Last week I wrote The Sweetest Blog I’ve Ever Written when it was the Jewish New Year. (If you missed it, here it is: /blog/the-sweetest-blog-ive-ever-written). This period now is a sensitive time if you a Jew. It is the time between Rosh Hashannah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement where we fast for 25 hours). Let me be straight with you, I am no lover of fasting whatsoever. I do it, because I am told to and to be honest I would feel guilty not fasting when it is really just one day a year. It is a holy day and I appreciate that sanctity. And yes, it comes back to tradition again.
I try to look at it as a bit of spiritual cleanse, like hitting the reset button. I suppose some people do those juice cleanses for the same reason. They have a physical cleanse where they attempt to get rid of all toxins in the body, Yom Kippur is this day for me, where I try to rid myself of all emotional toxicity in my life.
One of the most important aspects to this cleanse is about saying sorry to those that we have hurt throughout the year. In synagogue, we stand before God and beat our chest and apologise to Him for all we have done. Luckily we are given a prayer book and told what to say because I guess I wouldn’t know where to start. This part is actually pretty easy because its all prescriptive and written out for us. (Except for when you have children tugging at you asking for snacks every 2 minutes!).. The hard part is actually before that, where we have to say sorry to people that we have hurt throughout the year. No one give us the words for that unfortunately.
After I apologised to my one friend that I had hurt I wondered who else I needed to say sorry to. Who had I hurt throughout the year? I walked along Bondi Beach and contemplated all my various friendships, thought about where I stood in our relationships, things I may have said that may have hurt them, actions I did that may have offended them and other than a few small things here and there, I didn’t feel like I had transgressed too terribly. But surely I am not such an angel? How could I think that I was so pure?
It then hit me really hard and I was actually shocked that it didn’t come to mind earlier. I realised the people that needed to hear my apologies most were my children. Whilst I constantly strive to be a really good mother, I know there are times that I have shouted when I really shouldn’t have. When MY frustrations were taken out on my children when really they didn’t do anything. Or times I may have hurt them because I didn’t listen to their story because I didn’t feel it was that important, but in hindsight it probably was to them. And what about all the times that I was short with them. Or any time I rolled my eyes or let out a huff and a puff. I may have even mumbled a swear word under my breath.
I heard a rabbi once say that one of the main differences between children and adults is that children forgive whilst adults hold grudges. How true is that! Imagine if we shouted at a friend like we do at our children. Imagine if you ignored a colleague like we sometimes do to our kids when they are getting on our last nerves. Imagine if you told your friend you just couldn’t listen to their nonsense anymore. How offended would you be? How hurt and self-conscious would they feel! But we as mothers can say and do these things to a child and whilst they may be upset for a minute, they quickly get over it and are back to loving you just minutes later. Maybe that’s why we feel we can get away with it. But is that what we want to be doing? Getting away with it…?
I thought about this this morning actually. I had one of those really disjointed mornings. I’m sure all you mothers know exactly what I am talking about. You know those mornings that just don’t keep to the flow that you wanted them to? That was my exact morning today. It was probably my fault really, I hadn’t made the lunches the night before like I normally do and I didn’t shower before the kids woke up either so everything was just manic. I was scrambling to get the girls breakfasted and then dressed, in turn one child broke down because SHE wanted to put her shoes on not me who was shoving them on quickly. Two minutes later my other daughter was screaming because I hadn’t heard her correctly, she wanted an Anna braid not an Elsa braid! One by one everything went wrong so when I eventually dropped my kids off at their kindergartens I was exhausted and overcome with mother guilt. How badly I wanted a do-over. What was particularly amazing to me though is they still wanted to do an activity with me, they still hugged me so tight to say goodbye and Rafaella even cried when I left… I couldn’t believe that they could love me so much when I was such a crazy tyrant all morning! But this is it… Children are forgiving and so full of love. Lesson completely learnt on my behalf.
So what do I pray for on this holy day of atonement? I wish that we all can learn from our children, that whatever grudges we are holding on to can be let go, that we can forgive as quickly as they can and that all toxins can leave our body and stay away.