Sunday, September 25, 2011

Staying home on Rosh Hashana

I’m not going to shul this year.

I have spent every Rosh Hashana in synagogue since I can remember, except for the year my family went to the Grand Canyon instead and read from texts my mother had put together.

When I was little, the thing that helped me sit through temple services was knowing there would be cookies at the oneg afterwards. And on Rosh Hashana, for some reason, there were no cookies. So my earliest memories of Rosh Hashana in a synagogue are of sitting in a pew and thinking, “ugh, what’s the point?” Then, when services were over, I would walk out of the sanctuary with my mother and peek hopefully into the social hall, just in case the temple staff had changed their mind. They never did.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 and 9 Av

I woke up this morning in my usual pre-coffee haze. I recently told my friend Leah about my dependence on caffeine to set my mind right, and she said something like, “That makes me glad I don’t drink coffee.” But I disagree. I love waking in confusion and suspicion towards reality, and then slowly returning to humanity as I slurp a hot drink. I remember my parents waking up that way, and somehow it’s sort of comforting to start each day like that.

Anyway, as I was boiling water and thoughts were flying around in my head unbidden and unorganized, I suddenly thought of how much I love the Jacky Handy quote, “It’s too bad that whole families have to be torn apart by something as simple as wild dogs.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Drawing close and the gift of distance

Inspiration comes from unlikely places. I’m no big fan of Elizabeth Badinter and her views on the current mothering culture, but I just came across a quote from her in a New Yorker article that I love. She says, “If you’re a mother, you are either too present or too absent; you can’t win. You have to be a Mozart of maternity to reach the right absence-presence balance.”

Bandinter is referring to actual physical presence—the time a mother spends in the home with her children, versus the time she spends on her own pursuits. But it’s also true of emotional presence and absence. Deciding how involved to be in my children’s relationships, in their decision-making, in their play is a delicate balance as well.