Being a parent to three young children, though full of joys and rewards, is also one of — if not the most — challenging experiences my husband and I have faced together. It can feel overwhelming, exhausting and full of countless unknowns. One of the most helpful aspects of Parenting Through a Jewish Lens has been the opportunity to reflect on the challenging moments of the day with other like-minded parents who have similar goals and similar questions on how to raise happy and kind human beings.
On the first day of class, we were reminded of the sometimes calming and reflective aspects of the Modeh Ani prayer for when you wake up and the Shema prayer for when you go to sleep. I joked with the class that the morning prayer was never going to happen in my crazy household with chaotic mornings. However, the Shema has been something that I started and continue to implement in my home, sometimes in the form of prayer, sometimes in the form of sharing the special moments of the day with the kids as we go around the dinner table, and sometimes simply taking the time to reflect on all that we have and all that we appreciate.
A few weeks ago, while pushing my youngest child in a stroller, we walked over a small bridge that looks over a waterfall and stream. I have walked over the bridge hundreds of times as it is my shortcut to the closest coffee shop, however something felt different on this day. The weather was not particularly special though the sun was peeking through the clouds, but as my two-year old sat in his stroller and I looked at the waterfall down below, a wave of gratitude came over me. Maybe it was because my son was being quiet and not squirming for a change, or maybe it was because I was excited for my iced coffee. But mostly I think it was because I felt connected to something greater than myself for a moment and I felt happy. It is these “small moments” that I have been able to recognize more and more since the Parenting Through a Jewish Lens class began. It is a powerful tool, to be able to feel gratitude for these moments. They are what get us through the day and make our lives meaningful. While I don’t see my home becoming any less chaotic in the near future, I know that I am going to keep having and recognizing these “Shema” moments.
Lexi Vichniac participated in Parenting Through a Jewish Lens at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley