Bar Mitzvah or Bachelor Party?
My son was invited to his first Bat Mitzvah. In my mind, I pictured shoulder pads, slow dancing and socks over nylons.
The invitation was to a villa with a heated pool. Overnight. With his entire class.
This is my son. The same son I carried in my belly, nursed for over a year, moved from the US to Israel at age three, taught to ride a bike, and watched climb too high in too many trees. And somehow that same child is old enough to go on an overnight trip that sounds more like a Bachelor party than a Bat Mitzvah.
Jury’s out if we are actually sending him. I know. We are those parents.
Once I set aside the shock of how rites of passage have become way cooler since my teen years, I have to confront the fact that I have a preteen. More than that, I have to confront the fact that I am a mom to a preteen and to two other rapidly growing small people. And that version of being a mom is vastly different than being a mom to babies.
For more than a decade, my reality was the world of pregnancy, breast feeding, strollers, diapers, baby carriers and food without a discernible texture. Somewhere between the start and end of the pandemic (is it actually over?), my small people got much bigger. Their needs as people changed and what they need from me shifted significantly.
Each of my children are their own beautiful, complex worlds, replete with their own talents and challenges. As I try to guide them into this new phase, I find that I too must evolve.
I spent almost thirty years putting myself first, but having kids changed that. For the last eleven years, they have come first. And I took immense joy in that, in each moment with them, even the sleepless ones. Being a mom to Aviv, Maya and Yuval subsumed the identity that I inhabited before they arrived. That isn’t to say that I didn’t prioritize myself in the last decade. I did. I worked many full-time, fulfilling roles. I took dance classes, woke up early to swim and even wrote a book! But all of that was scheduled around my three small humans. I worked, exercised, and cleaned around their school, activities and friends.
Needless to say, I context switch like a boss.
And now I have to ask myself, what would it look like to rearrange those priorities? Will my children miss me if I am not home every evening? Will I be more present with them and my partner if I set clear boundaries between work and home?
It takes a village, they say. As an immigrant, building that village takes time and is often a bumpy road.
On one hand, I believe deeply in the village, in exposing my kids to lots of different caretakers and people who can offer love and energy. And on the other hand, I want to be the one to do it all. I want to work and advance and create impact and I also want to be home when my children return from school, cook their lunch and listen to their days.
But twenty four hours can’t house the amount of things I need to and want to do. So like them, I am going to have grow into the next version of myself. What exactly that will be, I’m not sure yet.