“How I Coped” by a Mother of 13

“How I Coped” by a Mother of 13

This week Family First Magazine features an article about Baltimore mother-of-13 and nurse Esther Tendler, who passed away last month. The following was an essay written by Mrs. Tendler for Ner Israel’s Sisterhood Journal. When I read it, I felt 500 pounds fall off my shoulders…

When I was the mother of two small children and expecting my third, I confided in my own mother that I wasn’t coping with two and that it seems unfair to bring a third child into the picture.

My mother responded, “You’re trying too hard. Remember, these are Hashem’s children you’re raising, and you are also His child. You’re not so wise as to know the needs of each and every individual child. Ask Hashem to guide all of you to grow into the type of Jews from whom He’ll have nachas.”

From that point on, my burden eased.

I took a new approach and envisioned myself presenting my family to Hashem and saying, “Please, Hashem, we are all Yours. Guide every one of us in the right way.” My prayer was no longer, “Please Hashem, help me.” It became, “Please Hashem, let my help You. Let me have the privilege of a small share in the growth of Your children. I’ll polish their shoes and cook their meals and do their laundry. You guide each one to grow and develop in a way that is appropriate for him or her to bring you nachas.”…

By doing this, I find that no matter what I do, I don’t feel burdened. Success doesn’t depend on me. I’m just the junior member of a team that is working to bring nachas to our Creator.

It’s very important to always remember that our family is a precious gift. When we were young girls, we prayed that Hashem would send each of us the young man who would be just right for us, and we would build a bayis neeman b’Yisrael (a faithful Jewish home) together.

Well, guess what! It happened.

Just because there’s more work involved than we anticipated, and perhaps even some disappointments, doesn’t negate the reality of the blessing.

Blessings are achieved only with much labor. The key to growing with the role of motherhood is to appreciate the privilege of our partnership with our husband and Hashem in raising our own Jewish family.


  1. This was so helpful, thanx for sharing with us the right words and perspective when we daven!

  2. that was so incredibly helpful!
    what a way to turn the whole child-rearing challenge around..

    thank you, chana jenny! you’ve just made us all 500 pounds lighter!!

  3. Hadassah Aber

    I love this article! I am struggling with issues related to my adult children and it eases my burden as well. Now if I can just keep the thought in my mind while I Daven and throughout the day…

  4. That is just beautiful.
    Thank you so much

  5. this is so beautiful! Mrs. Tendler was the school nurse in my elementary school. I remember her calm, kind and nurturing presence. So nice to read this.

  6. Chagit Zelcer

    Not only beautiful. Also smart and incredibly accurate!! The realization that as parents we can guide and help but cannot take responsibility for the outcome is like a breath of fresh air to parents choking under pressure to be perfect parents to perfect children.

  7. Mina Esther Gordon

    I love the powerful ideas expressed by Esther Tendler a”h. She must have been an amazing person and a wonderful mother. May Hashem Yisborach watch over her children, as they grow up so she can enjoy the nachas.

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