A Cat-astrophe? -groan-

We choose our friends based on mutual interests, shared humour, and similar personalities. The same cannot be said for family members. We would never choose a flatmate without copious interviewing, or guarentee a friendship for life without years of experiences and trust, and yet we are thrown into this world with no choice as to our housemates for the next twenty years, and our relatives for the rest of our lives. Is there any wonder that friction can and does ensue?

Sometimes we luck out. Our siblings share our sense of humour, our parents share our likes and dislikes. But what do we do when those ‘nearest and dearest’ are polar opposites to us?

Within the framework of our journey to communication, myself and my mother have been told to try to see things from each others point of view. She is currently going through a hard time with one of her pets being sick, and I am trying to be as supportive as I know how.

The problem lies in my sentence above. To her, the cats she has had for nine years are as dear to her (if not more so) than her children. She looks after them, plays with them, comforts them (and they, her) and will rearrange her time to suit their needs. To me, they are as I said, pets. Animals. However much they might be an enjoyment or hobby, they are not people, therefore not companions, not in the true sense of the word.

I have no great love for animals. Of course, I try to respect them, I shudder to see any kind of animal cruelty, and I can be awed by the sight of God’s majesty in all its forms, wildlife included. But at the age of 18, it was not a great struggle for me to give up the vegetarianism my mother had instructed on me since birth. I am not the kind of mum who is excited to take my baby to a farm, and I have been to two zoo’s in my life, and once was part of my job.

So how can I sincerely sympathise with someone to whom animals are possibly the greatest part of her life? To whom vegetarianism is almost a religion, and in fact compared my leaving it behind with my brother marrying outside of Judiasm? Who I have heard describe the emotion her cats have for her as “completely unconditional love”?

Truthfully-I cant. And that is part of this journey. We are not similar in many ways, and we will probably never get to the point where we understand each other completely, or even achieve the sense of empathy I have with some of my closest friends. Accepting this, and finding another answer, is a great challenge. All I can say to myself is, This is your mother. This is as important to her as your closest family are to you. Try and put yourself in that position and say what you would want to hear if something awful was happening. If necessary, I almost have to forget the situation itself and that to me it is ‘only’ an animal. To my mum, there is no such thing.

So another work in progress. And although I doubt I’m going to become a great animal lover in the process, I may just learn to be more understanding of others feelings.

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Interesting things I’ve noticed this weekend in Manchester.

1. The weather in Manchester this weekend has been much the same as London I hear. Every time the sun comes out, it’s a losing battle trying to get outside before the heavens re-open again. The difference is that while my London friends are complaining about the August rain, Manchester is celebrating the arrival of summer.

2. I saw a woman trying to spray a group of kids with bleach.

3. There are many less Polish shops. We have been driving around for three days, and the score is a measly 1-0 in the ‘Sklep’ game. (see a Polish shop, shout sklep. Play now, thank me later.)

4. You can pay a babysitter double what she may ordinarily earn, and it will still be almost half of what you’ll pay in London. I cant believe women get away with paying £2.50 per hour to watch 3 children while they are awake.

5. I saw a shop called Bath and Biscuit. If left to my own imagination, I dont think I ever would have worked out it was a dog grooming parlour. Genius.

So this explains my lack of blogs the past few days, but I’m gathering inspiration for the next few installments.. Next up? “Surviving a wedding seated in a seperate hall from my husband… ” Stay tuned folks.

Sonnet

“There is a secret all true lovers share”
That lives beneath the gazing of their eyes
Without this, those who love should well beware
The short-lived folly of their lust’s disguise

I thought that I had known true love before,
A beating and a yearning to be thine,
But these three years have shown me so much more,
The friendship and the strength that come with time.

I look towards the years we have ahead,
And smile at memories which are not yet ours
Where your heart travels I’m so gladly led,
A wealth of love that no debate can mar.

So thanks for three and here’s to ninety two
Endless ways to tell you I Love You.

(Happy Anniverary Hubby! xx)

To eat or not to eat..

I have a question that I like to ask to new friends or people over for meals. Being Jewish, the content often sparks some quite excitable debate and opinions. It’s basically the following:

If God came to you in the morning and said that for one day, you could eat anything you wanted.. what would your menu for the day be?

Being brought up strictly kosher, there is a wealth of foods that I have never tried, countless restaurants I have never eaten in and many combinations that are off limits. This question can fill up a lot of time.

I have heard a lot of interesting and surprising answers, but the game came to an abrupt standstill one evening when I posed the question to my eldest brother. Proving himself once and for all the holiest of our clan, he replied to God:

Trick question. You’re testing me. I will keep kosher anyway, and pass with flying colours.

… Oh.

In the Amish community, there is a custom known as Rumspringa, where from the age of 16, many adolecsent Amish are allowed to participate in ‘normal’ teenage behaviour, to give them a chance to choose to return to the church and be baptised Amish. As you can imagine, some dont return, although surprisingly, most do.

No disrespect to any other faith, but this seems crazy. Even for the ones who choose to return to their church, after months or years of drinking, driving, using modern technology, interaction with the opposite sex, how can they possibly go back to their limited lives?

Everyone knows once you have done something once or made a habit of it, letting go is so much harder. If God really did give me a ‘day off kosher,’ and I was lucky enough for it to fall on Tuesday so I could run off to Subway and grab a meatball marinara, no doubt the subsequent Tuesday would entail a much harder and more wistful walk past my local branch.

Why do that to yourself? Some might argue that having experienced what they are not allowed, and chosen their religion anyway, it makes it stronger and more meaningful for them. Without choice, they are simply being indoctrinated with their parents beliefs and brainwashed without their consent.

Hm.. Having strayed once or twice from the rules which hold our own religion together, my response to that view is.. -shrugs- Yes, sometimes I do feel good that I know what I’m missing out on and yet (pat on the back) I still hold fast to my religious values. Most of the time however, my feelings on those laws are firmly in two camps:

1. It wasnt that great anyway, so it doesnt bother me keeping it.
2. Laaaammme, why is this something I have to be keeping? Maybe I’ll just…

Nonchalance or Temptation. Neither were worth the deviation to be honest. So will I be turning R over at the age of 16 to the teens of Britian for a lesson in mind altering drugs and pre marital sex?

Quite frankly, I think I’d rather be accused of brainwashing him.

Expecting and Accepting

I have been told from time to time that I expect too much. Of life, which makes me the eternal optimist, of myself, which can lead to unreachable targets, and certainly of others. I always want people to do the best they can in our relationship, even if that is more than they think they are capable of themselves. If they dont meet my expectations? I wont pretend that I can’t be harsh at times, and have given up on people when they don’t manage to rise to the challenge of true friendship. This probably sounds very callous. But if two people dont make each other happy, and can’t see where each other are coming from… what’s the point? Life’s too short.

Some might say I wont make many friends that way, I might argue I make the best friends that way. To be fair to myself, I have also been told that I am very quick to forgive, and it is true that any sincere apology renders the slate clean for me without any grudge whatsoever.

But what do we do when these expectations land on someone who cannot meet them, but we cannot mercilessly remove from our stratosphere? Who, despite what may be best for the both of us, must remain in close proximity, and be dealt with if not daily, then certainly often enough.

I’m talking once again about parents. In the most extreme of situations, you see family members, even siblings entirely estranged for one reason or another. Parents are much more complicated, especially with grandchildren involved.

Having spent most of my life holding staunchly to my “You’re not doing well enough, apologize and do better” mantra, (on myself as much as others- i should say) it’s hard to admit to myself that in this case, it isnt the answer. This routine can only work if in the case of multiple arguments and failiures on both parts, seperation can happen. I wont pretend we havent tried that as an answer, but maybe thankfully, it doesnt work. In which case I need a new solution. If “do better” is impossible, and the endless cycle of argument, sort of apology, move on, argument etc is just too exhausting, then there must be a third option.

Be more tolerant. Not everyone is going to do everything the way I might. I am not going to do everything the way others may want me to. Maybe we are both incapable of being the parent/child each other envisage. Maybe it is possible to say “Wow, this is happening because neither myself or X is perfect, and we dont always mesh in the way we think and act. We think so differently, that however hard we try, we will never see eye to eye on everything or even most things. This is not going to change, and these endless fights dont get us anywhere. Unless there is a clear way to ensure this doesnt happen next time, it’s just not worth getting angry.”

Enlightening. Stop trying to change the relationship. Stop trying to fix it. Be appreciative of the things you do have, and try not to dwell on what you wish was there. Try to build something new, not what you have in your mind perhaps, but good nonetheless.

A tall order, and a work in progress.