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Sep 11 2013

Toddlers & Teshuvah? Yeah, Not So Much

By at 10:43 am

woman thinkingI was so excited for high holidays services this year. Seriously. Like, I couldn’t wait.

Rosh Hashanah was going to be the first time since the birth of my 11-month-old when I could just sit and live exclusively in my mind for three hours straight. It was going to be all about me. My thoughts, my feelings, my regrets, my needs, my disappointments, my truths, my longings–my prayers. Three solid hours of me, me, me.

And it didn’t disappoint. Through the repetition of liturgy, music, the standing ups and the sitting downs, I felt my mind and body soften in a way they haven’t in some time now. I thought about the many changes I have undergone since I had a child, for good and for bad, and how I can do better towards my family, friends, and myself. I felt generous, adoring, open-minded, and accepting. I had returned. Teshuvah! It felt incredible. And then I got home, said goodbye to my babysitter, and that was the end of that.

When I had my son I was prepared for how much temporal and physical space he would take up, and I was ready to give it to him. But I was wholly ignorant about how much psychological space he would take up, how his presence in my life has pushed out the musings and ruminations that used make me feel like I am me. Between the caretaking, work/life balancing, food eating, and husband talking, I am left with basically no time to do just this–think about being me.

I had hoped that I would manage to find time during the Days of Awe for reflection. I wanted to return to that state I had experienced in synagogue and see if I could figure out a few more things about the gap between who I’ve become and who I should be. But so far, not so much. I guess toddlers and teshuvah is an even more unlikely combo than toddlers and tiaras. (Any reality show producers out there? Shall we give it a try?)

I’d love to write a happy ending now. Say how I realized that just being with my boy has added such depth to my life and lit up corners of my heart that I didn’t even know were there and that this is so much bigger than teshuvah. He did, and it some ways it is. Still, I find myself yearning for more time to take part in this ancient soul-searching process that, frankly, I never paid much attention to before. I know that with time the opportunity will return. I just wish I could have a little more of it now. At least I still have Yom Kippur to look forward to.

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