As we stood at Har Sinai, the experience flooded senses; we saw the thunder, heard the lightning. The lightning fades, but the sudden burst of clarity takes you forward. Six women share a moment that illuminated their path
Someone is knocking at the door, the baby is kvetching, and I’m trying to prepare supper. My daughter is oblivious; her hands are raised above her hands in a ballerina pose as she dances in front of the mirror.
I grit my teeth and mutter to myself. Then I take a deep breath and ask her to please find out what the baby wants while I wash my hands and take a break from breading the chicken cutlets so I can lower the music and answer the door.
She makes a half-hearted attempt to soothe the baby, then disappears, off to trace a drawing of Minnie Mouse. I look at the toys strewn all over. I feel bad that I can’t sit and play with my toddler; I wish my daughter would at least do that. And when I see her shoes in the hallway, and her knapsack at the door, I have to stop myself from talking sharply to her.
I try to soothe myself and accept that she’s not the “helping” type. Even simply cleaning up toys is a long procedure of color-coding or stacking shapes that takes forever and looks more like playing than cleaning up. I know that if she just learns to take care of herself and her belongings, it will be an accomplishment. Yet as much as I talk to myself and try to work through acceptance, I still feel resentful and frustrated.
One day, I was kvetching yet again to my sister about how impossible it is to see a nine-year-old girl who does nothing to help out in the house. I started the familiar rant of what I did at that age.
My sister stopped me. “Hold on. Are you saying you were the natural helping type like me?” I knew she wasn’t trying to stir up the conflicts we’d had as girls, when our different personality types were like oil and water, and come what may, we couldn’t blend.
“I helped,” I defended myself.
“Yes you did, because you were forced to. But was it easy for you? Was it natural for you? Did you enjoy it?”
In a raw moment of honesty, I recalled how excruciatingly difficult it was to tear myself away from my books, how hard it was to follow the instructions my mother gave me, and how much I disliked being told what to do.
“But look at me today,” I countered. “I can run a house and easily do everything that was hard for me.”
Somehow I thought this was a winning argument.
But my sister’s final words still burn deep inside of me. “Wait and see — someday your daughter will also be able to do it all. For now, bug off.”
So when I see my daughter dawdling, when I catch her running out to another friend, when I watch her engrossed in dance and music, I remind myself that she’s the same as I was.
And that eventually, she’ll get it together, too.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 742)
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