In dawned on me that this summer I am going out of town six times.
One was to Detroit, two weeks ago, for a friend’s bar mitzvah.
The second was last week, to Vermont. My oldest daughter and I try to have a mother-daughter getaway every so often, and we really enjoyed the crisp mountain air and beautiful vistas.
The third is a road trip to New Jersey with our three younger daughter for two weddings of two (unrelated) cousins. One daughter is off to overnight camp, and the others and I spent some nice time with family.
My fourth trip is to Israel! I’m a speaker and leader for the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project. My trips to Israel do so much for me: they energize me; fill up my spiritual tank; and, honestly, they’re a lovely break from kidcare and housekeeping.
The fifth trip is to an unknown destination and it is to celebrate our upcoming 25th anniversary. It will be us as a couple carving out time to be together and celebrate 25 years of blessings.
And the final trip is another run to New Jersey and Spring Valley, New York, to spend Shabbat with my parents and a few more days with cousins.
As plans progressed, I noticed a sense of guilt each time I thought of the summer and how much I’d be away. I am definitely still in the stage called “full nest” and being away just equals guilt; that’s how moms roll. Each trip will inevitably leave someone behind. I also felt a little bad about taking two months off from my beloved Torah classes.
But then I thought a little harder and realized something: each trip represents a value in my life.
With each trip, I am making time for the things that are most important – yet that we so often let slide under the deluge of life’s “urgent” issues. There’s always work, bills, obligations. But everyone will attest that family, friends, community and faith are more important than all of those.
So with each trip, I am attesting, with my time and energy, that my values are the most prominent part of my life.
My first trip is about maintaining friendships. The friendship we celebrated in Detroit is 35 years old. It’s about being there for one another in good times – not just sad ones.
My second trip is about my relationship with my daughter.
My third trip is about my relationship with our other daughters. It is about extended family being there for one another and it’s about making time to see my grandmothers. It is about celebrating simchas together even when they’re far or inconvenient.
My fourth trip is about my love for Torah, for Israel, and for our global Jewish community and Jewish values. Also, a celebration of fabulous kosher dining.
My fifth trip is about my marriage. It’s about putting our spouses first and remembering how to be a couple in all the busy-ess of life. It’s about role modeling to the children how couples prioritize their relationship.
My sixth trip is about celebrating Shabbat together with grandparents and extended family, even if they don’t live nearby. It’s also about aunts, uncles, and cousins and the value of keeping in touch – knowing family will have your back.
So my guilt is fading. Instead, I am feeling blessed to be able to connect with all my important values in one summer. I am blessed that each road trip and plane ride is a mitzvah. I am blessed with family and friends. And that, my friends, is a summer to remember.