Shabbat is a really big deal at my house, as it is for most Syrian Jewish families living in Brooklyn today. At my house, Shabbat is partly about spirituality, partly about family but mostly about food...Read More
In the Syrian Jewish community, there is a word, shatra, which means to serve abundantly, willingly and beautifully. Traditionally, this has been the highest compliment you could give a Syrian woman.Read More
The bad news was that the test could be right.
I thought I was the kind of person who’d need to find out if my baby was healthy. I figured I'd have an amniocentesis done and within two weeks, I'd know.
My husband and I went for genetic counseling, a requirement before amniocentesis was preformed at the time, and we learned that our chances for having a sick child were exactly equal to the chance of me having a miscarriage due to the procedure.
Five months in, my stomach the size of a soccer ball, I was already attached to my unborn baby. Wanting it, I decided at the last minute that I could live with whatever my higher power had in store for me but that I couldn’t live with a miscarriage that was my own doing.
The rabbi encouraged me to pray with all my heart as if anything could happen but believe, simultaneously, that everything was going to be okay.
I spent the next twenty weeks of my pregnancy not knowing.
Thankfully, the baby was healthy.
Looking back, I don't how I did that.
Wanting to spend time with my two daughters, I recently took them to Canyon Ranch in Miami. Even though they are 7 years apart, everywhere we went, people thought they were twins. They are becoming women. And I notice how they’ve grown.
Elaine, 16 years old, speaks up, her voice determined. She knows how to ask for what she wants and get it.
Rachel, 23, keeps reminding me she can take care of herself, which of course she can.
I watch them. And wonder about who they are as individuals, and who they are as sisters.
When I am around them I feel more my age. It’s striking.
I stare at their young bodies. Firm.
Often now, I can’t hear what they’re saying; and even when I can, I don’t always understand. They do a lot of explaining.
They share things with each other that they wouldn’t share with me.
I like that and I don’t.
We do spa-like things. We weigh ourselves. We talk about food. We try out the sauna. We relax on the beach and read books.
We laugh over little things like how Rachel fell asleep in the sun and tanned half her face.
They go to a Rock Climbing class and take Advanced Boxing, while I write. They have each other.
When they return, there are stories. There was an instructor. Adam. "He liked me," Elaine said. "The other guy liked me," Rachel added. "Okay," Elaine said. They both giggle. "No fair," Rachel said. "You’re guy was cuter."
Later, they do a couples massage. They come back to the room in spa robes. There are more stories. Two boys asked them out in the elevator.
“Every time I leave you two alone, you get picked up,” I say. And then I point out that they had an unfair advantage being naked under their spa robes.
They aren’t inhibited. That night at dinner, they go braless.
And then the next day, they are kids again frolicking in the ocean, splashing and shrieking when jellyfish swim by. I sit on my lounge chair and watch. Listen.
We play a game. Name 3 characteristics that describe each of us.
They say I’m unique, and as much as I’d like to believe this is a compliment, coming from them, it’s questionable.
They make fun of everything I do; but then, unexpectedly, and miraculously, they’ll come for a hug or sit next to me and put their head on my shoulder.
While sometimes, in my eyes, my daughters go from being my babies to young women in the world, for them, I think, I am always, simply their mother.