| Musings |

Where Have You Been?

As every mother knows, we (unwisely) tend to put ourselves last on our “Things To Take Care Of” list


t’s been a pretty busy Yom Tov/end-of-school-year season for all of us, and I haven’t been spared.

But after a few friends asked me where I’d traveled, saying it was a while since they’d seen me last, I realized that I’ve been more than busy; I’ve been MIA. I’ve had the same million errands and things to do as you’ve had as the seasons change and one Yom Tov and then another looms, and yet somehow it all took me longer than expected.

I have not been traveling. But amid day camp applications and pre-summer planning and Yom Tov preparations, I’d pushed off a necessary doctor’s appointment. When I finally sat in the doctor’s office a couple of days before Yom Tov, it had been a while since my last full checkup because as every mother knows, we (unwisely) tend to put ourselves last on our “Things To Take Care Of” list.

But I was finally there, ready to be asked routine questions by a man who’d obviously attended medical school, who sees dozens of patients a day, and who is clearly unprepared for who I am as a person as I try to fit this doctor’s visit into my very busy schedule.

Doctor: “Have you had any major surgeries?”

Me: “Not that I recall.”

Doctor: “Are you on any prescription medications?”

Me: “Not that I recall.”


Doctor: “Is there a reason why you’re answering my questions like you’re at a deposition?”

Me: “I’m sorry, what?”

Doctor: “Why are you answering these questions like you’re in an attorney’s office?”

I looked this nice man dead in the eye and answered, “Sir, the number of things I cannot recall far outweighs the number of things I can recall. I am answering your questions to the best of my ability but I also know there’s a distinct possibility that I will leave this office, walk halfway down the block, and suddenly remember, I forgot to tell him about my open-heart surgery last week! I’m just letting you know that there may be some medication or something that is slipping my mind at the moment.”

Doctor: “Are you saying… you had open-heart surgery…?”

Me: “No, of course not. Not that I recall.”

Another errand that has been keeping me busy is buying my children new shoes for the season.

“But Hadassa,” you will say. “Buying shoes doesn’t take that long.”

Allow me to elaborate.

For starters, you should know that I took all of my children to the shoe store at the same time, an activity that requires a full two weeks of recovery — for both myself and the shoe salesman.

After just one week of wearing his new shoes, my nine-year-old was limping around. We went to the podiatrist who informed me that this particular style of shoe, which has worked so well these past seven years, no longer works so well for him. Despite the fact that these shoes are merely a few days old, they must be replaced.

Back into the chaos of the shoe store we go.

As my son and I both discover, there is only a small selection of shoes that both feel comfortable and are socially acceptable. It takes us a while to find them, but we are finally successful, and we emerge from the shoe store triumphant.

The very next day, my son calls me from cheder.

Nine-year-old: “Ma? The assistant menahel said you need to come to cheder to bring me another pair of shoes.”

Me: “Why? What’s wrong with your new shoes?”

Nine-year-old: “Nothing is wrong except I only have one shoe.”

Me: “What in the world do you mean? How do you only have one shoe?”

Nine-year-old: “Well, we were playing on the roof, and one of my friends tried on my new shoe. But it was too big on him so he kicked it off, and it accidentally went flying over the gate of the roof. It landed on the roof of another house.”

Me: “Just to be clear, one of your new shoes — which you have had for less than 24 hours — is on someone’s roof right now?”

Nine-year-old: “Yes. And it’s not my fault. Anyway, can you bring me another pair of shoes?”

I hung up the phone and immediately called the shoe store to see if they had the exact same pair of shoes we had so recently discovered.

Me: “Hi, it’s Mrs. Swerds. We were in the store just yesterday to buy the black shoes with the white soles. I was wondering, do you have another identical pair?”

Shoe man: “We do.”

Me: “Can you please put them aside for me? I know I just bought them yesterday but it seems that one of our brand-new shoes is now stuck on somebody’s roof.”

You can see how I might be a bit distracted by ordinary errands that somehow manage to hijack my life in extraordinary ways.

I haven’t even mentioned the long-awaited and very necessary home renovations and repairs we finally managed to schedule in before Pesach. They were supposed to only take a few days, but now that I am a few months older and wiser, I understand that there is no such thing as a few days of repair. Ask me how we made it through that holiday without a functioning bathroom.

But for now, I’m here to reassure you that I’m back! Figuratively. Because I haven’t actually been traveling anywhere.

At least, not that I recall.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 899)

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