| Musings |


I remember that my husband mentioned something about fiddling with my phone yesterday. I should have taken him more seriously

“Mommy,” my three-year-old whispers. “When are you getting up?”

I roll over and make myself comfortable, nudging my feverish baby over as I do so.

“When my alarm goes off,” I mumble, trying not to sound grumpy after a long night up with the baby.

I become aware of the angle of the sunlight in the room. Something’s not right. But my alarm hasn’t gone off.

“Ask Abba what time it is,” I say, and bury my head deeper into my pillow. She patters off. Alarms must be more accurate than the sun. Or not.

“Abba says it’s seven and twenty,” my daughter informs me.

“What?” That’s a screech, and it comes from me as I perform a leap that would make any gymnast jealous. “Your bus!”

I frantically check my phone’s screen. It reads 5:19. I remember that my husband mentioned something about fiddling with my phone yesterday. I should have taken him more seriously.

Rushing into the living room, I thrust my phone at my husband. He’s lying on the couch, resting his very injured knee. “You can’t play with my phone! Now everyone is going to be late!”

I proceed to run around like a madwoman making lunches and getting myself, children, and feverish baby ready. Until it hits me. Baby’s got fever; she can’t go to the babysitter. Someone emits a wail. Maybe it’s me.

My husband hobbles over on his crutches and offers to stay home with her. I thank him, but cast a worried glance at his injured knee. “Can you?” I ask. I’m still upset about my phone. He reassures me that he can do it.

He also chooses that moment to mention that, well, he accidentally erased about a third of the contacts saved on my phone when he played — er, tried to fix — it the day before. A third. Of my contacts.

It’s 7:55, the bus will be here in five minutes. I pull out the overflowing garbage bag — husband’s off duty. I grimace. Rush to the bus — husband’s off duty. I’m not used to this. The garbage is his job. Taking my three-year-old to gan is his job.

I need to get to work. Two large garbage bags jostle at my legs as I balance stroller, first grader, and three-year-old. Dumpster, check. Wait for bus. Wait some more. Return baby to husband. Ignore her pleading cries as I wave goodbye. Rush first-grader off to school, kiss, hug. Run to work.

Phew, 8:27. Right on time. Thank you, Hashem. I slide into my office chair, turn on the computer. My eyes widen as they catch the date.


It’s my anniversary.

Our anniversary.

Memories cascade over my tired brain. This time, seven years ago. I think about my husband. I think about how annoyed I am at him, and how much I adore him. I’m still annoyed. My alarm. My contacts. His injured knee, all the millions of tiny and not-tiny chores that have fallen squarely into my lap since his fall. My worry about his torn ligament, worry about him, and also worry about myself, wondering how much more I can carry.

As I turn my attention to my workday, I think of single mothers, carrying everything alone. All the time.

I should call my husband and apologize for the way I acted this morning. I don’t call. I’m still annoyed. My alarm. My contacts. His knee.

Even as I work, I can’t stop thinking about the knee, X-ray, ultrasound, orthopedist, and oh I must schedule that MRI…

From work I dash to the pharmacy, wait in a dizzyingly long line. Run home. Nurse feverish baby. Husband falls asleep. My irritation rises. He watched the baby, something whispers. The baby SLEPT all morning, something snaps back. Rush out with feverish baby, pick up first-grader, rush to the bus stop.

The sun beats on our heads. I look for a scrap of shade, turn the stroller around so at least the baby is in the shade. Wait for bus. Three-year-old gets off. She falls, scrapes her arm, wails. Arriving home, two out of three are crying. Joy. My husband is asleep over his Gemara, leg raised on a chair.

I manage to get everyone’s hands washed, try to get everyone fed, try to calm the baby, help the three-year-old with her scrape and the first-grader in the bathroom all at once. I can’t, but I try, and I even manage to stay patient as I reassure each one in turn that I’m coming. My husband sleeps.

Eventually everyone eats. Something. I take what I can get.

We wake my husband; I serve him lunch. I still don’t apologize. I thank him for watching the baby.

It’s our anniversary.

I think of this time, seven years ago. My wedding day. My prayers. My gown. The pictures. The light. The magic. The excitement and joy and fluttering heart, my whole life breathlessly waiting in the wings.

Back to reality; my husband wants to make me happy. We toss suggestions for celebrating at each other. I’m still annoyed. We finally agree to go to a nearby eatery. It’s not usually in the budget. My husband insists. It’s our anniversary, he knows nice food makes me happy. He insists he can make it, that his knee will hold out. He hobbles on his crutches. All the neighborhood children stare.

I push the stroller, get the kids and stroller on the bus. We also pick up a rapid Covid test because the phone rings, and it’s the baby’s babysitter to tell me that FYI, feverish baby’s babysitter’s husband has Covid. I try not to cry.

We reach the eatery. I procure a chair for my husband. “Order a big salad and ice coffee,” I request, and head out with the kids; it’s too cramped to stay. We go to the bakery. I buy each child a boureka. My husband calls. “The ice coffee machine is broken and they’re out of salad,” he reports. My dear, beloved hick town. We value more important things. This eatery is the only place in the area.

We give up, head home, Covid tests rattling in my bag, feverish baby crying, husband hobbling. Back on the bus. More tears. Three-year-old brakes feverish baby’s stroller. I try to be patient and forgiving. I succeed. Somewhat. I try to say “Gam zu l’tovah.” The words get stuck.

I think longingly of ice coffee and a big salad. I blink hard, and we all somehow get through the door. Supper. Baths. I watch the bubbles in the bath and think of my wedding day.

I wonder what I would have felt if I’d had a sneak preview of my seventh anniversary. Then I try to imagine what my life will look like in another seven years’ time, on my 14th anniversary. I can’t conjure up a picture.

I wonder about weddings. Anniversaries. Husbands. Children.

I wonder about growth. Despair. Frustration. Love.

I rinse off sweet, clean-smelling children and wrap them in fluffy towels (that are less fluffy than they were seven years ago). I think, maybe, if I had had a sneak preview on that magical night, I would’ve felt apprehension. Fear.

But wouldn’t I also have been overcome with gratitude for my husband, my children, my life?

Yes, I decide as water gurgles down the drain. I would have. I’m blessed. So blessed.

Even through the haze that was my seventh anniversary, I reach out and touch that truth.



(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 773)

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