clarity

How To Get Clarity About What You Really Want

I think much of the inability to teach others how to respect you stems from a confusion as to what our needs really are or where boundaries should be. How can one achieve that kind of clarity? How does one teach others when one often cannot articulate one’s needs to oneself?

What an insightful comment on my last post!  Yes, this is completely true – so often we don’t know what we want and therefore we can’t communicate it to another person.

The six foundational principles of my Leadership Parenting approach are:

Connection, Compassion, Clarity, Courage, Calm and Correction

Every one of these are critical in parenting effectively.

Let’s talk a bit about clarity. Very, very often when parents ask me questions about how to handle different situations, I’ll ask them what they want.  “What is your goal in the situation?  How would you like this to play out?  What do you really want?”

That might seem simple, but knowing what you want often isn’t simple at all.

I recently had my first Supernanny stint, when I went into the home of clients to watch their family dynamics and see firsthand what was happening.   During our session that followed, I told the mother that she wasn’t clearly communicating to her child what she wanted of him.  In the privacy of my office, I was able to ask, “What do you want?”

She explained and explained and explained, and I finally told her: “I’m a mature adult sitting here listening to everything you’re saying, and I still don’t know what you want!  We can’t expect a child to be able to figure it out – we have to make it easy for him!”

You know why it wasn’t clear to her child or to me?  Because it wasn’t clear to her!

It’s okay not to have clarity. It’s not a moral failing. It’s understandable to feel ambivalent and have conflicting feelings about what you want. But lack of clarity can lead to unnecessary pain and frustration in our lives. To get the most out of life, you need to be able to clearly articulate to yourself what you really want.

Why is it so hard to get clarity?

  1. Sometimes we’re afraid to admit to ourselves what we want. It feels too big, too unreasonable, too hard to attain. So we readjust what we want to what we think we can have, and then we tell ourselves that’s what we want. However, there’s often a residual niggling discomfort that remains of the subordinated original desire that will keep poking at you.
  2. Sometimes the lack of clarity is because you’re living life based on what others expect of you and doing what everyone else does.
  3.  Another reason for the lack of clarity comes from having competing agendas – for example, someone who wants to be a stay at home mom and also wants career success. I recently experienced a conflict of competing agendas, which I shared at a seminar with the person leading the sessions. His feedback was that I have to be honest with myself.  That was not the answer I wanted to hear.  I felt like screaming in frustration when he gave me that answer, because (I thought) I was being honest with myself and that’s why I felt conflicted!

But when I thought it over afterwards and didn’t feel so defensive, I realized he was right. There was something I was saying that I wanted because I felt I should want that – and part of me really did want it and felt excited at the thought of taking on that role – but there was something else that I wanted more which I was given my available life energy to.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself, “What do I really want?”

To tune into the answer, choose a quiet place when you can be alone with your thoughts. It can be helpful to lie down with some beautiful relaxing music playing in the background, or to sit outside in nature. I like sitting in my garden – you don’t have to go far from home! The main thing is that it feels peaceful to you.

Take some deep breaths and try to quiet your mind.

When I start this process, I initially get mental noise, like the static when you’re not tuned into an official radio station. “I don’t know what I want! I want this and this and this and I can’t have it and it’s to much and I’m completely overwhelmed!!!!”  While I consciously may say I want clarity, there’s part of me that likes being able to be ambivalent because then I don’t have to change anything I’m doing.  But if I keep sitting with myself and giving myself space for the response to come, the answer gets more and more clear.

Your inner self really does have all the answers.  However, sometimes you’ve gotten so used to habituated responses that aren’t in tune with that inner self that you can’t distinguish what is the healthy voice of truth and what is the voice of fear or habit.  It can be helpful to get feedback from someone you trust who is outside the situation; those people can often see things more clearly than you can.

Being a parent is such an amazing opportunity because it opens us up to incredible possibilities for growth and awareness that we wouldn’t have had otherwise!  Seriously.

Having to be clear with your child forces you to think more about what you say you want and why you want it. Let’s say you’re battling a child to take a bath every night or eat dinner. What do you really want? Do care that much about the bath? Is there something else that you care more about that you’d rather be investing your time in?

Often parents admit that they don’t really care that much about the things they’re fighting with their children about, but they feel these are rituals or activities that everyone should do so their child should also do it.

Well.

Doing what you think you should do because everyone else does it doesn’t align well with being happy!

Sometimes it becomes clear that yes, the bath or meal or whatever else really is the priority. In that case, it shouldn’t be set aside but there might be some more effective ways to go about achieving your goal.

There’s no one right way to parent and there’s no one right way to deal with a given situation. It depends so much on what you really want – you can have two very happy and healthy families who have chosen completely different ways of living their lives.

When you get clarity you can create healthy boundaries and teach others how to treat you, as you align what you say with the actions you take.  That’s a very empowering place to be!

Avivah

treat others how to treat you

You Teach People How to Treat You

I was wondering if you could share with the blog readers more about the idea that we teach people how to treat us.Can you explain how that works, and how we can change the way they treat us?

Yes, I’m happy to explain that a bit more!  Before I begin, I want to clarify one very important distinction: we do not have any direct control over the actions of others, and can not directly change how they treat us.  What we do have control over is our own thoughts, speech and actions.  That’s where our power lies and that is always where our focus has to be.

I was speaking recently to someone who was complaining about all the people in her life who don’t treat her kindly. People are mean to her, kids are mean to her children, and everyone who passes her yard is mean to her pet!  And then a five minute walk away just a day earlier, I met someone who told me that the people living in that area are just wonderful, everyone is so kind and helpful. Are these two people living on different planets?

In a way, they are. Their inner worlds and the way they view themselves is constantly playing out with those around them.

**This is not about shaming oneself or feeling at fault for being treated badly by others. Not at all. There’s no blame here at all. It’s about recognizing where you have power to make your life better.

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My eight and ten year old sons came home upset one afternoon after playing with a friend. This is a boy who they’ve been extremely nice to, a nice kid who has strong reactions to what seem to others like very small triggers. In this case, he got upset and began throwing bricks at them, then ran after my eight year old and punched him.

When they got home, they asked for my feedback on how they could have handled the situation.  One said he’s not going to play with this boy anymore and he doesn’t have to keep being nice to someone who isn’t nice to him. The other said he sees it’s very hard for this boy to control himself and he doesn’t want to be treated like this, but he doesn’t think it’s nice to tell him he’s not going to be his friend.

This is a classic example of “we teach people how to treat us”! Substitute coworker, spouse or neighbor and you have the same kind of situations that we adults are dealing with all the time!

I told them they get to decide what kind of friendships they want to have.  How do they want to be treated by their friends? There is never a reason to tolerate someone mistreating you in the name of ‘kindness’ to them. You have a right to be treated respectfully and it’s your responsibility to teach people to treat you with respect.

So what would that look like in this case?

treat others how to treat youFirst of all, I told them in the future if it happens to leave the situation and come home immediately.  If he comes to play at another time, he can be told, “I don’t like what you did (yelling and throwing things at me).” They can then choose if they want to give him another chance or not.  If they give him another chance they can let him know, “If you get angry and hit me, I’m going to stop playing with you”.

The boy now knows clearly what their expectations of the relationship are. Can they control if he becomes explosive?  No, absolutely not.  But if he acts in an unkind way again, they will honor their own boundaries by leaving the interaction or even by leaving the relationship- and he will have learned that they mean what they say and will not interact with him if he can’t treat them nicely.

Now let’s look at another possibility.  What if they continue to play with him time after time regardless of how they are treated?  Then have them taught him that they will tolerate being abused from a ‘friend’, that it’s okay for him to explode when something bothers him.

Their response to his action teaches him how to treat them.

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If a young child playfully bats you in the face or calls you a name, how do you respond?  Do you smile and let her know you think she’s so cute?  Do you ignore it and tell yourself it’s not a big deal? Or do you hold her hand in yours and soberly tell her, “No hitting Mommy”? You are teaching your child how to treat you.

A couple of days ago I asked a child of mine to do a task and the child agreed, but with an edgy manner of speaking. I looked at that child for about a minute without saying anything.  The somewhat abashed response to me after a pause was, “Okay, that was obnoxious – I’m sorry. Yes, I can do what you asked me to do.”

What was my nonverbal message when I looked intently at this child? That although I was choosing not to respond verbally, I wasn’t oblivious to the inappropriate tone that had just been used. Yes, it’s definitely a more subtle response!  If the child was younger and might not have realized on his own that his response was out of line, I could have let him know: “You know, that sounded disrespectful. Can you say what you want in a more respectful way?”

This is just as true with people who aren’t related to us. If someone initiates a conversation topic that we would rather not participate in, we can direct the conversation to a different subject rather than feel forced to participate because we want to be ‘nice’. If someone speaks to us disrespectfully, we do not have to stay in that interaction to be ‘nice’. We teach others how to treat us.

One of my kids once opened the door for a neighbor since I was in the middle of reading to a younger child. I had never spoken to this neighbor before and he wasn’t a warm and friendly kind of person. Before I even had a chance to get up from the couch and without waiting for an invitation, he walked right into the center of my living room.  I felt my space had been invaded, and I told him to please wait next to the door and I would speak to him there. He got angry and threatened not to talk to me or help with the issue that he had come to speak about (the damage a leak from his home was causing to us) but I didn’t back down.  My home is my space and no stranger is welcome to come marching in as if he owns the place. My home, my terms.

treat others how to treat y

You can set the terms of the interactions that you participate in.  We worry too much about being nice to others, while not considering that it’s extremely not nice to ignore your own needs and subjugate them to the needs of others.

maya[1]Every day we have choices: what to respond to, when to respond, how to respond – and it really all begins with, how do we feel worthy of being treated? Do we honor our own needs, our own time, our own preferences?  We communicate this in so many ways and we’re not even aware that we’re communicating that! But our kids are watching us and have a very good sense of what we we really care about.

Avivah

A Story of Hope and Love

Someone shared this wonderful story with me of an adoptive father of 12 children, most of whom have Trisomy 21.  What in the world compelled this couple to travel across the world and adopt these abandoned children from various countries?

If I had read this story before I had a child with Trisomy 21 I simply couldn’t have related to it at all.  I had no part of me that could understand people who did things like that, and could only assume they were on a completely different elevated plane from myself.  I mean, why make your life harder?

 

Rafael, 9 months

Rafael, 9 months

I have a really different perspective now that we have our two treasures with T21.  Since we brought Rafael home I know that people sometimes put me on that elevated plane that I used to put others on, but from where I’m standing, it looks completely different.  It isn’t about picking up a heavy burden and suffering; the reality is so, so much love and blessing and gratitude and faith for all of our beautiful children.

Here’s the story I’m referring to – take a couple of minutes now to go and read it!  A Story of Hope and Love

I can’t even try to guess about seemingly negative things like why the author’s sister suffered as she did, but everyone can clearly see that it led to something very beautiful all these years later – his huge family of children with special needs – as a result of her being in his life.

img_1219

Ds8 told me a few days ago, “I’m glad that Rafael has Down syndrome.  Because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be part of our family.”  I’ve never articulated it in that way to our children, but he’s right – for us Down syndrome was the positive ‘hook’ that brought Rafael into our family!

Avivah

taco seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

A friend of mine gave me some packages of taco seasoning that she wasn’t using and while I wouldn’t have bought them, once I had them I started noticing how many frugal bean/legume recipes I had that called for taco seasoning. The mix of flavors definitely enhanced the taste of the final dish, even if the processed mixture didn’t enhance the nutritional value!

This recipe for homemade taco seasoning makes it possible to enjoy the convenience of a premixed taco seasoning mix without any objectionable ingredients!  It’s super quick to mix up, affordable, and good for you.

Homemade Taco Seasoning 

  • 1/2 c. chili powder (*note below)taco seasoning
  • 1/4 c. onion powder
  • 1/8 c. cumin
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. salt

Mix all the ingredients together, and store in a jar.  Two rounded tablespoons equals one packet of taco seasoning.

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* If like me, you don’t have chili powder in your pantry and don’t want to go out and buy it just to make this recipe, it’s easy to mix up your own. To make chili powder, the recipe I used called for: 2 T. paprika, 2 t. oregano, 1 1/2 t. cumin, 1/2 t. garlic powder, and 3/4 t. onion powder.

**Yet another note: chili powder and cayenne pepper are not the same thing! Cayenne is much hotter and not a good substitute.  I learned this years ago when I made what I thought would be a  delicious and exotic salad and dressing, and used cayenne since I thought it was interchangeable with chili powder.  Every single person took a bite and then reached for his water glass.  :(  No one touched the salad after that first bite.

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Avivah

 

Simanim Salad for Rosh Hashana

A reader asked for this recipe and I’m going to quickly share it now since it won’t be very helpful if I post it after Rosh Hashana!

This is a salad that integrates a number of the traditional symbolic foods for Rosh Hashana evening.  In the past I’ve made different dishes for each food, but in the last couple of years settled on making this salad.  Everyone takes a plateful and as we go through the symbolic foods, chooses from their salad a piece of each.

Simanim Salad for Rosh Hashana

  • 1 large head of lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c. shredded cabbage (you can also use leek – a small piece, thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped dates
  • seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
  • optional: 1/4 c. roasted beets, diced
  • optional: 1/4 c. roasted pumpkin, diced

Dressing:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 t. lemon juice
  • 1 t. minced onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced, or 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. honey
  • 1 t. mustard
  • 1/2 t. salt

Toss all the salad ingredients and place in an attractive serving bowl. Blend the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad before serving.

*If you integrate the roasted pumpkin and roasted beets, this integrates all the simanim except for fish.

There you have it, an easy and attractive way to serve your symbolic foods (simanim) for Rosh Hashana!

Avivah

 

 

apples-honey[1]

Rosh Hashana menu 2017 – gluten free, grain free

This year we have a marathon of cooking for the next three days, since this year Rosh Hashana leads directly into Shabbos!

I usually like to do baking and cooking in advance so that there’s not as much to do in the busy days leading up to the holiday itself, but I no longer have a full size freezer and my fridge isn’t very big.  So yesterday and today are busy cooking days!

Here’s a list of what we’ll be preparing for this Rosh Hashana – everything is gluten free and grain free except for the challah:

Breads:

  • cinnamon raisin round challah
  • regular challah
  • paleo dinner rolls (gluten free option)

Dips:

  • parsley pesto
  • black olive tampenade
  • eggplant salad
  • tomato

Protein:

  • baked fish
  • roasted chicken – savory/sweet (date-parsley-onion blend), paprika garlic blend and cumin garlic blend
  • roast meat with carrots and onions

Symbolic foods for Rosh Hashana (simanim):

  • simanim salad – I serve this on the two nights of Rosh Hashana – it includes apple, pomegranate, date, leek, cabbage and carrots
  • baked fish
  • baked fish head and baked whole fish
  • black eyed peas
  • roast pumpkin
  • roast beets

Salads:

  • green bean-olive
  • pomegranate
  • Israeli cabbage
  • hearts of palm-corn
  • red cabbage-apple

Kugels/vegetable sides:

  • apple kugel
  • vegetable kugel
  • potato kugel
  • carrot apple kugel
  • spinach nut loaf (using roasted sunflower seeds)
  • sesame green beans
  • roast potatoes
  • pineapple beets

Desserts:

  • brownies
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • apple cake
  • almond joy bars
  • pumpkin muffins
  • chocolate pudding

Wishing you all a year of blessings in the year to come!

Avivah

 

Shifts in our home as the teens move out of homeschooling!

It has been a busy summer and has only gotten busier as the official school year has begun! I’ve hoped to write in detail about some of the following points, but due to time constraints will just touch on some updates!

First of all, dd16 is now in seminary!  She travels daily to Jerusalem and I get to see her a few minutes in the evening, if I’m luckly.  She is really loving it so far.  My experience has been when my kids have wanted the school experience, they have thrived because it was something they chose and are emotionally invested in.

Next big change around here is that ds15 is now attending a local yeshiva high school.  It’s a new program with a small first class.  He leaves around 7ish in the morning and gets home about twelve hours later, so it’s a long day and that’s an adjustment.

Ds18 is in a post high school yeshiva (and I never got to tell you about his high school graduation and how he spoke beautifully when asked to represent his class…) and has said that everything is better than he expected. His yeshiva has a no cell phone policy, which has some benefits.  But it also means that in addition to seeing him once a month instead of once a week, I hardly speak to him.  I count myself lucky if I speak to him ten minutes a week.  And that’s longer than he’s speaking to anyone else on the phone during the week!

Dd21 is working on building up her industrial design business. She works from home, and that makes my transition from not having homeschooled teens around to keep an eye on younger siblings a little bit easier.  But she’s supposed to be working, not babysitting, so I really try to keep this to a minimum.

Dd22 is working locally and I enjoy that she’s living at home so I get to see her a bit in the evenings.

And ds24 and his lovely wife are doing well and it’s always nice to see them together!

So that leaves just the youngest five boys at home during the days – officially four are homeschooling this year.  It’s going to be a big shift not to have the older kids around.

I do like my children.  And I miss them when they’re not around.  But I’m grateful they’re growing into independent adults even if it means some pangs and inconvenience for me.

I’ve been busy in the last month doing lots of decluttering and reorganizing of my home space.  The kids (dd21, ds18, dd16 and ds15) built a pergola for our yard with swings and an integrated set of monkey bars, and we build another pergola on our porch that completely covers the porch.   They are all hard workers and did an amazing job.  I realized just yesterday that the one large beam remaining from building the pergolas is perfect for a balance beam for the kids, and yesterday set that up on the porch for them. It’s a nice to feel very settled as we begin our homeschooling year that everything was mostly in place to support us, inside and out.

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought in the last couple of months to what I’d like to focus on in the coming year, personally and with my family.  Doing this clarification process is always powerful for me.  I also just finished locally giving a four week family mission statement workshop series, helping others to navigate this process that personally has been so valuable for me.

Yesterday we finally had a speech evaluation for Yirmi, eight months after I started the application process.  We also had an OT eval a week ago, and Yirmi is now authorized for weekly therapy if we want it.

And just a couple of hours after completing the speech evaluation, I headed to Jerusalem together with ds11 to meet with the Ministry of Education’s representative regarding the new homeschooling application that I filed for this year to include Yirmi.  The rep is hoping that my past request made when living in the north was technically completed so that it will make the process of approving our new application simpler.

However, I got a call today from the local department of Education in the north asking me to remind them of the status of my file!  I thought they should be the ones with a record of that but sometimes I can have unreasonable expectations. :)   He wasn’t clear if an official exemption from the compulsory education law was granted or not.  However, the representative did remember me and that I had done all the necessary steps, and it’s clear that I’m not the one who dropped the ball in completing the legal paperwork.   If they don’t have a record that I was granted permisson to homeschool, we’ll need to begin the entire process again.  More on that as time goes on.

In addition, yesterday my bulk order arrived – I make an order twice a year.  Mostly this is several cartons of coconut oil, but this order also included a 20 kg bag of coconut flour and 11 kg of almond flour.  I’ve been wanting to make desserts that are gluten free for everyone in the family – until now we’ve made special desserts for ds5 that look as similar as possible as the gluten filled treats that everyone else gets.  While white flour and sugar still remain much less expensive than these ingredients, buying in bulk makes the cost of baking gluten free more reasonable.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer and your autumn is off to a great start!

Avivah

sadness

Making room for a child’s sadness

At our dinner table, we have a family tradition in which each person shares three things that he is grateful and appreciative for that happened in his day. This began because I wanted to teach my children to look for the good in their lives on a regular basis, and also to help all of us to share daily the things of import that happened for us that day.

It also leads to opportunities for meaningful discussion of topics.

Recently ds11 shared that he was grateful that he was able to bury a dead bird that he found on the sidewalk. I told him that even though that bird was no longer alive, it was a kindness for the bird and perhaps there’s some part of the bird that recognizes what was done for it.

I shared a short reading from the book The Light Between Us, in which the author describes doing an intuitive reading for a couple who had rescued many animals. She described the outpouring of gratitude ‘on the other side’ that was directed toward them.
I explained to my children that even animals have energetic prints that continue to exist after they die. Every act of kindness, even to the smallest creature, creates a positive energy in the world even though we can’t see it.

It’s an important message for us all – that our acts of kindness leave an effect even after the situation seemingly is in the past. As I was reading to them, I thought that it was particularly of value to ds9 to hear this.

Three weeks earlier he was given a tiny newborn chick in a shoe box by a neighbor who found it on the street. I cautioned him that it’s very, very hard to save a bird that small. But he poured himself into it, feeding it with a dropper throughout the day. By the end of the next day, the little bird was peeping and walking around. He had literally resuscitated this tiny bird and it was so exciting and moving for him.

He went to sleep happy that the chick had clearly turned a corner….and then he woke up in the morning to a dead baby bird.

He threw the bird in the garbage as if he didn’t care, but it was obvious it was a cover for how deeply upset he was.

Kids need to have a space to have their feelings, and so I opened up a conversation with him. The goal was NOT for me to tell him why it wasn’t so bad, he shouldn’t be sad, it’s just a bird, he’ll have another bird or another positive experience in the future. You know, all those things we parents say when faced with the pain of a child that we want to just wipe away. It’s hard to see a child in pain and let them feel their pain without minimizing it.

But they have to have the opportunity to feel the pain, deal with it and move through it. This is part of what matures a person emotionally.

As we spoke, he asked me with tears in his eyes why the bird died. I realized he wasn’t asking me for a physical explanation. He wanted to know a deeper reason. And I didn’t have an answer that made him feel cheerful and okay with it.  I told him that obviously this bird was meant to live only a short time and that he was part of making that bird’s path more pleasant. Then I sat with him quietly and gave him space to process that.

And even though that felt very inadequate to me – I still had that desire to say just the right thing that would wipe away his pain – it was enough.  So often, what our kids need is permission and space to feel their feelings.  And once they have that, they can move on.

Avivah

o and a with rafael, 8 months

A couple on a mission to convince parents to keep their newborns with Down syndrome

Our social worker called tonight to remind me about a request she had made of me at her last visit.  The social worker who did the placement for Rafael with our family is moving on to another position after many years doing this work.  We were asked to send a picture and note for the placement social worker; they will be making a book from as many children that she placed as possible.

It was late when I remembered about this but luckily dh hadn’t yet gone to sleep for the night.  Rafael was just waking up so even though the timing wasn’t ideal since he was drowsy, we managed to get a few quick pics.  Rafael (now 8 months old) is such a good sport – it doesn’t matter how tired he is or if he’s just opening his eyes from a nap – if someone he loves is giving him attention, he’s a happy baby!

o and a with rafael, 8 months

o and a with rafael, 8 months 2

o and a with rafael, 8 months 3

o and a with rafael, 8 months 4

o and a with rafael, 8 months 5

o and a with rafael, 8 months 6

Deliciousness!!

I haven’t really written much about our little treasure.  I don’t know if you could find many babies who get as much love and attention as this cutie – our kids don’t get tired of telling me how much cuter he’s gotten since the day before- and he returns their love in full with his heartfelt smiles and laughter.

Two blog readers sent me the following clip of a couple who adopted a baby girl with Trisomy 21 and have made it their mission to convince parents considering giving up babies with T21 to keep them.  I was in touch with the husband both with Baby M last September and with Rafael seven months ago. With Baby M, he was the direct liason with her birth parents; with Rafael, to access some of his connections to help cut through the legal paperwork that Rafael had been caught in.

The clip is in Hebrew, but for those of you who understand this, it’s very moving.  I watched it several times and felt choked up each time, especially when the woman describes going to the hospital for this abandoned baby they had heard about who was going to be having major surgery. With no legal standing, nothing but a desire to help this baby who had no one, she told the staff she was the mother, and then as soon as she held the baby told her, “Tamar, Tamar, Mommy is here, and and Mommy promises that she’s never going to leave you. ”

Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to link the video directly, so you’ll have to click this link and then click on the video.  Moving video of couple that adopted baby with T21

The reality remains that too many babies with Down syndrome are given up every year.  Not because the parents aren’t capable of raising them but because of advice or suggestions they are given, the fears they have, the stigmas they may feel…. Accurate information goes a long way in encouraging parents and dispelling the fears that lead to giving babies up.

After Yirmi was born five years ago, I anticipated that I would go to hospitals and speak to parents who had gotten the diagnosis of T21, particularly those who were considering giving up their babies. Despite my willingness and even signing up to be on the roster of parents called in this situation, I was never contacted.  Though I’ve spoken to parents of infants and children with T21 and supported them in different ways, reaching out to parents in the hospital obviously wasn’t meant to be my focus.  It’s touching to see the passion and commitment of this couple for whom this is their mission.

Avivah

don't give up

What our aliyah journey has taught me – don’t give up on your vision!

Can you believe that this week marks six years since we moved to Israel?!?

Moving to a new country with nine kids (ages 2 – 18) wasn’t an easy thing to do. Moving to a part of the country where there was very little support for new immigrants made it even harder. I’m not going to belabor the difficulties.  I’ll just say that it was really challenging.

Moving 3.5 years later to a different city in an entirely different part of the country was yet another new beginning to be navigated, and starting over is always hard.  I have to admit that I had a bias against living in an Anglo enclave, which is why I didn’t consider moving to Ramat Beit Shemesh directly from the US.  I’m glad to have completely released that negative thinking and am very, very happy to be living here now.

A couple of days ago, two different sons shared with me their unsolicited thoughts.  One said, “It was a really good move to RBS.  It seems everyone is happy and keeps getting happier.”  The younger one said, “Everything just keeps getting better and better!”

We went against almost all the standard advice that is given to those considering making aliyah (and I’m not recommending anyone do what we did!), but we are SO grateful to be making our lives here.

Our kids are happy, they have friends, they have no longings for the US.  My husband and I both do work that we enjoy, we live in a home that we enjoy, in a community that we enjoy. Does so much good news sound boring?

The path to get here wasn’t boring! It took time to get where we are now along with plenty of bumps in the road.  (If you’ve read my blog for long enough, you know about some of these challenges.) There were lots of frustrations and difficulties that included intense financial stress, struggling to figure out where we fit religiously and socially, determining what educational paths were right for our children, dealing with the medical system and in general, starting over in every way. The starting over piece is HUGE – after years of building a life, you move to a new country and start all over as a new immigrant.  It’s not fun.

But it was worth it.  It was really, really worth it.  While I’ve had an attitude of ‘bloom where you’re planted’ in each place that I’ve lived and appreciated everywhere I’ve been, I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.  And I think my family members would say the same thing.

So my message is: when times are tough, just keep going forward.  If you keep taking the next right step, eventually it will lead you where you want to go.  It may take more time than you want it to take, and you’ll definitely have surprises or detours along the way.  But if you’ve thought about your course of action and determined that moving forward is the best option for you, then don’t give up on yourself and your vision.

Avivah