This is a time of transition in the westbank household.
After years of infertility problems, I honestly feel that having three healthy children is an embarrassment of riches. On the other hand, given the setup in Israel, having three boys means that they leave the nest pretty early, and I find myself putting the prefix “only” before this number.
My oldest is 20 now. Three years ago he decided to become a Chabadnik. I’ve never really written too much about it on the blog, since for most of the past three years we have slowly come to terms with it. (If three years ago we were completely freaked out, now we are only partially freaked out!). Part of the Chabad “maslul” (loosely translated as schedule) is to learn for at least a year in 770 Eastern Parkway – the Lubavitch headquarters in New York. The boys all do this at the age of 20. So my son will be leaving for New York in a few days. Since they usually travel to another country to do shlichut after this year, it means that I may not see him for at least a year and a half, and probably more.
For him it means going to a good place to learn, and being “with” the Rebbe (yes, he is one of those). For me he is trading the beauty of Eretz Yisrael for a slum in Brooklyn. But, as many of the more veteran parents out there know, your children grow up faster than you expect, and become adults that make their own decisions.
My second son is now 14, and a week ago we took him to his new yeshiva. He is very happy there (so far!), and we are happy with the place (so far!). He will be coming home once in a while on Tuesday afternoons, and every other Shabbat and all of the holidays, so I will see him frequently. But he doesn’t sleep under my roof any more, and I feel his absence.
My third son is now 13, and has already expressed his wish to go to dormitory yeshiva next year (even though we think the local school is very appropriate for him). So I am already anticipating a very quiet house next year.
All of this makes me want to throw a tantrum. I want to sit in the middle of the floor and cry. But mature women of (almost) 48 don’t do those things.
On the other hand, even when I feel sad and uncomfortable with all of these changes, out of the corner of my eye I am looking at some new possibilites. From a mundane point of view, I am actually looking forward to being able to keep my house clean (or at least cleaner than it has been for the past 20 years!). I never had a cleaning lady, and with “only” boys in the house, the place looked it! (And yes, my boys do help by washing dishes and the floor, but they never take any responsibility. If I don’t specifically ask for something to be done, it isn’t done. In contrast I know of women whose daughters clean and cook without being told to).
I am also thinking that I will have more time to write (no more excuses, huh?). I have notebooks with scribbled notes on all kinds of things that I could theoretically turn into something.
Being a woman, especially a religious one, means taking what G-d gives you with gratitude. It also sometimes means accepting changes with good grace. I am hoping I can do this, because it doesn’t come naturally.