I was talking with a friend a while ago about the hopes and dreams we have for our children. They were different for each child to be sure, but still pretty similar- college, careers, marriages. Reflecting on this conversation later, I started thinking of the people I know whose children, for one reason or another, found themselves in very different places and with very different options than they had envisioned. These people found themselves needing to change their ideas about what their children’s future might hold. This can be a difficult task, even in the best of circumstances. It made me wonder what dreams they may have had and what their new dreams are.
In the midst of these reflections, I had the opportunity to be with the congregation for part of the Neilah Service. Rabbi Dolinger led into the service with a moment of silent meditation. As the service progressed, I realized that I had no idea what time it was. With no watch, no clocks, no cell phone to check , time became different, less important. The passage of time altered in my experience of it and in my awareness of it. Without a sense of when I needed to do the next thing, I was left with the moment I was in. This call to mindfulness of the present moment and all it contains is particularly pertinent to our dreams for our children- whether they are our sons and daughters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews or dearly cherished friends. While it is a good thing- this looking forward with wonder and anticipation to the future- it can distract us at times from the here and now. And this is an important place to be, in body, heart and mind. This is the time and space our children are in and who they will be in the years to come is uncertain. Being present to and genuinely accepting of who our children are today will help our children to grow, develop healthy self esteem, and face daily challenges with resilience.
We simply do not know the future. Both miracles and tragedies happen in the blink of an eye, and our lives and dreams are altered irrevocably. Knowing this makes the present moment with the richness of its joy and even challenges irreplaceable, sacred. This is particularly true with our children. They are ours to hold for so limited a time. Part of the wonder of the present moment is the uncertainty, the unanswered questions of the future. So, let us cherish them, dream for them gently, let go of old dreams that no longer fit, and embrace who and how they are now.
If you or your child seem to be struggling with changes, or if you are wondering if your old vision of your child and his or her future might no longer fit, please reach out. As your congregational social worker, I am available to discuss your concerns and help you figure out the next steps to take.
Rose Murrin is the Kesher social worker at the synagogue. Kesher is the congregational outreach program of Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island, funded by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and currently active at Congregation Agudas Achim, Temple Torat Yisrael, Congregation Am David, Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Beth Sholom. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-369-0160.