Milk and Honey

Today is just like any other day, but different. It is one of those days where the first rays of sun make their way into my morning dreams, warming my pillow and inviting me to come greet the day. I wake up to my sweet baby’s curious face almost pressed up against mine and instead of closing my eyes and making a silent prayer that he will roll over and return to sleep, I am pulled into wakefulness, meeting the early sun’s invitation with curiosity and wonder.

We take our time getting out of bed, my newly crawling and standing boy and I. These quiet moments are becoming fewer and more far between as he excitedly learns to explore his new capabilities and more of the world around him. I am savoring this one like the sweetest sip at the bottom of the mug.

In a departure from the norm, I don’t reach for my phone to distract myself out of this usually uncomfortable, newly awakened state, passively allowing the notifications to fill me in on what I’ve missed since logging off. I wonder if I can sustain this state of gentle intrigue and curiosity a little longer, stretch it throughout the day into the moments where I need that softness, when it’s seemingly all curled up and retreated and all I am left with is the harsh realization of daily struggles and suffering near and far. Is it this easy to change the habit of comfortable despair – making simple choices that change the fabric of our days?

I sing to my sweet baby boy quietly, making my way through morning prayers, reminders of our place in this great universe and all that holds us. He laughs and pokes at my face. We cuddle and sing and dreamily look up and out the window at the quickly lightening sky, wondering what other sparks of refreshing newness the day will bring.

I wonder, perhaps naively, if we can somehow influence our surroundings by making these shifts internally. As I encounter the paradox of living in this holy land fraught with so much suffering and conflict, I strive to remain gentle. If I allow myself to open too much, I fear I will simply harden into another stone in the foundation of this impossible conflict and growing distrust.

The cultivated softness of the morning stays with us as we go farther into this new day. It is not in essence an easier or objectively more pleasant day – in fact my tiny companion is quite miserable with teething pains only soothed by cold pieces of watermelon and clinging onto me as go about our daily chores. Another day made up of similar events, of which we’ve had many, may leave me feeling irritated early on, seeking distraction or longing for nap times when I have a few moments to myself. Inspired by our shared early morning wonder, however, I stay with him, with the crying and clinging and vow, even if just for today, to approach even the smallest of harsh realities with gentleness, presence, and soft touches.

Yesterday

Yesterday was one of those days. You know, the ones you hear about before becoming a parent. Where the baby is screaming uncontrollably for hours and you, as the supposedly all-knowing Mother, are failing because you don’t know why or how to make him more comfortable. Where your biggest accomplishment is managing to get dressed appropriately enough for the repair man to be able to stop by and not feel embarrassed to be witnessing you in your mess of spit up and baby poop. The kind of day where you just are desperately trying to get your baby to calm down, to fall asleep, and then once he does give in for a few minutes of reprieve and you put him down, you feel empty and miss him and are sure you must be crazy.

The dishes did not get done. Nor did the shopping, the cooking, the unpacking or the countless other errands on my list. I did not figure out how to make my baby sleep better or even manage to return the phone call I’d wanted to all day.

And then my husband came home from a much more understandably long day, with actual, measurable accomplishments and asked, “What’d you do today?” like any caring, interested spouse would and he doesn’t understand why this benign questions leaves me in a puddle of tears.

And then, after hours of feeding, rocking, bouncing, and pacifying, the baby falls blissfully asleep in my arms. I soon follow, crawling into bed in the same pajamas from last night that I’ve been wearing all day at an embarrassing 7pm, leaving the dishes and the cooking unfinished, still adorned by all of the sweat, tears, and spit up from the day. A few hours later, when I’m woken up from my deep sleep by the whimpers of a hungry baby, I sit up and see his perfect face. He sees me and a huge grin spreads over his entire being. My heart melts. I’ve never felt so content. When I put him back to sleep, I’m already looking forward to the morning smiles I know I’ll be greeted with.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Maor asleep

Luminary

Welcome, our little big light.

Eight weeks after giving birth to our beautiful baby boy, I realized I needed to start writing again. It’s been nearly a year since I posted anything on this blog and almost as long since I’ve taken any time to reflect through writing. For me, early motherhood is pretty non-conducive to spending precious free-time sitting down and writing yet I have a feeling this makes it even more necessary.

To be honest, I stopped writing in this blog because soon after my last post I found out I was pregnant and I was torn between wanting to write about the incredibly exciting journey we were embarking on and also wanting to be modest about our news for as long as possible. I also felt incapable of and disingenuous trying to write about anything else at the time. I feel a similar tug now between maintaining our privacy in these precious, fleeting moments and yet wanting to share this awe inspiring process. Bear with me as I try to navigate between the two.

Generations: My father holding me next to me holding our newborn.

Generations: My father holding me next to me holding our newborn.

I started writing my home birth story this week because I had the sense that it was both utterly important to remember and yet quickly slipping through my memory’s grasp. There is some magical process of forgetting that happens so quickly after birth. The night I delivered, after we were all settled in and alone in our apartment again trying to sleep, my mind was racing. It wouldn’t let me get anywhere near sleep. I could not stop going over every single detail and moment of the 4 hour labor and home birth experience, as if some part of me was fighting this inevitable forgetting and whispering in my ear, ‘dontforgetdontforgetdontforget.’ I feel somewhat nostalgic already for that dream-like, dimly lit night which existed outside of time and space. The utter rawness and intensity of humanity mixed with the undeniable infinity of divine presence, all bundled into a few moments. A piece of me died that night so another could come to life. That sounds dramatic and it is deservedly so. For the days following this mixture of pure life and glimpse of death, I was both haunted by and in awe of it all. My attempt to verbalize that experience which existed beyond all words was attempting the impossible, and yet it sparked something that is motivating me to continue to try to document this journey of motherhood, living in this holy and deeply complex city of Jerusalem, and finding my, now our, place within and beyond it all.

This is my start, I suppose. A peek into our intertwined, sometimes tangled, and ever-changing lives.

IMG_4258

Introducing Maor Meron

In hebrew, Maor means light or luminary. Meron is a mountain in Israel across from the northern city of Tzfat, where Ben and I met. We spent many evenings watching the sun set over Mt. Meron and falling in love with Israel and each other so we thought it was fitting for our first child’s name to mean “the light of Meron” – the culmination of which resulted in this little man.

Goodnight for now.