I’ve been having a hard time getting this blog post out. Last night I wrote a long story about Ben’s first full week of homeschooling classes but it didn’t feel right. Then I wrote something short about 9/11 but that seemed somehow contrived. I’m feeling a bit ambiguous about my internet writing since I wrote a piece for the HuffPost last week that received a mostly positive response, but a lot of criticism in a message board on Facebook where I posted it. I expected there to be a negative response from supporters of Attachment Parenting because I felt that I was being critical of it in the post. I didn’t expect the word “ignoring” to cause followers of the parenting method RIE to feel so misrepresented. Forty one comments later, and I felt a bit exhausted by the whole thing. I was really proud of myself because I stayed open to everyone’s ideas, and I responded with gratitude for the feedback. I had posted the link on the message board with a request for people’s thoughts, so I really was thankful to everyone for taking the time to read and respond.
It was interesting to see my writing from a different perspective and it was difficult to feel a bit misunderstood. I was really honest with everyone about where I was coming from and that I heard where they were coming from. Several people chimed in just to let me know that they appreciated how gracious I was in response to the comments, which really meant a lot to me. Some people reached out to be supportive, to say that they understood what I meant or that they had experienced a similar transition. I made a commitment to myself to stay open to the opinions and use the feedback to inform future writing, without letting it send me into a spiral of self criticism and judgment. For me this is a very difficult line to walk, so I felt pretty wrung out by the several days of back and forth on the message board. I also felt like I was generally falling down the rabbit hole of internet message boards a bit, and tried to remind myself that it’s just one private message board on Facebook, and here right in front of me are my family and friends who really matter in real time. This whole putting myself out there on the internet thing is not always easy and requires perspective and periodic evaluation of why and how I want to do it. Thankfully, as Yom Kippur’s arrival reminds me, we can always start over and do things a little or a lot differently. Change is always an option.
Today I spent the morning in super fit and fancy Miami Beach, watching the shiny luxury cars roll by. Then I spent most of the afternoon driving through endless identical ghetto suburban wastelands of wide boulevards and squat houses with high fences which are so uniquely Florida. I finally got out of the car in the early evening to sit on the beach with my husband, belatedly marking our anniversary which was a few weeks ago. I watched the sandpipers scurry up and down the edge of the waves and cormorants dive into the shallow water for fish. I had seen a fire at the Jersey shore on the news in a cafe and felt sad and somehow felled by the past few days. I usually feel this way leading up to Yom Kippur, sort of heavy, dreading the day, yet looking forward to the catharsis.
Each year I really do find myself evaluating where I stand, with myself, with my family, with the world, with G-d or God or Hashem, or whatever you like to call it. Mo and I sat watching the clouds gather and talked about our hope to find a balance between self acceptance and forgiveness, and challenging ourselves to keep growing and becoming better. I tend to focus on always looking for the next thing to work on, and sometimes skip over the important part of looking at how far I’ve come. The beautiful thing about taking the step back to see where we’ve come from, is that from there, we can also see where we want to go. So, that’s what I bless us all with on Yom Kippur, or plain old Friday and Saturday, or any day: the focus and strength to grow and change however we need to, and the space to see how far we’ve come and where we hope to go.