Trying to Keep it Together
A Minute to Myself (95)

A Mother’s Blessings

Tomorrow my younger daughter will, in a religious sense, be recognized as an adult and become a full participant in religious life. (As she says, now she’ll try not to sneak bread during Passover.) This is for me, as well as for her, a milestone. While she had to practice her Torah portion, and the blessings, and write her own sermon, for me it has been a time to think about her finding her way as her own person out in the world (especially since this time has entailed even more driving duties than usual for me). It is a time to reflect on the beauty that is motherhood, and those who I have mothered. Even though I often dwell on the challenging aspect of things (because that is much funnier than the purely praising, and of late so much more in sync with my interactions), I will take a moment to think about this joint life-journey. Since I have two daughters, one 17 and one 13, this reflection comes from being at this game for over seventeen years.

While I have spent 17 years putting my daughters’ needs above mine by wiping, cleaning, cooking, driving, talking, folding, registering, arranging, listening, attending, watching, purchasing, bandaging, and coddling, I can’t say that I have put them above me. Was I supposed to? And what does that cliché mean? Does it mean that I should have esteemed their minds more than mine? Should I have let mine atrophy in order to develop theirs? How does that work? I let my personality wither to grow yours? Isn’t that counter-intuitive? Don’t young girls, especially, need strong mothers to be strong themselves—to put their heads through the ceiling, if need be?

Perhaps because I had to fight against a controlling husband I did not lay on the ground to be walked on by my daughters (well, not full-body walking, at least). I couldn’t let everyone try to diminish me or rewrite who I am, now could I? But is that really the way to go about being a parent? A mother? Giving yourself up for them? Letting the career go or change or transform or take a hiatus, yes, I did that. Letting my fashion sense become even drabber since either they were spitting on me or I am I spending on them, yes I did that. Not go out to play with friends, well, I did that less often but I still did it. Closing the door, sometimes just the figurative door and sometimes the literal door, to escape them and escape into me, yes, I certainly did-do-that. How can that possibly be seen as a betrayal of my role?  

----You know, I’m still drained from being called crazy and stupid. Not from their father, but from them. I thank my daughters for giving me the opportunity to bring forth my knowledge and understanding and love. And to find my knowledge and understanding and love through our relationships. I thank them for letting me get to watch them grow and try to keep them safe as they find their way. But they are teens and I am stressed from this bitter post-divorce process, and so I feel that I have failed. But I tried, I did. I have done all I could—can. And that, too, is the message. We can only do as best as we can, and hope that the rays of love and concern have been transmitted.

Sweetie, I love you and wish you joy and happiness in all that you do. Mazel Tov!


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