Before I came to Israel, I was quite full of myself. Not that I was the perfect mom or anything, but I had secure grip on how stuff would roll.. Or at least I thought I had. Never in my live I have had the chance to realize exactly how conditioned I was, until I moved here and had to let go: one after the other.

Back in Holland, fresh, hormone ridden mothers are being educated by many different channels to raise your kids in a specific way. Bedtime being one of the biggest issues. I did well: I had my kids in bed by 7.30 in the winter and 8.00 in summertime with only a single exception here and there. Of course I kept that ritual going here, after all: kids need their sleep, they need to have time to process all the impressions of the day.  The second year started to be more difficult, forced as I was to comply to the heat in the summer, were kids activities in nice and cool shopping malls would only start (…)  at bed time. For crying out loud.!! Now, with the third year closing in, I still keep track of bedtime, but very, very loosely. I actually do take them to those bedtime activities and don’t even fret about it all through the evening.  That is: to Lehies-tannet. To change. To adapt.

I am telling you: not so easy for a control freak.

The weather had another significant influence: the sun !!  In Holland it rains a lot. Really lots. As in ” if this continues I’m going to have to start building an Arc ..” kind of lots. Grey skies for days in a row. When the sun does appear: you go and get out ! Out of the house: get some light!! There are people with winter depressions in Holland who are prescribed light therapy: were they get to sit in front of big UV lights, paid for by the health insurance, to get the oh so necessary sun light.

And in the summer, when the sun finally comes out for real: you just spend as much as possible time outdoors. You never know how long it will last. And I was so perfectly conditioned to do this, that I spend the first summer in Israel more or less completely outdoors. I would, almost in a hysterical manner, pick the kids up after school and head straight for the beach. Protected with an umbrella and enough sunscreen of course; but we were there. It was actually a physical thing. Sort of like a light addiction: you get nervous and itchy and get a lump in your stomach when you don’t get your ” fix “.  And now ?

Now I stay indoors, get out in the early morning or evening. When I do take the kids to the beach or a park: I check for protected places to sit first: where is the shade ? No shade, no deal. The air-conditioning is doing overtime and when the kids get out to play in the midday, I’ll react exactly as most Israeli mom’s: I scream them back inside: It’s too hot ! get back inside ! It’s dangerous !!  wear your hat ! Drink more water !!

That is Lehies-stannet. I changed. I adapted

Whenever you move to a different place you’ll change. Some stuff is simply more easy to master, others won’t ever get within reach. The one thing that I took to real fast in Israel was the traffic.  I spend a lot of sweaty anxious moments in crazy traffic situations at first and got honked at a lot, but quite quickly I managed to move  through it, for weeks in a row, without  as much as a simple honk coming my way.  My way of parking will give me away immediately  though: I keep trying to get the car parked nice and neat next to the curb or in a lot. I just can’t seem to master the loosely parking method in Israel: motor’s off ? You’re good ! Wouldn’t be the first time that I was waiting patiently ( mistake nr. 1 ) behind a big ass car , wondering why he didn’t take the right turn just now ( mistake nr. 2 ) only to find out ( and feel incredible stupid ) that it was an empty car, parked  exactly on the corner.

To Liehies- stannet : The easy going, warm  and welcoming  manner of Israeli’s when you come to visit, pick up your kids from a play date , strike up a conversation in a shop, bring your kids to a new school ..was another pleasant breeze.  I once brought one of my kids to a party, the other two tagging along only to find myself whisked indoors and my other two also invited on the spot. That was pretty amazing and it happened more than once.

To Lehies-stannet  :And yes, at first I was politely awaiting my turn, in the Mc. Donald’s just wanting to pick up some extra ketchup, in an office just wanting to know closing times, in the bank: Oh well you get the picture: patience everywhere. And I waited really, really long. Now I cut in, like everybody does and am still amazed that they will actually tend to my needs and nobody gets angry or insulted.

The list is long and ongoing and for me personally a positive journey: I feel that I was kind of stuck in my ways and uptight and being here really helped to ” loosen up ” a lot. Okay I am Dutch and I really like it too, I have my perks and quirks, but that’s cool. As long as it doesn’t get in the way, and I can still work with or around the Israeli way of getting things done, I am fine.

In Holland there is a saying : Can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Totally disagree with that one! You’re never too old to learn. Keeps you alive !!  And that’s exactly what I am doing here: being alive !!

About the Author
Jolanda Turgeman is married and has three kids ( 6, 7 and 9 years ). She is not Jewish but her husband is. Together they lived in Holland for some 8 years through our marriage before deciding to move to Israel. Love for Israel first hand from a newbie with no historical ties to this magical country.