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Oct 1 2014

This Yom Kippur, I Owe Myself an Apology

By at 3:20 pm

vending

After almost three years at home with my daughters, I returned to my job last fall. It has taken time for me to adjust to the change in rhythm. I’ve made mistakes along the way. But the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur itself hold a promise: No matter how grievous our sins, we can ask forgiveness and start again.

As I think of the people I may have offended or wronged this year, there is one name that keeps popping up. I have ignored her needs. I have harshly criticized her. My expectations of her are impossibly high.

Of course, that woman is me.  Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 23 2014

Confessing Our Sins–Virtually!

By at 11:07 am

e-scapegoat

I’ve always loved the Jewish High Holidays. The blowing of the shofar, the time spent with family, the food (oh! the food!), and the overall sense of starting over with a clean slate. And now, as a parent, I’ve truly come to appreciate the opportunity for reflection and forgiveness that the High Holidays provide. Even with Yom Kippur–a mostly somber affair–we have a chance to own up to our wrongdoings, apologize for them, vow to do our best not to repeat them, and then start anew.

What better parenting tool than that?

Over the past few years we’ve really started to fine-tune our own personal family traditions around the High Holidays. If we’re not visiting family, we will spend the second day of Rosh Hashanah taking a walk through our local woods, ending up at a small brook in order to do tashlich. Tashlich–the symbolic practice of washing away our sins–is a powerful one for both kids and adults alike. My son was around 4 years old the first time he grasped what it was all about. I explained to him that each piece of bread represented a behavior, action, or thought that we wanted to change in the New Year. We toss the bread in the water and it washes the poor thoughts and actions away, giving us space to do better. He would throw in crumbs and say, “No hitting!” or, “No yelling!” As he grew older, his answers became more nuanced and thoughtful.  Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 13 2013

An Apology to My Toddler on Yom Kippur

By at 9:52 am

airplane with sorry tagLike many other parents of toddlers, I spend a lot of time teaching my 3-year-old daughter to apologize. She is taught to apologize when she doesn’t listen, or when she doesn’t cooperate, or when she is screaming for no reason, or when she wakes her little sister. I’ve put her in time out and made her apologize for spitting, for hitting, for pushing her sister, for refusing to share, for refusing to brush her teeth, for refusing to use the potty, and for refusing to take a bath.

My wife and I spend a lot of time discussing the things our eldest daughter does wrong and we try to make sure she understands how she has erred and explain to her how to behave properly the next time a similar conflict arises. “Use your words,” we often tell her. “Share your toys,” “be cooperative,” and “be gentle” are other common pieces of advice she receives. And we hope that this process has an impact.

So, what I am saying is that, for a toddler, every day is Yom Kippur. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 24 2012

A Collective Apology for Parents on Yom Kippur

By at 10:29 am

sorry written in the sandLast year, Jordana provided us this “Parent’s Vidui”–a list of collective apologies specifically geared for parents during Yom Kippur. This year, Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Tuesday, September 25.

The Yom Kippur prayer known as the Vidui, or Confessional, is one in which each Jewish congregation stands up and collectively takes responsibility for its sins. Regardless of whether or not we ourselves have committed a given wrongdoing, we confess to it and thump our chest in contrition. We do so collectively so as to not shame those who have done these things, and to facilitate their admission and recognition of their wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 1 2011

No Apologies

By at 2:29 pm
sorry card with roses

NOT.

Apologies are seductive. Especially for a new mother, who finds her world suddenly spinning beyond her control, apologies are incredibly appealing. The trouble is that a new mother can also find herself always apologizing. Everything is a first, and nothing goes as she expected. Does she blame herself? And should she?

New mothers are barraged with advice. Most of it is useless, and some of it is obnoxious, but occasionally it’s wise.

I was scheduled to have a phone call with our local Jewish Family and Children’s Services representative on what turned out to be Lila’s birth date. When I finally connected with the woman in the weeks following, I apologized for being out of touch. “Don’t apologize,” she told me, “you’re a new mother. Everyone understands.” I was momentarily startled, but realized she was right.

Since May, this has been one of the best mothering pearls of wisdom I’ve heard. It’s important because I’ve lost count of how many times my plans have gone awry; I’ve been tempted to apologize, generally for things that don’t offend other people or aren’t my fault. It’s tough to fight your nature, when your general tendency is to be polite, but that makes this lesson crucial. Not apologizing is a survival skill in the jungle of early motherhood, learning to let go of all that you cannot control (which is most things).

With that, I’d like to introduce a new mother’s update to Passover’s Dayenu. Rather than “It would have been enough,” this is about saying, “It is enough, no more apologies.”

1. When it’s 7pm and I’ve accomplished nothing all day beyond feeding, changing, and naps, because newborns are labor-intensive. I will not apologize.

2. When I am 20 minutes late to a Mommy and Me class or play group because Lila was fussy, or we simply required more time than anticipated to get ready. I will not apologize. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 25 2011

Sorry iPhone, I Was So Wrong

By at 10:57 am

Taken on my iPhone.

Often, if you think about it, we expect more from our children than we do from ourselves. “Tell her you’re sorry,” we tell our kids post-whatever-the-latest-problem-was, expecting them not only to feel badly about what they’ve done, but to have the natural inclination toward grace and equanimity as opposed to pettiness and grudgery. And I don’t know about you, but I can be pretty petty and grudgy, and I’m allegedly an adult. Like you, possibly, I also hate to admit it when I’m wrong.

So here goes: I. Was. Wrong. And. I’m. Sorry.

I wrote a post here about the ills of smartphones. I hated the little know-it-alls. I hated the way they reduced their owners to Pavlovian puppies who jumped at their little buzzing noises to check stupid e-mails. I didn’t see the need to immediately Google various idiocies.

I’m not sure if I would have gotten a smartphone had destiny not intervened. And by “destiny,” I mean “my dumbphone falling out of my sweatshirt pocket and into the toilet.” My husband likes to tell people that this is the fourth time this has happened to me. The more I think about it, though, the more I am convinced that it is only the third time. So there.

So we went to Verizon and I showed the unusually nice and well-informed guy there my phone. “Can I get another one of these?” I asked him. He looked at me with the look you reserve for someone who tells you that they can’t get their computer to work and it’s largely because they haven’t turned it on, i.e. “I don’t think so, Most Clueless Person Ever.” Apparently, my little dumbphone was discontinued right around when Charlemagne came to power. Read the rest of this entry →

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