My family and I are considered "few times a year Jews." That is how often we go to our Chabad House for services. Still, I treasure these times dearly, since I always come out from them enriched in some way. What happened during last year's Rosh Hashanah services has changed my perspective on parenting forever…

It is an hour before the Rosh Hashanah service will begin. I am running around the house like crazy getting everybody ready. I want my family to arrive looking decent. But it is impossible to stay calm; in fact, it's simply a disaster!

The kids' dresser looks like it just exploded as I try to find the boys matching socks. Zach's dress-shirt is covered with ketchup stains, yet this is the shirt he insists on wearing. Ilan lost his favorite truck and is yelling: "I want it!" —and refusing to get dressed.

I need a quick fix Jessica has been locked in the bathroom for the past thirty minutes, getting ready while on the phone! "Come out and help!!" I yell—no response. My oldest son, Eddy, with his iPod headphones attached to his ears, is staring into the closet as if he has never seen his clothes before: "Do I have to wear a dress shirt?"

Before I have the chance to answer him for the fifth time, my husband approaches me: "Tie my tie, please. By the way, what's that in Zoro's mouth?" Sure enough, our puppy, Zorro, is tearing apart my nice skirt—the one I was going to wear for services.

That's it! I need a quick fix and since I don't drink or smoke—I go to synagogue.

As soon as I enter the synagogue, there is something magical about being there, as if I have just walked into the Magical Kingdom of Disneyland. Here I am, in the middle of all the commotion and excitement, feeling time stop and dissolving into the delicious energy of the fairytale. I can taste a magic potion of Heaven on my lips, satisfying my spiritual thirst, like a long lost traveler finally finding the well. I can let go of my daily chaos now and let the light of Heaven come through.

Tonight, the synagogue is bright with light and filled with travelers like me. Inside of my spiritual Disneyland the rabbi and his wife greet us, with big smiles and hands wide open for a hug, as if we are the most precious human beings on earth and they have waited all their lives to meet us. How do they do it? I wonder—greet every person coming through the doors of the synagogue with such joy and sincerity, without a hint of judgment? Even us: "a few times a year Jews", as if he can see our inner brilliance through the layers of our flaws.

When we met this Shabbat-observing, kosher-keeping rabbi's family ten years ago, they had just moved to California from New York. Back in their Brooklyn neighborhood, most of the Jewish men have a thick beard and yarmulke on the head—and as for the women: hair covered by a wig, knees and elbows covered by their clothing.

But now they are here, in our easy-going beach community, and definitely are white crows in a crowd. I remember one Saturday morning I happened to walk with them to the synagogue for morning prayers. As cars with surf boards on top passed us by, we heard occasional rude remarks from the people inside. So, as I turned my eyes away, embarrassed to be part of this "weird" group, I accidentally caught my rabbi's look and froze in awe: his eyes were smiling with a light of confidence and pride. His lips whispered a blessing to people disappearing in cars.

They are so calm, at peace and happyCaptured by the glimpse of this light, I got it—this light, dancing in his eyes, is G‑d shining through—the source of strength and self-assurance. It made me realize something important- his faith and trust in G‑d is a result of his dedication to studying and practicing G‑dly teachings. I also realized that after growing up in an environment of prayer and Torah study, these religious people have a rock-strong spiritual foundation carrying them through the hardships and challenges.

So tonight, while exchanging warm greetings, I look at our rabbi and his wife, as always, with admiration of the inner strength they convey so humbly and gracefully.

This holiday is extra special this year, since my parents are able to join us for services and dinner (they live an hour away and have a hectic work schedule as business owners). My kids run to the synagogue door to greet them with such gusto and eagerness that I can see tears in my mom's eyes.

Later, pleasantly full, I am proudly sharing with my mom all the "breaking news," from Zach scoring a goal in his soccer game to Jessica's leading part in her upcoming musical. At that moment, life seems as sweet as the warm honey cake being served. But then I hear my father's voice as he is speaking to somebody next to me. It sounds as though he is speaking to a young child, and definitely not mine. I can hear the conversation and it is something about the history of Judaism and the Torah, and I just need to see who is talking!

I look over my shoulder; well, one of them is indeed my dad and another is the three-year-old son of the rabbi. They are sitting across from each other, exchanging comments, just like two older men would discuss politics—my dad with a glass of wine in his hands.

I have been watching our rabbi's kids growing up. There is something special about them, some kind of profound depth, where I can almost feel their spirituality. They are so calm, at peace and happy. They seem so content and satisfied internally, and yes they play with toys, run in the park and jump on trampolines, but it seems only an addition to already existing inner contentment. As I wonder "how?" I come to the conclusion that the end result (of them being this way) is coming from the environment they are absorbing and the parents they are led by.

A few days after Rosh Hashanah I find myself still thinking about that evening and how impressed I was by the rabbi's kids. It makes me feel like a parenting fiasco, a disgrace to motherhood, and before the black hole sucks me in: I call my mom. She cannot comprehend why I feel this way and, without realizing, puts the salt on my bleeding wound: "Your father cannot stop talking about that boy from Chabad, he is so impressed!" I hang up the phone, choking with tears, and then curl up in my favorite spot in the corner of the deck with a blanket over my head.

The flashbacks of my parenting history start to play in my mind, along with scenes of all my motherhood blunders: how I was not thinking pure thoughts during my pregnancies, not praying and meditating enough, not taking long walks in the park, how I worried too much and trusted G‑d too little, how I can get impatient and irritated with my kids, how I yelled with anger at them, how I sat them in front of useless TV shows to make it easier for me and, on top of everything else, bought them fast food instead of cooking a nutritious, organic dinner.

Flashbacks of my parenting history play in my mind I try playing my own advocate by thinking that no one ever gave me a "Spiritual Motherhood for Dummies" book for my baby shower. I did not know that my thoughts and feelings affect the developing baby. I did not know that children psychically pick up my attitudes and behaviors, and my husband's fears and disappointments, and that it creates their outlook towards life. I learned that later, studying holistic medicine and hypnotherapy. "So now you know. Now what?" – my Jiminy Cricket voice is back.

Wiping away my tears, I call my husband. "We need to talk. When are you coming home?"

He is almost done at the office and will call while driving home.

Thirty minutes later, pacing the room, with the phone at my ear, I sound like a communist party leader proclaiming from the platform, bursting the invisible bubble of being "such good parents" around me and my husband.

Then it happens. I hear his calm voice on the other end saying, "I love you, and if you think we have been doing something wrong we can change, right?" In a split second my frustration is transformed into confidence. "We can make changes, together!"

I feel so much lighter. And then it takes another second to realize that it's not just me and my husband. There is G‑d, who entrusted our kids into our hearts and our lives and is on our side to help us succeed in raising them to His satisfaction.

I realize that I may not know all of the secrets of religious mysticism on how to raise a "spiritual" child, but I don't have to. The G‑dly spark within me – my Spirit — knows. The manual of spiritual parenting is already imprinted within me and all I need to do is be willing to follow it. I know I need strength, wisdom, patience and faith along the parenting path, and I also know that help is a prayer away.

I go back outside, to my deck. The gentle breeze carries my words into the skies: Dear G‑d, I have been waiting all my life to be their mother, thank You for making it happen. Please bring out the best in me, so I can do the best for them. Amen.

By the end of the day I am excited to start making changes. I know the areas where my husband and I need to improve. We make a list, prioritizing our weak points with a plan to address them one by one over a period of time. The list looks like this:

  • Start our morning by reading a prayer and meditating
  • Speak in a calm, soft voice to each other and others
  • Be polite to each other and others
  • Respect each other and other people's opinions
  • Stop watching and discussing violence on TV in front of our kids

We also begin using positive affirmation for our kids, constantly reassuring them how kind and loving they are:

  • "Thank you for being so kind and nice"
  • "Thank you for playing gently with the puppy"
  • "You are amazing, so talented, only you can make a picture like this"
  • "I know you are tired, thank you for being so patient"
  • "Thank you for sharing, you are so kind"
  • "Thank you for hugging and kissing your brother"
  • "I love so much when you help me"

While putting the children to sleep, Zach in his Sponge Bob pajamas and Ilan in his cars pajamas, I sit on their warm bed, playing with their soft curls and covering their faces with kisses. We say thanks to G‑d for all we experienced that day. They love this game. To my amazement they call me to play it, when I forget. They ask me read a story together, rather than putting a cartoon on the way it used to be.

I am also able to recognize what triggers their tantrums and fights: frustration, fatigue, boredom, misunderstandings. And instead of the usual freaking out, I try to remain calm, compassionate—handling the situation better (a work in progress).

We are becoming closer as a family and as partners I also find myself slowing down during the daily rush, allowing myself to connect with my kids, to feel them. One morning as I put Ilan in his car seat, I looked into his eyes: I love you so much, I am so happy you are my son. I felt his little hands around my neck and a wet whisper in my ear: "I love you, too, Mommy." And the mess he left in his room and that milk he spilled on the sofa doesn't even matter anymore. I am still covered by the goosebumps of love.

What originally appeared as a parenting disaster is turning out to be a blessing. Not just for our kids, but for me and my husband as well. We are becoming closer as a family and as partners. We are learning how to be better people, our kids and us, continually teaching and testing each other. At times, when Felix and I give in to the old ways of handling things, I remind myself what I learned in Kabbalah class, that the universe is being made brand new each moment. It brings me tremendous relief to know that I can start again and try harder at any moment.

My kids remain themselves, each expressing their own uniqueness: confident and funny college-boy Eddy, future Broadway star Jessica, talented Lego-builder Zach, and strong willed, born to be a leader Ilan — but I feel that something very beautiful is being awakened, building the bridge between me and them, connecting our souls. I want them to never forget the feeling of G‑d within, the ability to love so passionately and genuinely.

I want to melt into ecstasy, feeling their spiritual flame shining through and stay focused on all its brightness, celebrating their every sparkle, bursting from within.

They may never become rabbis or spiritual leaders. But that's not the point. I want to do my best to raise them as spiritual human beings, radiating brilliant specks of light onto those around them.