Saturday, February 6, 2016

36 Grown-Up Hours

For the first time since Raphaela was born, she stayed with my parents (who were visiting from the US) over Shabbat, and I stayed home, alone, with no one to care for other than myself and marginally, our cat Harry.


On the way to school, half way down the block, a man called to me.  I turned around and did not recognize him, he had just dropped his little boy off at a nursery near our house.  He said to us, "I see you and your daughter walking to school every morning. I am headed in that direction, to that school, do you want a ride?"

"No thank you," I said. Because I know that Raphaela is very possessive of our time together in the morning, and because it is a beautiful sunny day, atypical for Jerusalem in February.

After we came home from school in the afternoon, I asked for Raphaela's help in packing the overnight bag, and showed her all her clothing and her toothbrush and hair accessories. "And WHY," she asked with suspicion, "will you not be able to take care of these things yourself?"

I had put off telling her that I would not be joining the rest of the family on this sleepover party, and could not avoid it any longer. I explained that she would have special bonding time with her cousin and her grandparents, and that I would pick her up after Shabbat.

Holding back tears, Raphaela and I chose a special doll that she would take with her, to remind her that I am always with her and always love her, no matter where I am.  That seemed to do the trick.

Friday Afternoon

After dropping Raphaela off at my parents and driving home, I could actually feel my stomach drop a little. It felt odd, it felt wrong for the house to be so quiet, for me to have not much of anything to do for anyone.  For the first time in six years I had free time without responsibility, and I had no idea what to do with myself.

Apparently, motherhood has altered my identity and my essential state of being, and there's no going back.

Friday Night

Dinner with friends, with good food and a very good bottle of red wine to share.  I would estimate that half of the conversation that I contributed to the evening somehow involved my daughter, not counting the people who said, "Too bad Raphaela is not here, I haven't seen her in a while."

I call that the "Mother of" Phenomenon:  since I gave birth, my name (and that of all mothers to children in Israel) became "Raphaela's Mother," even amongst the parents of her classmates. In Israel, where family values take precedence above all, you are defined by your relatives and most especially your children.

Shabbat Morning

I can do it!  And more miraculously, Harry can do it!  My cat (whom I have had longer than Raphaela) who usually wakes me up at the crack of dawn, let me sleep in until 8:30 am.   I have not slept past six am in years, and I did not think my body remembered how.  Of course, it meant that I missed the party at my friend's house for International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.

Shabbat Day

I finally got into the groove, stopped feeling guilty, and of all the activities I did today, perhaps the most inspiring was the five kilometer plus hike around Jerusalem. I didn't have to pack a picnic lunch (Raphaela needs snacks when we go on trips), just myself and my sneakers and my bottle of water.  I walked through the park, felt the sun on my face, smiled at random people and generally remembered why it feels so good to get some exercise into my life.

I had been waiting for that push to return to an intensive training program for the Jerusalem Marathon in March, and now I have it.  That adrenaline also reminded me that I must take care of myself and my body, if I want to stick around for a long and healthy life, and watch Raphaela grow into her full potential.

Saturday Night

I needed time away from Raphaela in order to miss her, in order to understand how we fit into each other, even when we are apart.  The closer it got to the end of Shabbat, the more I started going back into Mom mode, thinking about how she has school tomorrow, and hoping that the weekend passed without incident.

I feel truly grateful that my parents were able to take Raphaela for her first ever sleep over, she enjoyed the time with her family, and I was able to have this time to myself.

As soon as she saw me she started crying and fell into my arms, saying that she missed me; my father said that she had been 100% until I walked in the door. It's nice to be missed.

1 comment:

Midlife Singlemum said...

Sounds like a winning shabbat for everyone. xx