A Life is a Life is a Life

Hey all.
This is me – checking in. I’m okay.
Except, I’m not okay.

I was so excited to write a new blog post. Mostly because I haven’t written one in a month, and a coherent one with pictures and stuff in longer detail.
I was gonna regale you with all the exciting changes happening to the RestlessMama family; about how school is over for the semester, and I’m switching programs; about the holiday of Shavuot we just had and the three cheesecakes that I baked; about how we’re MOVING to a bigger apartment (because, reasons*) and the necessary stress that entails.

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

So last week I met up with a friend visiting this country and we spent the better part of the early afternoon wandering that holiest of tourist destinations, Jerusalem.

While wandering and gossiping and catching up and eating food, she mentioned quite nonchalantly that she reads my blog (woohoo!). Which segued quite naturally to my most recent post about changing jobs and restarting and blah blah. I started to tell her about the new job when we were distracted by a budding photographer (no, for real), which naturally segued into some other topic and the next thing we knew it was time to part ways.

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Israel; Just the way it is

It has been such a while hasn’t it? #sorrynotsorry 🙂
Semi because of holidays and work and term papers (which I finished!), and semi because of technical issues with the Site-Twitter-Facebook love triangle. I hopefully have figured it out, but probably not, because there are some technical issues that just fly right over my head. You know, like airplanes over Cleveland.

I'm fully aware that this is Nebraska. Humor me.

I’m fully aware that this is Nebraska. Humor me.


And there’s really only one way to find out that the tech issues are resolved, so on with the post.

There’s been a ton happening, so let’s just jump right on in to the thing that seems to be dominating everyone’s mind.

Israel is a shit hole right now. Wait, maybe “shit hole” is too strong…cesspool of terror? Yeah, that’s better.

There are crazy people wandering around with knives hidden in combs, my Facebook feed is filled with questions about where to buy pepper spray and offers for free self-defense courses, and threats abound on my Whatsapp groups about Arab women possibly sneakily making their way into day care centers (YES!) to hurt and possibly kill children.
I find myself alternating between going on the internet because I need to for work, and getting off the internet because it’s filled with images that you can never unsee.

Everyone is suspicious of everyone else, nobody is happy, and there is a vise around this country that gets tighter and tighter with each passing millisecond. Because we are waiting for something to happen. We’re waiting for the news report that somebody else was injured or killed. We’re waiting for our friends/love ones/coworkers to tell us they’re okay. The tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife (WORST. CLICHE. USAGE. EVER.) And I want to just stick my fingers in my ears and shut my eyes and ignore it all in the hopes that it goes away.

Precisely.

Precisely.


But I can’t, because it won’t. This never goes away. Because it’s one of those endless cyclical sibling rivalry types of things, that each time it comes up everyone else just sighs and says “Not again, won’t they ever learn?” There doesn’t seem to be any let up to the crazy that is going on right now. And it’s enough to seep into other parts of our lives and make everything a little less sensical, and a little more absurd. At least, that’s how I see it.

So instead, I write about it.

My high school does this thing where they ask alumni living in Israel to write about the conflict du jour – so about twice a year there are a slew of contributions to the Alumni Blog. I guess they like my writing style.

You can read it here: http://www.icja.org/2015/10/living-with-the-good-and-the-bad/

Apologies and A Dream Deferred

In previous posts, here and there, I made vague references to an incredible job opportunity that made its way into my lap.

Okay, so maybe

Okay, so maybe “vague” is a slight understatement.

To be fair, I didn’t want to go into too much detail or tell too many people about it, because that would mean going back to all those people and providing updates. Which normally, I’m really happy to do – but it was just such a bad time. So, I kept it vague and I tried not to think about it.

I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have anything else going on in my life…just writing a seminar paper, performing research for my term papers/oral presentations, and getting ready for LAK’s wedding. Also the sudden out-of-the-blue driving test (which I failed, BTW), and the ever-present continuation of hunting for a job.

Needless to say, I had what to distract me with. But it wasn’t easy.

It was a real struggle to focus on anything other than this job opp. I constantly questioned my self worth, and worried if I would make the right decision, and freaked out. A LOT.
There were lots of elements of my life that suffered during this time – to the point where I wasn’t able to do much else except yell in order to handle the stress. I was too panicked stressed freaked (there is no word to adequately describe what I was feeling). In my mind, there was no other acceptable alternative outlet for the confusion, disorder, chaos, and panic.

PANIC!!

PANIC!!

So, this is an apology to those whom I may have annoyed, pissed off, ignored, offended. While I cannnot say that my behavior during the past month-and-a-half wasn’t warranted, and I was validated several times by the people who know me best, I was aware enough to know that I was definitely not myself. This fact was also pointed out to me on numerous occasions, also by the people who know me best.

For events that I may have missed, or for things I said that I shouldn’t have, or for the crazy I was handing out like candy on Halloween, or for some other reason that I neglected to mention, or for all of the above – I am sorry.

I feel more like myself now, and I hope that I never have to go through something like that again. Or, if I do, that I am better able to handle it. Or, that I continue to have amazing friends to help me get through it.

*breath* Okay. Onward and upward.

I went to the Opera House three times in the span of 10 days. Each time, I had to psych myself up to open the main door and not vomit immediately upon entering. On the return trip home each time, I rambled on the phone to the Hubby for a good 40 minutes, which did not help in the least but was still necessary.

The first time was to present myself (I guess) as a candidate for the job opp. I waltzed on in with my best smile, slathered in confidence and bouncing with excitement; I walked out with a phone number and email address, and butterflies in my stomach. Contact was made later that day, and a CV was exchanged. The interview was scheduled for the following week.

The second time I stately walked in and patiently waited for a few minutes. I was warmly received by the head of HR, and the appreciation was mutual. The butterflies had been replaced by stomach acid, and my heart was beating like a brass band.

I was interviewed by the same HR guy, who was very forthcoming with any and all information available to him, not only about this job but also working at the Opera House in general.

As the interview progressed, I realized that he wanted me to make the right choice, too. To my surprise, he didn’t want me to choose the job over my family and/or religion, despite my apparent willingness to do just that. Because, despite the fact that asking these types of questions are the norm in Israel interviews, and despite the increasing belief that there is global discrimination regarding family status and religion when applying for jobs, some positions in certain fields really do require you to put those things on the back burner. And therefore, they must be discussed in detail.

He understood that; he understood that this is not the easiest field to work in on a good day, and that I really, really, REALLY wanted to work there anyhow.

It was kind of obvious. The desire to be employed by the Opera House was literally on my face, and my sleeve. When we took a tour of the offices I happened upon my reflection in the elevator mirror and said to myself, “I look like Lucy when she first entered Narnia. I look like I’m dreaming.”

Yup, accurate.

Yup, accurate.

So, after the tour, when we were back in his office, he gave me the low-down. And the further low-down. He made it his mission to give me as many details as possible. For he could tell that I had no idea what this kind of job would entail, or what it would mean in the grand scheme of things.
With each additional bit of information, I could feel the realization resonate on my face, even though I was no longer in front of a mirror. The realization that, to pursue this dream, life as I knew it would change drastically.

That interview lasted an hour and a half. It would have lasted longer, had I been aware enough to think about what I was considering getting myself into. As it was, there was a second part to the interview which we scheduled for the following week. I figured this would give me the whole weekend to talk with the Hubby and various friends and family members, not only to collectively freak the hell out, but also to get advice.

We mostly did this.

We mostly did this.

With the Hubby, I analyzed each statement, each answer, each sigh, each facial expression. We talked about the pros and cons and neutrals of taking the job, of rejecting the job, of what it would mean for us as a family, and as individuals.

With my friends, I explained and provided as much detail as possible about the job description, and what it would entail regarding commitment. My closest friends, who know that this is my dream of dreams, offered some of the best advice I ever received about work in general and this job in particular.

With everyone, we talked about relevant questions I should ask at the second interview. We also talked about questions I needed to ask *myself* at some point during this process. Of course, there were also follow-up questions dependent on the answers that I received; each of those provided me with additional “what-if” scenarios until I had piles of lists that were filled with questions, each one spinning me around and making me dizzy and nauseous.

The morning of the second interview dawned, and I became a better expert at Vaguebooking. I slowly made my way through the main doors, incredibly unsure of myself and with a sense of unease. I spent almost 3 hours at the opera house, filling out a questionnaire, reading questions off the list I had prepared, making sense of the answers I received, and hearing snippets of whatever opera they were currently practicing.

I couldn’t tell if it was going well. I may have dug myself into a hole with the questions I asked – but, I needed to ask those questions and receive those answers, so I could make an educated decision.

HR guy said that I would hear something within the next few weeks. We shook hands, and I shakily made my way back home. I had nothing else to give, but I told myself that I presented myself the best that I could. And now, I just had to wait for them to make a decision.

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Crazygonuts Family Fun Times!

Also known as LAK’s wedding week extravaganza.

The family has returned to their places of origin, the happily married couple is currently on a trip that may-or-may-not resemble a honeymoon (I mean, they are currently not in the country, but they are in Seattle, so…..), and the mountain of laundry is now merely a molehill.

In short, we now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

*insert sound here*

*insert sound here*

Excepting, of course, the two presentations I need to present this week. And the requisite term papers that go along with those presentations (even though they aren’t due for a few months). And our international trip next week, which requires only some preparation. And job hunting because, well, consistency.

But still. *Deep, contented sigh*

Pa is fond of saying really corny dad things, and his catchphrase is “When’s the last time this whole family was together?” And truth be told, it had been a while. About 2 years, to be exact – since Other Brother’s wedding.

Although we have multiple email and whatsapp chains, because my family gets together like this we tend to get on each others’ nerves really quickly and really often. It’s almost like we regress in age and space, back to before the in-laws and offspring and BA degrees (of which we all have). It provides us a second chance at the childhood we experienced together, because for us those jokes really don’t ever get old. There is nothing like taking a joke out of storage for the first time in 7 years, and realizing it’s still hysterically punny.

We also get the chance to make new jokes and memories, without any pretense. Our collective memories revolve around moments like this, which make them more potent. All those Friday night dinners we had together as a family are a huge blur – but the last two weekends will be remembered for a while (and not just because they are freshest).

But, it also provides us the opportunity to talk with each other about the things that really matter. The technological threads are there for the usual day-to-day mundanities, so when we are all physically in the same place we can get right down to business.

So although it was crazy, and stressful, and absolutely hellishly nuts – it was nice to have the whole family together again for the first time since the last time.

*pause* Yeah.

*pause* Yeah.

OH, here are a smattering of pictures. Because of course. Enjoy.

Yup, totally normal.

Yup, totally normal.

Nooshkin and DaNiece meet!

Nooshkin and DaNiece meet!

Fun times at the beach

Fun times at the beach

Three men and a baby!

Three men and a baby!

Nooshkin and DaNiece

Nooshkin and DaNiece

Hubby and the Other Brother

Hubby and the Other Brother

LAK was surprised by her bestest friends.

LAK was surprised by her bestest friends.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Pretty girls

Pretty girls

The Restless Mama family

The Restless Mama family

The Path of the Destined

I’ve been thinking a lot about destiny lately. Mostly about how it creeps up on you at the absolute worst possible time like a ton of bricks, usually with a ton of bricks in hand.

But, sometimes, destiny surprises you way after the fact, with one of those “Ha ha! I told you so!” moments.

Except, not that ugly looking.

Except, not that ugly looking.

And you kind of replay every moment that led up to the one you currently find yourself in, and wonder what it would have been like had destiny taken you down another path.
But then, you remind yourself, that you are the one in control of your life, and destiny is this figment of our collective imaginations. Probably created by someone a long time ago who was unable to commit to the choices that he made, or admit that he made them himself.

Also, destiny can’t lead us anywhere because it’s blind. That would be kind of disastrous.

Not sorry, at all.

Not sorry, at all.

I’ve had a lot of time lately to think about destiny, and how it drives us to make certain choices in our lives. From things as small as which bus we take and when we do our grocery shopping, to big things like where to go to school or when to have kids. Any one of those situations can introduce you to someone, or an idea, or something that you would not otherwise have met, or thought of, or experienced had you made a different choice.

In the Sandman graphic novel series, Neil Gaiman explains it best:

The paths fork and divide. With each step you take through Destiny’s garden, you make a choice; and every choice determines future paths. However, at the end of a lifetime of walking you might look back, and see only one path stretching out behind you; or look ahead, and see only darkness.

What Neil doesn’t say, is that sometimes when you look back, you can see hints of the other paths that “might-have-been”. Sometimes, there are points in our lives where it was so blatantly obvious that we had a choice to make, that we forever look back to that moment and wonder – “What if?”

I find myself doing that a lot lately.

About three weeks ago I found myself drawn to something posted on the bulletin board outside the music secretary’s office on campus. It was a job opportunity; it had the logo of the Tel-Aviv Opera House on it in the upper-right corner.

That was all that mattered.

I took down the contact information and ran home – too afraid to actually call the guy and ask about this. But, a few days later, I mentioned it to the Hubby and he said do it. More like, DO IT!!!!! But you get the idea.

So I did it. Twice – yes, I was invited back for a second interview. No, my gag reflex did not fail me either time, although my stomach has been doing complex somersaults ever since I saw the job opp. I have also not really been able to focus on the myriad other things that I must needs do right now, because this has been weighing on me constantly.

This job opp is the pinnacle of what I consider my dream job, no superlatives necessary. I would be working in the music library, responsible for caring and organizing and preparing the sheet music for every single operatic and symphonic performance. Of which there are *counting* anywhere between 15 and 20 per year.
I would be working long hours, longer weeks, and would really only get a few moments between performances to collect myself.

But, in all honesty, I would scrub the floor with a toothbrush as long as my pay stub said “Tel-Aviv Opera House” on it.

Wow, there are stock photos of everything these days.

Wow, there are stock photos of everything these days.

I’m totally not kidding – I’ve said this enough times to realize that it’s the honest truth.

I guess that was when I realized I really wanted to work there – because if you repeat something often enough, it becomes truth. Working there would be the dream. And that dream kept reasserting itself. And the dream that keeps coming back is, above all else, your destiny.

This job would mean incomparable, inconceivable, unadulterated happiness for me. It would also mean that life as I, the Hubby, and Nooshkin know it would change forever.
So – all the melodrama and stress is definitely warranted. As is the desire for an adultier adult to make this decision for me.

Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to about this job opp has said I should accept it (if given the chance). They know me well, they’ve heard me talk about this forever; and, let’s be honest – dreams don’t often present themselves so obviously.
This is my hobby, my degree, my passion, my muse.

Paths change, options appear, choices present themselves all the time. This month so many people I know are quitting work, or moving, or getting married, or applying for their next degree. In LAK’s case, it’s all of the above (she’s a little nuts like that).

It’s only been four-and-a-half months since I made the choice to quit my job. It feels like a lot longer. So much has happened since then, and mostly for the good, that I know it was the right choice. But, still.

The thought occurred to me that I was meant to know about this job. Regardless of whether or not I end up getting it, I was meant to know right now – smack in the middle of all else that is happening right now – that there are possibilities like this out there. That there are many other paths available in front of me, regardless of how far they end up taking me before I am presented with other choices or, worse yet, backtrack to where I started.

I know that if I hadn’t quit I would not know that this job opp even existed. And I would not be having these questions, and doubts, and sleepless nights. My path would be set, and straight, for a little while longer.

But I am holding on tight to the possibility that this job opp is neither for the good, nor the bad – but for the neutral. That right now I’m only meant to be presented with a crossroad, instead of a straight line. That perhaps I will end up continuing down the same path that I had been on two weeks ago.

Maybe I’m only meant to know that it exists. And, rather surprisingly, that comforts me immensely.

Regardless of what happens within the next two weeks, I have to trust myself that the choice I make will be the right one. Otherwise I end up with regret, and I cannot afford to regret the decisions that I make. Living a life with regrets means that there was nothing good in any choice that I made – which is obviously not true. All choices, all decisions, can have a positive outlook – but only if you are open to the possibility that not everything is terrible, or horrible, or no good, or very bad.

Even in Australia.

Even in Australia.

I guess that means I am the adultier adult, and that I’m capable of making this choice.

And I will see you on the other side.

A Final Countdown, of sorts…

My brain has entered that unholiest of places. My very being is slowly succumbing to an endless barrage of ticking and tocking, of incremental increases in stress levels, and in copious consumptions of rum.

Except, the rum is always gone.

Except, the rum is always gone.

I have entered…The Countdown Place. [thus endeth the melodrama]

I should explain, elaborate, and exhale.

When I first quit work I had set myself a time frame for everything that I needed to do. And, except for finishing my seminar paper (of which I have currently 0/25 pages written and only 3/18 articles read in their entirety…), and getting my drivers license (which is entirely the fault of the Fercockt DMV in this country for changing the rules every five seconds) and finding a job (which has been mentioned somewhat at length here and here) I managed to do everything.

[thus beginnith the panic…ith]

Obscure pop-culture reference FTW!

Obscure pop-culture reference FTW!

Anyway, as soon as the time frame had passed I got all up in my head and only recently am beginning to come out of it.

And NOW, there is a lot more that is about to happen in the next eight weeks.

I have two-and-a-half weeks to finish my seminar paper before the next wedding. And then I have another two weeks before LAK’s wedding – and those weeks will be a flurry of wedding-related activity. But, there will also be wedding-related activity in the first batch of two weeks.
Then, after LAK’s wedding, I have another two weeks before our friends’ wedding in Budapest (oh yeah, I may have completely forgotten about that with everything else that’s going on). So, I also have to plan an international week-long trip in the next six weeks.

Not to mention the usual tasks of job hunting, license getting, nooshkin minding, apartment attending, and school.

I am hoping that once everything resolves, or as soon as there’s rum, I will be a much more fun person to hang out with. But for now, I guess I better get to work…

Currently Grooving On: All 3 Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtracks (for some reason they really help me focus on writing seminar papers)

If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It

In a direct continuation of my last post, I realized today that my CV wasn’t necessarily completely – um, how do you say – complete.
Although that definitely explains why I hadn’t heard back from anyone. *sigh*

Applying for jobs, and the requisite “Tell me a little about yourself” part of the interview has never been something that I enjoy. While I am really comfortable singing my own praises to psych myself up for whatever, putting them on paper and then singing in front of other people (who may or may not want to pay me for said praises) still leaves me with a strange taste in my mouth.

I’m fully aware that it’s a necessary evil in the working world – confidence and self-assuredness are very important skills that practically every job position requires, even if they’re not expressed on the posting. I have done enough public displays of crazy that I know I can handle most anything that comes my way – baring jobs that I’m just not physically capable of doing. Like, defensive tight end.

This guy, I ain't.

This guy, I ain’t.

I really can’t put my finger on why, or the basic core reasoning for this feeling. I just know that I hate it. And I always have.
Although, “hate” may be too strong a word. Perhaps “strongly dislike” is better. Yeah – I strongly dislike the job application process. I do it, and I do interviews; dare I say I do interviews really well. I may not necessarily end up with the job, but it’s usually because I don’t have additional skills or the time to devote to the job. You know, information that wasn’t included in the initial posting, but should have been.

But I do it. Even though it’s not fun. Because I have to, and because I’m an adult.

It just makes me feel like a monkey. Especially when I’m asked to prove that I can perform the skills that are on my CV. Like, they don’t believe it and they need to test me.

Worse than this though, is not hearing back from anyone at all. Thus begins a never-ending cycle of “did they even get my email?/did they bother to read my email?/is my email floating helplessly through dead cyberspace?/should i send another email? (maybe this time with a better CV)/never mind i’m just gonna eat whiskey-flavored ice cream”

Seriously, why has nobody invented that yet?

Anyway – I have done this enough times to know that I am comfortable with my knowledge and know-how and street smarts and book smarts. I have mad skillz and I can use/utilize them anywhere and anytime.

I am awesome, an expert, a pro, a professional.

I’ve got it and I will flaunt it. Whatever *it* is.

How I Spend Every Spring Break

Well, it’s that time of year again…

*sigh*

*sigh*

Exactly one month after Purim, hamentaschen, and baked goods, the house needs to be scrubbed spotless for Passover. Because Judaism is full of hilarity.

In keeping with the theme of Jewish holidays, Passover celebrates the liberation of the Biblical Hebrews from generations of slavery in Ancient Egypt. The Hebrews were in Egypt primarily because of a pretty serious drought during the time of Joseph, and he was the Royal Vizier to the Pharaoh at the time (which meant he had connections) so he convinced his entire family to move to save themselves.
And things were pretty good, until along came another Pharaoh who “didn’t remember Joseph” (Biblical quote, too). He also seemed pretty unsettled by the sheer number of Hebrews that were currently taking up residence in his hometown, and decided to make them work for a living. And then work for no living.

Fast forward a couple of generations, and we meet Moses. Moses is alive because his mother put him in a basket down by the (Nile) river, and Pharaoh’s daughter happened to be playing in the reeds; she finds him and decides to adopt him, knowing exactly what he is. For the next few decades Moses is raised by the very people who make his peoples’ lives miserable, and he kind of loses it.

Moses runs away and finds himself; he also finds god in a burning bush that was not consumed. He comes back to Egypt a miracle worker and broken record. Essentially, this happens:

Moses: “Let my people go”
Pharaoh: “Nope”
God smites Egypt with a plague
Pharaoh: “Okay!”
God takes the plague away
Pharaoh: “Just kidding!”

Repeat 8x

On the tenth time:

God smites Egypt with the worst plague ever – Death of the Firstborn
Pharaoh: “GTFO and don’t come back!”
Moses and Hebrews: “We’re going, we’re going!”
God: Wow, I smoted them good.

About three days later Pharaoh comes to his senses (what?!) and gives chase to the Hebrews. Moses, having now gotten over his fear of public speaking, intervenes and asks for god’s help. The Red Sea splits and the Hebrews are saved; the Egyptians can’t do the backstroke very well and drown.

I don’t remember what specific event this date commemorates (thanks, Bestamama and Pa, for that super expensive Jewish education!). But I think it’s the date the Hebrews left Egypt.

In their haste to leave Egypt, the Hebrews didn’t have enough time to let their bread rise (which I find hard to believe. They weren’t working at all, and there were 10 plagues of increasing creepiness that they were immune to. Really, they had no idea what was coming?). So that’s why we eat matza.
Generations of rabbis added stringency upon stringency, to the point where Jews today cannot have anything from any kind of grain product – no bread, crackers, cheerios, pasta, cookies, whiskey, bourbon; anything fun, really.
But – not only can we not eat any of these items, we can’t own any of them either.

Hence, the cleaning. I’m completely sure that this is how the concept of Spring Cleaning originated.

Passover starts on Friday night, so this week is being devoted to cleaning, shopping, and cooking. Nooshkin is naturally very excited for all the things, especially the cleaning and shopping.

Putting nooshkin to work.

Putting nooshkin to work.

Stinky Face is coming for the entire holiday and will be sleeping on the couch, which everyone is super excited about (no, really). We have lots of fun stuff planned, most of which does not involve cleaning out the fridge and oven.

Which I really should get back to…

The First Play Date

Well, it’s been about two weeks since it happened, and I think I have calmed down enough to document what happened.

As the title suggests, my nooshkin had her first play date a few weeks ago.

Before you start thinking that this Restless Mama is horrible and deserves the most sarcastic Mother-of-the-Year award ever, the nooshkin has been on play dates before. The family across the hall has a three-year-old girl as well, and they happen to be in the same group at pre-school this year. They are really good together and are close to mastering the art of Frienemy-ship before they turn four.
Really, it’s an impressive thing to watch.

Anyway, they play together after school constantly and have done so for about two years (since the neighbors moved in). We take turns hosting, and because of the proximity the front doors are almost always open, so there’s a lot of back-and-forth. It’s cute; annoying, but cute.

It also means that, until now, play dates meant 30 minutes maximum and involved quite a few laps across the hallway.

So as far as I was concerned, this was the First Play Date.
Heck, let’s be honest, it was the FIRST PLAY DATE, caps lock and all.

The other mother and I had arranged this the week prior; I tried to remember play dates from my own childhood and from other mommy-friends of mine and figured that the girls would go home together after school, play for an hour or two, and then I would pick up the nooshkin and bring her home.

Well, I was right about the first part. Sort of.

The hubby suggested that I go to school at 2pm to facilitate in the send off, since it was out-of-the-ordinary for us (nooshkin is usually in school until 5pm). I met the dad of the girl she was going to hang out with, and we schmoozed for a bit while the girls got ready to leave. We all left together, and her suggested that I walk with them to their house. “Sure” I said. It’s not like I had anything better to do.

We all arrived safe and sound, and the girls immediately went to play. I was invited to hang out with the parents while they multi-tasked as only professional parents can do. In the span of two hours the girls played, I watched their newborn while the parents cleaned and made lunch and then ate said lunch since the girls were too busy playing.

It was a fairly relaxing play date; I was kind of happy with how it turned out and I was mentally prepared to have similar play dates at our house when the time came.

But then – the dad started packing a bag. With park equipment. And while I’m sure my face registered a mask of calm my insides were going “Wait one gosh-darn minute here!”

While the dad was packing the bag he said that they were planning to go to Park Leumi, a fairly big park that’s about a 5 minute drive away. I knew where the park was, and we had gone with the nooshkin a few times before. But I also knew that you don’t pack up a bag and put your kid in the car for a measly 20 minutes at a park.

Suddenly my two-hour chill session morphed into a four-hour plus adventure, complete with stale bread and ducks.

I did some quick mental calculations: we had already taken away the (initial) First Play Date with this girl because the nooshkin had misbehaved. But she had been so good for the whole week; I knew she was looking forward to this and she really had earned it. They had my phone number, and I had theirs.

So I smiled and said, “Sure. No big deal.”

I helped them take everything down to the car, and then pulled the nooshkin aside. I gave her a little pep talk, since she had never done anything with parents’ of a friend without either me or the hubby being within shouting distance. If she seemed nervous it didn’t show, and she gave me a big hug and kiss before she got in the car.
And they drove off.

There was plenty to do at home, but I didn’t want to get too involved in something. I kept telling myself that I was being ridiculous, that everything would be fine.

But I turned my phone on LOUD and kept my shoes on. I kept telling myself that it would be okay; nooshkin is a big girl, and she understood that this was something very extra special and was not about to screw it up.
But I still couldn’t calm down enough.

And then Whatsapp buzzed. And it was the sweetest, most reassuring sound ever.
Picture after picture after picture, of the girls at the park. Holding hands, feeding the ducks, running and playing.
The fist around my heart opened, and the worry evaporated and floated away like a lost balloon. I took a deep breath – I didn’t realize I was holding it! – and continued washing the dishes.

Time passed; I moved from the dishes to making dinner, to putting away laundry. And then I noticed that it was dark outside. But not pre-dusk dark; it was DARK. The clock said 6:10 pm and that lost balloon found itself attached to my wrist.

Trying to keep cool, I Whatsapped the mother with something innocuous like “Hey, how’s it going?” And I finally got a response five minutes later. “We’re on our way back, see you downstairs!”

The nooshkin was exhausted; the other mom said she was a really good girl and behaved herself. I beamed like the proud mama I am, said “Thanks, we’ll do this again soon!” and went inside.

I have no doubt that there will be more play dates in the future. But not for a while. Mommy needs to regroup first.