Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hannah Rose

When I was in third grade, I met a girl in my Hebrew school class that would change the course of my life forever.

At nine years old, this girl and I were mostly concerned about getting our ears pierced - something both of our dads strictly forbid. She had blonde straight hair and I had dark curly hair. While we did not look like sisters, we both felt that connection right way. She had three brothers and I had two and we were both sorely in need of a girl to confide in.

Our friendship grew and grew over the years. Our brothers became friends. Our parents became friends. We went to the shore together. I rode in my first limo with her and spent summers swimming in her outdoor pool. I called her parent's mom and dad and they were very much like parents to me. I slept over her house every weekend and we spent rang in many New Year's Eves together.

We celebrated out Bat Mitzvah's together. I remember her Sweet Sixteen party like it was last month and not several decades ago. I remember each and every New Kids on the Block concert. I remember walking around the mall on Friday nights just because. I remember it all.

We were in our synagogue's youth group together and had our first crushes together. She fell in love first and I was envious and worried about what it might do to our friendship. It only strengthened it. I signed the ketubah (marriage contract) at her wedding and she and her husband, in turn, signed mine (although many many years later!).

Estelle and I have been friends for as long as I can remember and I can't imagine what my life would be like without her by my side.

Noam was instrumental in getting me a job that opened up many doors for me. I made a lot of friends, build up a nice resume and oh yeah, also met the man that would later be my husband.

When Estelle called to tell me she was pregnant, I already knew. I had dreamt it. I also knew her name. I can't explain it - I am the least clairvoyant person there is...and yet I knew the world was soon going to meet a girl named Hannah Rose.

Hannah turned thirteen this past December. And this past weekend, she celebrated her Bat Mitzvah.

It's hard to put into words what the weekend meant to me. Friday night, my mom and I went to synagogue services and sat with another friend that has been with us on this journey for almost as long. We watched the evening unfold and took it all in.

The next morning we went back to synagogue. Gary and Miranda came, too. Miranda sat through almost two hours of services that were mainly in Hebrew. That is no small feat for an almost-four-year-old! She drank it all in and I hope that experience will excite her about her upcoming Jewish education. I think it did.

And Hannah? Well, that little girl is not so little anymore. She was poised and confident and radiant, just like her mom. I was so proud of her and so proud to know that I played a little part in the history of her life.

Estelle and Noam were beaming. There were tears of happiness and joy. I practically wanted to freeze time.

That night, we partied. We celebrated and laughed and cheered and cried a little bit more. Hannah has her whole life ahead of her and has a solid and strong foundation on which to build her whole life. Her younger brother, Zach, who just turned eight (and thus not so "young" anymore) was enjoying the attention that both he and his sister were receiving and they were both so amazing. 

Estelle's brothers and their wives and their kids were all having a great time. Noam's siblings and their families were spreading contagious smiles. It was a full-circle moment for me in that I went from the kid that danced the Wang Chung at Estelle's Bat Mitzvah to "one of her parent's friends" at Hannah's Bat Mitzvah.

We all held hands as we danced the hora and the feeling in the room was electric. Years of Hannah studying and practicing and learning. Years of Hebrew school lessons and tutoring and rehearsing over and over and over.

I look at this family that Estelle and Noam have made and I burst with pride. Then I look at my own family and think about how lucky I am. How lucky we all are. 

Judaism is more than a religion to me. It introduced me to my oldest friend and her family. I love the traditions and the culture and the spirituality of it all.

I am so proud of Hannah. I am honored to be a part of her life. I can't wait to see what's in store for her next. Something tells me with her parents and her brother by her side, it will be!

Hannah's Baby Naming
Miranda and me "striking a pose"
The Proud Family!

What a night!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Jewish Confessional

Since I am Jewish, I do not take or go to Confession. If I did, I feel like every other time I would go, I would say, "Bless me, Rabbi, for I have sinned. I ate a box of Girl Scout cookies...again."

I am not making light of confession; rather, I am illustrating exactly how big of a deal my weight is to me.

That's right. To me. Because I finally get that no one else really cares. As long as I am healthy and happy, no one gives a crap what size jeans I wear.

I have lost and gained so much weight, so many times, that I have stretch marks of every shape and size. Some of from being pregnant, but most are from bagels and pasta. And ice cream. And in college, lots of ramen and macaroni and cheese.

These days, I am busy taking care of my daughter and making sure my family is doing well. I am also trying to build my writing career. I got a new client last week and I am already doing work for them. I simply do not have time for the self-loathing that I have been doing my whole life.

When I am thin, I am not thin enough. When I am fat, I am too fat. So I am trying something new.

I do not want to be thin. I do not want to be fat. I just want to be me.

I tried my first Zumba class this morning. I figured those skills would give me the energy to keep up with Miranda on the playground or at the pool this summer. With sweat rolling down my face, moving left, swaying right, I looked into the mirror and saw my reflection smiling back at me. It was a tired smile, but it was a proud smile. I am taking care of me.

I started cooking. With the help of my brother and sister-in-law, I am cooking healthy recipes that my whole family seems to enjoy. With the help of my best friend since high school, I made fish for the first time last week. It was so good, Miranda picked it up and ate it with her hands. Then she devoured the string beans that went with it. Huh??

My mom tried her best with me, but I was stubborn. I refused to eat or try certain vegetables just because. Miranda is stubborn, too, but I am hoping if we set the precedent when she is young, she will never know the difference between good food or bad food. She will just know how we eat at home. And then I can rest easy knowing that I am giving her the best foundation that I can.

None of this is easy. I guarantee you we will have pizza night again - sooner rather than later. And when I am cooking, I like to have a nice glass of wine with me. We also still have Girl Scout cookies in the pantry and several boxes on order from my niece. For the first time, I know I do not have to get rid of everything in the house. I just have to make smarter choices when I can. And when I can't, it's ok. One meal at a time...one day at a time.  It's not a perfect system, but it's sure better than how I have been living.

"Bless me, Rabbi...I have made an awful lot of mistakes but I think I finally found a way to fix them."

My shopping partner

Adoption In My Heart

Today was the Adoptions From The Heart Annual Picnic . We love this event. It is close to our house, it is early enough in the summer that i...