Raizel Liberow, Beis Moshiach
You know the saying that goes ‘I was a professional at parenting until I became a mother’? Nothing tests our patience and our limits like mothering does!
In Chassidus, the intellectual faculties are referred to as ‘parents’ while the emotional attributes are called the ‘offspring’. While our children naturally have big strong feelings, our job as parents is to remain the rational, intellectual ones; calming, guiding, and educating our progeny.
But how to remain calm when all we want to do is shout? Here are some things that I’m trying to work on as we travel down this scenic route together:
Eye to Eye:
One of my kids has a habit of saying “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…” a thousand times when he needs something, which could drive any person a little bit nuts. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I stop what I’m doing and look at him in the eyes when I respond, he feels listened to and then runs off to play.
Children are bubbling with things to share and stories to tell. When we take the time to just look into their eyes, see the emotions they are sharing and just listen; it can prevent small incidents from turning into gigantic tantrums and can give us a window into their lives and souls.
A Change of Scenery:
Often, I feel like I can be a more present mother when we go somewhere out of the house. Something about leaving the mess and the laundry behind and just venturing out into nature; can help me to simply enjoy the kids and have a great time together.
There is something about the simplicity of nature that brings out the purity within us and our children. It reminds me of the story of the simple shepherd whom the Baal Shem Tov and his students observed, spinning cartwheels and throwing up coins as gifts to Hashem as he tended to his flock on the rolling, grassy hills. Stepping out of the ordinary confines of our daily grind and spending time soaking in Hashem’s wonders, can do amazing things for our mood and sanity.
I am who I am:
The weekdays are for accomplishing, creating, building and transforming. Shabbos is for just being – enjoying and reveling in that which we have created. No altering, no fixing, just appreciating that which we have. As parents, our job is to educate: to guide, assist, notice that which needs changing and work on improving it. Yet sometimes, there is a time to just be. Ignore everything that needs changing and just enjoy our children exactly as they are. To just take a deep breath and embrace our children, play with them, have a great time with them – exactly as they are. Share silly jokes, draw pictures together, bake some cookies, read a book – just enjoy their company.
Sleeping well, eating well and staying active are all easier said than done but can have a really big impact on our mood and the way we function. We all love being our best selves and that is so much easier when we are well fed and well slept.
Taking the time to prepare healthy meals for yourself – not just the kid’s cereal and leftover pasta – is time worth spending. Treat yourself to some really fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and take a few minutes to prepare them so they are ready to go when you are in a hurry. Some sourdough bread in the freezer, different cheeses, fresh herbs, healthy snacks – all to tempt you to take those few minutes to prepare yourself something nourishing so that you can then go and nourish your family.
Sometimes in the daily grind, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and lose sight of what the point of all of this is. It’s helpful to recharge ourselves with an inspirational shiur, a chavrusa with a good friend or learning something together with our spouse.
Realizing that the specific Shlichus of our times is to be mekabel pnei Moshiach, we can try to make that a focus as we go about our day caring for our children.
“Wow, Mendel! You shared the cars with your sister! That’s living Moshiach when all the kinderlach will want to share!
“You really wanted cereal but you made sure to finish Brachos first! Your Yetzer Tov is super strong getting ready for when there will be no Yetzer Hara at all!
“I saw that! You were going to say something not nice but then you changed your mind! Like when Moshiach comes, all the not good things will be turned into good things!”
May it happen now!
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