I Used to Pray Every Morning. Then I Had a Kid.

March 9, 2023, Kveller.com

“I wanna eat!”

These words have been my alarm clock almost every morning at 7 a.m. for the last few months. They ring from my 3-year-old daughter, Hanna, who somehow finds her way to my bed in the middle of the night.

I’d love to hit snooze, but I’m against child abuse.

From the day she came out of my womb, her morning cries and demands have prevented me not only from sleeping in, but from observing any steady, spiritual morning ritual, my version of Shacharit, the name for Jewish morning prayers.

Back when I was a student at a Modern Orthodox high school, I would recite Shacharit every day and kept this ritual until my early 20s, when I explored other denominations and secular life. While I never returned to Orthodox prayer, the idea behind it stuck with me, and I’d find time to meditate or pray every morning to clear my mind — sometimes in my own words, and sometimes with elements of a Jewish “script.” Motherhood has deepened my connection to tradition, so that I could pass this beautiful legacy to my daughter.

But since becoming a mother, I’ve learned not only to dream small (three book drafts have been shelved), but to pray small, literally. The most I can muster after the “I wanna eat” chant is the iconic Jewish morning prayer of thanks: Modah Ani (“I give thanks”).

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