Tag Archives: motherhood

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.

One O’clock Two O’clock Three O’clock Yawn!!

Two nights ago I failed to sleep all night. I tossed and I turned. The sandman just refused to make an appearance. By 4 in the morning I was looking forward to having all the kids at school so that I could lay down and take a long nap. Soon after 5 am that plan was thwarted. One of the kids woke up screaming. He had slept in a weird position and couldn’t move his neck and was in great agony. I tended to him, gave him Advil, and a heating pad, tucked him up comfortably on the sofa, and padded into the kitchen to get myself caffeinated. It was an early start to what promised to be a long day.

I got the rest of the kids off to school, tended to my son who was really uncomfortable, ran out to the pharmacy to buy some Tiger Balm. It stinks, but it really works. By the end of the day his pain and discomfort were a lot less and I was totally exhausted. I had tried to nap a couple of times during the day but the phone rang, or my son needed something. So I just gave up. I couldn’t wait to have them all in bed, tucked in for the night, so I could go to sleep.

By 8 pm my walking wounded had put himself to bed and was fast asleep. By 10 they were all snoozing. I had spoken to the KoD earlier, and I was headed to bed. 7 hours of pure uninterrupted blissful sleep awaited me. It took me a while to decompress but by 10.45 I was sleeping. At 1.30 am I was jolted awake. There was a knock on my bedroom door. My heart was crashing into my chest wall, thundering like a run away freight train. I hate that! It was my early sleeper. He had woken up and couldn’t get back to sleep. His neck hurt. I dosed him up with Advil and sent him back to bed. 2 am he was back. He still couldn’t sleep. I told him whether he sleeps or not he needs to rest. The only way his body is going to heal is if he sleeps. I sent him on his way, back to bed and stay there. Every freaking half hour he was back. After the second time I didn’t even bother going back to sleep. Every creak, every sigh, every sound in the apartment building seemed magnified.

Finally I lost it with him, in a very calm way. I told him I understood he cannot sleep. He is a teenager, he doesn’t need me to hold his hand all night long. He knows how to self soothe. I have a right to get some sleep too, especially as I didn’t sleep the night before. If I, as sole parent under this roof, don’t get enough sleep they all suffer. I cannot look after any of them if I am a zombie. One thing you really want to hear at 3.32 in the morning (NOT) is “but you never sleep anyway, so what’s the big deal?” I told him that I didn’t need him waking me up again just to tell me he isn’t sleeping. It’s not that I don’t care, it just doesn’t serve any purpose after the eleventeenth time. The first time, well, I may be nurturing. By the seventh, how does my growling help?

I felt bad, but really, there was nothing he needed from me. I gave him reassurance that I love him, made sure his pain was taken care of, what else could I possibly do for him?

I tucked him in again, which the big boys only tolerate when they are sick or exhausted, and went back to my bed. Of course sleep now eluded me. This kid, he’s my early riser, sometimes he walks the halls at 5 am. I was convinced that the minute I closed my eyes he would be up. After another half hour I went to check on him. He was in bed reading. At least he wasn’t disturbing anyone. But there was no more sleep for me.

I went to get the boys up at 6, and guess who was sleeping peacefully? I was thrilled he had fallen back to sleep, jealous as heck, but could not for the life of me bear to wake him. I got everyone else up and showered and dressed a little faster than usual, so that I could wake him at 6.45 and still give him a chance to get ready for school without being late.

For the second day in a row I cannot wait till they are all in school so that I can climb back into bed and sleep. It’s obvious I am sleep deprived, I keep calling the kids by the wrong names this morning. Sigh, pass the caffeine.

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Fitting in

No matter how non conformist we feel we are, there is always some amount of pressure on a person to fit in to their community in some way. Whether it’s dressing a certain way for work, wearing the same designer sneakers at school, donning a sheitel instead of a headscarf etc.

When I was newly married the first time around, there was nothing I wanted more than to be just like everyone else around me. I had just moved to Montreal from London UK.  I didn’t want to stand out in the crowd. I wanted to be one of “them”. Oh how I have changed! But at that time the way to fit in 100%, or so I thought, was to have a baby. Everyone bonds over a cute baby and of course my babies were going to be cute. Without a doubt. Thankfully they all were – blonde blue eyed gorgeous bundles of deliciousness.

Now, I don’t want you to think I had a baby JUST to fit in. I didn’t. I had always wanted children, a lot of children. But honestly? I don’t know that I was emotionally ready to handle being a mom at that point. New marriage, new city – new life. I should probably have waited a year or two.

I was a different person back then. Much quieter and a lot more afraid of my own shadow. It has taken me a while to grow into the self assured woman not scared of her own opinions that I sometimes feel I am these days. I so wanted to be part of the crowd. I wanted to belong somewhere. And I saw very early on that the only way to really belong in this neighborhood was to have a baby as an accessory.

Look, let’s be totally honest here, you other mothers in the religious community – you know I am right. You might have nothing in common with the person living next to you other than religion, but add babies to the mix and you have something to talk about that you can both relate to. It elevates your status in the community. You have procreated. We had been married for 15 months before our first son was born. I know of many women who gave birth 9 months after their marriage.

When he was born, yes, he was the cutest baby in the world. He was adorable and yummy and oh-so-colicky. I used to sit up at nights crying with him. I was 22 and overwhelmed. I was so young. Within 4 months I was pregnant again. Before I knew what had hit me I had 4 kids. Pretty close together. (The first 3 were born within two and half years of each other). I was busy busy busy with diapers and feedings and potty training. Who had time for fitting in?

Let me tell you a secret though. I didn’t fit in any better after giving birth than before. Yes, we mothers had more to talk about. But I was still different. I raised my children differently, with modern notions and I treated them as if they were people not little tiny cutesy wutesy kids… I spoke to them in a grown up voice and put them on a schedule even as young babies. I respected them as individuals. I had opinions about the best way to raise a child that sometimes seemed at odds with people around me. I was still perceived as odd and British. But somehow it didn’t bother me as much to be different, because I had my kids and was busy with their lives.

I have a few friends who are newly married and feel tremendous societal pressure to have children. In this community if you are married a year and have not yet worn maternity, people think there is something wrong with you. To these women I say – wait. Wait until you are personally ready for a child to change your life and your relationship with your husband. Wait until you feel you are emotionally ready to handle everything that being a parent throws at you – no sleep, no life for a while. If finances are an issue – wait until you feel more comfortable financially so you can provide for your child without stressing too much over it. Do not give in to societal pressure to go forth and multiply. Do what is right for yourself and for your marriage. Not your in-laws. Not your parents. Not your friends.

I will never regret having my kids at such a young age. I am still young and it is awesome to be able to be a full part of my boys’ lives. It is incredible to be in my mid thirties and have a son that is taller than me, talks like a man and needs to start shaving. (ack!) But as a new bride of 21 I was convinced that motherhood was the cure to all my social ills. Motherhood brought me so much, it IS indeed the gift that keeps on giving, but it isn’t to be taken lightly. One has to be prepared to watch one’s heart walking around outside of one’s body. To feel pain when they hurt, to feel such joy at their smallest triumph. The love one feels for a child is so huge, so encompassing. It truly is life-changing. And you need to be as ready as you can be for that.

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Pulling my hair out

FrazzledI am trying so hard to be positive and upbeat for my piggy-flu-ridden kids. This is day 5 of the ickie sickies. I am at the point that if I hear anyone call for Ima I may just run and hide. We have been inside for days, only in our own company. As the kids start to feel better, and they are BH, the bickering has started up again. You are sitting in my seat, it’s my turn to choose a movie, I don’t want to eat this I want that, he’s looking at me funny, don’t breathe on me….

Through it all, because they are sick, I am supposed to be extra patient and kind. I have been on duty for 130 hours with absolutely no break. (Or maybe with a 10 minute break to go get them fresh movies). I have slept, but fitfully, knowing they will need me in the night. A dear friend went shopping for me, but I have no energy to make the different meals they want. I made a huge pot of chicken soup and noodles last night. I ordered in pizza the night before. Taking a shower yesterday seemed a luxury.

Can’t ask anyone to come over and help me unless they have had the trayfluenza. BH none of my friends have.

I feel as if I am getting to the end of my rope, and there is not enough coffee in the world to help me today.

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Ode to Joy

 

Well, the day finally came. The children went back to school today. Hooray! And much tho they will deny it vehemently they were so thrilled to see all their friends again. I walked them into the school yard (how embarrassing can I be??) and helped them shlepp their stuff. Why do they have to bring everything on the first day of school? My six year olds back pack weighed more than ME!!

 

Ok so am I the only sap amongst parents who cries on the first day of school every year? I see them lining up to go into class and I get a huge lump in my throat. Every year they are that much bigger and need me that much less. My first grader (how is that even possible that he is in first grade??) turned to me after 2 minutes and said “It’s ok Ima you can go now, I don’t need you anymore”. Sniff. Rip my heart out why don’t you? I contained my tears until I got to the car, indulged in a little weep fest, wiped my eyes and squared my shoulders and told myself to get over it.

 

As I drove away from school I turned on the radio (the whole summer it has been on a Jewish music loop of Chevra and Six13, oh the joys of yeshivish boys) and what song was playing? Holiday by Madonna, followed by What a Feeling from Flashdance by Irene Cara. Perfect song choices. I am sure plenty parents were singing along to those this morning and smiling to themselves.

 

So happy back to school folks, enjoy the peace and quiet and the possibility of time to oneself – what is that again?

 

for your viewing pleasure :

 Madonna – Holiday

 Irene Cara – What a Feeling