Is where your children live a reflection of the relationship you have with them? My first reaction would be, "of course not." I have lived anywhere from 50 miles to a few thousand miles away from my parents at any given point in my life. Children move away for economic reasons, ideological reasons, health reasons, romance, adventure, and more that I haven't listed.
The entrance to my house is one floor up from the street. Next to my home, the house is slightly higher, as we live on the gentle slope that descends towards the Dead Sea (about a 20 minute drive from our city). So the entrance to my house rests a short step down from the back door and yard of one neighbor, and a bit over half a floor up from their downstairs tenant. What this means is - when Hila comes out to her yard, and Leah is hanging her laundry beside the front door of her apartment or watching her two gorgeous sons playing, the three of us can chat.
Hila has 7 children - including two sets of twins. Her home is clean and neat, her children dressed well. I never hear them yelling - rather, I hear her talking to crying children with patience that I would have long exhausted. She compliments me on all that I do, while I'm amazed that she can handle what she has. Leah has 3 children, cooks, keeps a beautiful home and has created a haven for Aliza whenever we weren't home. During the darkest months when Aliza was afraid to be alone, Leah and her husband made my daughter not only welcome, but part of their family. Aliza is the youngest here - there she is the older sister, much loved by all. Sholom helps her with her studies - they adore her...probably as much as she adores them. Aliza's phone is filled with pictures of Leah's children and Aliza loves to tell me things that they have said or done.
I enjoy the minutes when the three of us are outside catching up - it's a moment of life outside work and pressures. Yesterday, Hila said something and it took me a moment to understand what she meant. I speak in Hebrew with Hila; Leah and I speak English. Leah also speaks French and I'm pretty sure her Hebrew is better than mine - and she's only been in Israel a few years.
What Hila was saying was that the fact that two of my married children - and soon three with Elie and Lauren - choose to live close means that I've done something right. It isn't that you've done something wrong if your children move away for whatever reason - but if they choose to move close...that is a statement of your relationship with them.
Is that true? I don't know - but it warms the heart of a mother to think so. We're looking for an apartment for Elie and Lauren - I would so love them to live close. Not too close that they feel uncomfortable, but close enough that we can see them often, feel them nearby.
I guess where they live does make me hope that the relationship we have is a solid one. And the other aspect of relationships that I wanted to write about is how Elie and Lauren, and Shmulik and Naama behave. For that matter, though they've been married longer - Amira and Haim too. You see - with the help and blessings of God, my children have found love. Seeing your children in love with another is an amazing thing to watch. Seeing the affection they have, the whispered words, the looks - yes, it does make you feel that you've done something right, given them something of great value.
Maybe this is a silly post and a waste of time. Maybe it is obvious to everyone, but I love watching my children in love; love knowing they have found someone who worries about them, cherishes them. "He's my problem now," Lauren said with a smile yesterday when Elie was being a brat. I love knowing that she is accepting him for who he is and that they each make the other better, stronger, whole.
I know there are great blessings in life - and no, I can't say which is the greatest blessing of all - the love of my husband, my children, grandchildren (current and God willing future)...but definitely one amazing blessing is the new children God brings to you above the ones you birth.
So, may God bless my children - with life, with health, and with love. And may God bless my amazing new children...the ones I have chosen...Yaakov, Chaim, Ariella, and Lauren, and the ones my children have brought to me, Haim, Naama, and yes, Lauren again!