Courage

This morning my daughter called me from New York City all excited about the progress she has been making with settling in. It’s no small feat for a 19 year old to organize her schooling, find an apartment and learn her way around the city. I’m really proud of her and, to be honest, amazed that she can handle it all so gracefully and with a smile. Yes, I offered to go with her but she felt I’d be in the way, so I backed off; hard for any mother to do but especially for this mother. Raising 10 children has changed my personality into one I like to call “the general”. Am I a control freak? Possibly. Do I always succeed? Definitely NO!

I don’t like to admit it, but I’m not the most adventurous type. I don’t like roller coasters, I don’t like fast cars and I don’t like New York City. So to put it in her words (kindly said), “my coming to help is akin to babysitting”. I could have gotten really insulted by her remark but before I reacted, I thought for a moment and realized, “yes, she’s right. I don’t know my way around and she’d have one more thing to worry about.” So I let go. That being said, my “mother” instincts are stronger than my fears, so if she needs me, I will come.

How many times have we talked and talked and not been heard? As mothers we tend to see the world differently. “If only they would listen, they’d avoid a lot of pain and be happy.” We want to make everyone feel better, especially those we love. There are days that I wish my kids were still little and their troubles could be taken care of by a band aid, a kiss and a candy. “All better now.”

As our children grow we need to learn to let go. We need to talk less and do less. In this way, we will be heard more. We need to trust that we raised them to be independent responsible adults. We need to trust ourselves enough to know that they, our children, will be okay — they will survive. And most importantly, we need to give ourselves permission to let go. When our children know we are there for them, on the sidelines, ready to give a hand when needed, whether it is a band aid, a kiss, a candy, a word or just an ear, it gives them the courage to go out into the world and begin their lives. Less talk, less doing for — less noise — is more powerful a teacher than anything said.

Balance

I need to BREATH! Trapped is the first word that comes to mind, frustration another, and the list goes on. Trapped, frustrated, suffocated, angered, inadequate, ______, _______, ________. You fill in the blanks! It’s the end of the summer and everyone has an agenda. This one’s going away to college for the first time and is nervous, that one’s going away to high school and hates all the rules. “We need to go here, we need to go there , we need need need” and… “we need your car” and even better “we need your attention”.  It’s everything and anything. Then there’s the new technology.  “Oh, you need to talk with me? Just send me a text.”  I’ve five million things to do and can’t seem to get anything done. I’ve got so many needy people NEEDING me! Yes, I get it… I’m the MAMA, they’ve got my love. I’m fulfilled and overwhelmed, all at the same time…  but it’s nice when someone makes me a sandwich occasionally. Did I mention that I LOVE GIFTS?

The other day I got a book in the mail, “Pink Hair and Chocolate”, written by Laura Lavigne my mentor and friend. She is an inspiration to me. Out of the blue, she sent it to me. It was such a wonderful random act of kindness and love. How did she know I needed just that?  On the cover is a half eaten chocolate cookie. I want that cookie!! (Kosher of course.)

In this society we are taught that self-centered is selfish. “It’s better to give than to receive”… we’ve all hear that one. “Give and you’ll be a better person.”  I challenge those statements.

There has to be a balance of giving and receiving. As a woman, a wife and a mother, if all I do is give… what am I teaching those around me. If I don’t also take for myself, how will they understand that learning how to receive is as important as learning how to give? Receiving humbles us; it teaches us to be open to others; it teaches us love.  Love to others and love to ourselves. If we love ourselves, we love others.  There has to be a balance.

Today I am going to take better care of myself. Today I am going to let others know when their demands are too much. Today I am going to learn to say no. Easy for me to write, hard for me to initiate. So I think I’ll begin with “baby steps”…I’ll learn some balance, when to say yes and when to say no and maybe I’ll even start a schedule for myself… or maybe not.

Amazing! Already I feel better!

Mindfulness

This past week I have been to the Mall of America at least 3 times. For the uninitiated, the Mall of America is the largest mall in the United States and the second largest mall in North America. With 4.2 million square feet and over 520 retail stores, a trip to this mall isn’t a walk in the park. Yesterday, my daughter and I went looking for much needed skirts and a wedding gift for a friend. We had a plan and knew exactly which stores to go to. We were at the mall for 2 hours and though we didn’t find any skirts, we did find some shirts and the perfect wedding gift. I considered the trip a success.

We all have needs and desires. How many of us take the time to plan for them or to put thought in to them? Many of us go through life just living and hoping that things work out, or worse, panicking when we are overwhelmed. There is a better way. I’m not saying that everything we do needs planning, but we would save ourselves much time and headache by being more mindful of the major things in our lives. Having a plan helps, being open to the possibility of changing it, allows us the freedom to trust ourselves. Like our trip to the mall, we had a plan, we allowed ourselves room for interpretation and we came home satisfied.

By setting goals for ourselves and using tools to help us attain those goals, our lives become clearer and richer for it.

A Visit to Gramma

Amira & Shoshi

Nitzy & Shneur

Two of my daughters are visiting their grandmother in Rhode Island with their new babies. I’m so happy! Why is it that, as mothers, we are happy that our kids see eachother even if we’re not there with them? Shneur is 4 months old and Shoshi is 6 weeks.

The newest members of the Drori clan

My Imaginary Wall

I told myself that I’d write a post at least once a week. However, each time I start, my mind goes blank. Why is it, every time we commit ourselves to something, a wall rises up? How can I get past it? Should I climb over it? Dig under it? Crash through it? Or just simply walk away?

Climbing over seems like a lot of work, not to mention the exhaustion. Digging sounds like fun but would take too long, and crashing through it…well, it’s a wall!! So I do what any sensible person would do, I walk away… but not for good. When I’m ready, when I’m not feeling as pressured, when I can breath again, I return and, amazingly enough, either it’s gone or has gotten small enough for me to go through it, over it, or around it.

We all experience our “walls” at some time to different degrees. They are usually of our own creation and we are the only ones that can make them disappear, or make them more surmountable. The trick is not to give up! If it’s still too hard, allow yourself to take a deep breath, to give yourself a break and to reach out to someone else. Our life’s journey is always better walking with a friend.

Loving By Letting Go

Fun at the Children's Museum

Today my oldest daughter, her husband and their 4 children are going back to their home in California. They have been here for one glorious month. I find that I keep looking at the clock and counting down the hours until they leave for the airport, not out of relief, but out of sadness. This month has been amazing. Yes, there was the mess, the occasional fights, mainly by my children and her’s :), but mostly, there was a lot of laughter, joy and love. My oldest is 29, my youngest 10, there are no babies here anymore. It’s been a wild ride and so much fun.

I live in a place where my children all have had to go away to school by age 14. A few also went to school out of the country for a year. The first time my oldest child (a girl) went away at 14 it was hard, but when she left the country for the first time, that was tough.  She went to England and flew out the day before Princess Diana was buried. She left in August and was 17 years old. I think I’ll always remember how I felt when I put her on that plane. Excited, proud, nervous, miserable excited, proud…. Did I let her know?… no way..but as we drove home from the airport, I cried. My baby, my oldest, my angel…leaving ME…growing up. I was so mad…who gave her permission to grow up! I sure didn’t.  By Feb I missed her way too much and she started getting homesick so we flew her home. For one short week. But when she left, she smiled and told me she was fine and not to worry…so I trusted her and I didn’t cry…much. Part of my strength came from the fact that I knew it was Feb and she’d be back home in June. She went native, knew the subway system like she was born there, went to Scotland took tons of pics of castles and fields and said “this is for you Ema”, Belgium and other places that I don’t even remember. Brought me back earthy gifts that I cherish b/c it came from her heart. Then a few years passed and another left, this time to South Africa…he was gone for a year. I cried when I hugged him goodbye and he laughed and said, “I’ll be fine”…was he talking about me or him? We had no money to fly him home, I had a baby while he was gone and he met her when she was already 8 months old…his first comment, with tears in his eyes when he held her was, “I’ve missed her so much and can’t believe I’m meeting her only now”. But while he was there, he traveled all over South Africa, spent a week on horseback in Lasutu and gained a confidence that still amazes me. I missed him like crazy. Another went to Israel for a year, another to Australia, another to Germany. Each time, I was proud, excited and angry all at the same time. Each time I said, “who gave you permission to grow up?” Not me!! Now my older ones who are 29.. 28.. 26.. 23.. 21…tell me, “don’t discourage them (the next ones)  from going. It’s the best time for them and after, they’ll appreciate the little things more”. Even though none of my older children live in Minnesota, they are near me. They have a connection to me that many parents don’t have with their children. I thank G-d every day for all the gifts I have been given. I’m even beginning to like my sons-in-law :)

I still complain, I still whine, I still kevetch…”come live near me…I’ll babysit for free…I’ll make you meals everyday” “Dam, I need a private jet!” …nothing works but I’m beginning to realize that because I allowed them their “freedom”, they’ve moved closer to me. Not everything has to be physical. Does it ever get easier?…NO…but this is part of living and loving.

Having children is a gift, raising them is an art. As soon as we accept that we are not in charge, that we are their caretakers, their protectors, their mentors, then everything begins to fall into place (until they become teenagers!). All we need are the “tools” for raising wonderfully well-rounded little people who will, G-d willing, turn into wonderfully well-rounded responsible adults. After all, there are two different ways of looking at things and living life; one with a smile, the other with a frown; either way, we are present and living it. It’s your choice!