In the corner of the family room stands a three-foot-square photo of my eldest son Asher, when he was 4. The moment was preserved forever, a memory of our trip to Mexico on vacation nine years ago.
His head tilts and his curly hair is in perfect formation. He sits on the balcony at our Acapulco hotel, wearing a white sweater with one row of blue argyle and blue plaid pants, ready for Shabbat.
At the time, my little guy was still in my belly, five months from being born, and life was sweet and innocent, just like the smile on Asher’s face.
This photo now, in its grand expression, will be propped on an easel tomorrow with blue, green and silver Sharpies for people to sign with comments about how they feel about this young man, who in our tradition, is now an adult.
Bar mitzvah for my eldest, tomorrow. Today begins a weekend of celebration with family arriving to town and non-stop festivities on the agenda starting this morning and continuing until Sunday afternoon.
Wow. I am the mother of a bar mitzvah boy!
As I look at this giant photo of my sweet boy, it feels like just yesterday – and so very long ago – that he was my little precious baby and now, he is nearly my height with sophistication and presence and incredible poise.
I am so excited for this weekend – for the fun of it, the accomplishment, the sheer joy at celebrating a wonderful person who I am so lucky to mother.
And, I am a bit nervous too.
So much planning. Anticipation. Details all aligned so that everything goes as we hope. And if it doesn’t, it will be ok too.
Overflowing baskets of candy sit beside the photo, for people to throw handfuls at Asher after he completes his Torah reading, a custom to signify the wish that Judaism always be “sweet” hereafter.
A box of yarmulkes imprinted with the date and reason for celebrating so people will always remember when they put it on. Checks for all the vendors. A guitar for the rabbi.
My grandfather’s tallit (prayer shawl), which will become Asher’s tomorrow.
When Asher was born, five months after my grandfather died, my grandmother gave me the white wool bag with silver and gold embroidery which held my grandfather’s prayer shawl. For Asher, she said.
It has nestled into a closet shelf all these years, waiting for him to be of age to wear it. And now, the mantle passes, literally, from one generation through many to the new generation, to carry it forward with all its memories and traditions into the future.
This is a big deal, a bar mitzvah. A coming-of-age, an ascent, a passing of the torch from one generation to the next.
Perhaps 13 seems a bit premature to expect adult behavior and responsibility from some, but when I gaze at my son, I know he is ready.
A man in the eyes of our community. An incredible young man with the potential to change the world in my eyes.
Tomorrow, I will tell him in front of friends and family how lucky I am to be his mother. Because I am.
This journey we take through life is one of love and partnership, community and relationship, and this weekend is a culmination of all that we hold dear, with hope for the beautiful future ahead.