Advice from a Mother of 8 to a Hopeless Mother of 2

Advice from a Mother of 8 to a Hopeless Mother of 2

Yesterday, I was talking with a neighbor who is having a very, very hard time with her 6-year-old son, Benaya, the older of her two children. Last week alone, Benaya:

1. Was sent home from school one day.
2. Was sent home another day.
3. Was not allowed to come back to school yet another day

Looking at her teddy bear of a son, it’s hard to imagine him committing any first-grade crimes worse than returning a library book late.

But seeing this dedicated mother, looking so absolutely hopeless, made my throat choke up.

And it reminded me…

My daughter, Hallel, is doing her national service this year, making home visits to the elderly. Hallel is a girl with remarkable sweetness, positive energy, a smile with sufficient voltage to light up the darkest day of the loneliest savta.

Next week, Hallel is moving to a new location, a tiny village in the North, for her national service, and I’ve been trying to track down families that could host her for Shabbat meals.

And then I realized that I actually DO know somebody in that village. And this person even knows Hallel! Though that probably wouldn’t work to Hallel’s advantage…

When Hallel was a little girl, she, like my hopeless neighbor’s son, looked like a teddy bear but bit like a grizzly.

One day, I took Hallel to the playground, and a mother named Tali, who had 2 sons around Hallel’s age, said to them, loud enough for me and the other mothers and Hallel to hear: “Hallel’s here, let’s get going NOW!”

That’s the kind of thing I can remember today and smile about because I’m a mother of 8 and not 2, and because my oldest child is 20 and not 6. And the years have taught me that little terrors generally grow up and make us very, very proud.

But when I call Tali to see if she can host Hallel, I’ll make sure to mention the only thing Hallel will bite into at her home is the cholent.


  1. Mina Esther Gordon

    Love it!!!!

  2. I love how real you are. It is good to hear that, looking back, these challenges can bring back smiles instead of cringes as they may have in the past.

    The passage of time puts everything in perspective.

  3. Very encouraging! Today I am stuck at a family event and reading at 😀

  4. Wonderful! Boy did I need this…. not a week goes by without a call or note from the school for one of my sons…

  5. Also currently in the grizzly bear phase. Loved reading this!! Hatzlacha to Hallel up north!

    • I was thinking of you when I wrote it cause you said these are your favorite articles–about what I now know that I wish I knew then…

  6. My heart goes out to the mother you met. Your initial description has brought tears to my eyes. As a mother of child with “issues” that certainly were present at 6 and continue now he is 11, I know how helpless you can really feel. I truly hope she finds the correct educational setting for her son where he can thrive and the staff can manage whatever difficult behaviours he may have. Please pass along the love to her from another Jewish mother on the other side of the globe.

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