Tuesday, November 12, 2013

TorahMama: Vayishlach

Jacob prepares to reunite with his brother Esau and in the night he wrestles with a being. Eventually, he prevails and says, "I will not let you go until you bless me." In the course of the blessing, Jacob is also given a new name, the name Israel.

My daughter, age 6, likes to stomp off when she's angry. And sometimes I want her to just go away, so this works for both of us. But most of the time, I insist that she return. "Come back here, I want to hug you," I say. This does not always work in the course of an argument. She can't see past her anger or frustration to know that all I want to do is hug her. All I want to do is pull her back, hold on tight. Even when she's infuriating or infuriated, I still just want to hold on tight. But eventually she relents and I get to hold her and find peace in our relationship. My 12-year-old is getting to the point where a hug from his mom is a chore. But he lets me. He knows that it matters. He knows that I don't want to let him go until he blesses me with that exasperated sigh and giggle when I tickle him. The 3-year-old throws a tantrum over a misinterpreted demand. I scoop him up and squeeze him tight. "Lemme go!" he squirms. But I hold tightly, I won't let him go until I have whispered in his ear and found the way to reset the want, rewind the frustration, and get the blessing that I so desperately need. I will not let you go until you bless me...

TorahMama is my weekly attempt to look at the Torah portion through a parenting lens...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TorahMama: Vayetze

In this week's Torah portion, Jacob dreams of a ladder stretching from the ground into the heavens. He sees angels on the ladder, going both up and down. When he awakens from his dream, he says, "surely God was in this place and I, I did not know it."

So often, as parents, we get bogged down in the details. Where do the kids have to be? What did they eat for lunch? What brand of diapers should I buy? Do you have a clean gym uniform for tomorrow morning? Parenting can be a series of lists and mountains of laundry. The day to day can overwhelm. And yet each moment can have a spark of the Divine in it. Each moment holds a potential for holiness. It's hard to find, don't get me wrong. When the kitchen floor is sticky and there isn't any milk left and "he's poking me!" and….where's the holiness in that? But I know it's there. Surely God is in this place. How do I remember that? How do I seek it out and remind myself? Is it a note on the dashboard or a post-it on the coffee maker….whatever it takes to help me remember that yes, indeed, God is in this place. I might not have noticed it. I might be so bleary-eyed from yet another night in which the 3-year-old wanted a drink of water at 3am and lost his blankie at 5am….but if I prop my eyelids up, I can find the holy in the way his little body snuggles under the blanket or how his fingers grasp the cup. It's hard. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to find the holy on the day when there are two kids throwing up and another one who has a science project to do….but if I just take one little breath, one little moment in each crazy-busy-overwhelming day….I can say it: surely God is in this place and I, I did not know it.

TorahMama is my weekly attempt to talk about the Torah portion from a parenting perspective....