By Amy Forman
(Kveller via JTA) — Just three days after my son’s bar mitzvah, it felt like it had been a lifetime. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat.
After the service — it was beautiful, natch — my sister-in-law literally pulled me away from a conversation I was having to sit at the table and eat.
As I sat there with my family, I said, “One down, two to go.”
Not two more kids; two more weekend events.
I have been planning to write this article for quite some time. These were the last words that I said to myself at night, and the first that popped into my head in the morning: “The party’s (almost) over. Now what?”
I’m not going to write about all the preparation on my son’s part that went into the day. Nor am I going to write about how proud I am of him or how happy I am that my husband and I are still married — that was not a given toward the frantic end of the bar mitzvah planning.
No, this story isn’t about them. It’s about me.
A few months ago, when talking to a friend, I said, “After the bar mitzvah, I will never have to plan another event.”
And it’s true. I have one child. For the past 13 years – 14 really – I have dedicated my life to him. School, parties, lunches and snacks.
And I have enjoyed every second of it. Most seconds, anyway.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit there was, and is, something very appealing about the end of the preparation. Planning something like this doesn’t come easy to me, and it’s been in the back of my mind since the day he was born.
So now we have reached the other side. No Sunday school. No trope tutoring. No extra classes with the rabbi. Literally hours of my life back each week.
I don’t think of myself as a helicopter parent. I don’t think of myself as a smothering Jewish mother. Yet I am having a hard time finding my way back to an identity that is all mine, one that doesn’t involve being a mother or a wife, but just being me.
It’s hard to even remember what my interests were before my son was born. I will find them now that I have the time. I will even pursue some new ones. I certainly will have more time to write.
I cannot deny that the idea of pulling back, of giving my son more space to grow on his own, is painful. But on the other hand, after all, it is just another step in the parenting process — and many of those steps have been as painful as they are lovely.
So I am excited to embark on this new path of our journey together. I’ll still be his mom, but we’ll be walking side by side more often. We’ll have new things to talk about as I rediscover my own interests.
What do I mean the party’s over? Maybe, for me, a new one has just begun.
(Amy Forman is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.)
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