As a little girl, every time someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always answered the same, a Mother. At Shul, when mothers had their babies with them, I was the first to run and offer help. I loved babies. Loved them.
Ian and I were married February 1st 2004. I was 21 years old. Isabella, my oldest was born October of 2005. Pearl was next in August of 2007, then Mia in June of 2009, and then my little Camille very shortly after in November of 2010. I was 28 years young, with four beautiful girls. It wasn’t until May of 2017 that the twins joined our crazy crew.
Obviously, mothering wasn’t exactly what I had dreamt about growing up. Yes, I know, big surprise. Its challenges were more intense than I ever imagined. The lack of sleep became normal. The crying, tantrums and diapers were constant and expected. The flip side? The joys and triumphs were golden. First words, first steps, when they tasted a lemon for the first time, epic (best facial expressions ever!). Wow, the first time they muttered “I love you Mommy”. I don’t think anyone can understand how deep love runs until they raise a child. We blasted music with the lights off and danced our heads off in our little two bedroom apartment in Queens, N.Y. I was gifted by my husband the opportunity to be a stay at home mother. He was our sole provider, he worked his butt off.
The original fantastic four.
Those were the days. I remember my father in laws response every time I complained about the girls stressing me out. “Ruth, little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems. Enjoy it now.” It was all about their physical needs back then. Obviously, they needed love and hugs, but that came so easy when their scrumptious little bodies waddled up to me. It was about feeding them, keeping them clean, bedtimes, routines, teaching them words and colors, etc. Physically exhausting, but emotionally it was easy for me. But then, at some point they started to morph into these little (dare I say) people. Yes. People. With opinions and feelings. They had long term memories and expectations.
I now worry constantly. Am I too strict? Not strict enough? Did I hug them today? Did I listen? Are they happy? Do they have friends? Do they need more attention? The list goes on.
It’s amazing what a difference it is raising toddlers after so many years. They have me wrapped around their tiny fingers. They can do no wrong. Yes, toddler twins are a handful. Mainly because they get into everything, I’m a slow poke compared to those little gremlins but they rarely stress me out. I had an opportunity to see how fast kids grow, and how their needs change. I really try to soak up these baby times now. I’m in no rush for their next milestones.
My big girls are extraordinary creatures. They are creative, strong willed, feisty, beautiful, and so smart. They are so different from each other and unique. Confession- having six children is exhausting. It’s amazing, and exhaauustingggg!! I find myself so busy with the regular day to day and the never ending errands. I often lay in bed before I fall asleep and wonder if I spoke to my children at all? Aside from the regular banter about school, dinner, and reminding them to hang up their coats, I don’t make the time to really listen to them enough. I feel it is a disservice to myself and to them. When I do take the time, I’m never sorry. It fulfils a part of my soul that can normally not be easily reached. On Friday afternoon I decided to take some time to ask my kids some questions. They each had a turn. I’m sharing this with you because honestly, it was fun. I loved hearing the different answers to the same questions. Their ages and personalities shone through their responses. I honestly think they loved it as well.
Here are the questions and answers:
Me: “What super power would you have if you could choose?”
Isabella: Whoops…Oh wait, she was on a phone call… she missed this one.
Isabella, age 13
Pearl: “I’d either like to be fast like the Flash, to fly or to be invisible.”
Pearl, age 11
Mia- “I’d like to fly like superman, and also to be invisible.”
Mia, age 10
Camille- “I think I would like to be super strong, and invisible, and super fast. Yeah, that’s a good combination!!”
Camille, age 8
Me: “What does it feel like when I hug you?”
Isabella: “Like I have a loving Mom.”
Pearl: “When I feel angry or sad it feels calming or nice and feels like I have a very loving mother.”
Mia: She giggled, then replied “I feel loved.”
Camille: “Ummm, that I love you, and I’m happy. Because I love you.”
Ally: She smiles with her tongue out, then giggles.
Mateo: He ignores me and takes a spoonful of yogurt.
Me: If you could give $100 to a charity, which would you choose, and why?
Isabella: “A mental health facility, because no one should have to feel like they are losing their minds, so they don’t have to feel alone and scared.” (Her answer saddened me a bit, because I know how hard my PPD was for her as well).
Pearl: “I would choose a children’s shelter, if they were abandoned or orphaned or homeless or had no family. Because, shelters have a lot of kids and if they need anything I could help with the little things, like soap, a game to play and things to make them feel happy.”
Mia: “I would give the money to a children’s hospital for children with cancer and other sicknesses. Because I know what it feels like to have someone sick, like you…with your cancer”.
Camille: “Poor people, because they need money and because I feel bad for them. I just do”.
Ally: “Color…caka”. (They aren’t even two years old people, don’t judge, LOL)
Mateo: “ROARRRRRR!” (Yup, you heard it. Roar.)
If you could ask an animal a question and they would understand and reply, what would you ask?
Isabella: “I would ask a wolf. What is it like to have your world in black and white?”
Pearl: “I would ask Leopard from the Negev. How does it feel like to only being a couple of your kind in the whole dessert? Is it easy?”
Mia: “I think I would ask Prince (our dog). I would ask him what it feels like to be a dog?Also, if we take care of him good enough?”
Camille: “I would ask an elephant. How does it feel to pick up heavy things with his trunk?”
Ally: “OohooHaa-aa” (Of course, she chooses the monkey, LOL)
Mateo: “Aaarrrrr!” (Yes, he likes lions and tigers…good guess peeps😂 )
What do you think the animal would answer?
Isabella: “He’d say, I don’t know any different so it’s regular to me.”
Pearl: “I think they would reply- it’s like their normal life because since the old days there has only been very few of them but it still feels lonely at times.”
Mia: “I think he would say it’s fun to be a dog, and he would want to be played with more.”
Camille: “I think the elephant would say he’d like to be helpful with his trunk, and he could help build houses for poor or homeless people.”
What in your opinion makes a person smart?
Isabella: “Ummm, someone who looks at the world in a different perspective. Applying what they learn in real life, not just learning from books.”
Pearl: “I think kindness is what makes people smart. I think if you could see the good in anyone, even a criminal, it can save someones life. Also, still pay attention to some bad. Instead of judging people, it’s smart to ask them if they are okay or just say something nice that can make their day.”
Mia: “To listen to your teachers and learn.”
Camille: “It depends for each person, not like jumping off a roof or something. Making a smart decision. If I only had 5 shekels would a smart person use it or spend it? Saving it is a smart decision.”
If you had to give everyone in your family new names, what would they be?
Isabella: “Papa’s name would be Roy. Mommy’s name would be Alice. My name would be Belle. Pearl would be Lily, Mia would be Alex. And Camille … Clairy. Ally would be Aria, and Mateo would be Barry.” (I must admit, I do like Alice!)
Pearl: “Papa would be Mathew, Mommy would be Alison, and Issy would Maria. I would be Clarissa, Mia would be Maddie. Camille would be Lily. Ally would be Kayla, and Mateo would be Jake-y.”
Mia: “Papa would be Avram, Mommy would be Sarah. Isabella would be Ally. Pearl would be Hayley. Camille would be Hadas, and Aliyah would be Sapir. I would be Leah and Mateo would be Mordy. Like how Nona would say it. Mooorrddyyy! (I was cracking up to this one!)
Camille: “Okay, that’s hard because everyone’s names suit them, like if anyone named their kid kadoodle that would be bad… like Lala, (Nechama’s friend) her parents probably named her that because they thought that she would sing good. So, Papa would be Martin, Mommy would be Iris. Issy would be Felicity, Pearl would be Cara. Mateo would be Ray, and Ally would be….uchhh, there is no more super hero girls, maybe Nora?…No, that doesn’t suit her, she would be Lyla. Hmmm, I would be Sara.”
Ally and Mateo, we asked: “Papa?” She spits, then he spits. “What’s Mommy’s name?” She spits, and then of course, he spits. “What about Issy, guys?” Ally says, “Caka”, ‘he spits’. Pearl is? “Powl” Ally says, and Mateo nods and laughs. Okay, enough of that, I couldn’t get one straight answer out of them. Pshhh, toddlers.
I have to say, I loved this time with them. It’s 100% something I need to do do more often. To spend the time to ask them random questions, and to hear their beautiful innocent responses. It was really special. I have a whole lot of kids, with very different needs. I know that I will not be able to have these type of moments daily. But… I can always strive to do more. For them, and for me. I want some ideas, some realistic ways to bond for the time challenged Moms (or Dads). What do you do to bond to your children?