In this soul searching season, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve changed my attitude towards parenting when it comes to Adina. For so many years – about 15 – I worked tirelessly to get her every possible therapy, work with her at home on building her skills and for a while I was even teaching her math when I realized the school system was unequipped to do so. I would say a prayer when lighting my Shabbat candles that she be the most she can be.  There was never a question in my mind that I had to do EVERYTHING I could to ‘move her ahead’.

But lately I’ve been wondering how this all affected her. Something her new homeroom teacher said to me in a meeting before school started clarified this even more. She was talking about how the school’s approach is to encourage change and I got a shiver down my spine. I replied that I believed real change comes from within. To the teacher’s credit, she agreed.

It was then that I realized how much my attitude had changed. As Yom Kippur approaches, I spoke to Adina about fasting – she knows everyone around her fasts and for a while after her bat mitzvah I thought I had to encourage her to fast as well. But she wants her drink of water before going to bed and she needs to have lunch the following day. I’ve always gone along with this thinking some day she’ll ‘get it’ and want to try and fast the whole day.

But now I finally ‘get it’. She doesn’t need to fast. She doesn’t need to review her actions and her thoughts of the past year. She doesn’t need to repent. She doesn’t need to clean her slate. She has a purity of heart that the rest of us can only yearn to achieve.  She accepts other people for who they are – let’s them just be.  If you’ve never been in the presence of someone like Adina, taken the time to get to know her, you might not even be able to grasp this concept – it is so unique.

While I’m a bit sorry it’s taken me this long to realize all of this, I’m grateful for having finally understood in my heart that not only should I let her just BE but that I need to aspire to be more like her.

I’ve updated my candle lighting blessing for her – I pray that she will be happy and love herself just the way she is.

G’mar Chatima Tova

By Miriam Avraham, Co-Founder of Shutaf