Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Forest


 Today is the last day of my maternity leave and my baby is in daycare so I took a drive to Jerusalem. On the drive I took in the sights, the forested hills on the outskirts of Jerusalem, David’s Harp bridge, all the Jerusalem stone. The sights reminded me to not forget the forest while bogged down in the trees. 


When you’re a working mom of three, there are a lot of trees. Work, the house, every kid comes with their own mini forest of trees. Fevers, teething, potty training, social anxiety, trouble with boundaries. Cleaning, cooking, doctors appointments, errands. With all those trees it’s easy to forget the forest. That we as a nation have come home after 2000 years of exile. That I was able to do that on a micro level and make the choice to come home. That my daughters will never have to make that difficult choice, that they were born in their homeland and are growing up among their people. 


Sunday I go back to work. These past 7 months my trees have been entirely focused on my home and family and now I need to readjust to adding work trees. I’ve naturally been apprehensive about this change. Today’s reminder of the forest was an important one, a gift from my homeland that is always giving. The coming days will be full of many trees, many of which will be challenging and difficult. I will do my best on those days to remember the forest and how blessed I am to be living in it.





Thursday, February 11, 2021

Lockdown

 I can't do this anymore.

Five weeks in and I've reached my limit. 

I have zero patience, I can't keep going, I can't do this anymore. 

The fights to get on zoom, the fights to get dressed, to clean up, to just LISTEN!

Being home with them any longer is impossible. 

But on the other hand...sending them back to gan…

With numbers so high, with kids who can't get vaccinated, with gannenot who maybe won't (this is speculation, I know much of the staff is vaccinated, I just haven't received an answer about all the staff).

Sending them back to gan to struggle to readjust only to be taken out for the next lockdown, to get stuck in bidud, to get sick?

I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. Between protecting our physical health and maintaining our mental health. 

I do not know what to prioritize and am paralyzed by fear. 

All I know is I can't do this anymore. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Nine Months Ago

 I’m 9 months pregnant. 


9 months ago we lived in a rented apartment. 

9 months ago my toddler was hardly talking and in private gan. 

9 months ago my older daughter was in pre-k. 

9 months ago I had never heard of corona. I didn’t know the Hebrew word for mask and certainly had never considered anyone who wasn’t a surgeon wearing one. Concepts of national lockdowns and the government deciding where and when we could go places would have sounded like a dystopian novel. Limiting the number of people at weddings for health reasons wouldn’t have made any sense. Restricted air travel wouldn’t have crossed my mind. 


Today we live in an apartment we bought. 

Today my toddler talks in full sentences, sings Let It Go, pats my belly and tells me that’s her baby, and is in public nursery. 

Today my older daughter is in kindergarten on the grounds of the elementary school. 

Today I wear my mask to work daily (and anywhere else I go). I’ve survived one lockdown and started another. I’ve chosen to not attend a wedding for fear of exposure to corona. I’ve accepted that I have no idea when I’ll see my grandmother or my in-laws in person again. I’ve been briefly quarantined. Due to working in a geriatric hospital I have done close to 20 corona checks (all negative Bli Ayin Hara) and will do another 2 before I start my maternity leave. I have struggled to survive in this new world while suffering from anxiety and depression. I’ve put my children in masks. I’ve listened to my five-year-old tell me how she wishes corona never came here. I’ve watched, in awe, as my husband became superman and juggle being a stay-at-home dad and working from home while I continued to work at my “essential job”. I’ve watched in fear the changes that are happening to the world. 


In the 9 months I’ve grown a new baby inside of me the world outside has completely changed. In ways I could never have predicted or imagined. Preparing for a birth always includes a lot of unknowns. When will the baby come? How will we manage juggling this new baby with all the other things in our lives?  Who will she look like? What will her personality be like? Now I have a whole new set of questions. Will my daughters have Gan over my maternity leave? Will I be able to see my friend who is also on leave as we planned? How old will my baby be when my extended family (both in Israel and abroad) meet her? What sort of world am I bringing her into? 


How do I end this blog post? 

I have a lot of questions right now, I've had a lot of questions over the last six months. Most, if not all, of them remain unanswered. And so we continue taking it one day at time and hoping for things to get better. Sometime in the next month we will, Beezrat Hashem, add a new ray of sunshine to the equation. I hope more good things will come along with that. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Feeling Other At Home

This week I had an Aliyah milestone. I attended my first Public Gan (nursery) party. This was a few days after attending my younger daughter’s Private Gan party and during a period that my husband was away on Miluim (army reserve duty). So I was feeling pretty Israeli. Sure, during my younger daughter’s party they played some songs I didn’t recognize but I was with my Anglo friends and we joked about how we never recognize the music. And what could be more Israeli than being among the ranks of Israeli wives with husbands away serving the country?
And then came the Public Gan party, where I’m the only immigrant. I was shocked to find out that I wouldn’t be allowed to bring my younger daughter with me, but soon learned that this was the standard and had to find a babysitter (shout out to my awesome cousin Adin and his wife Amanda who did a great job). I posted in the Gan whatsapp group about it and many parents (very kindly) explained that this was what was done here and commiserated about how hard it must be to be here without parents to help (my parents do live in Israel, but not close enough to be able to help on a day to day basis and also work). They were all very sweet and understanding but talking to them made me feel...other. And then the actual party itself. The music teacher came and played songs on her keyboard while the Gannenet (teacher) and the kids sang along. They did cute, little dances and it was adorable. And I was surrounded by parents singing along and clapping at the right part and doing the movements along with them while I...did my best to keep up. This time I had no one to joke with it about though and I felt... other.
I made Aliyah in order to come home, and I know that I am home here and most of this time do feel at home. But I still have moments where I feel... other. And those are hard and they are uncomfortable. But it’s just part of being an immigrant, it’s who I am and always will be. My children are native born Israelis and will know these songs and the dances and will be able to sing along at their children’s Gan parties. That makes it all worth it. That and moments like today, where I met a new client who asked where I’m from and when I told him America he said “Oh, wow you must be really Zionist!” And I smiled and told him I am, because it’s who I am and always will be.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Needing Help

When I was 11-years-old I went to the first Bat Mitzva of our class. Well, I went to the shul where it was taking place. And then I had a panic attack and cried under a sink in the bathroom until my friend’s mom found me and called my parents. I had alway been a shy kid, afraid to talk to or in front of most people, and had already started therapy with an amazing social worker. This incident made my parents decide it was time for me to get on medication. I went to the psychiatrist, my goal being to be brave and talk a lot so he wouldn’t put me on medication. I didn’t want to need the help. I was proud of myself for how much I talked to him but even so he saw the truth. He diagnosed me with social anxiety due to a chemical imbalance in my brain and I started taking Zoloft. After that my life completely changed. What the people in my life saw as a shy kid growing up and coming out of her shell was actually me getting control of my anxiety. I was able to talk to people, even new people. I attended many more Bat and Bar Mitzvas and actually made it into the party. I graduated middle school and then high school and left home for the first time for seminary. It was scary, but I made it and loved it.
Then I decided to make aliyah. I started Bar Ilan and here’s where the trouble started. I was far away from my family, adjusting to a new language and culture, trying desperately to pass my classes. But I was struggling- something I hadn’t experienced in a long time. I called my mom one day sobbing and told her I was broken. She said it was time to get help again. I sobbed even harder. I was suddenly 11-years-old and under that sink again. I’d worked so hard to get here, how could I need help again? It must mean I had failed. I started seeing a social worker again and at her advice (and after consulting with my psychiatrist) I upped my Zoloft dosage. I got help and I got better in a matter of months. I started feeling happy again, an emotion I had forgot. I broke free of the depression and moved forward with my life. I continued with my degree, met a boy, got married. And my family joined me in Israel. Up until that point my mom had been getting my Zoloft prescription from my psychiatrist back home, so when they made aliyah I had to see a doctor here. I made an appointment and explained my situation. The psychiatrist asked if I’d ever tried going off the medication. I had been on it for 10 years at that point so he suggested I try stopping and if I have trouble to come back. So, I stopped and even better I functioned. I was so proud not to need help anymore.
A year or so later I got pregnant. I knew because of my pre-existing conditions I’d be at risk for postpartum depression and promised myself I’d be on the lookout for it. I had my baby and came home, my husband went back to work. And I struggled. I felt isolated from the world as I tried to adjust to being a mother. I couldn’t seem to connect to my baby. I wanted her to be healthy and happy and took care of her, but I didn’t love her. And I felt terribly guilty. I waited all week for shabbat when I got to be with my family and dreaded going home again after. My mom suggested I look into getting help. Instead I decided to find a job (I had worked in a temporary job while pregnant). Luckily I found one fast. My baby started daycare, I started working, and I got happy again. I grew to love my daughter and felt good about my life. I would have hard days sometimes where the anxiety felt like it was crushing me- if my daughter was sick or I was dealing with something difficult at work- but overall I was good.
When my daughter was about 1 and a half I got pregnant again. This time I decided things would be different. I would be healthier and take a longer maternity leave and things would be good. I gave birth to my second daughter 7 weeks ago. It has been different- the birth and subsequent recovery were easier and I loved my daughter right away. But sometimes it’s hard. I’ve been sick a number of times (mastitis), my toddler has had trouble going to bed as part of her adjustment, and this week my baby has had trouble eating due to having a cold. And although overall I’ve been happy, when the road bumps hit I struggle. I get very down and have scary thoughts of hurting myself. I’m self-aware enough to realize that it’s the depression talking and to not act on it thank G-d. So, I figured that means I’m ok. But it doesn’t, it’s not healthy to feel this way and think these things and as much as I don’t want to need help, I do need it. I’ll be seeing a psychiatrist next week. This time my goal is to go back on medication. Because although needing help makes me feel weak, getting the help I need means I’m strong. I am strong enough to decide that I want to be happy and lucky enough to live in an age where we have medications to help. I am strong enough to not let my anxiety and depression rule my life and make my decisions for me. I am strong enough to role model for my girls that when they need help they should ask for it. I am strong enough to be happy, even if I need help to do it.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Transitions

This year (2017) almost immediately after the 3 weeks had finished we had a family simcha (brit mila). The stark transition between 3 weeks of mourning, unfortunately filled with current tragedies to mourn, and sudden simcha got me thinking. As Jews we have trouble keeping our happiness separate from our hardships. At our smachot we remember the chourban (destruction of the Temple) and family that has left us. When something is good, we feel the need to add “bli ayin hara” (it should be without the evil eye) to the end of the sentence. What does this say about us, that we can not have our good without our bad? Are we a pessimistic people by nature, a weak people? A people incapable of appreciating the good we have? And then I thought about the holocaust- arguably the darkest time in our history. I thought about the strength and hope that survived the Nazis. I thought about the Jews that kept shabbat as best they could, that protected their Sefrei Torah, that never stopped praying or believing in G-d. I thought about the warriors who fought back and the mothers who protected their children above all else. One conclusion was clear, we are not a weak people. We have endured hardship after hardship, attack after attack, and victory after victory. And this I believe is why we can not separate our good from our bad, our hardship from our happiness. Our national struggles are an inherent part of who we are, like it or not. But the hand of G-d, guiding us through history, is just as much a part of who we are. He has given us a homeland and taken it away when we didn't deserve it. He has helped us survive expulsions, pogroms, hatred, and disdain. He has brought us back home after 2000 years of wandering. We are not done struggling yet, we have a long way to go. Our enemies surround us and, even worse, we are too often our own enemy. Our Temple has not been restored, because we have not yet earned it. So we mourn every year for 3 weeks and we remember the chourban at our weddings to remind us of the work we still have to do. But we also celebrate the beginning of our geula. And what better reason to celebrate than a new Jewish soul, born in his homeland, among his people. We must not forget our strength, especially when things seem dark. Now is the time to fight. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I Wish

I wish I had words of wisdom to share. I wish I had answers instead of questions. I wish I could understand what is happening and why. I wish I could look at my daughter without worrying about the world I've brought her into. I wish there wasn't hate in the world that drove people to violence. I wish the people that have been killed over the past months were still alive. I wish the injured were not in pain. I wish that Am Yisrael wasn't experiencing constant, collective heartbreak. I wish I could walk around with headphones in without worrying if that’s a safe choice. I wish I didn’t have to have pepper spray with me at all times. I wish my buses didn’t have to be bulletproof. I wish I didn’t have to check in with my family to make sure they’re unhurt after an attack in the Gush. I wish we could live in peace with our neighbors.
I hope one day we will live in peace with our neighbors. I hope to only call my family for good things. I hope to travel on busses with normal windows. I hope to take the pepper spray off my keychain. I hope to listen to music without worry. I hope for unbroken hearts and health. I hope for love and respect. I hope for my daughter’s future.
I can only wish and hope for now. The hope will have to be enough.
Hashem Yerachem.