Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feminism/Breast Cancer and Feminism/Politics

I don't get a lot of time to read, but here are links to two articles that are VERY worth reading.

Leora Tanenbaum, Huffington Post

A loving obituary for Barbara Seaman, a feminist, victim of breast cancer, and "the first prophet of the women's health movement."

Marjorie Ingall, The Forward

The East Village Mamele's regular column, this week about the coming elections, and how being a feminist and voting for Barack Obama are perfectly compatible.


Two years ago we moved out of the city to a very nice suburb. I was never particularly worried about crime in the city and have barely given it a second thought since we moved out. Yesterday that changed.

I walked out of my house yesterday morning carrying my baby in his car seat and holding my toddler's hand ready to take my toddler to school. I turned toward the car and froze in disbelief as I saw shattered glass everywhere. My first thought was that something hit the window. But a second look showed that our GPS was gone and the window had clearly been smashed.

The financials of the situation are stressful and annoying. Almost a thousand dollars to fix the damage the theif did to get to hundred dollar GPS. But far worse is the sense of being violated and even worse my children seeing it. While my children are too young to understand what happened, I neverless still want to protect them, even though I know that is not always possible or even always desirable.

In retrospect, I clearly have been too naive. I put the GPS away when I parked elsewhere, but thought that in my own driveway I did not need to worry. Clearly I was wrong. The most upsetting part is that this was not something someone could see from the street. Clearly someone was proweling the neighborhood late at night, walking down driveways and peering into cars to find things to steal.

My husband works very long hours and I am often home alone in the evenings. Up until now I have rarely felt uncomfortable being alone with my children in my own home. Rationale or not, I fear this has changed.

Rationally I know that this was a minor incident that could happen anywhere to anyone. But my reaction when it happened to me at my home has nothing to with rational.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Super Baldy!

My husband is handsome. And I know you think I’m prejudiced because I married him and all, but he really really is. He has this great jaw line, and perfect creamy skin and these eyes that are this amazing green that is golden and shimmery and glittery all at once. He has broad shoulders and these big arms that give the best hugs. He has leg muscles naturally that soccer players work their whole careers to get. And he is bald. Down to the nubbin, has to put sun block on his pate, bald.

It’s a good Andre Agassi bald he’s got going, decided to sheer down his hair before his Poppa’s hairline caught up to him. He has no unfortunate dents or ridges in his skull. No King Kupa action. Just a lovely smooth head. I enjoy touching it. Soft. Smooth. Sometimes fuzzy. On a good day I can check and make sure there is nothing in my teeth in the reflection. No, no. Just kidding, honey. ;-)

When our daughter was born her head resembled his. A lot. There was a nice layer of strawberry blonde peach fuzz, but overall not much hair there. There were several jokes made at his expense. How she resembled her Mommy in her face, but her head was all Daddy. How he could be sure she was his because they shared a hairline. It bothered him some but I was happy because her head DID look like his and he does in fact have an awesome head.

Slowly. Very very very slowly her hair came in. She had her first haircut in August at almost 2. She didn’t really need one but I heard once that if you cut off the baby fuzz the real hair will grow in more quickly. So we took her to one of those fancy shmancy $20 haircut joints and after a lollipop, bubbles and a tv show involving dancing scissors she lost her baby fuzz and was ready to become a hair woman.

We had to go in once in November for a little bang trim (which mysteriously also cost $20) but this Sunday we took her in for a REAL haircut. Her hair is blonde and thick and lovely. Her bangs were growing into her nose and the back was looking very similar to a shaggy dog I once knew. So $20, a lollipop, bubbles, a tv show (about a dancing comb this time) and she was set. But that’s not all. You see, for $20 we got a haircut, a lollipop, a tv show about a cracked out comb…and pigtails. Beautiful sweet, cute, just slap that head on a box of baby food and I’ll buy a case, pigtails.

I’m not an outwardly emotional woman. I don’t cry. Not at funerals. Or when I stub my toe. Or when we had to put our cat to sleep. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t get a little misty at the freakin pigtails.

Not because it was sad. Or because it meant she was growing up. Maybe because she was so gorgeous. But most likely because I knew that I would never be able to recreate the pigtails that the gifted woman crafted with my daughter’s hair.

Ironically enough, this moment of joy and hair growth that we have been waiting for since birth would lead Miss Rapunzel to the discovery of one of her mother’s biggest faults. Heartbreaking though it may seem, I can not do hair. Not my hair. Not my Barbie’s. In 8th grade my mother bought me a crimper and that was too complex. My husband has to braid my challah. I have a serious condition.

So this is why I believe my stale tear ducts activated at the sight of the pigtails. And they were right to as the next morning the girl formerly known as Baldy started to cry when she saw her bows laying lifelessly on the crib mattress. I knew the jig was up-she would now know her Mommy lacks a talent found in Mommies everywhere. And just as I was seriously thinking about taking her back to the shmancy haircut store to reproduce the pigtails (what’s another $20?) my husband walked in the room to see what was up.

In a flash he saw the problem, grabbed a brush, a bottle of detangler and the bows and redid our daughter’s pigtails. Perfectly. The loops were even and straight. The hair was neat and combed. I stood there in shock and awe and I believe fell in love with him all over again.

My husband USED to have hair. Hair was such an important force in his life that he says when he drives with the windows open he can feel the hair blowing in his face, like a phantom limb. So I don’t know why I never thought to ask him how far his abilities as a hairdresser reached. Because of him my Little Miss Perfect won’t know her mommy is Little Miss Imperfect for a while longer. And I do so enjoy having one person in the world thinking I am perfect. So thanks to my Handsome Hairless Hero, I’ll enjoy my limited perfection in her eyes a bit longer…until she asks me to take her someplace that involves highway driving. Yikes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Mikvah Queen

The big news for the week is that I have been anointed the Mikvah Queen.

More specifically, I was recruited to be the scheduler for our local mikvah, at least while the current scheduler is on maternity leave.

This is a BIG DEAL. Partially because I am a little stressed about the responsibility--if I fall behind or confuse the dates or forget to send a reminder I could really cause people problems. But mostly because up until now, I've been a Mikvah Moocher.

I am a Serious Nidah Girl. Due mostly to my choice of husband, I observe the real deal Nidah--the full two weeks, the full two beds (would you believe the guy at the mattress store--not to mention my mother--actually LAUGHED at me when I said I wanted two twin beds?!) no touching, the whole kit and caboodle. Sometimes we get really wild and crazy and pass each other things, like plates or salt shakers.

I don't feel too oppressed--I knew what I was getting into when I married him. Abba is one of those rare men who is totally consistent in his religious observance--he's a no-excuses, total commitment kind of guy through and through. So I roll with it.

Despite my seriousness about nidah and a whole slew of other things Jewish, I've been barred from being a Mikvah Lady because of my active and visible involvement in an egalitarian minyan. So the story goes, if someone from out of town were to find out that their Mikvah Lady leads Musaf, it could cast a dark shadow on the whole mikvah. Disappointing, but it didn't come as a huge surprise. And so I've remained on the outside of the enterprise, even when in the mikvah.

Until now. Because though I am still not trusted to be a Mikvah Lady, apparently I CAN do the mikvah scheduling for the entire community, a job that requires constant engagement, not to mention a load of discretion. I have to say...I'm really excited about the opportunity to give back to the mikvah, and to join the group of devoted women who make it work so well.

So if I can't be a Mikvah Lady...well, at least I can be the Mikvah Queen.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Holding My Tongue

I missed my regular Thursday post, but this was just too juicy to miss for today.

Last night, my mother in law called. Turns out she has a business meeting for which she must travel, out of town, on the 1st day of Pesach. She's taking her mother and my brother in law as well, as it's close to where her brother lives. No first seder. Maybe they'll be back for second. But they're not sure.

We were supposed to have them for first seder. Second seder was to be reserved for our friends, especially since my inlaws don't do a second seder. This is the first time we are having seder (except for a year in Israel). We are pissing off my parents, who we've gone to every year since long before we got married. And now it looks as though they can't even be bothered coming. My father in law may join us, as well as his mother, and perhaps his brother and wife.

What am I mad about? I don't know exactly. But I know that it requires keeping my mouth shut.

I am mad that they can't be bothered changing their schedules for Pesach. But I don't know why, as they are as uber-Reform as they get...and I know that I offend many frum Reform Jews out there whose religious practice I take seriously. I am mad that my mother in law won't say, "It's a holiday and I don't work on holidays," or even, "I need to be home with my family". It's a weekend, for goodness sake.

I am mad because my grandmother in law (mother in law's mom) said, "It'll be the first time I've ever missed seder." She is a nearly non-practicing Jew who feels some sense of religiosity because her grandfather was a rabbi. Let's not forget that she comes from a super assimilated German Jewish family and her grandfather was a rabbi here in the 19th century. A LONG time ago. It's not as if she really cares---if she did, wouldn't she stay?

All of this is upsetting my husband. Partially because of the reality of the situation, and partially because his parents are annoying. It doesn't help that he's a "convert," as he abandoned his Reform upbringing to become a Conservative rabbi (albeit one not serving in a pulpit). And it upsets him that it upsets me. It upsets me that my first time making seder is already kind of ruined, the image of perfect family bliss and my Martha Stewarty-ness all rolled into one, is not going to happen in the same way. I am sad because my son won't have the family experience I wanted him to have.

So for now I'll hold my tongue. It is true that shalom bayit is so important. I'll do it, for my husband. But I don't know how long it will last.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bubonic Mama

There were puffs of white everywhere. On the table. Under the couch. In the couch cushions. In my sleeves. Lining the bed. We tried to clean them up but they were like Tribbles and reproduced at a rate we could not keep up with. So we gave in and let the white puffs rule our home. And even though they were covered in pestilence, they were soft and cute so it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

That is all I remember about last week. Well that and feeling generally craptastic. There were just so many tissues. I could not make the trek to the garbage can. And even when I tried to get to the garbage I lacked the hand strength to actually hold on to the Kleenexi, so I’d end up at the trash can empty handed with a trail of tissues behind me. I was delirious though, so I was pleased to have the tissue trail to follow back to the couch. I was the Kleenex Hansel and Gretel, but despite what my nephew will tell you boogers aren’t as tasty as bread so less having to worry about birds eating my path back. Score.

I am not really the big outdoorsy type. I am not what you would call “social.” I think my house is the happeningest joint in town. I am an inside girl so I don’t get exposed to many of the diseases that go around. And believe it or not this was the first time I was really really sick in the 2 ½ years I have been a Mommy. And it’s not like I was really really really sick. I just had a lesser version of the Bubonic Plague. But if I was too sick to throw away booger coated pestilence puffs, how the heck was I supposed to be a mother?

Simply answered, I wasn’t. Well maybe I was, but I couldn’t. I was more of an underpaid, overqualified lump last week. I think the tivo did a better job entertaining the Light of My Life than I did. The cat certainly gave her more love and affection. And my wonderful dog who is all heart and no brains, who gets confused by her own reflection, who consistently runs into our screen door because she forgets it’s there- had to tell me when The Queen Bee woke up from naps or had a dirty diaper as I lost both my ability to hear and smell.

It was a long long week. But here is the scary part. I kind of liked it. Not the fever, or the chills, or the cough that actually knocked things off my mantle. Or the fact that my nose is still so red that Santa just called and asked if I could guide his sleigh tonight (he likes to do a practice run in February). But the part where I needed to get taken care of. And I know it sounds horrible and wrong, but it felt good to just lay there and let my husband do dinners and baths and diapers.

It felt good for me to be the one whining. And for me to be the one who had her keppy kissed. It’s not like I wanted to be sick forever- because man, I missed breathing. But that whole just lay there and let the world go by feeling hasn’t happened in a couple years now. It’s nice to not always worry if I’m entertaining enough, or educating enough, or feeding enough, or if I put enough cream on that rash to make it go away enough. I’m always on and it wears me out, but I guess I don’t need a fever to take a minute for myself. It’s hard now that the sense of hearing has returned and I can hear Lady calling for me. But luckily I have a few extra Kleenex around that I can stick in my ears to block the sound out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

End of an Era

I feel like I've been punched in the gut.

I weaned Chamudi today.

He's fifteen months old, eating 3 full meals and 2 snacks of grown-up food a day. He's walking, talking, able to lift my shirt--aizeh chutzpah!--and ask for more. It's just time.

So I read up on how best to eliminate that last morning nursing, and then I went for it--when he woke up whisked him out of his crib and sat him right down for a big-boy breakfast. Lots of hoopla and smiles to keep the mood light. Then I dressed him in his big boy clothes and put on his big boy shoes, and let him watch music videos on Noggin while he waited for Abba to get ready. And avoided at all costs going anywhere near my bed, lest he pick up on the fact that this morning's routine was anything but.

Everyone talks about how to make the weaning process easier on your child but you don't hear much about how to make it easy on Ima. I've got a knot at the pit of my stomach that is all too familiar--it's that stomachache I've always gotten when I finally screw up my courage to end a relationship whose time has passed.

I've been talking this up to him all week. He understands more than ever these days, so I figured why just spring it on him when I can get him--and me--used to the idea? So I've been explaining to him, "Nursies all gone soon" and talking about how he's such a big boy and about how much fun we're going to have together. And how--and this one was probably really just for me--it's not really an end but a beginning--that our Ima-Chamudi relationship is growing and changing, not ending.

And yet--this morning I couldn't wait to get him out of the apartment. The whole thing was just so sad for me and I wanted to scream "Just go, go if you have to. If you're going to leave me like this, just go. Don't linger, don't make it so hard. " I think it's going to be a while before I really get used to this new world.

I'm sure there will be some showdowns ahead--when he wakes up in the middle of the night for some reason and is intent on nursing. And it remains to be seen if I'll have the stomach to carry it through.

But deep down, I know it's time--for him, for me, and for our family. And that no matter what, I will still be his Ima and he will still be my Chamudi.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Two Cents

You know how delivery trucks are equipped with the sticker: “How’s my driving? Call 1-800-NUMBERS”? Well, taking a baby out in public in Israel is like wearing one of those signs: “How’s my parenting? Don’t call—just come right up and tell me!” Or better yet, “What do YOU think I’m doing wrong?”

What an amazing place—it’s full of child-rearing experts! And I mean, they’re everywhere. Baby girl was raging against her stroller in the park. But according to the park’s maintenance man, I shouldn’t carry a baby on my shoulders. It’s dangerous. I could bump her head on a doorway or a tree limb.

I am approximately five feet tall plus three fifths of a single inch (give or take). My daughter is twenty-eight inches tall. I’m pretty sure I could jump up and down underneath any doorway with my daughter on my shoulders and we’d be safe. At least this expert had smiled at me, one hand holding his green garbage bag, the other on my arm.

Some experts aren’t so nice. Once I’d stepped out with my daughter, the sky clear, only to reach the Carmel market at the beginning of a cloudburst. This time I was yelled at—how could I take my daughter out without a woolen hat, and me not even wearing rubber boots! I guess the lined, hooded raincoat and umbrella weren’t enough. What do I know? I’m just her mother who took her from the balmy Washington snow to the frigid 65 degree beach town.

For better or for worse, I know enough Hebrew to understand the complaints, but not enough to respond. And how would one, if one could? Is it most acceptable to (A) suggest he loose 50 lbs and quit smoking before he gives me heath advice for my daughter, (B) inform him that his country’s airport screwed up my BOB Revolution stroller, which has a fitted plastic rain cover, or (C) shrug: “survival of the fittest”?

Sometimes I answer in English. To the woman who complained that my daughter wasn’t wearing tights under her jeans: “she wears them when it’s cold.”

You’re thinking, “Maya, people just want to make conversation, and babies are a beautiful commonality.” And I’m sure that’s true, too: “Why are you standing up with the baby on a bus? You should sit down,” said a woman. “Because she screams until she turns blue when I sit down.” “Oh.” Then thirty seconds later: “Try sitting down again.” But it was my stop, and so ended our charming tête-à-tête.

Before my daughter’s meltdown we were sitting nicely in our seat when the gentleman behind me told me NOT to let my daughter sit down. She could fall and fly out the bus. Dang, I just couldn’t figure out why all my other babies kept flying out the bus! Now that I’m down to my last one, maybe I really shouldn’t leave her standing unattended on the seat while our bus driver pretends we’re in a video game.

I’m lucky—I can’t even understand half the unsolicited advice I’m given if it is unaccompanied by gestures. I’ve only studied Biblical Hebrew. I can tell you how David dressed himself to prepare for battle with Goliath. But unless someone is telling me to gird my daughter’s loins and put a helmet on her, I’m not quite sure what they’re saying most of the time. But that little bliss will disappear once I begin ulpan, I guess.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Roach

None of you want to read this post. Believe me.

My husband, son and I are on a pseudo-vacation. If you call the 2 week period we gave our nanny off so that she could go to New Zealand a vacation, so be it. We decided to take this time to go visit all of the various and sundry members of my family in Florida. Given that we are coming from New York at what I consider high snow season, it's probably a good thing.

In between visiting 4 different family members and one friend, we are taking a day and a half (OK, 2 nites) at a bed and breakfast on the beautiful shores of the Indian River in central Florida. I highly recommend b&b traveling with kids (the kid friendly ones of course). It's easier and far lovelier than a hotel, on so many levels.

So tonite, my husband and I are quietly reading as our son sleeps. Relaxing. It was a hectic day doing all kinds of exciting things that 3 year old boys like, and it rained most of the day too. The rain has been heavy this evening. I get up to finish packing us up for an early departure tomorrow morning, and....

there's a HUGE palmetto bug (that's what they call roaches here) on the floor near my bag. And then it leaps onto the chair. Apparently they jump or fly or whatever. Then it goes into the BED. Where my son is sleeping. And then it crawls under his blanket...and up his little body toward the pillow, and jumps off and hides.

If my son weren't sleeping, I would be screaming. I actually started to cry. We finally managed to get the roach (about 2 in. long, for what it's worth) on to the floor, where my husband started beating at it with my shoe.

This place is immaculate, and it's because of the rain, not uncleanliness, that the thing came in. But hell, this isn't supposed to happen. And I feel like a sissy because it's only a roach, but it touched my baby and now it's the middle of the night and I can't fall asleep because I keep thinking that there are more coming. My poor little boy. And I'm so freaked I can't even write a sentance properly.

I keep thinking of the scene in Star Trek's The Wrath of Khan where the roaches eat out Ricardo Montalban's brain. Thank God that didn't happen here (I guess I won't know till morning, right?).

Luckily we're leaving in the morning.
What would you have done?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Open Up and Say WAH

Chamudi and I both had check-ups this week, and I'm happy to report that we are both in good health. In fact, he is "off the charts" in height--no surprise to us, as he towers over most every toddler he knows.

The doctor's office used to be Chamudi's very favorite place to be. Of late, though, doctors terrify him. All the doctor has to do is take out the stethoscope and he's hysterical. Apparently it's normal for this age. I'm not too worried, though I do feel bad for him.

I understand why he doesn't want the doctor poking and prodding at him--especially when a visit to the doctor's office when you're 1 almost always ends with a shot. I was somewhat surprised to discover, however, that his doctor anxiety extends to his Ima.

I took Chamudi along with me to the doctor's office, which I thought would be at the very least a neutral experience for him. I knew I was in for trouble when I saw the fear creep into his eyes when they took my blood pressure.

Then the doctor came in and started the examination, and the hysteria began. Chamudi was beside himself. Fortunately, an impromptu performance of The Itsy Bitsy Spider saved the day (the doctor even joined in ). And then it was over, and he was fine again.

I wonder...what did he think they were doing to me? Why was he scared for me? And what is it about doctors--even happy, funny, friendly doctors--that terrifies him so, when he is willing to smile and play with any other stranger that comes his way?

Meanwhile, I'm flattered that he worries about me. In this dog-eat-dog world, it's nice to know that Chamudi's got my back.

Why the hey not?

Yesterday I paused in the struggle to make everything work and make everything right. I decided not to spend a single shekel or a single minute repairing anything at all, and instead, to enjoy what I have and what works now.

Although, after a week of nonstop attention, my phone still has problems; although the Department secretary was out since I've been here, so I still don’t have the work visa or an office after two weeks of teaching; although I could keep saying “although” for several more sentences.

I’m not the type to pause in the middle of something. I once read Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury” in a single 25-hour sitting because there was no logical place to stop. But yesterday I stopped in the middle, and it wasn’t even shabbat.

I bought my babysitter flowers, since, as the phone wasn’t working, I couldn’t call her to tell her I’d stayed in Zichron Yaakov an extra day over the weekend and she showed up at my doorstep ready for work. Then I bought my daughter a helium balloon, since she’d fallen in love with them on her birthday (thanks Ima Shalom!).

Well, you can’t really walk down the street with a bouquet of flowers and a balloon without splurging on those éclairs flaunting themselves through the bakery window, can you? No, you can’t. They were drizzled with bitter chocolate on the outside, filled with rich, thick sweet cream on the inside, and the pastry was airy and perfect. I bought two, one for me and one for the babysitter. And I didn’t buy the polite-sized ones, either. No, I got two big ones—so big that it felt like you really shouldn’t have eaten the whole thing when you were done—sized ones.

My friends who’ve lived in Israel a while call it the 70% rule. You can live with something functioning at 70% capacity—it drives you crazy; it’s not comfortable, but it’s functional, so you can live with it. And, actually, after embracing and appreciating that functioning 70% yesterday, the 30% that doesn’t (YET) work doesn’t bother me nearly so much. Tomorrow it might. But today I feel just fine.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I Love My Babysitter!

I love my babysitter! I adore her! I know why my daughter doesn’t cry anymore when I leave. I understand why she glows and bounces up and down and claps when the babysitter arrives. Mind you, we’ve been in Israel a week. We’ve had our babysitter three days, and if she leaves I’m going to cry right along with my daughter. Whew! So it worked out after all.

My babysitter is the roommate of a former colleague with whom I’d studied Yiddish in Vilna. She’s in Israel on a thesis fellowship, done with classes, and loves children. She’s drop-dead gorgeous, got a beautiful singing voice, speaks fluent Hebrew, English, Czech and probably several other languages, washes my dishes just because they’re there, and causes peals of laughter to ring out from the room in which the baby is playing.

But that’s not why I love her. I love her because today, after three days, she told me that she really believes my child is special. And I think she really meant it. Imagine.

I have to say that my daughter has taken to Israel immediately. Just Monday I was walking down the pedestrian green on the boulevard in which we live, and I suddenly noticed the traffic was weird. There were two cars following us. I felt my muscles tense. I’d been kidnapped in a taxi in Venezuela once (in the end I was unharmed, thank G-d). But when I looked again, I noticed the people in the cars were smiling and waving. I turned around to look at my daughter, who’d been riding on my back. She was blowing kisses and waving. Yes, she’s making the most of Israel’s love for children. Didn’t take her long to figure it out, either.

She's a lot smarter than I am. I've still not mastered such charm and gracefulness.

We spent the first week setting up house and repairing my cell phone because I had an evil battery charger that sucked the energy out instead of putting it in. Yes, it's a pain, but just imagine the vocabulary one acquires. How many languages can YOU say "I'm not crazy" in? Also, this gave us lots of outdoor time. The pregnant women and mothers of the new crop of babies that we see everywhere in the streets are very helpful in sharing where they get the best bargains in diapers and toys. I started teaching last week and will start Ulpan soon.

I am so excited about these six months, I don’t want to lose a minute. Tel Aviv may seem like an unlikely place to learn and grow Jewishly, but it's very promising. I didn’t have a strong background in Jewish studies or Hebrew growing up, and I want to learn enough for the two of us—since my daughter doesn’t have the example of an Abba’s daily davening. I’ll have to be it. Me and the communities we build. Well, she’s terrific at community. And we’re off to a good start.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Guilty as Charged

One of my longtime friends, a cool New Yorker with a cute Upper West Side apartment of her own and a fabulous job, reads this blog regularly. She likes us a lot--or so she claims--but she recently made the following observation:

"There's so much guilt on your blog it's ridiculous."

Needless to say, she is not (yet) a Jewish mother.

The stereotype of the Jewish mother is the "you never call, you never write" guilt-inducer. But that paradigm is so last century. Today's modern Jewish mother is the one feeling all the guilt.

Chamudi looks like got beaten up in a title fight. His opponent was in fact a cardboard box. Grandmother-aged women throughout the city are tsk tsking me, and every glance at my sweet boy reminds me that I have once again failed to protect him from life's difficulties.

It's been a tough week for Chamudi. He's been lethargic, whiny, cranky, clumsy, and just all-around-miserable. Two new incisors and some changing needs (more sleep, to start with) are the probable culprits, and things are already looking up, but sad day after sad day I couldn't help but beat myself up over my inability to make his life magically happy.

"Don't you feel like a failure when you can't help him," I asked Abba.
"I feel frustrated, but I don't feel like a failure," he said.

But when I can't meet Chamudi's needs I feel like I should hand in my Ima badge. I feel powerless. I feel like a fraud.

What kind of Ima are you? Your child is having trouble and all you can do is stand there. You brought him into this world so that he could sit on the floor crying?

I'm curious--is this just an Ima thing? Do Abbas ever feel this kind of guilt? Or are they too busy being from Mars to get all emotional about these kinds of things?

Live Political Blogging...

I am sitting in my parents' den watching the returns coming in live...of course, it's the middle of the night and my son will still be up at 7. I am not writing this post to wax eloquent about my chosen candidate or about the importance of voting, etc., but instead to think about how far we've all come since we were kids.

The first election I really remember was in 1984, when I felt sad that Mondale only won one little state and Reagan won the rest. I remember the redness of the map a bit like the online game of Risk, when one side gobbles up the other to win for world domination.

The next one, for some reason, that I remember was in 1992. I voted for Paul Tsongas (z''l) in the primaries. It was my first presidential election and I felt super proud to have a chance to vote. Then the actual election: I may out myself here, but I was in Israel enjoying my junior year abroad, hunkered down watching CNN in a room at the Hyatt on French Hill. No one had TVs, of course, and I think I knew 3 people with this thing called email that they used to write to people at home. No computers either, we wrote our papers by hand. Anyway, the guy I was madly in love with wanted to come and watch the returns, but he wasn't in love with me at all, just wanted to be my friend....and my friends tried to keep him out of the room out of spite. He made it in, and 16 years later, he's my husband and is sitting next to me on the couch.

In 2000, we had an election party. Invited all of our friends. Got snacks. Put up a big chart to keep track of everything, with red and blue markers and everything. But I went to sleep around 2 and hell if my livingroom wasn't still filled with friends. Oh well. Gore would have made an excellent president.

And I keep being more interested in this. Now I'm keeping track of the delegates and getting excited and invested in the returns, and feeling passionate about change and being involved in the process. I feel like I want to have my voice heard, so that things will be a bit different for my son, a bit better.

I was BORED with politics as a kid. I hated lectures--why would adults go sit in a room to hear others just talk and talk? I hated NPR--my dorky parents listened to public radio. I would never have read the New Yorker--too much text in spite of the cartoons. No PBS, either. And here I am, all grown up, with my kid asleep in the room next to us and I'm fascinated. I guess you could say I am--we all--are all grown up.

I vividly remember voting with my parents, going into the booth and helping to push the lever. I'm doing it with my son now, and I hope that he'll feel that same excitement someday. Perhaps when he's my age (likely not before).