My parents put the breaks on my teenage plans to join the IDF long before my college admission letters arrived; and on the whole, I think it was probably a wise move on their part.
But there have been many times throughout the years when I wish I had put up more of a fight. Being a parent myself, I realize why they didn’t want to send their ludicrously American teenage daughter to Gaza (“There are no malls in the army,” was how my dad ended the discussion).
Still, there is no doubt I would have learned skills in the Israeli Army that my journalism professors never imparted: How to face an unpredictable and relentless adversary. How to coax a hostile into compliance. How to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles while sleep- and food-deprived.
How, basically, to function like a normal human being in the presence of a toddler.
When a friend whose son is around Ozzy’s age recently confided that she hadn’t showered that day, I realized that I hadn’t either. Nor the day before. If she hadn’t made the remark, it’s possible I would have gone a week before remembering that that funny stall in my bathroom was meant for more than hosing “accidents” out of tiny pants.
A few weeks of basic training, and I’m sure I would handle my second go at motherhood calmly, wisely and hygienically. Instead, I’m being undone.
After weeks of struggle, Ozzy finally slept through the night – a feat I celebrated by blinking angrily at the ceiling, having being jolted awake out of habit. That wouldn’t happen in Gadna.
And then there’s my ability to speak. Were I able to retrieve enough language from my depleted noodle to actually form sentences, I wouldn’t know how to relate them.
Last year, when Ozzy was new and quiet, I counted on school pickup as the social highlight of my day. We moms crowded the hall, sharing news and gossip as we waited for our then-first-graders to emerge from class.
These days when I talk, I sound like I’m shouting radio commands in the middle of a battlefield. “Hotel! India! That’s a nice sweater. Do you copy?”
“Mayrav, I have to tell you this funny story,” Alisa said, approaching me in the hall.
“Hi. Yeah. Hang on,” I said, darting after Ozzy who had managed to dash inside an elevator and push the alarm button. “Ozzy, come here. We’re going to see Alisa. No, don’t stick your fingers there, Ozzy, that’s an electrical socket. Come here. Alisa wants to tell us something. Baby, we’re not climbing the stairs. Ozzy, get off the stairs. I can’t believe how quickly you just climbed that flight of stairs! Ozzy! Come back here. Ozzy!”
That was September. I still haven’t heard the story.
One day, my kids might want to enlist in the IDF. I don’t know how I’ll feel about them going, but I still think about it for myself.
If for nothing else than the peace and quiet.