Six years ago my daughter had her Bat Mitzvah. A Jewish celebration of a coming of age when a teenage girl starts to take responsibility for her own spiritual life. On that day in April 2008, she stood before the congregation, of the synagogue that we belonged to at the time, and led a Shabbat service that included the prayers, reading from the Torah and a commentary about the meaning of her Torah portion. It was a beautiful ceremony that was especially meaningful to our family as we knew we were moving back to northern California after living in St. Louis for nine years.
At that congregation, parents give their children a blessing during the service.
My dear Kamala, April 2008
It is with great pride and pleasure that I stand here before our family and friends to offer you my congratulations on doing so well on your Bat Mitzvah and to give you my blessing.
From the moment you were born, you have been a special child to us. As some here know we discovered during my pregnancy that I needed abdominal surgery, which threatened both our lives and the possibility of my ever having another child again. This scary time was hard on all of us and made you truly a miracle to our family. As you know, your birth was one of the highlights of my life and since then, being your mother has been a true gift. So thank you for being the wonderful, strong and brave daughter that you are.
Kamala, in your commentary this morning, you mentioned some of our family values and I want to talk a little bit more about this in my blessing to you. When I first became a mother, having a son totally threw me off in all that I had thought I would be as a mother; I had to start from scratch with your brother. This made me a much more open and accepting mother than I would have been otherwise. Even so, I have always wanted to raise a strong, independent and courageous daughter, so I am thrilled that what I hold dear and valuable is being passed on to you.
My work with leadership development for women has been influenced and transformed because of watching you grow and mature as a young woman. When working with individuals or groups of women in either my real estate or consulting practice, I think of how much I have learned from being your mother so my blessing to you today is to wish for you to continue on your journey being the powerful leader that you are becoming.
Kamala, there is more to my blessing for you. When you were born, a dear friend predicted that you would find your own path and that at times I would find that challenging. My blessing for you today is that you continue to find your own path, regardless of who it pleases.
When your father and I were first married, we had no plans to join a synagogue, much less to raise our children to become B’nai Mitzvah. While both of us were raised in Jewish households, neither of us found much meaning in our religious upbringing. However, we listened and learned from our children, both of whom led us to this congregation and both of whom desired to learn how to read from the Torah.
I couldn’t be more proud at the hard work, dedication and commitment you have shown to accomplish this task. By becoming a Bat Mitzvah, you have made your own path—one that differs from mine. My blessing is that you continue to accomplish goals that give you and your life meaning—regardless of whether it pleases me.
Kamala, the mother daughter relationship is complicated. Too many daughters spend much of their precious time and energy trying to please their mothers to gain approval and love. Sweet daughter, you have my approval and love unconditionally. Use your energy to focus on something more meaningful to you.
As you continue to grow to being the beautiful, strong, fierce, independent woman that I see emerging, I hope that you continue to find your own path. Life is short and you have a rich life ahead of you. Make the most of all the moments you can. Continue to be the person you are by remaining true to yourself. The only approval you’ll need in life is your own, not mine and not your father’s. And if you are successful in this, you will have become the kind, considerate, sensitive and amazing woman that I see in you today.
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