany and Poland. They knew that millions of Jews were being sent to these camps and exterminated and yet, America, England, France, Poland, every did nothing. They didn’t get into the war sooner, they didn’t unarm Germany before it became a roaring monster, no one did anything except for those that were willing to stand against the Nazi’s and hide Yidden, oh and Denmark. Denmark saved nearly it’s entire Jewish population.
            Right after the war ended, the movement to create the state of Israel increased. The need increased, we needed a land that would not turn us away, that would not in the face of our doom send boat loads of women and children to their deaths, this was the state of Israel. At that time it was under Brittish mandate and no the “state of Palestine” did not exist either. But my brain still wonders, why didn’t the US and England make a larger push to open their own boarders? I mean take in all those broken and sad immigrants? Why? I believe because once again we were saying, “well…we sort of let you all die horrible deaths…but we still don’t want that many of you in our borders so do us a favor and here, have your land, make your own government, and by the way, can you deal with our Palestinian issue?”
            Thus Israel was born again in 1948, a new and wonderful nation, full of people with hopes and dreams for peace, only to be attacked by the Arabs a day after the state was born. And over and over again, we have shown that the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers or sleeps and that Hashem is with us.
            And somehow we are once again the bad ones. First we were bad because hey, we “let the Nazis take us like sheep to the slaughter,” and now that we are fighting back we are criminals. I don’t understand world, what do you want? Do you want us to allow ourselves to be slaughtered by the nations, or do you want  us to live. In order to live we have to fight, not by becoming animals but by protecting our women and children.

            If you haven’t noticed, Iran gave lots and lots of weapons to Gaza, they also have some of the most advanced building designs in the world meant to withhold earthquakes and rocket attacks. If Palestine cared so much about it’s citizens, why not smuggle that in eh? Bomb shelters could save lives, actually, you know, creating a government could save lives…world why do you decide to remain blind to the plight of others until it’s too late by about 6,000,000 lives? Oh wait, excuse me 60,000,000 lives? 14 million in the camps and many others, soldiers, civilians, literally one third of the earth’s population at the time…don’t be silent world…don’t be silent Yidden this time we will not accept a consolation prize. We will prevail with Hashem’s help.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stay Positive While You Mourn

I do not remember when was the last time I have cried such bitter and unbearable tears. My whole body was quivering and my heart sunk…I stared at my own beautiful boy, who just turned one and felt guilty that my day with my family started off in celebration. Yosef Yitzchak has brought us more joy this year than we could possibly dream of. The gift of this little baby has brought out the hero in his older brother, who only for the most part wants to share, and be the caretaker to his little brother. And with all this, came the most tragic news, the death of three very young Jewish teenagers. I felt ashamed, embarrassed that I wanted to celebrate the day of my son’s birth, while the mothers in Israel are wailing, bemoaning the fate of their sons.
            And then came the news feeds online…we are raging, as a nation, we want war, we want to punish the people responsible, and this drive always scares me. It scares me because when we lose sight of what we are supposed to be doing with our lives, it can lead to the kind of hatred that annihilated millions in the holocaust, to the same hatred that steals lives like Gilad, Eyal and Naftali. It leads down a path we are not meant to walk as a Jewish nation.
            In his book, “Baalam’s Prophecy,” Naftali Lau-Lavie, who experienced indescribable hardship, starting as young boy of fifteen when he was taken his father’s place to Auschwitz, before it was the slaughter factory it became, escaped and returned to his parents only to once again board a train this time to Buchenwald with his young brother. At the end of the war, Naftali is asked by some of his friends, why isn’t murdering the officers that were caught, why isn’t raiding the houses and stealing from the Germans and looting, and all he could answer was, “it just wasn’t right.”

            We are a nation in mourning, and we seek vengeance. But may the vengeance for this despicable act of abducting and murdering three Jewish boys on their way home from school be an act that brings an eternal peace not a fateful war. We are not tormentors, animals or God forbid depraved of humanity…please remember this as you grieve these boys and do something good, use your words to give someone a bracha (blessing) instead of words that are to be honest, not even helpful. Light Shabbos candles if you don’t already, study more Torah, do another Mitzvah, make one even more beautiful than you did it before, let their life legacy be, that they brought more people closer to Hashem and us closer to Mashiach. My heart aches and I am broken, no parent should ever have to experience the death of their child.