Archive | January 2016

The synagogue

I’m disconnected from it.

I don’t know why exactly.  I think part of is that I’m was so very involved for a while there, and ended up feeling really unsuccessful.  Part of it is certainly that I was just there all the time, and now need a break.  And of course, the fact that I’m now working part time, combined with the reality that only one of my kids goes to religious school, means that Saturday mornings, I have to stay home and clean.

But I think a part of it is that Jessie’s bat mitzvah is coming up, and I’m not feeling it at the synagogue.   I feel it, all the time.  I feel it, the stress, the worry, the pride, the weight of it – I feel that all the time.  My morning phone calls from my mother when she nags me about the decorations I haven’t bought, when I look at the guest lists with the missing invitations, when I start to panic about the catering.  (By panic, I mean continue to panic about it, because ever since Marc decided it made perfect sense to do it ourselves, I’ve been existing at a low-level of panic on that situation.)

But I don’t feel it at the synagogue.  I feel very unprepared for this bat mitzvah, I feel as though Jessie is woefully unprepared for this.  Despite the fact that she’s been going to Hebrew school since she was five, and studying for this for two years, she still feels lost and overwhelmed.  Worst of all, she feels like she’s not good at it – she feels like a failure and hasn’t even gotten to it yet.  I feel like I don’t have the foggiest idea what she’s doing up there, and even less about what I’m going to be doing.

I’ve got a big support system, friends that you’d kill for, a mother who’s dying to do more.  And I’m sure the bat mitzvah, the whole thing, from the service to the party, will be lovely.  But I’m not connected to the synagogue, and worried about the service.  I worry about the party too – because there’s a lot more logistical stuff going on there for me to panic about, but the service is this huge unknown to me.  All I know is that I don’t entirely know what’s happening, I don’t think Jessie is ready or feels good about her part in it, and I can’t wait until that part is over.

There’s something wrong with the system.  I’m not sure what exactly.  Because it seems like such a lovely idea – to take these kids, on the precipice of adolescence, and have a ceremony where they formally join the community of adults.  Where we say – we love you, so so much, and we’re so happy we have you, and you are ready, now, to be considered an adult in some really significant ways.   You are in charge of your identity, your relationship with the Divine and with your community.  We’ve done our best, we raised you to this point, and you are so ready for this next step.  But the manifestation of this process – the bat mitzvah process, at least for me, as a Jewish convert who’s still feels so very much out of place, it’s seems to be perfectly designed to make me feel like I’m forcing my daughter into a process that makes her feel like a failure, and I have no clue about what I’m doing.

There’s not a lot of support, for the Jewish convert mom trying to get her kid thru this.  Maybe there shouldn’t be, maybe the theory is that once you convert, you’re just good to go,and somehow all the other converts absorb by osmosis how to get this done.  How to not feel baffled and inadequate when it comes to planning this huge party, this enormous service.  Maybe it’s more me – I felt so baffled and inadequate at planning a wedding that I did in my mother’s backyard.  I don’t like planning parties this big.  My idea of a fun party is pizzas and grownups in one room, while the kids run around outside.  I’m good at those parties.  A bat mitzvah is something else entirely.

Seven weeks from yesterday.

End of Christmas Vacation

I’m so tired, I can’t bring myself to start the whole going-to-bed process.  Get Sam his meds, coax them into brushing their teeth, watch Gilmore Girls with my little girl, nag Jessie about her math homework, yell at Sam for not falling asleep yet.  Just.can’t.do.it

I’ve been a little down today.  Partly because there was just so much to do – laundry and dishes and vacuuming and grocery shopping and more laundry.  But mostly because I know that tomorrow is coming, and Sam’s stomach is starting to hurt him again.  He started complaining more and more as the week went on – and while I can deal with him having stomach pain at home, and by that, I mean that HE can deal with it, he distracts himself or snuggles up next to me… having stomach pain at school is a whole different scenario.  Having a stomach ache at school is a recipe for disaster.  It’s phone calls from the nurse, it’s him crying and me feeling awful.  It’s arguing with the principal, it’s explaining to my little guy that he just needs to suffer with it, because he can’t come home.  It’s me feeling like crap, utter and complete crap, and him feeling even worse.

Okay – maybe that’s really what the problem is.

I’m also a little freaked about the bat mitzvah coming up.  Two months to go, I don’t have invitations, I barely have the invite list put together.  My caterer just broke her poor little leg, and I’ve got to find globes and decoration and nametags and cups and silverware and assign the honors and set up an rsvp email.  Oh my God, I get more and more stressed just thinking about it.

So maybe it’s not that I’m tired, it’s that I’m so overwhelmed and stressed that I don’t want to move because then I’ll start thinking again.  Thinking about my little boy, hurting and having to suck it while he’s at school all day with teachers who think he’s faking it.  Thinking about the enormous list of things to do (and pay for) for my daughter’s bat mitzvah, the one she’s spent years dreaming of and planning.  There’s no way I’ll live up to her expectations.

Maybe a good night’s sleep will help.  It’s been a rough several nights here, with New Year’s Eve kicking off a trilogy of nights that ended later and later.  Julie napped the past two days and was up past midnight each night as a result.  So I’m sleepy, and feeling a little bit… overwhelmed and stressed and exhausted.  It’ll get better.  It will, right?

 

A 2015 Retrospective

I didn’t blog anywhere near enough this year.   It was a good year, overall.  Filled with changes and adjustments, and a broadening of everyone’s world.  One of the things that got lost, a little, was my writing, and I’m hoping to do better this year.

But in keeping with tradition, here are my favorite posts from each month…

January – January started the snow.  I think I was also achingly aware that I was starting a big year, one that I’m still coming to terms with.  There were so many changes that happened this year, and even though I saw most of them coming, it was still a struggle to adjust to the new reality.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/kindergarten/

February – I’ve got two this month.  One is my Valentine’s post, and one is about the accident.  Both of these stand out for me, one because I’m still, always, so grateful for all that Marc brought into my life, and I never think I pay enough attention to that, and one because… this is still a memory that makes me panic a little bit, and I find that I’m still dealing with the ramifications today.  The thought of driving down the icy hill scares the bejeezus out of me.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/happy-valentines-day-2/

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/my-kids-probably-wont-be-at-school-tomorrow/

March – I had some computer issues in March, and only blogged a few times.  But this is a sweet little one that still makes me smile…

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/my-boy/

April – Because he still does.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/he-still-cleans-the-vomit/

May – I was just on the cusp of some pretty major changes, with Julie graduating preschool and it was the month before I started working.  So I picked two for this month, one where I seem to be trying to get some clarity on this stage of my life that was ending – and one because seven months later – you still really shouldn’t invite my five kids to Shabbat dinner.  They’re insane.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/and-then-she-was-five/

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/reasons-you-shouldnt-invite-my-five-kids-to-dinner-on-friday/

June – I started working on June 2, and the post for this month is about my first day.  It still kind of feels like my head is spinning…

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/i-dont-know-how-she-does-it/

July – this is one of my favorite memories from this summer.  It really was a great day.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/picnic-fridays/

August – I picked this one, because in so many ways, I loved going back to work.  But in one very specific way, it was (and is) still really hard.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/i-miss-them/

September – this one isn’t a cheerful little post, but September wasn’t a particularly cheerful month for me.  This was one of the reasons why – watching your child struggle is never easy, and not knowing why isn’t even harder.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/crappy-days/

October/November – I was just busy.  Really, really busy.  I barely blogged at all these two months, but this is a pretty good representative of where I was, mentally, those two months.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/stolen-moments-2/

December – This was a good month, overall.  Whether it was because Marc and I are going to be together for 13 years next month, and we’ve just worked thru all the issues, or because I was so busy running between work and kids and laundry and dishes and trying to deal with Sam’s health issues that I just didn’t have time to think about it, I’m not sure.  But it was still December so I’ve got a December Dilemma post as well as a post on Sam’s health issues.

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/december-dilemma-defensiveness/

http://www.melissaannecohen.com/recovery/

 

Happy New Year

I’m not a New Year’s girl, exactly.  Rosh Hashana is my favorite Jewish holiday, so I get my fill of New Year’s feelings back in the fall.  And my birthday is coming up later on in January, and that’s when I do most of my introspective New Year’s stuff, in terms of resolutions and looking back.  But tonight’s New Year’s Eve, and if nothing else, it’s wrapping up the Christmas vacation and that’s worthy of a blog post in and of itself.

Christmas this year was nearly perfect.  It’s never an easy holiday and that’ll probably never really change for me.  Too weighted with emotional baggage from the conversion and family stress – and also too colored by past memories of it being awful.   Too much pressure to make it perfect, this line in the sand that I’ve drawn and insist on celebrating each year.  But it gets easier.  Reclaiming it helps – redefining traditions and doing my best to be gentle with myself.  Christmas eve was spent at my mom’s house, with the kids bopping around and quiet family time.  That night we went out to dinner with all our friends.

One reason I did the Christmas Eve chinese food is that I know there are no guarantees.  And I don’t want them, in terms of my kids celebrating Christmas.  Or being Jewish, for that matter.  They’re going to grow up and may create families that only celebrate Jewish holidays.  They may grow up and become Buddist monks in Tibet as well – but more than likely, whatever religious tradition they follow – Chinese food on Christmas Eve is a tradition that I think will stand the test of time.

Christmas Day was lovely, in the end.  We came home Christmas eve night and put all three kids to bed, and then Marc crashed soon after.  I made hot cocoa for myself, and sat up wrapping presents.  Then I sat on the couch, and wrote my letter from Santa and ate all the cookies.  We had a bunch of friends come over that afternoon for dinner, and in the end, it was actually a lot nicer than I thought it would be.

Glennys came down on Saturday and has been here for the week.  We’ve had some crappy weather, which on the upside, meant that we were home for a few days, with nothing to do but play board games and hang out together.  The downside was that we realized – again – that living on the hill from hell is such a pain in the winter. We were literally stuck on the hill from Monday night until Wednesday afternoon.  But the kids have been great – they’re all old enough to play really well together, mostly.  We had Monopoly marathons, Uno matches that lasted way longer than I thought they should.