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Thursday, August 25, 2022

A Note to Moms

 This note is long overdue. I've written to the husband, to the grandparents, and given instructions to the  dad (I am well aware that the husband and the dad is the same person - the notes were very different in their message).

The new Mom, or the Mom of the new-baby (who might be a veteran Mom), has a day ahead of her with the pending (or recently completed) Bris. So here goes.

Dear New Mom,

You truly are amazing. You carried this baby inside you, nourished him, and took care of him. He grew inside you as your body essentially created this child, with a lot of help from God, and a little help from that wonderful husband you've got.

And now, you are faced with having your precious little boy circumcised. You'll be taking him out of his zone of comfort, peace, quiet, and bringing him into the mark of the covenant of the Jewish people through an act which seems far less than comforting, peaceful and quiet.

So, firstly, I salute you. This may not be very easy for you, but you are going ahead with it anyway.

While I will meet you for a short period of time, you likely fall into one of the following categories of the moms I've met through the years. Read through them, see which is you, and we'll regroup afterwards.

Put-Together-Mom: The bris will be fine! Nothing to worry about! Baby is in great hands. Every Jewish boy and every Jewish man I know has had a bris. Yes - he will cry. But I am on it! This baby will be loved even more than he was before and I have nothing but confidence that this is what God wants and therefore it is good!

Experienced Mom: I was nervous the first time, but I learned from my previous son's bris that all is going to be OK. Nothing like the school of hard knocks!

Nervous Mom: I don't about this. What if we're doing the wrong thing? Is my baby going to be OK? Won't he cry? Isn't it going to hurt? Maybe we should just get a doctor. I don't know. I just don't know!

Freaking out Mom: I just want to run away with  my baby! This is so barbaric! I can't believe we are doing this in the 21st century! How long is this going to take? How do I know my baby will be fine? Can't something go wrong? I don't even know this mohel. He might seem nice, but I am not in a frame of mind to have some stranger man 'splain things to me about my baby!

To put it a different way, there is a woman I have done two brisses for (her other children are girls) and before the second bris she said to me, "Avi, I hate you today. Tomorrow we will be friends again."

It is impossible to unravel the nervousness that comes with the prospect of the bris. BUT every woman who was having a difficult time before the bris has had a serious turn of mood for the better once it was over and she saw that her baby was fine. In other words, the woman had gotten herself so worked up about what was going to happen in her own mind, the concept of everything being fine didn't even make it into her scope of possibilities. 

This is why I encourage you to find out as much about circumcision as you can beforehand, to ask all the questions you can, and to empower yourself with the knowledge you need so that the experience you have through your son's bris will not be debilitating to you.

We have been doing this for thousands of years. Our track record, especially in the age of sterilizing surgical instruments and the amazing bandages we have, has never been better. And if you have done your homework and have discovered that your mohel has an excellent track record of delivering great results plus a pleasing manner, then your nervousness is in your mind.

This is not a dismissal of your feelings. This is not accusing you of being emotional. This is not suggesting your concerns are unfounded.

This is a thoughtful minder to you to breathe, to be trusting (assuming you're confident in your choice of mohel), and to know that you will feel SO MUCH BETTER WHEN IT IS OVER AND YOU SEE YOUR SON IS FINE.

May it be the case that all cases of anxiety (in this case quite justified) are so easily remedied by just having the clear cause of our anxiety being over.

I hope you will have found our overall experience together to be a pleasant one, even with the natural tension that accompanied the advent of the bris. And I hope you will come to see that your son is not worse for wear, and that you are grateful that we took care of this so early in his life, so that he, and hopefully you as well, will not remember the difficult portions of this day, and only the happiness that accompanied the simcha of the bris, and your joy at participating, along with your husband, in fulfilling this mitzvah.

With honor and respect

Avi Billet

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