When people say “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child,” they’ve clearly been in my neighborhood before. Because it does, indeed, take a village at times, and I feel privileged to live in such an amazing village, with such an amazing husband. And no, Hillary Rodham Clinton didn’t create that expression; she just used the African proverb for her 1996 book. Just had to get that off my chest.
Anyway, I work from home on Thursday mornings and I often don’t manage to get dressed or to get going when Josh goes out the door with the kids. So, last Thursday, I was working at the computer in my very best pajamas when Josh came back in. He was on route to work after dropping the kids, and just said, “I forgot something” before running downstairs. Ok – back to work.
And then I heard something plop down behind me. It was a suitcase. “Let’s go,” Josh said. Hmmm…Suitcase…let’s go…suitcase…let’s go.
I still wasn’t getting it.
And with a twinkle in his eye, Josh declared, “It’s your birthday get-away. Let’s go.”
And I was still saying, “but….” as we walked out the door. But what about the kids. But what about dinner tonight. But what about………..
There are so many things to do as a mother, and as a working mother at that – could I really just walk away for over 24 hours?
As we got into the car, Josh filled me in on all the details. Since I hadn’t spent a night away from the kids in six years, it was a bit nerve-racking. But Josh had, in perfect Josh fashion, taken care of everything from top to bottom.
“Yes, Romi. Zeli is going to someone’s house until 5 pm and Eliav is going also. Matan is picking Yakir up and staying at home with him for one hour until the babysitter comes for the night. Then in the morning……………”
And on and on it went. Making sure that six young children are collected from school, fed, homeworked, bathed, bedded, and sent off to school the next day isn’t the easiest task. But it was all arranged with the help of some great friends. And – Josh had even gotten us a Shabbat lunch invite so that I wouldn’t be worried on our late return Friday afternoon.
And the time in Tel Aviv was, truly, priceless. I remarked, at least a few times, how heavenly it was not to have anywhere to be. I sat at lunch and laughed that we could spend as long as we wanted to there – and that no one was throwing food off my plate while sitting on my lap.
We walked around the Yaffo Port and found an amazing discounted designer dress shop, we browsed in windows in old Yaffo and I got a pedicure in a wonderful, hip shop.
We had a great lunch, checked into an amazing hotel, walked on the beach, ate a romantic dinner at a French restaurant, went through the Tel Aviv craft fair, and enjoyed every minute.
We arrived home knowing that our relaxation would vanish the second we crossed the threshold. Little did we know.
Within an hour of coming back to our house (which was amazingly organized and doing fine without us!) Yakir fell. Now, the kid falls all the time, and I didn’t think anything of it. Even as I scooped him off the floor and noticed the blood, I figured it was just another little cut. The lip partially hanging off was my first cue that something was a bit amiss.
And then the fun began.
Long story short – the kid needed stitches, badly. And his mother needed a stiff drink. We went to our neighbor the doctor (who regrets living so close to a family with six boys) and he ordered me to go immediately to the hospital. It was three hours before Shabbat, and I could already see myself fighting my way through the waiting room with an exhausted baby, holding him down as they stitched him and then figuring out what to do with myself for all of Shabbat.
It wasn’t an appealing picture.
Then we remembered that we have an oral surgeon in the yishuv who is amazing with stitches – and who is called upon all the time for all sorts of emergencies (yes, he happens to also be a mohel who did four of our children’s britot!). So, we ran over to his house, where he and his wife greeted us with open arms.
They were absolutely incredible, trying to calm me down, forcing me to laugh a bit (well, sort of) and even sending me from the room when I couldn’t be the doctor’s assistant. His wife held Yakir down with Josh while the doctor did the stitches. Amazing. And they juggled all of this while getting themselves and their eight children ready for Shabbat. And somehow, they managed to make sure that we didn’t feel rushed in any way or as if we were inconveniencing them.
He didn’t even seem too insulted when, as he looked in Yakir’s mouth and declared that there were problems with his teeth, I turned to Josh in a panic and said, “We have to see a dentist!”
When they all finished laughing at me, Josh reminded me that we were in the home of a dentist – and that this was why we had arrived.
When Yakir was patched up and ready to be taken home, Josh and I took deep breaths, and reminded ourselves that our vacation really had occurred. Really.
And I remarked at how amazing our lives are – where people are ready to assist at the drop of a hat – whether it’s to help a husband surprise his wife with a much needed respite, or whether it’s to gather up a hurt child and simultaneously patch the baby and calm the parents. It takes a village, and as my birthday arrives and I get reflective, I sure do appreciate the one where we’ve found ourselves in good times and bad.