I am proud to write that yesterday my daughter, who has Autism, became a Bat Mitzvah. I have a new appreciation for what it takes to become a Bat Mitzvah. Funny, I just meant to write what it takes to prepare for a Bat Mitzvah. My ultimate point in writing this was going to be that in spite of all the hard preparation, unlike neuro-typical people, having Autism gives one immunity of the “Disease to please”.
People with Autism don’t do things to please other people. They are just themselves. They are in the moment. Being in the moment, is the main message in most, if not all, spiritual teachings. In many cases, it is easier said than done.
As I originally started to say, so much preparation went into yesterday. I have to be honest, I wanted nothing more than for my daughter to show the audience how much she knew, how hard she worked and how much she loved being Jewish.
Well, as it turned out the first two things, may have gotten lost in translation, but the third was made loud and clear.
My daughter didn’t do what I wanted her to do. She barely sang anything even though she knew everything. She was extremely happy to get up and down off the bimah (stage) just to say hello to all of the people she loved. She showed sincere excitement and appreciation for them being there. She was just happy. Practically overcome with joy.
Why was I, as her mother so upset when my daughter was so happy?
Then it hit me. R in BUFFERS is “Remember them.” This means to think about life from your child’s perspective, not your own. This was HER time to shine and every time I felt disappointed I realized I was making the moment about myself. I thought about my investment in her performance or what I wanted her to do. As song after song went by, she sang nothing or made noises, I knew that holding onto making it about me or my agenda was getting me into trouble and deeper and deeper into disappointment.
Now that I can reflect, I ask myself why I wanted my daughter to have a Bat Mitzvah in the first place? My sincere answer is to show my appreciation and respect for Judaism. I wanted to share my love for Judaism and that part of myself with my child. I knew she could rise to the occasion and learn what she needed to learn to be Bat Mitzvah.
I know that to give to someone is to give with our whole heart, expecting nothing in return.
To live that sentiment and really mean it, however, takes practice. I have now learned this lesson on a new level after this experience.
I sat in Synagogue yesterday trying figure out what lesson God was trying to teach me. How I was going to find peace with what was happening around me?
I wanted my daughter to be Bat Mitzvah because I knew she could. The real lesson that I just learned is that my daughter did not just learn some “Hebrew stuff “and now it is over.
As higher power literally just took over the keyboard and typed what I, her mother REALLY needed to understand is that yesterday was not about me or all of the years of preparation that I or anyone else, put into this one day. Yesterday was a celebration of my daughter’s journey, her ongoing relationship with Judaism. Yesterday was not a big build up, an accumulation of years of hard work which would come to a screeching halt in 90 minutes.
My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah is a celebration of a love affair. My daughter loves being Jewish! She loves her temple, her rabbis, her teachers, her congregation… and they love her back! So as I previously stated, I originally wanted to share my Jewish identity with my daughter. Now that I am not making about me, I can see the true miracle of what has occurred. What has happened is so much better than my original intent. To say “my daughter” still permeates of a personal agenda so I will say this young lady, has established her own Jewish identity. That is so much more than what I ever imagined.
I know it is a lot easier said than done, if one can just let go of their agenda even for a moment, just to “remember them” or see things from our children’s perspective, we can not only give ourselves the chance to be truly present but maybe, even realize that one has accomplished much, much more than they originally set out to do.