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Aug 26 2013

How Your Kids Can Help You Mentally Prepare for the High Holidays

By at 10:07 am

balconyWe live on the third floor, and have a little balcony. My 4-year-old has taken to throwing things–toys, couch pillows, books–off the balcony. It’s really not OK, and he knows it. He also knows that if he throws toys he won’t see them again for a while, and that there may be some other consequence, to boot. But he’s 4, his impulse control is not so hot, and he’s testing boundaries.

This morning, I asked him to share the toy he was holding with his little brother, so he ran halfway across the apartment in order to throw it off the balcony. It was a clear f-you: If I can’t have it, nobody can have it. It was the last straw of a frustrating morning, and I yelled at him, really shouted, as I put him in a time out.

There are a lot of reasons why I don’t want to raise my children in a home with yelling. I have a pretty firm commitment to raising them to feel loved, safe, and not afraid in their own home, and a screaming adult is terrifying to a small person. So to have slipped in a way that’s human and understandable but still, well, urgently not where I need to be–it’s a terrible feeling. This morning, I failed my son and I failed myself. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 20 2013

What I’ve Learned From My Son About Hope

By at 3:57 pm

cori son elulTraditionally, during month of Elul, we say Psalm 27–lots of rabbis and other clever Jews have insights as to what it teaches us as we head into the High Holidays. Suffering from mommy-brain is a new part of my fabulous identity as an emah (mother), and I can’t help but think of the psalm in terms of my son. His name, Kaveh (קוה) comes from this particular psalm and in biblical Hebrew, it is the command form of the word hope.

Every morning, Kaveh wakes up, showers us with kisses and hugs, and babbles excitedly about things like breakfast and the people he’s going to see that day. Even if he had a tantrum before bed, or a bad dream during the night. He faces every day as if he was obligated to believe that it was going to be the best day ever.

When my chubby, beautiful toddler is sitting in his stroller and we pass the park, he repeats “Park! Park! Park!” over and over again until it’s no longer in sight. Until it’s truly, truly gone he maintains that it is a very real possibility that he’ll soon be giggling on his way down the slide, even if we’ve already told him that we’re going to the grocery store and there’s no time for the park. He never folds, because he believes that everything is possible. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 8 2013

For the Month of Elul, Threading Together My Sons’ Jewish Identities

By at 11:53 am

croc with jewish star buttonOn her blog “Ima On and Off the Bima,” Rabbi Phyllis Sommer started something called #BlogElul. Elul is the Hebrew month preceding the High Holidays, and is meant to be a time of introspection as we mentally prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rabbi Sommer has designated every day of Elul to a different topic, and will be blogging about each one and encouraging others to join in.

The #BlogElul challenge spoke to me, as each year I contemplate how to weave bits of Judaism into my children’s day. Bits that over time will be threaded together to form their Jewish identities and sense of self. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 9 2012

Mentally Preparing for the High Holidays

By at 4:14 pm

If Rosh Hashanah is when we are supposed to lift off into the sky of a new year, then the Hebrew month of Elul (which we’re currently in) is the runway preceding our flight. As a mother who generally has no time for anything, I have a true appreciation for the Hebrew month of Elul before the High Holidays as a time that is specially designated to think about all that is to come.

I’m a mom of three, soon to be four, kids, so I get it that “contemplation” is something as rare as “romantic getaway without the kids.” But parenting makes such contemplation more necessary than ever.

As parents, our days can feel like a waterfall of chaos, from the wake-up call from the crib at 4:47 a.m. to the “I had a nightmare, please hold me till I fall back asleep” summons of 11:30 p.m. Days are a seemingly endless tumult of missing shoes, stupid sibling arguments, forgotten lunches, lost permission slips, unmade beds, emotional scrapes, and physical bruises. The days of a parent can feel a hell of a lot like triage, where you respond to whoever’s needs are greatest (or most loudly expressed). Read the rest of this entry →

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