Lots to learn

Here is an exchange I’m only gradually getting used to:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a stay at home mom.”

To be fair, this answer has its benefits, especially when it comes to getting security clearance in Israel. Terence and I must look like the least sketchy people on the planet, because we are constantly being fast tracked through security lines. When they find out I’m “just” a mom, the guards smile and wave me through.

Before we moved here, I was terrified of two things. The first, Terence nicknamed “Is/Pal all the time.” How would the political conflict (about which I had, and still have, so much to learn) dominate daily living? I wasn’t worried for my safety, but would anyone talk about anything else? My second fear was being a full-time mom after six years as a working parent. Although in theory I passionately wanted to spend this year with my girls before they really grew up, I freaked out about the reality of it. Where would I find the patience? How would losing my professional identity feel? Would I have anything to talk about, anyway?

The transition has been a mixed bag. Some days, just living here is so stimulating that I don’t feel like I stay-at-home mom, I feel like a discover-Jerusalem-woman (occasionally with kids in tow). But I’ve had several experiences lately of feeling…..Dumb? Inarticulate? Inferior? Like all I have to offer a conversation is stories about my kids, and what I know beyond that is not really relevant. No one here cares about educational leadership in Delaware.

So many people here have life and professional experiences I cannot even imagine. Take my new book group, a group of expatriate women. At one point in the last meeting, I realized that I was the only person who had neither lived in, nor considered moving to, Cairo. Or a dinner party we attended last week in which another guest was an extraordinary charismatic NGO leader from Gaza. In that company, I’m going to learn all I can…and keep quiet.

Maybe my two original fears are getting conflated. I’m unfamiliar with the world surrounding me, and my own role in it feels so shrunken. This isn’t exactly a bad feeling — I’m learning so much in each of these experiences — but I need to work on keeping my confidence, I think.



About hilarymead

Taking two young kids, a great husband, and a whole lot of questions to Jerusalem for a year's sabbatical.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lots to learn

  1. Once again, I’m with you, sister. It felt so freeing to leave work behind… and then I realized I had amputated part of my identity along with my ego when I had so little to talk about with the new people I was meeting. I can only promise you, from a few years in your future, that you’ll get it back, and you’ll also relish the time you took for being just the four of you for a blink in time. Now that we’re back, and back at work, our year on/off feels like a dream. But its effects are indelible. I think of you four all the time — with nostalgia, with missing-you, with concern for your homesick moments. But also with so much joy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s