I Have Good News and Bad News…

I Have Good News and Bad News…

I have some good news, JewishMOM, and I have some bad news.

I’ll start with the bad news: I’m being audited by the IRS.

The good news: it’s not a full audit. The IRS just wants me to provide documentation regarding a few items on my tax return, including the fact that I am the mother of seven children.

I imagine my life must sound pretty fantastical to my IRS auditor sitting in her office in sunny 2.23-kids California. She must wonder who is this nutty Septomom living in distant war-torn Jerusalem with a child for every day of the week. Monday Hadas, Tuesday Hallel, Wednesday Maayan…And she must wonder if I truly deserve my generous annual Child Tax Credit.

So right now, I’m trying to prove that I actually am the mother of 7 kids (or Jew-lets, as my brother-in-law calls them) and I’ve gotten off to a promising start, I hope… I’ve got 7 birth certificates. And 7 social security cards (actually I HAD 7, I’m still looking for Moriah’s).

But proving that I gave birth to them, apparently, is not sufficient for the IRS. I also need to prove that I financially support my own children and that they actually live with me for at least six months a year.

And you wouldn’t think that would be so difficult to do. But it is.

It looks like I’m going to be spending a healthy chunk of the next few weeks tracking down long-lost school and medical and financial records in order to prove that I am, indeed, a mother who takes care of her own 7 children.

As you know, dear JewishMOM.com reader, my days and years and life revolve around my children. How surreal, how disorienting, therefore, to discover how tough it is to provide physical evidence for my 15 years of motherhood.

Which reminds me…

Over a decade ago I met a mother who would not let her husband change their baby’s diapers… because she LOVED changing diapers. She told me, “I love changing my daughter’s diaper because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I fed her and I nourished her and here’s proof!”

It sounded strange at the time, but now I think I get it. Those diapers provided something that I now realize is nearly non-existent: physical evidence of motherhood.

But so much of what I have done over the past 15 years has left zero physical evidence. The morning wave and “I love you” goodbye, the afternoon heart-to-hearts about school and the neighborhood latest, the bedtime story followed by Shema Yisrael and a kiss on the forehead. Not to mention the meals served and the floors swept and the Mt. Kilimanjaros of laundry sorted and put away.

15 years that have evaporated. Where have they gone?

After Shabbat every week we sit around as a family and play songs. Hadas on guitar, Hallel on flute, and whoever isn’t putting kids to bed or being put to bed sings along. This past Saturday night I sat watching my two big girls playing together. Worst enemies and best friends, depending on the hour of the day. I watched how each girl would smile sheepishly at the other when she messed up. My beautiful sabras. My babies grown up into young women, almost.


Physical evidence of 15 years of motherhood.

But how do I capture THAT in a box and send it off to where it needs to go?

photo credit: Philip Taylor PT via photopin cc



  2. Sharon Saunders

    How about signed statements from Shabbos guests that weekly see you blessing and kissing 7 heads? That ought to freak them out!

  3. Sharon, that was brilliant. Chana, we had to send in proof a couple of years ago also. I copied and translated a huge pile of kupat cholim statements, maon & gan payments, etc. Lots of work, but it all went right through. Hope it goes smoothly for you.

  4. Susanna Rossen

    Chana Jenny, you are not alone! I have to do a similar thing. I have to prove that I am not making my children up. In my case some of them are adults and I have to proof that I raised them 30some years ago. You are right- it is such trial to find all these papers I, especially because I am a bit scattered with unimportant things like proof of vaccinazions and such. It gives me anxiety. Who would have thought I would need this stuff after so many years have passed already.
    Shalom dear Chana, tomorrow is another day and in view of all the wonderful things that happen every day to us Moms, this is just a little wave in the pond.

  5. Chaya Rivka Carasso

    Dear Chana Jenny,

    As everything that comes in our life, this IRS business is from Hashem.

    It may be that your life style of having a big, wonderful, and nurturing family is teaching others that happiness is not a statistic, that families can be more than 2.1/2 children and that parents can devote themselves to raising lots of children and do a very good job at it.

    I think your statistics are shaking up the norm, the usual, the familiar. And by doing this report you are informing people outside the Jewish “system” that there is another way, a better way.

    It will be interested to see the results after you complete your report. I believe it will have a ripple effect, get comments, and speak to someone’s neshama, even if you never hear of it. Some Jewish mom working at a bureaucratic job filing papers may come across your response and be spiritually effected by it.

    Thank you for all you do. It is a pleasure and an honor to know you,

    Chaya Rivka

  6. I know a family with 17 children! Maybe you could introduce your IRS lady to them?

    Best of luck with getting your paperwork organized, and I hope you have a speedy and favorable response.

  7. Dear Chana Jenny,
    We also had a similar audit recently. Maybe its the families of 7 children and their parents living in Israel IRS audit. It was really time consuming getting together all the paperwork to prove that we really do have a family of 7 children ranging in ages from 28 to 11 years old. In the end we sucessfully got through the process so I see they moved on to the next family of 7 children… this audit all told could take them quite some time. Don’t worry, you’ll get through it. Good luck, don’t get discouraged, the good news is you might even find some purim packaging for mishloach manot while you’re looking for all the documents.

    • I just came across a Haaretz article that there’s been a dramatic rise in audits of Americans living in Israel.

  8. just want to say that I finally spoke to my auditor yesterday, and she was as nice as could be and very helpful…I’ve always thought of these child tax credits as my annual salary (from Hashem) for JewishMOM.com. I hope Hashem finds me worthy of receiving my salary this year:)

  9. Thanks for the heads up.
    I also heard that there’s been a rise in the audits of those claiming the child tax credit.
    I haven’t been keeping any sort of evidence, I didn’t see the need.
    Perhaps I should start…which documents do they require? Or which do you recommend I start keeping?

  10. Did I miss something? where’s the good newS?

    • the good news is that it’s not a full audit….

      • The good news for all of us is the message that material things don’t last, that’s why they are so hard to find; but all those things you did to take care of your children’s souls, are in full view, easy to see, living in action and enduring to be passed on to the next generation. An important message for me when I’m getting exhausted over those kiliimanjaros….

  11. Chana Jenny, you consistently give us valuable messages, well written, without a lot of extra verbiage. Love reading your essays. Yasher koach.

    On topic – you’re right, we mothers don’t have a lot of physical proof of our good work. In that way we are like Hashem. Hope that’s ok to say.

  12. Ilyse ben Zagmi

    Did a quick search for auditing in Israel and happy to have landed on your blog! Just got audited myself (how do you know if it’s full or not?) and was literally sweating as I read the 40 plus page document. (After which I promptly called my “tax guy” who managed to calm me down a bit) I hope it’s as uneventful as you say…They seem to think I owe them a whole lot of money! I have 5 kids, and yes, they all live with me b”h. What did you have to prove?

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