September 19, 2010

Yom Kippur

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

I have to be frank.  I'm not a very good Jew.  I don't light the Sabbath candles most Friday nights, I rarely attend synagogue, and I've been known to cook, if not to eat, bacon and shellfish.

Like many fair-weather Jews, I take the high holy days fairly seriously.  That means fasting on Yom Kippur.  Last year I didn't fast, as I was seven months pregnant with twins and really couldn't stop eating.  This year's was the hardest fast I've had in my adult memory.

If you only do something once a year, does skipping it one time make that much of a difference?  I'm not sure if it does, but I do know something.  One kind of frustration becomes other frustrations.  Our sitter, who shits gold as far as I'm concerned, put the girls to bed in clothes that were too light for the early autumn evening.  As a result, they awoke grouchy and spent much of the day unhappy.  To be fair, an unhappy day for the girls is still a pretty okay day, but when you're hungry everything is a little worse.

Like when you're tired everything is a little worse.  Or when you've got a headache everything is a little worse.

So it occurs to me- the reason this fast was so much harder for me wasn't that I was out of practice, it's that I was IN practice.  All too in practice.  I've spent so much of the last year being hungry, tired, having headaches, backaches, and skipping showers that to do it intentionally felt additionally exhausting.  I kept asking myself why I was doing it, hadn't I atoned enough over the year?  Had I really done anything I felt ashamed of, or regretted?

The answer is a resounding yes, and the fact is that most of it was the result of being tired, hungry, etc. 

There have been times in the past year that I've shouted at itsy bitsy babies for acting like babies.  That I've ignored them when I was simply tired or sore.  That I fought with my husband over nothing because I just wanted to pity myself.  I've caught myself doing things that I promised myself I would NEVER do.

I know it doesn't make me a bad mom, having done these things.  At the time it made me feel like a failure of a human being, but all in all I know I've done a good job.

So l'Shana Tova to all of you, Happy New Year my dear readers.  I am sorry I haven't written more for you.  I am sorry that I tend to ramble and forget my point.  I am sorry to occasionally bore you with anecdotes about how excellent my children are, when I'm sure there's something a little more helpful I can say.  So I say this:

Give yourself a break.  Parenting is hard, life is hard in general, and dealing with the day-to-day of being a mom is a mostly thankless job.

This Yom Kippur, I don't think I wanted God or my friends or readers or children to fogive me.  I think this one was all about forgiving myself.  I can't be perfect, but I do try.  And although aiming for perfection gives you plenty of room to screw up, you know your intentions are in the right place.

After all, you're only human.  Here's to another year.

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