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Random MOMents of Grace

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RandomMOMentsofGrace1-258x400From the opening pages of the Introduction, in which Moyer admits that she fails at mindfulness “about as often” as she succeeds, I am hooked. Already an avid follower of Moyer’s popular blog, I devour her book, reading it one rainy, Sabbath afternoon when my children are entertaining one another somewhere else in our unusually quiet house. I get lost in her stories of seeking a spiritual life amid the clutter and noise of parenthood. I am struck by the unlikely commonality of our experience of motherhood. We live 3,000 miles apart; Moyer is Catholic and I am Jewish; she is the mother of two young boys; I have two teenaged daughters and an eleven year old son; we have never met. Yet her essays are like the reassurances of a close friend.

Despite our different religious traditions, our prayer lives are quite similar. In the chapter titled “Talking to God,” Moyer describes her process of reestablishing a routine of daily prayer and discovering that sitting at her prayer desk allows her time to reflect: “Those quiet sessions help me recognize the grace that exists in all the frantic experiences of my life as a mom, gently training me to notice them more often, sometimes even when they’re happening. Those moments at the desk help me pay more attention to the Spirit that is always there, just waiting for me to sit down and listen.” Her language of faith is Catholic, but if I change the words “grace” and “Spirit” to Hebrew, I could be reading about my own life. When my children were younger, I also struggled to reassert the concentration and focus I had previously experienced while praying. Jewish tradition prescribes that we pray three times daily, preferably with a community or quorum of ten. Since women—especially mothers of young children—have competing commitments, we are exempt from this obligation. Now, if I achieve moments of quiet and solitude in prayer, my thoughts inevitably turn to thanking God for the daily joys I experience with my children.

Another chapter that is particularly moving is “Comfort Zones,” which includes Moyer’s account of the tests of motherhood and her “humbling realization” that she is not as patient as she believed herself to be before becoming a parent. She goes on to teach about biblical figures she admired as a child, such as Moses, Mary and Jesus, who “when confronted with new and challenging situations, found depths inside themselves that they did not know were there.” In writing about her recognition that she possesses a well-spring of love and strength, coupled with her newfound appreciation of these qualities in her biblical heroes, Moyer reveals both her intellect and her compassion.

“The Good and the Bad” may be my favorite chapter, because Moyer so deftly highlights the stark similarities between the toddler and teenage years. Moyer’s disorientation at being hugged by her toddler one moment and kicked by him the next is transformed into evidence that we must accept “that life will hold both the good and the bad, sometimes all at once.” Reading this chapter, I am reminded of the ancient, rabbinic dictum, “One is obligated to bless for the bad just as he would bless for the good…whatever measure God metes out to you, thank Him exceedingly.” (Mishnah Berakhot 9:5) Her apt summation of motherhood and life in general resonates for me.

BlogTour_RandomMoments_560I could offer countless examples, but I don’t want to spoil your experience of reading the book. Not your typical “Mommy Blogger,” Moyer qualifies as a true spiritual writer. She understands her role of Mommy within the context of her religious identity, and she communicates her depth of emotion and breadth of knowledge in every sentence.

Long after you finish reading her book, you will continue to feel uplifted by her words.

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It’s Over

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tooth fairy 2I concede that there is something wrong with me. I stare at the screen through a blur of tears as I type this report:

Tooth Fairy has left the building.

Tooth Fairy was already semi-retired, her true identity discovered long ago by my savvy third child.  Perhaps his 18 year old sister planted seeds of suspicion in his mind. She knew from the first time she placed a tooth under her pillow, but played along, gamely writing notes to Tooth Fairy for years. Often Tooth Fairy didn’t make it to our house before morning, and she was forced to leave an apology note and to pay a late fee.

I don’t know why I’m getting all choked up about the fact that my son has just lost his last baby tooth, a tenacious molar that’s been hanging around for months of wiggling.

I am simply unprepared for the sense of loss I feel.

* * * * * * *

He is despondent during dinner, complaining that everything tastes metallic. For dessert, I warm some water in the tea kettle and stir in a heaping teaspoon of salt.

His 15 year old sister cheers him on: “Gargle!”

“Just be sure to swish it all around,” I tell him.

Later, when he is brushing his teeth before bed, I hear a soft plink of tooth enamel on Formica.

“It’s out!” He sounds like he is underwater. Then he spits unceremoniously into the sink and enunciates clearly, “Slip of the toothbrush.”

“I’m so happy for you. It wasn’t even my tooth and I couldn’t wait,” I say, giddy with relief.  The loose tooth stage of childhood presented my greatest challenge as a parent for nearly a decade of my life. I am ready to face a new era of motherhood.

My reverie is interrupted by the opening gambit of an 11 year old litigator:

“I’m not putting this under my pillow,” he announces in a world-weary tone. “Either give me the money up front or forget it. It’s over.”

I can’t help but laugh as I reach for my wallet.  But when he asks me if he should throw the tooth away, I wrap it carefully in a tissue. Then I grab another to wipe my eyes.

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Tiferet: Literature, Art & the Creative Spirit

tiferet logo 2Thanks to the encouragement of Tiferet’s editors and community of writers, I’ve taken risks with my writing—submitting poetry to their site and entering their annual writing contest. Tiferet Talk, featuring interviews with authors, has also been a wellspring of inspiration.

Here are links to my most recent posts at Tiferet:

Gratitude Alarm (November 29, 2013) “Boing!” That’s so loud. “Boing!” Even louder the second time, I think. “Boing!” A short pause after the third time, and then three more in quick succession. This is my “take your medicine” alarm, and there’s no ignoring… Read more →

Teamwork (October 24, 2013) There is a story in our family repertoire about our younger daughter, who told her preschool teacher about our family’s preparation for Sabbath dinners: “My dad is the cook and my mom is the baker. They have good teamwork.” In addition to being adorable, our budding feminist was sharing one of the values that we had tried to instill in all three children: the need for equality within marriage. We have a pretty egalitarian partnership, and…Read more →

Anxiety Closet (September 9, 2013) I decide to address the problem of my home office when the piles of paper begin spilling off the desk and onto the floor. It’s really difficult to be productive when “stuff” takes over your work space because… Read more →

Where Creativity Resides (July 29, 2013)

The Sound of Silence (June 2, 2013)

NOLA: Snapshot of a City (April 14, 2013)

Spiritual Spring Cleaning (March 19, 2013)

A Generous Heart (February 22, 2013)

Standing Still (January 27, 2013)

A Season to Remember (January 3, 2013)

Crossing Water (December 8, 2012)

A Prayer for Platelets (November 6, 2012)

Hiding in the Basement (October 22, 2012)

Airport Art (September 30, 2012)

How I Met My Brother (August 19, 2012)

Home (July 28, 2012)

Don’t Look Back (June 20, 2012)

What Tevye Knew (May 27, 2012)

Music under New York (May 2, 2012)

 Creating Spaciousness (April 6, 2012)

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