Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happy to be confused

We just chose a preschool for our almost-four-year-old twins, and it was a difficult decision. My, how I’ve grown.

When I was 19, I knew my own mind. Around that time, a friend and I went to visit a Chasidic rebbe who granted us a yechidus, a private audience. I remember clearly that I had a laundry list of specific things for which I sought the rebbe’s blessing, but my friend had just a couple, and one of them was clarity.

Clarity? What kind of new-agey nonsense was that? Can’t make a decision? Think about it more. In the last years of my teens, I committed myself to Torah observance, went to Israel for the first time to study, moved across the country on my own and nudged a hesitant boyfriend until he married me (hi honey). I struggled with many things, but making decisions was not one of them.

(By the way, the rebbe blessed my friend with clarity without rolling his eyes and asking if she was from California.)

Anyway, I continued on this path through the early years of my marriage:

Fiancé: Let’s check out different communities and see where we…
Chaya: I can only live in Manhattan! I can’t live anywhere else!
New Husband: So, are you going to look at different seminaries before choosing one?
Chaya: This seminary is the only seminary for me!
Less New Husband: Do you think I should take this job?
Chaya: Yes! Absolutely. This is position is perfect for you!
Expectant Father: Let’s explore places to raise our kids…
Chaya: I will make a pretext of considering Teaneck and Riverdale, but we are moving to Passaic.

This approach didn’t always pan out, but in general it served me well. New York was great! I love being observant! My husband is the best! Passaic was awesome.

My, uh, single-mindedness really failed me for the first time when I hired a baby nurse for the first weeks of newborn-twins craziness. Sarah came highly recommended by an acquaintance. In our phone interview, she seemed friendly and knowledgeable. Fine, good, baby nurse hired. No need to look further.

It didn’t work out so well. She got on my postpartum nerves. She had an icky lack of boundaries, or so it seemed at the time. She wanted us to get her all kinds of special foods. She made less-than-subtle attempts to undermine my breastfeeding (“This baby is STARVING. She didn’t get ANY nourishment from nursing”).

This mismatch a made challenging time that much harder. And whose fault was that? Hers? Certainly not. Whose responsibility was it to put in the effort needed to find someone right for the job? How much better could it have been if I’d just interviewed a few people in person and gotten a sense of perspective?

That was the beginning of a shift. I am fortunate to have a life partner who has the exact opposite way of approaching decisions. He considers every possibility, weighs every option. I am sloooowly letting him be my teacher. I am opening up my mind to the richness of different options.

And so we came to the preschool search. We visited five schools in one morning. The women in my ulpan teased me: “What will you do when you’re helping them choose a college?” All the schools seemed great, seemed like places we could send our girls.

I was certain, however, that the closest option was the BEST. My husband agreed. Great, decision made! Let me just consult with some people who have sent their kids there…

Uh, maybe it’s not the best place for my kids after all.

But another school, the all-girl kindergarten is DEFINITELY the right place. A family we admire sends their kids there. It’s perfect, let me just gather some more information…

Hmm, there are some clear reasons not to send there.

That leaves the new school down the road. That is SURELY the right place for our children. Why should I wait until Friday to go visit again? Maybe it will fill up before we can register? Can’t we just go on a hunch? Fine, I’ll wait and check it out…

We liked it. Y.B. and A.N. didn’t want to leave after the visit. The ganenet made a good impression. We liked what we heard from our friends who send there.

Pray pray pray pray pray…

We made a decision. It’s out of our hands now. What a relief.

My decisiveness has been a real blessing. My instincts are pretty great. But my prejudices, narrow-mindedness, laziness and fear stand in the way of recognizing new opportunities. Nowadays I force myself to consider my options, even if I am certain I know my own mind. It always feels like a hollow exercise at first, but with this preschool search I almost enjoyed the confusion and mystery of sifting through our choices. I like being humbled by not automatically knowing best.

Bless me that I should have clarity.

1 comment:

Kira said...

Ok. That's it. I'm going to start sharing these on Facebook.
Your blogs are great. Really impressive. Keep 'em coming and let me know what I can link to mine, since I think they will really resonate with some of my (few) readers :)

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