Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem
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My #ParentingFail on Erev Yom Kippur

knows she screwed up this year with her kids, but she's paying attention now

On the way to school today, over rocky, uneven ground, my son is lagging behind my daughter and me.

“Come on, let’s go” I yell over my shoulder — my bag is heavy, my shoulder hurts, I am tired, and all I want to do is be done with the damn walk past the eucalyptus trees, past the pretty gardens, past the little gate and onto the kibbutz where I could hug and kiss my kids goodbye on autopilot and get the hell out of there.

“Wait mama! Wait!”

“Dude, we don’t have time.” (Which is bullshit. We really have plenty of time. But am tired. I am pissed off. want a break. I don’t have time.)

(For the record, It isn’t always like this — some days, we pretend to be like the Von Trapp family, trekking over the alps. Some days, we sing and dance all the way from our little house to school. Some days, we get it right.)

But then there are days like these:

Days like these when the neighbor’s amorous donkey wakes me up with his braying when it’s still dark, and an asshole mosquito is all like “catch me if you can, suckah” while I’m trying to go back to sleep, but by the time I smash him dead against the wall it’s time to get up, but  then the kids don’t want to wake up, and when they do, it’s a  WWF-style wrestling match to get them  into clean underwear, shorts, and t-shirts, and their too-tight sandals pinch too-pudgy feet that have somehow (overnight it seems) grown too big, and, well, crap, I don’t have enough in the bank to buy new ones at least ‘til next paycheck which is 8 days away, and my daughter is scratching her head which means the lice are back, and there are no clean pairs of Spiderman underwear to take to preschool for my son and apparently “Batman doesn’t understand me when I talk to him the way Spiderman does!!!” and the milk tastes funny, and the Cheerios were left open so they’re stale, and we’re out of toilet paper, and “Mama! It’s Number 2!!!” and the kids can’t find that one special doll hidden in the mass graveyard of stuffed animals on the floor, and then it’s an epic fight because they want the same doll, because, of course.

Yeah, it’s a long day. And it isn’t even 8:00 am.

So, I want  my coffee and I want it five minutes ago, but we’re still halfway between home and school, and my son is taking his sweet-ass time.

“Seriously, dude, we gotta go.”

“Mama, wait!”

I don’t even bother to turn around and look.

“Come on!”

I hear the sound of little feet in Spiderman sneakers scraping  over stones.



“Here!” and I look down at my little boy.  “Here, Mama, this is for you.” My sweet boy,  is holding a bouquet of hand-picked weeds and wildflowers that he had been gathering for me on our way to school while he was “lagging behind.”

I drop to my knees and hug him tight and time stops by those euclayptus trees.

All this on Erev Yom Kippur,  when we stand to face ourselves in the light of God, and here in the light of the early morning sun streaming through the woods around us, I see it clearly: I have transgressed against my child.

I didn’t look.

I didn’t listen.

And this is just one of many moments like these when I’m too busy to pay attention, moments like these that chip away at the foundation of trust I am building with my children.

During these Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur, our soul is weighed and judged — “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life,” we say to one another before parting, during these High Holy  Days, these most sacred times.

And here’s my son, bright eyed and beaming — even when I had turned to face him with a scowl.  And he doesn’t judge me, although he should because I screwed up. I really screwed up. But he gave me flowers instead.

I”m sorry, sweet boy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I was so busy trying to get “somewhere” that I didn’t realize where I already was: Right here, in the middle of a beautiful morning, with you and your sister,  surrounded by wildflowers.


About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.
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