This is madness, taking care of an infant. He needs constant help of course; love, new unda-pants, food, comfort, more new unda-pants, and more food. But we're embracing and enjoying the madness. After all, we chose this, and knew it was coming. No mystery there. Maybe it's because our partnership is so strong, or our feeling of gratitude is so large, or because our make-ups fit this challenge right now, but even the hard stuff feels fun.
Here's the deal: there are now 2 times in my life that this sometimes conflicted man knew with certainty that he was in exactly the right place, doing exactly the right things. One was sitting shiva after my mother's death, a stretch of 8 days in which she was honored as deserved. And the second has been this 13 day run of parenthood. There's no place in the universe, with no social or professional opportunity, that merits my time and attention more. I find that extremely comforting.
The 8th day of Rubin's life saw him the guest of honor at a ceremony in our home.
It was a Brit Shalom, mixed with a naming ceremony. There was a rabbi, some family, some close friends, some bagels and lox. I like that the lox was one platter away from the prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwiches. Yours is a fused modern world, little man, get used to it. Just wait until your folks open the Irish-Jewish fusion pub they've long discussed, "McShuggenah's." (or "Guinneshevitz?") That's where we'd make the perfect Reuben, and probably blog about it a lot.
Cousin Finn finally gets to hold him and hang out.
Rabbi Jodi offered calming spiritual words, shared some lovely readings, quoted Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" in a manner that did not annoy me, and in general embodied a humanistic, hippie spirituality that fits us and him well.
During the ceremony, Uncle Jon sang the Hebrew version of the benediction often sung by our late mother, and 3 Spiegel siblings sang the English, "Lord Bless You and Keep You." Used mom's old pitch pipe to find our notes, and left the soprano absent, as it has been for 13 years.
The first song played post-ceremony was 'Highway 61 Revisited.' "God said to Abraham give me a son, Abe said God you must be puttin; me on..." And thus ends my relevant rock and roll Bris playlist, at 1. Suggestions welcome.
The purpose of having this ceremony, and the importance grew within me as the day approached, was large. I love being Jewish. I'm not the strictest, most kosher, most observant Jew, and I'm seriously dubious about the whole god thing, but I adore the customs and traditions. They make me cozy, like a warm overcoat handed down centuries but somehow left intact. Wars and genocides and dilution via marriage (guilty) can not and will not destroy the overcoat.
The rabbi asked us to write a message to young Rubin. So we did. I handled the importance of the day, and Tonya laid down some straight up wisdom. Both of those writings are below. My wife is a genius.
FROM MATT, ON THE MEANING OF TODAY.
Rubin. My boy. Today is meant to be 2 things: 1) a symbolic, and emphatic connection to your namesake Regina, and her family. She bought the outfit you’re wearing for your Uncle Jon’s bris, and it was worn at the bris of both your Uncle Bob, and myself. She is kvelling right now at the sight of you. And 2) it’s meant to show the value and connection of Judaism to your parents and to you. This faith has been a great comfort to me, and with its room for discussion, room for ritualistic evolution, we hope it can be a comfort to you in your life.
FROM TONYA: Matt wanted me to write down my hopes and dreams for our son. Unfortunately, the short and long answer is: I want him to have everything in the entire world. That would make for a very short or a very long speech. Instead, here’s five things I want him to know, most of which Matt and I wish we’d learned much earlier in life.
1. Figure out who you are, and be that person. Nurture, embrace, and protect yourself, and love yourself fiercely. Be proud, even a little vain. Know that perfection is not required for happiness.
2. Happiness is not what they show on Pepsi commercials. Happiness comes from a deep feeling of self-worth and satisfaction. It is not euphoric, or loud, or involve acting crazy. That’s euphoria, and you’ll have that on occasion, too. But happiness isn’t an emotion so much as it’s a way of living. Do things with meaning to you, and those things will make you happy.
3. Don’t put off what needs to be done. Life is going to be full of boring chores, errands, emails, work, responsibilities, dog-walking, returning phone calls, and laundry. Complaining and putting things off only annoys those around you and makes stuff pile up. Everyone has stuff to do, just get it done and then you can watch TV.
4. The situation is what the situation is. Base your decisions off the circumstances at hand, not off what you wish they could be, or what they used to be, or some stylized notion of what you would like them to be. Be brutally honest with yourself about what’s going on around you, and usually your way will be clear.
5. Your family loves you very much. “Family” will cover all kinds of people in your life. It will start with your father and I and our families, moving on to include friends you make along the way, hopefully someday a life partner and their family, and maybe children of your own. We will all love you imperfectly. Sometimes even awkwardly. We will often fail to love you in the exact way you would want to be loved. We’ll make mistakes. Your father and I stand here on the eighth day of your life, already able to count so many things we wish we’d done differently. But we love you, we love you, we love you. We love every bit of you with all of our hearts and souls. No matter what you do, go out there knowing we will be here for you, loving you and supporting you, and, no matter what, we always will.
I neither have nor need words to augment or amplify that.
I guess these are among the benefits of parenting late. We've had time to get a little smarter.
I do wish she had told me about the Pepsi mention.
We could have made back catering costs via product placement.