Kosso, Keeso, Kaaso

In the Talmud it says that you don’t truly know a man until you’ve seen him bikosso, keeso, and kaaso – translated to with his cup (drinking), pocket (money), and anger.  I’m not terribly stingy and don’t indulge much in drinking, but sure, I get mad. I hate to think that’s the inner, true me. There’s got to be another scale of our humanity.

This weekend, I thought of a fourth category that might portray man’s (or woman’s) true colors.

Taking care of a vomiting child.

A very vomiting child. Think once every thirty minutes, and rarely landing somewhere appropriate like the apportioned bucket. More like on the floor, every sheet and blanket in the house, every pair of pajamas, and naturally of course, on one’s mother.

And yes, that would be me.

But I was so proud of myself. My heart grew full with love for this temporarily pathetic child, burning with fever, coughing up bile, evoking feelings of tenderness I rarely feel when my children are awake.

I mopped it up, changed his clothes, changed myself, and then did it all again 15 minutes later. All with a smile.

Last pair of clean (several sizes too small) pants

Oh, the joys of motherhood. Of kissing a warm temple and reading books as the sweet little angel drifts into oblivion.

I didn’t even break in the middle of the night when I had to keep tending, keep mopping, keep changing sheets, keep ignoring my beckoning pillow. Keep fulfilling requests for ginger ale with ice, no without ice, cold water, warm water, in between water, a drink in a sippy cup, no a regular cup, no a sports bottle.

Oh, how perfect I am I thought.

And then he started to get better.

The fever dissipated, the vomiting stopped. But the ridiculous requests prevailed.

He wanted this, no that, no this. He whined. He cried. He demanded.

And he kept me up all night. Again.

Gone was the patience. Gone the loving, perfect mother.

Just the snappy, tired one. No, you cannot have a third drink when there are two on the night table. Yes, you have to stop talking to me so I can drift back to sleep. No, you cannot run crying into your bedroom at 3 am and wake your sleeping brother. Get back into line, young man.

I think taking care of a sick kid is easy. The pity makes us strong.

It’s caring for one that’s getting better that’s the challenge. And I think I failed.

Uncle Moishy is back in town or The beginning of an identity crisis

My son Aryeh, still two, on the cusp of threeness, has proclaimed himself no longer Aryeh. He did not do this today. Or yesterday. It did not last an hour, or four, or ten. He has a new name and he’s sticking with it.

For reasons beyond today’s story, our little boy is a sheltered one: he does not watch videos or TV and we don’t have much in the way of children’s CDs. He may have watched an occasional Uncle Moishy video at camp last summer, the black hatted full bearded cheerful singing character so many Jewish children love. I may have shown him a clip or two on You Tube, but other than that he’s not a huge fan.

And then my husband took him to The Uncle Moishy Concert. Over a month ago, I may add. And so it began.

He came home in a daze, enthralled with the character who said clap clap clap your hands, and he’s never been the same.

The next day when I called him to come eat supper he said my name is not Aryeh it’s Uncle Moishy. I laughed. I’m still laughing. But five weeks in, I’m beginning to wonder how much longer I’ll find this funny.

He’s insistent that he’s Uncle Moishy, indignant when I call him Aryeh, and foists his identity on unsuspecting relatives, his playgroup teacher, and mostly on his forgetful mother.

Our day goes something like this:

Good morning Aryeh! No! Uncle Moishy! I love you Aryeh. I’m not Aryeh. It’s time for a bath Aryeh. I’m Uncle Moishy. I want to kiss you up sweet Aryeh. I’m Uncle Moishy.

You get the gist of it. I’m hugging, bathing, and dressing Uncle Moishy and I’d like my little boy back.

Which is why I was excited, although sympathetic to the crestfallen look on his face, when his four year old cousin informed him yesterday that “You ARE NOT Uncle Moishy. Just because  you saw him doesn’t mean you are him. You’re Aryeh.”

He looked like he was trying not to cry. And then those blessed words came forth.

He said, “Right, I’m Aryeh.”

I hugged away his dejection, silently rejoicing at what his cousin had accomplished. A feat I’ve tried and failed at plenty, trust me.

So I was a little surprised when this afternoon I said Aryeh do you want to help me put the laundry away?

And he said I’m not Aryeh! I’m Uncle Moishy!

I calmly asked, trying not to stunt his creativity, “But what about your cousin told you yesterday?”

“Yes,” he told me. “He said that I was Aryeh. Yesterday I was Aryeh. Today I’m Uncle Moishy.”

I think it’s time for Bob the Builder.

Commitment

I’m a noncommittal person. I don’t commit. I hate committing. Granted, I’m married. But that’s a miracle for another time. The issue at hand is that I don’t commit to things- to articles of clothing, to projects I start, to careers. To choosing anything ever. I instead keep my options open, meandering along in the land of indecision.

So starting a blog by no means meant I had to regularly post. I didn’t commit to a blog. I merely posted my ponderings. When I was in the mood. The funny thing is in the past few weeks of not posting, I was ironically, quite in the mood. The problem was I had too many things I wanted to say, too many photos I wanted to post, too many choices to be made. So I didn’t commit to any. I just stayed where I was, without choosing words or images from among all the other words and images flitting through my mind and hard drive.

Last I remember I was reminiscing about the promise of summer and the fact that it never seems to materialize. Then I read a fabulous article proving The Case Against Summer and had my own case for summer and of course against as well since I’m not much one for choosing a side of an argument and sticking with it.

But let’s be honest. Summer may only be a few weeks gone, or actually a few hours remaining if you go by the actual calendar, but summer’s not on anyone’s minds anymore. We’re onto fall, focused on the frantic outfitting that takes place each autumn when we shockingly awake one morning and say What? It’s COLD? No one told me this was coming; we have nothing but summer things in our wardrobes. We’re on to bigger things and while they may not be better, summer is nothing but a distant memory.

Nonetheless I did squeeze the last few drops out of summer that I could, and although our shortlived two day vacation that included the rude awakening that two children along is not a vacation and miserable food poisoning that killed any joy summer could have yet held, I’m still proud of the photos I took on that glorious attempt at rekindling summer.

And have I mentioned that I recently shattered my camera, haven’t gotten around to getting it fixed, and took these with my husband’s iphone?

Even I’m impressed.

Hard as it is to commit, I’ll try to just post a few of my favorites.

Did I say a few? Narrowing it down that far was actually a huge commitment for me.

And if the photos seem skewed towards one of our beloved offspring, it’s not because we don’t love Aryeh, but if you run from the camera, sometimes it can’t keep up.

Lost Dreams or The Summer That Never Materialized

When summer first peeks its lazy head out with its long beckoning days and endless lemonade and sunshine, I always get excited. Parks and beaches await, fruit orchards and zoos beckon, fairs and outdoor concerts abound, and long evenings call out with their heaping plates of charcoaled food and walks in the velvet of summer night.

There’s an extra bounce in my step, an extra towel in my hand, and always some sand toys in my trunk.

And then, as summer heads to the place where all summers seem to go, there’s always disappointment.  The parks we haven’t gone to, the fruit we forgot to pick, the waves we haven’t splashed around in. And then some quick scurrying, trying to fit all of summer’s dreams into those last few days before school starts, fall arrives, and the only promise in the air is of winter’s imminent arrival.

I had those kind of plans for this week. The park, the beach, the fair, outdoor malls, farmers markets, a last minute vacation somewhere there are no signs for back to school. There’s only one week until labor day and my summer hasn’t seemed to start yet. Is there still time to don a bathing suit, grab a margarita, and join the fun?

last days of summer

I used to wonder why I couldn’t love fall more. The weather is nicer than summer really, none of that sticky humidity and burning sun, just cool breezes and crisp air. The leaves are breathtaking, the hikes perfect. But somehow all fall makes me think of is sweaters, shortened days, and the coming of a long winter.

Maybe this year will be different.

Yesterday, amid my excitement for the alleged beginning of my summer this week, I suddenly felt the onset of fall. True, it’s still August. But the temperatures have dropped, and this morning’s air was, for lack of a better word, perfect. Still warm, but somehow more crisp, with a breeze blowing that makes me want to stay outside until the sun finishes its descent this evening.

And you know what thoughts that breeze brought with it? Not sweaters or short days but the promise of fall. Fruit orchards, parks, hikes, and even some quiet beaches, abandoned by the summer crowds.

I still regret my bathing suit that hasn’t made it out of the drawer, but maybe fall won’t be so bad.

I’m still just not ready to let summer go.

The Problem with Blueberries

I just discovered how amazing blueberries are. Tart, firm, tangy, flavorful perfection. But that’s the good ones. The bad ones are mushy, bitter, mealy, horribleness. Which would be okay if eating one good one took longer than 1.7 seconds. But seeing as they’re so tiny and all you want to do is shove a handful in your mouth, blueberries are actually quite a challenge.

The only way to do it right is to slowly pick out the good ones. But that means you can’t simultaneously read a book, or write an email, or even have a conversation. When you eat blueberries, if you’re going to eat them right, you can only eat blueberries.

Which, while it may be a beautiful metaphor for the way we should live our lives, has made me cross blueberries off my to eat list.

donuts breakfast jewish mother

Unless someone wants to pre-sort them for me, in which case I’m all for the tart firm pleasure of a bowlful.

I just can’t bear the idea of focusing on any one thing  to the exclusion of all others.

And if I do start to really focus on the life I am living, I don’t think it’ll start with blueberries.

Although that may be hard for you to believe with purple juice dripping from my fingers.

Guilty Feminism

I’ve got to confess, despite all my tirades against abandoned children and working motherhood, I have come to believe that some kids would be better off with their mothers around less.

I’m not naming any names or pointing any fingers (in the mirror) but there are some people for whom the feminism movement and creation of the stranger-bringing-up-ones-children phenomenon is actually a good thing.

My patience has run thin. My baby won’t stop screaming, I think from stomach cramps, and I know I should feel sorry for the sweet chubby little blue-eyed redhead but instead I suppress the urge to put on a pair of headphones and ignore him. Or worse. My two year old’s tantrums- the result of an exhausted toddler who refuses to nap- leave me drained, annoyed, and quite frankly, in need of a quiet office.

And this was after being with them for a total of around 3 hours today.

bottle drinkers

Bottle Therapy (don't ask to see mine)

So yeah, I think feminism was created for people like me.

The poor kids don’t have to be bombasted by a frustrated mother who yells too often and runs out of ideas of how to shut them up. They can be instead cared for by an emotionally detached caregiver who will tell them no more snacks or rock them when they cry without going off on a tirade about how on earth she is supposed to know how to take care of them and why can’t they just be quiet and sweet all the time.

Or she might ignore them. And then my a-little-too-intense-and-slightly-too-sensitive boys will develop thicker skin and be better prepared to take on the world than they would be with the mommy who hugs and kisses them every time they freak out because a-she left the room or b-they bumped into an imaginary obstacle.

So yeah, I think feminism was created for people like me. I should work nine or ten hour workdays like so many of the young mothers I meet. I should don business clothing in the morning, protecting them against the inevitable spit-up, as I drop my children off moments after they awake, promising them I will be back. Eventually.

The problem is I was also blessed with the guilt of a woman of the 50s.

Ah, that glorious guilt.

The guilt that tells me I must be with my precious progeny every chance I can. The guilt that has driven all of my many sisters to work part time while their children are young so that they can raise them. Or their voices. Or both. Simultaneously.

The guilt that threatens to choke me even for the 5 or 6 hours a day I do leave them to join the workforce.

Couple that guilt with the need for independence and escape and you’ve got a lethal equation.

And when that equation’s complete, the guilt wins. Feminism loses. And I am relegated to part time work, part time motherhood, and full time stress.

Either way, my kids have their mother around. And that can’t be all bad.

Sadness

We’re supposed to be sad. It’s the one day when all our sadness is gathered together and all we are supposed to do is sit, reflect, and mourn.

It’s the day we cry over the destruction of our temple but it’s more than that. Losing the temple has caused every loss we’ve had since, both collectively and individually.

It’s the day we cry over the tragedy of mothers who suffocated their babies so that their cries wouldn’t reveal their hiding places to the Nazis. Over the small children’s hands yanked from their parents as they were pulled to the left, their parents to the right. Of the emaciated bodies, crying, begging for food.

children holocaust

We cry over every sad thing we have ever known, all the people we knew who were taken too early, all the tragedy and sadness we have ever experienced.

But this year I don’t have the energy to feel sad. I know I’m supposed to. I fear if I don’t feel sad today on the day I should I will be forced to feel sadness some other day. But tomorrow I know I’ll be too busy to be sad. Too busy feeding, caring for, and running after my two precious boys. And tonight? I really want to take this quiet, these tired eyelids, and succumb to the inviting blackness of sleep.

I don’t think it’s just physical tiredness. I’m emotionally drained. And I have no right to be. The sadness I have known is the sadness we all have known for people most of us have never known. Babies in Israel. A child in Brooklyn. It’s the sadness we have all shared. It isn’t just mine.

But this year I can’t hear about the women who resorted to consuming their own children. I can’t. I know it’s a day to be sad. I know Eichah, with its soul wrenching tune, is something we’re supposed to allow ourselves to feel, in a world where we are so often numb.

But I can’t let the sadness in.

I am sorry for my numbness.

I am sad for my lack of sadness.

I suppose maybe that’s a start.