There’s always a gap between our dreams and reality, and that chasm looms large in motherhood
t had been a long day,
the sort you have when the kids are little and the days long and their needs incessant, but we’d made it, finally, to bedtime. We’d read the last bedtime story and said Shema, the kids still damp from their baths, faces scrubbed, cheeks clean. I was just about ready to finally breathe, when Zevy jumped up and straddled the big old-fashioned hinged window in his bedroom, his legs hugging either side of the glass, exactly the way I’d told him not to. I was about to tell him to get off yet again, as the window drifted gently toward its frame, when suddenly, it fell off its hinges, shattering with a giant Thud! into a million winking diamonds, glass everywhere. All of the breath was sucked out of me until—
“Eli did it!” Zevy cried from amid the shards, pointing at Eli, who stood on the other side of the room, next to the — oh, my goodness, the crib! The baby!
Somehow, miraculously, no one was hurt, I could breathe again, but there was glass on every surface. I brushed off the kids, carried them into the hallway, and assessed the room. It would take an hour, at least, and the kids were already giggling and sticking their feet into the room— “Look, I kicked the glass!”
I sighed, made up the beds in the guest room, set up the Pack ‘n Play, said Shema again (I drew the line at repeating bedtime stories) and, warning the kids to stay in bed, went back into the kids’ room to start the wearying task of shaking out sheets and vacuuming corners.
I was maneuvering the vacuum hose into the corner under the crib while calling to Zevy to get back into bed when I noticed the light had turned golden and the shadows had lengthened. It hit me: It was almost shekiyah! It was the day before Rosh Chodesh Sivan, a day when prayers for our children’s success in Torah carry a special weight, and I had just moments left to recite Tefillas HaShelah.
I dropped the vacuum cleaner and went to the dining room, determined to seize these last few precious moments. I took my siddur and sat down on the couch, narrowing my focus to its pages and beginning the prayer I knew almost by heart.
At some point, it struck me, the incongruity between what my lips were murmuring — they, their children, and their children’s children, until the end of all generations, for the purpose that they and I be engrossed in Your holy Torah — and what my head was thinking, Please, Hashem, just make them fall asleep, please.
There’s always a gap between our dreams and reality, and that chasm looms large in motherhood. My teenaged imaginings were full of cherub-cheeked toddlers, whole wheat zucchini muffins, and bedtime stories. And we have those, baruch Hashem, but the cheeks tend to be smeared with ketchup, the muffins discarded in favor of Cheerios, and I’ve been known to hiss a short one at the child picking tonight’s bedtime book. It turns out that it’s much easier to have patience with the kids you babysit and are counselor to than to beam a peaceful smile at the kid who’s come out of bed for the fifth time.
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 644)