What was it that my son said to me? I can't remember and it made no sense, but I understood what he wanted to say and I answered him accordingly. He himself admitted that it made no sense and I saw the look of relief on his face when I understood without him having to repeat himself or explain. I reassured him, "Mommy understands. Mommies always understand."

Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I had a flashback of myself ten, twelve years ago speaking with my mother. I certainly didn't feel like she understood what I was saying, even though I felt that I was speaking clearly. Even today there are subjects that I decide that it is better not to bring up or speak about because when we do it only creates tension and miscommunication. Maybe every child has moments of feeling "they don't understand!", no matter how hard the parent tries. Does the parent feel the same way?

I certainly didn't feel like she understood Without a doubt, the most challenging thing about becoming religious is the feeling of loneliness and frustration that accompanies you as you try over and over again to explain to family and friends what you are doing and why. I'm not talking about the technical aspects of Jewish observance, not why I won't eat a McDonald's hamburger or why I won't go in a car during Shabbat, but the nitty gritty of why I changed directions in life and why the path that I am taking appears so different from the one that family and friends are on.

Now as a mother I admit my lenses are different. Before I could only see my perspective and think about my feelings and desires. All I wanted before was for my family to embrace or at least accept me and approve of my life decisions. The pain still exists as does the strong desire to share, but it's not the same. I no longer seek approval like I did before, and now I've come to understand that many of the things that separate us were really brought about by a lack of communication. If only I understood back then what I'm beginning to understand now, I would have saved myself many fights and arguments. If only I had known that the biggest fear my mother had, or has, is of losing me to some unknown. Knowing this, I could have reassured her that becoming religious would only bring me that much closer to her, that the values she instilled in me are still the base upon which I grow.

You are my roots, MommyMy mother-in-law took me to her garden to see her tree. Once tall and big, the tree was now a small stump. It had broken in half and the gardeners had to cut it down. "What a shame! It was beautiful, but look- from the stump branches are sprouting and the tree is still alive, it will grow tall once again." When the roots are strong and firmly planted in the ground, the tree will grow and rejuvenate. It will produce flowers and fruit. You are my roots, Mommy, you and over three thousand years of laws and traditions. I'm holding your hand and you of your mother and the line continues, from Jewish mother to mother, all the way back to our Matriarch Sarah.

Oh Mommy, why didn't I tell you before that I wasn't rejecting you? If I say no to your food, or no to that beautiful outfit that you want to buy for me, I'm not saying no to you, but to things that no longer correspond to me. Instead of saying no I should have said, "Come with me here instead of there, let me cook for you, I would love it if you bought me this instead of that." I should have invited you more and shared with you more. I never wanted to preach to you or make you do something against your wishes. I just wanted you to know me more and the life that I live, and this way you wouldn't feel so estranged.

I know that there were times when I overreacted, when I accused you of judging me when more likely it was I who was judging you. I see now that those times that I interpreted as attacks, were really just moments of you crying out to me, "I love you and I'm scared of losing you. I don't understand what you are doing and why; it's foreign to me." Why in those moments didn't I just take your hand and kiss your cheek? Why didn't I comfort you?

It's true that I didn't say these words to you before, but Mommy, I'm saying them to you now. Look at me and my children. Look at the radiance and joy. Look at our friends and the people who surround us, the warmth and kindness that you thought no longer exists. Don't worry, Mommy ,I won't push you away, but I do invite you to come close and be part of my life. Hold my hand, Mommy, and the hand of your mother and granddaughter. Hold my hand tight; you see- I'm not going to let go.