A little advice that helped my friend…

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Gila is one of the people I admire most in the whole world. She is a person who, for as long as I have known her, has glowed with royalty tinged with a deep serenity, spirituality, and quiet joy. Every time I see her I dream that my daughters will, one day, grow up to be just like her.

But yesterday in our Succah, Gila looked a bit extinguished. Gila hasn’t had the easiest time of things in her life. She dated hundreds of people over the course of a decade before she found her husband. And then, even after she was married, it took her four years to get pregnant. Thank G-d, now she has two children, but when her youngest turned three this year she started fertility treatments again. The blood tests, the ultrasounds, the stress in her marriage.

And motherhood has been so easy. Her two adorable boys fight a lot, she told me, and even after years as a devoted (and I’m certain incredible) nursery school teacher, she finds that she doesn’t really have the tools to cope with so many parenting issues that arise.

“What advice can you give me?” she asked me, looking broken for the first time since I’ve known her.

I am usually the one who is asking her for advice, so it was a little disorienting to suddenly have the tables turned. But after a little thought, I gave her two pieces of advice that I wanted to share with you too.

One thing I told her is the importance of attending a weekly Torah-based parenting class. The parenting class I attended for three years when my older kids were small lights up every interaction with my children and every day of my parenting life to this day. You don’t have time? Make the time! It’s the best investment you will ever make- for you and your family.

And secondly, I told her something I learned from Rabbi Pliskin’s new book Life is Now. That even if “It is a great mitzvah to be joyful always,” in reality nobody feels joyful all the time.

The best we can do is to focus on joyful moments in our lives.

I told Gila, “It’s 3 PM in the afternoon, and your kids are fighting again. Focus for just a moment on how much you prayed for these children and how much nachas and joy you get from them. It’s 4 PM, and you’re bored in the playground, and you look up at the sky and feel joy that the sky is so blue and the air smells so green and invigorating. It’s 5 PM, and you site a pencil-thin lizard scurrying across the wall of your apartment building. You point it out to your boys and experience the joy and excitement of sharing this curious animal with them.”

Rabbi Pliskin suggests writing up 5 of these experiences in a daily joy list. Before long, he promises, you will not only be focusing on moments of joy, you will be creating moments of joy.

Gila called today, and said she felt like the advice was helping. I hope it will help you too…

Moadim L’Simcha!

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