Category Archives: kids

Letting Go

When you first hold your baby there’s a multitude of feelings that flow through you – exhaustion, love, awe, a tremendous sense of responsibility, even fear.

What no one can prepare you for is when you have to start letting go, loosening the apron strings, so your kids can grow up and become adults, responsible for their own lives. It seems to happen in an instant, overnight.

It’s not as if they turn 18 and suddenly BAM! that’s it, bye bye parents. It’s a gradual letting go.

But it’s hard. You need to give the kids space to learn, opportunities to grow from, the ability to make mistakes that they can learn from. Ima cannot come rushing in to save the day every single time. You learn to bite your tongue, to accept decisions that you might not fully agree with. But how can we trust our children if we don’t give them the opportunity to be trusted?

This balancing act seems to become harder the older the children get. I am not a dictatorial mother, but I am a mom who likes things done a certain way and expects her children to behave appropriately. However, I have to have faith in the job I have done in raising the kids. They are not an extension of me, they are themselves, people in their own right. Children deserve a chance to figure out WHO they are. As parents we need to be there to support them, to love them unconditionally, to be a voice of reason when necessary. As the kids get older, they need you in different ways.

It’s so rewarding watching them grow up and mature, yet bittersweet in a way – they will soon leave home, headed to live their own lives. It’s what we want for them but it’s so hard to let go.

From the Mailbag:

Dear HaDassah,

In one month and one week I will be turning 38. I’ve never been married and so far there are no prospects. I’m getting to the point where I have to accept the fact that meeting my soul mate might not be in the cards for me. Worse, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I may never be a mother. I love my friends and family, but it’s getting harder and harder to see their facebook posts and tweets about their kids, or pregnancies. I love them and I love their kids. My nieces and nephew are like my own. But they’re not.

I’ve explored other options such as insemination by donor. My mother is very against it, and she said so using the strongest language, I don’t know if I’m strong enough to really do this completely on my own. I can’t explain the pain I feel. Every time I get my period I mourn for a potential child I have just lost. Yes, I know it’s my “biological clock,” but it’s more than that, I resent my friends and family who do have kids, I’m getting to the point where I try avoid social and family events.

In addition to the birth of my nephew, in the course of one week among my cousins there were 7 births. I should be happy, but all I am is sad. Sad because I probably will never experience pregnancy and the joy of childbirth and the “nachas” of my own children. It kills me that I feel this resentment towards others when they’ve done nothing wrong.

Being single, especially being of a more “advanced” age, I’m treated like a second-class citizen. I don’t know if people realize how much it hurts. And it isn’t just about not getting married. In fact, I can handle the fact that I might not ever get married, but that I may never be a mother, that’s just devastating.

“Chava”

This letter tugged at my heart. I feel Chava’s pain. What can we tell her to help soothe her soul? How can we make her feel included and not shunned? How can we help her with her pain? What options are available to a religious woman whose fertility is ticking away and is not yet married? Can we religiously endorse Donor Insemination and provide a support system for our sisters who decide to take this route?

I am so curious to know how you feel after reading this letter, and how you would counsel Chava, or even what you would do in her place.

Mothers are mind readers?

I think not. The kids have a snack shelf with all the stuff they take for school. Over time the selection has become a lot healthier, but still it’s not all stuff that the KoD and I eat.

“Ima, why are there no more xyz left?”

Um, probably because when one of you took the last one you left the empty box there on the shelf, leading me to believe that there were still some xyzs left. Or you actually threw away the box without informing the grocery purchaser that there was replenishment needed.

And yes, this is apparently another mother failing. Pass me the bad mommy award….. sigh.

Your son’s ADHD is your fault!

I am currently filling out forms for one of my sons to get some extra educational help in school. It’s an intake form that helps the local education authority understand the child, and the household dynamic etc.

I understand that they need a full view of the child and his surroundings and his background in order to adequately assess his specific situation.

However, and I have got bent out of shape on this on many occasions, it burns me that they asked details about the pregnancy and delivery. Did you take drugs when pregnant? Was it a normal delivery? Surprised they don’t ask his APGAR scores which were 9 9 9 ! Am I just being too touchy? Does the pregnancy years and years ago impact the issues a child has now? I had 4 almost identical pregnancies, but only one child is ADHD. Did I drink too much caffeine in that pregnancy (or not enough) or was it just pre-destined anyway for him to be the way he is?

Why do I get so defensive? Why do I feel like I am being judged for his issues? Why do I let a questionnaire tick me off so very much?

Don’t Touch My Cake!

I have been resting up, and generally not overdoing things (too much) but at some point this afternoon I had a hankering for a piece of the Devils Food Chocolate Cake I had made for Shabbat.

I went down to the kitchen to find that SOMEONE had eaten it all. There was nothing left for me. Just a few little crumbs and a shmear of frosting left on the cake stand.

I WANTED CAKE.

I found out who the culprit was and I ordered him into the kitchen. I told him that seeing as he finished the cake that I wanted a piece of, it was now incumbent on him to bake me a new cake. He cracked up laughing, this son of mine. However, I made it easy for him. He didn’t have to make it from scratch – we had a cake mix in the pantry.

The house smells divine – cake’s almost ready to come out. I will have him frost it too when it has cooled down.

So, do you think he will ever eat the last piece of cake again, or will he have learned his lesson??

OMG Blood! ***faint***

So it appears that I have a second fainter on my hands. We’ve know for years about the oldest. He’s been a fainter since he was a toddler. He saw blood, and down he went. It got to the point that I could catch him as he fainted while not missing a beat in my phone conversation or supper prep. He tries not to do it anymore because he’s gotten way too big for me to catch him. So he won’t be a doctor.

Today the little one came running to me. “I’m bleeeeeeeeeding”. I was more concerned about the clamminess of his palms and his rapid breathing, than the tiny weeny little wound on his knee. I know all the signs for “hold me, I’m going to pass out” and he had all of them. I had him look me in the eye and breathe with me. One of his brothers brought the child some orange juice at my request, and once he had some colour back in his face I dressed his knee. He was so shaky. But he did not faint. He almost did – those eyes almost rolled.

He’s 9. He has never been like that before, with all his bumps and scrapes. What is it with these so called tough guys that the minute they see blood they wimp out?

When Squiggy broke his leg it hurt like heck but no fainting, even when he broke the same arm twice…, when he sliced his thumbs open (on different occasions…..this kid…..gotta love him) he was more curious than panicked. When I sliced my finger open my eldest brought me paper towels but was extremely careful not to look at anything that might have been red. He recently sliced his own finger open – and promptly fainted.

The 13 year old is so chill about it all that he wouldn’t panic, would just fix the problem, clean up the blood and go back to his iPod. When he came home years ago after being bashed in the head with a light saber (!) there was no panic.

They are going to have to get over this fear of blood. Seriously. Having kids = lots of blood. The amount of stitches this family has had cumulatively is a little scary, and some of those head wounds, wow do they bleed.

How do I toughen up these not-so-tough tough guys?

Battle Picking is an Art Form

Sigh. During the school year the boys get up at the crack of dawn without a whimper. I wake them up, they get a 5 minute grace period (if the coffee is excellent, maybe 7 minutes) and then they know that Ima is coming. Fate worse than death to have Ima nagging in the morning, so up they get.

Summertime and the living is easy. When you’re a kid. When you have no bills to pay and no work to finish. Getting up becomes difficult.

I don’t expect a lot from the kids in these lazy days of summer – shower often, wear deodorant, keep your room clean and go to shul morning and evening. I don’t expect them to make the 7 am minyan (prayer service), but the 8 am – for sure.

It’s been a struggle for them, and while they were away for 3 weeks it was not my problem. But my house, my rules. We feed and clothe them, they have all the necessities of life handed to them on a plate ( a luxury or two as well – ice cream…) and we expect little in return other than respect, peace and harmony. (Ha!)

So this morning I had a conversation with the middle two – oldest one is working out of town – about making it on time for davening (praying) and staying for the whole service. The boys agreed that I had a point and from now on will make more of an effort.

Great.

Except. I went grocery shopping this evening. I had a fever, my head hurt, my neck was in agony, and I was as cranky as ever (Right KoD??). I called on the way home that I would be home in ten minutes, please come outside and unload the car for me. But Ima, says the teen, by the time you get home we will need to have left for mincha / maariv (evening prayers). I wanted to just respond that honouring your mother by unloading groceries was more important, but really – was it?

Insisting that they stay home to help me would totally have negated everything I had said this morning. But I needed their help. I had a conundrum.

I cogitated the whole way home. Got home and phew, they were still there. Between the two of them they emptied the trunk lickety spit, and then I drove them to shul, getting them there just in time.

It all worked out in the end, but how do you teach a child that yes, God does come first, but sometimes, Ima has to come first too?

Permission Slip

Squiggy brought home a permission slip for me to sign, allowing him to go to his teacher’s house with the rest of the class, for a BBQ.

This was written on the bottom of the paper. Remember Squiggy is 14 and may be responsible for a couple of the grey hairs on my head.

Blue fingers

Blue fingers don’t just belong to smurfs. They belong to teenage boys who play ball and rough house in the school yard. Boys, who come to you DAYS later, and tell you they can’t move a finger on their right hand – and oh look, it’s black and blue and swollen. And by the way Ima, I think I sprained this finger on the other hand too. From playing basketball, no, baseball, no wait, that was my ankle last week…. Amazing how spraining ones finger brings on amnesia and you forget to tell your mother.

Then when Ima fusses, you get all fed up with her – which is probably why you didn’t tell her in the first place because she’d get all worried and insist you get x-rayed or something and that way she’d help your fingers get better quicker and what would be the point of that? That way you’d have to write homework sooner and that’s no fun. Much easier to be the strong and silent type.

Oh the joys of boys.

Lessons Kids Learn

Actual conversation in the car on the way to the library:

Me: HockeyFan, I finally found a dress to wear to your barmitzvah.
HF: Great, whatever.
Me: Aren’t you interested at all in the colour or the style?
HF: No, not really. Boooooring!(At least he’s honest, right?)

Then a voice from the back pipes up:

Squiggy: HF, watch and learn. Ahem, Ima, did you find something to wear for the barmitzvah?
Me: Yes, I did.
Squiggy (feigning excitement): What colour is it? Do you have shoes to match? What about accessories?
Me: Well….. (I got cut off)
Squiggy: See, HF, I pretended to be interested and it made Ima all happy and stuff. When Ima is happy we all benefit. So we pretend to care about clothes and stuff so that she stays happy and cooks us good food and does our laundry and does Ima stuff for us. Got it?
HF: Yeah, I guess so.
Me: Let’s start again. I found a dress to wear to your barmitzvah.
HF (obviously trying really hard not to roll his eyes): Oh really? (squeal) What colour is it?

ChatterBox, having learned at the feet of the master, pipes up: Do you need shoes to match?

They make me chuckle. I hope one day they will make good husbands. Squiggy did go on to teach HockeyFan that he shouldn’t answer any questions that involve “does this dress make my …….. look big / fat” or “does this look good on me”. He’s learned so much at the tender age of 14….