A Bat Mitzvah speech written & read by me. Or we conquered Dragons.

My daughter's picture for Temple bulletin announcing her Bat Mitzvah

My daughter’s picture for Temple bulletin announcing her Bat Mitzvah

I was asked by my Rabbi if I wished to say something wonderful about my daughter during her Bat Mitzvah.  For him to ask me, was a standard question. But for me, it was akin to asking me to fight dragons. Public speaking or fighting dragons is a toss up as far as which I would prefer.  I told him I would think about it.  I used this delaying tactic for a few months.  I didn’t say no, which meant, I wasn’t a bad mother & I didn’t say yes, so I wasn’t  going to throw up on his shoes. Finally, time ran out & he needed an answer.  Yes or No?  From somewhere  I hear,”yes” in my own voice.  I wonder what gave me that last little push.  It was Hannah, the night before, in a smug little grin, “If I have to go up there, you have to go up there.” She told me.  She is just as shy as I am. I thought, how dare I ask her do something, when I myself lack the courage to tell the world (50 people) how wonderful my child is?

I wanted people to know what I had seen raising her from babyhood to thirteen.  This is what I wrote.  And  the very best part is the end, after the eating, the party, dresses on the floor (hers)  PJ’s on (us).  I assure you it is worth your time reading  & it explains what parenting is all about.

“Hannah, I know you’ve spent a lot of time studying for today & you’ve spent a lot of time worrying about today.  You worry about your future, you always have.  You tell us,”I don’t know what I’m gonna be when I grow up.”  I always answer the same way, “You are young, don’t worry about it, you’ll figure it out.”

I am not concerned, because I know who you are going to be.   Looking at your past, I see a pattern.  You at one, didn’t want to learn to walk, being carried was going to be your mode of transportation, but I put you down & you learned to walk.  And then I had to run to keep up.

 At 5, you struggled to read, said you couldn’t do it.  But you did & you still devour stories.

 At 8, you didn’t do well in math, you said it was too hard.  But you and your step-dad worked together to help put you on A-B honor roll, where you have remained ever since.

 At 10, you struggled through your Hebrew prayers, you said they were too hard.  But when you read Hebrew, I still cry.

 At 12, we moved you to a new school, very much against your wishes.  When I dropped you off that first day, it felt for me, like your first day of kindergarten.  And I knew then, that you are braver then I’ll ever be.

 At 11, 12, 13  you worried about your Bat Mitzvah,  for no other reason then your shyness, but you have done it, beautifully, as we knew you would.  

We listen to you struggle, complain and protest loudly with new challenges.  We listen and wait.  We wait until you have vented enough and then we watch you find your feet and you shine.  We’ve seen you do it a thousand times & (knock on wood)hope to see it thousands more.  You don’t know what your going to be when you grow up.  But we do. And today, you proved us right.  You are going to be who you’ve always been, a success.

You told me with a wicked grin, that I had to come up here (Bima) & tell everyone how proud we are of you. And you knew that would be a challenge for me, because of my shyness.  But I will follow you anywhere.

So today,  right now,  you outshine the Sun, you hung the Moon, you rock me to my core & you blow me away.  I love you.”

So I said to wait for the best part.  Past all the worry & stress of getting through this. When we are both in our pjs, I shyly ask Hannah if she liked my speech.  “Um…I didn’t really get it.” She said.

No, she won’t get it until she is a mother.

But right then…she was a 13 year old brat, I mean…girl.

But both of us had conquered our dragons.

32 thoughts on “A Bat Mitzvah speech written & read by me. Or we conquered Dragons.

    • She has always conquered her shyness with bravado. She has reached her senior year of high school & she no longer has to dig deep to find the courage to do everything, it has become a part of her. I am a very proud mother. Thank you for reading it.

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      • I could say kids don’t appreciate what they have these days, but I suppose every generation said that. It could well be that parenting is gradually getting better over the years, or at least more conscientious. Your post makes my parents seem incredibly unsupportive. When I had trouble with something I was “hopeless”, “brains of a frog” and worse. Then again when I complained about my parents they thought I was unappreciative of the fact that they always fed and clothed me. And my cousin considered us the normal family, because my father didn’t come home drunk and beat everyone. It’s all relative, but it does sometimes really get to me when I hear people complain about family situations I would have killed for.

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      • The things I NOTICED about my daughter as she struggled to find her own path, i did not talk about my part in her struggles so much, because it was a speech about WHO she is. Parents can only guide & do the best they can, but when my children were born, there were who they were, I just nurtured the best & ignored/tolerated/pointed out the worst…I’d never been a mother before. i tell my children that I’ve never been 43 before & I’ve never had a 17 year old before…we are all learning as we go. I sometimes felt unsupported as a child, but now i understand that my parents were living their lives too, doing the best they could with what they earned or been given or had been dealt in life. I try to look at the broader view, my life from a distance is better tolerated then focusing on the past or today, but what may be. Sometimes i find that life really sucks today, but it will pass or today is really great & that too shall pass…it makes life easier to navigate the unknown & understanding the trials i’ve been through, or watch my children suffer through, if i learned something from it.
        ~amy

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  1. What a great piece. I laughed at the “throw up on his shoes” related to the “knock wood” and almost cried with “…a success” and loved the ending which was so real, unexpected, and just great, that she didn’t get it and how you responded in your prose to that. So nice to meet you. Paulette :-)

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    • Paulette, I am photographing your comment so that I can read it whenever I am blue. That beautiful daughter of mine has proven me right time & time again. She turned 18 two days ago. I told her how proud I was of her, she said, “I am mature, I’m so mature I am boring…ugh” I am blessed. Thank you for your lovely comments. ~amy

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  2. Thanks for following my blog, and what a delight to come across you and your daughter. I’m always grateful t the web because it links you to people who enrich your life and who earlier you may not have connected with.

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  3. Pingback: A Bat Mitzvah speech written & read by me. Or we conquered Dragons. | 2me4art

  4. What an inspirational speech…your daughter sounds a lot like my son!
    He is almost 18 and his Bar Mitzvah was a while ago. I can still see him on the Bimah, in limbo, not a boy any longer. Yet not a man.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and jogging a great memory! :)
    by the way..I wasn’t able to make a speech..my husband did. I did for my daughter, not at the temple. At the Candle lighting ceremony, and I bawled like a baby!!!

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    • My daughter’s 18th birthday was two weeks ago. I cried during her Bat Mitzvah, but only a little, because I wrote it a month before I gave my Rabbi my yes, just in case I did tell him- yes. I read it over & over until the words were in bedded into my bones. But mostly I read it to myself over & over to practice reading it without tears. I never really got the hang of it. ;)
      Thank you for reading & commenting.
      If your son is almost 18, then do you cry when you think about where he will be living on his next birthday? I do. Time moves too fast, 18 years is a blink.
      Nice to meet you, Gail. ~amy

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      • That us so true Amy!
        He goes to boarding school, so I’m a bit ahead if the curve. I was very upset when he decided to go to boarding school in 10th grade I’m not sure if it was my own guilt or because it was unexpected. I didn’t cry when my daughter went to college (she is going to be 20). Maybe because it was the proper time to be “moving on”.
        Now it is his time as well.
        Hoping for the best!!!
        Gail

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      • The shock of admitting to myself that I wouldn’t be able to say good night to her, as I have done for 18 years…turned me to jelly. So, I put the thought away & absorb all the positive things she says about her future life & remember what it felt like to leave my parent’s nest. Sometimes, the thought creeps back in & slams into me like a brick wall & I just cry. Everyone says, “just think about her…blah, blah, blah” I respond by saying I’ve been her, I’ve never been on the other side! Left behind is so much harder then the leaving!
        I wish us both the best! ~amy

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  5. Dear Amy,
    I am a father of two sons and I had never made such a speech… No Bat Mitzvah here ;) Still, your words do reach me… I wish you and her continue to enrich each other…

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    • I had never given a speech before then. When I wrote this speech, it was before I told my Rabbi that I would, only to see if I could write one. I wrote from the heart b/c I believed it was destined for the trash can.
      Thank you for reading it & thank you for commenting. ~amy

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    • Thank you for reading my daughter’s speech. My daughter has never asked to see or read it again. She didn’t like it. I’m not sure why. My 12 year old daughter is up next–her bat mitzvah is in August. I wrote something about her on my blog & I asked her if I could use that story for her speech with a few changes, she said no. She told me that I had to write her a new one & not to tell her what I wrote. Miss Bossy pants. She is so opposite in every way to her older sister. I hope your daughters remember their speech. Do you still have them? Maybe you could put them on your blog. :) Thank you for wonderful compliment. ~amy

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      • I do have both speeches somewhere, perhaps even on my computer hard drive. I think if you wait another ten years, your daughter will view your speech very differently. My older daughter cried through my whole speech when I gave it (she saw my father tear up, and that was it for her). My younger daughter was more focused on who was out in the congregation and might not have heard much of it! I should mail each of them a copy for the next anniversary of their bat mitzvah—it will be 21 years later for the older, 17 years later for the younger. Maybe after I let them read them again I will put them on the blog. :)

        Amy

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      • Oh that would be so sweet. With all the technology available you could type them in a artistic way. I don’t think my daughter will ever really like hers. She is a tough nut to crack. I hope so though. Thanks for visiting me! ~amy

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    • Thank you, Elana. She is adorable & about to fly out of the nest. Wish her a gentle breeze to take her off to college in Mobile, Alabama. Four hours away. Instead of across the hallway. Oy. ~amy

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  6. You have a very beautiful daughter, Amy. My congratulations to the whole family. It is my hope that the education and guidance that you gave Hannah will enable her to integrate much of the Jewish heritage in her life, and that she will be a source of nachas to all who love her. Your speech at this very special occasion was moving.

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    • Thank you for taking the time to read my speech & for your lovely compliment. I do hope Hannah will continue to integrate her Jewish heritage in her life. I’ve given her wings & in a few (very) short months, she will leave this home & go off to college. When she was younger (8 or so), my Rabbi told me that it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their children how to take care of themselves. Teach them to swim…I had been dealing with the drudgery of taking care of babies, that I hadn’t changed the way I had treated her as she had grown from a needy infant to a young child. I started to change as she did. I had two younger children under the age three at the time. His words turned my parenting around completely. We’ve tried to give her a strong foundation from which to build her life on. I can now say that she is a strong, smart, witty (& a great beauty) I have no fear for the life she will create with the tools that she has been given. I am grateful to for the lessons she has given me. My heart will ache with missing her. Another lesson for me to learn, is how do i live without her being across the hall from me?
      Thank you again for reading the speech. I have to write another for my other daughter for her Bat Mitzvah in August of this year. She is a powerhouse & unlike her sister, is anti-mom everything. Wish me luck.
      I hope you have a wonderful Passover. ~amy

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