Unlike my other columns, I’d like to dedicate this one to the unsung heroes of Israel’s home front: the wives and moms whose husbands have been called up to the front and who for months have been doing it all.
On Monday, Michal Barkai Brody, international speaker and women’s leadership entrepreneur, described her situation and gave some tips to others on how to help. Her post broke the internet with thousands of likes and shares. And this is what she said:
“Yesterday was my hardest day ever since becoming a mom. My (3) kids, in perfect unison, simply lay down on the floor and started to scream: ‘Aba, Aba, Aba!!!’ To make it even more perfect, my husband Yaniv had just informed me that he wasn’t going to be reachable for the next 72 hours and that we shouldn’t worry. Three days without connection ! And we all know, don’t we, what that means, right? Of course we won’t worry! Of course. And so yesterday all I wanted to do was run for my life. Of course, I didn’t. Instead, I hugged, and kissed, and fed, and bathed, and did meditation and went to sleep.
“This morning, thanks for asking, I began with renewed strength. I told myself I am strong, I am capable. I can do this. This was immediately followed by another episode on the floor (I didn’t join in even though I wanted to) and cries of ‘Aba, Aba, Aba!!!,’ interspersed with angry complaints that they wanted their pita cut lengthwise, not width-wise.
“‘Imaaaaaaaa! I want Aba, Aba, Aba!’
“It is time to point out that this war is a marathon that in a little while will have lasted a quarter of the year. But if you aren’t running in it, perhaps you might not be able to understand. In this quarter year, we, the moms (there are dads too, but mostly moms) are the ones holding the home front together by our fingernails (which we have no time to manicure) and the skin of our teeth. We aren’t being treated to performances by Idan Raichel on the base. No one is opening up barbecues for us, or buying us dinners, or paying for our coffee. Most of the time we are walking around this world with skin as thin as paper, an ache in our throats, and the faucet of our tears only half turned off because we have to keep our kids healthy and sane as much as possible.
“You, walking around us, don’t always know how to behave towards us in order to help us survive one more day and one more day of this cruel, exhausting race we didn’t choose and we didn’t want (and in my case, and the case of many others, never dreamed that amongst all the exciting tasks that we could be doing to help in the war effort, dafka this would be our role).”
Michal goes on to make some excellent suggestions on ways to help Israel’s moms at this time.
- That neighbors show some patience if the kids are noisier than usual. That people don’t honk their horns as soon as the light changes. That people take a deep breath before criticizing an Israeli mom, because many Israeli moms don’t have any breath left.
- Teachers, parents show some consideration. Don’t ask all moms to prepare things for class: they might not have the time. And if you see a kid whose dad has been called up struggling, send a note home to see if they might need some special help, or invite them to come over after school. It doesn’t have to be a big production. Just a little extra attention. And if a child has been asked to wear a special outfit, or bring something to class, reach out to moms and make sure they got the note so the child isn’t the only one who doesn’t come prepared.
- For families, grandparents and in-laws, friends: make sure you look at everything kindly and tolerantly. The house is topsy turvy? Unless you are prepared to send over household help, don’t mention it. You don’t answer the phone? Maybe it’s just too much for you to talk at the moment. Whatever it is, don’t criticize.
- For partners, bravely fighting at the front, remember your wives are also on the front. Don’t forget to strengthen them with a kind and loving word and gesture. They also deserve to be reminded that they are queens, lionesses, and that this shouldn’t be taken for granted.
So to all the Israeli wives of soldiers at the front, we send you our love, our admiration and our best wishes. I know that I am going to keep my eyes open more alertly to see if I can’t find some neighbors who are struggling and could use my help.
And a big thanks from all of us, here and abroad, to those who like Michal are doing the impossible, quietly, secretly, daily to help Israel triumph over her enemies, leaving Israeli families intact for the blessed day when fathers and husbands come home to them.