Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fear-and Psalms

[Note to anyone coming from “Try This Tuesday”: I know it looks like the link took you to the wrong place. It didn’t. Read and be patient....]

Those of you who are not familiar with Israel will find our Independence Day celebrations a bit strange, perhaps. The day before Independence Day is set aside for mourning and acknowledging those soldiers whose lives were sacrificed for the freedom the rest of us enjoy. And our memorial day is marked by serious stuff; it can not be ignored. Places of entertainment are closed; the radio stations deal almost entirely with the topic of the fallen. The day is a solemn one by any yardstick. Then, at the day’s end, the country turns around and celebrates our existence.
And, actually, it really is not all that strange. Because we are a small country, and one with serious security problems, the percentage of citizens in the army, and the army reserves, is very high. And for those families, the families with loved ones in active duty, or currently in reserve duty, the fear of the knock on the door from three “friends of Job” is never entirely gone.
Yes, I admit. I am proud of my son. And yes, as the mother of a soldier, Remembrance Day gives me the “Heebie-Jeebies”. The fear is a bit more palpable. Remembrance Day reminds us that soldiers do sometimes die. And while it would be much more sensible, statistically, to have worried about my son before he was in the army, when he drove to work on a motorcycle, [actually, I fretted then too....], I suspect that this fear is something I will just have to learn to live with.
And actuality, as parents we all live with fear. Have we no trepidation when our children go on school trips? And if they are late in their return, do we not nearly panic somewhere within? Yet, somehow, we let them go on that trip. Why? Because we realize that life with fear is only the shadow of an existence. So, we maintain our sanity, as parents, by pushing the apprehension aside. And when our offspring grow up, and are in circumstances (such as the army), where they are in a potentially dangerous situation, we simply have to avoid dwelling on the things that we dread. We may not be able to conquer it completely, but wisdom dictates that we channel that worry into tehillim (psalms), and prayers... and go on with our lives.

And a final note to special-needs moms:
As parents of children who are susceptible to abuse, to mockery, to misread cues....it can be a giant leap of faith to let that child, as teen, attempt things on their own. Our jobs as parents is to give them the tools that they need to succeed, and then to give them the gift of opportunity. For just as my soldier son David feels a need to be part of his society, to join the ranks of manhood, to test himself, stretch himself... and be acknowledged for his talents......so does Ricki need these same types of things. Yes, it causes anxiety to let her go to the grocery store down the street. And if on the way back she stops and visits our neighbors, I may well be phoning the grocery, checking when she left, and envisioning the worst. But our job is to teach... and to enable. So push that fear (a bit) aside.....
You’ll worry? We all do. We worry about our children from the moment we know of their conception to the moment that we die.

[My “honest Abe” personality makes me add the following. The Israeli practice on Memorial Day is to stand at attention during a two-minute long siren. I did not stand at the siren last night. I feel that sirens and standing is a non-Jewish custom adopted by Israel erroneously. Instead I sat and read psalms... and not just for the minute or two of the siren. Somehow may the families of the fallen be consoled by G-d, and may He guard our sons.]


Barbara said...

Excellent message.

Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

Thank you for sharing this. I have to admit, when I got the note home about the kindergarten field trip (it's actually tomorrow), the first thing I did was panic and call his behavioral aide to see if she could go even though it's not on her regular schedule.

I just keep reminding myself that we can't live by fear, and that there is Someone watching over my son everywhere he goes who loves him even more than I do.