Fifteen years ago, when I smashed the glass at my wedding, signaling my signing up to raise my kids as Jews and create Jewish household, I dismissed a bar/bat mitzvah as a possibility. It was something that would never, ever, ever happen. I recognize that shows a complete lack of respect for the time/space continuum, but when thoughts of this celebration would enter my head it set off a panic attack. Denial seemed like a good way to go.
Saturday, we went to our first bat mitzvah. It was the very first coming of age celebration I had ever been to, in my entire life. I went with my oldest son, Mac, who will be 13 in 2 years. In November, we will get the date for his bar mitzvah. The day that I said would never come is now bearing down on us with all the intensity of a hurricane.
Upon entering we were given a program that listed all the people participating. When I saw the list, my heart began to beat a bit faster. Oh no, I have to find friends and family who can read Hebrew to participate. Where in the world am I going to come up with 7 people to do the aliyot? These Special Seven have to be able to recite the aliyot in Hebrew, so that rules out… umm… most everyone we know. Will I be able to find 7 adults that are able and willing to participate?
But, even more daunting than the service is the party that follows. To listen to the other mothers talk about addressing 180 invitations, planning brunches and dinners for out of town guests, interviewing DJ’s, worrying about center-pieces, sends me running for my happy place. Not even mentioning the expense associated with this type of event. Words like mini-wedding make my stomach turn.
The party we attended was lovely. They did a very nice job. It was tasteful, not over the top, the kids had fun and it was a really great party (I took copious notes). What did my kid do? Walk out. It was too stimulating for him. Not only do I have my own fears about planning and paying for this type of event, I am also beside myself about how he is going to handle it. He has yet to have a birthday party that didn’t involve at least one tantrum.
As we were leaving, I asked him, do you want a party like that? “NO! I want to go on a trip, just like Dad did,” was his response. I let out a small sigh of relief, you might have heard it. It seems I might be able to avoid the whole “big party” part with Mac, but there will still be out of town guests to entertain and other things to worry about. Also, Mac is the last one in his class to have a bar mitzvah. As he goes to more and more of these events, he may change his mind. I guess we have two years to watch it unfold.
My baby is not a baby, or toddler, or preschooler, or elementary school kid anymore, he is almost a man in the eyes of Jewish law. The time/space continuum did its thing and now I have to deal with the one thing that I feared the most when I made the decision to raise my children as Jews. I have procrastinated and now I only have two years to figure out how to stop time.