This is my first Elul as a mother, but not my first as a daughter. WOW do I have a lot of apologizing to do.
When I was pregnant and miserable, we joked around a lot that my various sufferings would be “a kapparah”–like Yom Kippur, they would expiate my sins. But now that I am a mother, I’m only beginning to realize the depth of my wrongdoings–not just this year, but just about every year since I turned 12.
What have I done that’s eating away at my conscience so badly? Nothing that most every child in the free world hasn’t done–given my parents the occasional bad attitude, criticized them publicly when they were embarrassing me, failing to call or email for days at a time. And every year, when Yom Kippur came around, taking the easy way out and not apologizing.
But this year I get it. Only 9 months into the experience of being a parent, I understand the depth of the sacrifices parents make for their children. The emotional and financial investment. The unconditional love that exposes you completely and leaves you deeply touched but also deeply vulnerable.
My little boy has just begun crawling, but already sometimes he chooses to crawl away. For now, he always crawls back. But in my more thoughtful moments, I wonder to myself…will we still be so close when he is talking, walking, going to school? When he gets married and has a family of his own? After less than a year of living together as a family I can already sense that if the answer were to be “no,” it would break my heart.
So this Elul, join me is asking yourself: have your truly respected your parents? Loved them? And when appropriate, feared them?
If, like me, you all too often haven’t, let’s make this year different. Let’s apologize–and mean it. And let’s make a vow–a real, binding, vow–to show our love and respect for the people who created us, now and in the future.
Cross-posted to Ima Shalom.
Pronounced: eh-LULE, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish month usually coinciding with August-September.
Pronounced: yohm KIPP-er, also yohm kee-PORE, Origin: Hebrew, The Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and, with Rosh Hashanah, one of the High Holidays.