Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tricky and Tiring Adventures with Teeth

Teeth are tricky business for this mom of six. Sure I have a lot of doctor’s appointments and places to take my boys, but I find the dentist to be one of the hardest of those obligations. 

This is true for a few reasons.

Where I live, teeth cleanings and teeth check-ups aren’t done in tandem, at the same visit. So this means that you have to schedule an appointment to get your teeth cleaned, AND schedule another appointment on another day and time to see the dentist for a check-up and x-rays.

Well, when you’ve got 6 kids and you want to keep your own teeth healthy as well, that’s 14 appointments to balance in the course of the year. And while I’m very grateful that dental care is subsidized and covered in our health basket, the closest dental clinic is a 20-25 minute drive away. Talk about scheduling nightmares.

So far, I’ve managed to swing it and to book all of those cleanings and check-ups (and the occasional cavity and root canal) without losing my mind.

But recently, I felt like throwing in the towel. I would make an appointment for my 16 year old three months in advance, only to be told when the day arrives that he has work/test/basketball practice/a major event on the day of his appointment. And we will start the process all over again.

I figured the summer would make things easier, since he’s back at home and has more time. But he’s working like crazy, and just asked me to cancel the 8am appointment I made this week.
Can’t say no to a kid hard at work.

And as I was saying to my husband that our son’s teeth were simply going to rot in his mouth for every-after, my husband said something that shouldn’t have been earth-shattering, but that was for me.

“Why don’t we just give up on this dental plan for just this child and go to the private dentist in our town?”

And the world stopped.

In retrospect I have to giggle, because I’m so rigid and planned in the things that I do that I just assume I have to keep doing them. We have subsidized dental care and it’s great so gosh-darn-it, I have to find a way to make it work in every situation and for every kid even if I’m ready to lose my mind.

But what if we just say: You know what? This isn’t working. So let’s find another way to do things.

Yes, it will cost more money for our 16 year old to see the dentist in the community where we live. But the task will actually get done. We’ll have a kid with healthy teeth and a mother who can keep her sanity (at least in this situation).

And all of a sudden when my husband suggested this solution, the tension vanished. Poof.

Just like that.

Obviously we all have goals in our lives as parents; we all have plans and objectives and things we need to accomplish. But it’s really important not to lose sight of our sanity in the process of checking off these goals. And sometimes, if the square peg just simply isn’t going to fit into the round hole no matter how much you push and prod and jam it with those twenty extra pounds of Umph! that you’re always trying to lose…it’s time to lose the round hole instead. It’s time to make a detour that will save your sanity.


Now why didn’t I think of that?

Sometimes parenting and time management are really hard and complicated and sticky.

And sometimes we just make them so.

Lessons learned for this harried mom on the path towards clean teeth.

This article was first published on Kveller.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mazal Tov! It's the Sussmans' Only Bat Mitzvah!

Today is our Aliyaversary. We got onto the plane 12 years ago today with two little boys, a baby on the way and our whole lives ahead. 

I still can’t believe we did it or how rich and vibrant our lives would be as a result. But as I reflect on 12 years, there are many things that I could never have imagined…

I could never have imagined that:

I would have six boys, rather than the three that I expected and assumed I’d have in the States.

I would change careers and open myself up to an entirely new world of creativity and productivity.

I would laugh so profoundly and grieve so deeply.

I would have teenagers who assume that high school is supposed to come with weekly trips to explore their land and twice a year camping/backpacking trips.

I would have children who read Mark Twain and Harry Potter and John Grisham…in Hebrew.

My kids would think that they can get away with saying things behind my back as long as they speak Hebrew (and sometimes they do get away with it..but only sometimes).

My kids would have slightly Israeli accented English…and make my parents laugh when they sing “Happy Birfday to you!”

The kids would spend hours upon hours over the summer occupied by an incredibly well-run soccer tournament…organized by the 10th grade kids.

The 10th grade kids would bother to take the time to put together a soccer tournament for their little brothers and sisters.

My teenagers would show no sense of embarrassment at all when they are hanging out with their friends and see us. I am surprised each time that this happens.

The kindergarten performance would make me cry when the kids sing Hatikvah.

Hatikvah would make me cry every time I hear it – no matter where I am.

The fireworks on Yom Ha’Atzmaut would make me cry.

Watching the Nefesh B’Nefesh videos of the bright-eyed and hopeful immigrants coming off the plane would make me cry (and even more so when I’ve gone to greet those planes).

(This is the video from our Aliyah flight..we are in here a bunch so watch carefully!)

My kids would love going to the arrival ceremonies for the Nefesh flights and greeting the new immigrants.

My sixteen year old would run around all day (and many very late nights) in the summer making money and just assuming that this is what he’s supposed to be doing – because it’s what all his peers are doing. And never complain.

Our vacations would include exploring and hiking, meeting new and interesting people who open their homes to us and enjoying all on our Land.
Yep, nothing like a trip to Hebron to say hi to the moms and dads of our past.
Hiking in the Golan with the best of friends.

Weddings would be the most incredible, intense and joyful events you can possibly imagine. If you haven’t been to an Israeli wedding, you haven’t really been to Israel.

Funerals would be gut-wrenching beyond imagination. The lack of a coffin is something that simply can’t be described. It’s the real deal with no pretentions, no fluff, no barriers between us and our reality.

My kids would think it’s completely normal to have five siblings…at times they even call us a smaller family.

My boys’ idea of a good afternoon with their friends would include going to the nearest ma’ayan (natural spring) and their idea of a night out would include playing basketball late into the night at the yishuv court or having a poike (a stew type concoction cooked in a cast iron poike pot over an open flame).

I would go to bed earlier than my oldest two, who are out into the wee hours of the night catering or hanging out with their friends. And I don’t worry about them. (Much).

My kids would continually be teaching me…their Hebrew songs, their slang, their cultural references and everything else.

I couldn’t have imagined all this, and so much more, 12 years ago…but now I can’t imagine anything else!

Aliyaversary Dinner Tonight!