I’ve had a lot of things I’ve wanted to write about lately so that’s why I haven’t been blogging much. I know it sounds contradictory but that’s my tendency.
Anyway, I’ve been feeling very good about life lately. After sharing here my feeling that there were some important things missing in my life here, I began very seriously considering moving to a different community. We found a community we felt would be good and made arrangements to spend Shabbos there, after having done lots of research online, searching the classified for housing and speaking to people living there. Every hour of every day I was debating with myself the pros and cons here and trying to weigh them against potential gain/losses in a place that I don’t yet know. This state of indecision has been very draining.
So I found a better place and pretty much decided that we should move. But I was having a lot of reservations, despite being able to clearly articulate all the advantages of moving. Logically everything seemed to be in favor of going to this other community but there are a lot of things I really like here (which I’ve written about in the past). So I asked myself the following question: ”How can I live a life I love right now?”
The two answers that immediately came to me were: 1) resume giving Torah classes (I stopped giving my Shabbos afternoon class when the days got short) and 2) homeschool my kids. It was interesting that neither of these were directly related to my reasons for wanting to move. However, these answers also seemed to favor moving somewhere else, somewhere with more Anglos for me to teach and to a community that would be more centrally located for easier connection to homeschoolers.
But then I asked myself, what can I do to be happy in Karmiel? I thought about what it was about teaching and homeschooling that was so important to me, and realized I could shift my life to have those advantages without fully making those changes. I enjoy teaching because I love sharing ideas that that have been meaningful to me that can help others, but what I was missing at the most basic level was having meaningful conversations with other people. When two people meet, someone has to initiate a topic for a meaningful conversation to happen, and I had to accept responsibility for not having been proactive enough in this area. I was very guarded when I moved here about who I am and what I know because I didn’t want a spotlight on me, and more particularly my kids, as we went through the difficult transition period of settling in a different country.
In some ways this made a lot of sense but at the same time it cut me off from having conversations about the things that I care and know the most about, and it’s a lonely feeling to interact with people and feel they don’t really know you. Last week I was talking to a good friend and telling her a typical example of this: someone who came to our home for a meal once commented on how helpful the kids were and asked me how we did that. I vaguely answered by saying something like, “They’re good kids, we’ve been lucky; you have to pray and hope that things turn out well.” My friend laughed and said how ludicrous it sounded for me to say something like that since I’ve put so much conscious thought into parenting. This caution may have been beneficial in the beginning but it’s definitely not helpful now. Since I’ve allowed myself to not hold back from being myself when speaking to people, I’ve enjoyed speaking to people so much more and that leads to feeling more connected.
Regarding the homeschooling, I asked myself what was it I was missing. There are a lot of things about homeschooling that I miss, but one big daily negative of sending the kids to school is the feeling that I’m always rushing – rushing to get the kids ready in the morning, then rushing to pick them up. Ds5’s kindergarten is a brisk ten minute walk away, so it’s about 25 minutes round trip, and then I had to be back in time to pick up ds3 from his van. Ds5’s pickup begins at 1:10; I was supposed to be waiting for ds3 by 1:37. If you do the math you’ll see that left me a two minute window of time, and on the way home I was walking with a tired five year old who didn’t want to rush. One day a week I had to also pick up ds6 from his school in this same time period and to say this was stressful was way understating it – people find these overlapping pickup times hard when they have a car, and I was doing it by foot and with a baby in tow!
I took ds3 out of playgroup (I had put him in very reluctantly because of mitigating circumstances at the beginning of the year). This decision made a huge difference since I no longer felt I was rushing every morning and early afternoon to get him to and from somewhere that I didn’t feel was in his best interest. I did what I had to do at the time but I didn’t feel good about sending him to preschool; he was so happy to be at home with me and I felt more settled to be making educational choices that were once again based on my value. It was amazing how much happier I got once I did this.
I also had ds5 home for a month, which was wonderful for us all. This is when life felt the most like ‘my’ life. Coincidentally, the day he went back to school after his long absence was the same day that his teacher returned from her maternity leave. I didn’t realize that there were a number of replacement teachers taking over for her and it was very unsettling for the kids to have so many different substitutes (the week before he went back, there was literally a different teacher every day) – but ds5 missed out of most of he period of instability. I really don’t know what happened with him after he went back; before he was home for the month he was regularly strongly resisting going to kindergarten but now but it’s like something flipped inside him and he’s so much happier and more relaxed now than he was before.
So…I’ve been taking steps to make my life better right now. And it’s allowed us to not only intellectually be aware of the benefits of living here, but to feel the benefits. So we’ve decided to stay. And I feel so, so good about this. Now I’m able to love all the things here without feeling torn about needing to live somewhere else. That’s not to say that things are perfect here; that’s not realistic and it’s certainly never been my expectation. But we can compensate for some of the downsides – eg, not having the medical and therapy resources locally for Yirmiyahu means a lot of travel, but it’s offset by my mother living locally so I have babysitting help for those long traveling days.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be rebalancing my life in the ways that are meaningful to me – I now wake up feeling happy and go to sleep happy and in the middle of the day feel happy…..I didn’t have to move anywhere to make changes that were in line with our needs, and we’re all happy about staying put!