Mourning Rush Hour

This week, the New York Times parenting blog Motherlode asked for readers to send in their most poignant memories of final mothering moments…Here are a few that were posted:

“Every time I get to smell the sweet aroma of a baby’s head, it makes me sad that my now 4-year-old lost that smell without my knowing when. If I could have had one final huge inhale of his baby smell before it dissipated…”

“My seven-year-old son no longer will let me hug or kiss him in front of his friends. I dread the day he no longer will let me hug or kiss him at all.”

“I remember standing in my driveway watching my only child, my daughter, back out and drive away in her first car that I had just bought her for her 17th birthday. The sheer joy on her face and my overwhelming sense of loss. Until I put those keys in her hand, I could still expect to be summoned for chauffeur duty. Some of our best talks were in the car.”

One reader wrote in that a child is like a comet passing through the earth’s atmosphere who “swoops into your life, and all too soon accelerates back out again.”


These comments took me back to a wedding I attended 8 years ago when I was a seriously overwhelmed mother of 3 daughters: a 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and an infant. As I sat at my table with my teensy girls and fed my “big girl” bite-size pieces of schnitzel, I watched the large circle of friends dancing around the bride. Oh my Gosh, was she stunning. Looking back, Ilana was maybe the most beautiful bride I have ever seen.

And then, off to the side I noticed a much smaller circle which included the bride’s mother and her friends. Just a few years before, I realized, all of these mothers had been like me, struggling to navigate the traffic through the rush hour of motherhood, kids here, kids there, kids everywhere.

And now, just a few years later, these mothers’ homes, I realized, were less like crowded highways and more like a parking lot at 3 AM. Maybe these mothers, like the bride’s mother, Rina, still had one child home, the lone 16-year-old eating Friday night dinner with eema and abba, the sound of silverware clanging in the newfound silence against Rina’s china dishes brought over from her native London when she’d married an Israeli 30 years before.

But more of those women had found themselves suddenly cast in a strange new role—matriarch of an empty nest- their kids away in the army, national service, university, yeshiva, or navigating rush hour traffic in a fledgling family of their own.

The bride’s mother, Rina, was SO happy. It was her daughter’s wedding day, the day she had been praying for for so many years. But I watched Rina and her friends, and looked down at my own little daughters, and I wept over my plate of schnitzel and asparagus. As overwhelming and challenging and sleep-depriving as it was, I was bereft that the Weisberg family rush hour would, in the not so distant future, come to screeching halt.

What intense yearning I felt at that moment for the life that I was living.

For the beautiful views out the car window of my life, and for the beeping too. For the weekly trip to the swimming pool and for the traffic jams too. For the family sing-a-long to my kids’ favorite warped Raffi tape and for the air-conditioner that broke on the hottest day of the year too.

For all of it. For my life. For those children. For better and for worse.

Want to get an elephant-sized dose of that “Yearning for Your Life” feeling like I got at that wedding? Watch this video. This is not a Jewish song ,and no haskamas for this video are presently forthcoming, but in my book this song and video are the Holy of Holies.

Photo courtesy of user Andreas


  1. I often mentally fast-forward to a time when my children will be, b’ezrat Hashem, grown. I get lonely just imagining it and it makes me smile at them more, read another story, and hug them just a little harder.

  2. Where do you find all these songs that make me cry?!

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