Sunday, April 06, 2008

Thoughts on a bar mitzvah

Dear D and B,

I was thinking a bit this morning about our trip to the Midwest as we will be heading out your way at the end of the week to attend J's Bar Mitzvah. I truly can't believe he is about to turn 13. I remember the day that you called me, D, from the road (you were driving to Ann Arbor) to say that the pregnancy test confirmed your feeling that you were pregnant, and here you were, moving to a new place and suddenly you were about to become parents, too! And I remember flying out to attend J's bris, and how wondrous and amazing it seemed that a friend of mine had a baby. And now time has folded in two like a piece of paper, and somehow he is 13.

I was thinking today that raising a child to the age of bar mitzvah is more about the sheer perseverance of the parents than anything that the newly-minted teenager has accomplished. Yes, it's about years of schooling, learning to read Hebrew and how to sing prayers, attending services. Yes, it's about learning to read Torah and Haftarah, preparing a speech, becoming comfortable leading the service from the bimah. Those are worthy accomplishments. But from my perspective -- and I suspect yours -- it's much more about making it through all those sleepless nights, months of potty training, the happiness/sadness of the first day of school, the tears of not fitting in, the joy of learning to read, day upon day of getting up and eating breakfast and do you have your lunch? and put on your coat and have a good day. And someone they survive, and we survive, and suddenly they are 13. And we are a bit older, too. But just a bit.

So I guess I just wanted to say: congratulations on bringing him this far. I know he has been, at times, a challenging kid to raise, but it seems that he is definitely becoming the person -- dare I say it, the man -- who he will become, and we will all be proud of him this weekend, but I also wanted to say: I'm proud of you both for raising him to this day.

With much love,


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