This year, there was only one day of shofer-blowing, because the first day was on Shabbat -- no shofer then.
So I didn't push myself to get to shul on Saturday, but sat around and read, talked to the kids, and just relaxed. A bit of rationalization that strengthening my relationship with my offspring is a worthy project for Rosh Hashana, but hey, if you can't rationalize once in awhile, what's life all about?
Anyway, yesterday, Sunday, since I was able to get four out of five of my children out of the house to hear shofer-blowing in the morning, I felt a bit compelled to go myself, and landed at my neighbor's house, where they have a kind of Jewish-Renewal-type service. It's a bit risky for Tzfat, and sometimes a bit too New Age-y for me too, but most of the time, I like the atmosphere. The people are all very laid-back and accepting, and I figure that if I am looking for more traditional prayer, I can sit alone in my house (or go to any one of dozens of shuls in the area). This group, when they have a service, combine meditation, movement, drama, discussions, and various other ingredients to bring more meaning to the service and somehow it touches something in my search for a connection to Someone Above.
Before the shofer-blowing, someone had the idea of standing in a circle and making the sounds of blowing a shofer, as though each of us is trying to "bring out of our bodies" the things that are disturbing us, keeping us back, or interferring with our search for personal advancement. It was, to be honest, a bit weird -- kind of like what I've read about therapy through primal screaming (or whatever it's called). But it was also, after a certain point of feeling a bit foolish, neat, and cathartic, and I spent a few moments thinking about what I want to get out of my life this year and what I want to bring into my life.
One of the decisions that I made was that I want to come to a point where I stop trying to control my children's lives and find ways to GUIDE them. It's a fine line, and I have no doubt that I'll be making lots of mistakes, but I think that at least, I've identified where my own frustration lies in my relationship with them. And, I suspect, their frustration as well.
It doesn't mean that I'm going to be backing off on setting limits and guidelines in our lives. But just trying to grow together with them, and instead of always telling everyone what they should be doing, trying to step back and offer thoughts and guidance without giving them my recipie for how to live their lives.
We'll see where we stand next year.