Living the Dream| May 31, 2022
Can’t they see how hard they’re making it for themselves? I vented to whoever was willing to listen
When our first daughter was getting married, I was thrilled.
Like all mothers, I hoped her life would be perfect.
We wanted to buy the young couple an apartment and searched for something that would fit in our limited budget. We finally narrowed it down to two choices out of town. One apartment was on a beautiful woodsy street. The owner had built on an extension, creating a lot of living space, but with a rather haphazard plan. I identified with the apartment’s quirkiness.
The second apartment was more standard. The rooms were a nice size, and there was a large window in the living room overlooking a pleasant view. The catch was the neighborhood, which wasn’t completely religious. But things seemed to be moving along in the right direction, as one frum couple after the other moved in, and a knowledgeable acquaintance advised us that this apartment was a better option.
But things didn’t quite work out as we’d hoped. Local politics meant that the up-and-coming neighborhood took a sudden turn for the worse. Instead of new couples flowing into the area, the ones that were already there were leaving, searching for more accommodating pastures. Educational services for the young religious families were deteriorating.
While my next few children who got married were fortunate to buy apartments close to family and settled in quickly, my heart bled for my daughter, son-in-law, and four small grandchildren. I started suggesting they too look for an apartment in a different neighborhood, but, of course, that would mean putting in more money. We were willing to help the family relocate, but the couple would have to take on a larger mortgage.
Money was an issue. Pre-Covid my daughter had happily supported her husband in learning while working as a tour coordinator, but her boss’s business was a Covid casualty. While initially she’d hoped the business would get back up on its feet, eventually she took a job as a secretary at a busy real estate office. Her monthly income didn’t allow for more debt.
I was bothered. When this couple got married, they had a very pragmatic view on life. They knew that neither set of parents would be able to support in long-term learning, much as we would have liked to. With an eye to the future, my son-in-law had joined a kollel, specializing in training the young men to become rebbeim in cheder. My son-in-law received lots of positive feedback on his model lessons, and we were sure he had a future as a promising rebbi.
When the two-year program ended, my son-in-law switched kollels and found a new love. Learning. He became attached to learning in depth in a way his younger self never had. And my daughter couldn’t have been prouder.
Still, I wanted to see this family of six settled in a more friendly environment. One relaxed Shabbos afternoon, I was schmoozing with my daughter and casually brought up the idea of her husband going out to teach and bringing in some much needed parnassah.
“Oh, no,” my daughter answered. “That’s something from the past. We aren’t interested in that now.”
I walked around frustrated for days, annoyance burning my insides. Can’t they see how hard they’re making it for themselves? I vented to whoever was willing to listen.
One day as I was griping to a friend, a memory came to me.
“You know,” I said slowly, “I just remembered something. When I got married, my husband and I planned to make aliyah right after the wedding. I’m an only daughter and was very close to my parents, and to my mother a”h in particular. My mother’s friends tried to console her that perhaps after a few years we would come back to live near home.
“My mother was totally disinterested in their words of consolation. ‘Oh no,’ she exclaimed. ‘I’d never want that to happen. If they came back then it would mean they failed to fulfill their dreams. I’d never want my daughter to fail in achieving her dreams.’”
I stopped and looked at my listening friend’s warm eyes. Slowly the words came out of my mouth. “It seems that right now my daughter’s dream is for her husband to continue learning. I wouldn’t want to spoil that dream with my constant pestering. It’s her decision as to how and where she wants to live.”
I suddenly felt lighter. No longer did I feel an ache that my daughter and her family were living a life less than ideal. She is living her perfect life. May she continue to live her dreams to their fullest.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 795)
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