Finding myself in the Middle East

Monday, January 30, 2012

Time Enough

It's not just me, I know. We all get busy. It's efficient, I think. To bathe them first and then give them dinner in pajamas, and them smoothly trasition them to bed. I read them a book, we say shema.

And it is good, it is efficient, and probably better for them, to bathe when they can play and not when they are cranky and attempt to drown each other.

Everything has its times. You don't start baking cookies at 5 oclock, or they will be late for bedtime. Homework is right when you come home. And you come home right after school, because we go to the park after homework is done and lunch is eaten.

I have a friend who baked challas with her kids a hour before candlelighting. I was there for shabbas and I was thinking, then when is clean-up time? It turned out that there was no cleanup time, and I ended up sneaking into her kitchen to sweep because yes, I am that crazy. I spent the whole shabbas wishing I was her. Then after shabbas the maid came, and I said, oh. So that's how she does it. Because I need it clean. And she doesn't, and then anyway someone cleans it for her, so that's why she can sit on the couch with her kids, braiding their hair, while the table is covered in crumbs, and the drink--look at it!--it's still spilling slowly onto the floor! Drip. Drip. Dri----ah! I can't take it anymore! I confess! I confess! My need to clean is stronger than my need to do what you are doing right now, dear friend, which is gazing deeply into your daughter eyes and saying, "I love you. You are my treasure."

But I want that. I want to do that. I just want to do it in a clean, efficient house. I want both.

Yesterday, I sent Princess to get Coco-pop from gan. I wait on the corner and she runs up to get her. She feels grown-up like that, and I don't have to bounce the stroller up a gazillion steps. Win-win. Efficient.

The sound of wailing filled the Jerusalem afternoon a full moment before Princess dashed over to me, out of breath. "Coco-pop fell on the steps!"

I ran over as fast as I could. Coco-pop was lying on the steps, wailing, and a woman was bending over her. "I'm here! I'm the Ima! Thank you!" I called in Hebrew.

The woman didn't move away from her until I was almost on top of her. Her hair was orange and poufy like cotton candy, and if I was not a very polite and adult woman, I would have reached out and touched it. Her nails were blue and short.

I smiled my thanks again, then assessed the situation. Coco-pop was crying, but nothing was torn and there was no sign of blood or broken anything. "You okay, sweety?" I said as I picked her up and dusted her off.

She wailed, and nodded."I feeell," she said.

"I know. That must have hurt. You're okay," I said.

The woman was still standing there. "Hold her," she said to me.

"I am--"

"Hold her close to your heart."

Awkwardly, I pulled Coco-pop closer. She hiccuped.

"Keep on holding her. Let her feel your heartbeat. Feel hers. It is healing for both of you."

We were in the middle of a busy sidwalk. I help Coco-pop so close that I could hear the beating of her heart. Carriages angled around me.

"It only works if you can hear her heart and she can hear hers. Keep on holding her, and don't let go."

I held her for another minute or two, until Coco-pop pulled away and took my hand. "You know Ima," she said as we started to walk, "I saw a bird in the Chatzer and it was maybe dead but then it flew away and it wasn't even dead!"

Hold her close to your heart, or it doesn't work.

I looked up again to see the woman, but she was gone.


Mystery Woman said...

I'm trying to picture something like that happening in Boro Park - someone telling me how to hold my kid...or what she needs...or some of the other things you write about. Nope...I can't picture it.

Princess Lea said...

I can reassure you that many children like order and seder, so I am not a fan of making challos an hour before Shabbos.

The question here is not how other people mother, but how YOU mother. Your needs have to be taken into account, which is that you cannot handle a house looking like a kindergarten hit it. THAT IS OK!

I would say that by your being intuitive and knowing how your children will react at different times of the day is incredibly reassuring to them. You provide them a world where they always know your reactions, which is better than a world with no seder whatsoever.

Kids fall. They bounce back. That is one of the joys of not being so far from the ground.

JerusalemStoned said...

Mystery--as it was happening, I was thinking, only here. This only happens here...

Princess--you are right, as usual. Your child advice is spot on. But, they also need to be cuddled and hugged in the middle of the mess, sometimes, I think. I am working on it!

sporadicintelligence said...

Just try to keep in mind, that while you're busy doubting and chastising yourself, and looking at other at what you perceive yourself to be lacking - someone else, possibly even the person you're looking at is thinking the same thing about themselves and comparing themselves to you.

We all have our strengths, and our weaknesses, and styles. While there's always room for improvement, don't forget what you can do, and do do, best.

JerusalemStoned said...

You are right. I am Doubtful Mommy, and I should cut it out!

Cymbaline said...

where u been hiding out??


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