Mrs. Perfect’s Disabled Baby

Mrs. Perfect’s Disabled Baby

Yesterday, Hallel’s school had a special mother-daughter event for the 12th graders: a panel featuring mothers from the class about how they’d made the most important decisions in their lives.

When the fourth mother on the panel started speaking, I whispered “Wow!” into Hallel’s ear. This is the story she told us:

When I first got married, I worked full time. And as our family grew, I worked more and more hours.

I was a perfectionist. The perfect career woman. With the perfect home. The perfect wife. The perfect older sister to my siblings.

And then all of a sudden everything changed. My 5th child, Yair, was born with cerebral palsy.

My whole perfect life crumbled all around me. And for the first time, maybe in my entire life, I decided to listen to myself, to listen to my heart.

I loved my work, but as my family grew, my secret dream had been stay home with my children. And when Yair was born, I knew I couldn’t be at work and also be at home with him as much as I wanted to be to take care of him.

In the end, looking back, the birth of my imperfect child was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Hashem needed a way to shake me up, and I guess He realized that was the only way He could. So I would stop focusing on appearing perfect, and focusing instead on what my family and I actually needed.

And then, the next mother on the panel spoke. The opposite story, in a way, but equally wow.

“I got married when I was 18 to my Bnei Akiva youth group leader. I became a mother when I was 19, and I decided that if I had children, I wanted to be the perfect mother. To give it my all.

For a decade, I was a full-time mom, with two kids with me at home all day, until they started nursery school at 3.

But by the time I turned 30, I had 6 kids, and one morning I did not want to get out of bed. I realized I just wasn’t happy with my life.

One Shabbat, we were at my parents house, and I stayed up with them until midnight talking in the living room. They asked me what was going on, how I was feeling. And I told them the truth. And we talked and talked, and I realized that I wanted to go back to study a profession.

And now, for the last decade, I’ve been working in the mornings and the evenings, in a profession I love with a passion.

So, dear 12th graders, before you head out into the world in a few months, I’m going to tell you something that you might not want to hear…

Nowadays girls believe women do anything and everything. But it’s not true. Everything you say “Yes” to in life, means you are saying “No” to something else.

You cannot have everything! Some things in life you can change, some things you can improve. But life is never perfect. If you work at it, though, you can have something just as wonderful–a life you choose to love.

6 comments

  1. Chana Jenny: tou·ché!
    I love it when people can see both sides of an argument instead of being passionately, blindly, devoted only to one way
    one way doesn’t work for everyone
    but most people cannot see both sides
    you did
    you’re very impressive

  2. Should be posted on mishpacha magazine

  3. Hadassah Aber

    Thanks for sharing this story. We have to remember that there is no perfect life and we can only do the best we know how. In the end our challenges are tailor made for us to grow, learn, and develop.

  4. Anonymous

    I only read this now but it was so important: I have a health issue that so far has needed a lot of medical treatment for me before I can safely get pregnant (and get pregnant at all). None of this treatment, while it is conventional medicine and very much evidence-based and works, is covered by insurance as my condition is not considered life-threatening (however I can’t have a baby without it but I guess not having kids is not life-threatening according to health insurance? Even though they wOULD cover cosmetic surgery should I need it! Also for complicated reasons the treatment cannot be paid for by Jewish organisations as it doesn’t fit their criteria: what they offer to pay for is not halachikly or medically fully appropriate for us whereas diet plans/herbs etc don’t work for my condition). Therefore I am forced to be a not very perfect mum unless things change: I can only breastfeed for a short period of time if at all, thanks to medication, I have to hold a job, ideally full-time, to be able to pay for my treatment and I don’t necessarily have the time or energy for many of the things I would love to do. I would love to be this perfect stay at home mum who breastfeeds for 2 years but it would mean deriving my child from the opportunity to have siblings and I believe that is now more important. I just have to believe that he gets the care he needs by being with family while I work and will always know how wanted and loved he is as just being able to have him was a long-awaited long-prayed-for event. That is why I crave these stories of real-life mums because I can relate to them! I know constant guilt and self-doubt will not make me a good mum, I’m just doing the best I can, like all of us.

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