Mimi Borden lives with her family in Lincoln and just completed Parenting Through a Jewish Lens in Newton.
Since the afternoon in high school when my cross-country coach (who was my history teacher, a novelist and a stand-up comedian) shared his philosophy of never being unprepared, preparation has been key to everything I do. Before starting any project, I like to research, investigate, ask questions and then make decisions that are as informed as possible. When pregnant with our first child, our bedroom became a maze of parenting advice. Even though he wasn’t born yet, I had already read books on sibling rivalry, playground politics, and rainy-day crafts. I was going to be so prepared for our child, that all of my doubts, fears and uncertainties would be addressed before they even had a chance to materialize. In retrospect, it seems like it wouldn’t be too hard to guess how successful that strategy was.
Fast forward 10 years and while my inclination is still to research and analyze, most of the time – through work and homework, lessons, play-dates meals and laundry – I find myself flying by the seat of my pants. There have been days when I felt lucky just to have a clean pair of pants. When I’m being honest, I admit that I remember only passing fragments of what I read years ago, have the time and focus to read just a fraction of what I want to, and know that searching for parenting advice on the Internet invariably ends in a wonderfully chaotic maze of stuff (including more books in my Amazon shopping cart than I’ll ever read). What’s more, interactions with my children so rarely unfold as I would have expected that most of the time my careful planning flies out the window before the conversation has really gotten started. I feel like I have so many unfinished thoughts, so many questions all swirling around at once. And at the center of it all is this desire to slow everything down, for us all to feel happy and nurtured and whole.
As a possible antidote to some of this, my husband and I signed up for Parenting Through a Jewish Lens at Temple Emanuel in Newton this past winter and spring. Despite the fact that our children are 7 and 10, the instructors assured me that the class would be as relevant for us as for new or expecting parents. I’m thrilled that we followed through.
First off, as a parent, I don’t think that there is any amount of reading that could match the experience of having weekly sessions with such smart, knowledgeable, kind, caring and compassionate instructors as Rabbi Michelle Robinson and Judy Elkin. No amount of Internet searching, for example, could replace sitting in a room and hearing how Rabbi Robinson talks about doing morning and evening prayers with children. It’s this Jewish blend of mindfulness that has slowed down our mornings and our evenings. It has made our children more aware of themselves and their worlds and reminded us of all the wonderful possibilities of being a parent.KEEP READING…
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