I Felt so Guilty
Yesterday was Maayan’s school bat mitzvah party—a four-hour extravaganza of street performances around Nachlaot and bagels with cream cheese and speeches and musical interludes (that included my Maayan tooting away on her harmonica).
Our regular babysitter had told me should could only come for two hours, from 5-7, to watch my younger children, and I planned for my teenage daughters to babysit for the rest of the time until I came home.
But around 8:30 PM, during the speeches, I checked my silenced phone and saw that I had received almost ten phone calls from home over the past twenty minutes.
By the time I reached my babysitting daughter, she was frantic. Didn’t I remember that she gets scared babysitting after it gets dark?! I did vaguely remember that this had been an issue in the past but I thought she had gotten over it. But I was wrong…
So I told Maayan I was going to have to miss her final dance, and I rushed home.
On the way home I felt so bad that my teenage daughter had been so frightened because of me….And for the next few hours I felt that sort of sickly feeling that you get in your stomach when you feel really badly about something you did.
But right before I went to bed last night, something occurred to me.
I realized that any possible way I would have handled that evening, I would have ended up feeling guilty.
If I would have left the party early to be home at 7 PM when my regular babysitter left, Maayan would have been sorely disappointed I missed half her party, and I would have felt guilty.
If I would have found a new girl from the neighbor to babysit instead of my teenager, my younger children would have been really upset and probably would have cried a lot, and I would have felt guilty.
If I would have taken my younger children to the bat mitzvah extravaganza, then they would have been disruptive, and I would have felt guilty.
And it occurred to me how humbling motherhood is.
It’s like being the lone doctor on shift rushing from bed to bed in the emergency room.
Inevitably, somebody’s really going to need me, and I won’t be there.
At the bat mitzvah party last night, there was one thing that made me cry.
This party had been a logistical nightmare for the teachers to put together. And towards the end of the party Morah Achinoam, Maayan’s 6th grade teacher, thanked Hashem for the constant Divine help she had experienced while planning the party.
“’What siata dishmaya!’ I would say over and over.’ Achinoam told us, “’ I saw how G-d helped us out every step of the way. And it made me feel what a precious mission this is. To be educating Hashem’s daughters here in His city, Jerusalem. And how much constant assistance He gives us in fulfilling this crucial mission.’”
And when she said that, tears came to my eyes. Tears of intense yearning tinged with (please don’t tell Morah Achinoam) JEALOUSY!
Look what a sense of mission a teacher has! If only I had that sense of mission, of Siyata dishmaya in my own life, EVERYTHING would be different… I thought sadly.
But then my tears turned from salty to sweet…
Because I realized that I, as a Jewish mother, am also raising and educating Hashem’s children.
And that means that even when I feel I am not managing.
Even when I feel bad and guilty and like that lone doctor in the ICU…
Then Hashem surely, surely is helping to take care of His children.
All I need to do is open my eyes, like Morah Achinoam, and see Him there by my side.