Today is thirteen days, which is one week and six days of the Omer, 5781. יסוד שבגבורה, Yesod of Gevurah, Foundation of Strength.
Dipping a toe into political topics…
This evening, I read a profound criticism of public motherhood by Amanda Montei in Vox, The problem with “mom boss” culture. It reminded me of all the political conviction I stopped speaking in my pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. To be clear, I still have political views. What I struggle with is knowing how to integrate my political perspective with my emerging spiritual leadership.
I know a lot of American Jews see their political identity as their primary connection to their Jewishness. The politicization of tikkun olam, repair the world, has left a lot of Jews convinced that their progressive savior complex will heal the world. I have meaningful relationships with people across the political spectrum. Though, to be honest, it is easier to maintain those relationships when talking in person rather than online. And therein lies the rub.
I think spiritual community should be larger than political identity. I think it is possible to pray together even when we have far different visions for the future of our country and world. There are third rails for me: understand that racism is real, white supremacy and colorism exist, and that gate-keeping Jewish spaces is problematic. The casual racism of people unfamiliar with those who are not like them is not something that should be tolerated. Don’t mistake every Asian person you meet for the last person you met. Don’t assume people aren’t Jewish because they don’t look like you. And don’t gush over the “exotic” beauty of mixed kids.
Right, so with the fundamental dignity of all humans covered, I do have a high tolerance for difference. Which is why it is taking me so many words to circle back to that article I referenced.
Parenting and Seeking Community
Online culture holds up the foundational myths of American capitalism. Whether that means bragging about how little sleep you get, or declaring yourself unrelatable because you’ve built a brand out of telling other people what to do, digital entrepreneurs thrive on selling stuff and making it look easy to have a picture-perfect life in a country without guaranteed paid time off, nevermind childcare or affordable healthcare.
I often marvel at how much we accomplish without substantive help. Especially now, as one of the millions of parents who has overseen a year of distanced learning. Yet, I’ve also had extremely dark moments when I couldn’t imagine continuing to navigate my way through this morass. I don’t actually really follow influencer parents across the web, but I have fallen hard into the rabbit hole of makeup YouTube and Instagram and knowing when every sale is happening. The silver lining for me about providing 100% of our childcare rather than paying for it is slightly less guilt about my makeup purchases…
Part of the Foundation of Strength is knowing you aren’t completely responsible for your current situation
This post rambles. Montei’s words shook me. Thus, I find it difficult to offer advice. Writing more words about finding your inner strength seems the antithesis of clear-eyed support. The reality is that reality is a mess. However this pandemic changed your life, that is real. Systemic roadblocks do not disappear with grit and determination. Acknowledging reality is imperative — both for our own growth and for the transformation of society.
I find myself wanting to quote full paragraphs from the essay. Let me give you a sentence:
They live by inspirational stories of women finding a community and a calling, of pushing through what’s tough about working motherhood, playing off the vague “moral therapeutic deism” of American capitalism and the larger gospel of Instagram.Amanda Montei in Vox, The problem with “mom boss” culture.
I don’t want my Omer count to devolve into any of these criticisms. In the interest of full disclosure, I think I’ve made about $15 (maybe a tad more) in Amazon affiliate links based on my book recommendations. To be perfectly honest, a lot of them can be found in the library or from the used books super site, Abebooks. I know some people judge me for not transitioning to links from Bookshop, the online site connecting people to independent bookstores. I’m not perfect.
Spiral of Strength
Addendum: hat tip to Anne Helen Petersen
Anne Helen Petersen curates an amazing Facebook page, Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style. I found Amanda Montei’s article through the Facebook page feed.