This past week marked the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. It's the one day Jews all over the world set aside to atone for their sins of the past 354 (the Jewish calendar is a lunar vs. solar one). But even folks who aren't super up on Judaic ritual, tradition or year length might know this High Holiday as the one on which Jewish people, in order to concentrate on spirituals needs vs. worldly ones, fast from sundown to sundown.
When I was a kid I tended to push the envelope when it came to breaking fast on Yom Kippur. I can vividly remember popping an M&M or two or snatching a slice of lox off the break fast table as early as 4:30 or 5 p.m. -- the sun was nowhere near setting. I had convinced my fifth-grade self that in the grand scheme of sinning, I hadn't really done too badly in 5737, the Jewish year at the time. Sure, I'd probably argued with a sibling once more than I should have and likely wasn't completely honest with my parents on what really happened to the leg of the dining room chair, but heck, I'd made it food-and-water-free until the late afternoon. Hadn't I already repented enough?
As I got older, my transgressions got a little more serious. There were sins of commission like the fight I instigated with a close friend in eighth grade whom I felt was ignoring me for cooler, more "popular" friends. And there were the sins of omission, too. While I tried not to be the one to spread gossip, I can't recall ever asking the gossip-er to stop. By this time, I was able to go the whole 24 hours fasting. But I'm pretty sure I never actually said "I'm sorry" to my fifth-period geography class acquaintance whose middle school reputation was severely tarnished by my unwillingness to pull the plug on the nasty rumors.
But there is nothing like the past 15 years, otherwise known as parenthood, to give that same girl the opportunity to think a little harder about the concept of atonement. I now have a lot more chances to make mistakes, both large and small, that affect the people I love most in the world. I lose my patience. I get easily annoyed just about every day. I have unfortunately resorted to bribery, especially when it comes to bedtime, on a regular basis. Yes, my personal list of sins has likely picked up dramatically since giving birth.
But if I truly do an honest examination of the past year, the issues I struggle with most are not so much my willfully doing something wrong, but more the not always actively doing something right. I forget to say "thank you" when the dishwasher gets unpacked without me asking. I hold on tighter at times I should be letting go. I don't always let my husband know how much I appreciate his support, love and partnering.
This Yom Kippur, the physical absence of food and water reminded me of those moments where I was absent--even just emotionally --from my family's lives.
Yes, the time for sneaking M&Ms has long since gone and I am able to wait for sundown.
But I really shouldn't have to wait for anything to say, "I'm sorry."
And I will plan to do better in 5773--no matter how many days are in it.comments powered by Disqus
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.