One year we spent a month in Israel allowing the kids to be immersed in the culture rather than just visiting family. Menash’s best friends Chagiet and Gil invited us to stay in their soon-to-be-finished home. Chagiet found each kid an age-appropriate camp.
Before we arrived, Chagiet and Gil decided to get divorced. Our timing to be house guests was horrible (from my American point of view) but Menash assured me that it was ok. Additionally, Chagiet’s cousin, Maud, and nieces who were coming to visit from the Netherlands, overlapping with our visit. My American brain was struggling with this timing and situation.
When I was growing up, our extended family would stay in our house for 2-3 nights at a time. And we would stay in their houses for weekends. When we were together, we were really together. We were expected to do everything as one group. All meals together. All outings together. This was what I knew.
We filled Chagiet’s house totaling 3 moms, 1 dad, 7 kids speaking 3 languages, and 1 large dog. Chagiet welcomed us with warm open arms. The kids loved it… playing each other and the dog, swimming, doing art projects, playing cards, etc. The moms got along wonderfully, taking turns with the grocery shopping, cooking, and caring for the kids.
In all of this chaos, Chagiet carried on with her life. She went where she needed to go. She kept her appointments. She did her yoga. She did her life.
She taught me that you can have house guests (especially when they stay longer than a weekend!) without disrupting your life. The guests will find their way and do what they want and need. It becomes a larger system caring for and helping each other.
When family, friends and my children’s friends come to my house, I show them how to be self-sufficient. I show them where to the drinks and snacks, how to help prepare a meal, and set expectations that they have to clean up after themselves.
Thank you, Chagiet Grossman!