Michal Peretz
Michal Peretz Sunday 15.11.15 No comments 1861 views

Time to Grow Wings

To try to have your cake and eat it too. To be a good, giving, warm, loving, caressing, embracing mother. To try to realize my potential and listen to the creativity I feel shouting inside of me – put the pedal to the metal! Express yourself, fulfill the dream, develop, don’t be afraid. To try to find the balance, to try not to beat myself up about the imperfect things, to drive out the guilty conscience. To listen to the voice whispering to me that it’s okay that Mom wants things too, and the children will grow up healthy when their mom is happy.

This is more or less what races through my head 24/7.

I’m almost 39, celebrating another friend’s exciting change of first-digit, and we talk about life from age 40 and onward, about dreams that are suddenly permitted to emerge, about the family we managed to raise and the children we gave birth to. We look proudly at the past, and then immediately toward the future.

Because at this age, something suddenly opens up. Something inside of us allows us to come out of our shell and not be perfect mothers. So the house won’t be sparkling clean and the meal will sometimes include processed food. I will start cooking for the Sabbath on Friday afternoon and I won’t invite guests for half a year. Because I’m allowed; because I need time for myself; because I want to grow and develop. To grow wings.

I am working on a new show. It’s been brewing inside of me for almost a year now, and I know that I have to give birth to it. I pray that this time, I won’t let the procrastination and laziness that always stand at my side when there’s hard work get the best of me. This time, I’ll reach the finish line. I won’t rest until I give birth to it, to this show, and I’ll fight all of the internal voices and the fears.

So where were we? Oh yes, the new show. Which makes me immediately want to see as many theater performances as possible. They give me food for thought and boost my self-confidence (hey, I can do that too! A show like this isn’t out of my reach, and the theater is packed and everyone here is cheering and clapping for them. I can too!) It stimulates all of the senses and in short, is essential for any theater professional. But…a moment after I buy a pair of tickets to that Tel Aviv performance, my daughter comes home with an invitation to the school’s end of the year party. But I already ordered tickets! And I have to go! Why does the school give us parents such short notice, just a few days in advance? However, last year I couldn’t attend the end of the year party because it was my year of mourning (over the death of a close relative, during which it is forbidden to attend parties). I also missed two parent-teacher conferences this year. So I’ll juggle! A skill every average mom has to have.

Juggling.

I am the first to arrive at the party with my daughter, ready, occasionally stealing a glance at the clock, hoping my daughter won’t notice. I reluctantly mingle with the other mothers who stop me for some chit-chat, because I actually want to direct all of my attention to my daughter during the hour and seven minutes that I have to spend with her. The time passes quickly, and I kiss her goodbye, saying I’m sorry and running to the car as I call the mother who sat next to us and ask her to keep an eye out for my daughter too. I call my husband to see if he can perhaps come early – no, not come home early to watch the kids; if he can come to the party because our daughter is there alone, poor thing. The other children will manage at home with their older brother. Some fighting and screaming and a mess is okay, as usual…

I run breathlessly with another friend and decide that I don’t feel guilty. No, it simply won’t help me to feel guilty, so why do it. That’s it, I decided, I left, and I’m running to the show…in Tel Aviv, the big city that never stops! I deserve to stop sometimes too…I remind myself to buy her something small on the way back, as a consolation prize. But what will I do about next week, when my son is celebrating the end of 8 years of elementary school, and that very night, I already scheduled a show ages ago? All of my attempts to bend over backwards didn’t help. He, his father and younger siblings will sit at the end of the year party, and I will, at best, come toward the end, again huffing and puffing, cheeks red from the show, trying to exchange the satisfied feeling with an apologetic expression. My son already tried to calm me down, “I only say half a sentence in the film clip they made, and we can watch it at home anyway.” But how will I explain to him that the shame is gnawing at me, that after an entire year, I don’t even know what his teacher looks like? I mean, I spoke to him countless times on the phone, but I sent my supportive husband to all of the parent-teacher conferences…

On the way to the Tel Aviv show, my friend and I again discuss age 40, hopes and dreams and children who are growing up. As we contemplate this never ending drive to the show, sitting in the never ending traffic of Ayalon Highway, I know that age 40 is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of the courage to free ourselves of everything that ties us down. We’re still constantly juggling, but now we are wiser, allowing ourselves to spread our wings and see the open horizon that awaits us.

 

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