Getting Over My "Not Enough" Syndrome – Kveller
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Getting Over My “Not Enough” Syndrome


“Please God, help me sleep!” That was my prayer, my urgent plea, while lying in bed wide awake three days after the birth of my son. I was beyond exhausted and I knew I only had a short window before I’d have to wake up again to feed him. My baby boy had just fallen asleep after his middle of the night feeding, and I desperately wanted to fall back asleep before he woke up again. My body ached with exhaustion and the pains of a still-healing episiotomy.

The problem was, I was wide awake. And in this state of being wide awake, I found myself contemplating the worthiness of bothering God with my desperate plea to sleep. I’ve asked for, and received, a lot of things over the years, big and small: a good job; a husband; a short line at the airport so I don’t miss my connecting flight; warm weather for my week of holidays. I had prayed like crazy for a child. At the age of 38, there was no way I took for granted a healthy pregnancy and now, the arrival of a healthy, eight pound baby boy.

I admit that over the years I have suffered from what I like to call the “not enough” syndrome. I’m not pretty enough; I’m not talented enough; I’m not ambitious enough; I’m not spontaneous enough; I don’t earn enough. There are even competing “not enough’s” such as: I don’t work hard enough and I don’t spend enough time with my family. I relate to this as a syndrome that disproportionately affects Jews, kind of like lactose intolerance (yes, I am lactose intolerant) although I’m sure we Jews haven’t cornered the market on feelings of inadequacy (or on lactose intolerance, for that matter).

Lying awake in the middle of the night, I took stock of everything I have in my life, from a loving husband to a compelling and dynamic professional career (albeit one that was on hold for the moment), from clean drinking water to a beautiful baby boy, and I realized for the first time in my life that I had everything I’d ever asked for.

I can’t promise that I won’t ever ask for more. I’ve already made a few requests just today: please keep my son healthy, and please help me remember the tune for my Torah chanting in two weeks when we do a baby blessing ceremony at our synagogue. But I hope I will keep in mind that I no longer need to feel that I don’t have enough.

So in the middle of begging for sleep with my 3-day-old son sleeping soundly next to me, I switched my prayer. Thank you, I whispered. Thank you for everything.

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