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May 9 2014

It’s Suddenly Clear That My Girls Have a Mind of Their Own

By at 12:16 pm

girl-waffles

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat B’har. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

“Strawberries are yucky.”

“I don’t WANT to sleep in a crib.”

Doc McStuffins is my favorite.

“I don’t like spring time. I just like summer.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 2 2014

It’s Impossible to be Both a Parent & Perfectionist

By at 12:01 pm

messy-home

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Emor. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Being a perfectionist is supposed to make you miserable. But to be honest, I always found it sort of fun–until I became a mother.

As the parent of a small human, though, perfectionism is out the window, along with every other fantasy of control over life.

I’m not even talking about the big, agonizing stuff. I’m talking about my living room. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 25 2014

It’s Hard to Honor Your Mother & Father When You’re in the Terrible Twos

By at 9:41 am

kedoshim

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Kedoshim. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

This week Sylvie turned 2. On her birthday, she woke up, talked to herself for a while, then called out “Mama, mama!”

I went to pick her up from her crib and as soon as she saw me she stood up and screamed, for the first time ever: “Go away, mama!”

Terrible twos, right on schedule. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 11 2014

Your Toddler’s Just Not That Into You

By at 9:50 am

Your Toddler's Just Not That Into You

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Ahare Mot. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

This week’s portion is roughly halfway through the Torah. Here’s what I’ve noticed after writing about parenting for half a year: it’s hard to find the middle ground.

To acknowledge the miraculousness without sentimentalizing, without glossing over the day-to-day reality.

And to acknowledge the profound daily challenges without complaining, without dwelling in negativity.

Middle ground has been in short supply around here lately, and not just because I’m pregnant with #2 and on my own hormonal roller coaster. Like one of those tantalizingly unpredictable loves of my early 20s, Sylvie, about to turn 2, vacillates between extremes:

1. Unbearable cuteness. Example: “Thank you mama, for brush my teeth!”

2. Frustrating randomness.  Example: “Orange juice please! Orange juice please! Orange juice please!” Then, when I bring her some: “No, I want apple juice!”; weeps in utter despair.  Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 4 2014

The Transformative Powers of Bath Time–for Mama and Child

By at 10:22 am

needs-bath

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Metzora. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Bath time. It’s so simple, yet so transformative.

Most evenings around 7 p.m., Sylvie enters the tub covered in the evidence of a day well spent. You know the look: pasta sauce in her curls, a thin layer of dried snot on her cheeks, dirt on her knees, lint between her toes, and streaks of green finger paint in random places.

Come to think of it, by the end of dinnertime she brings to mind my fashion preferences as a teenager in the 90’s. You know the look: torn jacket, messy hair, smudged eyeliner, chipped nail polish. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 28 2014

The Grossest Side of Motherhood

By at 3:12 pm

newborn

This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Tazria. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Becoming a mother is an education in both sides of the human body: the beautiful and the gross.

On one hand, there’s nothing like the sweetness of a naked baby after a bath, wrapped up in a big towel. Or watching a little one learn to walk, or jump. (I didn’t realize jumping was its own developmental benchmark until Sylvie got there last week, and it’s amazing watching her lift her little body off the earth with her own power–and giggle–and do it again.)

At the same time, among all that beauty, as the mother of a young child I’m up close and personal with multiple bodily fluids every single day. I’m talking poop, pee, snot, tears, rinse, repeat. And that’s on a good day. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 21 2014

This Week’s Torah Portion Offers a Glimpse into the Pain of Losing a Child

By at 10:11 am

fire

This post is part of our Torah MoMmentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Shemini. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Maybe it’s my morbid streak, but the darker Torah stories are generally my favorites. After all, if the Torah portrayed a perfect world, I would just feel worse about my own messy life. Instead, reading these ancient stories makes me feel like things are OK. My life isn’t perfect, but no one’s is or ever has been. So I love that Torah stories aren’t all about angels and flowers.

But although I still appreciate stories of veiled seduction and secret weapons, I find that becoming a mother has (somewhat to my dismay) lessened my delight in stories of child sacrifice and gory deaths. And rather than appreciating the drama of this week’s portion, I found myself feeling sort of disturbed by the family tragedy.

Without warning, two of Aaron’s adult sons, Nadav and Avihu, are suddenly killed by God after offering a “strange fire” on the altar. It’s shocking. It seems to come out of nowhere. And God seems so…casual about the whole thing. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 14 2014

My Second Time Pregnant & I’m Even More in Awe

By at 9:47 am

ultrasound

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Tzav. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Well, it’s official–baby #2 is on the way! (And in case you were wondering, yes, I am going to tie this into the Torah portion somehow).

I thought I might be less excited the second time around, but I’ve found the opposite, at least once I got past the exhausting combination of toddler-chasing and morning sickness. For the past couple months, I’ve been feeling even more awe and mystery about what’s happening inside me this time.

Why would this be? Isn’t the second time we do anything usually less dramatic, rather than more? Well, two things are different this time. First of all, I have at least some vague idea of what might be in store. I’m less anxious. And there’s nothing like anxiety to prevent a person from feeling awe. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 7 2014

The Definition of Sacrifice Sounds A Lot Like Parenting

By at 10:51 am

new-baby

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Vayikra. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Sacrifice: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.

–Webster’s Dictionary

Recently I’ve been thinking about sacrifice and motherhood. First we stop drinking, then we surrender our waistlines…and that’s before they’re born and the real work begins.

But the idea of “making sacrifices” for my daughter makes me uncomfortable. It sounds a little…controlling. After all, I chose this path. I asked to bring a child into the world, and I was lucky enough to receive this incredible little kid. And as I’m sure she’ll point out in her teenage years, she never asked to be born. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 28 2014

On the Other Side of Parental Boredom is Awe

By at 1:54 pm

toys

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Pekudei. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

I have to say right away that my daughter is not boring. She’s a little strawberry-blond spitfire who cracks me up with her sense of humor, amazes me with her expanding grasp of language, keeps me on my toes, and regularly blows my mind.

But still. We’re not exactly peers; it’s hard to find activities to equally entertain a 22-month-old and a 37-year-old. Mommy and Me is cool, and we’re both into baking, but there are only so many sing-a-longs you can attend in a day, and if I bake chocolate chip cookies four times a week I’ll never fit into my clothes again. So on our longer days together, a certain amount of boredom inevitably ensues. Sylvie gets bored when I take too long in the grocery store bulk aisle. I get bored pushing her on the swings. She gets bored when I do dishes. I get bored singing “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” (again). And so on.

Boredom is generally considered a bad thing. And I can’t say it feels particularly good. But recently I have been experimenting with seeing it as a spiritual teacher rather than an enemy. Read the rest of this entry →

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