by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
A bit of web browsing ran me into an article that started like this…
Recently, a listicle started proliferating . It was titled “31 Things No One Told You About Being a Parent,” and it informed me that becoming a parent means gaining weight, living in filth, and never having time to read the news.
The listicle’s title was wrong, however. Thanks to the Internet, everyone tells me these things about being a parent, all the time. My Facebook feed is an endless stream of blog posts and status updates depicting the messy, tedious, nightmarishly life-destroying aspects of parenting. I’ve gawked at “15 Unbelievable Messes Made by Kids,” “All the Birth Control You’ve Ever Needed in Six Pictures of Ponytails” and this uterus-shriveling poston how “You will not get anything done when you are home with a baby.” There’s this one on how you’ll give up on your values, your body, your style, and your hygiene after you have kids. There’s that British comedian’s stand-up routine, which has been viewed more than 4,700,000 times on YouTube, about how even leaving the house is a miserable odyssey of screaming and fighting. Ha ... ha?
For overwhelmed parents, I imagine the relentless stream of realtalk is comforting. As a possible future parent, it’s utterly terrifying.
The author is absolutely correct, it’s a favorite parental activity to kvetch about the children. In response here’s my anti-kvetch, 10 Great Things about Being a Jewish Dad…
1. That incredible feeling as all your children crowd under your tallis during Birkas Kohanim. This has gotten humorous recently as one of my son’s is a head taller than me and still crowding under my tallis. (During the blessing of the Kohanim, which is only given during holidays but is given every morning prayer service in Israel, it is customary to not see the kohanim as the blessing is coming from G-d – so the men throw their tallis (prayer shawls) over their heads and have their children join them underneath.)
2. That proud feeling (yiddeshe nachas) when you give your son a synagogue ritual task, see him grab hold of it and execute it well as a Jewish man. This past Shabbos our rabbi was out of town, running the synagogue fell to me. I was running a bit late to leave the house, so I sent my son ahead to open up and start services… and he did.
3. Kvelling as your children argue points of the parsha (Torah reading of the week) or a halacha at the Shabbos table. Extra points when they begin grabbing different seforim off the bookshelves to reinforce their points.
4. Watching, after you mention that their mother isn’t feeling well, all your daughters run into the kitchen and prepare a full 3 course Shabbos meal in an hour.
5. Having your child argue that something you’ve prohibited – because it’s not allowed according to Jewish law - is permitted by Jewish law…and realizing they’re right!
6. When your daughter comes up and asks “Are we raising money for the poor for Purim yet? There’s so many people we’ve got to help! Can I make the video this year?”, and she’s only 12! (She’s working on the video now!)
7. When you see your child come home from the stores, and you see they bought sifrei kodesh (holy religious books) with their own money! And ones you haven’t learned!
8. When you try to send your son to bed and he responds, “I can’t until I’ve finished this Gemora.”
9. When your daughters hug you, tickle you, and try to sneak up and braid your beard.
10. Helping your sons put on tefillin for the first time.
We’ve enjoyed holy sites together, jumped in the Kinneret and the Mediterranean, and had bar and bat mitzvah celebrations that we both enjoyed. Sure children take an immense amount of effort and resources. But so does anything worth while.
Perhaps that’s the key… children help you focus on things that are truly important.