I’m not usually one to gain a lot from prayer. Really. Liturgy was a rote experience when I was a young Hebrew school girl, and I probably haven’t moved beyond that. But there is one prayer that has become a meaningful part of my life, probably the only one that has, except for Shabbat kiddush.
That would be the shehechiyanu (Blessed are you, Source of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.) I love this. The reason I don’t eat certain foods all year round is so, when that first peach or first ear of corn comes into the house and I taste it, I can say Shehechiyanu. Ask my kids – we recited this moment of gratitude for all sorts of things: food coming into season, first day of school, family around the table for another Seder or Thanskgiving, opening night, you name it. We say shehechiyanu.
I have another shehechiyanu moment coming up. We are moving our last child into a dorm room, transferring to a new college for his last couple of years of college. The internet is full of pictures and posts of people dropping their kids off at school for the first time, and so many of the moms are posting how difficult it is, how many tears they’re shedding, how they wish their kids were babies again.
I don’t mean to sound callous, but not me. Now, I admit when we dropped the first one off, there was an awkward moment. We expected her to walk us downtstairs in the dorm building, but instead she stood at the door to her room and said good bye there. She was making it clear this was her home now, and she was at the threshold of that home. Bye, parents. My husband and I walked downstairs and out the door, into the car, and drove home. No tears. In fact, we chuckled a bit at what just happened, and carried on.
Don’t think I don’t love my kids, I do. A lot. To the moon and back. But I don’t wish for the time when they were little, though I loved that time, too (in between being exhausted) But I love my adult kids. They’re fascinating and interesting and fun to be around…and then they go home. In fact, I did an ELI talk a couple of years ago on this very topic.
These are shehechiyanu moments, and in the frenzy of packing him up next week, I may not have a chance to reflect on it. These moments are supposed to happen. That’s what we raise these children for. As my sister always said, having kids is one long letting go, and that’s a good thing; I have to believe that the letting go means that when they come back, it’s because they want to, and not because the rope is tugging from my end.
I’m excited for our son. And yes, I’ll be happy to see him bring home laundry, and I’m glad he’s going to be right here in town instead of across the country. But the other day I had a nice long talk with one of my daughters, all about work and ideas, and the news, and …..like an adult.
So, no tears next week, at least not for this. I am blessed to be alive, sustained, and brought to that day. Amen.