I feel a little anxiety. A little sadness. I’m excited, but also a little helpless. For the first time, my kids don’t want me to drive them to school. I expect this from my middle schooler, but my 9 year old? When did he stop needing me?
With Mother’s Day approaching, let’s take a moment to celebrate mothers.
In my childhood, there were few things that the Orthodox rabbis charged with my daily education and my secular anti-religious mother agreed upon, but ironically sex was one of them. From both of these very different points of view I received two consistent messages: Sex was good and sex was something that ought to be talked about, and often.
My two-year-old is now in the stage where my wife and I are torn between encouraging our daughter’s independence and our need to, say, get out the door in less than four hours.
“When the reception goes down, the volume goes up.” These were the sage words of one of my honored teachers some years ago in a lesson about communicating with loved ones. I imagine it’s easy for most of us to resonate with the message that when we don’t feel heard, we might become frustrated, raise our voices and even act out. Then, even though the flow of words might continue – even with increasing force – pretty much all communication ceases. How much better we can communicate when instead of raising the volume, we choose to “tune in.” But that’s pretty difficult to do in the moment of passion and hurt feelings.
As an irrepressible, even relentless, optimist, I hold great hope for Jewish life in America. I wonder if that is because I fell in love with Judaism as an adult. It is true that I carry no terrible memories of Hebrew school as many do — nor resentment born of feelings of outright rejection by non-Jews or Jews. At the same time, having been raised in a secular home, I had no lovely memories of Passover seders or singing in the glowing light of an heirloom Hanukkah menorah, sitting with my bubbe [grandmother] in shul, or seeing my parents involved with their faith tradition.
I’m a skeptic when it comes to believing that every cloud has a silver lining. Some clouds do of course, but other are just plain old storm clouds that rain down destruction and chaos. I do not believe that we have to find the good in every situation. But when it came to name calling, that inevitable default of children of a certain age, I am a firm believer in the literal power of turning curses into blessings.
We are walking along a busy, suburban street that runs mostly parallel to the highway connecting our town to the city immediately to our east. The sidewalk begins at the bridge over Willeo Creek, which is the county line. As the road curves slightly northward, taking us away from home, I wonder if I’m leading my son on the wrong path.
It’s getting hard to find role models in sports these days. Especially in the National Football League, where stars such as Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy all have been suspended in recent months for shocking acts of domestic violence.