by Rebitzin Gevura Davis
For as long as I can remember all I wanted was to be a wonderful mom. And then I had kids. Sixteen years ago my vision of an idyllic (or as close to perfect) parent and child situation was smashed, as my first son bulldozed into the world as a colicky impossible to calm baby who grew into a behaviorally challenged free spirited little boy who was constantly embarrassing me in public.
In my mind the world was categorized into two groups: good parents and bad parents. Good parents had children who looked, acted, and learned perfectly. Bad parents had children who were constantly getting calls from the school, and incurred the stares of judgy parents in the park. Despite my best efforts (and desperate attempts) to be in the good parent camp, somehow I found myself hopelessly swimming upstream in tears of exacerbation. To complicate matters, I was dealing with fears of inadequacy that my imperfect childhood had left irreparable scars that would damage the next generation. Oh, and my husband was the Rabbi. So that gave license for my and my children’s scorecard of imperfections to be a matter of public opinion.
Another painful reality was that I wore my parenting as my measure of achievement. I made a calculated decision despite the pressure of being a gifted child and voted “Most Likely to Succeed” to take a professional break to be a “Stay at home mom,” for eight years, which only upped the pressure.
I share all of this to pave the way for normalizing the enormous challenge of parenting. We often suffer from such internal pressure to feel we are being the perfect parent, while failing to celebrate the beautiful reality that by virtue of the fact that we are blessed with children, G-d is letting us know that we are the best perfectly imperfect parents that our children need. Parenting is a great equalizer, because it is one of our most important life’s mission, and brings many of us to our knees with self-doubt in newly uncharted waters. My life changed infinitely for the better when I realized that I was not on this journey alone.
I started enrolling in parenting classes, parenting workshops, reading parenting books and discussing the empowering ideas I was sharing with friends. When I mustered the courage to begin opening up about my struggles, I found that everyone I talked to felt the same way. I didn’t need to feel so alone and isolated in my challenges. Rather I built a village of striving, yearning friends who shared their lives with me and we celebrated each other’s successes and offered the gift of experience while lending a supportive ear and generous heart.
Five kids later, and many struggles since, I can honestly say my parenting journey is a happier, more comfortable place for me where I can thrive in my role. Knowledge and confidence has given me the greatest gift of self-acceptance, and the ability to embrace each new challenge with emotional health and the strength that loving and guiding our little people demands.
For all of these reasons and more, I am so excited to share with you that the leading female television journalist, Sivan Rehav-Meir will be joining us in Philadelphia on March 22nd to discuss all of these issues and more. I was recently able to spend time with her discussing her parenting journey. Consistently voted one of Israel’s most influential people, she is a busy mother of five, wife, and successful professional. She shared with me how humbling it was for her to realize with all of her professional accolades, she was ill equipped to navigate the demands of finding balance in our modern times, where our jobs never end. So she also started reading and learning more about parenting, about balance, about learning to carve out our best path. We are blessed with one precious life, and we want to live it well, building ourselves into our best selves, paving the way for us to embrace our best lives. Join her as she shares with us lessons and wisdom she has learned along the way!!
Rebitzin Gevura Davis is the Director of Engagement for Aish Chaim, an outreach and engagement initiative serving the greater Philadelphia Jewish community. A popular international public speaker and teacher, Davis grew up Jewishly unaffiliated and in college decided to give Judaism another chance. She discovered there was a lot more than dreidels and bagels and dedicate her life to helping share the beauty, depth, and wisdom of Judaism to anyone she meets.