by Julie Wolf, JFN Program Specialist 

Part of a continuing series of interviews with members of our Metrowest Jewish community

Lauren Fishman drives a minivan. She admits it. She had to get her newly expanded family around somehow. Lauren recently had her third child, and she eagerly participated in Jewish Family Network’s Welcome Baby program. Welcome Baby, she says, offers a great opportunity for moms to connect and also to learn more about the Jewish community around them. While Lauren says that her family isn’t particularly religious, they are extremely involved in Jewish community organizations in the Metrowest area, including JFS and Temple Israel of Natick. In this interview, Lauren talks about her life as a mother of three and her commitment to instilling in her children a strong sense of Jewish values and traditions, even from a very young age. Lauren and her husband, Dave, live in Natick with their children Molly (5), Sam (2 ½), and Ethan (3 months).

You became a family of five recently. Mazal tov on Ethan’s birth. What was it like to go from two to three kids? When I learned I was pregnant with my third, my first thought was literally, “We need to buy a minivan!”

It’s really funny you say that, because that was my reaction, too! I was thrilled that we were expecting another baby, but not so thrilled at the prospect of driving a minivan. In fact, that was the last car I ever saw myself driving. 

Many people told me that it would be a bigger transition going from one to two kids than from two to three; I would definitely agree with those people. Life goes on. There are still places to go, things to get done, and activities to participate in — now there’s just more people to do those things. It certainly takes a little more planning (getting out the door is now quite the production), and I’ve become a good juggler (not literally), as well as a multi-tasker.

It’s challenging, as there’s less of me to go around both with time and attention, and, as a new mom of three, sometimes I get sad about that, but it’s also incredibly rewarding to see the love and affection that Molly and Sam have for Ethan. To them, it’s as if life hasn’t skipped a beat. There are days that are crazy where I certainly wouldn’t win any Mom of the Year awards, but most are great. At the end of the day, when it’s finally quiet, I give myself a proverbial pat on the back that we all made it through the day and there are three sleeping kids upstairs in their beds.

While I mostly love being a stay-at-home mom, I do miss using my brain for other things and am always wondering what work I may find myself doing in the future.

Tell the truth: You wanted a third baby so you could take part in JFN’s Welcome Baby program, right? Can you tell us a little about your Welcome Baby visit? For you it’s different. Many moms who get a visit are first-time moms.

Actually, yes! Well, not really, but it was fun to finally be able to take advantage of Welcome Baby. The program was not around when Molly was born, and I just missed the cutoff when Sam was born. Despite the fact that I am not a first-time mom, it was still something I didn’t hesitate to take advantage of. It was nice to reconnect with Debbie Dylan [the Welcome Baby coordinator], as we had taken a class together with our first kids. I was also able to check something off my to-do list, since Welcome Baby automatically signed Ethan up to receive PJ Library books when he gets a little bigger. Though Ethan is a little too young to take advantage of some of the local programming through the JCC, it was helpful to get that information in the welcome basket. And, of course, the nice, high-quality gifts were a huge bonus!

I think all moms, first-time or not, can get a lot out of a Welcome Baby visit. For new moms (and for me), the visit is a great way to have adult conversation! Being a new mom can be overwhelming, and it’s nice just to have someone to chat with. It’s also a great way to see how you can connect with the Jewish community through one-time or ongoing programs. I took the Little Wigglers class with my son Sam about two years ago, and I reconnected with some of those families when we all showed up at the same preschool.

Molly’s been going to preschool at Temple Israel of Natick for three years now, and Sam started there this year. What made you want to send your kids to a Jewish preschool? What do you feel they get out of it, and what do you get out of it, as a parent?

It was important to both Dave and myself that our kids would have a strong sense of Jewish identity, even from a young age. We both went to Jewish preschools growing up, so it felt like the right decision for us. Of course, the fact that we live so close to the temple is a bonus; it makes all that schlepping with three a little less painful. We enjoy seeing them come home having learned about Jewish holidays and traditions. It’s really cool to see your 2-year-old saying the prayers on Shabbat or explaining to you about the menorah. We like that both Molly and Sam learn about tzedakah and about doing good deeds for others. I don’t think that we’re particularly religious, but it is important to us to impart Jewish values and traditions to our children, and we hope these lessons stay with them.

You’ve been very active in CJP and JFS. In fact, you were one of three organizers of the 3rd annual JFS Hanukkah party last month. Why is it important to you to play a leadership role in local Jewish organizations? How did you first become involved?

I became active in CJP’s YLD [Young Leadership Division] in my 20s, especially when I met Dave. We went to many events together and with friends, and I slowly became involved with committee work. When we moved to Natick from Boston, we found ourselves involved in tangents of CJP out here in Metrowest, trying to get more young couples and young families involved with CJP and Jewish life in general. It’s important to both of us to take part in helping to build the Jewish community, and community in general, here in Natick and the Metrowest area. This is my third year serving on the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, which is an incredible community organization that helps everyone from children to families to the elderly. My involvement with JFS started just from my being a mom and attending some of the programs that were offered for moms and babies, as well as community family programs.

This organization is such a great resource for those living in our area. We want to set a good example of involvement for our children, about building community, giving back, volunteering, and helping others in need. We feel that CJP, Temple Israel, JFS, and other local organizations have provided us opportunities to do just that.