Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Yom Kippur War

 The Yom Kippur war that I am referring to is the one that happens within me.  It is the struggle between the notion that today I should be like an angel AND I should wipe butts, feed hungry, kvetchy children, and become the day’s entertainment (since sticking my kids in front of a movie is out).  Oh, and I should do all this while fasting and nursing! Show me an angel that can do all that.  Maybe the angels should strive more to be like mothers.  We have free will and this is how we choose to use it. 

Somewhere in there I also feel the need to daven.  So, rather then let the battle play out on Yom Kippur when I will inevitably be starving, cranky and not on my game, I have decided to do some pre-war preparation.  Come up with a battle plan.  So here is some of it, and maybe it can help you too.

One of the main battles I face each year is one between my husband and me.  The truth is he never really gets a chance to participate.  The battle is all inside me.  I tell him to go to Shul, daven, be a good Jew on this important day.  And inside I’m thinking, ‘G-d doesn’t need him to pray in Shul. G-d knows what’s in his heart.  I need him to help me out while I try to fast, nurse and care for three kids!  That’s what a good Jew should do.’ And still the words coming out of my mouth are, “Go honey, go to Shul.  It’s what you should do.”  Then I resent him for going.  He never stood a chance. 

This year I am getting outside help for part of the day to help with the kids.  Find someone, anyone who’s not fasting.  An eleven year old girl, a non-Jewish neighbor, a secular sister-in-law.  Anyone. 

Next is the kids.  Have food ready!  Last year when my kids said they were hungry I mumbled something to effect of, “Whaddaya want me to so about it?  I’m hungry too!”  So this year I will be cooking food that is ready to eat and needs no prep from me.  I want to throw it on a plate and walk away from it as fast as possible.  In more detail, I plan to have cold cuts, peanut butter and jellies, and something I make called quinoa pudding.  I’ll post the recipe at the bottom of this page.  Please add your own ideas for easy meals to feed our kids.

Also, I plan to go to the store and buy a few small things that are new so that they will hopefully be entertained for a little while without me. 

The biggest battle is within myself.  I want to be spiritual, holy, like an angel and all that.  And when I was young and davening at Carlebach minyans in small, intimate shuls, I really felt all that.  Now?  Well, now it’s a different story.  So before Yom Kippur begins I am going to work on accepting that.  My life is different now.  And I truly believe that there isn’t anything out there more holy than raising my children. 

Next is to take care of my physical needs.  I will try to pump milk this week so that perhaps my body can take a little break for a feeding or two.  Also, all day Friday I will drink about two liters of coconut water.  I can’t even tell you how much easier this makes the fast.  It is filled with electrolytes that help keep the thirst at bay.

Finally, I plan to set aside one half hour at some point to have a good talk with G-d.  It isn’t a formal Amidah, but in the past I have had some very profound moments doing this.  One year I found that I was holding so much resentment, and I had no clue I had felt that way.  I found that in my heart I needed to forgive my son, a toddler at the time, for coming into my life and changing it so drastically and making it so much harder.  I needed to forgive myself for failing to become the adult I had envisioned myself to be as a child.  Mostly I realized that I needed to forgive G-d for giving me the life I had.  I life I didn’t remember asking for.  The life I wasn’t sure I wanted. 

This year I feel most of the work will be on forgiving myself.  I have failed to live up to my own aspirations and goals.  I am not the mother I would like to be.  I lose my patience all the time.  I get cranky and mean to children who deserve so much more.  I haven’t found creative ways to instill the self-confidence my son so badly needs.  I have failed myself and my family in so many ways. 

And yet Yom Kippur is a day where we dress up like angels.  Because all year round we know that we are only human.  I am only human.  And so this year I hope to forgive myself for this.  And continue to aspire to be the best human, mother, wife, Jew, person, I can be.

An easy and meaningful fast to all.

Quinoa Pudding:

Overcook the quinoa by about 5 min.
Add milk (soy, almond, rice, cow) until it’s creamy.
Add cinnamon and raisins or craisins.
Add agave nectar or honey.
Mix and refrigerate.  It’s great served cold.

1.   My baby giggled for the first time.
2.   I got this out before Yom Kippur.
3.   I got to sleep a little extra this morning.


  1. you are not failing tova, your doing a great job!!!!!

  2. Dude...add toasted nuts (I usually use walnuts, but not during these few days) and blackberries (frozen work just fine). Deeelish! It's one of my faves. Now Tovah dearest, I finally get a recipe out of you and it's one I already have. Talk about silly! Some day we will make that "clam" chowder again and a recipe will be created! The breakfast bread sounds needed also. I love you so much. We will hug again some day. I'm so impressed with you and so proud to call you my friend. xoxox

    I'm sure you can guess who....

  3. My dear, you had me at 'dude'. I await that much needed hug!

  4. Tovah, I cannot tell you how much I resonate with every single word of this entry! But, honestly I only realized most of the ways I felt, this year as I was reflecting on my life and previous Yom Kipurs. I even resonate with the part that I used to feel so deeply connected and angel-like, "And when I was young and davening at Carlebach minyans in small, intimate shuls, I really felt all that." :) I love your advice to make sure I have a half an hour to doven. I love that you had to forgive your son for changing your life. I would probably be scared to admit that, but I think I had to do that at some point too. (I think it was my daughter's second birthday).