When I sat down and took my first deep breath at the end of that long day of party planning, a surge of bittersweet emotion came swirling through my universe. Eden's fifth birthday was approaching, and there I sat with the wrapping paper wondering where the time had gone. I could vividly remember being in labor: the hospital room, the peeping medical students, the contractions. The present-tense reality of my daughter turning five suddenly felt more like a science fiction time warp than anything else. "How could this be?" I cried. "What happened to my little baby?"

"What happened to my little baby?"my daughter turning five felt like a science fiction time warp Now don't get me wrong- it's not as if I've been spacing out for the past five years with my head buried in some hole. I knew that this day would come. In fact, I had been mentally planning the party for weeks. But like I said, it wasn't until I sat down and took that deep breath that my inner feelings came to the surface.

Sitting with that breath, steeped in rich emotion, I sensed that my daughter's birthday was also my birth-day. The day that I officially became a mother. The day I persevered through 48 hours of pitocin-ridden contractions without an epidural, and miraculously gave birth to a gurgling redhead.

With this awareness as a backdrop to my emotional condition, I questioned my own growth and maturity as a mother. How have I fared over the years? Have I achieved a higher level of patience, calm and compassion? Have I tried my best to be as loving, giving and understanding as possible? Did I do whatever I could to meet all of her emotional and physical needs? Did I spend enough quality time with her? Am I proud of myself?

Well…yah, sort of, I thought. Sure. But could I be more proud of myself?

Yes! Of course! If only I hadn't lost my temper, been distracted, made myself too busy to play, taken her for granted, looked with fake interest at her art projects, been annoyed, let my own frustrations ruin the day, and said "no" to her simple requests just because I was feeling lazy, of course I would be more proud of myself. But I did!

It was not the kind of quality time that leaves a lasting impression And facing my regretful, normal, human imperfections I felt exceptionally sad at this passing of time. My shortcomings showed me that I really didn't try as hard as I could have. I really didn't overcome my own selfish desires when I should have. And I really didn't make the most out of each moment by being present with her. All those deceitful "I'll be there in a minute"s and insincere "uh-huh"s could have been precious moments of bonding. And instead of snatching them up like gold, I generously distributed them to my futile organization of stuff, worries, complaints, mental to-do lists and dirty dishes. Yes, I was spending time with her in those moments but not the kind of quality time that leaves a lasting impression. And because I cheapened those moments by not being totally present, those moments now reveal the gaping holes in my reflections of the past five years. It's these black holes that make me feel as if time has unethically escaped me.

But it's ok! It's fine! Because this is my re-birthing birth-day! A new year for me as a mother; a new opportunity for self-reflection, change and growth. Thank G‑d I'm realizing this now and not twenty or forty years down the line. And thank G‑d that I have it in my genetic make up to be like our mother Sara, a woman who is described by the Torah as having lived all the days of her 127-year life to the fullest. I'm not interested in looking back over my life and wondering where the time went, slapping myself in the head saying, "gee, time really flew... if only I had tried a little harder and spent more quality time with my kids when they were young." I want to look back and account for all my years with a feeling of completion. I want to feel like I got the most out of my time in this life. I want to stand under my children's chuppahs knowing that I did my best as a mother and made the most out of each moment. And like Sara our mother, I want live with the consciousness that the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and the people we love is the gift of pure, unadulterated presence.