I can tell how anxious I am about something by the amount of ice cream I start to consume. Sure, it was hot in the deserts of Masada and the Dead Sea, so of course, a human needs a little ice cream! But then there’s, “oh my gosh I’m about to leave the bubble of this experience and be thrown headfirst into the jaws of reality!” Which, of course, necessitates at least 4 or 5 ice cream cones in two days. Don’t judge me.
If you’ve ever been to summer camp, you’ll understand what all the anxiety is about. It’s the combination of wanting desperately to go home, but also want to stay. It’s wondering how the new relationships (with other moms as well as with myself) will transfer into old routines. It’s the uncertainty of how re-entry is going to go after such a strong experience, combined with the need to completely over-share and freak my loved-ones out. Unintentionally, but almost certainly. (Loved ones, be patient with the mother who is returning home, it’s in her nature to want to include you in everything, even if it sounds like she’s speaking Swahili.) Right now, an hour and a half from landing in LA, the answer is still ice cream. Well chocolate, actually, but you get the idea.
The thing is, the changes us moms might adopt aren’t (and shouldn’t) show up leaving our family thinking, “what happened to mommy?!” No no. It’s not like that. We hope what our loved ones will notice is, perhaps, less yelling. More patience. A better understanding of our children. Less frustration. More intention on building a community for our family. More intention in creating and keeping traditions that fit our family’s personality.
Before I left on the Momentum trip, whenever I would ask a past participant to describe the experience, the women who came before me would only say “you can’t put it into words, you just have to experience it,” which frustrated the heck out of me and made me think I was about to drink some serious Kool-aid. But now that it’s over, I can understand a person’s challenge in putting words to such a huge shift in self-awareness and mindset. It’s a difficult thing to describe, but I hope through the words of my writing over the past few days, I’ve been able to capture it, just a little, for those who’s words get stuck.
Was this experience life changing? Yes. Was it person-changing? Not at all. Every single mommy came in with a deep, indescribable love of our children and our families, and that hasn’t changed. What the Momentum experience has done is held a magnifying glass over that feeling, intensifying it so that we can stay focused on the inner workings of our family, instead of the dishes in the sink or wet towels on the carpet. Because in four generations, kids will still be making messes. But what will their values be? Will they have a strong Jewish identity? Will they know who they’re named after? What traditions will they keep? These outcomes depend on our behaviors today. Our values today. Our traditions today. So that our children will have a strong foundation to pass on to their children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
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