Monday, February 21, 2011

The Growing Food Bill

The other day, Josh made omelets for the boys. He made absolutely enormous ones for himself and for Matan, pretty big ones for me and Yehuda, and smaller ones for the smaller boys. Watching Matan devour his enormous omelet, Josh kept looking at me and laughing in amazement. Was Matan really finishing the entire thing? Was it possible for one 10 year old boy to eat so much?

And when he finished, Matan looked around like a hungry bear cub. We both started to crack up. He was looking to see if perhaps one of his brothers hadn't finished his lunch - and if Matan could snag it.

We find ourselves laughing quite often these days, watching Matan's appetite grow and grow. The other day he came home from school and declared that he was making 4 pieces of French toast and malawach. I explained that perhaps he wanted to make 2 pieces of French toast first, eat them and see if he really wanted more. After devouring the French toast and the malawach he agreed that perhaps he didn't need the other two pieces of toast.

I think we are going to need a second mortgage for our food bill!

We also haven't quite yet incorporated into our thought process that we have five boys in the house who all eat their share (with one who will soon catch up). I'll make a meal for dinner, assuming that it is plenty, and be awe-struck when they start rummaging through the kitchen for more food when everything on the table is empty.

And this, I know, is only the beginning!

It's going to be a wild, highly-expensive ride through their teenage years.

And we look forward to every moment of it, even if our bank account won't.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Loving the Way You Discover You Can

One of my oldest friends is going through an incredibly difficult time in her life right now. Today, while checking in on her on Facebook, this was her status:

You don't get to love the way you think you're prepared to, but you do get to love the way you discover you can.

I sat there, reading it over a number of times. What an incredibly powerful statement, relevant to our lives in so many ways.

This is so true in parenthood. We have an image, often, of what our children are supposed to be like - of how they should act, how they should be. And they don't always live up to our expectations, or turn out as we might hope. You don't get to love the way you think you're prepared to, but you do get to love the way you discover you can.

So much about life requires us to react to the events around us, rather than to create our own situations. A friend of mine once explained that your personality isn't shaped by what happens to you - but by how you REACT to what happens to you. As a child, your bike might get stolen, your friends might be mean, or you might not get into the school of your choice; as an adult, you might not get the job you wanted, you might not live where you had hoped, etc. - but life isn't about what happens to you, but about how you react to those events.

And parenting so often isn't about loving the children that we want to have - but about loving the children that we ACTUALLY have, as they are.

You don't get to love the way you think you're prepared to, but you do get to love the way you discover you can.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Obligation to Serve

The other day, Josh and I were talking about his recent conversation with his mom. It came up that Matan is growing fast, and his mom said something to the effect of "I wish we could stop them from growing at age 16."

When I first heard this, I was taken aback. What? Why would we wish such a thing? Of course we want each of our boys, and each of her grandchildren, to grow and flourish.

And then it struck me what she was saying - and I got it.

If they stop growing at sixteen, or if we freeze them there, then they won't have to go into the army.

Boy, did I get it.

And my heart went out to my mother-in-law, who is already thinking of these things when Matan is only going on 11.

And my heart went out to myself, who is also thinking about these things all the time.


Matan has been growing like crazy lately, and I find myself catching my breath when I see him at times. I get a lump in my throat seeing this beautiful, capable young man who is changing so much and showing so much potential. I can see the bar mitzvah in the not-too-distance future...I can see his high school days and his very full social calendar...and then...of course, that means I can see his army service.


Of course, it's not something I need to think about today or tomorrow. We've got a number of years of teenage angst and aggravation to go through first. But, I'm finding myself amazed when I catch glances of him in certain positions and at certain times. I look at Yakir, and can't believe that I held Matan in exactly the same way. It feels like yesterday and like a million years ago.

So, while taking a walk the other day, I was trying to think about the army, and about why we've brought our boys to a place where they will have to serve, and about how I (and many others in my life) will deal with it when my children enter the army.

When I was sixteen, I came on a trip to Israel with a youth group for six weeks. I actually remember, at that time, thinking to myself that it didn't seem fair. Here I was, a well-off American who clearly loved and supported Israel and who got to enjoy all of the benefits of its existence, knowing that I wouldn't have to be responsible for its continuation. I felt that even more acutely as a 22 year old living here for a year. Why, I thought to myself, do these young boys who I see in uniform each day, have to dedicate three years of their lives to defending the country that I clearly value and love, while I get to go back to the States and live without giving this service? Why, I thought with a good amount of guilt, do their mothers have to give them over to serve in the army, and I won't have to do the same with my boys?

Certainly, we all have to make our own decisions. We all have to decide what we are emotionally, financially, and physically able to do. For me, those thoughts, and that feeling of obligation towards the State and towards the army, was part of what propelled us to make aliyah.

Am I thrilled that, as a result of this thought process, my boys will put their lives at risk and I will sit home for at least a decade of sleepless nights wondering where they are and what they are doing?

You can answer that question.

But, do I feel that it's absolutely the right thing for them to be doing? Do I feel that it is our obligation, as people who want to see the State of Israel continue and prosper, to send my boys off to the army?

You bet.

And so, I say to my mother-in-law that I completely and totally feel her fear and apprehension. I'd like to bottle the boys up as well and freeze time.

But I also look forward to watching the boys grow each day, and watching them learn to love the country that they will one day serve. And fulfilling the obligation for which we brought them here (or gave birth to them here) in their country - the only Jewish State in the world that remains so at the hands of boys like them.

What a complicated life we lead...