Post-Partum….

December 1st, 2013

“This is your seventh baby? This one is going to just pop right out, you will see…”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard that over the past few months.

My youngest is 5 1/2 – which means it has been a while since I have been pregnant. I was younger, fitter, and while I had my hands much more full with a house full of little ones, I also had more energy.

This pregnancy was harder. Much harder…… but it was nothing compared to the labor/delivery.

None of my other deliveries were easy, but they were pretty straightforward. I have shared with just about any woman who will listen that I proudly delivered twins without an epidural or surgery at 40 weeks – and 6.5 and 8 pounds.

This labor was more than a day, on no sleep, with a “failure to progress”. I was spared a c-section, but at the price of tremendous amounts of strain on my body, the likes of which I have just never experienced.

… I don’t know if it is my age, the hormones, the difficult labor, the very full house or a grand combination of them all, but this time post-partum hit me BIG TIME.

I found myself just crying for what seemed like no good reason. I felt overwhelmed, and mostly I resented every single person that tried to check in with me, asked me what I was doing, expected me to be chipper, friendly, happy, open or affectionate. Including  my own children.

“Can’t they see I am trying to recover?”

“What is wrong with them? Why are they calling me? ”

“How can they possibly ask me for a hug.”

“Just stopped by? Seriously?”

More than anything else, my moodiness, touchiness and lack of ability to be a charming friend and hostess to others seemed to be met with consternation at best, horror at worst, rather than compassion. 

I am in week two now, and what an amazing difference a week makes! My milk is flowing, my child is occasionally sleeping for a whole couple of hours not in someone’s arms. I am no longer taking pain medication round the clock, feeling achy and weak the minute it starts to wear off. I can put on my own shoes. There is a rush of relief that the Shalom Zachor and the Brit are both over. The trauma of the birth doesn’t come to me in flashes like it did last week. Neither do the unexplained bouts of tears. I am able to smile when someone walks in the door, and you might, just might occasionally find me answering the telephone.

The help, advice and meals I have received have been just amazing.I think that religious Jews who have a community that takes turns at lifecycle events  being there for each other, are the luckiest people on earth. And I count myself as one of the most blessed because I live in Neve Daniel.  The love and support expressed from around the world has been so touching, so wonderful.

The most positive experience has been the communal celebration of this birth by our neighborhood, family and friends.

Why write such a negative post during this weekend of thanks??? Why bother writing this? Because I think that when we are truly happy for people we want to connect to them. To reach out and let them know. I also think that 9 times out of 10 a new mother, at least for that first week, needs exactly the opposite. Sometimes love means giving someone space.

I have always dropped off donated dinners to new moms with a note and a delivery person, and I have never thought to make a visit or a phone call in the first week. But I also doubt I have ever been sensitive enough to avoiding asking “how are you” for a week, or assuming that maybe a hug for the new mom is not in order at a bris. I never knew that difficult sleeping when your baby sleeps is a primary symptom of post-partum baby blues, but I have always known that lack of sleep makes everything else harder.

I have had many friends who suffered from post-partum depression, but I didn’t see  it – that is part of what I am describing, which is a desire to shut everyone out during such a dark time. I heard about it after the fact. Until now, I never understood why it was traumatic enough to cause some of them to think twice before having another child.

I haven’t enjoyed the experience, but I do hope it is going to make me a better friend, relative, neighbor and eventually mother to new moms. That I will have a newfound appreciation for that space.

If you ever give birth and I seem aloof during your first week, please don’t be offended, I will just be giving you your space, whether you need it or not. My guess is that if you are a brand new mom, you will be FAR too busy to notice, no matter how you are feeling.

yehudanoam

 

One last note: our beautiful new baby’s name is Yehuda Chaim, and I will post our thoughts and words on the baby and his name just as soon as this little newborn will grant me the time. In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and Chanukah!!! 

 

Related Reading:

Goodbye, Stella.

November 14th, 2013

Our special community of Neve Daniel lost an amazing,  unique, kind, wonderful tzadeket of a person today, while she was still only a young mother.

The cancer that took her life was aggressive and everyone here watched a fight that was nothing short of miraculous. It is hard to describe an entire community in mourning; an entire neighborhood grieving and sad.  It is remarkable to see this family hugged and held up by that same entire community and even more so to see how much they are aware of it and grateful for it, even in their dark, dark hour.

I was blessed to get to know Stella’s incredible journey and story before moving here, through the Jewish blogging community, and her husband, Yarden’s blog. I davened for her with my students in New Jersey, and her struggles transformed my 8 year old daughter into someone who understand real davening, with someone specific in mind, with real intention.

But as newcomers to the yishuv, the loss is hardly as personal one for me as it is for her closest, dearest friends that live here. And I defer to them.

Please read Cheri and Romi’s moving words about Stella here cheristella

and here.  romistella

Please  say thank you to someone today. Tell someone you love them today. Do something that makes you feel like a “rock star”… and think of Stella, z’l.

It was an honor to know you.

stella

 

 

Related Reading:

That person….

October 30th, 2013

chalk-on-groundI once had the honor of enjoying a shiur by Rabbi Shimon Green from Jerusalem who was visiting New Jersey. He said that everyone has “that person”;  ” That person that drives you up a wall, that you simply cannot stand. That every little thing they do is so annoying it is like fingers on the blackboard – just for you…. but don’t worry he went on; you are undoubtedly that person to someone else!”

I burst out in the laughter of surprise and recognition.  I am a second wife who has been dealing with a first wife, who hates my guts, for many years. Enough said, but far be it from me to assume I am only “that person” to her. I may be that person to a lot more people.

I also think, however, that the flip side is true. Many of us have “that person” that has made some huge, life-changing impact on our lives.

And quite often, I believe that “those people – ” the angels that appear as humans to us –  don’t think of their own actions or behavior as anything much at all. Just as the people who seem to have no raison d’etre other than annoying us often aren’t even considering us for one instant, those that have a hugely positive impact on our lives aren’t trying to change us, or our lives, or even inspire us. They are just living.

My now 8-year old daughter had to go through the difficult process of aliyah only 15 months ago. She went from a small school, 5 minutes from home, where the staff were also members of her shul and community, were her Ima’s friends, gave her hugs, and were her extended family, to a huge public school with 30+ kids in a class, over 200 to a grade, and not a lot of personal interactions between individual students and staff…. all in a new language, of course.

Idit is one of the secretaries in the office, and I very much doubt that she realizes just how much she is “that person” for my daughter.

Shira began last year surprising Idit with hugs. While it certainly wasn’t the norm in her big Israeli public school, it was definitely my daughter’s norm from New Jersey. Idit responded with cookies. She didn’t realize that we don’t give our children cookies, except on Shabbat. It was most definitely the way to my daughter’s heart, as well as the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

The cookies have stopped, but the daily hellos – and hugs –  have remained. Shira knows she has a friend, a go-to person, a safe harbor in the storm that is aliyah.

I had to drop off a forgotten assignment this week, and since I couldn’t find Shira, I gave it to Idit who assured me that she and Shira would find each other before the next class. She called me in before I could leave to tell me how much she loves my spunky daughter. She also wanted to add that Shira often comes to the office during recess, or stays inside, saying that she doesn’t know who to play with.

One of the hardest parts of aliyah is getting past kids being friendly to really making friends. (It’s true for the adults making aliyah too – a different blog post…) Idit suggested that I send Shira to school with a toy from home for the playground or something new that she can share with friends – or potential friends – that will both give her something to do and attract her peers. What a simple, easy idea. The next day Shira went to school with some sidewalk chalk in her bag and I am already hearing reports of improvement in her social life at school.

The teachers are busy, dealing with 30+ kids throughout the day, and they are not  assigned to monitor the playground every day. When they do, they are literally watching hundreds of children. They are watching out for fights and violence (I am not confident they even catch most of that) but certainly are not on the lookout for the lone immigrant child that quietly opted to stay inside. Idit noticed. And her quiet, quick word to me was all that it took to bring a little more sunshine into my daughter’s life.

I will continue to try to convey to Idit how much more of an impact on my daughter she is having than she realizes, and I hope there is a point in her life where she comes to understand that by doing what must be a relatively thankless office job in a public school, she is meriting being an angel on earth for at least one little girl, and by extension her family.

… So what does that mean for me? It means yet one more reminder that I need to live my own life consciously, trying to be “that person” in the lives of others, rather than “that [other] person”….

 

 

Related Reading:

Welcome to the August 9, 2013 edition of jewish-israel blog carnival aka havel havalim .

The Jewish blog carnival  is a weekly digest of several Jewish blogs from around Israel and the world. Please feel free to join us and submit your blog posts. Make sure to comment at each of these wonderful sites,  and tell them I sent you!  To be a host, you can contact us at the  blog carnival index page, and/or join us on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/283537885020583/

Since my last blog post my family and I have reached our 1 year aliyah anniversary. I had expected this to be commemorated with a meaningful and reflective blog post. While I still hope to write one about being in year two, the reality is that every single one of us has been too busy LIVING life in Israel to stop and do much celebrating, reflecting – or blogging. This is a tremendous mark of aliyah success in my book, and while I am sorry for the lack of blog, I am happy about the reason.

I participated today in a wonderful Elul tradition on my yishuv. A diverse group of women get together Shabbat afternoon, Rosh Chodesh Elul, for singing, food, and words of Torah and inspiration for the month. One participant, Yael of Yaelle Yells… Softly* mentioned that she enters Elul with trepidation but her father, z’l, always did so with excitement.  (*This is Neve Daniel, after all, “Har Habloggerim”….. ) 

What about you? Do you enter this month feeling fear? Excitement? Or both? I am feeling the weight of my very heavy to do list – work, school supplies, bus schedules… and spiritual cheshbon.

Whatever your feeling about the month, Chodesh Tov and enjoy all of these posts:

 

If you have never checked it out before, take a peek at Jewels of Elul, a project where different writers / bloggers contribute for and about Elul. This recent post “Elul 4: Choose, Don’t Refuse” is from my friend and all-around brilliant superwoman, Yael Untermann.

 

Ima on and off the Bima, tries to blog all of Elul… a better blogger/woman than I. Her first post in the series is Blog Elul 1, “Prepare”

 

Esav Exposed gives us some insights into one of Tommy Wallers teachers in an ongoing effort to expose Christian Missionaries proseltysing specifically to Jews in Who Are Tommy Wallers Teachers Part 1

 

Jacob Richman of Good News from Israel bring us his own digest of cool stuff to help us prepare this Elul in Educational Resources, Cool Videos, Games and Greeting Cards for Rosh Hashanah.

 

Good News from Israel also posted his photo album from Jerusalem’s current Model Train Exhibit. I would love to make it over there, but am at least going to share the pics with my kids.

 

Sharon of the Real Jerusalem Streets blogs to say Thank you, Women of the Wall. Regardless of personal feelings or opinions on this controversial issue, I am so happy to hear that she has had a positive experience!!!

 

My Parnasa tell us How to Make a Million Blogging for Times of Israel. One could argue that the Haveil Havalim Carnival is for those looking for the non-TOI blogs, so what do you think?

 

Batya of Shiloh Musings has brought us a variety of different kinds of posts, in

 

Loni Books presents Making Challah posted at Small Thoughts, saying, “I’m a college student by day, a writer by night. I love to write about those small moments that inspire me all day long.”

 

… Before I leave, I would like to ask all of our readers to make a quick stop off at Crossing the Yarden, and leave a little note, blessing, prayer, or token of love for Yarden and his “Rock Star”. Just tell him how many of us are out there with their amazing family in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks.

 

I hope this is an inspiring and uplifting Elul for you, and that you blog about it!

Chodesh Tov,

Ima2seven

 

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of jewish-israel blog carnival aka havel ha using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Related Reading:

Meeting Rita

July 1st, 2013

While most people have written and filed their experiences and impressions from the President’s Conference in Jerusalem two weeks ago, I am only getting this published now. While it may only be an excuse, I doubt from what I saw that most of the participants, especially writers, at the conference were leaving behind 6 children finishing up their first year of school in Israel. For me, there has been a lot of “pay back” for that precious two day absence, so I hope this interview comes better late than never.

Rita Yahan-Farouz

Of the many fantastic moments for me at the President’s Conference, meeting Rita definitely stands out as the highlight. This was for me a rare, unforgettable life-moment. There is the rush of fandom, of meeting a star, but this was something else.

Meeting someone for the first time that has left a fingerprint on your soul and having the chance to tell them personally is truly incredible, and something I do not take for granted. The fact that Rita was personable, charming, beautiful, interesting and kind is really icing on the cake.

For those of you that do not know, “Rita”, Rita Yahan-Farouz is an Iranian--born Israeli pop singer and the most famous female singer in Israel. She has had an unprecedented career in Israel in film and on stage, and has sold countless albums and sold-out concerts.

In 2011, she also became popular in Iran as an underground singing sensation after the release of various pop records which she sings in her native Persian language. In 2012, her album “All My Joys,” also sung in Persian, was popular in both Israel and Iran, going gold in Israel after three weeks. She has since been referred to as a cultural ambassador between Israeli and Iranian citizens. You can learn a lot more about Rita, her stardom and her career here.

***

When I was 17 years old, I came to Israel for the first time on what was then a brand new program called “USY High”. Although it has since changed, at the time it was a Conservative Movement form of the standard AMHSI two-month high school in Israel program based in Hod Hasharon.

My teacher, Yossi Katz, who still teaches at AMHSI, could see right away that I was one of those kids that was falling in love, very quickly and deeply with the country. Yossi is the author of “A Voice Called”  and is someone I have always described as someone who creates zionists for a living. The number of Yossi’s former students that have made aliyah is staggering.

As early as my first week in Israel I explained to Yossi emphatically that Israel could never be home for me. It would of course conflict with the long, successful stage career as a singer that was waiting for me back in the United States. Yossi reacted by creating a mantra that I could be the “next Rita in Israel” over and over, and backed this up by giving me my first taste of Israeli music, a Rita cassette.

I spent the remainder of those 8 life-transforming weeks on a bus, learning the history of the land of Israel from the time of Avraham until today almost entirely on tiyul. And every minute we were on that bus, I was looking out the window wearing a walkman and listening to Rita.

She was the background music for my burgeoning love affair with Eretz Yisroel. 24 years later, as I drive to work on a mundane commute, I still feel pangs of fierce, passionate love. And I still hear the background music.

…. and in Binyanei Hauma, I got to tell Rita herself.

I tried to assure the true (well-earned) Diva that I wanted to talk to her about HER and not me, but opened with the personal connection anyway. She responded by gasping, telling me that I gave her the chills and giving me a big hug. I know she has a successful long-standing career as an actress so perhaps I should be cynical about the reception, but it certainly felt amazing.

We spoke first and foremost about motherhood. Since I explained that this is the subject of much of my blog, we both talked about being musical moms raising musical kids. As if we are “both” in any category. But when she stopped her manager in her tracks to exclaim in shock the number of kids I have, insisting that it is impossible because I look 26 years old, she had me even more hooked than ever.

She explained to me that motherhood didn’t change her as a musician, it just changed the centrality of her very successful career in her life. “Being a mother just instantly became the most important thing in my life, and remained so.” She spoke about the challenges of finding the right balance of (stellar) career and motherhood. She had a neighbor that would needle her incessantly about not being home for her children, as this neighbor of course was. She was so irritated by the constant badgering that she wound up going to a family psychologist who asked her one simple question. “When your daughter grows up, gets married and has a family. Will you tell her that you think she should drop her life-passion and stay home to be with her family? Will you tell her to table her own happiness for the sake of her children?”. Rita didn’t need any more information and went home empowered to find that balance every one of us struggles with.

How telling – and familiar – that the the social pressure to please others’ is at least as much a part of that struggle as the personal balance we each have to find.

 We talked about the most significant influence on her as a musician. It was not a particular band or favorite album… but the rich singing and dancing her Persian mother did around the house.

She described very, very early memories of resting on her mother’s legs as she sang constantly to her children.  It wasn’t appropriate for a Persian woman to publicly dance and sing, she explained, so she would perform with flair around the house for her entranced daughters. And these are the sounds that have informed and influenced Rita throughout her career. I restrained myself – with effort – from launching into my background as a Music Together teacher. Music Together teaches us through science and study the profound impact that this kind of musical behavior by any mother has on every child and their love of music. Rita knew through her gut and didn’t need my affirmation. (And it wasn’t about me.  I wasn’t going to make this a two way conversation of “sharing” no matter how much it is my inclination. This was an interview.)

It made so much sense when she later talked about her 2012 album, All My Joys, which is sung in Persian, as a deeply personal “return home”. The fact that it has seen unprecedented international success and has turned into a surprising bridge-builder between Israeli and Iranian people has been a wonderful unintended outcome. I now understood how despite meteoric success and international attention she could still describe the effort as a deeply personal one.

We discussed the raising of her musical kids. Both of her daughters are very musical which is even less surprising when you know that their father, her ex-husband, is Rami Kleinstein a hugely successful Israeli artist in his own right.

Meshi is 21 and very well may pursue a career in music,”  Rita told me, “I don’t think she can run away from it. She is so talented… She sings in English, Davka.”

Her younger daughter, Noam, is 12, is also an incredibly creative musician. Rita tells me she is “so talented at so many different instruments. And she seems to have rhythm and blues down in her kishkes. It is amazing. But she very well may decide not pursue music as a profession…. she knows very deeply first hand the price that one pays to be in this business, and isn’t sure she wants to pay it.”

I asked Rita if she had any message for my very musical 13 year old daughter who also has the “bug” and wants a lifetime of singing. With the added challenge of being Orthodox and all that that means in Israel today. I didn’t know how Rita would react, and how careful she would want to be to veer away from religion or politics. I didn’t know if it would be an opportunity to criticize the limitations of religion on musical expression (particularly for women).  She didn’t go there at all, and impressed me yet again.

“Tell her that singing is mentioned even the Kabbalah – that music has a vibration that is like a prayer. It is the strongest way to connect to Heaven, to G-d. Like a straight cable to connect directly to G-d. You can’t tell someone to run away from such a love. She has to find her own destiny.” She said. “And tell her to never, ever stop singing.”

She had described for me her earliest memory of being asked to stand up at a large family gathering when she was only 4, to stand on a chair and sing for everyone. The world stopped, and she felt this incredible “oneness”. A moment of pure joy and clarity that has always stayed with her, and was the defining moment in which she knew this is what she had to do for the rest of her life.

I asked Rita for her proudest career moments. She said that the two peaks for her were singing “Hatikvah” at the Knesset for Israel’s 50th birthday celebration, and her recent performance at the UN General Assembly in March as a representative of Israel, where she sang in Persian, English and Hebrew. She explained that three of the tickets were taken somehow by the Iranian delegation, but they will never know how or by whom.

When I pointed out that these are both moments of national representation as opposed to commercial success, she explained that her 8-year-old immigrant self is still inside her, remembering her move to Israel, being mocked and feeling “different” . That that little girl jumps for joy when she has these moments as the representative of Israel.

Once again, I restrained myself and didn’t talk about how much I can relate, as I watch my children struggle through their first year of aliyah. I pushed down tears of emotion and made a mental note to simply share this insight with my own little immigrants as soon as I got home. (Which I did.)

These were the highlights for me of what felt like a too-short intimate conversation between two people who live in different worlds but could so easily be friends. I wondered then, and still do, if she just has an amazing gift of making everyone feel that way, and it really has nothing to do with me?

meandRita

I hope Rita will get an opportunity to read this, and that she feels it has done justice to our conversation. She had so many fans approach her on that one day alone, and it must go on throughout the year. But if she does see it then she will know that she left a second fingerprint during our conversation and there is a strange part of me that is absolutely convinced that it will not be our last.

 

If you missed Rita at the President’s Conference, you can watch her on the panel here

 

For more information about Rita’s amazing career, her latest album, or how to order any of her music, be sure to visit her website. 

Related Reading:

I have a President’s Conference to blog about, and a meeting with the most fantastic Rita.

But while I finish churning those posts, albeit far too late, enjoy the following amazing recipe. It comes directly from Joy of Kosher / Bitayavon Magazine, which is definitely worth buying!

Please follow @joyofkosher on twitter if you use it and you enjoy the recipe!

“Classic Chocolate Sandwich Cookie with Vanilla Filling”, courtesy of Joy of Kosher Magazine. Please do me a favor and like their Facebook page or send Jamie Geller a shout-out on twitter .
Makes 3 dozen cookies – unless you use a big glass to cut them, like I did. Then you might want to double the recipe, like I did.

Chocolate Cookie
1 c. unsalted margarine, room temp.
1 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
They might not look as gorgeous as Jamie’s photographs in her magazine and web site, but they looked good enough for us and taste great. 

Vanilla Filling
1/4 c. unsalted marg, room temp.
1/4 c. veg. shortening (I just used 1/2 of marg. and skipped shortening)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1. Begin by preparing the cookies. Combine the margarine and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on med. speed until light and fluffy, around 2 min.s Add the egg & vanilla and beat until well incorporated.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture to the creamed margarine mixture, beating on low speed. Continue to mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
3. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (in our case overnight.)
4. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside
5. Take one portion of dough out of the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut out the cookies using a round cookie cutter (app. 2 inches in diameter).
6. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
7. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
8. While the cookies are cooling, prepare the filling. Combine the margarine, veg. shortening and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until the filling comes together.
9. Transfer the filling to a piping bag or plastic sandwich bag with a corner cut off. Once the cookies have cooled, pipe the filling onto half of the cookies and top with the remaining cookies.
**I spread it with a knife and it worked just great.

Related Reading:

Father and Husband

The two dads

2010 in honor of Father’s Day, I posted my Top Ten things I appreciate about my two favorite Dads as fathers, my Dad and my husband: http://www.ima2seven.com/happy-fathers-day/

I decided to make a new list this year. Having moved 6,000 miles since last year, and having had lots of life changes this year, I don’t think it is the same list:

My Dad:

1. Tries to think before he speaks, and will walk away for a while if he thinks he can’t.

2. Believes in the principles of paying forward, civic responsibility and tzedakah, and demonstrates it with his actions.

3. Has supported my move across the world, with assistance and patience, without making demands or getting angry when I don’t call or that I took his grandchildren so far away.

4. Doesn’t show off what he has, but enjoys it.

5. Really works at being a role model to my children.

6. Has always instilled in us a belief that family, including extended family, matters. This includes inviting extended family wherever possible, without any “keeping score” about being invited in return.

7.  Keeps himself educated about the world, and therefore forms opinions. Yet doesn’t impose them on everyone else.

8.  Makes my husband feel like a son.

9. Calls my children across the world to talk baseball with them.

10.  (I kept this one from the last list) Still pouts when I go home.

 

My husband:

1. Skips to “gan” with my 5 year old almost every day.

2. Can be incredibly firm with rules, and yet incredibly, incredibly goofy.

3.  Understands that asking for change in one’s children requires patience – and finds it.

4.  Drops everything to advocate for his children with doctors.

5.  Still wants more kids……..

6. Remembers that when I am pregnant I am uncomfortable and gestating, and therefore the Queen….of everything.

7. Continues to be in charge of cleaning up all things gross, at all times, without any hesitation.

8. Has stayed committed, emotionally, financially, and with his time, to my stepson. Despite the obstacles, and there are many, he steadfastly gives him as much as he can.

9. Never stops being a teacher to his kids (and sometimes everyone else’s!)

10. Finding opportunities for extraordinary opportunities for the kids, and making time for them, even when it’s really hard.

Happy Father’s Day to you both. I love and appreciate you.

 

What is your TOP TEN? What do you appreciate about the fathers in your life? 

Related Reading:

The customer is always right. We all already know that.

When it isn’t so clear that one party is a “customer” however, it can sometimes get muddy.

Earlier this year I had a meeting at my son’s school. He was the victim of violence in his class. He wasn’t hurt seriously, but he was ganged up on by 10-15 kids TO ONE. Yes, 15-1. On the new kid, the new oleh. When I went into that meeting I thought that I was remarkably calm. I didn’t drag 15 other adults with me to gang up on the staff. I sat respectfully in my chair, and I heard the school out. They said they were sorry………………………… but.

But, they aren’t a private school and they can’t pick and choose who is there.

But, they didn’t know he was having any issues with anyone in his class because he doesn’t complain to them.

But, they didn’t hear from us in the weeks leading up to the incident when there had been verbal taunting.

And you know what? All of those “buts” are true. And that didn’t make one spot of difference to me.

I only heard one thing:

THIS IS AS MUCH YOUR FAULT AS OURS. WE ARE NOT REALLY TAKING RESPONSIBILITY, WE ARE JUST APOLOGIZING TO FIX THIS, TO MAKE IT GO AWAY. THIS IS AS MUCH YOUR FAULT AS OURS.

I recently had to deal with a very disgruntled “customer” who felt very wronged. I then had to deal with a very disgruntled staff member who felt that this was truly not all their fault and proceeded to take partial responsibility and apologize to the “customer”…… but.

And that is what upset the “customer” the most.

Why the quotation marks? In the non-profit world, it is not always easy to know who is a customer.A service recipient? (they aren’t paying for goods or services) A donor? (neither are they) A participant? (sometimes they paid, sometimes they didn’t) A participant’s parents? (sometimes they paid and didn’t receive a service) What about a volunteer?

It is my personal approach that the answer is “all of the above”. Especially in the non-profit world, the “customer experience” includes just about everyone who comes in contact with your staff. A positive emotional response to what you do is your primary goal, results in increased membership, donors, participation, etc.

It isn’t always possible, to treat everyone with stellar customer service, or to tell everyone that they are always right, but it certainly is an ideal.

I think the same is true at home. Who is the customer, so to speak? Your spouse? Your parents? Your kids? We all know that everyone would prefer being spoken to nicely. We all know that a happy home makes everyone want to be there more, visit more, give more.

But what if someone is upset at you and you are just 100% certain that it isn’t all your fault? What if you know that if  only THEY had let you get enough sleep, or done their job properly, or come home on time, or stopped using the computer or…. then you would have just been the mother/wife/sister/friend of the year?

I think we all want unequivocal apologies. At work, at play, at home. If you think you could have done better, then say it. No qualifications. For most adults, this isn’t showing unrealistic weakness. Even if one can’t recognize it in the heat of the moment, most of us know that the other person with whom we are upset would have done better if we had let you get sleep or had come home on time or had done our job properly or….

I am sorry and will try do to better or differently is often much harder than it sounds. It is our honor and self image at stake, after all. As if it were ever really about us.

But doesn’t that unequivocal apology make you feel better when you are upset?

I have been on such a long, long hiatus from this blog, and I am hoping this marks the beginning of the end.

I am sorry, and I will try to do better.   :  )

Related Reading:

Some of you know that I had written a while ago posts about the tragedy for the children of Nachlaot, starting with “Terrorists have destroyed Nachlaot“. The other posts  can be found here and here and here.

Jewishmom.com has an important update about the sentencing of one of the perpetrators, and much more.

Please read her post:

Nachlaot Pedophile, Binyamin Satz, Sentenced to 20 Years

Thank you.

Related Reading:

I haven’t had a lot of time to blog lately. I haven’t had a lot of time to blog since I decided to move across the world with six kids. Then deciding that taking a job outside of the house, albeit half-time, sort of put the nail in the blog coffin.

I am making some changes in my life over the next few months and hope that with some much-needed balance will come some specks of time for writing. Stay tuned.

Someone I do not know, who has never commented here, made a kind comment about my blog. But he also said that he would love to hear my journey, not just stories. And he is right. I haven’t done that. Mostly because I have yet to ever feel like I have “arrived” anywhere on the journey. I feel like it is hard to tell the story when I am still in the middle of it.  That is how a blog works, though, isn’t it? So I have to do that, and am making the commitment to it right now.

Today, however, is not the day I am going to tell you my journey. I have written much about my love affair with Israel, with the intense joy that I feel about being here. And I do feel it – every single day. I get emotional and grateful on a simple drive to work, looking out at the Judean Hills. I don’t see a checkpoint and rush hour traffic. I see the land of my forefathers; I really do. And I hope the naive rose glasses remain there for a long time to come.

But this week? I am sorry. It has just been…. well NOT FUN. Actually, it has been more like a month of health issues all up, down and around my family and I have honestly HAD ENOUGH. I am officially, here and now, crying uncle. Like, we really, really could use a break.

My daughter has some horrible stomach thing that won’t die with the many antibiotics she has taken. We have been to emergency rooms, I have fought with attendings, ordered tests, been completely let down by specialists, and am left with a daughter missing school, tired and frustrated while we keep poking around in the dark for a solution. *

My son has asthma, and Lag Bomer in Israel is not  exactly the very best holiday for an asthmatic. For those of you that don’t know, the national tradition is to light bonfires and stay up late, breathing in the smoke and eating nasty hot dogs and marshmallows, while reports of fire damage come in from around the nation.

Even if I had made my son stay home from the “everyone-is-doing-it-I-get-to-stay-up-late-and-bond-with-my-peers-over-a-bonfire” experience his very first year here, the smoke from the entire country would have caused his flare-up anyway. He hacks, he cries, and I slowly go out of my mind. 

My other son decided he had to go and break a toe.. we must have missed a day at the doctor’s office. He can get around, but was told no sports for three weeks. I am not sure which is worse for his overall mental and physical health; the broken toe or his being cooped up that long. I know which is worse for mine.

My dad has had a minor “thing”, and is now going for more tests. He is fine. He really is. Thank G-d. But the reality is that my parents are getting older and I now live 6,000 miles away. The worrying didn’t help him when I was a 6 hour drive away either, but it always felt like I could hop in a car and run over to see them. With this many kids and responsibilities that sounds funny even as I type it, but it felt like I could. He doesn’t need my care, energy and attention right now like my brood, but the additional worry and distraction just adds to the heap.

I am barely – just barely – making it with the work-aliyah-support the husband-raise-all-of-these-kids plates all spinning in the air.

 

These sick kids are like an angry bird that has swooped in to knock every single one of the plates out of the air. 

 

 

I have friends, family, more family, and more dear friends coming to visit in May. I can’t wait. I want to show them how happy we are here. How settled we are in our new home. How well we are doing, and how I scaled the heights and have mastered starting over at 40…..

 

… I fear that they will arrive and instead all they will see is fallen and smashed plates that were once spinning…. in a heap all over the floor.

 

 

 

*Please don’t write in a comment suggesting something I ought to get my daughter tested for. I know you mean well.  I have heard them all, and yes. We tested for that. I assure you. 

 

 

Related Reading: