Back to School: There’s a Prayer for That

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?

I know this is healthy. This is normal. I want my kids to be independent, but is it bad if I also want them to need me just a little? We hear experts talk about helping kids transition from summer vacation to the routine of the school year (e.g., Summer homework completed? Check. School supplies purchased? Check. Early to bed? Check. Discussion to prepare them for their first day and new schedule? Check.

I never thought I’d need to prepare myself. I didn’t expect to feel anxious wondering if my kids would get to school safely and on time. I didn’t expect to feel a loss that I didn’t get that one-more-hug before they disappeared into the building. Don’t get me wrong. I give my kids space. I encourage them to succeed and fail on their own. This is just another first day of school. I suppose it’s a glimpse of what’s to come and, for that, I’m unprepared:  first day of college, becoming an empty nester, weddings and births. I just need to quiet my brain and hold on to the moment.

Thank God, there’s a prayer for that.

Barukh Ata Adonai Elohenu Melekh ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh. Loosely translated, “Thank you, God, for this moment in time.” (More on Shehecheyanu)

Thank you, God, for the health of my children. Thank you, God, for allowing them to be filled with confidence and strength. Thank you, God, for the opportunity to be their mother. Thank you, for enabling me to witness their growth.

My kids are ready for this transition and this new year. I will be, too, eventually. I just hope they give me a ginormous hug when they get home.


Rabbi Melinda Mersack is the Director of jHUB, which provides new ways for interfaith couples and families to comfortably explore Jewish culture in the modern world, a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland and an InterfaithFamily affiliate. Rabbi Mersack is proud to be a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow and a Brickner Fellow of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Mersack attends summer camp as visiting faculty every year, and is an advocate for interreligious dialogue and social justice. She holds a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Masters of Hebrew Letters and ordination from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.

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