Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back to School

When I was in third grade my teacher called my parents in and told them they had to ease up me. They were bewildered--they weren’t putting any pressure on me at all!

It was all my own eight-year-old little self.

As a recovering pint-sized pressure cooker, I seriously relate to the problem of academic pressure on school-age kids. Which is why I found a lot of solace--and helpful advice--in this article on age-old parenting lessons for a new school year.

In this short piece Sharon Duke Estroff suggests some ways to help our children succeed academically without driving them–or ourselves–crazy. And reminds us that:

…even if you conclude that your child is not a budding Albert Einstein, you’re in good company. At the end of the day most of our kids are, well, regular old kids–good at some things, not so good at others. And counting on us to love and support them in all their wonderfully regular-kid glory.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Future Waiter

My almost 3 year old son has become quite vocational. For a while it was haircuts. We would spend hours and hours each week at the local Black Hebrew barber shop watching the barbers give haircuts. He watched a how-to haircut video from Costco daily and even owned his own home haircut kit! Terms such as "taper cut" and "clipper across comb" had become part of our daily lexicon - right along with "need to pish" and "more juice."

But we've moved on. Now he's focusing his vocational energies on waiting tables. Each week we go eat rice and beans at a local restaurant. In addition to the food, he loves watching the servers carry the enormous trays up and down the stairs. We've become regulars and have gotten to know some of the staff.

One day, our server gave him an actualy, genuine tray from the restaurant! Needless to say, this was the most exciting thing to happen to him since...scratch that - ever. He sleeps with the tray. He brings the tray everywhere. And he especially loves carrying it up and down the stairs at our Mexican restaurant, which is a big hit with the customers and his fellow waiters.

I wonder what's next. Retail?

Clothes! First-time working mother's closet

Disclaimer: I realize that not all mothers have the luxury of owning too many clothes. I just take an inordinate interest in them since my mother (7 children) and grandmothers (8 and 5 children each) were wonderful seamstresses who loved designing their own clothes and enjoying dressing up.

Okay, everyone may already have figured this out for herself, but I just discovered I have too many clothes. Well, I actually was told this by the incomparable fashion consultant Lani Rosenstock who specializes in women going back to work after children. But she was right.

Why would I eliminate half my wardrobe? So I can freaking find the clothes I actually fit into. Before I cleared the closet, I easily spent half an hour searching for an ensemble appropriate for breastfeeding that actually fit whenever I left the apartment (like I had the time). Because breast-feeding changes everything about how I get dressed. Now it takes me 2 minutes, and I feel so much better.

Lani says everyone in the USA can probably get rid of half her wardrobe, but especially women in my position (unlikely to have another child ever/in the near future), even if they’re going to lose the weight.

But I probably eliminated about 1/3 of the closet, since I did a major cleaning before I moved two years ago. My task was easier because I didn’t own a lot of trendy clothes.

I had fun, utilitarian clothes that never go out of style because they were never in style to begin with. Like those fanciful hand-made outfits from the Czech Republic, some of which look as if they once belonged to the mafia, but in a good way. They’re a kind of diary. And I do actually wear them (London flea market dresses) or should wear them (Senegalese lounging pants).

Cleaning out one's closet doesn’t mean one has to buy anything new. But if one did, it’s a shape-shifting year, so it will be easier to find good clothes. Good-bye infantilizing of the adult female body, which, by the way, seemed to correspond eerily with the sexualizing of children these last few years, sartorially speaking.

Long skirts, tailored dresses, hats and lipstick are outrageously fashionable again.

I decided it would help me part from my clothes if I knew friends would wear them, so I hosted a clothing swap.

The swap let me hang out with friends and find out all sorts of things about them. I didn’t talk about my teething baby, for a change, though my teething baby was, of course, enjoying herself immensely as she drooled on the blouses or other babies. Plus, friends won’t let you keep something that makes you look bad. It’s also nice to wear something that belonged to someone you admire or love.

Okay, to sum up what I learned:
1. I don’t have a social life, but that’s no reason to hate getting dressed each day.
2. Own less. Wear what I have. Give away what I don’t actively wear.
3. Buy/acquire less (one or two pieces each season), but quality.

Just looking at my uncluttered little closet makes me feel as if I’d spent the last month in the gym.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Love Bites

I'll tell you about nursing a 9 1/2 month old baby with 5 teeth. It bites. And even when it doesn't bite, it has a certain stoic take-it-like-a-man quality that I never thought I'd associate with the exquisitely feminine act of nursing my infant son.

It brings to mind the end of a long and happy relationship. You know, when you start to push each other away by inflicting a million little wounds, lessening the larger pain by beginning the act of separating before the real separation has begun.

I've been thinking recently about a ritual for weaning. Something not too new-agey or out-there, something just for my son and me, to privately say goodbye to this first important relationship that we have shared. To mourn it a little, and to help me celebrate it as a new beginning.

Here are just a few of the sources that I think I'll consider as I create something with personal meaning for us.

My Jewish Learning: A Jewish Weaning Ceremony

Ritualwell: A Weaning Ceremony for Joshua Ruben and Eli Nathaniel and for Me

These ceremonies include both mothers and fathers, but I think that for me, this ritual will definitely be Ima-only.

Abba got to cut the baby loose at birth. This time it's all mine.

And besides, it's an Ima thing...he wouldn't understand.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ego and sufficiency

For the last 16 months, my body was telling me, “you’re doing all you can, my dear. You’re perfectly efficient, sufficient; you’re perfect.” It didn’t expect anything more from me than what I was already doing—creating a new little body, feeding a little body.

But this week, my body resumed its monthly invitation to create additional life. Suddenly, what I’m doing isn’t enough, biologically speaking. My body doesn’t seem to realize that, unless something drastically changes in my life, there isn’t going to be a little sibling for my daughter. Or that if I had one more responsibility thrust upon me right now, I honestly think I'd break.

I used to hate anything that separated me from the baby I had carried inside me. It took me a long time to get her a bed of her own, to start her on cereal and baby food. But now my own body is doing it to me. I know I need my own life so my little one can develop her autonomy as well. It’s only the beginning of a long good-bye that started the day she was born.

Lucille Clifton had something to say about this kind of thing:

the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is G-d
i agree with the leaves

Nature abhors a vacuum. Those leaves in the Clifton poem are making way for new buds.

Writers as diverse as Simone Weil and Joseph Soloveitchik remark that it is human nature for the ego to want to fill all the space it has. Soloveitchik says that G-d willfully withdraws from the world so that humans can have space for autonomous action. A well-known DC rabbi says, in essence, that parents have to act like G-d; they have to create a space (what Weil calls a vacuum in the ego), so that children can learn autonomy.

It’s what my body is preparing me for. But it also requires a loving detachment for me not to use my baby to make up for insufficiencies in myself. I imagine, as a parent, this will be a repeated temptation for me.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Yogurt Wars

The other day I stood in front of the yogurt display at Trader Joe's for 10 minutes--literally ten minutes--tormenting myself. Vanilla yogurt for my son or plain yogurt? Vanilla or plain? Or, more directly to the point, a reckless devil-may-care 30g of sugar for my infant son or a somber 15g?

After 10 minutes I decided to get over myself and just buy the yummy vanilla yogurt. Within five minutes I was back in front of the yogurt, making the switch to plain. Oy.

I felt relief at having made the healthier, less guilt-inducing choice, but I also felt ridiculous. Just the other day I was making fun of other mothers who were so proud that their children didn't enjoy those sugary fruit yogurts. "It's yogurt!" I said self righteously. "No one ever got obese from too much vanilla yogurt!" And yet...there I was. What gives?

You don't need a Phd in psychology to know that the relationship between mothers and food is deep and messy. I think it starts when you are handed a tiny newborn: feed him or he'll die they say. And then they weigh him every day for a week just to make sure that you're not screwing the whole thing up.

In the beginning, solid foods were fun. One exciting first after another. And then he turned nine months, and all of the sudden EVERYTHING was on the table.

This new phase is wonderful, but also scary. All of the sudden there truly are right and wrong answers, good and bad ways to do things. You are teaching a child how to eat--for life--and every sallow looking, fatigued, overweight adult reminds you of the heaviness of this responsibility.

Who made this so complicated for me? Was it my Jewish mother? No doubt--I wasn't allowed a piece of junky white bread until I was 18--but also maybe my Jewish fathers. Our tradition spends tractates--and books upon books--dealing with the complexities of Jewish eating. And we are taught to consider every morsel that goes into our mouths, what it means for our physical and spiritual lives, for our place in the community, our relationship with God.

As a mother, as a Jew, food is serious business. And this, I think, is why I wound up standing in front of the yogurt display for 10 minutes, checking heckshers, checking fat, checking sugar, paralyzed with indecision.

Choosing a nursery school

My son is starting nursery school in September. Of course, being that we live in Manhattan, the nursery school admission process is comparable, stress-wise, to admissions to college.

We started out looking at about ten different nursery programs, Jewish and secular. I made my requisite phone calls, insanely dialing like a radio call in contest for concert tickets. We got a handful of applications, some appointments for tours, and then did the second wave of inquiries at the first come first served schools (read, schools for losers that didn’t make it through the rigors of the process). My son, my delightful son, my bright son who can tell jokes, speaks in full sentences, and eats edamame, had three interviews. And was then waitlisted. And in the end, only accepted at the school we wanted (a first come first served program) and the school we hated the most.

We looked at four Jewish programs. Three were horrible. The first, I’ll call “A,” was a disaster. At the interview, the lead teacher effusively complimented one of the six children and ignored the rest (including my son). And most of all, they give “charity” instead of “tzedakah” and recite motzi as the catch all bracha instead of the correct brachot over various foods. Lost educational opportunity, if you ask me (we applied and were accepted).

The second, “B,” was worse. I called for information. The person who answered the phone told me I would have to come in during school hours for an information packet. I told her that I am a WOHM (work outside the home mom) and that I would not be able to come in: could I have it mailed? I was told no. Off my list.

“C” is a huge program in a gorgeous facility with great resources. It also seems corporate, the kids were all in lines, walking silently into their classrooms, and the teachers often leave after a year. In theory, I liked it, but it just wasn’t the messy, creative experience I imagined for my son. Plus, my husband walked into a classroom where he saw a group of children and a teacher spending five minutes discussing something they were about to do: “You put your foot like this, and then like this, and your arms like this.” Turns out, they were discussing how to do the “mayim” step. Get up and do it already, stop talking about it! We didn’t bother applying.

In the end, we chose D, the first come first served program that welcomes everyone and doesn’t penalize if you didn’t call that very first day to get an application. The fundamental religious philosophy of the institution is not one we share. The community and faculty are far more traditional than we are. But bottom line, it was the place we as parents felt most comfortable. It has a sunny, attractive facility and long-time faculty members. According to school policy, no one will invite my son to a birthday party held at a restaurant on Shabbat, or serve him pepperoni pizza at their home party. My son won’t be the only one who graduates and goes on to a Jewish day school. Sure, the other kid in the group interview decked my kid not once, not twice but three times in the head before the other parent intervened, but I have been thrilled with everything since, and school doesn’t start for another few weeks.

Bottom line, I discovered something very valuable. Nursery schools are all, by and large, places where kids learn how to be social beings and learn through play. Programs all conform to state standards and generally have decent teachers who care about the kids. Your child will thrive, regardless, because your child will thrive anywhere, with a little sunshine, a little water and a little love. But unless parents feel comfortable with the educational philosophy *and* the community, the experience is not likely to be a good one. Not only is my son excited for the beginning of the year, but I am too.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Grace Paley: Mother, Writer, Activist, Z”L

When I heard today that Grace Paley had died, I knew I had to put aside the blog post I had begun and dedicate my first post here to her memory.

Paley is one of my favorite writers. Born in 1922 in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, she began writing short stories as a young mother and community activist in the 1950s. Hearing someone read a story on Jewish themes gave her permission to write from her own life experience, so she put mothers and children at the center of her stories and depicted the playground as the place where the stuff of life happens.

As a historian, I’m amazed at how Paley’s stories, which focus on women’s lives and insist on the value of conversation and of attention to local issues, presaged the feminist slogan of the late 1960s that “the personal is political.” As a woman and a mother, I appreciate how she captured the ways that the mundane, brief moments in our daily lives -- a walk with a friend, moms watching kids in the park -- are often the richest, most important interactions, containing everything we need to know about people and the world.

Motherhood led Paley to activism on urban neighborhood issues, peace issues, and human rights. In her writing, she makes no distinction between the work of mothering and the work of repairing the world – they are part and parcel of the same project.

I’ll close with an excerpt from the dedication of her "Collected Stories":

“It seems right to dedicate this collection to my friend Sybil Claiborne, my colleague in the Writing and Mother Trade… we talked and talked for nearly forty years. Then she died. Three days before that, she said slowly, with the delicacy of an unsatisfied person with only a dozen words left, Grace, the real question is – how are we to live our lives?”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

tshuvah thoughts

I have been thinking lately about how to help my almost 3-year old maximize his chances for doing tshuvah. The other day, we were on the metro and it was time to get off. We were on our way to meet a friend and her son at a museum. My son knows very well that when I announce that it's our stop, that he needs to get back on the stroller. This time he decided to test me and threw a major protest tantrum. At that moment, what I should have done was to turn around and go home. It would have made a significant impact - I can picture him talking about it for a long time. But more importantly, it would give him an opportunity to try it again - to do tshuvah the next time. Instead, against my better judgment, I gave him the opportunity to try again right then and there. It was mainly because I just didn't want to go home. I was really looking forward to our outing, and to go home would mean a long, boring morning. So I gave him another chance. This was futile on my part. I know my kid - once he loses it, he can't get it back. He needed to turn around and go home - and try again another day. Needless to say, the day was not a success and the breakdowns got worse.

Sometimes it seems, no matter how hard we want to work on something, it we are not in a calm frame of mind, the efforts are fruitless. And this is all the more true with a tempermental little one.

Next time, I hope, we'll turn around and go home. It's certainly more pleasant to have a dull morning at home than a frustrating (and loud!) one out. And it would give my kid a realistic opportunity to try it again - another day.

Boobs, Honkers and Gazungas

I offended someone the other day because I call my boobs, boobs. I think she would have preferred if I called them “breasts.” I can’t call them breasts- that’s what I get at the butcher for shabbos. But I tend to avoid calling private body parts by their actual names. And as my daughter gets more and more familiar with things I have found myself teaching her all the words that I call things -which is not quite up to par with Grey’s Anatomy (the book, not the TV show-but if Patrick Dempsey asked me to call them “breasts” I would consider it).

I got into this discussion with a mommy at Tot Time who was having the same dilemma. She said she didn’t mind teaching her toddler the word “vagina” but she didn’t want to go into too much detail about the “down there area” because her daughter was beginning potty training and she didn’t want to lie to her and tell her the urine was coming out of her “vagina” when it was in fact coming out of her “urethra.”

First of all, I was very proud of myself that I didn’t giggle when she said vagina out loud in the library. Second of all, I didn’t know that pee came out of our urethra. Fascinating. Third of all, I told her I call a woman’s lady parts her “china” and we have pee pees that come out of the china. I can’t say the word vagina to my gynecologist let alone my 2 year old. Golly gosh. What does she think I am? A grown up?

But am I going to do damage by teaching her pinkles (she doesn’t get to call them boobs yet), china and tushy instead of breasts, vagina and buttocks? I can’t imagine I would. But I also think it’s my job to get her out there. Let her know what’s up. Of course I did ok and I had pinkles until I was 17….then they changed to boobs. I know she’ll figure it all out eventually and that has to be better than hearing her mother say bowel movement, anus or urethra. *shudder*

So maybe I’m not growing up all the way and maybe I’m enabling her to hold onto a little immaturity. She has enough serious things to worry about as she grows up. Right now, thank God her body parts are ok and she’s healthy. And you know, God doesn’t care what we call pinkles as long as you appreciate that you have them. But if she starts calling them titties she is so getting grounded.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gluckel the Newbie

I’m not totally sure what to do with this blog. Thrilled, of course, to have a chance to write it, but given that I’m a newbie, I don’t really know what to do. Of course, that is just like motherhood. I spent nine months worrying, and for some reason, thought that was the hard part. Then my son was born. That wasn’t the hard part (it was actually not so bad). Parenthood is the hard part.

I cannot figure out why my 2 and a half year old prefers watermelon over cookies, nor why he prefers not to have his diaper changed even when verging on an explosion. I cannot for the life of me understand why he can talk endlessly and in full sentences on his fake cellphone, but refuses to talk to his grandparents on the real cellphone. I cannot understand why on earth my two year old can recite the blessing “al netilat yadayim” (over handwashing) on his own but won’t sing along with the Shema with me before bedtime. I don’t understand how I became so grouchy and how come I never seem to get anything done, and where did the chin hairs come from?

I’m a newbie. I don’t know what to do. But I’m not going to know any more the next time. Let’s all embrace our inner newbies and know that with each passing day we get a little better at this job called motherhood.

I do this Jewish thing professionally, so you’re definitely going to hear about some of the ups and downs of being a Jewish professional mother here. Not a professional Jewish mother (that sounds profoundly negative, like I get paid for kvetching). I often wonder why the Jewish community treats the mothers (and parents in general) in its employ with such disdain, and it’s a big issue for me, so you’ll probably hear about that too. I'm also about to go through the hell fire and brimstorm that is the beginning of nursery school, and I can guarantee that you'll be hearing about that too.

As for my moniker, read my bio and you’ll learn more about Gluckel (and then Google her and learn more, as I was only alloted 1200 characters to describe this incredible woman). She was a very cool chick, and all of us can use someone to emulate. Twelve children. Twelve. Think about that. That is twelve day school tuitions, don't forget summer camp and Israel trips, twelve college educations, and we would expect that at least ¾ of them would go on to grad school (for at least one degree).

Right now, I only have child, and I’m having a hard enough time keeping it together.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Introduction to Maya's world

This is my first blog. This is my first posting on my first blog.

I think motherhood has made me a much better person than I ever was before. Here's a miniscule example: I'm incredibly grumpy in the morning. But I promised myself I'd greet my daughter with a smile even if she kept me awake crying from 10 pm till 3 am, like she did each night until she was 6 weeks old. Each morning before I open my eyes I urge my promise to push away the normal mental scowl. Now that she's seven months old, my daughter always wakes up happy. She giggles when I say the first lines of the Shema. Then we open the shades and let in the light--it's a big production for us. I guess I'll have to wait till she leaves home before I can resume my normal morning diva routine.

I'm not sure how it's going to work professionally. I just finished my second year as an assistant professor. Because I’m on junior faculty research leave this semester, I just lost my office at the university till I come back—I’ll have to write about our trip to the Library of Congress to plead for a research space.

Academics never know when we're done working because we set our own hours, except when we're teaching, and so there's always another article or chapter or translation we could be writing. At least we should be reading something. But having a baby makes me know when I'm done for the day. I share a wonderful nanny 4 days a week so that I can write and research. But on Wednesday, when there is no nanny, I simply can't work. I make Wednesday a secular shabbat. Sometimes we have lunch with friends, or coffee. I connect with other Jewish mothers. Just now the daughter is starting to get wriggly and grabby in public, so public lunch may need to be curtailed. Babies are rare enough in academia so that colleagues don't mind the occasional screech or cry when I need to run to the University with her for books or photocopying. I have terrific colleagues—they even let me take her to department meetings. I have terrific students.

I'm also thankful that my artist friends and colleagues let me take the baby to poetry readings and performances, even if I have to stand in the back and pace with the daughter in arms. Once, during Carly Sachs’ performance of Steam at the JCC (buy the book, it's fantastic!) babygirl was humming herself to sleep. Carly figured, hey, it was avant-garde. Only a couple of audience members seemed annoyed.

I fear that I'm not doing enough to succeed in my job. I can't always get inspired on demand--that is, during the hours I have child care. I'm trying to learn to trust that things will turn out as they were meant to. It’s a fabulous job, but, when it comes down to it, my daughter is the only daughter I have.

Before she was born, I didn't think I wanted children, didn't think I had the temperament. I am the oldest of seven; my mother was nineteen when I was born, and I’m not much like her. I was afraid motherhood would be tedious and would shrink my world. There is some tedium to it, and you'll probably read more about it in the postings to come. But for some weird reason, I'm totally fascinated and enchanted with every move my daughter makes much of the time. It's probably hormonal. I don't care what it is, I'm just happy to have it happen to me.

And shrinking my world? Well, from January to June I’m planning to take baby and move to Tel Aviv for 6 months while I am a visiting professor there. Am I crazy? Probably. In the meantime, my daughter is much more social, much happier, and much cuter than I am, so that because of her, my social circle has expanded tremendously. Sometimes I have to ask random strangers to please look at my daughter because she's nearly breaking her neck to get them to notice her so she can smile at them. Is she really my daughter? Of course, it means that I have to make an effort. I try to dine with people on shabbat evening, no matter how tired I am--sometimes that means cooking for nine or so. I try to go to shul, to accept invitations. Maybe if I weren't a single parent it would be different. But this is what is working for me right now.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Ima Bloggers

I'm thrilled to introduce Ima Shalom's newest contributors--5 of the coolest, smartest, funniest mamas you'd ever want to meet.

Maya is trying to start a tenure track position and be a new and single mother at the same time in a new city in the context of an Orthodox community.

Gluckel of Manhattan is Jewish professional mother with a chip on her shoulder, but not a big one. A son, a husband and a "to-do" list a mile long.

Since beginning her career as a stay at home mommy to a dog, a cat, and beautiful 23 month old girl, "Keep it real" has become Mahotma Mama's motto. And if that means letting her toddler watch The Price is Right so she can wash the dog because it rolled around in something else's poop, so be it.
Mamamia is the mother of two children, a son (almost 3) and a daughter (7 months). She is a Jewish educator and public speaking trainer in DC.

Joyous Jewess is Ima to 9-month-old boy/girl twins who keep her laughing and running. An escaped academic and a second generation feminist, she works in public history and Jewish education.

And then there's me. Ima Shalom is a work-at-home-stay-at-home mom living the post-denominational life with her son and Orthodox husband.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Delicious Shabbat in a Pot

No time to make Shabbat dinner? Trust me, you've got time enough to make this fantastic crockpot meal.

This recipe works with a cut up whole chicken or a package of legs and thighs.

For the sauce you'll need:

1 can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs flour
3 tbs water
¼ ketchup

Combine ingredients. Put 1 c. rice on the bottom of the crock pot, layer the chicken pieces on top of the rice and pour the sauce over the whole thing. Add 2 c. water and you're done!

Make it in the morning for dinner, or right before Shabbat for a scrumptious lunch.

Thanks to my awesome DC friends who introduced me to this great recipe.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It Takes a Tribe

Here's what I think the foremothers really talked about:

Rachel: Leah, what did you do when little Zebulun is teething? I gave Joseph some carob root to chew on but he still seems so miserable.

Leah: Oh, take a cloth and dip it in the cool well water and let him suck on it--that will help a lot!

Modern motherhood is wonderful for some many reasons, but it is also isolating. No tight-knit shtetl or shared settlements with extended family and community, no grandmother nearby to show you the way. Modern mamas are on our own.

The hunger for some sort of mothering community really shows itself when a group of two or more mothers actually manages to come together. The conversation immediately turns to comparing notes, soliciting advice.

Over the past year, though, I've discovered amazing communities of women over the web seeking to help each other in just this way.

Some of these are local lists--ours is DC Urban Moms but I've also found great advice on the Berkeley Parents Network.

Others are vibrant discussion boards devoted to special-interest communities. I've long been a member of The Baby Wearer--and last week took part in a really interesting conversation about mothering in Biblical times and the modesty or Shabbat observance issues involved in using different types of baby carriers.

One poster there introduced me to a Jewish Attachment Parenting forum for Jewish parents interested in natural parenting.

Do you know about some great forums that would help other Jewish mamas? Please share!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Elul Musings

This is my first Elul as a mother, but not my first as a daughter.

WOW do I have a lot of apologizing to do.

When I was pregnant and miserable, we joked around a lot that my various sufferings would be "a kapparah"--like Yom Kippur, they would expiate my sins. But now that I am a mother, I'm only beginning to realize the depth of my wrongdoings--not just this year, but just about every year since I turned 12.

What have I done that's eating away at my conscience so badly? Nothing that most every child in the free world hasn't done--given my parents the occasional bad attitude, criticized them publicly when they were embarrassing me, failing to call or email for days at a time. And every year, when Yom Kippur came around, taking the easy way out and not apologizing.

But this year I get it. Only 9 months into the experience of being a parent, I understand the depth of the sacrifices parents make for their children. The emotional and financial investment. The unconditional love that exposes you completely and leaves you deeply touched but also deeply vulnerable.

My little boy has just begun crawling, but already sometimes he chooses to crawl away. For now, he always crawls back. But in my more thoughtful moments, I wonder to myself...will we still be so close when he is talking, walking, going to school? When he gets married and has a family of his own? After less than a year of living together as a family I can already sense that if the answer were to be "no," it would break my heart.

So this Elul, join me is asking yourself: have your truly respected your parents? Loved them? And when appropriate, feared them?

If, like me, you all too often haven't, let's make this year different. Let's apologize--and mean it. And let's make a vow--a real, binding, vow--to show our love and respect for the people who created us, now and in the future.

Cross posted to Mixed Multitudes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

From Pregnancy to Motherhood

It's been a while! I gave up blogging pregnancy because pregnancy didn't suit me very well. I felt really bad a lot of the time, and when I felt well I wanted to get out and enjoy life.

Motherhood, though? Motherhood suits me really well! Jacob Isaac is now 9 months old and the absolute cutest and most brilliant little boy I've ever met.

So introducing the new and improved Ima Shalom--a Jewish Motherhood blog!