| LifeTakes |

The Pink Toothpick   

It’s never been a race for me, and numbers just weren’t a thing. But now, in my fragile state, it all seems different

MYstory starts last summer.

I plan for its events for the majority of the year, and then a fiasco turns the whole thing upside down. It’s a blow to me, a blow to my family, and a blow to my business.

I spend the next few months reeling from it, processing it. Slowly, very slowly. Agonizingly slowly. All with my toddler underfoot. My toddler, who makes me laugh and smile like no other toddler ever has, because he joined our family after six-and-a-half years of davening. He’s an answer to our tefillos, and he brings me endless joy.

In this post-summer darkness, I start to wonder when the next child will arrive. I don’t want to go there, but I worry and wonder if there will be a similar wait.

I start to notice that everyone in my life is expecting. Every sister, cousin, and friend. My two closest friends share that they’re each pregnant, and with their seventh child.

When it comes to bringing children into the world, it’s never been a race for me, and numbers just weren’t a thing. But now, in my fragile state, it all seems different.

Some of us have had our battles with jealousy in our earlier years, and we’ve even thought we were past it. But this is something different altogether. “Hashem, you’re squeezing me,” I can’t help but say. He’s squeezing me as if He’s trying to extract nectar.

Before I know it, the dark nights of winter arrive. I remember all I’ve learned about the power of sitting in front of the menorah for the first half hour after lighting and davening. The nectar finally comes out in the form of tefillos. Concentrated tefillos.

I arrange and attend a family Chanukah party. There are four women there, including me. Three of them are expecting. When I come home, I cry and go right back to davening. “Hashem, please give me a daughter,” I beg.

I ignore the voices that say, “As long as it’s a healthy baby.” I remind myself that nothing is too small or too silly to ask my Creator for.

I bundle up and walk to the other end of our neighborhood, to the one paper goods store in town, and I purchase the cutest pink cupcake toppers I can find. I take one from the package of 18 and place it right near our gold-plated menorah. It stays there all week, except for when I place it in my hand, feel it, squeeze it. “Hashem, please give me a daughter,” I whisper. “Please let me use this for her kiddush.”

I ignore the voices that say, “What are the chances? After 11 years, there’s been no girl in sight.” Or, “What are the chances of having a new baby so soon? You’ve never had a toddler and an infant in the same home.” Instead, I remember the angels that surround my flames, the ones called Machnisei Tefillah, and I send them to the Kisei Hakavod loaded up with my entreaties for pink booties and little toes to fill them.

On Zos Chanukah, I remember the directive to unleash the power that comes by letting your tears blur all eight flames into one. I accomplish this easily because once I’ve committed to opening myself up, the tears don’t let up. All the while, that lone pink cupcake topper sits in my palm.

The other 17 sit in my drawer.

Until today.

Today, I pull them out.

Today, I meet with my party planner friend and plan where to place those 17 cupcake toppers for our kiddush.

I still have the 18th one, folded and bent. I’ll place it in the center of the platter.

This year, I will not put a toothpick in front of my menorah. This year, I’ll hold a pink bundle in front of my menorah and say thank you.

This year, when we’re collectively being squeezed for nectar, I’ll purchase more cupcake toppers, and I’ll paste a picture of a hostage still left behind in Gaza on the back of each one.

This year, I’ll ask for the war to end. I’ll ask for Hashem to return to Tzion.

Because the pink bundle in my arms reminds me that nothing’s too small and nothing’s too big to ask for.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 871)

Oops! We could not locate your form.