This is my new perspective on dealing with all the bumps that come with motherhood.
On a recent Motzaei Shabbos, I experienced an epiphanic moment. I had just finished reciting G-tt fun Avraham, the tefillah where I beseeched the Ribono shel Olam to send us a week of bracha, hatzlacha, and an array of blessings. I came into the kitchen to fold the Shabbos tablecloth and put it away, only to notice a nice-sized oil stain and its culprit—an open can of tuna. Argg! This was after I had asked the kids not to eat at the kitchen table before the white tablecloth was removed. Many, oh so many, grievances started formulating in my mind, cascading in torrents. Why couldn’t the kids be more careful? Why were they making one mess after another? Why did they have to keep me busier than I already was? Why? Why? Why?
But then, miraculously, an inkling of a thought dawned, washing over me and filling my being with a deep sense of calm. Wait. One minute. AREN’T THESE THE BLESSINGS I JUST FINISHED DAVENING FOR? I davened for health, I davened for banei chayei, I davened for life in my home. Yes, of course it’s frustrating when a crisp white tablecloth gets covered in grease. It’s frustrating when bedtime takes two-three-four hours. It’s frustrating when we need to start serving supper all over again because one kid decided he’s hungry. But baruch Hashem we have children. Baruch Hashem we have healthy children who make those messes and requests. Baruch Hashem there is food with which to make that mess, food to serve, food to clear away.
And baruch Hashem a million times over for that epiphany. Here I went from being the victim-mom, lamenting my heavy workload, the irresponsible kids, the mess, to being a grateful woman, cognizant of the brachos Hashem was showering me with in His kindness. And what did that do to me? This mindset switch resets our entire being—and doing. We start to operate from a different place, a place of gratitude and joy. Even when we summon the kids to help clean up their mess, it’s a different kind of command. It’s a request that emanates from our desire to teach them responsibility, from our concern for them, not a command that simmers with anger and revenge.
The thing with this epiphany is that it’s not a novel idea at all. It’s something we’ve probably heard at a lecture or two or have been told by others at a time when we were overwhelmed: Appreciate your blessings! But, here’s what makes it so validating—when we’re the ones telling it to ourselves. When others offer such food for thought at our moments of frustration or exasperation, we find it highly invalidating. No one can tell this to us, but we can. Self-talk is reassuring; it’s soothing; it’s invigorating. It jolts us into a more positive frame of mind, which impacts every aspect of our life.
So whether we’re bursting out of our apartment or find ourselves constantly restocking the pantry; whether the kids’ outgrow their clothes even when the season has barely taken off or we’re frazzled by the endless to-do lists, we can remind ourselves that these are our blessings—in the here and now.
It is this epiphany that I keep in mind when things get hectic around here—that watershed moment when I realized, Hey, the brachos I daven for are right here, right now. When I forget, my eight-year-old daughter is right there to remind me. She holds on to the words I told her a while ago as we were cleaning up yet another of our grand toy messes: the brachah I gave her that when she grows up, she, too, should merit having toys strewn all over her house. “It means I’ll have kids,” she tells me. “And it means I’ll have healthy kids who can play with toys.” So if I ever let out a sigh, she’s quick to remind me, “Doesn’t this make you lucky?”
Yes, the brachos we beg for are right here, right now. May we merit opening our eyes to notice—and appreciate—them.