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Archive for the ‘Israelis’ Category

Flashback Friday! (Who’s Your Mama?)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 11:38 AM
Friday, August 10, 2012

Every Friday, I post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!

And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memory, word for word, photogenically, I say:

What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Whos Your Mama – the BLOG

The other day, while my 4 year old daughter was in her ballet class, my 2 year old daughter was leaping across the lobby, capturing all the ballet moms’ attention with her moves. Except mine. I was still watching my 4 year old through the glass window, so my 2 year old called out, “Ima! Ima! Ima!”

I felt compelled to explain at that moment to the confused mothers staring at me, that “Ima” was Hebrew for “Mom”.

What I didn’t explain was how an all-American gal like myself, living in America, with three American kids, wound up being called “Ima” by all of them.

I called my mother “Mommy,” and later, when I was too cool for “Mommy,” “Mom.” I only ever called myself “Mommy” or “Mama” to my firstborn, but he’s never called me anything but Ima. My husband is Israeli and he has always called me “Ima” when talking to our children about me. But that can’t be the only reason.

I’ve noticed that all my kids learned to say “Aba” (the word for “Dad”) way before “Ima.” It’s an easy word, it rolls off the baby tongue, like a happy baby’s babbles of “dadada” or “bababa”. I’ve also noticed that “Ima” (pronounced “Eeema”) rolls especially well off a crying baby’s tongue. This cannot be an accident.

For a while, with my son, I tried to correct him. To teach him. “Ima!” He would cry. “Yes,” I would answer… “Mommy’s here, what do you need from Mommy? Hmmm? Tell Mama. What is it?”

“Ima,” he would correct me, “Come here!”

I like to be in control. I live a completely different life than anyone else in the family I grew up in – I eat kosher, I “keep” Shabbat, and I take my Kabbalah studies very seriously. To them, I’m like a ‘born again Jew’ even though I really cringe at being called ‘religious’ because I see everything I do as spiritual – Kabbalah being a practice that, however Jewish it may look – actually applies to anyone and everyone, and is all about consciousness. I’ve never felt comfortable jumping on a bandwagon just because I share a skin color or religion with a group of other people. (Case in point: I was introduced to The Kabbalah Centre by a Catholic lesbian friend and my first thought when she invited me was, ‘if SHE feels at home here, then I’m willing to check it out, too.)

But names are a funny thing. I wrote about changing my name in a prior blog, but in that case, the change was something I asked for, chose to do, and implemented. (“Shana?” a co-worker would ask innocently. “Yes?” I would reply, followed quickly by, “by the way, it’s BatSheva.”) In the case of “Ima,” however, the name was wholly given to me by my kids – with some help, admittedly, from my Israeli husband.

It never occurred to me that my kids wouldn’t call me “Mommy.” And for years, I wasn’t completely comfortable with being called the foreign-sounding “Ima.” I didn’t even try to correct my next child, and now, with my third, I find myself calling myself “Ima” (as in, “Give Ima the stick right now!”) which is something I never used to do.

It seemed so strange, for so long, being called the Hebrew name for Mommy.

These days? Fits like a glove.

c/xo

“Ima” Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

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Deck the Halls (with toddler-size Nutcrackers)

posted by Sheva 2:43 AM
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I bet my mom’s Christmas decorations could beat up your mom’s Christmas decorations.

Every Christmas, my Jewish mother lines her staircases with toddler-size Nutcrackers. Soft Christmas music pipes in through the speakers, Snow white reindeer fight with pinecone candles and holly for position, and a tree the size of the Hulk stands tall, adorned with ornaments spanning four decades.

The ‘decoration’ aspect of Christmas at my mother’s house may be getting a little out of control. Each year there are more and more giant Nutcrackers, more holly, more stockings, more cranberries… and last year, two additional Christmas trees popped up, each decorated, one in front of the guest house and one at the end of the driveway.

Don’t forget, gentle readers, we’re Jewish.

But there are grandkids to impress, by golly! They must be dazzled by candy canes, wowed by exploding stockings that magically fill the night before Christmas, and passionate about leaving Santa the perfect amount of cookies and milk – and his reindeer carrots – so Santa and his crew will have enough stamina to hit the rest of the world’s children before sunup.

Never mind that my kids are… uh… very Jewish. As in, they speak Hebrew with their Israeli dad (my husband, who, by the way, I have trained to absolutely love Christmas, too – to the degree that now, every Christmas, he constantly berates me, telling me I’m too stingy with gifts and we need to get more, more, MORE for everyone!).

My kids go to a (Spiritual, Kabbalah, but still,) Jewish school. They listen to the Torah every Saturday, don’t touch electricity every Shabbat and holiday, eat Kosher, and generally are not accustomed to hearing anything about Christmas or Santa Claus outside of every single cartoon that is played in the months of November and December and… my family.

My son’s friends have ‘set him straight’ a number of times about Santa, but he’s not stupid. Last year, he reasoned to me, “Ima!” (Yep, we’re that Jewish; he calls me the Hebrew word for ‘Mom’) – “I’ve figured out why no one thinks that Santa is real!”

“Really?” I asked, curious where this was going. “Why?”

“Because he’s in Maryland!”

Maryland is where my mother lives.

Where, every Christmastime, the toddler Nutcrackers march up the stairs to take their post opposite the banner, the countless mini Nutcrackers cover any -gasp! – bare spot that doesn’t already boast a Christmas tchotchke, the three Christmas trees live, the sixteen or so stockings hang (2 for their 2 dogs, 1 for each child, spouse, grandchild, stepchild, etc, etc…), the Christmas cards are strung – on a string from the rafters, of course, the carols are sung and played over the sound system, and a snow machine pumps fake snow on top of glittery crystal snowflakes that hang from the ceiling…

Okay, that last part may not be entirely true.

Yet.

c/xo,

Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

You didn't think I was lying, did you?

I have so many other good ones but I’ll just leave you with this:

White reindeer, cranberries, a stocking and a snowy owl. Couldn't make this stuff up if I worked for Hallmark!

What’s in a W.A.S.P? I Mean, a Name?

posted by Sheva 2:16 PM
Thursday, September 8, 2011

The other night, my husband and I went to dinner with three other couples. (If you must know, this was the night I got drunk on fish.) It was a Kosher restaurant, so most men in the place wore yarmulkes or hats and there was definitely very little to no cleavage or inner thigh flashes going on. I eat only Kosher food but I still felt like a stranger in a strange world. I had a strappy dress on that night, and even though I was getting overheated at various times of the night, I kept my jean jacket on at all times.

Luckily, I was in good company.

All eight of us were longtime students of The Kabbalah Centre so we know about the spiritual significance of eating Kosher & we all tend to eat that way  (some of us more strictly than others). We are not, however, your typical Kosher restaurant patrons. Other than my Israeli husband, Betsy and I were the only Jews at our table. The rest were – in a word – WASPs.

Okay, except for one whose mom is Colombian/Nigerian, but she’s come a long way and could easily pass. Plus she’s married to Hugo Schwyzer, whose nickname may as well be Biff, if you know what I mean.

The WASPs immediately determined that we should all sit down in “WASP tradition” – man-woman-man-woman with no couples sitting next to each other. As we all took our seats, my husband asked, “What style seating did you say this was?”

We realized at that point that my husband was really the only authentic Jew at the table, since I grew up surrounded by WASPs (friends and step-parents) and Betsy’s friends were mostly WASPs too, plus she’s married to Charlie from Massachusetts whose name would probably have been Miffy or Bunny or Kitty if he had been a born a girl. Betsy even drinks like a WASP, whereas anyone who knows me knows I’ll take food over alcohol any time, thereby failing the first and easiest test of WASPiness.

When my mom realized that I was keeping Shabbat and eating Kosher and doing all the Jewish holidays and going by a new Hebrew name, she was understandably confused – I come from a long line of intellectual, socially liberal, non-religious Jews, not to mention two Jewish parents who divorced and re-married non-Jews.

I don’t fit in with my family, I don’t fit into the regular yarmulke-wearing Kosher Jewy crowd, and I’m not a WASP by any standards…

So I’ve decided… I’m making up a new word. Finally, I can be an insider!

How’s this: YISKBAIJLU (Yes, I Study Kabbalah, But Actually, I’m Just Like U!)

Hmmmm, this may need some work. Any thought?

c/xo,
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Are you my mother?


Are YOU my mother??

Who’s Your Mama?

posted by Sheva 12:41 AM
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Whos Your Mama – the BLOG

The other day, while my 4 year old daughter was in her ballet class, my 2 year old daughter was leaping across the lobby, capturing all the ballet moms’ attention with her moves. Except mine. I was still watching my 4 year old through the glass window, so my 2 year old called out, “Ima! Ima! Ima!”

I felt compelled to explain at that moment to the confused mothers staring at me, that “Ima” was Hebrew for “Mom”.

What I didn’t explain was how an all-American gal like myself, living in America, with three American kids, wound up being called “Ima” by all of them.

I called my mother “Mommy,” and later, when I was too cool for “Mommy,” “Mom.” I only ever called myself “Mommy” or “Mama” to my firstborn, but he’s never called me anything but Ima. My husband is Israeli and he has always called me “Ima” when talking to our children about me. But that can’t be the only reason.

I’ve noticed that all my kids learned to say “Aba” (the word for “Dad”) way before “Ima.” It’s an easy word, it rolls off the baby tongue, like a happy baby’s babbles of “dadada” or “bababa”. I’ve also noticed that “Ima” (pronounced “Eeema”) rolls especially well off a crying baby’s tongue. This cannot be an accident.

For a while, with my son, I tried to correct him. To teach him. “Ima!” He would cry. “Yes,” I would answer… “Mommy’s here, what do you need from Mommy? Hmmm? Tell Mama. What is it?”

“Ima,” he would correct me, “Come here!”

I like to be in control. I live a completely different life than everyone else in my family – I eat kosher, I participate in Shabbat, I take my Kabbalah studies very seriously. To them, I’m like a ‘born again Jew’ even though I really cringe at being called ‘religious’ because I see everything I do as spiritual – Kabbalah being a practice that, however Jewish it may look – actually applies to anyone and everyone, and is all about consciousness. I’ve never felt comfortable jumping on a bandwagon just because I share a skin color or religion with a group of other people. (Case in point: I was introduced to The Kabbalah Centre by a Catholic lesbian friend and my first thought when she invited me was, ‘if she feels at home there, then it sounds like a place I’d be willing to check out.)

But names are a funny thing. I wrote about changing my name in a prior blog, but in that case, the change was something I asked for, chose to do, and implemented. (“Shana?” a co-worker would ask innocently. “Yes?” I would reply, followed quickly by, “by the way, it’s BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin).”) In the case of “Ima,” however, the name was wholly given to me by my kids – with some help, admittedly, from my Israeli husband.

It never occurred to me that my kids wouldn’t call me “Mommy.” And for years, I wasn’t completely comfortable with being called the foreign-sounding “Ima.” I didn’t even try to correct my next child, and now, with my third, I find myself calling myself “Ima” (as in, “Give Ima the stick right now!”) which is something I never used to do.

It seemed so strange, for so long, being called the Hebrew name for Mommy.

These days? Fits like a glove.

c/xo

“Ima” Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

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