Saturday, January 30, 2016



To grow up
To be older
To graduate high school,
and then college,
and then grad school.


To be understood
To get married
To start a family


For the med school to end
And then residency
And then fellowship
And then normal schedule


For the baby to be born
To sleep through the night
To walk
and then talk
and stop tantruming


For kids to get older
And then it will be easier
to take them places.
To eat out (when we'll have more money)
and go to Israel (when we'll have even more money).


To organize this room
and then to make time to draw
To print out years' of photos
And call up a friend
But not now, when I need it the most.


To be less tired
and more perky and social.
For husband to come home
To take a walk together, tomorrow.
But tomorrow he's called up,
So I'm alone, and not walking.


To go out
But the kids are young
And babysitters are unavailable
And he does not come home till late
And where will we go anyway.
Crawl into bed,
into smartphone wonderland of spent time


For my life to start
For the excuses to pass
For this to lift
For another stage, another day, another year, another place


But I do not want to wake up one day
realizing that now I will live for myself,
When nobody was telling me I shouldn't live for myself all these years.

Monday, January 18, 2016

how to have a nice day

I was going to write up a nice long blog post, but the time went to watching Madagascar 3 in Hebrew with the kids. They have seen it many times, I have never seen it. We turned on English subtitles, and everyone was happy.

There is no day that cannot be turned around with hot chocolate, outdoor time, tacos for dinner, and a movie night. On the day when everything seems to crash and burn, remember that. On the day when there is no time, remember that pleasantness at home might be more important than hammering in one more long division problem or squeezing in one more pasuk.
Spider web trampouline

Taco creation

"Who wants Starbucks?"

Notice the cucumber moai

Thursday, January 7, 2016

living with Eeyore

In the past I have seen this being shared:
Awww / all about Eeyore / Winnie The Pooh / unconditional love and friendship. -
People love it, because it validates feelings. It makes them feel good about someone out there, who knows how to love. Usually, people who love it are not the ones living with Eeyore.

Let me tell you what it's like living with a child with anxiety.

Today we ended up in a crisis mode. I had just the boys, we went to taekwondo, the schedule was written in advance (no unexpected surprises), and I wanted to get chumash done while the baby was napping. I asked 9 yo to go first. He sat on the couch, pulled out his chumash, my chumash, opened to the right spot, read the pesukim that we did yesterday, and did not remember a whole bunch of words. Since this was the second time around, and I mildly suggested that he write them down yesterday, I insisted that the write them down today and I will even tell him what they mean.

He got the paper, wrote down one word, I gave him the translation, he stumbled over the next word, I told him that he should know it, and he got teary-eyed. "I cannot do chumash. I will never be able to do chumash. I just want to know it. I should not be alive. I do not belong in this family. I do not want to live." Not the first time, not the last. I calmly said that I'm very glad that he's alive, I love having him in the family, and I'm sorry that chumash is giving him such hard time. It was almost lunchtime, so when he ranted that he's hungry, I said that we'll have lunch first. While I was warming up his noodles, 11 yo came in. 9 yo was still sad, still raving. They spoke and I overheard 11 yo telling his brother that since he's already alive, he might as well enjoy it. 

Then 11 yo came to me. He actually told me that he's upset. He was worried that his brother is suicidal and sad over not being able to do schoolwork. There were tears in his eyes. The boy was sick with worry. He told me that he can't eat his lunch, his stomach being in knots.  9 yo calmed down, and was eating. And the baby woke up and I was nursing her. I told my older son that we are cancelling all the schoolwork for today, and if we get to chumash, so be it, and if we don't, it will be OK. I told him that 9 yo calmed down, and I don't think he's planning on killing himself. I also told him the secret: often, in order to make others feel better, we take on some of their emotions, so we end up feeling sad ourselves. His talk with his brother helped his brother, but brought him down.

Afterwards, I thought about all of this. Anxiety is invisible. Anxiety is something that is easy to dismiss, especially by those who have never experienced it. Even with my child having a diagnosis, I get " oh, but we are all anxious" thing. I have set up 9 yo's life where we can skirt over the issues that cause anxiety. I modify and flex, not to protect him, but to allow him to deal with issues obliquely. Despite all of this, once in a while, anxiety grips this child. When it is here, it grabs hold of the entire family, sucking us all in.

Anxiety is cyclical, so it is hard for me to see what causes it and whether the moods improve on their own, or due to some intervention that we do. Some time periods are particularly bad, others are so amazing, that it is easy to forget that this child has anxiety.

But this is what living with Eeyore is like: you know he will bring you down, even though you love him. And then, when your own mood it down, when your energy has been sucked out, you worry: what if this requires medication? What if you need to pursue therapy? What if he's really that depressed and will attempt that suicide that he mentions?

I do not want to share a mental health awareness ribbon. I do not want to share a deep thought about acceptance of all mental disorders. I want a pediatric mental health hotline, where a worried mother can call in and get checklist of what constitutes a real threat, and what is just talk. I want a hotline where a mother can call in and get a relief person showing up to her house to diffuse the situation (I know, they used to be called grandmothers, or aunts, or friends, but this is 21st century America). I want a safe space where we can all go to breathe and get my child evaluated. I do not want to take him to adult psych ER. 

I do not want to live with Eeyore and be a martyr.