A Mother’s “Prayer”

For most Jews the High Holiday period is one filled with family togetherness, apples and honey, and prayer.  Lots and lots of prayer – even for those who don’t utter a single supplication the rest of the year.  In my youth, I didn’t quite enjoy the prayer part of the holiday, and like many of my fellow tribesmen, I grew to fear the boredom, the over air-conditioned rooms and the long hours without a snack or ample legroom.  Things changed drastically as I got older, and I grew to realize that (1) the world can be a really scary place filled with some pretty nasty stuff and some pretty evil people, (2) I’m not in control of everything (though I often pretend that I am), (3) good intentions aren’t always enough, and (4) it never hurts to get a little bit of help from the powers that be. 

And so, there were a few years where my prayers were seriously fervent.  In fact, there were years when I returned home from shul exhausted from all that focus, concentration, praising and begging.  And then things changed again.  This year, I realized, I returned home exhausted, but for entirely different reasons.

Here’s a glimpse into how it went:

I gratefully thank you, living and eternal King, for You have

–          Yes, yes, of course you can have a yogurt, your sister will help you with it

Returned my soul within me with compassion – abundant is Your faithfulness!

How goodly are your

–          We’re on page 5, honey, it’s still the same prayers that you say every day (don’t you recognize them?)

Tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel.

–          Of course it’s ok that you spilled yogurt on your pants, and your hands, and got it in your hair. Don’t worry, I’m coming to clean you.  Don’t cry, my love, I’m not (too) mad.

Insert a few paragraphs of prayer here.

–          Of course I’ll take you to the bathroom.

Shema Yisrael…

–          We’re on page 87.  There are 124 more pages to go.  That’s probably about 3 more hours.  Maybe a bit less.

–          Of course I’ll take you to the bathroom.

Shofar blowing

–          No, you can’t go to your father, he’s blowing the shofar and isn’t allowed to speak.  You’re right, I’m not supposed speak either, but I don’t think you’d be happy if I just used hand motions for the next two hours.

Insert Amidah for Mussaf, complete with the aforementioned (and despised) hand motions

–          Of course I’ll take you to the bathroom.

Who is like You, Merciful Father, Who recalls His creatures mercifully for life!

–          No, there’s, only about a half hour left, you may not leave now.  Unless you want to take your brother to the bathroom…again…

And so, I find myself here, on the day after Rosh Hashana, with the kids back in school and the quiet restored, uttering a truly personal post-holiday prayer:

Please, dear G-d, recognize my disjoined, unfocused and incomplete High Holiday prayers not as a fault or sin, but as a blessing in disguise.  Fortunate are those who are able to tend to their children and to put the needs of others above their own.  I may not be perfect – in prayer or otherwise, but I can say with certainty that I’m trying my best.  And in this time of judgment, I deeply pray that this is enough.  

 

sari

Yup, it's true. I write all day for work - and now, apparently, I write for fun too.

 

5 thoughts on “A Mother’s “Prayer”

  1. I am “with you” all the way but also want you to recognize that this is a passing phase in your life and that, as the kids become more independent and able to take care of themselves, you will have more time to concentrate on your personal relationship with God.

  2. Thanks Malkie, I actually think that building a family is an essential part of my relationship with God, even if it means that I can’t be praying as I’ve been taught. On that plane, I have no regrets at all! 🙂

  3. שלום לך שרה היקרה קראתי את הכתוב בעיון רב צחקתי ובכיתי באותו הזמן,כי מה שכתבת יצא מעומקי הלב בכנות וברצינות,אני בטוח שהקבה קבל את תפילתך ושם אותה באוצר התפילות של הערער…וברך אותך ואת כל אשר לך בשנה טובה מלאת אושר עושר בריאות נחת ,ספוק נפש והצלחה רבה. למיותר להדגיש בזה עד כמה שאני גאה בך ואוהב אותך,תודה על היותך את…
    סבא

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