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I started the Jewish Mother Project last fall with the declaration that, “My goal is not to become a perfect Jewish mother, but the ‘Best Carla’ I can be for my daughters.”

And then I confidently marched off in the opposite direction, following a path that had very little to do with who I am, and had everything to do with who I thought I should be.

Let me give you some examples: I set a goal to roast a chicken, even though I don’t enjoy cooking and have only a theoretical desire to learn how to cook. I decided to start being more observant in my Shabbat and kosher observance, and then proceeded to not follow through.

I’ve thought about these “failures” often. (The truth is that I don’t love that word at all. The thoughtful part of my brain doesn’t see any of this as a failure, but rather another step on the path back to who I actually am. But the dramatic, judgmental part of my psyche, who has a very tricky way of getting her hands on the megaphone far more often than I’d like her to, sees it as a failure, and I still haven’t quite figured out how to get her to hush up.)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my underlying assumption in starting this project was that I wasn’t a good enough Jewish Mother, and that I wouldn’t be good enough until I learned all of the right things and could do all of the right things.

The moment I did that, I unknowingly set myself at the edge of a very steep precipice with a very slippery slope.

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