Monday, September 10, 2007

Check Your Child at the Door

Last year my son was with me all through High Holiday services. He bounced around, enjoying the crowd and the tunes. In my belly, that is.

This year, he's out and about, crawling and gooing and la-la-la-ing, and suddenly I feel under immense pressure to do something that I hardly ever do--put him in babysitting.

Now let me explain something about me and babysitting--Abba and I are blessed to be able to flex our time and split the childcare, so my son has only been under the care of a babysitter a handful of times. And always always one-on-one. Not four or five on one.

I know, I know, we're terribly spoiled. But that being said, here I am, considering putting my son into a situation with way more kids than sitters, hoping that he won't do something foolish and hurt himself badly while the sitters are chasing after another child.

I just don't want to. And I probably won't.

I wonder about the "offer" of high holiday babysitting. It's an offer that is noticeably absent all year. But the High Holidays roll around, and suddenly there is a tacit understanding that High Holiday services are no place for a child. Even if that child has attended shacharit more times in his 10 months of life than many adult Jews do ever. Even if he is quiet and watchful and joyful throughout.

Is it selfish of me to bring him in with me? Or, worse, inconsiderate of others? Or, alternatively, is it too self-sacrificing? Am I denying myself the possibility of prayer and renewal by choosing to spend these hours caring for the needs of another, forfeiting my own spritual life in favor of cheerios and sippy cups?

I hope not. But this year, all I can do is follow my instincts and keep my son nearby. Teach him about the Rosh Hashanah services, let him enjoy the shofar blasts, the beautiful music, the crowds of people. And, when it gets to be too much for him, take him over to the babysitting room so he can crawl around and wreak havoc with his little friends, all under my watchful eye.

I know that I need to let him go to babysitting at some point. Eventually, it really will get to be too much to handle.

But not this year.

This year, he's with me.


Maya said...

I was all set to use babysitting until I got your comment, but I think I still will, so I can daven! I do plan to slip out to feed and hang with the girl--maybe R.H. will turn out to be a dance between davening and darling. Don't you wish there was a window between the two spaces? I don't think the babysitting service implies children aren't welcomed. I think it's more a way to encourage mothers who would otherwise stay at home--YOU are great about always davening, but not everyone is!

Ima Shalom said...

Update: I put him in babysitting for a little while both days. He did fine, I did fine. And then he came down with a nasty nasty stomach virus from all those fun communal germs.