The Messy Mom
“But the Weisberg’s house is SO messy, Eema, we’ll never find it!”
This was the despairing plea of our 6-year-old guest who lost a bracelet while playing at our house one afternoon about 5 years ago.
And our young guest was right. 5 Pesachs have come and gone, but we Weisbergs have still never managed to find that lost bracelet.
And the truth is that, while I pretended to laugh it off, that “messy Weisberg’ comment really stung.
I AM guilty as charged. My house IS messy. Any order I manage to create in the Weisberg home is in constant danger of being consumed by the disorder that rages all around it, like a sandcastle gobbled up by an incoming tide. But why did this girl have to embarrass me in front of her Eema like that? You know the kind… the Eema with the perfect size-six figure and the perfect neat house (and the non-existent mess that she still apologizes for) and the perfect folded laundry in the drawers and the perfect 2 home-cooked meals a day?
And then last week I had a revelation which made me re-think my ancient but still-lingering lost-bracelet embarrassment/indignation…
Last Wednesday I attended the final meeting for Hallel’s amazing pre-bat mitzvah program with Rabbanit Tal Rachmani…
And for the final meeting, Rabbanit Rachmani had prepared a special game. The week before, every girl had written down what she most admired about and wanted to learn from her mother. And when we met on Wednesday, every mother had to guess what her daughter had written about her…
A girl stood up to read all the girls’ cards:
“I want to learn from my mother how to be clean and neat, because my mother is clean and neat.” One sheepish mother raising a manicured fingernail to claim that comment.
“I want to learn from my mother how to be clean and neat, because my mother is clean and neat.” Yet another sheepish mother raised her hand to claim that one.
“I want to learn from my mother how to be clean and neat, because my mother is so clean and neat.” Yet another sheepish mother claimed that comment.
And then there were some comments that started to moved me…
“I want to learn from my mother how to have true respect for my parents, because she treats Saba and Savta with so much respect.”
“I want to learn from my mother how to be more generous, because my mother is so generous and I am so stingy…”
“I want to learn from my mother how to do acts of kindness, because my mother is always doing acts of kindness for others…”
And finally, the comment that moved me most of all: “I want to learn from my mother how to inspire Jewish mothers, because my mother knows how to inspire other mothers and I think she is a very good mom…” followed by a bashful smile from Hallel.
And as I sat there blushing (yes, literally blushing), with tears in my eyes, I was reminded of a moving letter I received last year from London JewishMOM Amanda Bradley.
Amanda wrote: “Recently, a young mother in our community passed away very suddenly. She was superlative in the love and care she poured onto her children and husband. And you know, not one eulogy (formal or informal) has said ‘she was a fantastic cook’ or ‘her house was really spotless’ or ‘she never bought her challahs.’ Which is not to say that any of those were not true, but that they were meaningless beside the real loss, which was of her love and her care.
“Since then, I have thought that women have our own version of ‘You can’t take the millions with you’ and ‘No one ever says on their deathbed that they wish they’d spent more time at the office.’
“Our motherly version is ‘You can’t take your spotless bathtub with you’ and ‘No one ever says on their deathbed that they should have cooked gourmet.’ What matters is the love and personal role modeling we provide our children. And as long as their basic needs are met, the rest is trivia.”
Photo courtesy of Mr. Robert Wade