I’ve been home all day with a sick baby, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Of course I’m not happy that she’s sick, I’m just grateful for the reminder of how fortunate we are to have everything we have, and to be able to take a moment to appreciate it all. It is so easy, especially at this time of year, to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and spending and giving and remembering to check all the “memory making” activities off the list.
Today, my feverish, shmushy girl kept me inside and kept my mind on the moment, engaged and full of love. I’m at my best when I’m needed, and while I’ve been distracted from all of my introspection, I feel like I finally settled in to the holiday spirit while I was stuck in the house doing five loads of laundry. Last night Ella threw up and Ben wet the bed, so today I washed pretty much every single textile we own. In the midst of this, I wasn’t thinking about much of anything, but now that it is quiet and tonight’s candles are burning, I’m feeling so full of gratitude for my family and the effort we make to know each other. The effort Mo and I make to offer each other and the kids not just what we feel comfortable giving, but what the other needs. I believe that is the best kind of gift to receive, any time of year. I will take a moment to center myself and look objectively at my family and myself, and think of one thing I can do for each of us that may or may not be comfortable or easy for me. I know a gift that Mo needs is to be treated with kindness and love when he is feeling frustrated, even though that is the moment I want to run away and shut him off. I know Ben is finally really feeling the addition of a family member now that things have quieted down from all the moving and Ella is becoming more of a person. He needs me to stop everything and take him out for one on one time at some point every week. Ella needs more silliness, hugs, and tickles that bring out her ridiculous laugh. I can be so serious when I’m alone with her and I forget sometimes that she loves to laugh, and I do too.
What do I need? This is always the most difficult question for me! As my friend and midwife Leigh says, “When a woman takes care of herself, everything else gets taken care of.” I think what I need, is to really believe that it is good and necessary for me to enjoy myself, whatever that looks like. It seems simple, but it’s not about what I’m doing, it’s about how I feel about what I’m doing. I’ll keep trying, and let you know what I discover.
It is easy for me to look around my life and see what is missing, see what I want, what I hope for, the emptiness in certain places that is so hard to feel. My greatest hope is to look around my life and see it honestly, see what I hope for and work toward it, and see what is already beautiful and be thankful. Today I was thankful for the mundane tasks I was doing because they are so much less stressful than what I was doing one year ago at this time. Last December we finally decided to try to leave Israel and make plans to come back to the states.
We moved to Israel in the summer of 2011. We didn’t just move there, we became Israeli citizens. The decision to give away most of our belongings and get on the plane with open hearts and a three year old was based in a feeling of “meant to be.” We didn’t know what would be, but we knew we were walking through each open door that presented itself. When I say open I mean not necessarily easy, but with a feeling of “this is right.” As soon as we stepped off the plane that feeling disappeared and we felt lost. We realized that we were in for a difficult time. Something didn’t feel so free and right as we had expected. Obstacle after obstacle appeared in our path, and we worked and worked and did our best to see the best in everything, to keep going, to enjoy the bright side. We realized that of course we had to go to Israel, so all of our issues could come rising right to the surface where we would see them. We began to work through and unpack all the baggage that comes with life. This is not a fun activity. This does not feel like an open doorway. It feels like a mountain to climb, like being stuck in the mud, like being alone in a forest at night, like falling off the edge of something. I fell off the edge of myself. I am so grateful that I let myself fall. I felt that fear and I am still afraid sometimes. What I realized is that like the earth is round, I don’t really have any edges, and I’ll just keep going around. I am so glad I have these loves to go around with me.