Tag Archives: love

Hmmmmm

me loving my boy

me loving my boy

I have been busy with life. DS has been growing and growing and becoming the most gorgeous boy. I am falling deeper and deeper in love.

I also have been examining my experience as a mother. I have been thinking so much and reading so much and trying so hard to ‘know it all’ or at least as much as is humanly possible. And I think I need to balance that out.

DS had his first illness some weeks ago, in the middle of the latest crisis in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. He got croup and it was scary. (although here in Israel it is called Stridor as croup associates with Diptheria….) It was hard hearing his laboured breathing and heart breaking to see him in pain when he coughed. And frustrating that he was prescribed steroids as a matter of routine. And yet, I feel that DH and I managed very well considering. I was not opposed to steroids under all circumstances, but when I understood that the 2nd and 3rd nights are the toughest, I was concerned about giving a medication as strong as steroids if we did not need it –  and the presciption was given on day 3. To cut a long story short, DS didn’t get the steroids and he got better just fine. But the decision as parents, each with their own preferences, was hard. Very hard. I cannot speak for DH, but for myself I was not convinced that steroids would be this magic pill that would make DS better at no cost. I did not even know if they would make him better at a cost.   I did not know that his stridor was pronounced enough to warrant medication.Scouring theough BMJ and tyring to understand what the studies meant for my son in our circumstances…. tough. I think for me the most profound experience in this whole episode was that I knew the instance DH brought DS to me coughing. I knew what it was and I knew we needed to stay calm and calm DS to make it easier for him to breath. And it worked. And it was a relief to have a doctor confirm my suspicion (although I did not tell the doctor what I thought, I just described my sons symptoms and let him draw his own conclusions). That DH and I had the tools to meet DS’s needs and know when it was serious enough to warrant a trip to ER was greatly empowering for me.

The one mistake we did make was DH calling his father for medical advice and me calling our friend the chinese doctor for his medical advice. We both reached out to what was more failiar to us. But not within friends and family. We won’t do that again. We need to make our own decision without others in our lives being involved.

So, DS is doing just fine. He has started to feed himself far more foods and is still gaining weight at quite a pace. He has also started to feed himself my nipple which is so cute – he now associates food with putting it in his mouth 🙂 He also loves to torment our cat – his shrieks of delight a sure sign that he has found kitty curled up somewhere cosy. To kitties credit, he never bites or scratches – which is more than I ever hoped for.

I think I am learning to trust myself as a mother. To trust my responses and my instincts and to find out ‘why’ later. I cannot always have all the information at my fingertips. As long as it is not a life and death situation – I can always take the route of less intervention/pressure and change my approach should the situation require it.

And to finish. Today I expressed my hope that my DS will grow up to be a strong and independant person. My dreams that he will be the clearest and most honest expression of himself

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Filed under Baby care, Health, My Musings

My Boy

He is 10 months tomorrow and he has grown and changed so much. 10 months ago I was sipping on Beyerskloof Pinotage on my birthing ball with contractions about 1 every 15 minutes.

My heart totally swells up with love when I look on my boy, my child, the person who made me a mother.

Just when I thought I could never love him more, I rediscover a new element, a new reason. My heart literally beats faster for him.

Today I observed him learning to sit down from standing. He has been standing and creeping for some time now, but has been stuck when he needs to get back down to the floor. I was blown away watching him make sense of how to keep holding onto the sofa/table/bench/chair and bend his knees until he was safe to let go and be sitting on his bottom. He was so careful about where to put his hands and how to keep his balance.

Gone are the days where he was on me 24/7 (or on DH). He is so happy to crawl around the house and be with the dog (although DS would *love* to be with the cat, our cat is consistently out of his reach with an enticingly swishing tail) or just play with blocks, or practice standing, creeping and occasionally munch on some food. He is becoming such a person in his own right and my heart just bursts with the awe of being there with him and witnessing the unfolding of this miracle.

I would not miss this for the world.

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What to do?

I was not born Jewish. I chose to be Jewish in a way that I guess is very familiar to those who have taken this path. I met and fell in love with a man who is Jewish (that he considers himself more Israeli than Jewish was something that took me a while to understand). And I chose to move my life to Israel, at least for a 3 year period – as I learnt the language. If I remember correctly I had a notion that if we did not start our lives in Israel, I would never be able to do it at a later date with children. It would just be too difficult. Anyway, 4+ years later I am still here, and am likely to be here for some time.

Some background information. I had always been drawn to Judaism as a child. I really liked visiting my friends who celebrated Shabbat and loved the deep roots for the celebrations of Pesach and Rosh haShana. I like the mezzuzot on the doors. It was something that felt very comforting to me. I guess I also really liked my friends who were Jewish.

My first inkling of how hard it is to be a woman who is in love with a Jewish man came as an adolescent when I fell in love with my best friends brother. My experience with their mum was so strange. She was not at all happy about me being with her son. Now I am not so sure it was about me being Jewish or not, but the notion that I was not an appropriate choice if I was not Jewish became a notion in my mind. A notion that I have also learned is not universally held by all Jewish families, well both sets of my IL’s could not care less. And I had to overcome considerable resistance to go through with the conversion.

DH and I had a civil wedding in Cape Town, South Africa with close friends and family and I moved to Israel to start my married life, and a process that often had me in tears with frustration, deeply hurt by the system that did not want me. The Israeli Interior Ministry proved to be a place where we even got friendly with the clerke who renewed my visa each year, but the bottom line was that if you are not Jewish, you are not too welcome. Of course it is illegal to say an outright ‘no’, the High court gave my husband the right to marry a non Jewish person and have his marriage recognized in Israel. But, the overall feeling is not one of ‘yes, we want you here’.

Throughout this process I was in a deep conflict. One the one hand I wanted very much to convert to Judaism and ensure that our children would be unquestionably Jewish and on the other hand I did not want to bow to the ‘pressure’ to conform. I winced every time someone at work said something derogatory about non Jewish women and their offspring. I was very taken aback at the level of complacency in the Israeli society that said that it is OK to judge someone for not being Jewish. I was very very angry to be honest. I did not understand how a people who for so many generations have been subjected to such discrimination, I did not understand how this same people could be so comfortable discriminating against others themselves. The would not be the first conundrum I had with Israeli’s.

I found a path that felt right for me and started to convert in the Reform Movement. I was familiar with the Reform Judaism from my childhood and felt like it was more in line with my values than the Orthodox  Judaism that I was getting to know in Israel. The only problem was that the Reform Movement is not recognized by the state of Israel. For all things bureaucratic, Orthodox Judaism is the only accepted religion. In a way this suited me. I could convert to a Judaism that I felt matched my values, provide a community for my family and not bow to the state pressure to be Jewish.

My actual conversion was a wonderful experience of getting to know Judaism and becoming familiar with Kabbalat Shabbat, Shabbat itself, Havdalah, the festivals, the food, the traditions. And meeting Rabbi’s. A particular rabbi from the US totally captured the essense of why I chose the Reform movement instead of the Orthodox. The Reform Jews are inspired by the Torah and the Othodox Jews beleive that the Torah was revealved to them by G-d. I can work with being inspired. I am not comfortable believing any sacred text came from G-d.

So, back to my present situation. I have converted. I have my Jewish name and 18 months later I became a mother. The State of Israel has classified my son as ‘other’ when it comes to nationality and religion as I have yet to process my conversion for acceptance by the Interior Ministry. Another ruling by the High Court that requires the Interior Ministry to register me as Jewish in my ID if I provide a certificate of conversion from the Reform Movement. (my children just will not be able to marry in Israel and myself and my children will not be able to be buried in a state cemetary). Do I want my son to grow up as ‘other’? I am not sure. At home he will grow up as Jewish. He of course will know that my parents are not Jewish, but our home life reflects a Jewish way of life. So, how can I justify not giving him the security of being formally Jewish, when this is what his home environment will be?

I just do not know. Maybe I am just lazy and do not want to deal with the lawyers. But the issue remains, that I am not sure I want DS growing up thinking he is something that the state will tell him is not true. Gosh, I often come back to this. At loggerheads with the state. Overall I have a good life here and I am finding ways to make peace with the highly unlikely reality that I would live in Israel.  What should I care whether the state will call my son Jewish or not? Does it really matter? I keep coming back to how wrong it is that religion is so entwined with state and this goes to really really hard places. Places I have no answers for.

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