What Hillary Reminded Me

What Hillary Reminded Me

Watching Hillary Clinton in this presidential race has gotten me thinking…

Not about foreign policy or domestic policy.

But rather about me and my life.

I look at Hillary and I am reminded of a dream I had many moons ago–to have it all. A husband, children, and, most importantly, an impressive career. In college, I majored in Political Science and Russian, and I dreamed big. Back then, Hillary Clinton, successful lawyer and national-policy shaper, was a role model, the kind of woman I wanted to be when I grew up.

But as you know, my life took a very different path than I had planned. I became religious, got married, became a stay-at-home mother who blogs about motherhood. And I have been happy about that for many, many years. But Hillary’s presidential race has reawakened a voice I haven’t heard in a very long time, the voice of that well-dressed, well-educated young guest at my Shabbat table who inquires upon meeting me, “So what do you DO?”

This morning, like every morning of Elul, I took a few minutes to introspect on my goals for the coming year. I decided this morning to do a pre-Rosh Hashana exercise I learned from Rabbi Nivin called “A Presume” (prononounced “Presumay”).

In this exercise, you close your eyes and imagine yourself many years from now, at 95 years old, sitting in your rocking chair, and feeling intense satisfaction and joy remembering the life you lived. You can imagine things that already are a part of your life, as well as new things that you dream of adding. What do you see?

This morning, my 95-year-old self felt great joy remembering that I was a dedicated mother who was there for my children (and grandchildren, IY”H).

And that I was a dedicated wife, who remembered special times spent with my husband.

And that I was a dedicated daughter to my parents.

And that I was connected to my brother and sister and their families.

And that I learned some Torah.

And that I celebrated the Jewish holidays, and hosted guests for Shabbat.

And that I had JewishMOM.com, inspiring Jewish mothers in my own small way.

I waited for more thoughts to come, more dreams for this life. Big dreams. World-shaking dreams. But I could not think of a single thing that would bring me as great satisfaction and joy at the end of my life as knowing that I had spent my life being a dedicated mother, and wife, and Jew, who inspires other Jewish mothers.

And that, I answered that well-dressed, well-educated voice inside my head, is enough.

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17 comments

  1. Wow! Totally like you!! Thanks ! But what about me who doesnt inspire people like you do? You hâve something else than family which is your blog and you are more sucessful than Hillary who is surely very lonely

    • Ann,
      you are inspiring your children
      and your friends
      and your neighbors
      and your parents
      and the anonymous people who pass by when you are giving your child a kiss, or a using a moment to teach them something about their world….

    • I think that if you look at your life you will see your corner of chesed–the extra good deed you do for people outside your family. My corner is my blog, and you have something else.

      And I also agree with Tamar!!

  2. I “love” when people ask me “so who’s with your baby?” Hummm… “Me” then I start feeling like “what’s wrong with me?? Why am I home with my kids??? I should be working!!!” But wait, “who’s going to meet them after school, who’s going to pick that one up? But they are going to be hungry, should I pack them food for them to eat until I am done from work? But they won’t eat it…” So on and so forth, until I give up my dream of working now in my mind.

  3. I was one of the fortunate moms, along with a whole bunch of friends, who raised our children when one income was enough to live on. I can think of a dozen of us who were full-time at home, though we contributed to the community with lots of Shabbos guests, hosting shiurim, chesed etc. Guess what? Those years pass and all of us are now working out of the home, with some of us having created our own businesses. We get to enjoy grown-up children, grandchildren and our marriages while fulfilling whatever part of us that wanted a little different expression too. Enjoy whatever phase you are in.

  4. Here’s what I tell myself when I think “my life isn’t turning out as planned”:
    The kids don’t ruin my plan. They ARE my plan.

  5. Thanx for inspiring me, again! Its not just a ‘little corner’ you have Chana Jenny. I can only speak for myself when I say that your blog has made me a much happier and calmer mom. You have a very big hand in my level of ruchniyus as I am constantly inspired by all that you post. I joined R’ Nivins chabura because of your recommendation and you know how life changing that is! So b”eh after 120 you will see that you had a very high powered job! You have no idea of the reward you will have!

  6. Thank you for this!

  7. i will take this opportunity to give credit to my husband. while stay at home mothering our 7 children, kenna hora, i would bemoan my unproductive life. i would complain that i don’t have a real job and i don’t earn money. his response was always, “do you know how many people we would have to employ to do all the things you do?” he convinced me that all my daily tasks had value.
    those words of encouragement were all i needed.
    hope this helps.

  8. If it will help assuage your wondering if you are still somehow missing out, my Ivy League alma mater newsletter once had a great article interviewing very successful alumnae–judges, financiers, etc– heading for retirement, looking back at their lives — and among the other observations, they all said they regretted that they had not made more time for family.

  9. Not long ago I decided it was time, after 10 years, to go back to work. I still had three children in Gan. I spent the morning putting together my portfolio and updating my resume, and had just finished with great satisfaction, when I got a phone call from the Gan: one of my sons had fallen and split his forehead open!! I put down the phone, saved the file: and understood that it wasn’t my time to go back to work just yet!!! Hashem sent me a very clear sign , in my mind, that I was still needed to be on all.
    A year later I did go back to work, and it was guilt free and has been ever since. As King Shlomo said; there’s a time for everything …..

  10. Ayalah Haas

    Dear Chana Jenny, you are waaaay more of a success story than Hillary Clinton! The journey to her candidacy has not been a pretty one, and her ambitions are not those of Am Yisrael; to bring light to a dark place. Already at a young age you have earnestly contributed so much of your time, wisdom, and resources to the Klal AND to the world. And the same goes for the women who read your blog – many of whom I personally know 😉 May you all go from strength to strength!

    (Am I right? Who would want to be Hillary Clinton!?)

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