May 20, 2024
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May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I love all of my children equally. For nine months and three weeks, I impatiently awaited the arrival of son #1. When your father is an OB/GYN, he is the one who gets the “Why isn’t he coming out yet?” phone call for every single day I was late. As a first time expectant mother, you have no idea what to expect. You have no idea how every single aspect of your life is going to change. You make the mistake of reading the books…big mistake. If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, or you are pregnant for the first time — step away from the books. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you. For pregnancy, for labor, for holding your baby for the first time… nothing.

But pregnancy, like parenting, is a waiting game. You wait to see if you are pregnant, you wait to see the ultrasound. Sometimes, unfortunately, you wait for the other shoe to drop and then you have to start waiting all over again. But when things go well, and you are blessed to have a healthy baby, you wait for the milestones and hope they all come. And then, when they graduate high school, in some cases, they go to Israel for the year. Or two. Or forever. And you wait to see them.

I have written about this before. The year leading up to son #1 going to learn for the year was actually a lot worse than the actual year he was gone. Perhaps this is because his room, in our home, is on the third floor. He moved up there when he was 7 years old. So even when he was home, he was up in the attic and we could hear him walking around. When he went to Israel, I sort of just pretended that he was still up in his room.

Son #2 has the room that shares a wall with mine. Every night, like clockwork, when he would roll over in bed, he would knock against the wall. Since I am a bad parent, I never asked him if it hurt when he did that, but the sound, to me, was always comforting because I knew that he was safe in bed. Then, of course, we had the ineffective alarm clock that would go off every morning for about 20 minutes. It woke the rest of the house up, but never son #2. This year, on the first day of school, I genuinely missed the sound of the alarm.

When son #1 was in Israel, I did not go visit him. We would talk and FaceTime and text, but I went seven months without being in the same room with him. Again, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be because he was up in his room, after all. (I am delusional when it comes to so many things.) Son #2 is an entirely different story. There is a presence missing in our house… not just him, but the constant presence of his friends. (To be clear, son #1 also had friends, but they were just quieter than these others guys.) I haven’t had to throw out a water bottle or paper cup in over two months. It has been eerily disconcerting.

And then something amazing happened; my brother surprised me and asked me if I wanted to go to Israel for the weekend. And before I knew it, I was on a plane. I couldn’t wait to see son #2. People go to Israel to wine and dine their children and I was determined to do the same. I put on my skirt and went to meet him at his yeshiva.

I didn’t go to Israel for the year and even if I did, I wouldn’t have gone to a boys yeshiva, so seeing his school for the first time was a unique experience. It kind of looks like a camp. No wonder these kids want to stay for so many years! The weather is beautiful, the scenery is beautiful… it is a bunch of boys hanging out and learning and growing together. What could be bad? Somehow, son #2 convinced me to stay for a shiur; I was in the zone. And then it was dinner time.

A box of bagged rolls, another box of prepackaged cheese and a third box filled with bagged chocolate milk. And the guys said this was a good dinner — I am pretty sure they are getting the same meal that they serve in prison… who knew chocolate milk even came in a bag? But son #2 didn’t want me to take him out and I am not one to say no to a roll so, for one night, I was a full-fledged yeshiva boy. And it was totally worth waiting for. Though, after two days of intense mother-son bonding, I am not so sure son #2 thought the same thing. Perhaps I should have taken him out to dinner…

By Banji Latkin Ganchrow

 Banji Ganchrow never thought it was possible to be on a plane for almost as long as she was in Israel. But it totally is the Best Birthday Present Ever.

 

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