Someone asked me yesterday for an update regarding the army status of ds18 and dd17. Dd17 received her permanent exemption from army service a couple of weeks after my post on the topic. After lots more paperwork and visits since my post on this a while back, ds18 was told that he will be given a deferment for a year, dependent on some medical forms they want him to have filled out.
This morning ds18 went to the doctor to get the first of these forms filled out, and then was told he also needed to make an appointment with an eye doctor to get the second form taken care of. He mentioned to me that he had a 7 pm appointment for the eye doctor, and I later overheard him asking dd15 if she wanted to come to translate in case he needed help with the language, since her Hebrew is better than his. Since I needed to drop off some paperwork for the lawyer (as mentioned yesterday) around the same time as his appointment, and the law office was at the halfway point from our house and the doctor’s office, I told him I’d be happy to go with him if he’d like (I checked this with dd15 first; I didn’t want to horn in on their time together if this was something she wanted to do with him). He accepted.
As a parent of maturing children, there can be a feeling of conflict between wanting to give to them and take care of them, while also giving them the chance to be independent and do things for themselves that they might be uncomfortable with. Often this means pushing them beyond their comfort zones, to do things alone that you could easily take care of for them. And sometimes you need to step back and away from the issue of independence and grab the opportunity to be nurturing!
It’s really an issue of balance and of knowing your child. When we got here, I felt I needed to push ds18 to deal with some big things that came up as a result of making aliyah (like mandatory army service) on his own, because it was way outside of his comfort zone and something he would have gladly deferred to us to deal with. I knew he had the ability to do it, and that taking care of these foreign issues on his own would give him the confidence that comes from acting in spite of your fears of not knowing/being enough, and comes from dealing with challenging things and rising to the occasion.
I’ve been very impressed with how ds18 has gotten lots of technical and legal things done on his own in a country where the language and mentality is a challenge for him, and has done it with a really great attitude. So I don’t need to worry that by offering help I’m creating passivity or dependence on my assistance.
We do things for people we love not because they can’t do it on their own, but because we want to show them we care. A wonderful way to nurture someone is to offer to do something for them before they ask for your help. It’s nice to be responsive to requests, but so much more powerful when you initiate the giving exchange. This is apparent when you think about marriage – you offer to bring your spouse a drink or pick up something unsolicited from the store that you know they’d like because you know it will make them happy; giving them what they ask for is nice but doesn’t have the same emotional punch.
When I heard ds18 talking with ds15, I saw an opportunity to be the care provider in the relationship, something that gets harder to do as your children get older. But don’t think this was a one sided proposition!
I really am loving watching my teen children grow up – I don’t tell them enough how amazing and special each of them is – and when I tell them, they think I’m biased because I’m their mother. I probably am biased, and that’s okay – it doesn’t mean my perception isn’t accurate! Each of them has very different personalities and strengths, but are all growing into such wonderful people that I sometimes feel very humbled to be their mother. So while I took the opportunity to accompany ds18 with the intent to give to him, it ended up a treat for me to have three hours to spend together with him (we took care of a couple of other errands while we were out).