xlovebecomesher: (Love Penguins)

I come from love.
I come from two people who would have given me the world if it was in their power to be able to do so.
I come from two parents who made sure to tell me every day and every night "I love you" and showered me with affection.
I come from being accepted for who I am by my parents.
I come from two parents who supported me no matter what I did and taught me right from wrong, good from bad.
I am loved.

I come from survivors; my grandparents were all Holocaust survivors.
I come from genetically speaking being 98% Ashkenazi Jewish; of having grandparents and parents born and raised in Poland and the Ukraine.
I come from a love of Judaism, G-d, and a love of Israel, the country my parents grew up in; no matter where I go, I stand with Israel.
I come from my parents making sure I not only spoke English but to also be fluent in Hebrew, the language of their heart, their people.
I come from immigrants who wanted to make sure their children had better lives than they had.
I come from generations of people who fought for what they believed in and won.
"Never Forget."

I come from being a first generation American; born in Washington D.C. and raised in Maryland.
I come from hating my home state as a child to being a die-hard Marylander.
I come from a sense of wanderlust and a love for home.
I come from a land where we scream the words "O" and "Red" when singing the Star Spangled Banner; a land of history, Old Bay, and Crabs.
I come from being proud of being Jewish, Polish, Israeli, American.
I am all the parts that make up a whole; that make up who I am.

xlovebecomesher: (Far Apart)
My coworker and good friend, Theresa, expressed to me today that she doesn't understand why her daughter and her don't get along.  Her daughter, from what I understand, has put her through hell and back since she was a teenager and now at 31, they have a rocky relationship. She asked me despite me being the same age as her daughter, where did she go wrong as a mom? I couldn't begin to answer for several reasons:

a) I think Theresa is an amazing woman and her daughter should be thankful she has such a wonderful mom (or at the very least, the envious person in me who misses my mom dearly, she should be grateful that her mom is alive).
b) I have no idea what her daughter has gone through to make her so cold towards her mom and I've only met her daughter in passing once so it's not something I can ask.
and
c) I can't relate because my own relationship with my mom was the complete opposite to the point now that my mother has been gone for 3 months, at 31 years old, I'm working on learning who I am without her.

My mom and I were inseperable. My mom raised me pretty much single-handedly from the time I was 5 with minimal help from my dad. I knew I was my mom's world; my mom was my world. Her friends knew wherever she went, I went too. From sitting at my mom's friends' houses late at night reading, coloring, playing my hand-held Little Mermaid game, or if we were at one of my mom's friends who had children my age, I'd be running around playing with them, to late night dinners at restaurants, or weekend trips to Atlantic City, my mom took me everywhere.

If my mom didn't take me somewhere, the nights she wanted to go out with just her friends and I'd have sleepovers with my Bubby, there was always phone calls. Even in the days before cellphones, my mom would always make sure she knew where a payphone was to call me and check in with me. She knew I would worry and sit by the phone if I didn't hear from her when she said she'd call. I remember being six years old and huddling in my grandmother's old brown recliner waiting for the phone to ring. Her friends would laugh at her - "Luba, you know she's at your mother's house, why are you so worried? Why are you calling?" She didn't care; she called no matter what.

The two of us would spend weekends going to lunch with my grandmother, shopping, getting our nails done, spending time together (we played a lot of card games and board games especially Trouble), doing things with friends, watching TV, reading (my mom is the reason I am a romance novel addict). This stayed the same throughout my life.

I don't think I ever truly was rebellious. Did I do stupid things? Sure. What child/teenager doesn't? What child doesn't frustrate their parent?

One time my friend came over and we came up with the bright idea of lighting paper towels and throwing it off my 11th floor balcony just to see what happens. Let's not talk the number of times I've thrown ice cubes off the balcony just to see what happens or pushed all the buttons on the elevator (and I lived in a 14 story building) for the hell of it (I have some funny stories of that). I'd like to forget my one and only foray into vandalism where the same friend of paper towel fame came over and we wrote all over the walls in the stairwell of my apartment building.

My mother was frustrated with me in my lack of understanding of math (I didn't understand percentages until I was an adult) and she would have to call her friend to tutor me because I would drive her to tears when she'd help me with math homework. It would drive her nuts how messy I was with my things all over my room and how many times I've lost things throughout the year. I'm still in mourning for the Dick Tracy umbrella I lost when I was 6!

Rebellious though - not so much. I didn't drink, do drugs, smoke, have sex, party. Things teenagers do to rebel.

The worst I did was skip 5th period every now and then so I could go to other lunch period and hang out with friends that I didn't see during my lunch period. I didn't even dye my hair crazy colors or go all out with piercings (as much as I thought about how cool it would be)!

Which is strange when I could have easily become rebellious. My parents were seperated, my dad was in and out of jail. My aunt even assumed that I would just simply turn out like my dad.

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch out for her" She informed my mother haughtily.

Don't get me wrong, my mom and I fought. We weren't perfect. We yelled, we screamed. My mom could yell like no other. She would scream at me and I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. Little things could set her off like misplacing her things (we've fought numerous times over how many times I have not put her tweezers back where they belonged). She would then turn to the silent treatment to the point where I would write her letters apologizing for everything and anything, begging her to speak to me again. I think I still have some of those letters.

At the end of the day though, I knew my mom was there for me, loved me, and would give me the world if she could. I would never have let down my mom. Not if I could help it. My mom was my best friend and as she told me despite having her closest friends, I was hers.

In college, I moved to Baltimore, 45 minutes away from home. I loved the freedom that living on campus gave me, the friends I met (including my now husband), the adventures I had. Despite the distance, my mom and I would talk on the phone several times a day even if was just to say "hi, I love you" or "Lilah tov (good night)." I would go home every other weekend or my mom would drive up to Baltimore with her friends just to take me out to lunch or dinner. My friends all knew about my relationship with my mom (some even thought of her as a second mom) and they would tell me they wish they could have the same with their moms. I never understood why they couldn't.

At 28, I found myself suddenly in the role of caregiver for her. My mom, who was always sharp, witty, and could calculate her checkbook to the penny, was losing her memory. She was diagnosed with dementia and five minutes after leaving the doctor's office, forgot completely about the diagnosis. I had to find her a place to live (which ended up in multiple moves), daycare, buying her clothes, food,  transporting her everywhere, making sure she didn't wander off (though luckily she was always easy to find). I lost my identity as being her daughter as I found myself thrust into a situation I had no idea how to handle with very little help.

At 30, I lost my best friend, my mom, the best person I knew. Her dementia had gotten to the point where for the last 8 months of her life she couldn't speak or move and was on a feeding tube. My mom lost her battle with what was officially Parkinson's August 6, 2016.

Since that day, I'm relearning who I am.

So much of my life has been tied into being a daughter and that is big part of how I have defined myself.

And I still define myself as such.

But I'm learning to understand who I am without my mother and my father deported back to Israel. Who am I beyond a daughter?

I'm a wife to one amazing doofus who loves me and my quirks, a cat mom, a special education teacher to 7 hysterical 3-5th graders who sometimes make me want to pull out my hair but I do adore them, a damn good friend (as one of my friends pointed out to me last week), educated, Jewish and proud of it, bilingual (though I find my Hebrew slipping at times without my mom to correct me), a writer (and my mom would be proud of me saying that since she always wanted me to be a writer and supported my fan fiction writing) and something I don't know if I would have ever described myself as but people have been describing me in the past three months but I've learned that I'm a strong person just like my mom raised me to be.

As I reread the above, I know my mom was proud of me and loved me, my mom would love the woman I am, and I know my mom would be proud of the woman that I'm slowly relearning the definition of as I learn to understand the world around me without her physically by my side.
xlovebecomesher: (Zooey)
The other day, as I was unpacking my mother's room, I stumbled across a old piece of writing. It was dated November, 1993 and titled "An Addition to My Family." In it, 3rd grade me detailed about how I had recently been a flower girl at my cousins' weddings (which would have been May 30,1993 and September 5, 1993) and how I was so excited that I had new cousins in my family. I even outlined the order of my cousins. 3rd grade me loved naming us in order: Michael, Sandy, Brenda, Charles, Heather, Susan, and Me (3rd grade me might have also been a bit OCD!). I even illustrated my story...quite adorable! My mother started telling me then I should be a writer. This would be her refrain most of my life to this day.

In 6th grade, I had to give a book report. I don't even remember what the book was called or what it was about but it had a cat in it. I chose to present my book report dressed up as the cat...complete with cat ears and a cat tail that I made my friend, Shawna, walk with me to CVS to buy. It might of been my bravest presentation to date. I also wrote a story about an alien hedgehog in 6th grade that I remember being proud of. I did love hedgehogs and porcupines. In 8th grade, I wrote my own autobiography, illustrated and everything. I was going to be a writer one day, I thought proudly.

In high school, I attempted poetry like any other moody teenager. I even had my love poem published in the high school literary magazine so that I could profess my love for the gorgeous senior in my photography class. It didn't work unsurprisingly; however he was kind to me (probably out of pity). I then discovered the world of fan fiction and fell in love with the idea playing with characters and manipulating them to do what I wanted. I created alternate universes for the Days of Our Lives characters, diving into creating my first love stories and sex scenes. Sex scenes written by a 16 year old who had barely been kissed but spent her days reading steamy romance novels made for some fun writing and some awkward reading! I published my writing on EzBoards and FanFiction.net under the mature pen name of PrettyCoolPrincess (seriously) and waited with bated breath for reviews to come pouring in. I made friends, people enjoyed my work, and even for a time, helped to run a fanfiction review website where I anonymously reviewed stories. Those were the days. I was sure I was going to be a writer and people all over would read my novels one day.

Then college came and with that brought a move to Baltimore, new experiences, classes to go to (or skip), friends to make, a sorority to start,  papers to write (or not), and everything in between. I dabbled in writing Harry Potter fanfiction but relegated myself to mostly a reader. I kept a livejournal to keep me sane through everything but the creativity and the enjoyment I found in writing disappeared.  I would try to write and occasionally could churn out a short piece but nothing substantial. The closest thing to a story was my attempt at NaNoWriMo one year a couple of years ago - impressively (at least to myself) even though I never won NaNoWriMo, I churned out 41 pages telling the (incomplete) story of my father and his deportation. Most days though, I was stuck creating plots in my heads for stories untold.

Now, I'm 28. I'm a special education teacher who spends her days writing IEPs, progress reports, emails, papers, livejournal entries, facebook statuses, and Gchat statuses full of quotes from my students, while planning a wedding to a guy I call my Doofuslove, and still spending time with friends and plotting stories and character descriptions in my head and on scrap sheets of papers. I still tell myself that I'm going to be a writer one day. However, the first step in being a writer, I've learned...is actually to write...and writing is not something I do much anymore outside technical writing, academic writing, or journaling. Thus my foray into last season of LJ Idol to rediscover my love of writing and who knows what else along the way. I'm not sure who I am as a writer anymore - I'm not the same girl who illustrated her stories with such joy, the moody poet, or the fanfiction writer who enjoyed playing with her characters but I'm excited to find out exactly who I will be as a writer as time goes on.

March 2017

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