Monday, November 26, 2012

Little monster

I don't know how it happened.  My first two kids are so calm and well-behaved.  Even baby #4, at a mere three months, has a pretty good routine and doesn't fuss much.  So how did I end up with such a monster for kid #3?

So sweet...sometimes
In his defense, he has his wonderfully sweet side too and at times I just want to cover him in kisses.  But really, he's had the same upbringing and discipline as the others, so why can't I take him out in public without him making a scene?  My oldest is also strong-willed, but she doesn't hold a candle to this one.

Today my "sin" was helping him into the car when I picked him up from preschool.  He was climbing in and I gave him a little boost...and then his world came crashing down.  I didn't have time to deal with his drama there, so I just fastened his seat belt and started driving home.  He screamed the whole way.  He threw his backpack at me while I was driving.  I yelled, that's naughty and you could make me crash the car!  He threw whatever else he could get his hands on.  I pulled over and spanked him.  He didn't care.

Once we were home he refused to leave the car.  Sometimes in this situation I haul him in, kicking and screaming, and dump him in his bed until he calms down.  But I'm sick right now and so tired, so I thought I'd try a more passive approach.  Fine, I told him, I'm going inside and you'll be here all alone.  After a minute, when I could see he wasn't going to join me, I ran out to check on him.  He had climbed into the driver's seat where he was simultaneously releasing the hand break while trying to light a match.  Little monster.

I cut his hair before he even turned three, contrary to the popular Jewish custom.  Hoped and prayed the change would help calm him down a little...and it has.  This is him being calmer now.  I would wish on him that he should have children just the same, but that would be unfair to his wife.  I still love the little booger to pieces and wouldn't trade him for the world...most days.

I'm reminded of a story, told by Rebbitzen Heller, of a mother whose child was playing on the roof and knocked down the solar hot-water tank.  She could have screamed and freaked out, but she kept her cool by asking herself in ten years, is this something he'll have grown out of or is it a serious character flaw?  He'll grow out of it, of course.  There were still consequences for the trouble he caused, but she didn't have to stress about it beyond that.  I'm trying to get to that level...but what can I do in the meantime until he finally does grow out of it?

Do you have a strong-willed child?  How do you deal with differences in your children's temperaments?  What do you do when they throw a twenty-minute fit in public?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunshine in my frying pan

It's raining.  Here in Israel we're ever so happy for it, but it does get a bit gloomy by the third day in a row.  Went out to my favorite spot in the forest today; stood in the rain and hugged a tree, hoping that no one could see me making a fool out of myself.  Its bark was rough and wet, but it felt good.  The dying foliage, still clinging to the branches, hung heavy with precipitation.  Suddenly the sun broke through; drops of rain turned to crystals and new growth glistened beneath the old.  It never looks quite the same, but it does grow back.

I've started swimming again.  It's been 15 years since I raced with the Castle Hills Forest Eels and my strokes don't have the same form or speed that they used to, but no one is judging me now.  Still, the lack of competition can get...well, a little boring.  So when my husband said that he swam ten consecutive laps of breaststroke last week, I had to one-up him and do twelve before switching strokes.  My new neighbor, also a mother of four, passed along a few tips for isolating certain abdominal muscles.  I've got a grand canyon running down my middle, so I tried them out today.

After a long swim, my stomach is growling and so is Yahli Tiferet's.  Once her marathon nursing session comes to an end, I light a fire on the stove.

My mother wasn't famous for her cooking, but I always loved her egg-in-the-island...just had to scrape the black parts off.  It's an easy meal that works for breakfast, lunch or dinner, making it the best friend of every mother and college student alike.

use a glass to make a hole for the egg
save the circles and toast them in the pan afterwards

crack an egg into each slice
stare at the bright yellow until you start smiling
opt: pinch each yolk to break if you don't like them runny

serve with sliced veggies and cottage cheese for a well-rounded meal

Friday, November 9, 2012

Baby blues

This has been difficult for me to write about.  In general, blogging has stretched me beyond my limits of being open with my feelings and experiences.  I'm normally a very private person, but I hope that this post can help anyone going through the same thing--not to feel so alone as I do now.

About 80% of new mothers get the "baby blues" so it shouldn't come as a surprise if I feel it too, right?  Of course, it's supposed to be an overwhelmingly happy time in life-- enjoying those precious moments of motherhood with your new little bundle of joy.  Sometimes though, due to hormones, stress, lack of sleep, body changes, family dynamics, or other circumstances, you loose sight of that happy part and it's just plain overwhelming.

Most of the time, it quickly fades and you find your new rhythm within a few weeks.  I would say you return to normal, but it's not the same normal you knew before the baby--even if it's not your first.

But it's not going away and I can't stop crying.  Then I feel guilty for being unhappy and cry again.  Then I yell at my son not to squish the baby, then I feel guilty, then...well, you get the point.  Some days it's hard to get out of bed.  I have lost interest in the activities that I used to enjoy.

Of course, if we physically break something in our bodies, we don't hesitate to seek the help we need to fix it.  But mental health has a bit of a stigma to it.  And in the absence of physical symptoms, it can be harder to realize that there is a problem.  After all, it's just in your head.

I'll admit to being a bit of a perfectionist.  It has it's perks, but there are downsides to it as well.  Perfectionism has driven me to accomplishments beyond my years.  I mean, how many 28 year-olds have visited thirteen countries, lived in four different ones on three continents, are approaching their ten-year anniversary with four children, have a good career that they love, run a charity shop, etc.  But it's also crippling when I don't/can't live up to my own high expectations.  If I don't manage to also bake bread from scratch, read bedtime stories and put away all the laundry before the day ends, I feel like a failure.

I've been through this before, I thought, it'll get better soon.  And then, there I was, sitting across from the nurse at the two-month Tipat Chalav checkup, crying like crazy for no reason.  She pulled out a self-test for new mothers (similar to this one) created by the Health Ministry.  If you circle too many answers a certain way, do they take your kids away?  I cheated a little, but still ended up with a high enough score that she gave me the phone number of a clinic in Tzfat.

It took me a couple of days, but I finally called for an appointment.  We'll send you some forms in the mail, said the voice on the phone, fill them out, mail them back, and we'll get in touch with you.  Israeli bureaucracy strikes again!  Luckily, the other nurse who works there is my neighbor.  Told her what happened and in less than 90 seconds I had an appointment.  Finally, I've lived here long enough to have a little protexia.

So, there, I've taken the first step.  I'm a little nervous about my appointment on Sunday.  Will I like the doctor?  Will I freeze up?  Does she speak any English?  Will I spend the whole time crying?

I'll find out soon...