Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy birthday All Victories

Three pleasures of this day:

My daughters patiently explained to me how hide-and-seek is played. The world is created anew each moment.

I wanted to send A.N. to her room to cool down and leave her there. She was whining and ordering everyone around and it was bugging me mightily. I deposited her in her bedroom, and she said, “Ima, stay. I want you to do ‘Shh-mmm-ahhh’ with me.” That’s a breathing exercise that I learned at a workshop with Dahlia Orlev and taught to my kids. And now they use it to calm themselves down. Awesome.

I think I might have mentioned that I hate dinnertime? I know a lot of mothers dread this time of day, but somehow, the universality of it doesn’t make me feel any better. Anyway, today I was trying to hustle my kids off a Skype call with their grandparents and serve them an extremely low-bar dinner of ramen and grated cheese. With cucumbers on the side. You know, for healthiness. But then, my daughters spontaneously broke into a lively melody that I didn’t even know they’d ever heard, a song of the Chabad Chasidim. “Who taught you that song?” I asked. “We sing it at shul with Abba.”

I’m not sure why that little moment filled me with so much warmth and joy. It’s a catchy song, so that’s part of it. But it was more the feeling that my kids are growing up in a community that nurtures them and reinforces the messages we try to transmit at home. And they are enfolded in joy and holiness so effortlessly. It’s pretty cool.

* * *

The past couple of months have been a little crazy. Mostly good crazy—like a family visit that included my sister coming to Israel for the first time. And a little bit of crazy crazy—most notably, the fateful meeting of iced coffee and my laptop. That didn’t end well.

Anyway, in the midst of all that, All Victories turned one. Yay! I called Jenny to mark the occasion. “Were you the midwife? The fertility specialist?” I asked. She put on her best yenta voice and told me she was like the acquaintance who nudges and asks when you are going to have kids already.

When Jenny first suggested I start a blog, I thought it was a hilarious idea. After all, most of my exchanges with Jenny consisted of her asking how I was doing and me pantomiming strangling myself. We had just immigrated to Israel. I had twin toddlers and a huge one-year-old who didn’t walk yet and rode everywhere on my back. I was learning Hebrew in ulpan and trying to figure out how to run a household in a new culture. I was not looking for a project.

I thought her idea was so funny that I told my husband. Jenny, whose life mission is to inspire Jewish mothers? She certainly understands what it is to be a new parent. How could she ask me to add something else to my plate! Ridiculous. I remember walking around the Musrara neighborhood with my husband one week on date night and saying how I couldn’t believe she would even mention it.

But I thought about what Jenny said—that there needed to be more blogs by women “in the trenches” of early parenthood. I didn’t agree at first. After all, I don’t really like hearing those voices. I like talking to people like Jenny and Miriam Leibowitz, women with experience and wisdom, mentors who can give me a sense of what lies ahead and help me put parenting decisions in perspective.

And yet, the more I mulled it over, there was a kind of blog I wanted to read but didn’t find very often—a blog that would be honest without complaining, and be inspiring without sugarcoating or patronizing. A lot of what is, to my sorrow, referred to as “mommyblogging” seems to either whine or preach. Or be so vanilla as to be unreadable. There’s always that approach.

As I discussed in this post, the narrative of my blog is shaped by the lessons I absorbed from Perl Abramovitz’s excellent parenting teleconference. That class inspired me to view my daily challenges in terms of victories, celebrating each time I can transcend my laziness, anger and fear. That is the story I try to tell myself here, especially when it comes to parenting my children.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting and emailing and Facebooking and letting me know you’re out there. Please comment more; I’d love for you to talk to each other here more and I’m not sure how to help that happen.

In the past year, I’ve started a lot of stories and left some loose threads hanging. Assuming I haven’t lost my readership during my blogging hiatus: is there anything you’re wondering about? Any follow-up you’d like on ideas thrown out there or stories started?


shoshana said...

happy birthday, chaya's blog!!

gimmetorah said...

I <3 this blog! I found it through Jenny's site and I wait eagerly for each new post. I also am "in the trenches" of new motherhood and reading your words is like water to a thirsty soul. Thank you for your transparency and for being willing to add this to your full plate. I have been so blessed by it. -Jessie said...

mazal tov, chaya! happy to have been the nudge;)

Chaya's husband said...

Happy b-day to the blog. Celebrating one year of inspirational writing and my continued admiration of how you take care of our family.

PS The coffee in the computer wasn't so bad: we just needed to replace the keyboard, screen and motherboard.

Chayary said...

I don't comment much, but I love your blog, for exactly what you said. Holiness in the mundane, without being preachy or annoying (or, to be honest, Christian, like so many "inspiring" blogs tend to be). You are one of a handful of frum bloggers who are looking for the spirituality in terms of your blog, and I find it awesome! And I love that you read Julia and A little Pregnant too...back in a touch season I got into blogs through them, and Chez Miscarriage (remember her?).
Mazel Tov, and Blog More!!! (Is that the yenta equivalent of "nu, when are you having another one?")

Espresso Aroch said...

Another Chabad nigun very suitable to your blog is the the Napoleon march.

It is a victory march. The Rebbetzin of Chabad of Oxnard, California wrote about it here

I was so inspired by her really taking to her heart the message of the nigun.

Ima2seven said...

I love your blog. Your voice is a unique one out there, your writing is beautiful, and you are inspiring to those of us who are even past your stage of parenthood! Keep it up. Mazal Tov!

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