The big boy with Tatty!

The big boy with Tatty!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Leap of Faith-Conversion to Judaism

I remember finding out about this documentary, I'm not sure if it was around the time I first started dating my husband.

Words don't quite describe, I suggest watching it yourself. I remember so clearly those moments, trying to figure out who I wanted to be, was I making the right choice. So many years later, I don't regret a thing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Life with Connection

I think it might be a full month now that I have been facebook free. I am a happier person. Go figure. I like that I can go find news myself, without feeling obligated to read everyone’s articles. I think what I like the most is that I don’t feel the urge any longer to comment on posts. I feel like I made a huge positive stride and thank God views to my blog are higher than before. I think back in 2008 when I decided to join the social highway I made a mistake. I wanted to do it, because I wanted to keep in contact with people, and not lose friendships I valued. But I think I also realized, that back in the day, when we lost touch with some people, sometimes it was better.
            When people grow up, they change, their ideals change and the focal points of a friendship may no longer be the same and this is heightened on social networks. What’s even more is that then people feel like it’s their job to tell you what to think. Then I started wondering, what would have happened if you had just fell out of touch with these people to begin with? Would it have been so bad? Maybe I’m nostalgic, there are so many good friendships where people just drift apart.  I think some of them should have, I should have understood, that it was okay, and in many cases needed.

            I was at Costco today and a sales pitching Direct Tv man, went from trying to sell me something to telling me his life story. At the end I finally realized what he was trying to sell and told him that I don’t have a TV, haven’t been to a theatre in 10 years, and deactivated facebook. He said he wished he could do all that, I only wish I asked him why? I know why I did…why would you? 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bittersweet Weaning

My goal has and will always remain to nurse for a full two years. It seems no matter what my breastfeeding goals are something else happens. I was thank God blessed both times with my children that despite dangerously low milk supplies that I was able to garner a full supply. For my first, MM loved nursing, he loved it so much he still asks me if I can nurse him, because he misses it. Instead I hold him closely and tell him stories of when he was a baby and kiss his forehead and cuddle him. My second on the other hand…it’s always been about food and sometimes about comfort. Unfortunately, after 12 months, when it’s like that, the supply dwindles. I would love to say that I would do it again, to nurse him to the second year, to start pumping and taking fenugreek, but if he won’t nurse for comfort, and barely nurses, it’s not really going to stimulate supply and I’m fighting a losing battle.
            Last night, I tried nursing YY and he became livid when there was nothing there. Instead we gave him some water and thank God he drank and was happy. He drank an entire sippee cup and then off back to bed. I told my husband this isn’t the first time it’s happened and it’s almost unfair, why should he have to go into a fit because there isn’t anything there?
            So I did it…today I did not nurse him. Last night was the last time, and I’m heartbroken. Since two months after I was married I’ve been pregnant, nursing or both. This will be the first time that I am just me!! What am I supposed to do with just me?? I feel naked, awkward…strange, when did it become me?
            Thank God though, I think even though it feels odd I am going to enjoy it just being me. It’s interesting, I’m very glad that I made it to sixteen months, almost, minus a few days but really now I am dreading Yom Kippur much less. God willing I will do much better this time when it comes to fasting.

            My little guy is much more snuggly now and less apt to scream in frustration. It’s wondrous how often we have our own plans and how Hashem makes other plans.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Knowing When To Give Up

I love arguing. It has to be part of my upbringing crossed with my Jewish Neshama. The sages in the Talmud and the gemora love a good argument, anything L’shaim shemayim and those are perhaps my most beloved arguments. If/when I say something outlandish in the defense of Torah I want people to realize why I am saying it. I think I came to the realization recently that life as a ger and life as a baal teshuva are two different things. The paths you travel are almost backwards. A BT can take as long as they want to reach whatever their goals, whereas someone who converts, the goals are placed before them before they can finally take the dip literally and dive into Judaism.       
            More and more recently, I’ve realized that it’s not about knowing when to argue, but when to just walk away. This is not a strong trait for me, but I’m starting to realize sometimes you just can’t win. You can’t change the world in one fell swoop sometimes it has to be step by step. And sometimes fighting for things isn’t really what is necessary. It’s happened in a great many things recently, whether it’s friendships, where I look back fondly and actively miss the time all a the same time, but I cannot fight to make someone speak to me. Likewise, I realized I cannot fight to my inlaws like me.
            It finally happened, the bomb was dropped this weekend, it went something like this, “I think DL is stupid. I have 2 masters degrees, I’m smarter than she is…”In front of my kids and my husband and thank God not in front of me. I’ve been asking myself recently, what can I do to make this situation easier, and honestly wanting to blow up on people in Milwaukee, because somehow they just don’t get that no! It’s not my fault. But I’ve simply realized, it’s time to walk away from this too.

            The hardest part about being a frum Jew, is dealing with non-frum realitives who are combative to everything you do. How can you explain to them what is important, when they see it as trivial, how can you ask them to put glasses on and see your reality when they are so encompassed in their own? Finally, how can you make them see that a person worth is not wrapped into the paper they have on the wall? I already gave up two years ago, but now I am really giving up, they can hate me for the rest of their lives if they want to…but it’s time to walk away and say that I did a good job trying to deal with them. Sometimes it’s just by not even trying. Giving up sure does feel good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Crushes, Duggars and Jewish Dating

Earlier this year I went through a state of despair. When my oldest turned three, the terrible threes started. I already had my second son who was six months old at the time. Considering it was winter, and we were trapped in a tiny apartment, and I felt like I was losing my mind, I decided to start asking everyone the big question, “how in the world, do you manage having small kids?” Many of my friends have kids the same age as mine, and another one in between the ages of my two, and a few another right after totaling 4 kids under 4 years, or 3 under 3. I looked everywhere, the Bubbe’s who have been doing it for years, the mommies with older children and the phrase, “it gets easier when they are older,” just started adding to many confounding variables to my question…
            So I looked up America’s Largest family, I mean at one point Michelle Duggar probably had 5 under 5, or something like that. In fact I’m sure she had three under three in two pregnancies, and I started gleaning a lot of good information from her parenting standards. One of the great things, despite the fact that I don’t agree with their theology, is they are a family that is used to teaching and public speaking, so instead of not knowing how they have raised so many well adjusted kids, they can actually tell you.
            Meanwhile the world is losing their sanity, because the two older girls who were recently in courtships are either getting married soon, married and one is already pregnant with her first child and due in March. Okay, seriously it makes me laugh, if the world can’t handle the fact that they barely touch before marriage, I wonder what they think of us? I mean we don’t even touch at all, engaged or courting! Even more so we don’t touch in public, we would never dream of kissing our spouses in public, or holding hands, whenever we experience our first kiss or our first hugs, well that just happens in private…and even after all of that we still maintain strict modesty standards in public.
            All of this made me sit down at some point, really I was laying down putting my three year old to bed and my mind drifted back to all the guys I had crushes on in Middle school and High school. No one ever spoke to me the way a parent should to explain that looks aren’t everything and that I should watch how they treat people, how they treat their parents, their siblings, what they do in the world, do they love Hashem? Are they serious about Torah and Mitzvahs? (Okay I might not have been Jewish at the time but I did have a close relationship to God and I wanted someone who could raise my children with the values I believed in.) I went one by one, over the ones I remember the most, and I don’t remember anything, were the good people? Maybe…would they have made a good husband? I had no idea, in fact I was teased often for thinking of it like that, but I have to say something I wish all girls would think about before they so freely give their hearts to whoever they are dating.
            Thank God, I never really started dating until I entered the shidduch world. I always felt like I saved myself the most heart ache by not chasing after one guy or another. Oddly though, it nags at me, why was it so important for me to date? The answer usually is so you can figure out what you want…but if you don’t know what you want why are you dating anyway?
            Furthermore, why then is the world encouraging teenagers to go out and do the things they do without ever thinking of the long term ramifications of their choices?

            Not a day goes by that I honestly don’t thank Hashem that I never got caught up in that lifestyle. It wasn’t easy, but it meant thank God that I could go into my marriage, with a clear view of what I wanted, the wife I wanted to be and the way we would raise our children. It’s utter brilliance that TLC is airing a family with morals, my prayer is that more teenage girls will be inspired to hold onto what is precious, see themselves as beautiful, not because of how they look, but because of who they are and hopefully find fulfilling relationships when they are truly ready for them, without all the experimenting and heart ache that the world encourages them to have.

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.