When I was a kid, I always went to synagogue with my family for the High Holidays. The holiest of all the Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a time to repent for our sins and ask God for a year of life, health and prosperity. I would always ask God to make me a more patient sister to my siblings and a more helpful daughter. I thought that not going to synagogue was a jinx; if you didn’t go you would have a bad year. So even if I didn’t like getting dressed up, walking to shule and sitting there for several hours, for me, it wasn’t worth the risk to skip it.
Lately, my thinking has changed. It’s the High Holidays again, but this year, I’ve decided not to take my boys, or to go at all. To tell you the truth, it’s not a pleasant experience for anyone. At ages 5 and 6, my boys refuse to dress in appropriate clothing—just Jays shirts and Roots sweatpants. They can’t sit through a service. They won’t go to the kids’ programs, either. So what’s the point of starting a new year being angry and frustrated and bored? I no longer believe that avoiding synagogue is a jinx. I’ve been through bad years and hard times and I went to synagogue those years. I know that things happen the way they do because that’s just life and life is funny that way.
I’d rather start out the Jewish New Year reflecting on the one that has just passed and thinking about what I can do better in the year ahead. I am sitting at home in my kitchen in my sweaty workout clothes, but the feelings in my heart are just as valid:
1. I’d still like to work on being more patient and helpful to my family. Sometimes, my lack of patience and absorption in raising my kids can make me focus a little too inwardly. I thank them for being so patient with me.
2. I’d like to work on being more patient with my kids. (Yes, patience is a theme!) I’ve cut out caffeine, I’ve had meaningful discussions with them about good behaviour and why we don’t spit food at the dinner table and why it’s not nice to punch each other in the face. But I must also recognize that they are little. They want to wear Jays t-shirts and comfy sweatpants. Who am I to stop them? It’s all part of the growing up process and I’m still growing up, too.
3. I’d like to continue to work on being a good person every day. I’d like to continue being kind and thoughtful and going that extra step to let others know that I love and appreciate them. I’d like to continue co-parenting as successfully as any co-parents can because my kids deserve it.
I’m not always sure about God, but I do believe in karma. I do believe in me.