Oct 1 2014
For the closing event at camp this past summer, our children paraded around a field in costumes for “Halloween in July,” collecting candy as Michael Jackson’s Thriller blasted from the speakers. While I watched the children scramble to fill their bags with treats, I noticed a man dressed in business casual slowly approaching, and for an instant his familiar appearance gave me joy. I almost smiled, but then I remembered how much I hate him.
Our divorce was finalized last Passover, and though we were both released from the contract that bonded us, I am still enslaved, unable to break free from the pain and anger. I was hoping that this Rosh Hashanah would bring forgiveness and peace at last, but it would be a lie to say I have forgiven him.
I willingly admit my own mistakes that contributed to the failure of our marriage. I am truly sorry. I also regret that we did not try harder to get the help that we needed to preserve our relationship. This is not the life I had envisioned for my family. But if the father of my children were to stand before me today (or send an email or a text) and ask for my forgiveness, I am not sure how I would respond. In my heart of hearts, I suppose I know what the correct response should be, but I cannot swear I would do as I am supposed to do. And while I rarely question God, our sages, or tradition, I find it impossible to forgive simply because it is dictated at this time of year. (Lucky for me, I guess, my ex has not asked for forgiveness.) Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 29 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This past Shabbat we read Parashat Ha’azinu. (Apologies for the delay, we were busy dipping apples in honey.) To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
For me, being a mother is the spiritual equivalent of looking into one of those magnifying mirrors that points out every pore and flaw. I am forced to face myself, not as how I’d like to be, but as I am.
This year, as the Ten Days of Awe descend, I am realizing this part of parenthood is a great preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. After all, during this time we are supposed to examine ourselves and take stock of who we are on the deepest level. We are supposed to consider our failings of the past year, the ways we could have been better, the parts of ourselves we don’t like to see. And as a parent, all those things are in my face pretty much every day. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 7 2013
The chocolate cookie was the last straw. My 5-year-old rejected the plain cookie. Before that, she decided she had to stage two things in the dollhouse. And just before that, she’d delayed our departure–she to her friend’s house down the street, me to the Y for Zumba class–by three apple slices. Although the only thing at stake was my on-time arrival to class, at that moment, I felt as if the sole request I’d made on behalf of myself all morning was strategically being buried by a conniving small girl out to get me with each of her extremely urgent, immediate needs. One minute late to class, even that, felt way too late. The cookie took me right over the edge.
The mother I’ve aspired to be these last 18 years is not just one able to put my needs aside for the children’s needs; I’ve worked–hard–to be one who kept her cool. Yelling is bad. Anger, in fact, seemed to me, a negative emotion–one I especially wanted to avoid in a particular direction, from me toward my kids. I guess I equated endless selflessness with good parenting. Even more so, I equated endless patience with good parenting. And I desperately wanted to be a good parent. Read the rest of this entry →