Saturday, August 29, 2009

How to Foster

Since I don't have a kiddo living with me yet, I don't have adorable stories like Maya's. But in the interest of trying to make blogging here a more-or-less regular occurrence, I thought I would take some time to explain why it is that I don't yet have a kiddo living with me.

I began the process of being licensed as a foster parent in either June or September of 2008, depending on when you consider the process begun. In September I began the required training course, during which we were told that the average length of the process is four months from the beginning of the course. Um, it's been a few more months than that.

In the beginning, I was hopeful that the process would go smoothly. I didn't have the same trouble as others in the course in scheduling the fire inspector to come to my apartment (though by May? June? the licensing worker had lost the inspector's report). I filled out and returned all of the paperwork in basically the order that it was suggested and in the time frame that was suggested. But then the lead inspector came, my apartment failed, and thus began the saga.

The report from the lead inspector said (essentially) "next step: have a more detailed risk assessment to say what needs to be fixed." I went to Israel for a week and came back to a voice message from the the inspector: "Please call me so we can schedule a time for me to come and do the risk assessment." My conclusion from this was that the inspector would come, do the risk assessment, and then provide a report of some sort that I would then be able to give my landlord to give direction in what needed to be done.

Three weeks after the second inspection, I phoned the lead worker at the agency (I'll call her Priscilla, just to be fun) to ask about the report. (The inspector told me that his contract with the agency requires him to complete reports in three weeks.) We're now into February, though the initial inspection was in November. Priscilla tells me that the report will be mailed to me. I call a week or so later, am told that the report has been mailed to me. I call two or more weeks later, am told that my apartment had passed, and what was the problem, and they don't send the reports to the foster parent. (Actually, there were more calls and emails, and more back and forth, but I'm not referring back to my records to write this post.) Eventually I get clear direction that my landlord is supposed to make the repairs without any additional information. My landlord is fantastic and very graciously arranged to make the repairs as promptly as possible, even arranging for me to stay in an empty apartment for the length of the work. (Yes, the landlord is obligated to make the repairs, but the law gives the landlord 45 days--I think--and doesn't mandate any sort of positive attitude about it.)

I get the clearance report from the contractor and email it to my licensing worker. We're in early June now, six and a half months after the initial lead inspection. She forwards it to Priscilla, who loses it in her email inbox. I follow up with Priscilla who doesn't understand why I am the one making the calls to her; it is the licensing worker's job, yada yada yada. They can't accept the landlord's contractor's report; they need their inspector to come back; she'll have him call me to schedule. By a half hour later, under the influence of some sort of miracle, she has called me back twice and done a complete 180. The report is fine, my apartment is fine, and now I just need the home study. Because of course, while all this was going on, they couldn't do more than one step at a time.

Home study involves two visits to my apartment by the licensing worker; she is an hour late for the first visit because she got lost, but otherwise the visits are uneventful. At the end of the second visit, which was about a week and a half before the end of July, she tells me that the next step is for her to write the home study report, which she'll get to "this month" and then it goes to a supervisor for approval. (There was another issue introduced regarding back-up child care providers and background checks, but the saga is probably pretty boring to you all at this point.)

Well, just over a week ago, now towards the end of August, I get a phone call from the licensing worker. She doesn't introduce herself, which itself is a little odd, and I have to do some quick thinking to translate the caller ID's "Kimberly Williams"--not the licensing worker's name--to the worker. Anyway, the point of the call? She's writing my report (yes, a month later than she said she was going to), and, wait for it, they've lost my background check.

And here we are. I've gone in for a new set of fingerprints, because it's not like the whole system is electronic and it's not like fingerprints stay the same. (Ha.) But it needs to be done every year anyway (see sarcasm above--really, can't they just submit the same fingerprints to the FBI to get an updated report?) and it had already been 11 months (see: started process in September and did everything on their recommended schedule).

So now just waiting for the homestudy report to be written and approved. I'm taking bets for when that will be. Leave your guess in the comments.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pre-School Open Night: How (not) to make an impression

I used to wonder why I am so bad at putting names to faces. People always remember who I am, but I’m not so good at remembering them. Am I egocentric? self-absorbed? What’s wrong with me? Now I realize that I am usually dying of mortification when I meet anyone, and so people remember me more than I remember them.

Take last night. We’re walking past my girl’s new preschool on open house night. Carrying a clear plastic bag full of child poopoo because my girl just HAD to go RIGHT NOW and there's no garbage in sight. "Hi, I'm Maya, A’s mother. Oooh, don't shake this hand. And for godssake, don't look down or breath, okay?

Dog owners can carry little plastic bags with no shame. Parents should be able to do the same. And I should have them on my person at all times these days. It happens more than I’d like to admit, heeding the call of nature in nature. We’ve not been arrested yet. I’m sure it’s only because we live in DC and we’ve never yet held up the presidential cavalcade in the process.

Coincidentally, I really thought long and hard about putting my daughter in a Jewish dayschool. When your kid refers to every African American male she sees as Obama, you know you are spending too much time in the exclusive company of Jews.

Anyway, we left the open house 45 minutes before the poo incident because I was cranky. With my usual foresight, I had forgotten to eat that day, so when I noticed myself snarling at the poor membership office administrator because there was a queue, I realized we should go. Right NOW. Did I really want to be seen as “that Mom”? No, I did not.

To be fair, my daughter and I arrived early, and we were alone in our new classroom, with our new teachers, for approximately 78 minutes before that. (To my credit, I refrained from commenting on the teachers’ rhyming names). Just as we were leaving, others began to arrive. So we stayed. Then I had to carry a screaming child out. You know the back-arch, stiff-body sequence?

What were we doing between open house and poo bag? Grocery shopping. Always an iffy thing to do during low-blood-sugar, pms, end-of-teaching-week fatigue. But necessary for Shabbat. So I’m carrying my book bag, groceries, kid’s backpack, and then my child heeds the call of nature in nature. And it’s an unnatural amount. Then she wants to be carried.

Well, those parents will ALWAYS recognize my face.

I wouldn’t recommend this method for making an impression. Bringing cupcakes is probably safer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Give me some advice, please...

My marvelous 4.5 year old son is a real winner socially (yes, I know, it's not nice to brag...and it's likely to get worse as he approaches adolescence). He is friendly with kids of all ages and is a good and fun friend to his closest buddies. He is unfailingly polite to adults (even sometimes to his parents). I love him oodles and I think he's perfect and I just could go on and on.

And yet, there's one kid who treats him consistently like crap. She's mean. And we don't seem to be able to avoid her.

Here's the story, in short.

Shabbat morning kids' shul. Regulars include my son, Shmuley and Shmutzie. EVERY Shabbat.

Shmuley is the charming and funny but ever so slightly rebellious son of friends. He is a full year older than my son but they play together very well and enjoy each other's company. A nice Jewish boy. We like the parents. What more could I say?

Shmutzie is a girl 6 months older than my son. She was in the same nursery school class as Shmuley and they are inseparable when they are together at shul. They will be attending kindergarten together (not at my son's school), play together outside of shul frequently and their parents spend quite a bit of time together.

Shmutzie will not allow my son to play with Shmuley and with her when they are all together. There is a lot of "you aren't allowed to play" and "Shmuley doesn't want to play with you." There's even been some "we don't like you"s and some complete ignoring. She whines to her father when my son comes around to play during kiddush lunch or after shul, and makes herself positively obnoxious. We have tried to do afternoons in the park with the kids playing together, or rainy Shabbat afternoon playdates at our house so that my kiddo can have at least home court advantage. But it doesn't seem to work. It is clear that she is jealously guarding Shmuley's attention and doesn't want competition. I get it, but it is hurting my son.

My cutie now is afraid of her, doesn't want to be with them, and is feeling very sad and left out. He is not feeling happy about going to shul...I'm not so worried about this because tons of kids will be back to play with beginning after Labor Day, but still.

Worst to me is that none of the parents are willing to get involved. I engaged Shmuley's parents in conversation about it, enlisted their help in trying to remind the kids that "you can't say you can't play," and they were on board. For a week. Shmutzie's parents are clueless. Mom is never around and Dad is a big clown. No help there.

Please offer me some advice. Do I leave this situation, walk away and encourage my boy to make new friends? Do I continue to try? What would you do?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Walnut-almond cookies & a fear of the cookie monster

I don't know why my daughter has become afraid of Sesame Street's inarticulate blue fuzzy cookie monster. C is for Cookie was a seminal song for us--it taught her the alphabet. We went through all the letters, like "I is for Ima, that's good enough for me" with the names of our friends.

Suddenly, she asks me to skip the cookie monster song on her Sesame Street CD. Unexpectedly during the day she races into my arms, whispering that the "cookie monstern" is hiding in her bed.

It's not even all monsterns, just the cookie monstern. For example, she can't get enough of Oscar the Grouch, and it's a hoot to hear her sweet husky toddler voice sing I Love Trash. Her favorite song these days.

So I'm making her cookies. She may be freaked out by the cookie"monstern," but she still likes cookies. But healthy ones. They're actually not really "cookies"--they're nuts stuck together with egg and a tiny bit of sugar. From Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food:

1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 yolk

grind the nuts finely. Mix in sugar and egg, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

roll into the size of small walnuts, coat in confectioners sugar. You're supposed to place them in tiny paper thingies, but I don't have any, so I put them on parchment paper and bake for 14 minutes or so at 375. The cookies are ready when they crack on top and are golden brown (though I can't see the color through the sugar, so I just wait till they crack a little). They'll look soft, but they're ready. Leave them in the oven, open the oven door, and let them cool in the cooling oven.

These are supposed to be for Pesakh. But you know, since I've been eating whatever I find in the fridge, freezer, cabinet and garden, and only shopping on days I haven't spent anything else (still sticking to only-spend-money-once-a-day thing), I was happy to make these outside of Pesakh.

Also, walnuts are good for you. They make you smarter, especially in the aging process, which seems to be accelerated when you get a kid.

Basically, I consider Claudia Roden a goddess. All it takes is a tiny peek at The Book of Jewish Food and I am immediately inspired (and freakishly gifted at the moment). In this way, Claudia Roden is lot like Ima-Shalom. I am a total klutz with babywearing. Give me a wrap, and I can make it look like macrame with baby limbs woven awkwardly in and out in strange places. But put Ima Shalom in the room, and I suddenly have opposable thumbs. Luckily (though too late for me) Ima Shalom is now a babywearing consultant and is open for business. Meanwhile, Clauda Roden keeps cranking out cookbooks.

Most of all, I love Roden's stories. They're not overly-sentimental; they're informative, sweet, and smart. So it's a pleasure to read.

And I have a little extra time to read this week. When I ask my daughter why she's been staying awake for hours at night and waking up early early, she says her "eyes just keep opening like that." Which means there are a few more hours in our day these days. We ad-lib stories to go with the photos that illustrate the recipes, so we can both enjoy the book.

In two weeks she starts preschool (yikes), and next week I start teaching. So we'll see how we do.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Foster?

Everyone who fosters has a different reason. Some were foster kids themselves, some know a specific kid who is entering care, some just want to save the world one kid at a time. I probably fall into that last category.

When I was in high school, I had a Huge Crush on a friend who I learned was in care. (It turns out he's gay.) He was perfectly normal, smart, and a few years older than me so I worried about what was going to happen when he turned 18. (He was normal, but his foster brother who I also had a bit of a crush on, I think only because another friend had a crush on him, was a little less so.) I've heard from other friends that he went to college and hasn't had any crash-and-burn moments, but can't find him via Google.

For a while, I was telling people that my experience with Foster Friend was why I was interested in being a foster parent. I did suggest to my about-to-be-empty-nesting parents at the time that they should be foster parents.

But then I remembered the real, and much more meaningful reason. I have no idea where in my memory it was hiding.

When I was in college, I volunteered at a home for young kids--early elementary--who had been removed from their homes but didn't have foster families. It was a clean but institutional place. After school, the eight 6-year-olds all sat on the tiled floor and watched TV. I would take two or three aside and read to them. They were heartbreakingly adorable. And it killed me that they didn't have families to live with. I even thought about how I could manage to move off campus to become a foster parent right then and there.

Obviously that didn't happen. But I've always since then known that I would someday be a foster parent. And now that's finally about to happen.*

*The licensing process--and the ridiculously long time it is taking for me in particular--is another story all to itself. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My summer of frugal living (1 week of recipes and ideas)

Long story short: Me + Budget = big mess. So here’s my new tactic: I spend money no more than once a day, and if I spend more than a certain amount at one time, then I don’t spend for two days in a row.

That’s it. If I pay a bill, I spend no more money that day.
For example, yesterday I got my haircut. I’m sure it’s gorgeous. I went with my girl, who was climbing the walls (literally) by the time we were done, so I couldn’t get it styled and last night I slept in wet hair. Next month, when I get around to styling it, I’ll love it.

Day before yesterday I put money on the metro card. Day before that, I bought a book from a friend whose press is in danger of going bankrupt.

Groceries? So far, not this week. I’ve been using all the food in the cupboard and fridge (and garden)—you know, that stuff you have but never eat? You don’t realize how much stuff you have in your cupboard from one Pesach to the next (and by “you” I mean “me.”)

Thursday night I went shopping.
Friday: I made vegetarian fajitas for a family with a new baby.
*pan fry slices of portabella mushroom/carrots/zucchini/onions (you can do the mushrooms in your leftover wine).
*Puree black beans with garlic, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper
*cook brown rice
*use whole wheat wraps

from the leftover vegetables, I made Pizza for the weekend at the beach:
dough: 3 ½ cups flour, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 cup warm water, I package yeast, dash of salt, teaspoon honey or molasses.
Knead, let rise twice, roll out.

I made one pizza with goat cheese, mushrooms, onions,
other pizzas I used garden tomatoes & broccoli. Also garden basil.

Weekend at the beach: CAMP outside. Just make sure you bring bug spray. (it’s way cheaper than therapy AND lodging. I don’t feel cranky anymore, and it’s nice to sleep to the sound of frogs).

Monday Eggplant/Tomato stir fry
Garden swap with a friend: Onions, tomatoes, baby eggplant, peppers. Stirfry well, puree, serve over brown rice.

Tue. Tofu, broccoli and garden tomatoes.

Evening snack: white bean dip & vegetables
white beans, pureed with garlic, lemon or lime juice, olive oil, salt.
I served it with celery and carrots and garden tomatoes.

That night I had girlfriends over for a
clothing swap
I’d also done a clothing swap at work the week before.
Now I’ve got chagim clothes, new work clothes, and the satisfaction of knowing people I love are wearing the fabulous things I bought but never wore, or will never be able to wear again. It’s great for accessories and shoes, too.

Wednesday—I was going to make oatmeal and espresso for breakfast. But since my espresso pot exploded this morning (you really should never forget to put in that little screen. Did you know that two servings of coffee can cover two rooms, floor, ceiling, walls, with a fine spray of grinds? Oh well, I can toss the sodden calendar. There’s only one more month on it anyway) my girlfriend who is spending the rest of the week with us, apartment hunting, bought some pastries and coffee. I’m not sure if I’ll count that as my having spent.

Tonight I’m doing salmon croquettes from those cans of salmon I never want to see darken my cabinets again, with celery, egg, shallots and matzoh meal.
remoulade—mix a little wasabi and chili paste in mayonnaise with lemon juice.

When I’m tired of water, coffee and tea I make Ginger-aide
cut fresh ginger into little pieces and pour boiling water over it. Steep for a couple of hours with honey (to taste). Serve cold.

Bon courage!

Sunday, August 09, 2009!

Welcome to Ima Shalom readers! I'm a new contributor, so please allow me to take a few minutes of your time to introduce myself. I'm Foster Ima, a 30-something, single, hesitantly-modern-Orthodox soon-to-be foster mom in a Big City.

Before I say any more, because I'm constitutionally incapable of beginning anything I say or write without a number of disclaimers (including, as with this, a disclaimer about my disclaimers):

1. I confess to using the name "Foster Ima" despite knowing that "FosterEema" already blogs. FosterEema and FosterAbba are a same-sex couple in an unnamed state who recently adopted their daughter from foster care. They have some posts on religion (they have gone to different Reform synagogues over the years) but their blog is very much about parenting and not very much about Jewish parenting.

2. Because of confidentiality laws protecting kids in foster care, I ask that if you are able to discern my identity, please keep it private. I also ask that you let me know that you are reading, just because, well, I'm curious.

Now, back to me.

I started reading foster and foster-adopt blogs about a year ago. I was looking for blogs about foster parenting from a Jewish perspective, but with the exception of FosterAbba's, which at the time was private, I wasn't able to locate any. (I still haven't, in fact, so if you know of one, please let me know!) After reading for a number of months, I started blogging myself. My original intent was to be a resource for other relatively observant Jews who are fostering or who are thinking about it. I recognize now that along with that purpose, my blog may also serve as a bit of a way to seek feedback on my parenting, and to help me clarify issues that I face with my kiddos.

Here, however, I will try to be more focused. On what, I haven't decided yet. As I'm not yet licensed (after nearly--or over, depending on when you start counting--a year), I don't know what my experiences will be and what is worth blogging about. I may start with a post or three about the licensing process and about fostering while Jewish.

I welcome feedback, so please comment freely!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

All in the family

I always feel like I should be beginning a blog post with "Dear Diary." Ha.

What is it like to be a part of a dysfunctional family? (See Gluckel raising hand wildly and shrieking "Call on ME! Call on ME!").

I think I am a part of one, and also married into one. No, I'm certain of it.

This month, my father lost his job. It was expected for quite some time, and he and my also unemployed (but purposefully) mother don't seem to be too upset about it. They have a cushion, she is over retirement age and he is nearing it, and they have good health insurance. Woot.

But wait, you say, where's the dysfunction? My parents told me not to discuss it with my grandmothers. Fine, I can do that. a 90 year old and a 94 year old don't need to hear about it from their granddaughter. But when my grandmother and I speak and she goes ON and ON about how glad she is that my dad is doing well at work, that things are going smoothly, that she spoke to him just yesterday and he sounded so good....well, that seems pretty unacceptable. What would you have said?

Parenthetically, this is from the parental set who have always kept secrets... like when my sister was hit by a UPS truck on her bike, when my father had triple bypass, when my mother had a stent put in and it burst and she was hospitalized for a week (yes, heart disease, I get it). I didn't find out about any of this stuff till after it was a done deal.

Then, just in case you thought my family was disfunctional all alone, same thing happens on the inlaws' side. Grandma is hospitalized less than a mile from my house? Don't tell us till it's been more than 24 hours, because who would want to visit? More o' the same.

I wonder what purpose this all serves. For me, it's caused me to worry. Which is kind of funny because my parents have always said to me, "well, it'll all be fine, we didn't want you to worry, which is why we didn't tell you in the first place." I know that's why they're not sharing their bad news with my need to worry them about something that might upset them.

But isn't it the responsibility of the people we love the most to be there for us when we need them? Isn't that why we surround ourselves with family and friends who can be there, comfort us emotionally and physically, give us a lasagne or invite us over for dinner, or just call us to offer words of support?

I know that many of you secret keepers out there might disagree with me. But I see it as my job in life to be a supportive person; it is my responsibility to every other human being with whom I have a relationship, even a tiny one. I fail regularly but that doesn't mean I don't try. And I resent not being given the chance to be the supportive, loving and concerned child, sister or friend that I can be.

So an open plea to all my relatives/inlaws, and all of you for that matter...
please, don't keep any secrets from me. I can handle the truth. Moreover, so can you. We're all tougher than we realize.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

$5 Dinner, Kosher-Style

When you come down to the financials of it, I'm poor.

Now, I feel kind of uncomfortable saying that, since when you come down to it I:

-have a 2-bedroom apartment in a posh section of town (thank you, rent control)
-have about a year's-worth of "just-in-case" savings in the bank
-can afford to feed myself and my family 3 square meals a day
-have cable tv, a car, a computer and lots of other "luxury" items
-have an expensive and high-quality education

So call myself "poor" is kind of an insult to actual poor people, and I apologize for that.

But then again...there are those financials. I just make ends meet. Technically speaking, when your income and your expenses match exactly...when you are waiting for a paycheck to clear in order to pay your rent, isn't that technically "hand-to-mouth"?

There's also the business of the Joneses, whom for this forum I'll call the Schwartzes. The Schwartzes have at least one lawyer in the family, or maybe a lawyer and a consultant. The Schwartzes can afford a house. The Schwartzes go out to eat on a weekly, not quarterly, basis. The Schwartzes don't mull over small luxury purchases for ages...they go for it, knowing that it won't cut into their grocery money.

Ah, the Schwartzes. I envy them, it's true. But I'm also a little smug...after all, our small paychecks are mostly due to our choices to work in the non-profit-world and academia, respectively. We are a glamorous, bohemian kind of poor. We were recessionistas before it was stylish.

The good news is that besides being poor, I'm also pretty cheap. Even when I have money, I don't part with it easily. Which is why I am rather in love with this website, Of course, their recipes--while inspiring--can often be kind of traify.

So, in the spirit of $5 dinners, I submit to you our delicious dinner from last night, cooked by our very own Frugal Chef, Abba.

$5 Curry
1 onion, chopped, sauteed
3 sweet potatoes
2 cans of chick peas
1 can diced tomatoes
a bit more liquid and spices to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, curry powder)
Cook in covered sautee pan until sweet potatoes are soft and delicious, stirring occasionally.
Serve with brown rice.


Dear friend,

I’m sorry I missed your birthday/engagement /welcome home /farewell/celebrate the new job party. I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you to the movie/the beach/cocktail hour/hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. I think I was washing toddler training pants in the sink at the time.

In fact, I’ve not gone out motzi Shabbat since 2006. Don’t take it personally. But if you stop inviting me I’m going to be really p.o.ed and I’ll blog about you.

Maybe it’s the heat and humidity that makes my hair go all crazy and I don’t have time to straighten it so I feel like the wicked witch of the west.

Or maybe it’s the stupid face-book news feeds in which my so-called friends casually note that “life is so tedious without the wine and cheese literati, so I went to the race tracks and bid on a horse called The Plot Thickens.” Or “I’m hopping on a plane to Sweden in ten minutes.” Or “5-hour work out, salsa dancing, and now I’m having dinner on the beach.”

Okay, so I’m window-shopping at the borders of tenure. Academic tenure is going to change my life and make me thinner, wittier, 5 years younger; it’ll make my hair straighter, my wardrobe stylish and my life much more exciting.

Until then, I’ve got to put up with news of friends who just bought 5 bedroom turn-of-the-century house in places where there is a social life for the price of my yearly rent of my tiny apartment.

Here’s what I think. If you don’t have a house and you’re not a wife, you shouldn’t have to be a housewife. I know there are lots of wonderful, exciting, happy and fulfilled housewives out there. Good for you. I’m just saying, housewife = house + wife. Those are the rules. I didn’t make them up. Who am I going to complain about being the maid if there’s no one for me to complain to? I can say “why do I feel like a maid” to my daughter, and she looks at me with an expression like, “duh.”

Here’s what else I think: I shouldn’t have to smell pickled herring and raw onions on anyone’s breath at 7 am. That’s 7 in the morning. Especially not on the breath of a 30-month-old. And G-d forbid, you shouldn’t have to smell it at lunch again, too.

Look, I never complained when my daughter had fallen into the 3rd percentile in weight last year. Did anyone hear me complain? No, they didn’t. Someone’s got to be in the 3rd percentile, right? Or the whole math system would be messed up.

Honestly, I didn’t mind. The grocery bills were cheaper. She was lighter to carry around. She fit into last year’s clothes, so I didn’t have to shop. I knew she’d eat when she needed to. She was still 3 lbs heavier than I was when I was her age. So why is it that when she eats like crazy now, she has to eat crazy food? How many other people make their two and a half year olds brush their teeth three times in the morning?

All I want to know is what a screwdriver is doing in my make-up case. I wouldn’t mind a liquid one, but this one’s made of metal. Where the rare, import CD that I thought about for 3 years before I splurged on it is. The cover was spread all over the living room floor when I got home. Why are my pearls are in the back of my daughter’s baby stroller. Was she going to barter them for stickers?

Today my colleague caught me in the hall and told me, Maya, this is all there is in life. Today. That’s it.

That’s easy for him to say. He’d just come back from a summer writer’s colony in Denmark followed by a vacation in Eastern Europe. He was tanned, relaxed, and his biceps were nicely defined from lifting steins of beer.

I know, life is precious. I'm so lucky to have my sweet, loving, adorable genius child. Whatever. I need a vacation.
I’m going to time-out now.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Things I Can Manage

I've been a little pre-occupied with freak tragedy lately. It may have started early in the year, when my half-sister and her husband, may their memories be a blessing, suddenly died in a massive car-crash. They had no children, but they had a life together which was wiped out in one blow.
A month or so ago a friend called me to share news of a young mother with a brain tumor. I'm not friends with the woman--there were times in my life (long past) that I might even have considered her my nemesis--but MAN that news hit me hard. Cut me deeper, I am ashamed to admit, than even the loss of my own half-sister. I cried, on and off for days thinking of what must be going on in her mind as she watches her young daughters play happily, unaware that the ground beneath their feet has shifted.

At a simchat bat today, running after my crazy toddler, I was taken aback when I was reminded just how many of the mother's aunts and uncles perished in the Holocaust. As she described how her grandmother managed to save her one aunt, recently deceased, I thought briefly about the torment of trying to raise a child in such a freakishly horrific time.

Accidents happen, illness happens, even Nazi Germany could happen again. Save a helmet and some good advice, I can't protect my son from something terrible happening to one--or both--of us. When I think too much about this, things feel very dark. Which is why, perhaps, I channel my worrying into "did he eat enough does he need another diaper don't let him run down the stairs." These things, I can manage.