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A Matter of Perspective: Motherhood & The Days of Awe

A first-time parent during the High Holidays learns that this year she's feeding the baby instead of nourishing her soul

The transition into motherhood holds an abundance of challenges. Entering this new reality after my 30th birthday exacerbated the change even further. After being habituated to such an independent existence for so long, sometimes it can almost feel like a form of incarceration. But as I’ve journeyed through the first year of my child’s life, I’ve not only grown to accept that my life has been transformed forever; I’ve even learned to embrace it.

There are many “firsts” associated with babies: first smile, first clap, first steps etc. From the religious angle, there are also plenty of “firsts” for babies: first Shabbat, first Pesach, and this past week, first Rosh Hashana. As with every “first”, there is a learning curve – for both the mum and baby. And Rosh Hashana proved to be no exception.

My husband plays a very active role in organizing a popular minyan in Jerusalem, providing a wonderful communal davening for young professionals. There is lots of singing and minimal chatter. It definitely sets the appropriate tone for the Days of Awe.

My baby is, thankfully, very placid and easygoing. But at the end of the day, she’s still a baby. And sitting quietly in her stroller for longer than thirty seconds is not one of her preferred activities. I had to pull out everything from my bag of tricks in order to keep her quiet during the tekiyot. Needless to say, my visit to the minyan was short-lived.

As I stood outside of the main prayer hall, holding out bite sizes of peeled peach, I encountered a stark realization: Here I was, longing to be inside, absorbed in the singing, focused on the prayers, and free of any other responsibility. Meanwhile, many of the people who were inside and focusing on their prayers, were most likely asking God to help find them a partner and/or bring a child into this world!

Sometimes it takes that flash of insight, that glaring juxtaposition, to appreciate where you are in life.

I lingered in the hallway for the stirring melody of Unetane Tokef, and then walked my baby home and put her down in her cot to sleep.

I recognized my place. My new role. And I embraced it.


About the Author
Sari Nossbaum completed a BA in philosophy at Yeshiva University, and is still pondering what to study next. Meanwhile, she spearheads the marketing efforts of a medical software company, and finds herself randomly blurting out lines from certain Dr Seuss books that she’s read to her baby girl a few too many times.