Saturday, March 15, 2008

I sucked it up

Thanks for your comments, everyone. Your input definitely helped me think about what I needed to do for myself, and I appreciate all the advice.

The bat mitzvah made me sad on many levels.

I have had waxing and waning interest in Judaism throughout my life. I have a strong Jewish identity in a lot of ways. I very much identify with my Judaism as an ethnicity, but the religious part has always been a bit weird. There are plenty of ideas in Judaism as a religion that I don't agree with. I also have some ambivalent feelings about how interconnected Judaism with the state of Israel. I really don't want to get into all of this geo-political stuff on this blog as it's too huge and too sensitive, but I do want to express that my Judaism does mean a lot to me in many ways and has definitely influence the way I see the world and I believe it has had an impact on my personality and who I am as a human. I like a lot of the way Judaism talks about the world and its point of view, and I am especially fond of the liberal tradition in Jewish culture. I would like to make sure the liberal Jewish faction does not die. I had always planned on raising my children Jewish. It's not so much about God for me, though I do believe in god, though I don't think it's in the traditional, Jewish way of seeing G-d. But I have my own belief, and as a liberal Jewish person, I'm allowed to integrate my beliefs with my religion and my ethnicity and make it work the way I want it to. And that's one of the things I love about being Jewish. I can do that.

T is not Jewish. T is an atheist. He does not like organized religion. He is uncomfortable around it. He does not like to acknowledge or to do anything that may indicate that he believes god exists. He has come to a few services with me, and he doesn't mind coming as long as he can just sit there with his family and be part of a family thing. When it gets really traditional, he does get a little uncomfortable.

When we got married, I told him that I wanted to raise our children Jewish, and if he couldn't do that, I couldn't marry him. He agreed with that. All he wanted was that after a child was of a certain age (to be determined later) he or she could decide what religion he or she wanted to be -- or if he or she wanted a religion at all. That's reasonable. At some point your children become independent and make these decisions on their own, and that was reasonable to me. I can't make them be Jewish if they don't want to be. We still haven't talked about what that age was. For me, it's after the bar/bat mitzvah (13). I don't know if it's earlier for him.

Even though we agree on this, it still makes me sad that he can't identify with the coolness of Judaism. Fundamentally, he feels like an outsider in that community. He can't participate in the traditions without feeling like he's betraying his own beliefs. I respect that, but at the same time it makes me incredibly sad. I know that deep down inside our beliefs aren't that different. But at the same time, we come to them from completely different ends, and they just aren't quite compatible. T did not come to the bat mitzvah today because it was at a very traditional congregation and he wouldn't have been comfortable, so we decided it was better if he stayed home. I know it was the right decision for him, but I was incredibly sad that he couldn't be there. I want to find a way to make this work, and we can when we find our own congregation, but there is no way to control what the congregations that our family members belong to are like. It just worries me and makes me sad because I know he doesn't like not being part of family things.

Then there was the baby. My cousin brought the baby to the bimah (the pulpit, I guess) and she was holding him in the reception area. I said hi to her husband and asked how things were going. I found a time when my cousin wasn't holding the baby (because everybody wants to hold a 7 week old and he got passed around a lot) to go over and say hi and ask how things were. Then I high tailed it out of there. It worked okay

I'm sad now on many levels, as I mentioned before. There's the religion thing and there's the baby thing. I used to love babies. If there was a baby in the room, I would make a bee line and always ask to hold it. I wanted to babysit and take care of them and hold them and I would kiss their heads and smell their baby smell. Infertility has ruined babies for me. I see a baby now and I head in the other direction.

It's cloudy today, and I think I'm just going to stay home and be sad for the rest of the day. Maybe I'll drink. I hope tomorrow is sunny and a little bit warmer so I can find a way to lift my mood a little.


niobe said...

Well, I'm glad you got through it, though it must have been very difficult.

Your musings about Judaism really struck a chord. I've attended services only once since the twins died. Even on the high holy days, I couldn't force myself to go. I keep telling myself I should go back, but I feel reluctant to reconnect myself to a religion that had no way for me to mourn the twins, since they didn't live for 30 days. I know that not every rabbi takes that position and I was kind of shocked to learn that my extremely liberal Reform congregation did. It's one of those things that you don't find out until it's too late.

Anonymous said...

I can really relate about your interest in babies....I was the same way - I'd borrow everyone's babies, hold them, keep them on the weekends, etc. Now it is just too terribly painful. And it seems like people have 4, 5, 6 babies to just "show off" their fertility while breaking my heart. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that they feel "led" to have many children or don't know about birth control, but lets just rub the infertiles' noses in the fact that we can have babies. I wish more people (moms especially) would be a little more sensitive to other women who can't be having babies left and right - I know I would! Because quite honestly, it could just as easily be them who is infertile than it is "us." The problem is there are VERY few places to "hide" from pregnant women, babies, toddlers, families, etc.

Natalie said...

That must have been very difficult. I know what you mean about this ruining babies for you. I thought I was finaly through that bitterness and now I can't stand to be around them again.

Religion is so difficult, especially when two people in a marriage don't follow the same beliefs. It must be hard for you guys to sort things out and compromise, but it sounds like you're doing a good job of it. *hug*

The Town Criers said...

I've been trying for 10 minutes to put my thoughts into words and I can't so instead I'm going to give you a hug and tell you that I hope all the film left behind by the Bat Mitzvah washes away soon.