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For This I Have Prayed

By the end of the day, there were more kids on the sick list than off

Guess how my day was.

I’ll give you six hints:

The baby was home sick.

The kids were home on vacation.

I was home working.

The emails were incessantly filling (and refilling) my inbox.

It was raining, so the kids were stuck inside.

By the end of the day, there were more kids on the sick list than off.

Go ahead, guess. Yes, it’s been a day.

And now it’s 7:39 p.m. and amid the day’s detritus, I’m putting the first of the kids down for the night. With botty and blinky, we’re ensconced in the rocker, and I sing Shema softly as she drinks. Hamalach Hagoel, then my mind casts around and Rechnitz’s melody finds its way off my lips — “El hanaar hazeh hispalalti…” For this child, now soft and warm in my hands, I have prayed. For this child, of the bright eyes and rosy cheeks, resting snugly against me, have I prayed.

My body whispers tiredly to me, and a tiny voice inside wonders. This child? This child with colds, endless teething pain, and recurrent ear infections? This child with her stomach aches, boo-boos, and scrapes? This child with her fear of ants, strangers, and dust? This child with the nonsensical schedule and the unpleasant cleanups of varying origins? For this I have prayed?

I don’t recall mentioning this then, when I asked. I asked for a sweet child of silken skin, precious, innocent, and pure. I asked for an obedient child with round eyes, a child of mild manner and gentle ways.

With the first child, I complained: She doesn’t eat, she doesn’t play, she cries so much! With the second child I complained: He doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t sit, why does he tease his sister so much! And now this child, my third, a child who cries as often as she smiles, who is awake as much as she is asleep, and throws as much food as she eats (okay, probably a lot more than that), who interrupts me five times as I attempt to capture these thoughts. Hmm… I think I sense a pattern here.

Enough kvetching, enough ungratefulness, says the strong and critical voice inside. When you prayed, you asked for this child. You didn’t know it. This wasn’t what you meant. You don’t think you asked for it. But you did. You asked for a child. And you’ve discovered: This is a child, with all the beauty, and all the challenging behavior.

You’ve yet to discover why all that breathtakingly miraculous beauty is accompanied by these struggles. You wish it wasn’t.

You don’t understand. You don’t recall asking for this.

But the soul knows, it senses with absolute clarity, this absolute truth. For these children I have prayed.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 874)

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