Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On feeling someone else's pain

I read a friend's blog about one of her reactions to the attack in Itamar being less empathetic, less emotional than she would have liked / expected, how she was unhappy with herself for not 'feeling' more (until she looked at the horrific graphic photos out there of the aftermath of the attack, which I have no intention to ever view ever).

Here's my reaction to that. I don't claim to be an expert on this whole mommy thing, but as most of you know I had a long time to prepare for this mommy thing in my own life, and a lot of years to watch others do it, and here's what I believe.

I think the reason it took literally thousands of years of human history for women to get the vote, etc, etc, is because a mother of children is BUSY. I don't just mean busy, like carpool and dinner and laundry. I mean mentally busy.

For example...
At any given minute, besides everything else in your brain, you know where each of your children is, how well they slept last night, what # dose of antibiotics they are up to, what they ate in the last 24 hours, what they are wearing today, etc, etc. The mother's brain is unique in its ability to keep all these details in RAM at once. The Mommy-brain-computer is running more background programs than a non-mother's, and there's a lot more in your Quick Launch / task bar / startup menu too.

And our brains only have so much RAM. (This too is why as we age, we lose chunks of our hard drive memory!)

So when something like this enters... yes a mother is capable of greater empathy due to her parenthood. But often a mother is not able to process the incoming data in the same way because she is currently parsing other queries.

(Now please, no rants about mothers who are lawyers, mothers who are clueless, non-mothers who are busy too, blah blah blah. I'm generalizing here, shush.)

Years ago, a computer tech at work was being dismissive of my ability to understand why he was making the changes he was making. He just kept saying that X, Y and Z on my computer were 'using resources.'

Like my friend, I too have been dissatisfied with my own lack of empathy with others who are suffering. But I think a lot of the issue is this motherhood thing uses resources, resources we didn't even know we had.

Another example, our Child Proximity and Velocity Meter and Response System. Israel spends billions developing incoming missile detect systems - but mothers automatically process where their child is, the physics involved in their motion and likelihood to fall, and when our child does start to fall, how many times do we end up catching them just in time? Sure, not every time - but realize how many times we DO catch them... Wow. And that's just one program running all the time.

Don't even get me started on the Progeny Bladder Fullness program.

So mothers of the world who feel like you aren't feeling the pain of the Fogels of Itamar 'enough,' or Japan 'enough' or anything else: don't be so hard on yourself. Compassion and empathy are important traits for people, women, Jews, mothers, yes. You should work to develop them. But heaven forbid you feel guilty for a perceived lack of them.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

At the same time

At the same time as millions in Israel are mourning the slaughtered (for there is no other name for it) parents and three children from Itamar, and millions of people in Japan are living in grave uncertainty and tragedy...

At the same time, God is making my lemon tree bloom.

First bud that bloomed. This year will be, please God, the first year we have edible, permitted fruit from this tree.

And God is making Purim come, and we're making hamentaschen.

God is a way better parent than I could ever be. He can, at the same time, chasten us and draw us closer. Those can even be one and the same thing. The same God makes the tragedies and the flowers bloom.

Wild 'white mustard' flower field.

Do you realize that in the original Purim, meaning when it happened, the day we rejoice on was the day the Jews had to go out and do bloody battle for their very lives? We were the victors, it is true - but we did have to fight.

Sroch re-'reading' Megilas Esther for the nth time, explaining it to her sister.

In the spirit of that...

In the spirit that keeps us fighting...

We're going to give the children the best Purim we can, without any shadow or sorrow.

I hope.

And pray.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I was going to make some comment about how we didn't fall off the face of the earth after all, except that in light of the global tsunami situation - um, right, it's not a joke.

Scary stuff. As I wrote on the company twitter account, a situation like this makes the world seem very small - and God seem very big.

Anyway, I was alerted (Hi Mommy L!) that apparently I have this blog? Or something? And I should really update it.

SO - B"H we're all fine, just busy. I also had a few days of computer downtime while my unknowingly-illegal copy of Windows 7 was upgraded to actually-legal Windows 7.


  • Llama has turned two. Now, you might think this happened almost 6 months ago. But no, now she means it. As in, we've learned the art of the defiant grin, the petulant no, the stop-on-a-dime-full-body-kvetch and of course the, DO MYSELF!.

  • Oh well. I have no complaints - we got lucky till now! She's also been not wanting to take her daily nap, been refusing foods she used to like and instead waiting for the middle of the night to ask for cheese, been unpredictable and moody - in short, she's been a perfectly normal 2 year old. Bless her heart.

  • Sroch, therefore, has been the 'easy' child the last couple weeks. I mean, let's not take that too far or nuthing, but she's at least easier to reason with.


    Okay, never mind.

  • Quote from Sroch yesterday, showing me a picture she drew: "Here is the etz, and here is the tzipor, it's affing away."

    The thing is, she could have said it all in Hebrew, or all in English. It's fun that with us, she speaks the way she probably thinks, which is in both Hebrew and English simultaneously. As opposed to with most of my friends, that she speaks to in perfect English, or her peers, who she speaks to in fairly perfect Hebrew (better than mine, anyway), or her little sister, who speaks to in English baby talk. Much cute.

  • The wildflowers are out! My lemon tree is budding! Purim is nigh! AND I STARTED PESACH CLEANING<>

    That's wild sorrel from our backyard. Cool, huh? It lasted for like two full weeks inside, and apparently we could have eaten it too.