I've read posts about mothering during natural disasters, family tragedies, and pandemics. I've lived in Israel as a mama through the "knife intifada" and as a young wife I got used to my husband spending time in the military on a regular basis, either training or deployed in active areas. Sometimes throughout the years there would be what in Israel is considered "a flare up" where the rocket fire from Gaza aimed at Israeli civilians would increase in intensity to the point where a larger scale operation would mean a call-up of reservists, and my husband has been called in for those as well. But this is different.
Starting October 7, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of the most tragic time for our people since the Holocaust. Honestly, the atrocities that were committed now were worse than the Holocaust although less in number. I find myself drawing on the wisdom gained from those previous experiences and from those articles as I attempt to navigate this time as a homeschooling mother with a husband in the active fighting. I've already made some regrettable mistakes , but I'm determined to re-surface and do better. Here are some lessons I'm learning so far.
Pray. Lots. And then some more. Normal prayer times, yes, but also throughout the day the inner conversation can be directed to God as constant communication. Specific sentences in my mind to God as well as wordless emotions just given over to Him at any moment.
Read Scripture. Read the background and context and cross-reference of verses that speak to me. Pray the verses. Meditate on them.
Protecting the children. It may be my husband's job to physically fight and protect us on the front lines of this conflict, but I also have the job of protecting. Since the beginning of this hell, I have protected my children from hearing or knowing of the massacres, the unspeakable torture, the kidnappings, the thousands of jihadists who infiltrated our country and the horrors that keep being uncovered. I imagine that they will learn about this when they are older, but for right now... there is no reason for them to know. I also aim to protect them from overdramatizing having to run to the bomb-shelter at the time of the air-raid sirens. It's scary. It just IS. Especially when the explosions are close and loud. But my goal is that they would not see me giving in to the fear, that they would know that we can trust God to take care of us all the time. I also try to be honest with them that our trust is not in some guarantee of what will happen in this world, but rather, no matter what happens... God is with us. He will not leave us and He wants our good always. (And our good is to become more like Yeshua, Rom 8:29) Our guarantee is simply that our eternity is safe with Him.
Protecting my husband. I also protect my husband from things that he doesn't need to be worrying about. Have I done this perfectly? No. I have not. But I'm learning. I'm learning that it is not a good idea to ask practical questions of your husband after he has spent a long night, bringing dead bodies home under mortar fire. It is not. And since I do not know what is happening on the front at every given moment, I need to just assume that "now is not a good time". Neither is it a good idea to tell him what the children are struggling with. He needs to be able to clock out of "home brain" and know that I've got it. And if I haven't, I'll figure it out.
Protecting my own mind and heart. I want to keep up with the news, I want to be aware of what is going on. My husband is on the front lines and I feel the need to stay updated with developments as much as possible. I also feel very personally connected to the hostages that are suffering in Hamas captivity right now. Many of them are the ages of my own children!!! However, I have learned that I do not do well listening to interviews of pro-Palestinian (read pro-Hamas) views, mostly fueled by hatred and lies. Even if both sides are presented, it affects me. I also don't do well seeing people who post NOTHING about what's going on at all. That affects me too. It stings. So does seeing people coldly discussing the events as if its just another interesting phenomena to research about. Or maybe mentioning both sides in a way that makes it sound as if we're the same. Talk of "Innocents suffering on both sides", "Let's pray for peace for everyone" and "Ceasefire". It's not the same. It's not. the. same. So, I make rules for myself. Instead of social media, I do a couple of news sites a few times a day. No debates, interviews, or discussions presenting the Hamas side as if it is somehow normal or justified. Not for me right now. It takes self-discipline for sure. (NOTE! Spreading truth in this situation through social media, debates and interviews is a very important mission and I am so glad that there are amazing people doing it! But it is not on my own personal job-description right now.)
Eat. Figure out what is the minimum necessary amount that I've got to eat, and make sure I do it. Know which things I can eat even when my whole system feels like cement and my appetite has been replaced by sorrow.
In case you're wondering what that is for me, here you go... A protein yogurt in the morning. A coffee with collagen. At least a few bites of each of the meals served to my children throughout the day, and if I suddenly feel hunger at any time... stop and eat something (preferably not sugar which makes me jittery). Good enough. Now is not the time to worry about lofty nutritional goals, and that's ok.
Drink enough water. You get the idea. Again, finding the minimum necessary to keep systems go and make sure I'm doing it. This has been sketchy, but I think I'm improving.
Balance. Finding the balance between keeping a routine in place for the children and noticing when someone is struggling emotionally and then letting some things go. We're just not ourselves right now. So, keeping up with what we can is helpful, however without the expectations of normal life.
Grace. Giving the people around me grace to not be fully normal. Not to take things personally. I also need to keep in mind that some goals that I may have set for myself before the war started need to be moved to a different time. Now is not the time to stress over why we still haven't mastered regular entries in our nature journals or taken all those hikes that we had planned. (We can't even go down in the yard since we need to be close enough to the bomb shelter to gather everyone quickly during a rocket attack.)
Time. Process what I can right now, and leave some things for later. There are questions. Grief. Pain. Fears. Trauma. Some of that can't be fixed or answered instantly. So, while daily drawing strength from God's presence, all that grief gets to sit with me until He sees fit to bring answers and healing. His grace will have to be sufficient even as the "WHY GOD?" is loud in my heart right now. Suddenly a verse might come to mind that lifts a burden. But I don't need to demand or push for instant relief. His grace IS sufficient.
"Patience, kindness and self-control." This last one is the one that I'm failing the most at. At night, when we're all tired, when I'm tired... being patient with the children. Sigh. But tomorrow is a new day, and I'm determined to keep working on it!
There you have it. This may be part 1, who knows.
With love and prayers that we will soon hear good news...