How Many Calls Can a Mother Make?

In these modern times, we mothers of soldiers, at least in Israel, have an amazing advantage that mothers in other countries, in other war zones, and in other decades never had. We fight an enemy within our borders, and enemies on most of our borders. What that means, in simple terms – is that our enemies are close, and so are our sons – a few hours by bus or car and seconds by phone once they finish their initial basic training during which phone use is severely restricted…oh, and when they are on an operation or at war – no phones then, either.

Arabs attacked an Israeli motorist late on Thursday night as he drove in Samaria, near the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Kalkilya. The motorist was lightly wounded in the attack.

But now that Elie has settled back into the “routine” of a non-war war, I can call him and hear his voice quite often. Conversely, if I listen to the news, as I do, and react each time there is something near where my son is stationed, how many calls would I make in a single day?

The answer for today, would be at least twice.

An Israeli was lightly injured Thursday evening when the car he was travelling in was hit by rocks next to the Samarian Palestinian Authority village of Azoun, east of Kalkilye.

In addition to all the rock throwing attacks, there was news that Fatah had decided to go to war against Hamas in Kalkilya. Last week, six were killed (3 Fatah members, 2 Hamas members, and one bystander). Today, four more were killed. Last week, it happened on the days that Elie was home. He spoke to his commanding officer and found out that Israeli troops moved near the entrance to Kalkilya in case violence spilled over and they had to enter.

“Why would they enter?” I asked Elie. “The Palestinians want independence – fine, leave them to do what they want.”

“They didn’t go in,” Elie explained. “The Israelis were there to make sure the violence didn’t spill over,” and, Elie continued, “to evacuate the wounded.” But no wounded came out.

I thought it amazing that the world was silent that six Palestinians had been killed in a single day. But then again, they weren’t killed by the Israeli army, so the world didn’t bother to notice. “Ima, the Palestinians HATE each other,” Elie told me. He explained about the rivalries, the hatred, and more.

Today, another four were killed. I wanted to call Elie. No, Israel didn’t go in, but I wanted to hear that he was fine and hopefully not even one of the ones standing nearby. I consider it a triumph over fear when I manage not to call. It’s a test that I fail too often. I don’t want him thinking that I live my life in fear of something happening to him. No, wait, that’s silly, of course I live my life in fear something will happen. So, rather, let me say I don’t want him to think I am crippled by the fear. I’m not.

I function, I work, I parent, I do all that I have to do while inside a part of me is always on alert, always listening for those words that shatter my concentration. Sometimes they are general words like “IDF” or “soldier” and sometimes they are more specific like “Kalkilye” or “Azoun.”

Most times, I am able to beat back the concern and function. Sometimes I give in and call. Each time, Elie sounds the same – nothing to worry about; it was really nothing. I’ve had this post in “draft” mode for a few days. This morning, I am finishing it with news that

Palestinian Authority terrorists bombed an IDF force on Saturday near the city of Kalkilye. The bomb thrown at the soldiers did not explode, and the soldiers were unhurt.

I didn’t beat this one. I called. Elie was half asleep having been on patrol during the night. At first he acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about (or perhaps that I didn’t know). I read him the news alert above. His comment, “Ima, it was a little bomb and it didn’t explode. They threw it at the fence. No one was hurt.”

Some day, when Elie has a son in the army, I hope I’ll remember the comment about “a little bomb.” There is just no way he’ll understand what my reaction was any time soon. “A little bomb”?

Makes me want to give him a kiss on one cheek and a slap on the other! Maybe I will do exactly that when I see him later this week…and when I do, I’ll have to remember to tell him that was for the “little bomb.”

3 Comments on How Many Calls Can a Mother Make?

  1. Doesn’t he get peeved that you are a nudge, or does he understand. I am always torn between wanting to call and not wanting him to think I’m half-crazy…..

  2. Interesting question – does he get peeved. No – and I think that’s another sign of maturity. Usually I start off by saying, “I know I’m being silly, but I just wanted to hear you’re okay.” It’s enough. He actually understands and has gained enough maturity to understand that it comes out of love.

    I’ve always been a neurotic mother in terms of worrying, but I’ve also pretty much shown my kids I trust them. There are certain ground rules that I explain come from my being partially insane and they have to accept it. For example – if a bomb exploded ANYWHERE in Israel – including 3 hours away in a place they had no business being, they were expected to call. “No, Ima, I’m not in Haifa and haven’t been in 3 years.”

    They can laugh, but they understand that if they accept this 20 second interruption, I won’t take advantage of it…and I don’t. I don’t call Elie every day. He calls me or I call him if something happens, but beyond that, we talk when he needs to…or I need to…and we both recognize this.

  3. Last week I was in the basement when my younger kids yelled “Mom! Mom! There’s a Marine here!”

    “In uniform?”


    “one or two?”


    (all this as my legs went full-speed/slow motion up the stairs)

    At that point my head KNEW it was a recruiter coming to talk to my high school senior and I KNEW #1 son was stateside, no longer in the middle east, and I KNEW that bad news is delivered by two, but that didn’t stop the panic. I called anyway.He was fine.

    I totally understand and I’m so glad for the age of telephone! lol

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