Bar mitzvah anniversary brings back memories

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since Jack’s bar mitzvah, and my son is one year closer to his driver’s permit.

Since his passage into adulthood, I seem to have more time on my hands. No more countless hours spent on rehearsing speeches and aliyahs, playing musical chairs with the seating chart, driving to tutor sessions, and making life or death decisions, such as whether to serve chicken versus sirloin kabobs at the kiddish luncheon.

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No longer are my days filled with digging out baby pictures for the musical slide show, editing typos in the bar mitzvah program, shopping for dress shoes, designing table centerpieces, picking out party favors, and testing my willpower to not sneak a piece of homemade strudel in the freezer.

To be honest, I don’t miss any of that, well, maybe the strudel. What I miss the most is listening to Jack eloquently chant teffilah with his bedroom door closed when he doesn’t know I’m standing there.

To this day, I get goose bumps when I hear the gentle melody of the Avot v’imahot and the Hebrew names of our ancestors…”Ehlohei Abraham, ehlohei Yitzchak, veilohei Yaakov, Ehlohei Sarah, ehlohei Rivkah, ehlohei Leiah, veilohei Racheil…”

When Jack sings these prayers, he unites his soul with Jews everywhere in the world.

Now I get it.

To help preserve the memories of Jack’s bar mitzvah, I’ve saved memorabilia, from a stack of “Mazel Tov” cards to assorted colored yarmulkes monogrammed with the names of his friends, in a big plastic storage box that I keep in my closet.

I realize that Jack might not care what’s inside the box right now, but maybe one day when he has a son or daughter of his own he’ll treasure the blue binder with Cantor Seth Warner’s scribbled notes in the margin that say, “Jack-Go sit down! You were awesome!”

Jack also might have a good laugh when he sees the silly photo of him and his friends, who are eating melted Ted Drewes frozen custard in front of a stretch limousine.

Most importantly, when he digs through the plastic container, he’ll rediscover many special things that will serve him throughout his life, including his very own tallit and yarmulke that his Aunt Cher needle-pointed with a swirling design of blue, black, gold, and silver threads.

Even the tiny box of “pocket blessings” hidden inside a red pouch may help guide him or give him the inspiration he needs for that moment in time.

As our family approaches the bimah on the one-year anniversary of Jack’s bar mitzvah, I can’t help but get a tear in my eye.

Maybe it’s because my skirt that I wore from last year is now two sizes too small and pinches my waistline. Or maybe because I’m filled with pride again as Jack stands in front of the congregation and reads with confidence his Torah portion, Leviticus 9:22-24; 10:1-7.

I feel blessed. And I feel nervous. Sari’s bat mitzvah is scheduled for Thanksgiving 2011. I better buy another box.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Currently, she is looking forward to enjoying a bagel again. Visit her website at www.mishegasofmotherhood.com.