Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are very important times in the yearly calendar, times that even those who aren’t very religiously affiliated go to synagogue. It’s no suprise that a time like this can become confusing for mothers to navigate – how does mothering young children and going to shul fit together?
I can only share my own decision – everyone handles this differently. I believe there’s a time and season for everything, and the expectations we have of ourselves have to change accordingly. For me, that means that as long as I have young children, my way of serving H-shem/G-d can’t be to spend long hours in synagogue. H-shem sent me these children to raise to serve Him, not just on humdrum days of the week but at times that are deeply meaningful. I believe my job is to mother them and to serve H-shem in this role – that no longer means spending uninterrupted hours in shul on holidays. I choose not to enroll my children in the available babysitting at the shul because I don’t feel that’s the right environment for them on such a special day. I can’t say that I would never consider it in the future, and I certainly understand mothers who make a different choice than I do. But until now this has been my feeling, one that doesn’t seem to be widely shared.
Some mothers find time in their busy days to pray at home. I’ve done that and continue to do that, but honestly it’s not usually inspired – probably because it’s usually when everyone is sleeping and I’m already at the end of a long day. If it’s in the middle of a day, I’m sneaking the time during the naptime of the littles, hoping to get in as much as I can before they wake up. What is most important for me is to appreciate whatever I can do and in whatever way, instead of comparing it to how I davened before children. It may be different, but one way isn’t better than the other – the question is what is better for me at this particular time.
I generally go to shul for shofar blowing – I used to go at the regular time but that wasn’t relaxing because there’s the pressure of keeping everyone quiet. Then I started meeting dh at the end of davening and being there for the second blowing. I was blessed for the last couple of years with a neighbor who blew for the women on the block, but he just moved. That was especially wonderful two years ago when I had a week old baby and the walk to shul would have been physically taxing for me.
Wherever you do or don’t daven this Rosh Hashana, I wish all of you a wonderful yom tova and a year filled with happiness, health, meaning, and abundance of all good things. K’sivah v’chasima tova – may you each be written and sealed for the good!