Monday, May 18, 2015

When you are just swamped

You don't remember when you've last had a night of uninterrupted sleep. You haven't washed your hair in three weeks. Your friends send anxious messages asking if they've offended you somehow, because you haven't returned their calls for ages. There's a dark unrecognized sticky puddle under your fridge that you are going to tackle as soon as you have the opportunity - and you've been saying this for two months at least.

It seems you are on a treadmill, running and running and never getting anywhere.

Congratulations! You are a Mom to little ones.

Lately, this is the picture of my day-to-day life. Things are actually more intense than when Israel was just born, because he's hit this age when he needs less sleep and more action. So it's not like things don't get done... but admittedly, very little gets done, and this little costs a major effort. The two things that get me through right now are the following:

1. Appreciate the little things. You've washed the dishes? Emptied the garbage can? Wiped the bathroom mirror? Great! So what if these aren't major projects or fancy meals you can show off at the end of the day (because, you know, a sink can refill itself in the span of an hour around here). You still deserve to be appreciated for your efforts in keeping a clean, livable home.

2. Take advantage of the little snippets of time. If the baby is settled down on the rug with a couple of toys, I know I probably don't have hours to rearrange my closet. But I do have five minutes to take the washing off the line or water the house plants.

And, finally, this too shall pass. From my experience babies get a lot better at entertaining themselves once they start crawling. And, in the more distant future, he might find the company of other people to be more exciting than mine. So I'd better enjoy this while it lasts. :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The only thing that matters

As time passes, it is clearer and clearer to me that the most important work we have to do upon this earth is in loving, and showing love to, and caring for the people around us, starting from the people closest to us.

I am very privileged in this sense, at this season of my life. I have many people to love. I have little children at home, who need me many hours out of each day, and therefore I have no lack of opportunity to give love and care in a thousand practical ways. I also get to stay home and do all those things myself. My children never had a diaper changed by anybody else, except perhaps occasionally a Grandma.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of perfect person. I have low tolerance for whining. I snap if a child shows open disobedience. I have all these hobbies and projects and things I like to do on my own, and like every mother of young children, I sometimes desperately wish for a good long restful stretch of quiet time.

But then I look back at the time when Shira was a baby and motherhood was new and overwhelming and I cried because I felt as though I'd never sleep again. Now she's a 6-year-old who gets up and dressed on her own, goes out to the yard to feed the dog and collect eggs, and then proudly tells me all about it. She reads, writes, has her own friends and folds her own socks. I have no idea how this happened, but facts are staring me in the face. It's bittersweet, really. Seasons chase seasons, and as much as I'd want to stop time, even for a day, I can't.

All I can do is enjoy. Enjoy the little downy head that is resting on my chest. Enjoy the playdough art and creative spelling. Enjoy the child who is small enough to sit on my lap, because someday soon she won't be. Enjoy the full house, because one day these little birds will fly out to make their own nest.

Live, love and enjoy the gift. The gift of today.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Raising awareness for National Women's Checkup Day

Recently I had the honor of being contacted by Heather, a mesothelioma survivor. I read her story and was deeply moved by her courage and determination to live. Heather asked me to lend a hand in helping raise awareness for National Women's Checkup Day, May 12-th, and so I'm posting about it (a few days in advance, because with our sporadic internet connection I can't trust myself to post on the exact day).

It really is so important to listen to ourselves, be aware of the signals our body gives us and notice anything unusual. Life is so, so busy; and we, the wives and mothers, are often too busy taking care of others to stop and think about our own health. Yet it is essential, not only for ourselves, but for our families too. Our children need their mothers. Many senseless tragedies were caused by sheer neglect - the patient was late in going to the doctor, the doctor wasn't attentive enough in listening to the patient.

Oftentimes when I'm not feeling well, I tell myself "I hope it's nothing" - it's a natural thought, and usually it really is nothing, but it's better to be sure. Heather, for example, was diagnosed when her baby was just 3.5 months old. Having a new baby leads to a somewhat chaotic period in your life, especially when it's your first. It's only too easy to chalk anything unusual up to exhaustion and wacky hormones. Yet when Heather kept losing weight, the realization that something must be wrong finally set in, and eventually she got her diagnosis

It's also important to stand your ground with your doctor, if you feel you aren't being listened to. Many doctors - through no fault of their own - are overworked and therefore might miss crucial symptoms in their patient. If your doctor dismisses your complaints, yet the symptoms persist and you feel something isn't quite as it ought to be, it is your right and duty to ask for a second opinion.

I do have a little story of my own to share here, though fortunately for me it wasn't a matter of life and death. Over a year ago, I felt numbness in my fingers and toes. Since I've never felt anything like this before, I panicked and called my family doctor with suggestions of various degenerative diseases. He laughed me off and said it's "all in my head", but I wasn't convinced. I sat down and started looking things up. Fortunately, being a nutritionist, I recalled that sub-clinical Vitamin B12 deficiency can manifest itself in various neurological symptoms. I started taking a supplement and not only the numbness in my fingertips was gone before long, but my cycles became regular as well and soon I was pregnant, to my great joy.

So, let's cherish our health, our lives and our families. Let us not lose what we hold dear because of a tendency to sweep problems under the carpet and ignore dangerous signs. May we all have many years of active, healthy life ahead of us, to enjoy and share with our loved ones. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hyperactive children and creativity

The following is an excerpt (translated by me) from the book by Dr. Finky Feinstein (unfortunately I couldn't find anything by him in English, so had to post a link in Hebrew), How to Raise Happier and More Creative Children:

"From my experience, hyperactive children are usually children with great internal activity. Their creative energy pushes them towards self-expression, and they cannot bring this inner flame to a level that would be legitimate in the eyes of those responsible for their education and upbringing. The regular schools, with their numbers and the demands for certain behavior, are places in which these children cannot be, and they have no form of self-expression but in ways that cause mess around them and are perceived as rule-breaking.

The difficulty to sit and study quietly for several hours isn't considered, in my eyes, as something pathological. I know many people, including myself, for whom sitting through several lectures - during which you need to listen quietly - is an impossible mission. I believe it is an exceedingly hard task, one that does not take into consideration the active and creative human nature."

"In my eyes, as a human being and a doctor, it is unlikely that so many of our children are 'damaged' and need medicine. It makes more sense that what is damaged are the systems that we, the adults, have created for them, and it is our job to think differently, rather than try and make the children fit themselves at any cost into what is 'supposed' to be right for them. I believe children need more activity, more creativity, more movement, and a lot more room for personal expression."

I just wish this book is translated into English someday so that more people can be exposed to, and learn from it.