It’s been almost three weeks since we last heard from you…how’s it going over there in Gaza?
This probably comes as no surprise, but I wanted to let you know that we mothers have everything under control. While you soldier on in an enemy battlefield, we’ve got your back over here in mom-land. In fact, I’m beginning to think that WhatsApp was created with the secret purpose of facilitating our high-level problem-solving skills.
You and I always joked about this in the past. Back when you were in high school, my parent WhatsApp groups were aflutter with talk about the poor-quality school lunches. Something simply had to be done about the lunches. I must admit, I was a little confused. If the lunches at school were so bad, how come you had never mentioned it to me?
When I asked you about it, you reassured me: the school lunches were just fine. Good, even. There was no need for me to get involved, no need to take it up with the principal or the board of health. Problem solved.
So, over the years, I learned to stay quiet in WhatsApp groups. We had new ones when you were in yeshiva, and more when you began army training. I followed along, sometimes with guarded skepticism. I waited to hear your input, knowing all the while that you would tell me not to get involved – it was all okay. And I trusted that you were capable enough to let me know if I needed to step in. But these days, with you so far away, things feel different…
Did you know that I am now part of three different parent chat groups for your army unit? During the very first days of the war, I was super impressed when someone added me to a group, since you were then in a temporary unit (the officers’ training course). It seemed unlikely that anyone would conquer army bureaucracy and procure a list of parents’ phone numbers at war time. I had foolishly expected that the moms would be left out of the discussion. But, while I sat by, one high powered mom rose to the challenge.
As you can probably imagine, the group got busy, and fast. We gathered food and supplies, put together those delicious catered meals, and discussed whether you all had the right knee pads and ceramic vests. I weighed in on every WhatsApp poll and followed every Paybox link posted. Other than that, I stayed silent, as I always do. Even without my text message contributions, one mom decided that there was too much dissension in the group, so she created a second group. And then someone decided that there was too much discussion on that group, so a third was created, just for announcements.
Now there are three. And let me tell you, it’s never quiet. (Yesterday, someone suggested we open a fourth group since the other three are too chattery (!!))
Last week, your army liaison, Adir, joined the group. We moms were thrilled. Within minutes, Adir was driven to request that everyone please stop sending him so many private messages. He was there to update us (very occasionally) on the troops’ welfare. Over the following week, he sent messages like “Everyone is healthy and whole,” or, “The night passed as expected.” Which was weirdly reassuring.
Then one day, something incredible happened. After two or three days of parent requests for an update on your status, Adir surprised us: he wanted to let us know that the troops really wanted some gummy candy (candy?!) Obviously, that sent us moms into a tizzy. A Paybox link was opened; money started pouring in. In less than an hour, we had collected almost 4000 shekels for gummy candy. And then, someone posted the question that was everyone’s mind: How do we get candy to the frontlines of Gaza?
After repeated requests, poor, inundated Adir announced that he would pick the candy up from one mom’s house in Yavneh the next morning. At some point, he would drive it into Gaza. Can you guess what happened next? Us problem solving moms realized that if we could send in candy, we could send in other things!
I was in a unique position (for once), since a neighbor, someone who you know well, oversees a massive operation to transport gear from the U.S. to soldiers in Israel. She packed up bags and boxes of 400: boxer shorts, undershirts, socks, wet wipes, and protein bars. Later that night, we drove it all to Yavneh. I hope you got it.
Life is funny sometimes.
Last night was another sleepless night. Things feel so random these days – as I fall asleep, I find myself wondering what I will dream about. Yesterday, I spent the day watching videos about the captives in Gaza for a project I was working on. The stories were so horrible. So, I expected my subconscious to be filled with those images at night. But just before bed, my WhatsApp was buzzing again. Two friends had been in touch, asking to organize food and supplies for your unit. I wrote to Adir to find out what was needed, not expecting a reply any time soon.
After hours of tossing and turning in bed, I did hear back. Adir’s message left me confounded; it was one of those poor-quality voice messages, in garbled Hebrew. I picked up words like “ammunition” and “supplies” and “helpful”. But I could not decipher its meaning. Eventually, I stuffed my head under the pillow once again, praying for the peace of sleep.
In my dream last night, I saved the day once more. I met with Adir, who morphed in my dream world from a short balding fellow to a tall redhead. The content of his voice message became clear: Inner parts of the unit’s guns were worn out (scary!!) and needed to be replaced. Could I get these inside piece thingies from our friends in America?
No problem! I assured him. Your uncle back in New Jersey is an ex-police officer and gun expert, who even makes his own bullets. Obviously, he could get us what we needed. A quick call had procured the 400 inner rifle chambers (Springs? Barrels?) we needed. Bags were packed and picked up by our friend, who had no problem bringing weapons aboard an El Al flight back to Tel Aviv.
Ima saves the day again.
I guess it’s natural to live your fantasy life in your dreams. You see, in real life, I feel completely powerless. There is literally nothing I can do. Deep down, I know that this is actually, okay. You seem to be doing just fine without me…judging from Adir’s reports.
Yesterday, after many moms wrote in requesting a “brief refresher” for the guys who “must need a break,” he replied: “Your sons are in good spirits, high morale. Achieving our objectives. No exit date determined.” And I believe him. You are strong. You are capable.
And there is absolutely nothing I can do to help you.
Still, I’ll say my prayers, answer the WhatsApp polls, and do as one friend suggested, “Just close your eyes and send your son hugs. I think he can feel it.”
Life is a long (and sometimes scary) learning process for us moms. As capable and all-knowing as we are (or as we seem to be in the chat groups), at some point we simply must give up control, trust our children (and God), and place the real power in the hands of those who can actually wield it.
I love you, my son.