Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ask Chaviva Anything: The Children Edition

In this edition of Ask Chaviva Anything, I've got some children-related queries from blog readers.
What is iBoy like?
I'd like to say that iBoy is like any other nearly 10 year old out there, but this is a kid who loves tofu and broccoli ("little trees!"). He loves listening to his dad read Shakespeare (in a kid-friendly text, of course), and doesn't demand to watch cartoons and movies as much as he demands games like Taki. He's a very emotional kid who is aware of hurting other people's feelings -- almost to a fault -- but he also knows how to push boundaries like any other kid his age. He's just starting to get really good at reading English and helps me out with Hebrew while I help him out with Hebrew, too! He hates getting up in the morning, has to be reminded to brush his teeth, and is always eager to help when anything is going on in the kitchen. He's a prince who snores like a trucker but will cuddle up with his dad like he is the only thing that belongs in that space.

On a down day, he's the kind of kid who would go out of his way to make you smile with a hug or joke. He's really something special (just like his dad, who he is soooooooooo much like). Does he sound like every other 10 year old you know? Oh, and he loves to draw, which makes him a kid after my own heart. While in the UK I purchased him this amazing book full of things to draw, to fill in, and to get creative with. He kept asking, "Can I draw it like this?" to which I responded, "Kid, it's your book! You can draw and explore anything you want!"
You have mentioned every now and then about wanting lots of kids.  I know that is kind of the norm among Orthodox families but wonder if it's also just something you've always wanted (lots of kids).  I always wanted four kids but after two I may have met my match!  
It's funny how up and down I've been about wanting children. Most of my life, I wanted children (a few) because I was lucky enough to have a little brother who is nine years younger than me that I got to help raise. But then, while I was married and divorced, I had no desire to have children. I became really disenfranchised (so lame and stereotypical, I know) while I was incredibly depressed and decided not to have any children. The fear of passing on the depression and anxiety that I was dealing with, not to mention my fears of how I'll be with my children because of how I grew up (that fear we all have) drove me to vow to never have kids.

And then? I met Mr. T. We met, got engaged 10 days later, and if I had had my way, I would have been married instantly and with child at this point, folks! There's something about being with the right person at the right time that just punches you in the face and says "Be a mom, darn't!"

I know what you're thinking -- I'm already in the role of offering female support and guidance for a kid in my life, so that should be something, right? True, I'm getting a certain sense of satisfaction making delicious nosh for this amazing child in my life, helping put his healthy lunches together, watching him play soccer with friends, reading him Hasidic stories and him asking for more ...

But having your own child is something uniquely special. I know I'll feel it more when I do get pregnant and have my own child with Mr. T, but at this moment, I'm starting to feel where that thin line exists. There's a lot to be said about being a woman marrying a man with a child versus a man marrying a woman with a child. I'm debating on whether to write it up for and seeing if they'll start publishing me. I think I'm going to end up with a lot to say about parenting.
As you settle into married life and seek to start a family of your own, I wonder; as an Orthodox Jewish woman, how would you respond if your son or daughter told you that they were gay/lesbian?
This is a great question with a short answer. I was raised in a household where -- by and large -- I was allowed to explore the life that I thought was good for me. Mind you, I had a very vanilla childhood and never broke the rules, drank, smoked, or anything until I was in college and the depths of the newspaper world sucked me in and turned me into a temporary alcoholic (seriously, I'm kidding). Mr. T also was given a lot of freedom to be a wild and unique individual (and believe me, he was). As a result, if there's one thing that Judaism teaches that has been so potent for me over the past few years is that when someone lives a life that we do not necessarily agree with, we're meant to pull that person closer, not push them away (like most people do). Your children will always be your children, nothing changes that. Nothing. Life is short, you only have one family, and I'm going to be as strong as possible to do everything to make sure my children know how much they're loved, no matter who they are or what they do. 

Okay. That was a lengthy post. So much more to say about parenting and children! Have questions? Just ask!