Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Pesach

Here are some photos of Jarrah at her first Passover seder, in her second party dress since we've met her (this one also purchased in Guangzhou, and yes, also featuring a cherry motif.) You can see my dad and my sister Lindsey here, too.

Jarrah is turning out to be a better Jewish girl than I am. For one thing, she actually enjoys gefilte fish. I can barely look at the mini-meatloaf-shaped mound of compressed fish parts, but she has eaten nearly a whole lump at each of the two seders we've attended. She's also a fan of the well-formed matzah ball, and the mushy goodness of charoses (for the uninitiated, this is a tasty blend of minced apples, walnuts, cinnamon and wine, but it looks like chopped liver.)

She's also been surprisingly keen on matzah, and is in fact enjoying a board as I type this. I've been giving it to her plain, but today I put some yogurt spread on there and that might have been a mistake. So far she's just holding the pieces up to her face and licking up the buttery stuff. Not exactly a balanced breakfast.

Jarrah is "keeping Pesach" (not eating foods that are leavened, or made with flour and then baked) when we are at home but yesterday I realized that it was sort of cruel to limit her carbs when we are out and about and someone is always offering her a chunk of bun. Anyway, I really don't know the rules, having never had a baby before: at what age should they begin shunning chometz (this is the word for the aforementioned verboten leavened goodies during the holiday) and would I be creating a health risk by feeding her eight days of matzah? Quite frankly, it always starts to feel like a health risk for me, like I might die of atrophied taste buds.

This week Jarrah has gotten to spend some quality time with her Aunties Jane and Beth, who treat her like a queen, luring her with toys and treats, and turning her upside down as much as she likes. We've had some rain and been limited in our trips to the park, but there's lots to do inside when you have three or four "nannies" all competing for your attention. We will be having still more visitors today, when Jarrah gets to meet her Uncle Karl (my brother), Aunt Carrie and cousins Stella and Ruby for the first time--they are driving down to visit us. Hope the rain holds off.

I've begun to feel, in small increments, a little less afraid of Jarrah. That might sound weird, but she has such a big personality with so many irrational manifestations that I have sort of been treating her like a python or a tiger--very impressive and rather beautiful but a creature you want to be careful not to piss off. I was always lunging for a handful of Cheerios or the remote that brought forth the Teletubbies because I didn't want to be found lacking and punished.

But I've begun to realize that her outbursts really don't last, and that I am likely to have a few screams no matter how fast I move or what moment I choose for the nap. And with that realization, I've become more relaxed. It helps me to breathe through the bad spells rather than cowering to avoid them. After all, I am bigger, and at least nominally, I am the boss. This lesson in parenthood has helped my stress level tremendously, and, at least, is a useful rationalization. ;)

My next lesson will need to be a more contented acceptance of my new lifestyle. I am really having trouble saying no to things that I actually would like to be doing, like adding more NIA classes when I'm asked, seeing new movies that come out, teaching my workshop, rejoining my writing group, and all the other little things that I've come to believe shape and define me and add a sense of fulfillment to my life. I often feel really guilty that, at least so far, full-time childcare doesn't seem to meet all my needs for personal satisfaction. I've heard parents talk about the joy they experience in spending all day with their children, teaching them things, watching their reactions to the world. Believe me, I do find many of these things amazing, but experiencing the world through Jarrah's eyes doesn't feel like "it" to me. I don't end there. It's not a "You complete me" situation. ;) I'm not sure another person can complete me, because another person is just that: another person. While it may sound cliched to say that I have to be myself, I think I'm finding that I do need that, at least some of the time. My friend Lisa at UMass (oh, how I miss her; I don't know where she is anymore) said once that one of her writing teachers told her students that the kind of fiction that disgusted her the most was a genre she had named "The Wonder of Me." Hee! I always found this hilarious, probably because I'm sure that most everything I've ever written falls into this category. ;)

Anyway, for now, I am spending all my time with Jarrah, and learning to say no to a lot of other things, which does not come naturally. I am a yes-er. I say yes to things, most of the time, before I even think about it, and certainly without checking a calendar. I'm sure I've always said yes too much, and now I must say "no" as my first response; "yes" would be a future negotiation that would have to be mulled over and discussed. I will either get used to this, or eventually I'll find a way to take a few hours during the week for the wonder of me.


aaryn b. said...

Looks like Jarrah was the Belle of the Ball at your Passover, despite any...uhHUM...cruel and childish bashing of her mother from a certain unnamed Auntie! Congrats on surviving the ordeal with your integrity in tact.

Anyway, love the pics. Jarrah is little dollie! Ruby just loves trying to smash her in the head and can't wait 'til next time.

Have fun trying to explore your Wonder.;)


Anonymous said...

Jarrah is getting slimmer & taller! And so pretty - wow! Really cute photos.

Find a co-opt nursery, or some friends to trade "kid days," with. You DO need time for yourself.

And speaking from experience, those long, never-ending, trying, boring, lovely,delightful, whatever days when kids need ALL your attention do end; kids grow & time becomes more and more available.

And one day, that will seem much faster in retrospect, they will be walking out the door to go live on their own; then they'll need all the wisdom you're trying hard to teach now.

Best, Gail