Wednesday, December 16, 2009
A few years ago when I was training to become a life coach, I was paired with a woman that to this day I have never met and at the time had seemingly nothing in common with. This total stranger and I would practice on each other over the phone for almost two years. Needless to say we got to know one another fairly well, pretty quickly. What stood out most was not what a Jew in Miami and a Christian in Philly actually had in common, but how strikingly different we were. We were on exact opposite ends of the same path. She was becoming an empty-nester, while I was just putting my twigs together (and still laying eggs). Her struggle was how to cope with losing her primary role as mom and homemaker and I was trying to come to peace with my role changing into exactly that. Both of our realities could be explained by a phrase that I had come across in a parenting magazine that asked “why is it that the days seem to go on forever, while the years pass by in the blink of an eye?” I was wishing that I was on her end of the spectrum, while she was nostalgic for my time of life. When you are living on 4 hours of sleep and you can’t walk more than a few inches before encountering spit up, mucus, bodily excrements or on a good day, a mixture of all three, it’s hard to appreciate the beauty of motherhood. Yet, when it’s all over a deafening silence takes its place. In talking to my “chavruta” I came to the insight that I would never regret the things that I didn’t get to do. But I will regret not enjoying the things that I did. The spiritual bread and butter of a Jew is appreciation. There is a comic that portrays two Jewish women at a restaurant. The waiter walks over to check on them and asks “is anything ok?” We have a tendency to forget that our very essence as Jews is to appreciate, not decimate. The Chanukah story is replete with one word in many forms – Yehuda the Maccabbe, Yehudit the Jewish Heroine, Yehudim the Jews are all related to the word Hoda’a – appreciation. Which is why I was so thrilled to have a day full of hoda’a today, the 5th day of Chanukah. I appreciated that I could not join my husband, sister and the boys today on a trip to the Dead Sea because my two-year-old daughter was a bit under the weather. I appreciated that I got to spend time with just her. I enjoyed holding her and taking the time to play with her. We baked Chanukah cookies and she washed the dishes. Then I took her chocolate covered behind upstairs and into a warm bath. I don’t take warm baths for granted anymore. Now my kitchen is full of a gooey flour and water paste and I don’t mind a single bit. This is a huge accomplishment for me. Usually when my kids are ‘helping me cook’ all I can see is the mess I’ll have to clean up when they’re done. Right now as I look at the sink full of dishes, the crust on my kitchen Island, and the splotches all over the floor, all I can see is my daughter giggling and sneaking tiny chocolate chips into small, pretty, flower covered envelopes that I had set aside for the occasion of writing thank you notes. They served their purpose well.