Sunday, July 17, 2016

Things My 22 Year Old Self Could Never Have Imagined

Last week, I was telling one of my colleagues about how we all woke up in my house at 4am to watch game 7 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. He chuckled, shook his head and said, “I bet this is at the top of your list of things your 22 year old self never thought you’d do.”

And it got me thinking.

Yeah, if my 22 year old self could see me now, she would definitely be laughing...and probably be a bit confused. Growing up near Beverly Hills, I went to an all-girl’s prep school through 12th grade. I had very little interaction with boys (other than my brother and his friends) and I certainly had nothing to do with sports.

Today, well, today I’m a busy working mom in Israel, running after my six sons on a daily basis. So, having given some thought to my colleague’s words, here is my initial list of things my 22 year old self wouldn’t believe.

1. I wake up at 4 or 5am to watch NBA games with my boys.

2. I spent time this week reading a book about athletes who have overcome terrible life situations to get to where they are. It’s a great book, but still….really?

3. We’re redoing our guest bathroom soon, and putting in a (as we’ve coined it) boy toilet. That’s a toilet that connects to the back wall rather than the ground, allowing you to actually clean the floor and get to the bottom of that never-ending missed-the-toilet-again pee.

4. I am constantly hearing myself say “Guys! Stop fighting in the family room. At least go into a bedroom to do it.”

5. I spend far more time at my kid’s basketball games than I do fixing my make-up, my hair, my anything.

Recent basketball wins.
6. I encourage their sandal tans and giggle at their accomplishments in this area. (But yes, I’m constantly running after them with sunscreen.)

7. I have found myself actually saying these words at the doctor’s office, “This injury (fill in the blank with the given injury) isn’t going to bring his profile down and keep him from a combat unit, right?”

8. While on vacation in Venice, we spent hours admiring armor, swords and other weaponry, taking pictures of it all and whatsapping it back for our five year old to see.

Yep, we whatsapped a picture of this guy back for Yakir.
9. Last summer, while visiting family in the States, we spent more time at the Nike outlet and sporting goods stores than we did almost anywhere else. We even returned to the sports stores a few times as our designated afternoon activity - just to walk around and admire.

10. Last week I actually said both of these phrases: “I think we should hang up until you’ve finished repelling down the side of the mountain,” and “Make sure the donkey has enough to drink.”

My life is definitely not the one my 22 year old self would ever have envisioned, but when I reflect on these crazy mom-of-six activities, I see a pattern. These might not be the activities I favor most in the world, but they are the ones that my boys love.

And I try to stay connected to my kids where they are, not where I want them to be. Rather than molding my kids to my expectations and goals, I’m working on molding my expectations and goals to the kids.

Do I love sports, sword fighting and the idea of combat units? Um…not so much. But I do love these ever-rambunctious, always developing and thoughtful guys. And I’m working at being the mom they need for their interests, their activities and their development, rather than making them the kids that I might expect them to be.

Even in the midst of the pee-splashed bathroom, the blaring sports channel, the ball-filled house and the sword-fighting adventures.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mazal Tov! It's the Sussmans' Only Bat Mitzvah!

Today is our Aliyaversary. We got onto the plane 12 years ago today with two little boys, a baby on the way and our whole lives ahead. 

I still can’t believe we did it or how rich and vibrant our lives would be as a result. But as I reflect on 12 years, there are many things that I could never have imagined…

I could never have imagined that:

I would have six boys, rather than the three that I expected and assumed I’d have in the States.

I would change careers and open myself up to an entirely new world of creativity and productivity.

I would laugh so profoundly and grieve so deeply.

I would have teenagers who assume that high school is supposed to come with weekly trips to explore their land and twice a year camping/backpacking trips.

I would have children who read Mark Twain and Harry Potter and John Grisham…in Hebrew.

My kids would think that they can get away with saying things behind my back as long as they speak Hebrew (and sometimes they do get away with it..but only sometimes).

My kids would have slightly Israeli accented English…and make my parents laugh when they sing “Happy Birfday to you!”

The kids would spend hours upon hours over the summer occupied by an incredibly well-run soccer tournament…organized by the 10th grade kids.

The 10th grade kids would bother to take the time to put together a soccer tournament for their little brothers and sisters.

My teenagers would show no sense of embarrassment at all when they are hanging out with their friends and see us. I am surprised each time that this happens.

The kindergarten performance would make me cry when the kids sing Hatikvah.

Hatikvah would make me cry every time I hear it – no matter where I am.

The fireworks on Yom Ha’Atzmaut would make me cry.

Watching the Nefesh B’Nefesh videos of the bright-eyed and hopeful immigrants coming off the plane would make me cry (and even more so when I’ve gone to greet those planes).

(This is the video from our Aliyah flight..we are in here a bunch so watch carefully!)

My kids would love going to the arrival ceremonies for the Nefesh flights and greeting the new immigrants.

My sixteen year old would run around all day (and many very late nights) in the summer making money and just assuming that this is what he’s supposed to be doing – because it’s what all his peers are doing. And never complain.

Our vacations would include exploring and hiking, meeting new and interesting people who open their homes to us and enjoying all on our Land.
Yep, nothing like a trip to Hebron to say hi to the moms and dads of our past.
Hiking in the Golan with the best of friends.

Weddings would be the most incredible, intense and joyful events you can possibly imagine. If you haven’t been to an Israeli wedding, you haven’t really been to Israel.

Funerals would be gut-wrenching beyond imagination. The lack of a coffin is something that simply can’t be described. It’s the real deal with no pretentions, no fluff, no barriers between us and our reality.

My kids would think it’s completely normal to have five siblings…at times they even call us a smaller family.

My boys’ idea of a good afternoon with their friends would include going to the nearest ma’ayan (natural spring) and their idea of a night out would include playing basketball late into the night at the yishuv court or having a poike (a stew type concoction cooked in a cast iron poike pot over an open flame).

I would go to bed earlier than my oldest two, who are out into the wee hours of the night catering or hanging out with their friends. And I don’t worry about them. (Much).

My kids would continually be teaching me…their Hebrew songs, their slang, their cultural references and everything else.

I couldn’t have imagined all this, and so much more, 12 years ago…but now I can’t imagine anything else!

Aliyaversary Dinner Tonight!