Tenacity and resilience, thy name is woman.
I’m in awe of the Jewish woman.
I go swimming three times a week in our local community pool. The pool is usually crowded with women of all ages and walks of life. Many come for the exercise, many simply for the social scene. There are the regulars, the one-timers, the old and the young.
And I know as I greet and smile at those I recognize and the strangers, that this small slice of humanity represents a segment of a greater whole — Jewish women throughout the world who are both similar and different yet share a common strength.
I know, in viewing the crowd on any given morning, that there is no woman here who has not experienced or is going through a life challenge that is excruciating, harrowing, and seems a mission impossible.
Yet despite this, the atmosphere in the pool is always light, always friendly, with the feminine sharing of recipes and laundry tales, babysitting woes, and helpful sales.
I’m in awe of how we women get up every morning, facing days that often will tax us emotionally, physically, spiritually — days that will shake us to the core of our stability. Yet we manage to rise, to face it. We smile and schmooze; we maintain equilibrium despite the undercurrents swamping our steps.
Tenacity and resilience, thy name is woman.
It is as a credit and a testimony to every woman out there that I chose to write this serial.
Several people have asked me why I’ve given words to the most private moments of my life. First, while I have not changed the details that occurred in any way, all names have been changed to protect our privacy. Furthermore, a solid advantage I have is that most of my children do not read English — Chezky and Ari certainly do not — and therefore they’re not aware of this diary nor would have any reason to come across its contents.
But this wasn’t a journal about my family nor about my sons. This was a journal for myself. For documenting and describing in stark black and white the challenges I face, and the strength I managed to summon to emerge and survive.
I don’t say I emerged unscathed. Because each new challenge, each episode and incident, has chiseled away at my core, and I’ve often despaired of ever having the ability to repair the damage.
The title of the serial, Meltdown, reflects not only my sons’ tendencies to become overwhelmed and shut down, but the depths of my own despair when I’d fall, once again, into the maelstrom of agony and say, “Hashem, I can’t do this anymore.”
I’m not ashamed of those moments, and nor should you be if that is where you are right now. Those deep dark moments are part of the process; the work is to climb back up — even if we’re thrown back down once again.
My daughter once said to me, “Mommy, you’re so brave.” And my response was, “I’m not brave at all.” Bravery is when one faces a challenge and chooses to step forth, to display valor in braving the beast.
At no moment did I say, “Yes, I’ll take this on, I’m not afraid.”
I had no choice.
No, I am not brave. But I’d like to think I became strong. I’m proud of that strength to rise to the occasion and to attempt to succeed within the difficulties.
In truth, as the years went by, and the challenges grew and threatened to swamp me, I would waver. I knew that even if I did manage to pull through, the scars and cracks would remain. The heart that loved my sons so deeply was shattered countless times, and each time I’d need to apply yet another layer of glue to fuse the many fissures.
The woman I am today is not the young married I was years ago. This woman has been weakened by challenges, is so much more shaky because of the constant need to shore and repair. But this woman has the strength of Kintsugi.
Kintsugi is a traditional Japanese repair method for broken pottery. With this technique, instead of attempting to glue a broken item back together and hope the cracks will not be visible, the cracks and chips themselves are filled with a bright gold hue that display these repairs openly.
Instead of viewing the cracks as flaws, they become part of the vessel’s beauty, a new creation that highlights fresh strength, recreated art that surpasses the original vessel.
I am in awe of the Jewish woman, who has known this talent for all of our existence. We have the innate ability, the will, to attempt to continue onward. Always.
I wrote this serial for each and every one of you. In admiration and celebration of our strength, collectively and individually. Our ability to take the mission Hashem has given each one of us and to emerge, not unscathed, but more beautiful and stronger than ever before. I am proud to be one of you.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 854)
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