The new normal

Last fall, I put my first child on hold (something we can do only with a figurative child) and gave birth to an actual baby. 

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JUF News  has been my "baby" for a long time. Many members of our work family have nurtured the publication for the better part of two decades. We've watched the magazine blossom into maturity, continuing to evolve and reinvent itself. 

Indeed, like one's child, the publication has occupied my attention late at night, prompting me to think about how a certain feature or issue will be received. Other times, the magazine has made me kvell like a proud mama when a story has resonated with readers or spotlighted an important issue in the community.  

Last fall, I put my first child on hold (something we can do only with a figurative child) and gave birth to an actual baby. Thanks to our incredible JUF News family, interim editors Christine and Linda, and the rest of the team--Brent, Lindsey, Marie, Mary, Michelle, and Paul--for taking such good care of our baby while I was on leave.  

So now, my husband and have a new baby, this one cuddly with a little button nose, whose tiny laugh makes my whole day bright, and who delights when I sing her the "ABCs" and the Israeli song for peace " Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu."

Now that my maternity leave has ended and I've gone back to working outside the home, I'm figuring out how to tend to both of my babies, blending the two into a new normal.

Like many of you, I now understand the daily marathon of getting a child (or multiple children!) up, fed, and changed, and racing to drop them off at childcare or school before commuting to work to "start" the day. I now recognize that perpetual tug between family, work, and other obligations--that desire to be perfect both professionally and at home.  

What I'm discovering is that perfection isn't possible anywhere, let alone everywhere. Instead of perfection, then, I'm striving for balance. Whether you're a parent or not, we all have complicated, multifaceted pieces of our identity that need to work in sync.  

Judaism has a lot to say about finding balance. The most rudimentary Hebrew word, "shalom," means peace. But the word also translates as harmony, wholeness, and completeness. We can all find more shalom in our lives if we can balance all the parts of who we are, imperfectly, in and outside the home.

I believe my new moniker--Mommy--fortifies me at work and, likewise, my professional life bolsters me at home. There's so much I can't wait to teach my baby girl, but one of the most important life skills I hope to pass along to her is balance, finding harmony between the many roles she someday will embrace.



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