Like so many of you, I’m a working mom trying to juggle it all – my kid, my job and, you know, my life. For the High Holy Days, I was inspired to write a working parents’ version of the Ashamnu, an alphabetic acrostic of our collective transgressions, which is part of the public confession we recite during Yom Kippur.
This year, 5780, I strive to acknowledge my wrongdoings, to do better by my little guy and my family, and to forgive myself and others more:
For the sin of not acknowledging mistakes, and not asking when we need help, and not meaningfully apologizing as much as we should.
For the sin of talking about how busy we are.
For the sin of trying to control everything, even when we know that’s totally impossible and frustrating.
For the sin of being distracted and not giving our children our full attention.
For the sin of having no energy at the end of a long work day to truly connect or play with our kids.
For the sin of forgiving in others what we can’t find a way to forgive in ourselves.
For the sin of giving more attention to our professional work than to our kids.
For the sin of not doing everything we can to help: for not using every extra ounce of energy, every extra penny, every extra waking moment to do what we can for children separated from their families at the border.
For the sin of Instagram: spending too much time on it, and for only showing all that is beautiful and fun instead of the hard, everyday truths.
For the sin of judging other parents and the decisions they make for their kids and families. (I’m still so upset with myself for judging that mom who had her toddler with her at Target at 11 p.m. – more likely she had no other time to run those critical errands, and no one to watch her child.)
For the sin of thinking we know best.
For the sin of lamenting the easier days before we had kids.
For the sin of making excuses.
For the sin of saying “no” so often.
For the sin of overprogramming, overscheduling, and overindulging our children.
For the sin of prescribing our children’s interests by allowing capitalism to dictate what toys and clothes we purchase for them. (Really, why is the doll aisle so pink? And why are dinosaurs a boy thing?)
For the sin of questioning the intentions of others instead of assuming everyone is doing the best they can.
For the sin of resisting when sometimes it’s easier to just say yes. (But also: ¡vive la resistance!)
For the sin of keeping our heads down looking at our screens.
For the sin of too much television and not enough conversation.
For the sin of undermining how hard we work when we obsess over how we can do better.
For the sin of not voting and not vaccinating. (#sorrynotsorry – I have strong opinions that neither of these are OK choices.)
For the sin of wanting more instead of being content with what we have.
For the sin of xenophobia – something that I abhor in others but fear I may practice in small and unknowing ways.
For the sin of yelling.
For the sin of thinking about parenting in terms of zero days (losing) or 100 days (winning) – when we know many days are just going to be a 40 degree day, and that’s OK.
May the gates of repentance be open to us all. G’mar Chatima Tova!
(Shira Zemel is a working mom in Washington, D.C., where she directs youth leadership development at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She and her husband have a 2-year-old son.)