Here’s What I’ve Learned from 20 Years of Motherhood

Here’s What I’ve Learned from 20 Years of Motherhood

The other day, at pick-up time for our 3-year-old sons, I was playing a bit of Jewish geography with Dror’s eema.

And I discovered that she attended the same high school as my 20-year-old oldest daughter, Hadas. When Hadas was in 8th grade, she was in 12th.

Which made me do some soul searching…

If somebody needed surgery, she would prefer a surgeon with 20 years of experience over a young surgeon who has only done that surgery a handful of times.

But is the same true of mothers?

Dror’s eema and I are both JewishMOMs. Even though I am, I discovered, old enough to be her mom! Do my years of seniority and experience enhance the way I mother in any way? Or do they just mean that I have more wrinkles and a looks-like-I’m-pregnant-even-though-I’m not belly, no matter how much I exercise or weight I lose.

I got an answer this past week in an unexpected way.

As I mentioned in another post, we spent this past Shabbat at an end-of-year shabbaton at my daughter’s school.

And a few days before, we received an Email from the school requesting that each mother prepare a “cake to spoil the girls.”

Two years ago, I received an identical request before a similar Shabbaton for my oldest daughter. And that request, as I blogged about then pushed me to the verge of panic and a full-blown identity crisis. I had no idea how to bake a fancy cake! Not like these other balabusta FFB mothers! And now everyone will know what a profoundly poor fit my family is for this school!

The end of the story, which I never shared with you, was that my friend, who does know how to bake fancy cakes, instructed me step-by-step how to choose pretty cupcake holders and eye-catching sprinkles, to create cupcakes that looked extra-spoiling to bring to the Shabbat.

But in the end, it turned out, my panic was completely unwarranted.

I was the only mother from the whole class who made anything beyond the simplest brownies or white cake (without frosting) or chocolate chip cookies.

So last week, for the Shabbaton, all I did was bake a pan of 10-minute brownies. And nobody cared. Including me.

And that, I think, is at least a partial answer to my soul-searching.

What do I know that Dror’s Eema doesn’t yet know?

The past 20 years have taught me which issues actually are serious, and should receive immediate attention.

And the past 20 years have also taught me that there aren’t many of those.

What do I know today that I didn’t know when I was just starting out as a mother?

No need to panic.
It’s going to be OK.
This too will pass.


  1. Fabulous, thank you!

  2. So true! I see it now also, it’s a great feeling. My father would tell me “this too shall pass.” Nice to see you write that.

  3. Um, 10 minute brownies – recipe please!

  4. tifferet carroll

    I loved what you wrote!!!

    A lot of wisdom and experience there!!!

    I definitely agree!!!

    Thank you for the reminder!!! Seriously.

    Also a mother of over 20 years!!

  5. You are so right, Chana Jenny! I see that everyday and notice it much more now after almost 15 years of motherhood. My mother always says, “This too shall pass” when I’m going through a rough spot and it really helps to think it. I have become so much better over the years at knowing what the most important things are. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. So true! Even certain “issues” or concerns I had with my first are virtually nonexistent with my second! I always feel compelled to tell my oldest daughter’s teachers that she is the first born – I guess hoping that somehow they will be more forgiving of my mistakes and mishegas knowing I’ve never done this before 🙂

  7. Wnderful post.
    I love the end of the story, from your oldest daughter’s Shabbaton.

  8. I don’t remember who said it, but the following observation is soooo true:”When I was 20 I worried about what people thought of me. When I was 40, I decided that I shouldn’t care what people think about me, when I turned 60, I realized that no one was actually thinking about me, anyhow!”

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