| LifeTakes |

Special MOMents

I glanced around the room. I couldn’t describe the hundred women gathered there as losers. If anything, the opposite

Random. def: made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision.

AS the mother of teens, that word has entered my lexicon in the most, well… random of ways. As in, “Totally random question, Ma, but why aren’t we going on vacation this year?”

Sometimes I, too, have a random question. A random question to Hashem. As in: Why me? As the mother of two kids with special needs, my question isn’t, “Why did You do this, Hashem?” It’s, “Why did You pick me?” Seriously? Do You have that amount of confidence in me that I can do this? And if so, maybe I can harness some of that confidence for myself? Because I think this decision may have been a mistake. I’m really not the type for saintliness.

So why was I sitting here in a room full of women, all mothers of kids with special needs, all of whom were probably way more deserving than I?

The speaker was describing her initial exposure to her son’s diagnosis. “The doctor said to us, ‘Picture yourself in a forest with thousands of trees. Suddenly, lightning strikes one tree. You’re that tree.’ ”

Okaaay. Definitely random.

I was picked to be struck by lightning. In my case, twice, one kid after the next. Still doesn’t inspire confidence. If anything, what kind of loser was I to get waylaid twice?

I glanced around the room. I couldn’t describe the hundred women gathered there as losers. If anything, the opposite. They seemed to be incredible, put-together, fun, excited, intuitive souls. The energy sparking was tangible. Pulled together from across Eretz Yisrael for Chaim V’Chessed’s first-ever retreat for moms of kids with special needs, as the program progressed, it was clear that  most were dealing with situations that defy comprehension.

And I? I squirmed in my seat. My situation demands loads of patience. Loads of effort to maintain my equilibrium. But not superhuman powers. I remember how after one particularly grueling day, my daughter told me that I was so brave. She was wrong. Brave is when you decide  to do something that’s scary. I never willingly agreed to jump into this maelstrom. When I was a teen, all my friends were signing up to be counselors of kids with special needs, and I was running in the other direction. I didn’t deserve any accolades of bravery. I wasn’t the heroic type. So why did I belong here?

I wandered back to my room and sat by the window staring at the incredible view. The Dead Sea spread out around me, dazzling, dizzying, and paradoxically, so alive. The glint of the sun reflecting the water, the layers of salt that lined the beaches. There was life within the Dead Sea.

There seemed to be a message there for me, too. Beneath the surface of my daily life, were there hints of great strengths within me? Had I demonstrated to Hashem that yes, I was capable of caring for two of His purest souls? My selection as this Mommy couldn’t have been arbitrary. But it sure seemed that way to me. My thoughts kept circling, leaving me no rest despite the relaxing atmosphere.

The last stop on our itinerary was Kever Rochel. The organizers gently handed each woman a leather-bound Tehillim, just one more small gesture after two days that were an endless gift.

I walked into Kever Rochel with my emotions roiling. Their intensity took me by surprise. I thought I’d made peace with my situation years ago. I wasn’t reaching out to be inspired, to bond with others. I’d long ago decided that no one else understood my situation. No one could possibly know what I went through on an average day, the frayed nerves, how the simplest tasks became so complicated when factoring in a set of circumstances that were anything but simple. So why did I feel unworthy compared to all the women there?

I stood there in front of the velvet draping that covered Rochel’s tomb. She, too, was a mother. One who suffered and yearned, one who gave of herself for others. And her story in This World didn’t have a happy ending.

Ah, but The Next World. Her story still resonates, still reverberates in the Heavenly court, and its echoes will continue until they encircle and bring us all back here, home to her.

I’m not prone to tears. But there, at Kever Rochel, after two days of imbibing the message that a special-needs mom deserves so much, I felt a knot within me — one I hadn’t even been aware of — dissolve. There may be a forest of great trees surrounding me. But it was only I who could nurture and thrive together with the children I was given.

Random? No. Perhaps… just perhaps… I am one of the Chosen.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 802)

Oops! We could not locate your form.