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Posted by Ilana Angel
I know Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday that really means nothing and is overrated, but I also know that I love it and it matters to me. I am a romantic and I love everything about love. This Valentine’s Day marks my first with my Englishman. Important to note that the Englishman does not think Valentine’s Day is a big deal. This should be interesting.
When I was a kid I remember we would get cards at school and it was exciting. My son went to a Jewish Day School so he never celebrated Valentine’s Day at school, but I always gave him a card, some candy, and a small gift. He is my Valentine but last night told me he is not that into Valentine’s Day. And so it begins. Is he over it because he is a man?
I know a lot of women who don’t like Valentine’s Day, and to be honest, most of them are single. Even when I was single I loved Valentine’s Day. I would always do something special for me and my son to celebrate love. I would buy him those candy necklaces and he would eat it throughout his dinner and thought it was so cool to have candy with dinner. It was our thing.
I told the Englishman that we did not need to exchange gifts. I then told him we could max out gifts at a certain price. I then told him we could make gifts. I then suggested we just do cards. I was trying to take the pressure off of our first Valentine’s Day because the truth is I feel loved by him everyday. In the end he just thought I was bossy and said to stop.
He thought I was bossy before my suggestions, so no worries there. It got me to thinking about Valentine’s Day and presents. There is pressure of course, but why? Does the gesture of a gift not matter more than the actual gift? Does it matter if you get a piece of jewelry or a crock pot? Do flowers express love more than a new vacuum cleaner?
I was alone for a long time before my Englishman and to be honest with you, having him is the real gift. I love him. He is my everything and I remember what Valentine’s Day is like without a romantic love, and it was lonely. I am not ashamed to say that I would long for the Valentine’s Day when I would be in love and now that it is here, the gift does not matter.
I get cards in the mail for no reason, chocolates at the end of a long day, and surprise flowers all the time, so Valentine’s Day is not about those things anymore. Instead of a day where I long for love, it is now a day where I am grateful for the love I have found. I feel lucky and blessed to have this man in my life and today is a day to marvel at my good fortune.
I still love this day and just because it is a new kind of Valentine’s Day for me, it still matters and I will buy cards and gifts because I love it. Even if I get a spatula or toilet plunger from the Englishman, I will be happy. First off, it is a gift from the man who loves me, and second, it will make for a brilliant blog. There is no losing in the situation. It is all good.
My overall view of love has changed in knowing the Englishman. Things that I valued as important in a relationship have all been chipped away to discover that at the core, love is very simple and does not need to be complicated or difficult. I am a different mother, friend, and woman because of this man and that is a gift you cannot buy, but are blessed to receive.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I wish you health, happiness, and love. If you are in love, embrace your partner and remember what it was like without them. If you are alone but searching for love, believe in love and it will come. If you are alone and not looking for love, enjoy the peace that comes with loving yourself. Love is grand and I am keeping the faith.
5.17.13 at 5:27 pm | I am never going on another coffee date.
5.14.13 at 4:36 pm | Love needs a kick in the ass.
5.11.13 at 12:44 pm | My Mom gets the day off because this one is on me.
5.9.13 at 4:10 pm | Love s certainly a game, but it does not need to. . .
5.7.13 at 7:41 pm | Some questions simply cannot be answered.
5.5.13 at 3:19 pm | The hardest lesson to learn is to be quiet and. . .
5.14.13 at 4:36 pm | Love needs a kick in the ass. (465)
5.11.13 at 12:44 pm | My Mom gets the day off because this one is on me. (368)
5.17.13 at 5:27 pm | I am never going on another coffee date. (287)
October 26, 2012 | 3:31 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Earlier in the week I was running an errand when I came upon a homeless man standing outside a Payless Shoe Store. He appeared to be in his 60’s, but I bet he was younger. As I passed him he asked me if I wanted to go with him to Paris for the weekend. I let him know that I was flattered, and was I not dating someone, I would have happily jetted off with him. I gave him $2, told him he made me day, and we parted ways.
I immediately called the Englishman and let him knew he better be on his game because there was a line forming of men who wanted to whisk me away to Paris. He laughed, but seriously, I was not kidding. I have had an emotional week. I’ve been stressed, tired, worried, and somewhat overwhelmed. Not anything in particular, just a bunch of little things that gathered all together have been quite draining and Paris souded pretty good.
I am one that always counts my blessings. There are days however when I forget. By forget of course I mean I’m just not in the mood. It’s not that I can’t be bothered, or that I’m wallowing in self-pity, it’s just that I’m tired and I know God will lead me back to gratitude. No matter how stressed I am, or how much I think things suck, at the end of the day I am very aware of exactly how lucky of a girl I am.
Today I was back in the same area and I saw the homeless man from earlier in the week sitting on the sidewalk. As I approached he asked if I wanted to go with him to San Francisco for the weekend. I started laughing and reminded him that earlier in the week he had invited me to Paris. Without skipping a beat, he looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve fallen on hard times this week, but it will still be a great weekend”.
I started to laugh and before I could control myself, I began to cry. I hit a wall and it all just came pouring out. The man looked at me as if I was crazy, then started to dig through his backpack. As I told him I was sorry, and he offered me a handkerchief. Who uses a handkerchief anymore? I had already grabbed Kleenex from my purse, so I thanked him and blew my nose in a rather unladylike way. That made him laugh.
We got to talking and he shared a story with me that I am going to keep to myself, and cherish forever. I told him I was a writer and was going to write about how kind he was. He told me, “No names and no pictures. I’m so old I’ve forgotten who could be looking for me, so you must protect me.” We were now both laughing and in the middle of the street, I was able to see my blessings with profound clarity with the help of a stranger.
I asked the man if he needed anything and he said he could use some shoes so if he needed to run, he’d be ready. We walked up the street to a Payless Shoe store and I bought him some new sneakers. I gave him $20 cash, and I thanked him for being so kind. He thanked me in return, gave me his handkerchief as a thank you gift, and we parted ways with the promise that if I ever found myself single, I’d look him up.
Being kind is free, and it really matters. This man showed me kindness and his sense of humor put a smile on my face, and in my heart. I am going to spend the weekend with my son, who is my greatest blessing. I hope you all take a minute to find a blessing in your life and be thankful. Shabbat Shalom and have a great weekend. Be safe, be brave, be kind, breathe deeply, and remember to keep the faith.
October 23, 2012 | 3:54 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
I sometimes feel very alone in terms of my life as a mother. I don’t always relate to other moms. I often think people just don’t get how hard it is to be a single mom, or even how much joy I get from being the mother to only one child. I am raising him alone and it is hard. It is really, really hard.
When I see mothers at the store with a bunch of kids, I stare, wondering what life would be like if I had more children. When I see families together, I wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed in my marriage. I often wonder if my son thinks I am a good mother to him.
I am outspoken as a mother. I don’t worry about upsetting my child in terms of my choices. or embarrassing him. Whether it means not letting him take the car, or missing out on party, or staying home to do homework when everyone else is out, I don’t care. I am focused on his wellbeing.
He may not always like the choices I make, but in the end he understands. He knows that I am a worrier and can be over protective, but he also knows I want the best for him, am his number one fan, and that I want for him all the things he wants for himself, plus more. My love is clear.
We may not be the richest people, have the biggest house, or the nicest cars, but we have each other. We are close in a way that is defined by our path together. It has been him and me against the world, and with the world now knocking on his door, we are both scared.
I have always been scared. I am actually scared of a lot of things, which is weird because in many ways I am quite fearless. When it comes to motherhood though, fear is ever present. I worry about his safety, his choices, his future, his health, his heart, and his emotions.
I am clear on what my fears are, but as he gets older, I don’t know what his fears are. He used to be afraid of the dark when he was little, and now prefers to sleep in darkness. He used to be afraid of thunder and lightening, and now likes to sit outside to watch nature at work.
Last night my son came into my room, laid his head in my lap, and said he loved me. I said I loved him too and he sat up, looked me in the eye and said, “No really Mom. I love you. I want you to know I really love you”. I sat up and waited for the shoe to drop on really bad news.
I was certain he was going to tell me he crashed the car, did drugs, or had a drink. My mind was racing through all my fears as I calmly asked if everything was okay. My little baby, who I love so much, told me he was scared to leave me and go to college. He has fear about his future.
He said he did not know how he would handle college, and was worried about not only how he would do, but how I would do. He spoke of being worried about me being alone. He said I spend so much time being him mom, he wonders if I will be sad when he goes and my job is done.
I have been afraid of his leaving since the day he was born. I wanted to raise a good man, and if I allow myself to reflect on our time together, I can see that I have accomplished exactly what I hoped for. My heart will break when he goes to college, but it will also soar, and burst with joy.
I have often thought about my fear, but rarely think about his fear. His fear is actually more debilitating than mine because I am a grown up, and he is just a child. I have lived a full life out in the world, and he has lived a full life within the boundaries of the safe world I created for him.
When he was young he used to worry I would find love and not love him as much. I promised him I would not have a man in my life until he told me he was ready, and I would never have another baby so he could always be my number one. I have honored my promises to him.
My son will soon turn 17 and begin his journey to college. He has clear ideas of where he wants to go, what he wants to study, and the career he wants. He is doing exactly what he wants and I support him 100%. I get his choices, understand his passion, and believe in him.
He is strong and focused. He understands my fears and embraces me as I sometimes struggle to do it on my own. Last night he gave me insight into his fears and it was sweet. I never knew he was scared. It turns out I am not alone in my fear because we have one heart.
It was a touching moment for me as a mother. In hearing of his fear, I was able to quiet mine. I need to focus on assuring him we are both going to be fine. He has become all the things I have raised him to be, and my job now is to teach him to see himself as I do.
He is going to change the world for the better. He will be an amazing boyfriend, husband, father, grandfather, and professional. With every dream he makes come true for himself, will be a dream of mine coming true also. I want him to live his life out loud and without any fear.
By without any fear of course I mean I want him to have enough fear to help him make good decisions. When I gave birth to this child I was able to see God. Not only see him, but feel him, thank him, and share my good fortune with him. My son is a blessing.
I am proud of him. Proud of his Jewish worldview, proud of how he loves me, proud of how he takes care of me, proud of how he dreams, hopes, prays, laughs, cries, hopes, and thinks. I can see myself in his heart and that is all I ever wanted. I can let him go because I am a part of him.
It is an interesting time in a mother’s life when she realizes her baby is heading out into the world. I am one mother, who has raised one child. We share one fear, and one day, sooner than I can believe, he will wave goodbye. The day is coming, and together we will keep the faith.
October 17, 2012 | 7:57 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
A friend of mine lost his mother last week. I went to sit Shiva and was truly touched by the loss. I cried for the pain I felt for my friend, and also for the loss of my own father. Losing a parent is crushing. My father has been gone for over 10 years and I still find myself calling him on occasion. When I hear the recording telling me his number is no longer in service, it still takes me a minute to understand. I miss him so much.
My father died from cancer, and while it was devastating to watch him suffer, the blessing was I got to spend time with him, knowing he was dying, and being able to leave no words unspoken. My father passed way with a true understanding of how much I loved him, respected him, and thought he was a wonderful human being. I miss him every single day and am blessed to see glimpses of him in both myself, and my son.
Ever since I became a mother I have had an irrational fear of death. I cannot bear the thought of leaving my child. I want to see the dreams he has for himself come true, as well as the dreams I have for him. I want to give him a standing ovation when he graduates from high school, kvell when he gets into his dream college, dance at his wedding, babysit his children, and grow old while I watch him grow old.
One of my irrational single mother fears is that my son will not ever understand how much I love him. By irrational, of course I mean I feel it in my heart, even though my mind knows it is silly. Should anything happen to me, there will be nobody to tell him. My family will help him know how much I love him of course, but they live far away and don't see our life up close. There has not been a real witness to my life as a mother as it has simply been him and me.
I have had a stressful week with work, family, relationships, and motherhood. Work is busy and there are not enough hours in the day. My family is far away and I am feeling the void that distance brings. My Englishman is a wonderful boyfriend, terrific father, and business owner, so with our busy and full lives, our time together is limited with both of us having teenagers at home. I want to be with him more, and I miss him.
My son is almost 17 and I can honestly say he has been a true pleasure to raise. There are challenges to be sure, but I am very lucky because he is a hard worker, with a strong moral compass, and a kind heart. He loves me in a profound way and we have a strong connection. He is dealing with an insane amount of homework, and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Those pressures, along with regular teenage angst, are causing tension.
I found myself crying today for so many reasons. I have a spider bite on my right eye, which has caused it to swell shut. I yelled at my son over homework. It was my sister’s birthday and I was not there to hug her. My mother told me she misses my dad so much she can’t breathe. I was so tired last night that I stayed home instead of going to see the Englishman on one of the rare nights my son was sleeping out. It all came crashing down and I cried like a baby.
I am clearly wallowing in a bit of self-pity, which I think is perfectly fine and totally allowed on occasion. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming and you need to break down in order to build yourself up. My Englishman called whlle I was crying and I shared all my concerns with him through sobs. He listened, let me go on and on, then spoke to me in a kind and gentle tone, in his divine English accent, with words that dried my tears and brought me peace.
He told me I was a brilliant mother. He shared that in the time we have known each other, he has seen how I love my son and that while nothing is going to happen to me, I can rest assured that he will make sure my son understands how much I love him, and what being his mother has meant to me. He said he admired me as a woman and a mom. The Englishman is my boyfriend, friend, father, lawyer, therapist, lover, teacher, nurse, Rabbi, and financial advisor.
He is the man of my dreams and has become a witness to my life. Relationships are hard. Not only relationships we have with each other, but the relationship we have with ourselves. I am very critical of me, and don’t cut myself a lot of slack. It is a blessing the Englishman can share how he sees me. At the end of the day I must remember that if God leads me to it, he will lead me through it. I am not going anywhere, so I need to relax, and continue to keep the faith.
October 2, 2012 | 6:26 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Why is it that when you are single you cannot find a decent guy to date, but when you are in a relationship, men are not only everywhere, but they are interested in you? I have been dating the Englishman for almost 7 months and I have never had so many men ask me out. Very strange.
When I was out running errands yesterday, a man asked me if we knew each other. He looked a little familiar, but I think it was probably from a fantasy of mine, not because we knew each other. He was a very handsome man with an easy smile and curly grey hair. For a minute I fluttered.
We chatted for a couple of minutes while he tried to figure out how we new each other. By figure out of course I mean his ploy to keep a conversation going was both pathetic and admirable. He finally gave up on the charade and asked me if he could take me out for dinner sometime.
I thanked him for the invitation and told him I was dating someone. He blushed a little and said it was to be expected, which made me laugh. Once the pressure of asking me out was gone, we had an interesting conversation about how hard it was to date when you are older.
He is 54, divorced with grown kids, and has been on his own for just over a year. He has absolutely no game, but his attractiveness certainly helps him out. His ex-wife just remarried and he is feeling vulnerable, like a bit of a loser, and unsure why he is having such a hard time.
He told me that when he was married, women hit on him all the time, but since being single women don’t seem to be that into him. Our bodies give out a signal when we are available that is clearly some kind of a repellant, and we smell delicious when we are in a relationship.
I can remember dating men who made me want to vomit, and men who actually did vomit, and thinking I was going to die alone in line at the animal shelter getting another cat. There are a lot of freaks out there but there are also decent and kind people.
Turns out dating is not about luck or fate, as much as it is about smell. We can give off a smell of contentment or desperation, so we need to be careful. I am in love and giving off a smell of happiness, which men are attracted to that. Happiness smells better than bitterness.
I was alone for a long time and having found someone whose company I enjoy is really wonderful. When a man hits on me now it makes me proud and happy. Proud that I smell like happiness not desperation, and happy that I don’t need to play the dating game any longer.
To be clear, even though I am in a serious and committed relationship with the Englishman, it is still a game. I am navigating the choppy waters of love and it is hard, but there is comfort in knowing who I am dealing with. When you date someone new, there is a lot of unknown.
I know exactly what I am dealing with in my relationship because there are no surprises or skeletons at this point. Important to note that last sentence is complete crap. There are no guarantees in any relationship but time is making us stronger, and our fear weaker.
The only thing that matters is that I am in love and I stink of happiness. I believe we have the power to change the scent we give off, and so I hope those who are alone and looking are able to make themselves stink, so they find love. Think positive, and keep the faith.
September 24, 2012 | 10:56 pm
Posted by Ilana Angel
Tuesday evening marks the beginning of Yom Kippur. It is a Day of Atonement and the holiest of all days for the Jewish religion. Since many of my readers are not Jewish, and have written to ask what the holiday means, I thought I would take this opportunity to share the importance of Yom Kippur in terms of both my religion, and my personal faith.
On a religious level, the holiday is about atonement. Jews observe the day with a 25 hour fast, along with prayer. We spend most of the day in temple. This day marks the end of the Jewish High Holidays. It is the most observed of all the Jewish holidays and even the most secular of Jews will find themselves in temple.
Yom Kippur is the 10th day of the month of Tishrei. In our tradition, God inscribes our fate for the coming year into the Book of Life on the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana, then seals the book with our fate on Yom Kippur. The time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is when we try to make amends and seek forgiveness.
It is not only about asking for God for forgiveness, but atoning for anything wrong we have done against another human being. We spend the day praying for forgiveness, confessing our guilt, and talking to God about all of it. Our hope is that when the sun sets to end the day, God has forgiven us. It is a special day and always very emotional for me.
In terms of my personal faith, I speak to God every single day, but Yom Kippur is special. Its not that he listens differently on this day, but more about our prayers being louder. When every Jew prays on the same day, I imagine it is a wonderful chorus for God. I envision him listening to all of us together and feeling from us what I feel from him.
I have a relationship with God that has taken me my whole life to build. I turn to God in moments of joy, sorrow, peace, and turmoil. God has listened, which has allowed me to listen in turn. I am my closest to God when I pay attention to my breathing and don’t analyze choices. It is through God that I am able to trust myself, and choose joy over fear.
I have a list of things to discuss with God. Some are deep, some are silly, some need to be lifted, and others will ease his worry for me. God has always been by my side. Even when I did not see him, he was there. When he spoke and I did not listen, he stayed. He allowed me to hear my own voice, find my way to love, be a good mother, and find peace.
Some days I charge through life as a lion, and others I watch through the eyes of a lamb. Life is a blessing and you meeting me here to read what is happening in my life matters to me. I love that you are all going along the path with me. I learn from you and appreciate when you share your views with me. We are all in this together.
I hope we are all inscribed in the Book of Life and have a year of health and happiness. I believe that if God leads you to it, he will lead you through it, and so I hope your path is an easy one. Thank you all for reading. Have an easy fast and I will see you back here on Wednesday night. I’m off to atone, pray, fast, and keep the faith.