My mother, at 60 (and proud), had her bat mitzvah this past weekend. On its own it's an incredible feat. Jewish adolescents are familiar with the work it takes to have a bat/bar mitzvah--and they often struggle to find the time, motivation, or skills to study, practice and perform their ceremony successfully. My mother spent 16 months learning Hebrew, studying Torah and observing Shabbat at her synagogue. And this weekend she lead the Torah service and read from the Torah, for the first time as a woman, flawlessly.
My awe has less to do with Judaism or reading from the Torah. And has EVERYTHING to do with finding and living your truth. Discovering joy. Exploring interests. Honoring commitments. Challenging self doubts. Cultivating happiness. And raising each other up, one accomplishment at a time.
I feel inspired by my mother, all the time really, but now more than ever. I often rsvp last minute to kids birthday parties because I feel I can't commit to a plan so far in advance. Or I decide to forgo an opportunity to learn a new skill because of the time and effort it will take to complete successfully. I (happily) glide through my life just doing exactly what I need for right now and still, feel overworked, exhausted and tapped out by the end of the week.
Like all of us with overflowing lives, my mother is a private practice therapist with a f u l l workload, volunteers her spare time at her synagogue, and has a thriving social life (dare I say more vibrant than mine) and CHOSE to be bat mitzvahed. And never complained about the added responsibility. Oy! Can you relate??
In a time when I have regular fears about who the public role models are for my kids and where the positive influences are coming from outside my home, I am grateful and humbled by the thought that my son and daughter witnessed my mother work hard for something and complete it with such grace.
Women are powerful and strong. Women have babies and grow them for months and months and then work tirelessly to birth them- and then raise them. Women work and work and try and try and study and build and create and clean and tinker and stretch and suture and cook and remind and defend and patrol and save and study. And when we witness another woman reaching and grabbing hold of her success, we know she brings us all up with her.
We were all raised up this weekend when my mother was called to the bima. We were all called to honor our responsibilities and challenge our hesitations. I know my sacred work as your doula has been influenced by my mother. And your spirit and force as a pregnant woman and mother have been charged by the devoted women before you. I send my gratitude to those women that came before us and the women who continue to lift us up.
The rabbi blessed my mother towards the end of the ceremony and said, "May you go from strength to strength." I warmly send that out to you all, as you explore, study, grow, and continue to raise each other up.