I’m writing this as the sixth night of Hanukkah is approaching. It’s not a secret as to why I’m feeling a little extra tired today. I can feel my Hanukkah stamina waning. We will go live for my Vlog on the 7th night. If I look tired, you will know why!

My kids motivate me. Their smiles motivate me to keep going all 8 nights of Hanukkah. Their smiles, laughter and appreciation give me my Hanukkah stamina. It is a very different year for all of us as you understand. We usually do a night with each set of grandparents. We are blessed with three sets of grandparents who live right near us. Unfortunately, this year, all our celebrations were on Face Time and Zoom. I’m going to be very authentic and honest with all of you in all of my blogs and tell you that I actually cried during a Face time call. It makes me very emotional how we are doing things right now.

I’m going to take you through our Hanukkah journey so far, and then we are going to talk about women. The first night I like to start with a bang. I made a beautiful dinner of latkes (fried potato pancakes), we lit the menorah, sang the blessings and we gave them their biggest gift. My husband suggested giving them their biggest gifts on the last day. I really enjoy starting off with a big bang and I have a way I want to end Hanukkah every year on the last night with my children.

The second night was my mother’s birthday. We face timed my parents with my brother and his family in Virginia, and we sang the blessings and Happy Birthday to my mom. Strange times we are living in. My mother was thrilled to be able to do a call with all of us.

The third night was very eventful. We sang the Hanukkah blessings for our Temple Zoom service. I loved seeing everyone on the service with us on Zoom. If we can’t be in person together, at least we can do Zoom. Face time this night was with Bubby and Sabah (Seth’s mom and stepdad) as the children opened the gifts that they sent.

The fourth night is when I started to get even more emotional. Seth’s father and his wonderful girlfriend dropped off gifts like a Jewish Santa and Mrs. Claus. They bought us dinner and I found myself very sad that they couldn’t enjoy the dinner with us. We face timed to have the kids open the presents with them and I just kept crying. Sometimes I can hold back tears. Tonight, I couldn’t stop my tears. All the nights of face times were building up and exploding out of my eyes. “The children are okay. They are smiling and giggling and talking to their grandparents. It’s okay,” I reassure myself as we wrap up the call.

Our night ended by a surprise visit from our wonderful friends. They brought us such thoughtful gifts and even sang to us. Our friends have been dropping off gifts to us this week. I am overwhelmed with the emotions of gratefulness and thankfulness for the people in our lives. We have been blessed with such a wonderful village. I drive some of my friend’s children home from school. It is something that I am thankful to be able to do. When I turned in my minivan for a SUV, I told Seth that a 6-seater wouldn’t do. To be honest, my 7-seater is actually too small. I wish I would have gone for an 8-seater. I want my friends to know that it is my absolute pleasure to drive their children home. I know that they prefer my car over the bus. Just jump into the Rebecca mommy taxi. I’m happy to be a part of their village. We get through parenthood by having family and friends to turn to when we need help. My family and friends are always there for me and I want them all reading this to know that I am always here for you. Women tend to feel the best about themselves when they are giving. We are getting to that topic!

Last night we took a big dive into night five. My son made me laugh taking out the fire extinguisher as we lit the smores menorah. My kids thought that I had lost my mind. My friend sent me a video of a smores menorah, and you know I had to try it. Don’t worry, I kept them all safe and sound. We had a good laugh. We will remember the smores menorah on night number five.

Night number five was one of my very favorites so far. You see, it’s not about how much you spend on a gift, it is the thought that counts. Ella has been working so hard at school. Remote learning is challenging for her and we couldn’t be more proud of her hard work and success. With that being said, when she was afraid to ask for what she really wanted for Hanukkah, I pushed her to tell me. She is the child who doesn’t want us to spend a lot of money on her. What she was dreaming of was a laptop, so you know Seth and I fulfilled this big wish for her.

This was the first night and her joy made my mama heart glow. However, night number five’s gift topped the expensive ask. Ella is going to be Pinocchio in her theater’s upcoming show Shrek. I think they nailed it with this part. It is so fitting for Ella. I went on a hunt to find her a stuffed Pinocchio. Etsy came to my rescue and had one. I wish I would have videod Ella opening Pinocchio. That was the best squeal ever. I try to buy Ella a fitting gift for each part that she plays in her shows. It has become something very special. Lillie has also joined the same theater this year and is going to be a kangaroo in their upcoming show Seussical. She joined in the special fun and I bought my cute little kangaroo a stuffed kangaroo. They are both currently walking around with their stuffed animals. I love when I nail it. It didn’t cost much but the thought behind it is what counts. We can all give amazing gifts without spending a lot!

Tonight, is night number six, and I have some tricks up my sleeve. I have a plan for night seven and I have a special way to end Hanukkah with a bang. Stay tuned for the Greene Hanukkah Fun! We are greatly missing our family and we are also still creating special memories. I hope that my children will pass on these traditions to their children. They aren’t going to remember what we bought them for Hanukkah. They are going to remember all the special family time every night. Making memories!

I felt the exhaustion last night and I rallied through night five. Five nights of fun. Five nights of messes. Five dinners together. It’s a lot for a mama who wants to build special memories for her family. Women give so much of themselves (men do too of course). I tend to talk more about women because I am one. I am currently reading Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus to learn even more about men. I love to read and learn. Seth and I do a good job trying to understand each other. We ask each other about what we need and want and try to give this to each other. I definitely feel a good give and take in our relationship.

My kid’s excitement every night gives me the stamina to keep going. The smiles on their faces brings me so much joy. It feels like an 8-night marathon. I find myself mentally prepping for it before it begins. I give myself pep talks, “You got this. You can do this. It’s going to be a wonderful 8 nights with your family.” I even wrapped all the gifts before Hanukkah. That doesn’t count the gifts that are still arriving. In fact, I didn’t even wrap Pinocchio. It arrived yesterday and I was overjoyed with excitement to give it to her. I handed it to Ella in a box and she didn’t care that it wasn’t wrapped. There have been many Hanukkah’s that I was down in the basement wrapping gifts for each night every day. I was more prepared this year and I started to buy everyone’s gifts very early because Hanukkah falls so early this year. For the record, I like when Hanukkah falls during Christmas. Then I have more time to prepare and the kids have off school. Hanukkah is so much better when it isn’t during school. To all the teachers out there: If you could not assign homework during Hanukkah, we would so greatly appreciate it. Doing Hanukkah around school and activities kind of takes away some of the luster but we make it work.

As women, we give, and we give, and we give. We give to our spouse. We give to our kids. We give to our extended family. We give to our friends. We give to our work. We give to our children’s schools and activities. We just keep giving. We tend to be most comfortable when we are giving. Receiving can actually be uncomfortable for some of us. We need to realize that people don’t feel good always taking from us. It makes people feel good to give to us. Relationships are a give and take and my opinion is that women need to remember this.

My husband was in a really bad mood yesterday. His aloofness was pushing my buttons. I knew exactly what was going on with him. His child and family stamina were gone. Seth said that he goes to work to recharge. Seth would tell you that he would never sign up to be home with the kids every day. I truly understand that people run to work and feel like they need space from their families. I find that my child and family stamina is a lot larger than Seth’s is. My stamina is waning today.

I’m sitting in the middle of my kitchen typing. I’m thankful that I just got almost an hour to myself without any of my children asking for anything. This is how I recharge and regroup for the next ten child requests.

Women tend to forget about themselves. They tend to forget that they have needs and wants too. We worry about everyone’s birthdays and we don’t worry about our own. We worry about everyone’s Hanukkah and we don’t think about ourselves. We plan a fabulous Christmas and spend hours and hours preparing for it. We can’t forget about our own bucket. Sometimes my bucket feels empty and we need to fill it so that we can be a good wife, mother and person in general.

When my bucket is empty or low, I get cranky and I tend to yell more. When my bucket is low, I am shorter with my kids and my husband. The older I get the more I understand that giving all the time can actually be selfish. We are depleting ourselves and not allowing us to be the best person that we can be with our loved ones. They deserve a mother who takes care of herself and can smile and be happy and have enough to give to them.

I’m learning to fill my bucket. I’m learning what I need:

  • I need some time alone.
  • I need time to have adult conversations with my husband, my parents, my friends.
  • I feel better when I exercise.
  • I feel better when I write.
  • I feel better after a Podcast. Talking to like minded women is invigorating to me. Seth says I light up. You know that when it doesn’t feel like work that you are doing the right thing.
  • I make a plan for my birthday and Mother’s day and tell my family what I want to do. I want to get my needs met and I don’t want to be disappointed.
  • A good massage always makes me feel relaxed and energized.

I know that you are going to make the holidays special for your family. I know that my family is having a wonderful Hanukkah and I know that whatever you celebrate that you will give and give and give and make it very magical for your family. I just want to give you some reminders mama’s. I know you have amazing stamina. I know that you love to give. I will however keep reminding you that taking is good too. Getting your needs met makes you a better wife, mom and person in general. I want you to remember that your needs are important too. Please remember to take care of yourself. I would love to hear one of your needs and how you get it met. I know you can do it.

Have a magical holiday,

Laughing, Learning, Loving,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R