I have been blessed to be a mother to wonderful, energetic, adorable, impossible, lovable and confusing children for a number of years now. And in that time I’ve learned a lot of lessons. I’ve learned the importance of bedtimes and of breaking bedtimes, of proper nutrition and of good sticky nosh. Of bedtime stories and stuffed animals, patience and imagination and love. But maybe the most important lesson I’ve learned is that unlike what Hallmark might like us to think, motherhood does not immediately raise you to the level of sainthood. When you reach out your hands to take that freshly wrapped bundle of joy you do not find all your vices vanished. You don’t wake up the next day free of anger, impatience and selfishness beaming a beatific smile, as you gaze down at your baby. In fact, you’re likely to wake up groggy, cranky and more than a little frightened. You’ve put on the mantle of motherhood, that most exalted of all positions, but underneath you’re still you, full of bad habits and freckles, insecurities and split ends.
“I cannot protect my children from all the injustices in the world,” reads a quote I clipped once from a magazine, “But I can protect them from my own.” Sometimes, I’m not even sure I can do that.
There are days in a mother’s life that seem to take an eternity. The hours between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. can often last at least a week. There are nights when bath time takes forever and bedtime takes even longer. When supper is leftovers no one wants and all the clean uniform skirts are in the laundry and no one’s homework gets done. There are days when we snap at our children, reprimand them unjustly, forget to hang up their pictures, trivialize their boo-boos.
There are days when it seems we are not worthy of the status of motherhood, we are not righteous enough, smart enough, patient enough, good enough to be charged with the care and upbringing of children.
But every night at the end of those days brings a chance at redemption. A chance to re-think, to review our actions, revise our positions and resolve ourselves once again to be the best parents we can be.
There are days when we feel like failures, inadequate, impure. And then there is the next day.
Looking at the calendar (from my children’s school) tacked to the wall, I see that tomorrow, Friday May 8, is the 14 day of Iyar, Pesach Sheni, the holiday of second chances*. And the next day marked off is Mother’s Day.
Mothering and forgiveness, parenthood and redemption. I’ll grab onto the gift of Pesach Sheini, and take my second chances (and third and fourth…).
*Pesach Sheni, “the second Passover” originated one year after the redemption from Egypt, by a group of Jews who had been tamei (impure) at the time we left Egypt. Because of their status of impurity they had been unable to partake in the mitzvah of Korban Pesach. A year later, they were once again purified and they approached Moshe to ask him if they could do the mitzvah of Korban Pesach now. Moshe conveyed their request to Hashem and a new mitzvah was originated. From then on, anyone who had been unable to do the Korban Pesach in its proper time could bring it one month later, on the fourteenth of Iyar. As a result of its origin, Pesach Sheini has come to be known as the holiday of “second chances”.
Yael Zoldan is a Brooklyn girl, who lives in Passaic, New Jersey, with her husband and children. Somewhere between carpool and laundry she finds the time to write.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.