Our cultures have so much influence on our thinking and reactions to situations. Experience changes us too.
Take the tragic and horrendous murders of the Fogel family in Israel while they were sleeping. As Jews, we collectively mourned the family and are astounded, outraged and in disbelief that someone can slit a three-month-olds’ throat. Palestinians handed out candy and rejoiced.
My husband is working on a deal with a Japanese company. He received an email from his counterpart in Japan simply explaining that there was an earthquake followed by a tsunami that has created blackouts and train disruptions. Based on these issues he will not be able to send the data in the agreed upon timeframe. His world view – efficient and stoic.
Thinking about this reminded me of when Caily was born. It was Shabbat Across America the next week and I was adamant that I would host guests for meals. I had experienced my third and most painful cesarean and the bombshell news of having a special needs child, yet 10 days later we hosted 25 people for dinner and 50 for lunch. Everyone was on my case. My simple answer was, “I am an African and we are strong”. I said it tongue-in-cheek but there is truth to it. In Manhattan, my friends have a baby with the help of mothers, mothers-in-law, baby nurses and cleaning ladies and they are exhausted. In South Africa, my nanny had her baby on a Tuesday and arrived back to work on Wednesday with her baby on her back. My husband who is a doctor and worked in obstetrics always likes to note that no woman in Baragwanath Hospital (the biggest hospital in Africa where he worked) ever needed a lactation consultant in order to nurse and no woman in Manhattan can figure it out without one.
As moms who read this blog will testify: The things we feared when we were pregnant for the first time are laughable the second time around. Who recalls being so cautious when picking up anything the first time around? Who picked up their first child all the way through their next pregnancy, even if they are two-years-old and weigh 25 pounds?
There is a serious lesson here about what influences us and so too our children. The answers to this impact what kind of people our children will be. Metroimmas, share your thoughts on how experiencing something first-hand has changed your perspective.
Originally published: March 16, 2011