I was asked by my Rabbi if I wished to say something wonderful about my daughter for her Bat Mitzvah. For him to ask me, was a standard question. But for me, it was akin to asking me to fight dragons. 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 Mom & 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? “Yes” I surprised myself by saying. I wonder who gave me that last little push. It was Hannah, the night before, she had said, “If I have to go up there, you have to go up there.” I thought, how dare I ask my child to do something, when I myself lack the courage to stand up, to tell the world (50 people), how wonderful my child is?
When I wrote this I wanted people to see, what I’ve seen, in raising her from babyhood to thirteen years of age. 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 this & 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 would always answer, “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 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)will to see it thousands more. You don’t know what your going to be when you grow up. But we do. And 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 right now, today, 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 part in which explains what parenting is all about. Past all the worry & stress of getting through this. About writing a bat Mitzvah speech while crying over the keyboard…
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. Ouch.
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 Dragons.
(watercolor is a commissioned piece by me)