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My Jewish Mother's Top Ten List PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chana (Jenny) Weisberg   

Everything started off so nicely. A bunch of neighborhood mothers enjoying each other's company late one evening in my living room. All of our children sound asleep in their beds. A bowl of potato chips, a plate of chocolate wafers, and a pitcher of apple juice set out on the table. And then, before we even noticed it, our conversation took a sharp turn.

All of us really needed to vent "My baby is teething, and he has been keeping me up every night between 12 and 4 AM." "My son never eats. I mean never." "My daughter has had six ear infections this year. The doctor has tried every antibiotic that exists, and nothing works on this girl!"

It was clear that all of us really needed to vent. All of us needed to share what was in our hearts, in order to lighten our own personal sack of worries and troubles.

But by the time my friends were putting on their coats and calling their husbands to say they would be home in a few minutes, I realized that we had just spent the vast majority of the past two hours complaining about our children. That was when I looked at my friends as they were heading out the door, and an alarm went off in my head.

I knew that every single one of my friends believes with every cell in her body that our lives as mothers, no matter how overworked, overtired, and underappreciated we feel on a regular basis, are answered prayers - dreams come true.

So why do we complain so much, I wondered? Why do we focus on the bad and not on the good aspects of motherhood? It is the same reason, I realized later, that we complain about a splinter in our pinky toe rather than give thanks for our whole healthy bodies. Or that we spend an hour fuming over a clogged bathtub rather than use the same hour to express gratitude for our three-story home.

The real reason is that it takes time and serious mental effort to re-focus on the big picture of motherhood. It takes effort to focus on the answered prayers that share our home with us, rather than on the spilled chocolate milk, and the torn Shabbat dress, and the bottomless laundry basket.

So, the very next morning after our get-together, I decided to invest half an hour writing up a list of the ten things I most love about being a Jewish mother. When I was done I posted my finished list up on my fridge to look at every time I find myself focusing on the splinter in my pinky toe, rather than on the fact that my life is an answered prayer.

I encourage every single mother who is reading this to take half an hour to write up her own list for her very own fridge. The following is my list:

The Top 10 Reasons I Love Being a Mom

Today, motherhood is the primary mission of my life.

  1. The Best Company in the World.
    As a mother, I get to spend my days with some of the people I love most and care the most about in the whole, entire world- my children. Is there any feeling sweeter than loving your children, and feeling their love in return?
  2. My Ultimate Mission.
    Before I became a mother, I spent years on a tortured quest for my mission in life. I love that today there are no more questions; today, motherhood is the primary mission of my life. I also love knowing that no matter how inadequate I feel at times as a parent, our Sages teach that my children were born to me because I am uniquely qualified to prepare them for their individual missions in life. Just knowing that makes me stand a bit straighter and lift my head a bit higher.
  3. The End of Flakiness.
    Over the course of my life, I have pursued many hobbies and subjects with varying levels of success until I tired of them soon afterwards. I threw javelin for my college track and field team for a year, and never scored above last place. I received a Masters degree in Non-Profit Management, and never once managed a non-profit organization. I learned how to speak fluent Indonesian, and then forgot every word of it within a year. I love that motherhood is not something that I can do half-heartedly. By its nature, motherhood requires all of my mental, physical, and emotional powers. Motherhood is the opposite of flaky; motherhood is my lifework.
  4. The Light at the End of the Tunnel.
    When I see my daughter defend and befriend the class outcast or put down her jump rope and pick up her crying two-year-old sister, it makes me so proud to see that my months and years of ongoing efforts have contributed, even somewhat, to the creation of a sensitive and good-hearted human being who will shine some light into the dark corners of this world. Finally seeing this hard-won progress is one of the greatest pleasures that exist.
  5. An Investment in Eternity.
    If I work long hours at a regular job, I am investing time and effort in something that is necessarily fleeting. No matter how much I love my job, eventually I will reach retirement age and I will have to clean out my desk and part ways with my coworkers. But I will always be my children's mother, and they will always be my children. Investing in your relationship with your children is, therefore, an investment that will be producing revenue for an entire lifetime. I love seeing my children growing up as committed Jews
  6. True Growth.
    Before I became a mother, I thought that I was a nearly flawless human being. I thought I was exceptionally patient, kind, generous, caring, and compassionate. Since I became a mother, I have discovered otherwise. Being surrounded by little people who are specially-crafted to push my buttons and push me beyond my comfort level constantly forces me to become a better person far more effectively than any other occupation I could have chosen. I am thankful for this unique opportunity for true ongoing personal growth.
  7. Yiddishe Nachas (Jewish Pride).
    I love seeing my children growing up as committed Jews; strong links in the chain that has continued unbroken since an elderly woman named Sarah gave birth to a long-awaited baby boy named Isaac over 3500 years ago.
  8. Holy Home.
    The center of Jewish life is not the synagogue; it is the Jewish home. I love that as a Jewish mother I can have an ongoing dialogue with G d. I can talk to G d when the chocolate milk has just spilled, or my daughter has just torn her brand-new Shabbat dress, or I despair of ever reaching the bottom of the laundry basket. Judaism teaches that there is no greater pleasure for a human being than connecting with G d, and a Jewish mother's life provides infinite opportunities to access this highest of pleasures.
  9. I've Got the Power.
    The word in Hebrew for a Jewish mother is "Akeret Habayit," or the essence of the home. As a Jewish mother, I have the power to determine if the home my children will grow up in is a happy and calm one or a stressed out and miserable one. I am proud that that awesome responsibility and privilege are in my hands.
  10. If you had one day left to live…
    If you had only twenty-four hours left to live, chances are you would not want to spend those final hours trekking through the Himalayas, or relaxing at a marble-lined spa, or eating the most expensive entrée at a four-star French restaurant. Chances are you would want to spend those last twenty-four hours with your family in your home.
No matter how frustrating being a mother is at times, when push comes to shove, there is absolutely no company I'd rather have and absolutely no place I'd rather be.

And more than anything else on this list, I love knowing that there is no splinter in the world so large or so painful that it can take the joy of that knowledge away from me.

Chana (Jenny) Weisberg is the author of the new book One Baby Step at a Time: Seven Secrets of Jewish Motherhood (Urim), and Expecting Miracles: Finding Meaning and Spirituality in Pregnancy through Judaism (Urim). She is the creator of the popular website www.JewishPregnancy.org, and lives with her husband and children in Jerusalem.

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