Rantings of a Mother of the Bar Mitzvah in the 45 Days Before the BIG EVENT(S)

Once, I was a regular chick. I had a life. A career. Then two kids and a career. Two kids and a career and a full and busy life. Then the career went. And the descent into madness began. Seven and a half years later, it's down to this. Forty-five days before the big BAR MITZVAH of First Born Son. And the madness has fully taken over.

You, dear reader, get to witness the fun.

21 January 2010

It was a good day for the monster

And not just because we got one of the last of the girl-RSVPs, which is really really good, since I can stop worrying about it finally. We are officially in good shape girlwise. We are officially in good shape boywise too, but the girl thing was a source of greater angst than anything else.

So, now, unless something changes, puh puh puh, kinehura, touch wood (for the Catholics out there), I can OFFICIALLY stop stalking my mailbox.


Two invites arrived in the mailbox today. I pity their moms. It's gonna be rough...if they're anything like me, that is, which I pray for their sakes that they are not. But best wishes anyway, and it's always a thrill to go to the mailbox (!) and find an extremely oversized envelope with a Zazzle.com stamp on it. Of course, FBS will be at both. Do I still have to send in a response card? People still do that, right? Yeah, I guess I better.

Wow....such a non-eventful, undramatic day. Went to younger son's band concert. Despite that last night he said to me, "In two years, I'm going to say to you, 'welcome back to hell'." Yes, he said "hell". He hears it on shows like The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and iCarly. I think. I mean, he certainly never heard me say a cussword.

This blog is quite boring today, if I do say so myself. I am sure there will be lots of drama to come though, particularly since FBS and The Husband and I will be attending my very good friend's son's B-Mitzvah on Saturday night. I imagine lots of angsty material. I seem to live for that sort of thing, don't I, after all?


20 January 2010

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Sycophants*

* For those unfamiliar, a "sycophant" is one who attempts to win favor by flattering those pereceived as wielding power.

When you get married, loved ones which may or may not include your mother-in-law, get together and present you with the age-old "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue". For me, this involved, among other things, a piece of antique jewelry (a diamond watch, if I am remember correctly), which I returned to my mother-in-law after the wedding. I assume that it was then given to my sister-in-law when she was married last year, and presumably returned once again.

Apparently, in this town, this small, affluent town filled with people who fancy themselves as urbanites who wanted more for their children but who were too sophisticated to end up "back in Long Island" where they grew up, where there is only one elementary school, one middle school and one high school, where many of the children knew each other since diapers, where many of the parents knew each other when they were wearing maternity clothes, there is a lovely ritual for mothers-of-the-b'nai (MOB).

Here's how it all went down:

Apparently, one MOB gave her friend a present before said friend's son's bar mitzvah. When the bar mitzvah had come to pass, that friend gave the gift back saying (and I paraphrase), "I think you should have this now, on the occasion of your own son's bar mitzvah."

After the occasion of that bar mitzvah, the gift was then passed along to another MOB who then passed it along, and so on until eventually it made its way into the hands of a close friend of mine.

Yesterday evening, this friend, flush with friendly feelings about the gift and its tradition, and the apparent kindliness of the folksy folks in our leafy Westchester exurb, told me that someday not long from now - six weeks to be exactly, I would be getting the gift too.

Really? Because knowing what little I did of this tale of the traveling whatever-it-was, I already had my doubts.

You see, the reality is that it is not true that "everyone" gets the "whatever-it-is". In fact if you think about it for two seconds, you realize that every weekend, this town is host to at least three, sometimes four and five B-Mitzvahs. What this means that the "traveling gift" finds its way to maybe 20 percent of the MOBs in this town. And when you look at where it started and whose hands in whom it has fallen, you realize that this is not a folksy, kindly, inclusive, "join the club of mothers whose children have come of age" kind of thing at all. In fact, this gift was never intended to make its way into the hands of every MOB in this town.

No. Quite the contrary: by its very design, it was clearly intended to make its way through a loosely drawn, self-appointed clique of those whose sense of "belonging" is defined by their ability to exclude.

Please let me clarify: I mean no disrespect to my close friend in whose hands the gift has fallen this week. She has been included, and that is nice for her, for that I am happy for her. I hope she feels warm and wonderful and cozy about it, because in all honestly, I know I would if it were ever to make its way into my hands.

Which it won't.

Because I know to whom it is going next (because my friend told me), and I know that from her, it is almost impossible that it will never find its way to me.

So, the real question: Does any of this matter? Do I need to be in this sisterhood of inclusion based on exclusion? Allow me to answer that question with another question: Was I fully done with such passive-aggressive forms of flattery by the time I turned 17?

That was a rhetorical. As much as I was part of a delightful little group of mean girls called the Six Pack when I was in high school, which, incidentally, ousted me by midway through our freshman year in college for reasons that I have never learned, I have no interest in cliques as an adult. I disrust them, as a rule. Inclusion, inclusion, inclusion is my mantra. Make people feel welcome. Branch out. Get to know your "colleagues in parenting".

Yeah, I'm no perfect specimen of mature adult behavior. I've made my faux pas. I'm sure somebody somewhere is sad that FBS's invitation never made it into his or her mailbox. I'm sure that dinners in which I have partaken have failed to include people who would have wished to have been included. But the difference between me and the aforementioned group of women passing along this "gift" is that I don't couch my social behavior in folksy, quaint language that implies that all are loved and all are welcome when anything but that is true. When am forced to exclude, I try to be clear, albeit kind, about it.

And that is the last I will say on this topic, EVER. This gift, this is now going into my Amnesia File. So do me a favor, do NOT remind me about this again.


In monstrosity,


19 January 2010

Looking at shoes calms me when I'm going off the deep end...

Today a girl's mom called me. She thanked me for hand delivering the invite to her daughter (after she said that she never received the invite), and then she told me that her daughter cannot attend because she has another party that night.

The party is on a Sunday night, remember.


This is hard to talk about, but here goes: this just absolutely gutted me. Why would anyone sit home on a Sunday night rather than go to my son's bar mitzvah? What the hell makes this girl think that she is too good for my son and his bar mitzvah? What the hell is wrong with this girl's mother that she wouldn't put her foot down and say, "you got invited, you should go"?

Now all of that said, what do I need with a girl who doesn't want to be there?

Well, there is actually a somewhat rational answer to that question:

FBS has many friends, from many different groups. Some are like him - not quite "there" yet when it comes to the whole girl/boy thing. Not yet into "hooking up" (yes, there are some 12 year olds who "hook up" every weekend). Not even into flirting yet. But some are WAY "there". Some of the kids he is friendly with, whose bar mitzvahs he has attended, who are coming to his bar mitzvah, are WAY into girls. They "like" girls. They talk about who "likes" who. They have drama relating to who likes who. And some of these kids are majorly into girls - not just flirting with girls, but "hooking up" with girls. Whatever that means at the age of 12 or 13.

Most of the girls that are, in fact, attending FBS's bar mitzvah are not "there" yet. They may "like" boys - but still just "crushes", really. But they aren't doing much about it. They certainly aren't "hooking up", whatever that means.

So, the concern, silly as it may or may not sound, is that the boy-girl "mashup" at the B-Mitzvah will be "off", that the dance floor will be empty, that kids will be bored, that it will...oh my god, just say it...suck.

OK, rational mind, take over now, please? Here goes: none of this is in my control. The girls who are coming to the B-Mitzvah are the girls who SHOULD be coming, the girls who WANT to come. And they are going to dance and have a blast. And the boys who are unhappy because "their" girls aren't there, will just have to deal. And that isn't something that I should be worrying about at this point. I sent out the invites, the chips fell where they did, and that's that. Besides, a great MANY of the boys at the party won't care at all. They're going to eat the great food and dance to the tunes and hang with each other and maybe dance in the same zip code as some cute 12 year old girls. And it will be fine. It will be great.

And it is WRONG that I am stuck in my head like this when I should be rejoicing that I have a beautiful family and that my FBS is an amazing kid - a handsome, brilliant kid who has made more friends than I ever could have imagined in the short time we have lived in this town (less than three years), a kid whose talent at baseball has earned him respect from his peers, a kid who somehow just DOES the "right" things - he's just wired that way because he certainly didn't learn it from me.

This is just a party, just a night. If it isn't every teenage dream I ever had, that shouldn't matter. It's a miracle, and I should be grateful, that we've come to this point, at all, healthy and whole and for the most part, happy. And really, one ought to be careful what one thinks one wants to wish for...

Pardon me while I go smack myself in the head.


17 January 2010

No Mail Sunday

And it was so peaceful as a result. Will there be no mail tomorrow because of MLK Day? Probably. Deep breaths. At this point, I'm only waiting on four girls and nine boys, although for the life of me, I can't understand why their moms wouldn't call me back to tell me whether their kids are coming or not. I mean, for chrissakes, at least two of them have already HAD their B-Mitzvahs, and FBS replied to theirs PROMPTLY, and showed up and handed in his check, and well, don't they REMEMBER how stressful this time is. Seriously. Don't they?

Today, was Camp Reunion, and one of my adult invitees RSVP'd informally. That was good. Cross one off of that list. THAT list...I haven't even mentioned because it really doesn't make a difference to FBS how many adults come to the B-Mitzvah. But the truth is, the adults are far worse than the kids in terms of responses. So far, none of The Husband's cousins, aunts or uncles have replied - a total of 14 possible guests. In addition to them, we have another 20 outstanding adult invites.

Is it THAT difficult to check off a box? Is it that anguish-provoking to decide whether to come to a freakin' two-hour party in a lovely suburb of New York City? If it's "no", I can take it. Just give it to me straight. And soon. Ever consider the fact that possibly I have some other people who would LOVE to be invited, who I couldn't invite until I got a few "no's"? Everyone knows that everyone has a "B" list, and when all is said and done, who really cares if you were invited later rather than sooner?

Anyway, enough whipping myself up. I did a LOT of good things this weekend. Last night, went out with friends whose son's B-Mitzvah is next weekend. Had a blast. I kept the wine-drinking to a minimum but actually had a few slices of rib-eye. Yes, I have finally come to the conclusion that there really is NO reason to deny myself the occasional critter.

Vegetarianism. What is it good for? I mean, for the most part, I don't really like eating critter. So, it's easy for me to go part-time veggie. But then there's nights like last night when a trip to Mortons makes it seem kind of stupid not to just partake. I mean, who really cares?

The wine I kept to a minimum so that I could wake up early to take the boys to their Camp Reunion. Really really fun. Came home and felt energized and inspired to make FBS's Sign-In-Book, which is essentially a scrap-book. At the B-Mitzvah, the kids will be invited to have their photos taken in a photo booth and then glue-stick them into the scrap-book and write something along side their photo. My role in this was to punch holes in the scrapbook pages with a big three-hole punch and then do a bit of decorating of the pages so that the kids won't be spending their time doing that at the party, instead of dancing or whatever it is they do. I glued letters to say things like "Wow!" and "Great Job!" and "Celebrate" and stickers of baseballs and basketballs and related word-stickers that say things like, "Home Run!" and "All Star". You get the point.

I don't feel that monstrous when I do things like that. It made a huge mess. But I felt great about it. I had locked the whole pile of crap that I had bought at Michael's Arts and Crafts store - the scrapbook, the pages without holes, the stickers and stickers and stickers - in a closet in the guest room, and I was having trouble even thinking about what I was going to do with it all. So, now it's done.


Let's see if I can get my ass to yoga tomorrrow.



16 January 2010

Emotional Hangover

Yesterday was exhausting. Emotionally draining. Making all those calls, all that neurotic goo leaking out everywhere, on everyone, seeping through the phone wires....the end result was what I wanted in that nearly every response was an unqualified "yes" (there were two "qualified" yesses...based on the unknown time of a highly competitive regional soccer tournament in which two of the girls are starters). But getting there....oh, boy...was it worth it?

I mean, basically, I excised the anxiety about whether enough kids were coming to the party to make it a "party". But I essentially mooooved the anxiety over to "oh my god, what must these people think of me?" Kind of like the Cat in the Hat book, where they clean up the pink mess off the wall, but it ends up in the tub, and then they clean it with the shoes, but it ends up ON the shoes, etc. etc. etc. until it ends up EVERYWHERE.

Who knew that Dr. Seuss was really writing about a mother's neuroses?

Anyway, no yoga yesterday, but a long long (over an hour) brisk walk with the dog around a nearby neighborhood. Quite therapeutic. And today, I will take a yoga class in Norwalk again, a hot class, so hot that afterwards I will have to wring out my clothes before putting them in the laundry.

And finally, on the "Well, it could be worse" front, today, I spoke to another B-Mitz mom who discovered too late in the game that she had failed to order enough invitations. So, some had to go out later than the others, and not quite the same as the others. Chaos ensued, including phone calls to her that went like this, "This is an embarassing question, but since your son is coming to our son's B-Mitzvah, we kind of figured that when we didn't get your son's invitation, that it most likely got lost in the mail....(voice trailing off....)"

Oy. So, it could be worse. Yes.

And the happy reality in the midst of my emotional hangover - feels like a tequila-based hangover, but without the urge to chase bacon and eggs with copious amounts of Coca Cola and espresso. Still, it's all the "what did I do exactly?" and "who did I offend exactly" and "why do my muscles feel like they've been replaced with sponges soaked in dishwater and my joints filled with sand?". This too shall pass.

And it's 12:26 p.m., and I haven't even checked the mailbox. Could be a brighter day for this giant, scary zilla monster.


15 January 2010

Day 43: I wanna be sedated

No, I didn't go to yoga today. No, I didn't leave the house yet. Yes, I have been home waiting for the mail, and when it finally came with a mere three affirmative RSVPS, the panic set in.

What if people haven't GOTTEN their invitations?

What if people don't understand what I am inviting them to - it is afterall, a complicated invitation, with a morning service, a short brunch at a hotel to follow and THEN a kids' party the next day. I have heard rumblings that kids don't know how to respond to all of this.

Thus began the telephone calls. I wanted to make them before FBS came home, before his friends would be home to hear their moms get the phone calls. So I had to act fast.

They went something like this: "Hi, this is Barmitzvazilla, and I was calling to confirm that your son/daughter received the invitation that we sent him/her to FBS's B-Mitzvah..."

If an actual human being answered, we chatted. And chatted. And chatted. And it occurred to me that this is sort of nice, since I have only lived in this tiny, insular hamlet for a mere two and a half years, and many parents seeing an invitation from the FBS would tend to be like, "who is this kid?" With no connection to me, there would seem to be less obligation to act quickly and definitively and, of course, positively. Sometimes, yes, let's admit it, we MAKE our kids go to these things because we LIKE THEIR PARENTS. Not just because the kids are close. Sometimes in spite of the fact that the kids are NOT close, we MAKE our kids go to parties because we don't want to hurt the feelings of the parents. Because we put ourselves in their shoes.

That's at least how my mind works. FBS has NEVER said no to a B-Mitzvah, or, for that matter, a birthday party, because I won't let him. Someone thought enough of him to invite him? Then he's going.

So it occurred to me that I need to put a metaphorical face on the metaphorical invite.

Amazingly enough, the transition from living in NYC to living in this small, small, closeknit town has been fairly easy for my children, my two boys. It has been fairly easy for me too. But right now, I see what it is lost: the history. The being known. The being someone to whom people feel the need to be accountable. For my children, what is lost is the long, long history with some of the kids, particularly with the girls.

And so, here I go, a little more crazy. The past few days, I've been joking about it. But today, the monster is truly growling and grousing and stomping and actually acting at least a little bit scary....


14 January 2010

Day 44: D'oh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, dear readers, you know it is bad, bad, bad when Barmitzvazilla makes a big, whopping typographical error...on the URL address of her own blog. Apparently, I signed up not for barmitzvazilla.blogspot.com, but barmitzvaZAilla.

As if I were trying to pronounce it in Spanish or something. But no. This was not intentional. Errors are par for the course when the mind is distracted. At least you found me anyway. Despite that my URL is, and I repeat barmitzvaZAilla.

OK, so, procedural crap dispensed with, onto the business of the day:

The day began with hope. I was feeling better after having slogged through the past few days of my life with a cold. It started on Saturday evening, following Barmitzvazilla's attending someone else's child's B-Mitzvah. It couldn't have helped the immune system that I spent the afternoon drinking too much red wine and walking around frigid Midtown Manhattan without a winter coat, let alone a hat or gloves.

Bygones. I'm better now, and the (hopeful) plan was to get the hell out of my house BEFORE the mail came. It was a test of my discipline. I suspect you know how this is going to turn out...it's called foreshadowing, and you learned it before your own B-Mitzvah.

Anyway, despite that I normally practice yoga in my own house in the comfort of my own cozy little yoga studio, I decided to venture out to take a class in, of all places, Norwalk, Connecticut. That meant leaving the house long before noon, which is the dropdead earliest time the mail ever arrives. Nevertheless, just for fun, I decided to do a bit of mailbox stalking as I drove out of the driveway.

Hello, RSVPs! Four more from FBS's friends, and two more from mine. And of the two friends of FBS, two were...GIRLS! Yay! I know, I'm pathetic. Whatever. At least I'm willing to own it. All that pathetic-ness, I mean.

I immediately text messaged FBS to tell him, and when he turned on his phone at 2:30, when school ended, he immediately texted me back:

"STOP SENDING ME UPDATES. I can wait until I get home."

Well, alrighty then.

For those yearning for the yoga update, and one of you commentators seemed to imply that the yoga updates will be missed in the next 44 days and counting, let me just say that I had a delightful practice at the place in Norwalk. Yeah, the usual happened - I got dressed down for sinking into my flexible hips and for doing some advanced stuff when that wasn't what the teacher was asking us to do. Nothing new there.

At least some things stay the same, despite the insanity of planning a B-Mitzvah.

Stomp stomp stomp, stay tuned til next time, good townspeople. And when you see me stomping through your villages, do not be afraid. It is just me. Barmitzvazilla...planning my FBS's B-Mitzvah. And it has to be PERFECT. RAWR!!!


13 January 2010

February 27 is 45 days away.

But wait. There's more. Although First Born Son's bar mitzvah is February 27, and we have obligated ourselves through the invitation which has now long since been sent through the mail, we are also having a SECOND party on February 28. The "Kid's Party"...at a nightclub in a nearby downtown promises no guests over the age of...er, well, approximately my age. All cocktails purveyed over the long, long bar that takes up the entire length of the club shall be mocktails: Mocktinis, Cosmockplitans, Tommy Collinses, Little Manhattans, and, of course, the ubiquitous Shirley Temple (who IS Shirley anyway, right FBS?).

Preparations have been made. The FBS has been studying his torah and haftorah portions and learning to chant. The fabulous dress has been purchased (mine). The fabulous shoes as well (mine). Suits have been sized and tailored (theirs - the FBS, the Second Born and the Husband) at the Raaawthmans, that place in Scahhhhsdale. The Kiddush Brunch has been planned at a nice hotel in a nearby suburb. Endless conversations about floor plans and timelines have taken place between the Husband and me. Endless, endless conversations, accompanied by the endless bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon needed to get through said endless conversations. The DJ for the Kid Party has been secured, the Kid Party venue has been visited with said DJ to assess the needs of said venue, which, it turns out, include...a DANCE FLOOR. Yes, I have secured a club that has no dance floor. Must pay extra for that!

Note to self: for SB's bar mitzvah, should I be insane enough to have one, check for dance floor at venue.

Sweatshirts with logos designed by FBS have been mocked up.

The decorator, which in my day (the days of my wedding 16 years ago), was referred to as a "florist", has prepared a plan.

Kippahs (kippot? whatever) have been picked out, although not yet ordered.

And other mundane stuff that matters but won't come to a head just yet...

But all of that, all of that....means NOTHING!! NOTHING!!!! I mean, NOTHING.

All that matters to me, the only thing that has any relevance in my life these days is the contents of that evil, malicious, mocking box that stands a few feet off the ground at the edge of my driveway. Which is to say, my mailbox. My mailbox has become my new best friend and my most detestable enemy.

Every day, I say, "I will leave my house today even if the mail has not arrived."

Yesterday, I managed it - school trip. Had to. But most days, not so much. Most days, I wait, and I wait. Will today be the day that brings the RSVPs for all of the popular girls that FBS invited so that the popular boys would have "their" girls to dance with (and by "dance", I might mean something they call "grind"...don't even get me started)? Will today bring all of the RSVP's from the Husband's office? The RSVP's from my law school friends? Will they be YES? YES? Please say yes. Because who wants to throw a party if nobody comes. What happens if a party happens and nobody is there to see it? I mean, can we talk existential bar mitzvah crisis fears here?

What about the camp friends coming from far away? Is it too soon to call them and offer assistance in getting to the boondocks where I live?

Today, I took a Hail Mary pass at one of them. He had already declined, and he had declined another friend of FBS (all of them go to camp together). But I had this sense, this sixth sense, that the decline was not about a conflicting party or any sort of dis. My sense was that this was about logistics. And so, I called Camp Friend's Mom. Turns out, yes, Camp Friend DESPERATELY wanted to come to FBS's bar mitzvah (as well as the other camp friend's). Yada yada yada, we worked out the logistics, and one sleepover, one Manhattan carpool, one trip to Bowlmor Lanes (or ESPN Zone, whichever is the case), Camp Friend will be at FBS's bar mitzvah AND at Other Camp Friend.

Ah. Good deeds. Gotta love them, right? Until it is proven that none goes unpunished. But perhaps today is a good day. The mail is due in an hour or so, after all.

This is Barmitzvazilla. Stomp stomp stomp, stay tuned til next time, good townspeople. And when you see me stomping through your villages, do not be afraid. It is just me. Barmitzvazilla...planning my FBS's bar mitzvah. And it has to be PERFECT. RAWR!!!