Discovering Myself, Through My Son

It’s not easy figuring out who you are or what you want to be when you grow up. I moved to Israel ten years ago at 22, with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and Jewish Studies, got a Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language and worked in education for nine years. I married an Israeli along the way, and became more and more fluent in Hebrew.

Finding yourself and your path isn’t easy for anyone (well, maybe it is for some) but for an expat the road is even curvier and more complex. Working and making friends in a new language is a challenge and cultural differences can complicate otherwise simple situations.

I tried to overcome all of this. I worked in a Hebrew speaking environment, made Israeli friends, moved to an area without many native English speakers and really found myself becoming more and more “Israeli” everyday. I even changed my last name to Kashkash! I learned how to make jokes in Hebrew, send text messages and emails and even gave birth twice entirely in Hebrew (I think that shocks me the most). One morning when my husband told me I started talking in my sleep in Hebrew, that’s when I knew I had made it to “native” level.

But still, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I worked my way up the ladder at my job to senior management and was enjoying my day-to-day work. Despite this all, I always dreamed of something else, my own business, my own way.

Exactly three years ago, when my son Nadav was seven months old he was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. It was shocking. I felt that my whole life had been turned upside-down. How could I raise a child with a peanut allergy in Israel, the land that lives on Bamba?! A year later we added tree nuts to our allergen list. I slowly learned (and am still learning) how to deal, how to live in this crazy country under our new circumstances.

Almost two years ago I opened a blog in Hebrew to talk about my experience as an allergy mom in Israel and along the way maybe help others in the same situation. I was so proud of myself that I took on this project in Hebrew, despite the challenges. A year later I launched a business selling allergy gear in Hebrew to Hebrew speakers.

So here I am. I left my job and am pursuing my dream of having my own business, here in Israel. It’s all thanks to my son. He’s only 3 and a half today, but has already taught me so much about myself, my ability to cope with difficult situations, my ability to bake him cupcakes for every birthday party so he’ll be safe, my ability to stay strong even when it seems impossible and most importantly to remain positive no matter what. Through him I’ve learned about a topic that I’ve come to be incredibly passionate about and my hope is to make a difference in our country and the world for allergy kids and families.

Two years after opening my Hebrew blog I’m here to start writing in English, my native language. I imagine that’s probably opposite of what most people do. But hey, on this crazy adventure of entrepreneurship, Aliyah and self-discovery nothing goes according to plan right?

About the Author
Allie Kashkash, an expat, mom, entrepreneur and blogger, lives in Kiryat Ono, Israel with her two young children and husband. A peanut butter lover herself, she gave her son a small taste at 7 months old. After an immediate allergic reaction she found herself diving head first into the allergy mom world. Today she is on a mission to bring awareness and a better life in general to allergy kids in Israel through her business and blog "Imallergia".
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