Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Bnei Akiva Overnight

We sent Matan off yesterday on his first overnight with B'nei Akiva. B'nei Akiva is one of the main youth group movements in Israel. They start in 4th grade and they get together every Tuesday afternoon and Shabbat afternoon for fun, games and more. Three times a year, they also have overnight trips.

Many of the kids in Matan's grade don't go to B'nei Akiva and we are extremely happy that he is participating. It's a great way to experience Zionism, to feel part of a group and to mature with his peers. Matan is a very social kid and we've been encouraging his participation with B'nei Akiva from the start.

So, he pretty much spent the entire week before the one night trip packing. While Josh was away, Matan was very worried about what bag he would take. He looked at and evaluated every bag in the house. Then it was time to pack his food and to figure out what he would take. Five trips to the grocery store later - he was ready.

Last night when I was putting the kids to bed, they were all talking about where Matan might be and what he might be doing. As I turned the lights out and said goodnight to them, Eliav said, "Goodnight Matan! We hope you are having fun!"

So cute.

And, indeed, we do hope that you are having fun on your first major excursion with B'nei Akiva and as part of the Israeli youth movement.

His trip reminds me of two things:

1. They sure do grow up fast.

2. Experiences like this are why we moved to Israel. It really makes me kvel to see Matan going off to his Zionist youth movement and preparing to go backpacking and hiking to explore Eretz Yisrael. This one little experience - an overnight with Bnei Akiva - is what it's all about and why we are here.

May he continue enjoying B'nei Akiva as much as he does now, and continue to be a great example for his brothers as they grow and get ready for B'nei Akiva as well.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Balancing Act

I find the morning balancing act as a working mother very difficult. Yes, this is probably quite obvious. There are so many ways in which being a working mom is difficult. I think the morning pressure tops the list.

A while ago, I was running around, as usual, trying to get my kids off to school. Amichai, who is five, can easily walk down the flight of stairs by himself and enter his classroom. On that particular day (and on most days), he refused to go alone. Almost in tears, since I was late to work, I begged him to simply GO! Another mother (note - one who doesn't work) said to me, "You know Romi, they are only young once. I think you should just go with him."

I was resentful of her comment at first, and she actually called me later in the day to apologize, but her words have rung true for me ever since. And on many occassions,I have used her words to guide me through the morning routine. I already see that my older boys are pushing back. They don't want to be hugged all the time; they don't need to be walked to the bus stop; they don't always come home right after school if they are busy with their friends. Our kids stay little and needy for such a brief amount of time.

And so, each morning, as I nervously look at my watch and think about how late I am for work, I try (TRY) to appreciate the morning routine and the walk to class. It's not always easy. There are times (like today) when Eliav decides he MUST open the door to the daycare by himself and he has a twenty minute tantrum until it is done properly. On those days, I'm ready to scream, "I have to get to work Eliav! Don't you care that I'm trying to feed you and put money in the bank?!" But no, he doesn't care. He just wants things the way that he wants them, and he wants his mommy to spend those few extra seconds with him in the morning.

I haven't gotten this routine down perfectly. Some mornings, the kids melt my heart as they hug and kiss me and skip off to school. Other mornings, I get to work late and in a very bad mood. What I try to remember, overall, is that those extra 10 minutes at work are nowhere near as important as those extra 10 minutes bringing Amichai into class or kissing Eliav one last time before school. And that is where I try to place my focus each morning.

Someday, I'll look back on these days and I won't remember how many blog posts I was able to get through at work; I won't remember whether I showed up at 8:15 or 8:35 each day.

I will, however, remember Zeli's giggle as I deposit him with his friends, Amichai's routine of singing "We're off to see the Wizard" as we skip together to class, and Eliav's dramatic air kiss when I walk out the door of his classroom.

Lessons continually being learned by a working mother.