Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Once Upon a Swim Lesson

Tonight, more so than usual, it was impossible to find a parking space anywhere near the pool.  In fact, we parked so close to the house we might as well have walked there from the beginnning.  There I am, carrying a 13 kilo (28.5 pound) toddler and running to the pool because we are running late, cursing under my breath and hurting my back;  when a random man came out of a random apartment building carrying an old, minorly broken but usable stroller.

He asked me if I could use a stroller right now, and at first I thought he was joking.  The man insisted that he was going to throw it out in any case, and it might as well get one last ride before its retirement.

G-d can truly be found in the small events.

After our lesson, I became aware as I stood naked and shivering in the badly heated changing room, that another little girl and her mother were having a muted and yet prolonged conversation...about my butt.  That's right, apparently this little girl was marveling at the adult female human body, and needed to satisfy her curiosity with this age-appropriate yet awkward conversation.

I have certainly found myself in situations where Raphaela points at random people on the street and says, "Who's that?", and other countless more sensitive yet age-appropriate scenarios.  I didn't want the mother of this little girl to be embarrased;  I turned around, looked at this child and said (in Hebrew), "That's right, Mommies have big tushies and little girls have little tushies."  The mother smiled at me, and then her daughter started playing with her breasts, which sparked an entirely separate conversation about Mommy body parts and nursing.

We all parted as friends, and silently I thanked Raphaela for allowing me to become a woman who feels proud of her body, a human being who finally does not take herself so seriously that she cannot laugh at herself.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Little Mall Rat

Although Raphaela has been taken to the Malcha Mall in Jerusalem as a smaller baby, yesterday she experienced the glamour for the first time, as a curious walking toddler. 

She stared at each manequin in the store windows, and went inside to stroke the fabric on the clothing.  In the Nike store, she took a soccer ball off the wall and had a game of catch with the sales lady.  At a certain point, Raphaela sat down on the floor and removed her shoes, so she could wander around her "new home" as she does in her regular house.  Every time we passed by one of the open candy stands, I had distract her and make a quick getaway.  The pet store held a particular fascination, and Raphaela giggled with joy as she watched the chickadees inside their bird cage; she could have stood there for hours.

And the escalators, oh the escalators!  It was a virtual Disney World...

As a teenager, I lost my patience for random wandering around the mall, and as an adult, when I must go to the shops in Malcha as opposed to a more local branch, I get in and out as efficiently as possible.  Often it takes me longer to find a parking space than the actual purchase.

For now, the Mall represents an amusement park of sorts for Raphaela, until she becomes more savvy and realizes the material aspect of shopping.  I hope that by then, I will have provided her with enough values of common sense and balance, so she does not get caught up in the negative aspects of the money culture.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


In spending time with Raphaela this weekend, I realized something spectacular:  She prefers to wear diapers not merely because they are absorbent, but mostly because they feature  pictures of Elmo and his Sesame Street friends.  She aske me to change her diaper several times today when she was totally clean, because she wanted a new character on her tush.

I must find underwear that she loves and wants to wear, and I think it will significantly speed up our toilet training plans.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Been There Done That?

This morning, as I waited on line to sign up Raphaela for "public" Jerusalem Gan for next year, I thought to myself, "This could be the first and last time I need to think about this."

You see, since my period returned (once I stopped nursing), I have been basically spotting all month, and at the moment, my doctors and I are investigating the possible causes for this phenomenon.  My blood tests were clear, and the ultra-sound I took yesterday clean, thank G-d.   The women in our family have a history of fibroid overgrowth, leading to the necessity of a hysterectomy;  don't get me started on genetics vs environment...

Except that at the moment, there is no explanation for my fertility going haywire, and no one can guarantee that I will be able to have another child, should I choose to do so with a partner.

I have been critical of myself in the past as being one of those people who enjoys the chase and the challenge more than the result, both in terms of my professional life and my dating life. Once I accomplish my goal or finish a project, I get bored and need to move onto something new and different.  Over the years, I have attempted to hold onto to long-term passion and committment, and then all this started with the bleeding.

I find myself thinking, that's OK,  I was pregnant and loved it.  I have thank G-d a healthy and happy daughter, who absorbs all of my time and energy, for better or for worse.  The Mom thing?  Been there, done that, and now I can devote myself to raising our little family in the best way possible.   I need to be happy with what the Universe has blessed me, and enjoy every moment.

And yet there is that part of me that feels like I have taken a step backwards in my personal development, that I have given up, that my body has made a decision for me before I was ready.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weekend Reading

Today I read a beautifully written piece in the online Huffington Post, entitled "My Secret Grief.  Over 35, Single and Childless" by Melanie Notkin.  (Google it!)

Highly recommended and moving.

It is because I did not want to live with that grief that I chose to become a SMBC, and despite the really difficult, frustrating and agonizing moments I have experienced in this last month, I do not regret a single moment with Raphaela, and look forward to many more.


Having almost come to a decision regarding Raphaela's Gan for next year, one week before the city-wide registration begins, I can already feel myself breathing a little easier.  That being said, I have "miles to go before I sleep,"   physically and emotionally.

Irrationally, having made that choice, this idea popped into my head of change, major change, starting my hair.  I have always felt more feminine with long curly hair: one Summer, sometime in the late 80's/early 90's, when Demi Moore was appearing in the movie theaters as a sexy practically bald marine ("GI Jane"?), I boldly walked into a high end salon in The City and said, "Take it all off, give me the Demi Moore haircut."  For weeks after, I could not look at myself in the mirror, and hated showering, because I could literally touch the bones of my skull.  I certainly did not experience "sexy."

This time I plan to go to my stylist, whom I trust with my curly hair, and within the guidelines between a trim and shaving me bald, I will give him free reign to color and cut, in a way that flatters the angles of my face and makes it quicker to get out of the house in the morning.

I am, at heart, a low-maintenance gal.

I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed between my grandmother and one of my aunts, who at the time was the mother of three, in her early 40's, and was still sporting the Free Love Marcia Brady hairstyle of long-thin- straight down to your butt.  My grandmother sternly advised my aunt that it was time to "grow up" and cut her hair, that she was no longer a teenager and needed to look more professional.

I am also reminded of the time that my father, for his 40th birthday, shaved off the beard he had grown since high school.  When my younger sister returned from school that day, she stared at my father in shock, cried out, "Who are you and what have you done to my Daddy?" and stormed out of the room.

Normally, I pay little attention to chronological age and randomly selected milestones, but in fact I have noticed that in Israel as a trend, many women I know who hit the early 40's go short and fashionable with their locks.

Stop me, however, if I get to my sixth decade and indulge another Israeli trend ie that inexplicable purple hair thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Sometimes the pressure gets to be too much for a parent, and from what I have been told from my friends, it doesn't matter if you are single or married or divorced.  I find myself recently needing space from Raphaela, trying desperately to remember that I had a life and a separate adult identity before I became a mother.  I find myself having an increadibly short fuse, and reacting in a way that afterwards, I feel guilty because I feel like I have hurt my daughter emotionally.  Today, out of guilt, I bought her a small present when I went grocery shopping, knowing that it is not a material gift that she needs, but rather a mother who is soft and loving and patient.

When I find myself in this state of mind, I have less of a desire to share my feelings, on my blog for certain and with others in person, because I feel quite fragile and don't know if I could handle "constructive advice."  My greatest fear is that I revert to the person I was in high school, introverted and closed and so afraid to get hurt that I shut off my mind and my heart and put a wall around it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I am moving on from the last week, because life must go on, and it works so much better when you smile.
I am realizing that no person or parent is perfect, and I will own my mistakes.
I know that I must get a vacation soon and take care of myself, so that I can be the best woman, mother and doctor and be able to give to others with a whole heart.
Have a good week.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


After the emotional events of this week, I called my lawyer with one of the hardest questions that a parent ever considers, the issue of designating a guardian, in the G-d Forbid event that something happens to you, the giver of life and primary care-taker.

My lawyer informed me that actually my brother and sister-in-law, who currently live in Washington DC, are not considered a legitimate choice in the eyes of the Israeli government;  my daughter was born in Israel and has been raised here, despite the fact that she carries dual citizenship.  He recommended that I find a family here in the country as the first option, and use my brother as an alternate, unless they end up making aliyah in the future.

I thought long and hard, and other than my oldest friend from college (B), I could think of very few families raising children whose approach to parenting I respected and emulated.  Too many parents I know, though they are not ruining their kids per se, do not set enough limits and do not invest in allowing their children to fulfill their utmost potential.  They coast, and as a strong and ambitious woman, I want the most for Raphaela.

I also feel it is important that Raphaela live in a house that shares similar religious and spiritual values, people who grew up the same way I did and can relate to my cultural background, those who maintian the traditions of Judaism and at the same time show compassion and tolerance towards those who are different.  My friend B and her husband complete that picture for me.

When I sat down to speak with them, B agreed immediately, and her husband, a very succesful and practical financial analyst, stipulated that he would only agree if he knew that I had provided for my daughter; did I have a "million dollar" insurance policy and other savings or investment plans in which she was the beneficiary?  They both also wanted me to know that if they felt it was in Raphaela's best interest to be with relatives in the States rather than freinds in Israel, they would do so.

I am 43 years old, and my lawyer is finalizing a will.  My G-d.  The one thing I did not tell B is that wherever Raphaela goes, thus goeth Harry;  I hope they like cats.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On the way home after my day-long Chiropractic conference in Herzelia today, I detoured to the mostly deserted beach, collecting shells to bring to Jerusalem for Raphaela, breathing the fresh sea air and walking barefoot in the white sand.

Amazing what wave-watching will do to clear the head. For the first time in the last 24 hours I found myself not only not wanting to cry, but feeling serene and able to smile again.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Share in Sorrow

Here's the story, the nightmare of every parent:  the mother (M) came home from work during her lunch hour, to nurse her three month old baby.  She put her daughter into the crib, and returned to work, leaving her child in the care of her trusted sitter.  When the sitter tried to wake up the baby for the next feeding, she could not.  The girl was not breathing.

According to Jerusalem custom, the baby was buried immediately tonight, in the child-size plot overlooking the city.  The mother wailed, the father stood stalwart, performing his duties of reciting the Kaddish for his daughter.  Friends from work, family, and those of us who know them from the Gan gathered to support them, love them and cry with them.  Their two year old son has played with Raphaela every day since last year, making us all extended family.

This stretches my faith to the limits of imagination, and yet, I am inspired by M's piety in the face of such horror and sadness:  the sister of the sitter came over to M, and M immediately inquired about the sitter.  "How is she doing?" "Make sure she knows that we do not blame her, that she will always be welcome in our home." "Thank G-d she was there, she was sent by G-d as a messenger to endure what I could not as a mother."

It shames me.  This afternoon at the pediatrician I broke down in tears, explaining to the doctor (who is also a friend) that I feel poised on the edge of insanity, that I am beyond tired and how badly I neglect myself in favor of work, Raphaela and managing our lives.

Tonight, all I want to do is crawl into bed and hug Raphaela tightly, all night.
May we never know from such sorrow.
May G-d comfort the mourners, especially that two year old boy who just lost his baby sister.

For the Record

The Torah does NOT say, in any place or even through hints, that a religious Jew should spit on an eight year old whose ankles are showing, throw stones at Israeli policemen and soldiers, attack a handicapped person because he is sitting in a wheel chair on the Shabbat, abuse women and force them to sit at the back of the bus, or dress their children in concentration camp clothing to protest the so-called media bias.

Shame on you, each and every one of you, and shame on the leaders of the extremist Ultra-Orthodox communities for not speaking out and putting an end to this behaviour.  If you are turned on by the ankles of an eight year old girl, you have much bigger problems than theoretical modesty issues.

You live in Israel, the country of your fellow Jews, and do not pay taxes, do not join the army, conduct a completely illegal grey market, spit at your neighbors and destroy public property;  if you sit in a country and decry it as being the "Unkosher State," do you wonder why the rest of the population seems to not like you or support your lifestyle?

If you are so appalled by your conditions here, leave, please, and move to any other country on the planet that will take you in, before you ruin Israel.  And remember that the halacha states that when you reside as a foreigner, you must respect the Law of the Land.  What sickens me most is that you would only dare to push the limits of human decency in Israel, the land of your brothers and sisters, your family.

This is not how I intend to raise my daughter.

Personal Day

Raphaela was sent home from Gan today, due to the sudden onset of a fever of 38 degrees Celcius.  Although she slept well yesterday and her fever seems to have broken, I kept her home today to rest and have a personal fun day with Mommy.  We went to the cafe on Palmach this morning, ran a few local errands, and I am bringing in a sitter this afternoon so I can get some work done with patients.

She is abnormally excited about our visit to the pediatrician this afternoon.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Given the fact that I have a full size bed, big enough for two adults, it makes perfect sense that this morning I ended up half way on the floor, no pillow, and perpendicular, with a two year old snuggled against my chest and a nine year old cat keeping my legs firmly locked in place.

I had no objection to Raphaela spending part of the night in my bed, she is still dragging around the never-ending cough, and I even gave her an entire half of the bed.  She seems to have this homing device, every time I would mildly modify my postion she would slide in right next to me, and she would subtly push me out of any comfortable postion, until her little body and Harry's purring ball of fur had requisitioned all of the space.

It made me wonder what it must be like to have a man, a full-time sleeping partner, potentially hogging covers, instead of these cute little creatures;  must be nice.