Reinvention is the Necessity of Motherhood

I was reading some posts the other day from Ryekatcher’s blog thelogofiles when something she wrote resonated with me. She wrote about the disappointment of not having a CAREER. As a full time time mother I 100% understand where she is coming from.

I have made my choices and I am almost aways happy with them, but there are those times when I wonder, doubt, question and imagine. I am not one of those people who knew from childhood what she wanted to be when she grew up. I am always a little in awe of and mystified by those people. The only thing that I ever knew for sure was that I liked kids and I hated math. Math still intimidates me and while I usually like my kids as a whole population kids just don’t do it for me anymore.

When I got to university I discovered that I love languages, history, philosophy, religion, politics, psychology and of course literature. There still was not one thing that I was passionate about although, for a long time I thought that it would be psychology. How did I parlay this into a career? Not very well. I graduated got a “job” and worked until marriage. I got laid off, went back to university for a second undergrad degree and then got another job until I got pregnant.

We knew that I wanted to be a full time mom. I grew up with a working mom and I would have given anything to have my mom go on just one class trip with us. It was important to me that I be able to give my children what I never had but so badly wanted. Fortunately my husband was of the same frame of mind. That in part is why we live up here in a smaller more affordable city.

I have never, not for a moment, regretted my decision. But, I have on many occasions wondered, “Is this it? What am I contributing to the world?”. Now, I know that I am raising 4 wonderful people who will all go on to find their own paths and fulfill their destinies whatever they may be. On a good or middling day that is enough for me, for now. On a bad day, those questions resurface. To a certain degree (and please don’t slam me for this) I blame women’s lib for these feelings. I think that we have been conditioned by society to feel less than whole and guilty unless we are doing it all. 100% mother, 100% wife and 100% career woman. 300% self-actualized. When I was pregnant with our first and working I remember thinking, “I bet my husband’s not thinking about this baby growing in me at this moment because he’s caught up in the moment at work.” I believe that men have the luxury of compartmentalizing that women don’t. By the way, I do realize that these are gross generalizations.

My eldest will be entering his last year of high school this fall. There is a great deal of talk about his future around our house and we are trying to give him the best guidance that we can. The one thing that keeps coming back to me is the knowledge that I can only guide him with what I know. There is so much out there that I don’t know about. We have been told time and time again that a great percentage (I think 50, but don’t quote me) of the jobs that kids in school will one day have do not even exist yet. How do you guide someone knowing this? Of course, you have to rely on the knowledge of the kids themselves and the professionals in the schools.

I can take this same knowledge and apply it to myself. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but I know that I can reinvent myself again when I am ready. I have gone from child to adolescent to adult which means I am now a wife and a mother with all that this entails. The one thing that has remained the same throughout is that I have always been 100% pure me. I am continuing to evolve. When the kids are all or mostly all out of the house I can once again reinvent myself. There is a world of interests out there and I can discover them on my own terms. That is a gift that I have been given by the women’s lib movement, by my husband and by myself. I just need to remember it.

Thank You for the Gift

Well, yesterday was a special day in our house.

Not only was it the last day of Passover (just in time) – anyone want three boxes of matzah? ‘Cause there ain’t no way that we’re going to get within ten feet of them and I do hate to waste. It was also the first day of basketball league and most importantly it was my youngest’s birthday.

The beginning of basketball league was the perfect gift for her. So of course she got new basketball shoes. It was a good day. Her eldest brother told me that he asked her how it feels to be eleven. I could just hear all of the charm/condescension in his voice as he asked. She quickly responded with; ” I feel like I’m one year closer to death.” ( you have to realize that she has zero patience for his patronization, if I didn’t have the above picture I wouldn’t believe that they ever actually walked hand in hand). With shock in his voice he asked me if we need to be worried about her. Truly, I think I need to be more worried for the future men in her life.

Her brothers lavished her with affection all evening and thanks to basketball and a very late dinner of chometz it was a short evening so she managed to survive all of their attention without blowing a fuse.

While we were talking as she was getting ready for bed she put her hand on my face and asked, “When I don’t live at home any more do you promise to call me every day so we can talk?”

Who knew that I’d get a birthday gift too?

That Sucked, Mostly

So today I took the bull by the horns and did something that was long overdue. I went for my first outdoor run since the fall. I’ve been working out regularly on the treadmill for the past month. That’s 5 days a week for up to an hour and no less than 45 minutes. I haven’t been running, mostly speed walking with a little running thrown in.

Now, I know that the treadmill does not compare to running outside. It’s kind of like thinking that working out on your NordicTrack has anything in common with cross country skiing. They have nothing in common. Not a thing. Especially if you try cross country skiing on an icy day. Just saying.

The first part of my run was horrific. I know that your inner voice is everything and that you need to talk yourself through the rough parts but my inner voice is forgetful. It forgets about positive thinking. My inner voice goes something more like this; “Wow, my calves really hurt. They are so tight. Are those my hamstrings? They hurt too. Holy cow none of this hurts as much as my shins. Roll your foot, remember roll your foot. I’m panting. How’s my chest? Is my chest tight? Nope that’s O.K. Does my head feel like it’s going to explode? Nope, also O.K. So just keep going. Look at that hill, that is some big hill. Let’s just walk it quickly. Do any runners I know live on this street? No, it’s O.K. I don’t have to run past any houses with a big smile on my face, strong and upright, looking like this is a piece of cake. It’s not cake though, it’s matzah, eggs and oil and it’s all sitting in my belly, my butt and my legs. Wow, is the hill already over? That means run again. O.K., this feels fine. My legs feel looser, lighter. Drop your shoulders. How’s the Sciatica? No pain. Every time I say sciatica I feel like Barney Rubble talking about his aching sacoriliac. Hey this feels good. Down one more hill and then it’s home free. You know I feel good enough that I could probably go further. Naw.”

I have a girlfriend who is an amazing runner, she has taught me to get out of my comfort zone. But you know, doing that is … uncomfortable. I hope that I’ll run outside again tomorrow, weatrher permitting. Yes, I am a fair weather runner, for now. For some reason that first run is always so scary to me. Now it’s done and I know that I really can go a little further.

My run went from being horrific to just pathetic and that’s fine with me, for today.

Passover Baking

Baking for Passover depresses me.

I have never had a cake come out looking normal.
My son offered to get his bicycle pump to fix my latest cake : )
I would have said yes if I thought it could have helped, it looks like it could have. I made another cake which partially stuck in the pan but did not fall as much. Now I just have to decide which one I’ll take to my sister’s Seder. I guess it depends how hard we feel like laughing.

Does anyone know the trick to keep the cakes from caving in?

I just want to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy

I’d also like to know everyone’s egg count by the end of the holiday.

Love-Hate Relationships

I have a love-hate relationship with many things.

Chocolate. God I love chocolate. I hate that I love chocolate so much. Time and time again I have tried to break myself of my chocolate addiction. I have gone the requisite 21 days without touching the stuff only to get lured back in. You know, I can handle this stuff, it doesn’t rule my life and all that. Then before you know it my pantry is hiding some chocolate and there’s a tiny tub of Hagen Daas Mayan Chocoloate at the back of the freezer behind the slowly shrivelling baguette. I hate chocolate.

I love and hate my cell phone. I love knowing that my kids’ schools can find me in an emergency. I hate that I always forget to charge it and am in constant trouble with my husband for this.

Passover. I love the continuity of tradition. The memories. Watching my kids at the seders with their various cousins, knowing that they are building their own memories. Laughing with my sisters at the far end of the table, waiting for my father to say in his stern voice “Girls, we can wait until you’re ready to join us.” We three grown women will look at eachother and giggle because suddenly we’re the three M– daughters getting in trouble together, being a tiny bit rebellious and having fun. We’ll quicly morph back into the adults and the parents that we are and once again tow the line. We’ll sit there waiting for my mother to declare that “the wine is so sweet it can give you diabetes”. She says it every year. It’s so ridiculous that I can’t help but flinch and yet I love that she is so ridiculous every single year. She will also tell us that she has never met a potato that she doesn’t like. In my 47 years I have learned one truth if nothing else, my mother has never met a potato that she doesn’t like. Just like the 4 Questions we relearn this fact every seder. These things make me crazy and yet there is comfort in predictability. I love what, to me, are the important lessons of the Hagaddah. I have always felt badly that Moses is never mentioned but now I have come to see it as a lesson in humility. I also see this to mean that the group is greater than any one individual while at the same time I know through the lesson of the 4 Sons that each and every one of us is important enough to save no matter how simple we may be. I hate that Pharoah’s heart was hardened by God. I find this unsettling. What does this mean to modern day tyrany? There are so many questions that arise from the answer that is the Hagaddah. I hate that the seders that seemed to go on forever when I was a child now seem to end so quickly. I hate baking at Passover, my cakes usually look like something that got trampelled on as we hastily crossed the Red Sea. I won’t even mention how I feel about matzah. Why isn’t pita considered flat enough? Why isn’t it just O.K. for us to eat in a rush, as though we may suddenly have to leave our houses and begin a journey across the desert? I hate being confused when I go to the grocery store. Why are there so many products available now that weren’t around when I was growing up? It’s not our minhag to buy salad dressing, you have to use ketchup and mayonnaise and be happy with that. What about mustard? There is so much good chocolate at Passover, I don’t know whether to love or to hate that.

These are just a few of my love-hate relationships although I think that hate may be too strong of a word.

My Plebian Family

I cook a lot.
A lot.

I take pride in providing my family with a variety of healthy, interesting, tasty meals. Sometimes I get in a rut so I turn to the internet for ideas and recipes. I particularly like my Epicurious app. Our favourite salmon with lentils recipe comes from there as well as a ziti with roasted zucchini recipe that I love. I don’t always plan our meals and have to rely on spur of the moment ideas. It is usually with a little disappointment that I turn to the standard fare. Last week it happened twice.
I had to combine the ingredients on hand as well as continue to clear my cupboards for Passover. I decided to make a meatloaf. I used up the little bit of bread crumbs as well as corn flake crumbs that I had left. I got rid of two different bar-b-que sauces and finished off whatever applicable spices I could. I knew it wouldn’t be bad I just didn’t know if it would be any good. Imagine my shock when I heard things like, “This is your best meatloaf ever! What’s in here? This is so good? Why is this meatloaf different from all other meatloaves?” Glad they enjoyed it, I”ll never be able to repeat it.

Two nights later I opened my pantry looked at what was left and decided on a tuna casserole. I have only ever made it one other time in my entire life. I put it together feeling a little guilty for forcing them to eat this, but I had to get rid of the egg noodles. Once again I was met with the out and out raptures of my family as they consumed the casserole. My husband even went so far as to say that this is his “very favourite meal”. Are you kidding me?

What’s next spaghetti with hot dogs cut in?

Passover Scares Me

Passover scares me, and I’m not talking about all of the work involved in preparing for it. Although, yes, it is a daunting task and I do get a little crazy. Basically I know that I will get everything accomplished that I need to, I do every year.

Well doctor, you see, it all started when I was a little girl. I loved Passover even though I always had to ask the Four Questions and being the centre of attention like that has never been comfortable for me. Opening the door for Elijah was always kind of scary, but good scary. My mother would tell us the story of when she was little and she opened the door and a black cat ran into the house. Very scary (also please raise your hand if when you were a kid you thought Eliahu’s last name was Hanavi. If your hand isn’t up, neither is mine). Anyway, this one year I made it through the Questions no problem even with 27 guests in the house. It was meal time, yeah meal time! I was about 7 or 8, too young to help, I would just be under foot. So I sat in my chair patiently waiting while the food was being brought to the table. My eldest sister was helping. The turkey was on the table, she was bringing in the cranberry sauce. Someone started talking to her. She stopped to talk while the cranberry sauce remained poised over my head (can you see where this is going?). I was the only one who got cranberry sauce that night. My mother had to give me a bath complete with hair wash and I spent the rest of the seder in my beloved lavender bath robe which I had received for Chanukah.

The next traumatic event occurred as I became a preteen. As my father would dole out the readings of the sons it somehow seemed that I became the odds on favourite for the Wicked/Rebelious Son. Every, flipping, year. Really, the Wicked Son? I am so bad that had I been there I would not have been saved? Come on. He might not mean anything by this, but then again, every year… Parents, do all your kids a favour, read the wicked son yourself. Because, your kid might just decide that if he/she is going to get the label anyway he/she might as well earn it.

The next event is not so much traumatic as it is awkward. One year as I opened the door for Elijah my parents’ Russian Jewish neighbours walked out of their apartment door at the exact same time. We smiled at each other, said a nice hello and then they stood there staring at me, waiting to see what my next move was. Was I going out they asked? Umm no. Was I waiting for someone they asked? Umm, kind of. So I explained Elijah to them, amid shouts of, ‘You can close the door now.’ It was weird. They looked at me smiling and nodding their slightly angled heads. They didn’t get it. Elijah’s a tough one to explain. I know they thought I was delusional. She was a psychiatrist and I could just see her mentally pencilling me in for an appointment.

So, now I’m all grown up. I don’t have to do the Four Questions anymore, I can more or less handle being the Rebellious Son, my kids open the door for Elijah. All is fine, but not quite.

I have to make an over 300km drive to buy my groceries. No matter what my changing feelings toward religion over the years I will not be the rebellious son, I will welcome the holiday into my home and do it honour. I also strongly feel that if we do not celebrate our religious freedoms we would not notice if we began to lose them. More of a threat when the days of Communism were strong but a consideration none the less. Every year I worry that I have underestimated how much of something we need. Every year we are, mostly, fine. I will soon throw out last year’s left over jam. I drive in on Friday morning buy all of my frozen and cold products to go in my sister’s spare fridge and freezer and then do the bulk of my dried goods finishing off anything I missed on my way out of town on Sunday.

Two years ago I left all of my dried goods locked in my car on her driveway as usual. As I went to load the car up on Sunday I noticed that the trunk was empty, except for the matzah. Did I bring everything else into the house? I went back in. With shock on her face my sister told me, no I did not. I went back out and looked at the trunk again. Maybe, somehow, I just didn’t see the $300.00 worth of groceries. My brother in law asked if I could have left them in the cart. It was raining that day, I remember putting them in the trunk and not returning my cart because of the rain (sorry, I guess I am a little wicked), I also remember the look of all of those bags in the trunk. I felt sick to my stomach and needed to repurchase everything except the matzah. How come no one likes matzah, not even thieves?

Last year on my way to my sister’s house after having done my shopping I got t-boned at an intersection. The driver of the other car said that I ran the red light. I don’t know what happened I just know that it was my first accident in 30 years and I was in shock. I thought that I had looked at the light, but maybe I was too far back when I last checked it. I don’t know. The guy in the car behind him said that it was my fault too. Did I mention that they worked together? At an auto body shop. The guy who hit me was driving a luxury SUV which he was returning to its owner. I did everything wrong. I didn’t get the proper information, when they said it was my fault I said I was sorry and absolved the driver of all guilt in writing (don’t ask!). I was shaking and I was stunned (obviously). This summer I got a summons from the police to appear in court, it appears that the driver was driving with a suspended license. My husband insists that it could not have been my fault and that they pressured me into admitting guilt and I still say that I really don’t know what happened.

The long and the short of it is that I’m going in this weekend to do my shopping and I’m kind of scared. What is going to happen this year? I will be sooo careful when I’m driving and I’m going to make doubly sure that I lock my car doors at night. Still I cannot escape the prickly feeling at the back of my neck that anything can happen.

I won’t even get into how scary I find the cakes, imported chocolates, potato chips, potatoes every which way, matzah puddings and fried matzah breakfasts.

Sweet To Us

My eldest son showed me this video and it has spread through our family.

There is something very sweet and endearing about this little shell.

Hope you enjoy

Not so sweet to me: I had to go to my twins’ middle school today. Destroy played an April Fool joke on Seek. First Destroy took Seek’s cell phone and programmed a password into it and then he set it to go off in the middle of one of Seek’s classes. The teacher took it away (no phones allowed in class) and I had to pick it up from the Vice Principal’s office. We see the humour in the prank, Seek does not.