(A Long and Slightly Rambling Post That Serves As:) The Best Apology Ever


In the past several weeks, have I:

Written something?    Um, nope.

Read something?      Nope. Maybe a few sentences before I fall into a coma each night.

Take a shower– other than the kind you take just to cool off in the Israeli summer heat: cold and brief?          On occasion, when the need is clear. By clear, I mean, when the sweat from walking out the front door and half a block has begun to smell.

Eat regular meals or sleep more than 2-3 hours at a time?    Not happening.

Read emails… books… blog posts…?    In very limited quantities, and by that I mean hardly at all.

Unless you haven’t seen the Facebook updates on my Tales From the Motherland page, you may have thought I’d dropped off the planet.    No, not that either.

I am in the beautiful city of Tel Aviv, Israel, and aside from some initial brief adventures, I’ve done little to explore this vibrant city. I always find time to meander around Old Jaffa, and I took a few hours to see the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, a gorgeous museum which is very worth the time and effort. I wandered down to The Port one evening when I first arrived; I’ve gone swimming in the beautiful Mediterranean and wandered some of the streets, but for the most part, I’ve spent most of my time in a few small blocks and in a small apartment with lovely views of the date palm outside our balcony.

In some ways, that means I have experienced more deeply what it’s like to be one more resident of this place: getting a coffee, riding the bus, shopping at the corner grocery store (no easy task, when you don’t speak Hebrew!), trying to get things done before Shabbat starts each Friday afternoon–– and the grocery, and pharmacy, and cafés close. Cinemas and popular restaurants pay a penalty and stay open for the Sabbath, but my daughter observes these days of respite and we have all of our food cooked and chores done by sunset on Friday, to use through Saturday evening. For the past two weeks, every day has felt like Shabbat–– a lazy, stay at home groove that we are finally getting on top of.

I apologize for disappearing. I’m sorry that I haven’t kept up with things like Friday Fictioneers; I haven’t read much news; I haven’t read blogs that I follow and really enjoy–– and when I have, I’m so late for the party, that tables have been cleared and the lights are dimmed. I’m the last one in the empty room, leaving my comments–– because I want you to know that your work does touch me, that I have slipped out of my cocoon and done something… else.

Yes, I’ve been in a warm and lovely cocoon for the past many weeks. It’s this small apartment in Tel Aviv, where my daughter and her fiancé live, and now where my beautiful grandson lives. We have been sequestered here for two+ weeks now, as we ease this lovely little person into the world… a world that he arrived in on August 4, 2015, his grandfather (my husband) Smart Guy’s 54th birthday.

This time together, these first days are exhausting; they are sweeter than sweet; incredible in their simplicity and miraculous in ways that I had forgotten while raising my own three miracles. Two weeks ago, this small human was only a curve on my daughter’s small frame. He was a complete unknown–– we did not know his sex, he had no name, we knew we would love him/her, but even that was abstract. A day or so before she gave birth, my daughter told me with authority, “I don’t feel like a mother yet; I don’t think I’ll love this person right away–– I need time to know them.” I smiled. I didn’t say anything; I knew she was wrong.

Now, our lives swirl around this small person. He cries and we all want to ease his worries. He nestles against my neck, against my cheek, by my side, for hours each day; if I move, he moves closer. I can’t sing enough; I can’t whisper his name enough. I lose an hour, two, sometimes three holding him close to me, as my daughter tries to rest and he naps happily in my embrace. He turns to my voice; he looks at me as I sing to him, and I feel such a huge love that I am startled.

I have loved my own three children. I’ve watched them come into the world, and I’ve watched them grow up in it. I’m watching my youngest go out into that world in three short weeks. I thought I knew what this cocoon would feel like, that I remembered. I thought I was prepared. But the memories aren’t as huge as the moments back in this world of sweet new smells, tiny sounds and enormous love.

I took refuge in a fish tank down the hall... whenever I needed to just breathe freely...

I took refuge in a fish tank down the hall… whenever I needed to just breathe freely…

For two long days my daughter labored. It was surreal, agonizing, disappointing, spectacular, and life changing. Suffice it to say, that as the wife of a surgeon in the US, I have become jaded. I am admitting that, so please spare that point later. I have had excellent medical care whenever I’ve needed it. I have grown accustomed to doctors I know well, in clean shiny hospitals, where everyone sanitizes their hands and certain things can be expected. Giving birth here was very different. Watching my child, my first baby, pushed to “hurry up,” ignored when her contractions made it too hard to get up and move around–– in a tiny room with two other women laboring as well–– all while I stayed awake, for 60 hours, dozing for only brief times, on the corner of a bed, or on the floor–– it was humbling, and awe-inspiring and life-changing and huge in so many ways, that the words I type are entirely inadequate.

The incessant beeps and the magical whoosh...

The incessant beeps and the magical whoosh…

My girl has always been independent; she has always been determined. Her Hebrew name means Lioness. I gave her that name at birth, because it was clear in her first hours that she was just that. She has lived up to that name in every way. It’s ironic that her own first cub was born at the start of August, a Leo. However, in the two days that she labored in the hospital, to deliver this baby that now fills our days with so much joy, I watched my girl shine in ways I could not have imagined. Determined not to huff and puff or yell, she hummed through each contraction. “The sound travels from my throat to my center, to the baby,” she told me. And so, as we all tried to get through some very difficult hours, some of them even traumatic, it was as if my girl sang her child into the world. Other laboring women would stop by our room to listen; they touched my arm in the hallway and told me that this sound comforted them. I rubbed many of their backs, and sat with some as they labored, and my daughter hummed. I felt such pride and love, watching my daughter work to bring her own child into the world– staying focused on what she wanted for her body, and her child, despite countless distractions and barriers. We tried to block out the incessant beeps of monitors, and were lulled by the magical whoosh, of the baby’s heart beat.

And so, when I stood beside her in those final moments, urging her to “push!”–– Telling her to find that sound, to hold her focus, despite her exhaustion, despite others urging her to numb the contractions and rest, I knew she could. She did. She hummed; she pushed; she was the strong woman she has become, and then, her child slipped into this world, and we were all quiet and gentle. We welcomed him peacefully, joyfully, with reverence.

I felt a visceral jolt when I saw him. He looked so much like my eldest son that I was taken back 23 years, instantly, and my heart beat faster; it swelled with love. As the hours passed, he looked more and more like his mother, my baby girl, so much so that holding him against my shoulder I was transported back, over and over. Moments of sweet memories, blurred with the moment we were all in. The sweetest smell, a new baby. It carries me back to when I held each of my own babes, and I felt like all of life’s best things were right there in my arms.

It isn't always this pretty...

It isn’t always this pretty…

At 52, getting up every three hours is very different than it was when I was 27 and my first baby suckled from me, hour after hour. Then, the exhaustion was overwhelming, but infused with the heady sense that only I could do what she needed. Nursing is hard work. It is not as natural and easy as so many women are lead to believe, and my daughter has struggled to make this work. It requires extra hands, and unwavering support… through the night, through the long, hot days. Her fiancé is working full time and also in grad school. Like her own father, her partner can’t be there to do this. I remember so well how overwhelmed I felt when my husband, who was in his medical residency at the time, working 80+ hours a week, could not get up and fix it for me. Make this baby sleep, I wished… as I watched him sleep through her cries. Now, I am here to help that same child, a new mother, with these early days. We are lucky. My husband and both of my girl’s brothers, were able to fly here and be present when their nephew and grandchild came into the world. We all circled around him in his first 24 hours and each wanted to hold the tiny boy who is now a member of our family. We all were awed at his delicate fingers and long feet–– oh, those feet! We all held him as if he was the most delicate spun glass… and smiled as he opened his eyes to see us.

His name means “truth with equanimity:” Amitai. It rolls on my tongue; it dances through my dreams, when I drift off for short hours. I hold him close and know that when I leave he will not remember me. I will come back a stranger. The pediatrician expressed “shock” at his alertness. He stares at us, tracking us and gazing into my eyes with his deep blue ones. I want to believe he is taking me in, as I memorize each exquisite element of his tiny face and body. I want to believe he will remember my voice: singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Edelweiss, Beautiful Boy (John Lennon), and whatever other sweet song comes to me, in those precious moments––– even Jon Bonjovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer sounds lovely, in the late hours, holding my grandson.

But like so many things with motherhood, these hours are fleeting. This sweet boy will not remember me, probably not for years to come. Each visit, a journey that takes a long 24 hours of travel, and a week to recover, will be a new introduction. He will forget my songs, and nestle in other arms in my absence. My daughter will send me photos, and let me see him on Skype. But these days and weeks in this private cocoon, with my daughter, her fiancé, this small child, and I, are sacred and permanent. I have been reminded that a child is a miracle, each one a new human being in this world, who has endless potential and possibilities before them. Each child deserves to be held, loved and sang to. So many are not, but this small boy is. And this time is everything right now.

So, this is the best apology ever. I have been caring for my child. I have been witnessing her bring her own child into the world. I have been loving that baby, my first grandchild, every minute that I can. When I leave, he will be exactly three weeks old, and I will have held him each of those 21 days. I will have sung to him, each of those days, and told him that we are here to fill his life with love. I know I will ache when I board that plane; the 20 hours flying home will feel like 50. But, these days in this cocoon are everything right now, and I can think of no better apology, for dropping off the edge of my usual world. There will be time to write, time to read, to shower, to eat well and sleep well, later… when I am dreaming of this sweet baby’s smell, his tiny hand clutching my finger, these wonderful days of becoming a new family, of falling in love. When my world gets bigger again…

Minutes have become hours have become days... all a lovely blur of time

Minutes have become hours have become days… all a lovely blur of time

Please note: there are no pictures here. My grandson’s parents have asked that I not post his picture in my blog. Grr. I have to respect this request and so there are no pictures of him here. I would tell you he is exquisite, especially lovely, that his expression is alert well beyond what you’d expect from a 14-day old baby, but I would sound like the bragging Grammy that I have become. You might want to stop by my Tales From the Motherland Facebook page; to hit Like and see what’s posted there. Really, do it. There’s something in it for you, wink wink.

Wish Washy, highly emotional ramblings of a tired mind: To my fellow bloggers, who have created a world of support and creative energy, that sustains me, please accept this apology. There are so many bloggers I enjoy and whose work I read, or who read my work, but these are the folks who are really there for me in a steady way: Jen, Jennifer, Carrie, Cathy, Audra, MikeHeidi, Stephanie, Susan, Lisa, Amy, Rochelle, Susan, Brenda and Suzanne, you are the best! Thank you for taking the time to read my work, pretty much every time. If I write it, I know you will come, and that means so much to me! Thank you for your kind comments and lovely support. I save your posts and will get to them when I can, but I so appreciate your wonderful presence. It’s hard to believe that 4 years ago, I had no blogging community (I was just getting started), and now I think of so many of you, on a regular basis.

To my friends and family: you have been such a wonderful source of support. Thank you! It is not easy to be away from home for 6 weeks… if I had some romantic notion that it would be, I was wrong. There, I said it. I’m homesick. I am so thankful for and to: My kids: Middle Man and Little Man and their wonderful accomplice, Emmy, and my husband, who had to ride sidecar but did it graciously and lovingly. I missed sharing our wonderful rental with you, but so appreciated all of your help! Shayne, we couldn’t have done it without you! To my sister, Kristen, and my aunts Cokie and Pat, my uncle Bob; cousins Amy K, Damia T, Tracey T, Kim, Stephanie; my good buddy Marc F; to Ruth and Mike; to my nieces Charlotte, Ashlee and Julia and my nephews Ben, Scott and Justin, and dear, dear friends: Marybeth, Daryl, Mary Ellen, Rosemary, Nora, Valery, and here in Tel Aviv, Miri. And finally, to my new family members: Sasha, Tanya and Roni–– All of you: you guys have been incredible! The hours of sweet private messages, long chats, loving congratulations and words of encouragement and thanks (for all my on-going updates) has been just what I need during the many hours that I’ve been sitting in this small apartment. You have helped me stay awake, keep cool, and be present. I really do look forward to your emails/chats, which remind me that I have a whole other life, outside this little guy’s finger… which I am currently wrapped around. I am so grateful to you all.There are lots of other wonderful friends and family who have sent love and well wishes too, but the folks I’ve mentioned have gone above and beyond in their efforts to keep me connected.  And I apologize for these run on sentences and pathetic punctuation. It’s enough just to write.

Truly, my cup and heart runneth over

*    *     *GIPY

Help Me Reach My Goals! I’d love to see the Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 800 likes in 2015. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. I love to hear what readers think. Honest, positive or constructive feedback is always welcome. Click Follow

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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55 Responses to (A Long and Slightly Rambling Post That Serves As:) The Best Apology Ever

  1. Oh, Dawn, I am so moved by your words and the majesty of your heart. Mazel tov to you and all, again and again on this wondrous, new life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh, sweet Dawn, you are doing exactly what you should be doing: spending time with your beautiful new grandchild. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. needn’t exist for now. Just you, your daughter, and your grandson. How wonderful you can be there. We never get those moments back so enjoy it and don’t worry about the other things you can’t get to. Take care of your family (and yourself!) and soak it all up. Best wishes to you all! (And thank you for the mention. Your kind words warm my heart.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carrie, I am indeed soaking it up and bathing in this sweetness. It’s amazing how a month can go by so fast, and some of the hours drag on so long! Time has been so altered and strange. And very sincerely, you and the others I mentioned keep me afloat some times… not just in these days, but all year, when you send such reassuring words and share in my happy moments. I find this world of blogging and blogging friends so wonderful. Thank YOU.

      Like

  3. Valery says:

    Worth the wait! And once again, your writing moves me to tears. Very happy tears! He sounds like an old soul, one who’s a bit wiser than his age. One who will somehow remember his grammy, every time she visits. You two are developing a groove, and it will not be lost. Rather, you’ll find it surprisingly easy to slip right back into it with every visit. Take your time and cherish each moment. Your fans expect it and enjoy every update! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lillian says:

    Aaaand I have tears running down my face as I read this and had some quiet moments because I just sent my big two off with Grandparents for the night. “Watching my child, my first baby, pushed to “hurry up,” ignored when her contractions made it too hard to get up and move around–– in a tiny room with two other women laboring as well–– all while I stayed awake, for 60 hours, dozing for only brief times, on the corner of a bed, or on the floor–– it was humbling, and awe-inspiring and life-changing and huge in so many ways, that the words I type are entirely inadequate.” So much we take for granted, but most of all the love that surrounds us even when we don’t know. These words are so beautiful and I’m so glad for you and your family that you’ve had this time with them. I can tell you first-hard how much it means to have someone else there in those early days and it’s something she will never forgot either. Sending lots of love as we wait for our little one in the coming weeks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • SO wonderful to hear from you Lillian! I’ve been watching for updates… but figured you might not be up to writing/blogging right now! I hope your pregnancy has been easy and kind. What a big change you will all have. Having watched your older two grow, over these past few years… it’s hard to imagine another little person in your pictures! All my best as you labor and deliver.

      Thank you for your kind feedback. I’ve missed you! xoxo

      Like

  5. sara says:

    Dawn, I felt tears coming as I read your beautiful description of being a grandmother. Those first three weeks are so sacred, although as a first time mother, it isn’t always experienced that way. As a grandmother, you are uniquely placed to enjoy the time for what it is – easing a new soul into the world, in the most loving way possible.

    Like

    • I am so aware of that Sara. I watch my girl and her partner, and I remember the anxiety and worry that shadows the same hours that I am enjoying. While I am exhausted, I know how fast this all goes and I feel lucky to soak it all in and relish all of this time. Thanks for your lovely words; they mean so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Amy Reese says:

    Absolutely no need to apologize, Dawn!!! Congratuations, Grammy! I’m so thrilled for you. What an experience to be there for your daughter watching her sing through her labor. She’s strong. And, that he looked so much like your son. Wow. What a rush that must have been. You really haven’t missed much on my end! Just hanging in with the blogging, trying to keep up too. Kids back to school and homework every night now. It certainly doesn’t compare to all your excitement. Now, it’s time for you to get some rest. xox

    Like

  7. momshieb says:

    Dawn, this is just so beautiful! Congratulations! I am transported with you, as I experienced a similar miracle on July 26th when my firstborn gave birth to her firstborn!
    Mazel Tov to all of you; embrace this incredible blessing and enjoy every sweet moment!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Long yet lovely. Lucky you to be in labor room with your daughter. What an honor! My kids don’t want me to put photos of their kids– really cuts into blog posts— and I hear you deep about how much joy this part of life brings—and know how hard it will be to say goodbye. Mazel Tov and enjoy every minute! You can sleep when you get home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always said: you can sleep when you’re dead. Some magical moments simply require a loss of some sleep. And yes, I felt very lucky to be there!

      Yes, the ongoing issue of what I can and can’t post is interesting and frustrating– as much as I respect my children’s wishes. It’s something I think about often, when I read blogs by younger moms, whose kids are still too little to complain. A distinct quandary.

      Like

  9. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Dear Dawn,
    I’m so happy for you! You have been in my thoughts many times these past few weeks as I knew you were in Israel with your daughter. I’m so glad the birth went well and your grandson is thriving! What a yummy, special time. I know that you’re torn about having to leave, but thank goodness for Skype! These days, our technologies do allow for much more connection, so you’ll be able to see him grow and he’ll be able to have you as a strong presence in his life, even from far away.

    Thanks so much for the shout-out here and on Twitter. And I so hope we can connect in a few weeks in person. That would be awesome!

    Hugs to you, dear friend,
    Cathy

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really looking forward to our face to face, Cathy! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

      I have to say, it’s been incredible watching how much technology helps some things and not others! My daughter can look so many things up (I just floundered!) and yet the basics, of becoming a mother… figuring out each cry, nursing, etc remains the same. It is an incredible thing to experience with my child. Thanks for your kind words and constant support; it is much appreciated. xox

      Like

  10. Your writing is so incredibly eloquent and it often makes me feel like I’m there in each tale you tell. Congratulations on your newest life journey! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. rarasaur says:

    I’m so happy for you! *hugs*

    Like

  12. mamaheidi60 says:

    My breath is catching and my eyes filled with tears. This is so beautiful. What a wonderful time in your life! You may come home, but your grandson will surely have an emotional memory of you holding, rocking, SINGING ! love and hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Psychobabble says:

    ooooooooh yay. Brings me back to my own experience. It really is something unlike any other.

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. What a very very special time for you. Your writing, as usual, gives me goosebumps. I just got back from dropping my youngest off for her first year at college. I needed to read your words ..the travels of motherhood. Thanks for the shout out. I enjoy your writing so much, Dawn. And I so appreciate you reading mine! Enjoy your time together. Family time is fleeting and so deeply important.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. hbksloss says:

    Reading with tears welling up in me as your describe your dear grandson’s birth, your daughter’s initiation into motherhood and your’s into grannyhood. Your words brought back those hot sweaty August days when I gave birth 25 years ago. You captured the newborn cocoon as only a mother could.

    That you were there to delight in and witness this new family’s beginning is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a moving and tender piece

    Like

  17. You are so woozy with love right now! It’s awesome. No apologies necessary. at. all. What an amazing and beyond beautiful experience for you and your daughter. I have never had one like it and have no daughter to share her childbirth with. That said, I do hope that one day, my Little Man will become a proud Papa, and I’ll share the grandma snuggling detail. Congratulations again and your grandson is so beautiful!!

    Like

  18. Jan Brown says:

    In the face of all the foregoing verbosity, I’ll be brief😄

    Congratulations on your first grandson!!!!!

    Like

  19. Thant was truly beautiful, Dawn. It brought back memories of my own two when they were babies. I used to send pictues to the relatives in the U.S. and India. That picture of the view from the apartment window looks a lot like the view from our window here in India. How lovely your were able to spend that time with your family there and the new grandscon. God Bless all of you.

    Like

  20. Congratulations! I’ve been largely unplugged and behind, too. None of my reasons are as good as yours. I’m so glad you were able to be there!

    Liked by 1 person

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