Friday, December 20, 2013

Milestone Moments by Rabbi Julie Zupan

I was stunned when each of my children, on separate pediatrician’s visits, ran from the doctor’s office without even glancing at the sticker bucket. On many, many previous visits, choosing the perfect sticker had been a 20 minute ordeal. Suddenly it seemed, the sticker stage was over.  

One of my favorite questions to ask groups of parents is to share a recent family milestone. My sticker bucket story is the story I love to tell. While I had anticipated many of our children’s milestones – the first step, the move from crib to the big-boy bed, the first day of kindergarten, the first drop-off playdate…there are even more that I didn’t anticipate. These are milestone moments that surprised me: when my kids gave up on the sticker bucket; when they first rode their bikes to the library without me; when they joyfully jumped off the diving board, without drama, again and again; when our cat no longer fled but let himself be petted by their small hands; when they started to wake for school by the sound of the alarm clock.

In Parenting Through a Jewish Lens, we reflected on the life course we anticipate for each of our children. We also reflected on what a Jewish life course would include. This winter, my husband and I will take our children to Israel for the first time. This is a moment I have thought a lot about; I’ve been anticipating this one for years. I want them to love Israel the way I do, to feel a connection to the people and the place.  

The traditional Jewish prayer, shehechiyanu,* acknowledges the passage of time and expresses gratitude that we are alive to experience each new season and new stage. Customarily, this particular blessing is said at the start of each Jewish holiday, when tasting fruit for the first time in its season (like strawberries in the summer), for wearing new shoes or clothing. I try to remember to say a blessing as I enter each new stage of parenting; often I enter those stages without even realizing it.

What’s the family milestone you’ve experienced most recently?  What is the blessing that you would like to say? 

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