I apologize for my long absence from this blog. I will use the excuse that I have had no time to write anything meaningful, but below are my reasons:
1. I graduated, moved to Houston, and began a new consulting job in summer 2006.
2. My husband stayed at Penn State to finish his degree. This necessitated lots of logistics planning for holidays and weekend visits.
3. My job required me to travel to exotic locales such as Paducah, Kentucky and Birmingham, Alabama and most recently, to New Orleans on a relatively long engagement (which continues today).
4. We joined a shul, about which I posted earlier, and somehow I coordinated the shul’s annual gala in March.
5. We bought a house.
6. My sister had her baby a week before the gala, at the same time when I found out I am pregnant.
7. My husband graduated and moved down and has now started his new job.
8. Our lovely house needs a new kitchen and new windows, all of which will happen before the baby arrives.
That being said, it has been quite the year. But the most challenging aspect of it all has been negotiating family dynamics. Much has been written on this topic, some good and some bad, and I have had both experiences. I live within walking distance (by design) to my sister’s house and my parents’ house, neither of whom are kosher houses or observant in any way. However, it was important for me to raise my family near my family so I knew that compromises had to be reached. Perhaps some readers will not like my decisions so far, but I base all of my decisions on shalom bayit, both within my home with my husband and outside my home with my family. Some examples:
1. My mother and my sister buy kosher meat for us when they are expecting us, for which I am grateful. However, their dishes and their ovens are not kosher, and I suppose that once the dish is cooked, it is no longer kosher. Nevertheless, my husband and I eat their meals and appreciate their efforts. I am hoping to progress on this issue through conversation and by providing them with kosher utensils.
2. My family respects my refusal to eat in non-kosher restaurants. However, one time when I showed up at a non-kosher restaurant with a container of mac and cheese, my mom got offended and was vehement that I not pull it out. I learned the power of compromise – instead of bringing the box, I could order tea. I cannot make my mother uncomfortable and alienate her.
3. My family understands that we celebrate Shabbat. When we sing Shalom Aleichem at my house, it’s a beautiful thing. At our house, Friday night is more than just dinner. My parents love the peace that comes with it.
It is very hard for parents to not understand their child, and that is how my parents feel about me. They have not had good past experiences with observant people, both in the States and in Israel. Nevertheless, they respect me, and it is my responsibility not to push my boundaries too much too fast with them in fear of pushing them away.