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Sep 29 2014

My Toddler Brings Out the Best & Worst in Me

By at 11:52 am

Toddler-Mess

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 →

Sep 12 2014

Motherhood Brings Out My Superstitious Side

By at 9:45 am

Alicia-Elija

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

Sometimes, during these first few weeks of my newborn son Elijah’s life, I find myself overwhelmed by gratitude for him. I tend to write about the harder parts of motherhood, but in this moment I’m just bowled over by the beauty, mystery, and ridiculous cuteness of this little guy in a froggie onesie.

What do I do with all this raw emotion, this overwhelming love? Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2014

Why We Tell Our Children Stories

By at 11:08 am

Stories

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

Driving home from my sister’s house last night, I did what so many parents do when it looks like their kids might fall asleep in the car and it would be highly inconvenient if they did so. I flapped my lips for 25 minutes about whatever I could think of. We reviewed all the major Jewish holidays and what they represent (read: what we eat on the holidays). We sang the unabridged version of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” (someone’s always in the kitchen with mom-my, someone’s in the kitchen they know-o-o-o) and we talked about who’s a cousin and who’s a friend and how the brake pedal and the gas pedal work and why some people choose to get tattoos and how much we like meatballs. Then, Maya decided it was her turn to tell a story.

Five exits later, and Maya’s story was still going. In her tale, she and Daddy went for a walk, saw a ghost with big eyes, met a giraffe who wanted a bath, ate some apples, swam in a lake, took a nap, got scared, saw a fire-breathing dragon, got saved by Avi (Maya’s twin), tripped on a rock, said “it’s OK, you’re alright, it’s no big deal,” to each other, and got mosquito bites. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 3 2014

The Secret to Dealing with Your Toddler’s Infuriating Tantrums

By at 10:08 am

The secret to dealing with your toddler's tantrums

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

Oh, the terrible two’s. It’s almost like Sylvie sees things I can’t see.

One moment it’s all sweetness as Sylvie carefully spreads a blanket over my shoulders, stroking my hair with her small fingers and singing: “Go to sleep, little baby.”

The next moment, during a diaper change, she’s truly distraught: “I want that diaper!” (Pull down clean diaper from pile). “No, that one!” (Take down second diaper.) “No, I want that one!” (Pointing to first diaper). Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 20 2014

Take a Deep Breath And Don’t Throw Your Kids in a Canyon

By at 10:04 am

grand-canyon

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

This week’s torah portion, Korah, really resonated with me. Basically, Korah, a Levite, was tired, hungry, and generally pissed about wandering through the dessert. He gathered together a few buddies (who were presumably also hungry and in desperate need of a shower) and they threw a collective tantrum at Moses–something along the lines of “Who died and made you God?!?”

Moses responded by falling on his face. Traditional commentators praise him for this, noting that rather than reacting by yelling something back (possibly along the lines of “God did, you giant douche! And he’s not even dead! So suck it!”), he took the time to reflect and collect himself. I love that idea, although I also like to think that Moses was feeling the same way I often do when the girls are whining at the end of a long day, when I barely have the energy to stand, much less engage with the latest round of whatever they’re all worked up about.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 13 2014

Battling The “What-Ifs” of Life

By at 10:14 am

momentary-adina

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

As a kid, my parents affectionately referred to me as the “Queen of the What-Ifs.” I could what-if with the best of them. New experience? Bring on the what-ifs. What if I don’t make friends? What if I don’t like it there? What if I don’t pass that test, get accepted into that school, find my way?

My folks would jockey with me as much as possible, and often, they’d try and help me live with the uncertainty. Not an easy feat. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 6 2014

Even God Had His Bad Parenting Days

By at 2:13 pm

toddler-feet

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

I recently read something I loved in a book about Buddhism and parenting:

Impermanence, the fact that all things change, can be a mother’s best friend.  Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

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 →

Mar 28 2014

10 Reasons My Daughter Would Make A Great Rabbi

By at 10:18 am

risa-daughter

All parents have wishes of what their children will become and this is mine: I want my daughter to be a rabbi. At the young age of 4, my daughter loves being Jewish. She loves Shabbat, she loves all the Jewish holidays, and she loves learning about Judaism. She says the Kiddush proudly on Friday nights wearing her kippah.

My daughter is lucky to attend preschool at our local JCC and the program is simply amazing. Not only has she made wonderful friends, but my husband and I have, too. She learns about doing mitzvot and about being a mensch. She learns about the Jewish holidays and takes it all in like a wet sponge.

For someone who went to the Joint Program, (Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University) I have a good understanding of what Rabbinical school entails and I think she would be able to handle it. Read the rest of this entry →

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