Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just Getting Things Done

Heather Ganitsky is a mom of two and participated in Parenting Through a Jewish Lens at Mayyim Hayyim in Newton.

Before I became a mom, I was a middle school math teacher. Every weekend, I spent time working and reworking my lesson plans to make sure my students would be able to understand the material. On week nights, I graded quizzes and tests to see how I was doing as a teacher in helping them comprehend the difficult concepts. Sometimes, I had to shift my plans for the following day if we did more or less than I expected.

However, when I became a wife and then a mom, I switched from a mode of reflecting to a mode of just getting things done. I spent little to no time thinking about what I was going to do or how things went after I did them.  I just did what I thought best at the time.  I have always loved staying home with my kids and take my job very seriously.  But until Parenting Through a Jewish Lens I rarely reflected on my parenting choices.

When my sister-in-law mentioned the program I realized it was what I needed to help me become more conscious of my parenting. My husband was not able to take the class but every Tuesday night he got a recount of the 90 minutes I had spent that morning thinking about parenting—raising questions, listening to others' thoughtful comments, and reading a range of Jewish texts.

When our instructor spoke with us about rituals, I knew this was something I wanted to try. I connected with the ritual of singing the sh'ma at bedtime. Now, every night when my husband and I put our kids to bed, we sing the sh'ma to them. If ever we forget, our 3-year-old son reminds us. When we first starting doing this, it was just my husband or me singing; after hearing it many times, our son often sings along. He also asks us to put our hand on his head and rub down to his eyes. He has helped make this moment a special and significant one for all of us.  It is such a calm and peaceful way to end the day and just recently when we were away and he was in a different bed, in a different state, my son and I sung the sh'ma quietly before he drifted off to sleep. We also sing to my daughter; she in only 8-months-old so hasn't responded yet to this ritual, but I am very interested to see how she embraces it as she grows.

I never would have thought to sing the sh'ma at night had it not been for this course and its focus on ritual seeking. Creating meaningful rituals for my family is more important to me than I had realized. This class has allowed me to slow down, take a step back from this very intense job of being a mom, and reflect on what I have been and am doing.  It has encouraged me to “rework my plans” as needed.

Thanks especially to my instructor, Judy Elkin, and the other women in the Parenting Through a Jewish Lens class at Mayyim Hayyim who came every week with insight, wisdom, and humor.

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