Uncover the secret parenting inspiration found during the Hebrew month of Elul.

Welcome to the Hebrew month of Elul! Excited?! Meh, not so much. There is nothing particularly significant for you to observe this month. The high holidays are next month. This time of year is somewhat quiet on the Jewish calendar. As a result, Jewish tradition has elevated Elul to become a reflective time of year where we begin to prepare ourselves spiritually and emotionally during these days leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The month of Elul is viewed as a time for repentance, to ask forgiveness from those we have wronged. We take this preparation so seriously that we blast the shofar once daily leading up to Rosh Hashanah to awaken our souls in anticipation for this time of year. So, I take it back, you should be excited! Elul prepares us for our journey to a new beginning and that is beautiful!

Many believe that Elul אלול is an acronym for the Song of Songs phrase, “Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li” ״אני לדודי ודודי לי״ which means “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” You usually hear this phrase recited at weddings but to be with your beloved isn’t simply defined as your spouse, it’s the anchor that defines your relationship to God and your relationship to others. It is the depth through which we connect. During the month of Elul we are not only seeking forgiveness, we are seeking a desire to love and to connect. To connect with each other and to connect with ourselves.

We can easily take this conversation down a path of asking for forgiveness from God, from our spouse, our children, our friends, our colleagues, but not right now. Let’s just hit pause on that conversation for a moment. Today, I ask that as parents we give ourselves permission to forgive ourselves.

Our imperfections as parents, our constant questioning over whether or not we’re making the right decisions for our children.

We forgive ourselves for allowing logistics, schedules and to do lists to get in the way of genuine connection time.

We forgive ourselves for wishing bedtime was an hour earlier, and for serving mac & cheese for the second time this week.

We forgive ourselves for the lack of self-care and the far too few date nights with our spouse.

We forgive ourselves while also asking ourselves what can we do to improve? How can I navigate through the stress of parenting while still making sure my children feel loved and nurtured? When we forgive ourselves we are able to connect more deeply with others and connection is what the month of Elul is really all about.