Now I’m hot. And tired. And minus one chair in the living room.

The problem is that my rocking recliner that we got off of freecycle is so battered and beat up and just ugly I wanted to switch it out. I happen to have a lovely chair in my bedroom (yes, I keep extra living room chairs in my living room, got a problem with that?). But once I started shoving stuff around – I don’t know what happened. It suddenly seemed as though we needed something new, a fresh vantage point… and now I had to move everything around, my arms are sore and we don’t have room for the chair after all. Marc is not going to be happy about this – but hey, I’m the one who’s home all the time and looking at it, right?

Not that I didn’t love him before, because of course I did, but he’s TALKING now. We can have conversations and chat, and he’s so fascinating to me. He’s got this amazing sense of humor and he’s so sweet… I remember Jessie at this age, and it’s incredible to me that I lucked out to have not just one, but TWO kids who blow me away with their intelligence and sweetness.

With Jessie, her babyhood was so wonderful, she was such an angel baby for me. I loved it when she was so tiny and sweet and cuddly, and it just grew from there. But Sam was so colicy and fussy and so miserable, I remember thinking that he was bonded closer to the ceiling fan than me – at least he smiled more consistently at it. I think this is my favorite age with him. He’s so relaxed and chipper all the time. Stubborn and insistent and emotional like his sister, but with this level of emotional stability like his dad 🙂

At five and a half, shouldn’t she be outgrowing this tendency? We just survived a major freak out fit, all starting because I couldn’t take my baby girl to see the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert that was in Worcester last year sometime. She barely managed to get herself under control when all hell broke loose with screaming and crying because … I don’t actually know. It had something to do with the concert that I had so helpfully recorded for her, but she was crying too hard to actually get it out. Jumping up and down, screaming, shaking with rage… I sent her to her room twice, once she stormed off to my room… it was horrible. Confusing, because I’ve only had the one cup of coffee, and still can’t figure out what set it off… she finally calmed down, and let me hold her, and she’s crying so hard and her little face is so distraught, and I’m thinking “why on earth do you do this to yourself?”

Why is it that when Marc’s not here (like tonight) my house is perfectly clean, my dishes not only washed, but put away, coffee made for tomorrow, both children clean, read to, and asleep by eight o’clock? When Marc is here, in theory, with two adults, it should be a million times easier to run my little household. And I know that I’m incredibly lucky to have such an amazing husband and father to my children – but why, when he’s here, are the kids running around fully dressed at nine with toys scattered around the living room? I speculate that perhaps it’s because when he comes home, the kids get an adrenaline rush and are harder to settle, but fear it might be that I expect him to be another me, and then think that I only have to do half of my job. I think that’s really what it is – I have this inflated expectation that when he’s here, he should be able to be fully on-board with what I want to get done (not that it’s selfish stuff, I want to get the house picked up and kids in bed at a reasonable hour). But the way it works out, when Marc is here, usually we squabble because I’m constantly expecting him to be right there, changing diapers and cleaning up toys, and he’s trying to relax and chill out. Everything is tougher. Unless I pretend that he isn’t here, which works out better – because then when he does step up and assist (and to be fair, unless he’s trapped in the computer game and can’t think beyond it, he always does), it’s just a bonus.

Either way, he’s not here tonight and I’m lonely and sad without him. As is my Jessica, she wants Daddy to wake her up when he gets home and take her to the bathroom and say shema with her. I’m probably spelling it wrong, but she really enjoys it and since I don’t know the words, it’s a Daddy/Jessie thing.

Jessie’s staying dry thru the night. To be perfectly honest, she’s still wetting the bed, but trying to stay dry – no more pull-ups at night. She really wants to – and I’m optimistic that it’ll work. Plus she wants to do it – which is, in my extensive experience of potty training the one child – is the key. Trying to do it when you’re the only one who wants to is monumentally pointless.

Sam went down to bed really early tonight, which was so lovely. Not only because he’ll get a good night’s sleep, but because I got to put my little girl to bed like I used to – when it was just the two of us. I read to her in her bed, switched off the light, we talked a little bit, and then I sang her to sleep with her special lullaby. I have one for each kid, Jessie’s is sung to the tune of Mockingbird, but since I couldn’t ever remember the words, I made some up “Mama’s going to buy you a great big pig. If that piggie gets too fat, Mama’s going to buy you a little cat…” Sam’s is sung to the tune of My Little Sunshine – and the best part is that one has a million little versions. His favorite is “You are my Sammy, my baby Sammy…”

Shabbat dinner is the part of Judaism I can really get behind… it was my favorite part from the very beginning. And I’m thrilled to betsy about it today… I have my challah rising, plans for everyone to get a nice bath and have the house clean and pretty in preparation. I think this is such a lovely tradition and it’s so important to me, I think, because we didn’t really do it all that often when I was little. Or when my poor mother tried, Scott usually managed to stage some huge drama that ruined the whole thing.

Okay, so I kept my girl home from camp today. All was going well, I got her dressed and off to school fine, brought her inside, and she was uncharacteristically clingy. Like, wouldn’t get off my leg, clingy. But I presevered, gave her a kiss and put away her back pack and told her I’d come and get her in a few hours. I felt… not right about it, though. So I spied on her for a bit thru the window, like a stalker. She didn’t know I was there, and I promised myself that I’d stay just until I knew that she was okay. She was standing all alone over by the window, looking lost and sad. Miss Beth came over and tried to talk to her for a bit, but she got distracted and poor Jess was still just standing up against the window, not talking to anyone.

I argued with myself, do I make her stay? We paid for her to attend, I want her to learn to be independent and brave and confident, she’s a big girl now, going off to kindergarten, I can’t let her stay home because she’s too shy… but the other side of the argument was that I suspect she’s getting sick, due to a phenominal amount of crying yesterday, it’s not kindergarten yet, it’s just summer camp and she’s only five… The amount of time when I’d be able to rescue her and take her home with me is dwindling – once she starts school, it won’t be an option, really, and the time when she rather be anywhere other than with her mother is fast approaching – the past five and half years went by fast enough for me to know that the next ten will fly by… twenty years from now, am I going to be happy that I left my little girl or that I let her come home with me?

The twenty years thing decided me – I just had a yucky feeling about leaving her there, and knew I’d regret it. So I poked my head in the door, and said her name, and she looked up at me with those big, big brown eyes filled up with tears, and I brought her home with me.

Actually found myself thinking this earlier.

I’m bored. I’m never bored. Sometimes bored, but never lonely. But I don’t have Harrison any more during the day, hopefully a temporary situation, and quite honestly, Sam is getting to be a lot bigger and more independent. By himself, and a lot of the time, he’s the only one I have here, he’s charming and funny and sweet, but not all that demanding. I’ve got time on my hands. And I don’t know quite what to do with it all.

Converting to any religion should be a big deal, but it seems as though converting to Judaism is a bigger deal than most. And it’s something that occupies my thoughts more and more these days, struggling to honor who I am and what I want to raise my children with and reconciling that with my husband. I feel as though I’m putting a lot more effort into this than he is, and sometimes it’s so frustrating. Especially because it is such a lonely process, there’s nobody who understands or supports what I’m doing. Not really. My family loves me but their main concern is that I not go too far, not lose what I am in this. My husband loves me as well, but his concern is that I go far enough, that I make the sacrifices and do it well enough so that our kids grow up as Jewish as my stepchildren do. There is nobody who I can talk to that really understands where I’m coming from, who understands the conflicting loyalties I feel, to my family, to my husband, to the Jewish people, to myself.

The overall goal is to have a Jewish household, with Jewish kids. 100%, totally committed, Jewish kids. But is that fair? To me, to them? After all, I’m not Jewish yet, and even after converting, I’m still not ever going to have had a Jewish childhood, I can’t give them the traditional Jewish Bubbie. I give them my mother, and I think they’re better off because of that. But that flies in the face of what Judaism is supposed to be – never, never have intermarriage, you must be all Jewish, all the time. If I accept that precept, I have to acknowlege that my marriage is wrong, that my children should never have been born. Marc should have stuck with his own kind, and I would have been better off not stealing Jewish seed to make non-Jewish children. I’m exaggerating for effect a little bit, but that’s the way it feels sometimes.

But still – I am trying. Because I love so much about Judaism, because the values and traditions are a part of who they are, I want to give them that. I just worry that I’m getting lost in the process, that what I think, and what I believe, and what I want for them to understand about the world, about the Divine, about other people, is not getting thru. Or won’t get thru. If I do it this way, if I send Jessie to an Orthodox day school, if I teach her to respect a religion that sometimes can be very anti-woman, am I also teaching her that she’s less than her brother? How am I honoring her when I do that? How am I teaching her that her mind is as valuable and as important as his, when the religion places so much more value on the woman as the center of the home, the washer of dishes and the changer of diapers, the keeper of all things domestic?

I don’t want her to think it’s her only option, I don’t want her to believe there’s only one definition of femininity, or for that matter, for Sam to grow up thinking that only women who dress modestly and don’t speak unless they’re spoken to are worthy. I want her to be opinionated and stubborn and to speak out. I want her to be whatever she wants, if that’s a stay at home mom who bakes challah, great. But if it’s a driven business woman who hates to cook, that’s just as good for me. I don’t want her to have to fit into a preconceived notion of what a woman should be, any more than I want Sam to feel as though being a man means following one path, and one path only.

I want them to believe that their lives are filled with wonder and magic. That each of them have been gifted with brilliant minds and caring hearts, and they have the responsibility to use their gifts. I want them to be responsible and considerate, but also confident and able to make their own decisions. I want them to feel as much kinship with my family as they do with Marc’s. I want, I want, I want… I don’t know what I want. Mostly, I want to feel better about this process that I’m going thru.

So I’m sitting on the comfy chair, nursing my mostly sleeping toddler when Jessie and her buddy Glennys come flying out of the bedroom. There’s a bug in there, and they had to evacuate. So I say, go kill it. They both explain that they aren’t going to do it, and I take a deep breath and say “your two year old brother can kill a bug, and you want to tell me that you two are such wimpy, wussy girls that you can’t even kill a bug?” (completely ignoring the fact that I make Marc kill the bugs all the time – classic do as I say, not as a do moment). But anyway, I’m giving them a little feminist lecture – and Sam sits up, still groggy and half asleep, all sweaty and tired, and toddles off, gets himself a shoe and handles the situation.

Are gender roles really that ingrained? Or it is my fault? Is it because Marc kills all of my bugs? Will I have to start killing my own to make sure that my daughter can handle herself? And what about my boy? He’s just two, already cast in the role of hero and savior.

At this very moment, my daughter is sitting in her chair, her baby doll nursing under a nursing blanket “because she needs privacy, Mommy.” My son may be the only two year old boy in the world who walks around pretending to have a baby in his belly. He’s folded a baby doll in half and came to me, frustrated that he couldn’t get her to stay under his shirt. I explained that when you actually have a baby in your belly, the desire is to get them out, not keep shoving them back in. He was adamant, though, and is now walking around glowing with pregnancy ;-).