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? Yes. There, i did it. 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’re 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 i 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.
postscript 2/18/2018 Hannah is graduating college this spring. She made straight A’s & she made the Dean’s list. She is (going to be) a speech pathologist working with children. See? bragging rights. i was right. a success.