For new mom, every day is Extended Family Day

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"Push!" my partner urged as I gripped her hand. "She's almost here!"

"I can see the top of her head!" echoed my friend and co-parent excitedly.

There were other voices encouraging me — three of my closest friends helping count backward from 10 and singing Modeh Ani (thanking God for the miracle of our bodies).

Two other friends were watching over my older daughter, who was in the waiting room anxiously waiting to meet her new sister.

My co-parent's boyfriend attentively offered ice chips between contractions; his brother wielded various cameras, and his sister-in-law supplied snacks.

As the new baby made her way out into our world, we sang a grateful Shehechiyanu. With voices of her loving extended family raised in praise, my daughter Eliana made her appearance at 3 a.m.

Later in the day, we called the synagogue office, so we could schedule the Brit Habat, welcoming Eliana into the covenant, in eight days.

Of course, everybody in the office had already heard, and Rabbi Camille Shira Angel came running to the phone to wish us all a mazel tov and tell us how thrilled she was.

I don't know why I was surprised. For the 16 years I've been a member of San Francisco's Reform Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, that community has brought food and support to my friends who were ill, offered comfort when loved ones died and shared the joy of our simchas. Indeed, I first met my co-parent when our rabbi asked him to help me fight an overwhelming invasion of ants following my mother's death.

For me, Mother's Day, that Hallmark celebration of nuclear families, offers the chance to reflect instead on the power of extended family and Jewish community.

While many of us don't have daily contact with grandparents, uncles and aunts, we can create extended families of choice, loving arms that encircle us and enable us to offer each other gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness). For my daughters, and for our family and community, every day is "Extended Family Day."