Tuesday, May 29, 2018

davening at the gate

I had a twenty-four-hour whirlwind out of town trip for a wedding. I went solo. No children, no schedules, no reminders. It was jam-packed with reunions and a whole lot of talking for an introvert.
Yet as I was waiting to board an early morning flight back home, I opened up a siddur app to daven. Oh, I did say brachot on the flight in, but it was more in my usual tone of mechanical mumbling in the desire to discharge my obligation of tefila before I eat. On this trip back, I found myself wanting to daven, wanting to find the meaning behind well-worn familiar words. No, I did not say more than birchot hashahar since I was waiting at the gate. However, even that five-minute tefila had a different flavor than what I usually end up doing.

I keep on thinking how few positive and uplifting davening experiences I have. There was unbelievable davening in Israel, that I attributed to being surrounded by people who understand the words and mean them. There was my intense desire to daven at the Kotel because in the presence of those ancient stones a different mood comes over me. I want to pour my heart out. There was Rosh haShana tefila that I cried over this year, asking and beseeching Hashem to please give me a good year and prolong life. I think that was influenced by my belief that I am surrounded by a caring congregation. That illusion has since fallen away. I cannot daven in a place of hypocrisy. I have been having hard time going to shul, simply physically entering the building. I have attended a few bar mitzvahs, but I cannot fake a tefila.

So what do I need to daven?

  • removal from the ordinary
  • brain space away from children
  • a feeling of security and trust
  • a heartache
  • a space to organize my thoughts
I do not know the answer to the biggest personal theological question: why did I end up in this pickle? Why did we end up in a community where the rabbi and the shul are the major obstacles to prayer and halachik observance? Why did Hashem lead us on this path?

And what do I tell my children about G-d and prayer? How can I lead them by example when I do not feel comfortable in shul and cannot model "good davening behavior"? I know I am modeling integrity, but I do not know if my kids know or appreciate the full extent of my dilemma.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Slowly but surely, I am entering a new stage of my life. 5 year old transitioned to showers on his own, so I only have one child to wash. 3 yo decided that two days before a major trip is a good time to start potty training in earnest, so soon I will not need to buy diapers by the Costco box.

We are up to consuming 2+ gallons of milk every week. I no longer freeze large shredded cheese bags because we use them up quickly enough. I seem unable to keep enough cereal and bananas and Morningstar chik patties in the house. I have not set a table for a while.

There is no spit-up on my shoulders. I have been rocking dresses for a straight year, enjoying the freedom of not nursing. I loved nursing my children. It went well: everyone made it to at least a year. It was nice and sweet and close and bonding, but I cannot deny that it is over and I do not look back at those five cumulative years of wardrobe manipulation with sadness.

My three oldest could bike anywhere. 5 year old is working hard at keeping up with his training wheels. I have four out of five swimmers. Pool time this summer might even be enjoyable.

There never seem to be enough clean socks. Most socks are wadded up into little black balls, shedding dirt. When I unravel them before their trip to the washing machine, huge heel holes gape at me. The socks are the casualty of the trampoline, of the deck, of the hammock, of active play, of engagement where a cartwheel practice takes precedence over order and appearance.

Life is crazy and good and unpredictable and whirlwind with five kids. It is like being inside a covered water slide: you can fight the current, but it will pull you along through dark and light patches, not caring one whit whether you are ready, whether you are afraid. You might as well surrender, throw your head back, and enjoy the ride.
Related image

Monday, May 7, 2018

In his own words

Five year old (who spent a large portion of his young life bouncing between preschool programs): Teachers put children in time-out. That's what they do.
Me: What do mommies do? (I do not employ time-out with him because there has really not been a need).
5 yo: Mommies take care of kids. That is what they do.

This makes me sad. This is why I wanted so badly to be able to homeschool all of them, for all the years of their school experience. Oh, he is resilient, and he will get over this. But in his head, teachers are there to punish kids and moms are there to love them. I wonder how that will affect his attitude towards teachers and learning down the road.