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At My Sister’s Side

Bracha Yaari

Some women do more than dress up for their sisters’ wedding day. They plan and finance the entire simchah, in the place of a parent who can’t

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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W hat a young mother you are!” a woman exclaimed as she offered a mazel tov to Miri, who was standing next to the bride. “You barely look older than the kallah!”

Miri laughed but didn’t say anything. She was very close in age to the beaming kallah — in fact, the two sisters are only a decade apart. Since their mother’s passing eight years ago, Miri has served as a stand-in for that role.

“I remember the moment after the chuppah, when the chassan took my sister to the yichud room,” recalls Miri. “Through my tears, I said to myself, ‘I can’t believe we’ve reached this point. From now on, there’s someone else who’ll take care of her — she has her own home now.’ I felt like someone had lifted a heavy load off my shoulders and my heart.” A 33-year-old interior decorator, Miri is also a mother of five — her eldest is 11 years old and her baby just over a year.

Most mothers Miri’s age are busy juggling their home responsibilities, children, and work stress. Few have the additional mammoth obligation of raising a sibling, helping her navigate the world of shidduchim, planning her wedding, and setting up her new home.

Here, three young mothers who escorted their sisters to the chuppah share their stories.

Answering the Knock

For Miri, stepping into the role of “second mother” started with a knock on her door.

“After my mother was niftar, Tikva came to us one evening for ‘the time being’ and stayed until her wedding day,” says Miri. “At the time, I was 25 years old, married for five years with three small children.”

 

The family dynamic changed abruptly and dramatically with Tikva’s arrival. “It wasn’t like we suddenly had a live-in babysitter,” emphasizes Miri. “Think about what a high-school girl’s daily schedule is like. Tests, studying, activities, school politics… and we were a young couple, just starting out.

“After a day of formula, diapers, ‘Mommy, I have a boo boo,’ ‘He took my…’ and chasing three active little kids, I longed for the evening so I could finally sit down with my husband. But then Tikva would come home and want to share what happened during her day and who said what to whom, who was insulted, and just how sick and tired of all this studying she is.

“I couldn’t say to her, ‘Can you go to your room so I can have some quiet?’ Her emotional condition was delicate and she needed a listening ear. I had a lot of misgivings that maybe I wasn’t giving her enough, and she wasn’t getting what a girl her age needs, because of my lack of maturity.”

There was also the significant financial burden. “Before Tikva showed up, my husband and I were trying to figure out our budget. You know how it is, we were a young couple counting every dollar, and suddenly, not only did we have another mouth to feed, but we had a teenager who needed money for clothing, summer camp, and school books, who sometimes was just in the mood for pizza, and who wanted to offer expensive nosh to her friends who’d come to study for a test. It was a serious financial strain,” says Miri. “At a certain point, we realized that we would be the ones who would have to marry her off — there simply wasn’t anyone else to do it.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 578)

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