Sunday, January 15, 2012

The post that is not a list

I don’t read very many blogs anymore. I used to read quite a few but one by one their authors stopped writing, or I lost interest for whatever reason. Most of the links on my sidebar are dead these days (and yes I should probably do something about that.)

In the meantime, one of the blogs I read is this one, and if you know me at all you can probably guess why I read it. Completely different life situations, very similar day-to-day issues. One of them being one of the tags she uses: parental jealousy.

I am having a lot of that right now, as I often do late in pregnancy and even more when I have a new baby. I am finding it a lot harder here. I live somewhere that it is pretty common for women to have babies. Pretty much everyone here, with only a few exceptions, is either pregnant or has a new baby or is too recently married for either. This was also the case last year. And every time someone has a baby, without exception, there is family. Certainly a mother, often both parents, and frequently two sets of parents in turn. One of the women here had a baby about six week ago; she had her mother-in-law here already to take care of her daughter (who is in Marika’s gan) while she was in the hospital, and then a few days later her mother flew in and stayed for a MONTH, and her sister is in seminary nearby and was able to help out a lot too. I saw her a couple of weeks after giving birth and she looked… amazingly well rested. There is only one woman here who didn’t have that kind of luxury, and she had her mom visit for “only” a week postpartum; her mom works and couldn’t take off longer. I think her in-laws also came although I didn’t ask.

And you know, they don’t even think of it as luxury, so far as I can tell. It’s just a normal thing that normal mothers do. Apparently. Not that I would know.

And I am jealous. Which is actually a little bit out of character for me, broadly speaking, because I am pretty good at not coveting anything I know I can’t have.

For example: Mr. Bigfoot went to pay a shiva visit a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t go because it wasn’t practical; someone needed to be home with the kids and it made more sense for him to be the one to go, since the avel was more a friend of his. He came back and said, later, it’s just as well you didn’t go. You didn’t need to see that huge fancy house. And I was completely taken aback by this, because a) I wouldn’t be thinking about that at a shiva house anyway and b) truthfully, I have no problem with big fancy houses. I don’t covet them. It doesn’t bother me that other people have them. Yes, it bothers me—sometimes it bothers me a lot—that we live the way we do, but I don’t look at anyone in a big fancy house and say, “I want that.” I don’t want it and it doesn’t bother me that other people have it. It’s so beyond what is realistic for us that it doesn’t even enter into my thinking.

What does bother me is seeing things that I feel should be realistic for us given where we are in our lives but are still so totally out of reach. Like when we stayed, over the summer, for Shabbos in the house of friends of friends. It was a regular house, not huge, but it would have been perfect for us; smallish but totally adequate kitchen, comfortable living/dining room with lots of space for bookshelves and a nice bright playroom off to the side, a little office off the kitchen that would have been exactly right for me. Most of the furniture obviously acquired secondhand. Three bedrooms, two of them quite small but big enough for bunk beds and a crib. One and a half baths.

And somehow, the fact that it was a little bit run down, the bathrooms old and cramped, that there were water marks in the ceilings and floor tiles that were chipped and doors that didn’t quite close, and the kitchen was in the “small but workable” category—this made me wildly, ragingly, disturbingly jealous. Because that should be realistic for us, and yet it is still so completely out of reach for us right now. Right now, a second toilet, a bathtub, and a kitchen with a stove are the stuff of fantasy. And a house? Belonging to us? I might as well wish for the moon.

Or for parents.

Which I do. I am jealous. I know that I am independent by nature and generally want to do things by myself. I’m not used to being taken care of and I don’t expect it. Mostly, it’s enough for me that I am getting to take care of other people, which I waited so long to do. And I have a husband who really does take amazingly good care of me. It should be enough. But right around now, when it’s getting hard to walk, hard to sleep, when everything aches and there is so much to do, and it’s not easy to keep up already, and I don’t even know who’s going to watch the kids when I have to go to the hospital and it’s not at all out of the question that I’m going to have to go give birth by myself because there won’t be anyone but Mr. Bigfoot… the thought of a mother, the kind that would swoop down and take care of the kids and clean up and do baths and go grocery shopping for me, like they do for the other women here… yeah. It would be nice.

Like a lot of things that are just not going to happen. And I need to get over it. Again.

Moving right along...

I had my third-trimester ultrasound today. Yes! Third-trimester ultrasound! I’ve never had one of those before, since they don’t, you know, do them in America. B”H it was all fine. The kids had a good day, and although Iyyar got off to an unusually rough start this morning, he was doing much better later on. The ultrasound took a lot longer than I expected, because they were running really late, but I still got home with enough time to take a nap before Mr. Bigfoot left for the afternoon. And he got the boys from gan, and he also got Marika for me, so I could sleep.

By the way, I feel like I have been doing Mr. Bigfoot an injustice by more or less leaving him out of the blog most of the time. I don’t want to give the impression that he’s an absentee father, because he so isn’t. He gets up at 6 every morning, davens vasikin, and takes Barak to the bus. I get up around when he leaves, at about 7:30, and start getting Iyyar and Avtalyon up, and then Mr. Bigfoot walks them up the 88 steps to their gan. All I have to do is get Marika ready in the morning, which is easy as she is pretty delightful when she wakes up, and then walk the ten minutes of flat ground to her gan. Mr. Bigfoot even packs lunches. He does the laundry. He deals with the pee on the bathroom floor when the boys miss. He picks up the boys from gan four days a week and often gets Marika too. And he stops at the makolet on the way back from dropping off Barak, if I need him to, and gets milk or bread or whatever else we’ve run short of between big grocery shops and shuk runs. Me? I don’t even always have dinner on the table for him. Most days, but not every day by any stretch.

So, not fair to say I don’t have help. I totally do. And one of the huge advantages of our current situation is that he’s rarely very far away, and most of the time available in case of emergency. If I really really need him, I can call him and he can come home. I don't, in general, but I know I can if I have to. It’s not minor.

And it will be OK. I don’t need parents to be OK. The kids don’t need their biological grandparents in their lives to be OK. We will have a place to live and food to eat and they’ve already got a lifetime supply of Playmobil.

Iss okay, Imma. Iss just fine.


Anonymous said...


I totally understand. You're not being unreasonable, and the fact that you covet the slightly-shabby little house and not the big shiny one absolutely makes sense to me. And that it would be lovely if you had your own imma-like person to swoop in and do what they do.

Hooray for Mr. Bigfoot, too.

And you're right: Iss okay. Will be even better in a bit.

And still -- {{hugs}}

Anonymous said...

I hope your local friends get together and get you a post partum dula. it's not like parents,but still...

Anonymous said...


something to ponder: parents who don't come vs. parents who show for the bris (day before) mid-afternoon, while you're eating breakfast, still in pjs, and storm out within 15 minutes because you didn't offer to make them lunch.

not that it helps, but I hear you.

(sorry, not using my name for this one, but from the "usually post as me" list)

Tel Aviv Short Term Rentals said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
miriamp said...

Also having parents/in-laws who don't babysit - I almost took all three kids with me to the hospital when I had my fourth b/c leaving my husband home seemed the worser option. At the last minute, my in-laws (who lived half a mile away) agreed to babysit because their teenage daughter was home to help.

And once I was home, 24 hours later (b/c it was erev Shabbos) the kids were sent right back home. I was home alone with all four (all actually under 4 years old!) while my husband went to shul Shabbis morning to name the new baby. No one even thought to walk over to check on me - they might miss shul.

miriamp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
uberimma said...

Miriam: !!!

That I never had to do. The Shabbos after Marika was born, a friend from up the street with two elementary-school-aged girls came and hung out with us while my husband was at shul naming the baby. I think I always had at least a day at home before I was on my own with everyone for more than a couple of hours. And your kids are closer together than mine. When Marika was born Barak was already five and a half and could do some things for me.

I think what's hard about it is being a self-reliant person from a culture (US) that very much values self-reliance, and then needing help. You don't want to act like you feel entitled, and yes it was your decision to have X kids, but at the same time, when you spend almost all your time doing things for other people it's really hard to deal with when nobody helps you when you really really need it.