The summer really is drawing to a close. My Facebook feed is full of pictures of the first day of school, talk of purchasing supplies and the arrival of uniforms. We successfully made it through Camp Mommy, took multiple road trips, added both a sandbox *and* a trampoline to our yard, and even found a carpool for the upcoming school year.
We just returned (like, nine hours ago) from a fabulous trip to Cleveland, where we spent a whole week enjoying my mother-in-law, aunt-in-law, brother-in-law and all the cousins. It was a last-hurrah-of-the-summer kind of trip, where I threw all caution to the wind (okay, not all caution, but I did get a little brave) and scheduled the trip even though my husband would not be able to come until Shabbos.
That’s right. I drove, with three little kids, by myself, for six hours, and then hung out for a whole week without my husband. And it was a wonderful trip (though I am totally wiped now, but in a good, satisfied sort of way).
I was nervous about getting there, since shlepping all my kids into a rest stop without another adult to supervise was anxiety-inducing, to say the least. And it was fine (well, it was a little stressful, but there were no major incidents or disasters, so I count that as a success).
Though I am fairly independent by nature, it was nice to see that I was able to stretch the limits of what I thought I could do as a parent, and making this solo trip provided me with the encouragement to try to continue to stretch the limits of what I think I can do.
Even though I’m making a big deal about doing this on my own, it did occur to me that this is something single parents face all the time. Solo parenting isn’t limited to a summer trip. Even with the help and support of family or community, it’s still solo. I give you all massive respect (and if anyone would like to guest post about their experience as a single parent, please contact me).
Somewhat on that note, it was heartening to watch my kids interact with their cousins, to see how the older ones help the smaller ones, and to continually marvel at how my brother-in-law can stay so calm with a house full of children. Talk about giving massive respect. I mean, I only have three kids and I have difficulty keeping my cool at times.
Back on the topic of stretching my limits, I attended a shiur on Shabbos afternoon, which only seems to happen when I go out of town. Going to an actual class and sitting in an actual room with actual people makes such a difference for me. It gives me that feeling of connection to Torah, to what actually matters (which, for the record, has nothing to do with Facebook or Twitter). It’s a perspective that I really need at this hectic stage of my life.
When a Want is Also a Need
For years, I’ve been viewing attending a live shiur as a luxury (because, hello, little children). I now see that for me, it’s more of a need. And what with Elul right around the corner (MONDAY NIGHT PEOPLE! That means Tuesday and Wednesday, all day, all Rosh Chodesh), what better time to make an effort to connect to reality instead of distraction?
A nice bit of advice the Rebbetzin gave during the class was that it’s not necessarily about taking on new mitzvos for Elul, to prepare for the formidable days of Tishrei, but rather about being more conscious about the mitzvos that we are already doing. Saying modeh ani with intention, thinking about the brachos over food when we say them, reflecting on what’s in a mezuzah when we kiss it, focusing on the words of the Shema as we recite it before sleep.
That’s doable, right? And even though I’ve long thought that attending a Shabbos shiur is not doable for me, I’m going to find a way to go to one, at least once a month. Small, attainable goals, remember?
So Chodesh Tov in advance, and here’s to an uplifting, boundary-pushing Elul!