For those of you who haven’t been following along: I married an Israeli, had two amazing kids, and then followed my husband to live next door to his mother on a kibbutz not far from Tel Aviv. It hasn’t exactly gone as planned. We’re no longer living together.
1. How are you doing?
Some days I’m fine. Some days, I wake up, and brush my teeth and wiggle the mascara wand through my lashes and flat iron my hair, and walk to work, and only realize how fucking ridiculous the situation is when I have to check my ex’s Twitter status to find out how my kids are doing. (#UsuallyJustFine.)
And yes, some days, the hours slip by while work engulfs me and I’m buzzing with caffeine and creativity. I ping B. on Google Chat and ask how the night went. He answers. And usually it’s fine.
Some days are like this. I watch time pass through the window. I measure out my life in status updates and the occasional tweet. I watch their day-to-day routine on YouTube. B. uploads cute movies, and I see how they’re really fine.And I’m fine.
But some days, I wake up from a dream that shakes me into submission where I swear I hear my children screaming. And then I’m not fine.
And then there are nights when B. calls me because my son can’t stop sobbing. He wants to hear the song about the clock.
“Clock song! I want the clock song!”
(And it takes me a while to figure out he means “Tik Tok.” And so, we sing it together until he stops gasping through his tears.)
“Don’t stop make it pop DJ blow my speakers up tonight I’ma fight til we see the sunlight,” I call.
“Oh oh oh oh!” he responds.
And he’s fine.
But I’m not. I watch old movies of the four of us. Moments captured where we all remember to smile for the camera. Our pain disguised in playful quips. But we look fine. Even if we weren’t.
And there are some days when I call to check on the kids and I hear them wailing in the background.
“Mama will come on Tuesday,” doesn’t cut it when you’re shaken and scared and want your Mama right now to make everything OK again.
Which begs the question:
2. OK, so where IS Mama?
Mama is at work. Mostly. Mama loves her job and the people she works with. Yes. Mama goes out. Mama is making friends. Mama is lucky that she has no shame and has asked her friends “back home” and from the kibbutz to introduce her to good people living in Israel. And Mama is even luckier that her friends have readily agreed.
3. Why don’t you come back to Los Angeles?
Because Israel is my home. My kids are happy here. I am happy here. And yes, while I wish things were different, they aren’t. And I stand by my choices. Besides, if I were to move back to LA, I’ll just be one of too many blondes wearing skinny jeans and high heel hooker boots, and where’s the fun in that? I’d have to start wearing Tevas just to be different, and that is so not my style, yo.
4. How are you and B. getting along?
B. and I are being true to ourselves–for the first time in too long. We are owning our shit, and doing the best we can to help our children feel safe. And it all boils down to this: we have to be kind to each other. We have two beautiful children who will forever bind us together, and we do not take this for granted. Not ever. Sure, there are times when our “conversations about the kids” devolve into a Wagnerian opera, but for the most part, we’re fine.
And the kids are fine, too. In the last few months, they’re balancing and blossoming in their new normal.
And so are we.
5. Kids should be with their mother.
Ok, so this isn’t so much a question as it is a statement. And, it’s one I hear. A lot. Sure, sometimes it’s softened with a sympathetic pat on the hand, but more often than not, it isn’t. We’re talking a dagger straight to the heart, people. And I’ll be real–a few years ago, I probably would have said the same thing.
But when the father has a strong support network and the mother doesn’t, when the father is fluent in the spoken language of the country and the mother is still struggling to learn, when the father is able to pick the kids up from gan (kindergarten) because he is able to live in the community and the mother lives 30 minutes away because she has to, you adjust. You change the rules.
(Wait. Who wrote these rules anyway?)
Yeah, kids should be with their mother. And their father. And everyone should gather round the G.D. table and join hands and say grace. But our family is more Andy Warhol than Norman Rockwell.
But hey, at least we’ve got color. And texture.
Lots of it.
And from the depths of this churning chaos comes energy and change.
Because In The Beginning there was darkness.