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‘Is This the Little Girl I Carried … ?’

‘Is This the Little Girl I Carried … ?’

A Mom Reflects on Change

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She’s doing exactly what she should: She’s moving, her primary emotional bond is shifting. She’s been living at home the last year-and-a-half, while in school, and I’ve been an important confidante and sounding board. Especially during that trying, tailor-made by G‑d time when she decided she’d really like to move in the direction of marriage. She datedHer center of gravity has changed different young men while looking for that elusive (but we knew he was out there) right one. The process was a learning curve par excellance. She had to ride the waves and sharpen her powers of discernment and faith, but I paddled alongside, trying to keep a buoy within her grasp.

She’s loving and engaging as always, but her center of gravity has changed. With a sparkling smile and a little proud, maybe a little apologetic, shrug of the shoulders, she dismisses herself and goes downstairs because she has a phone date with her fiancé with the miracle of WhatsApp letting them shmooze for free, even though thousands of miles separate them as he’s finishing up his studies in Israel. They spin their dreams and make practical decisions about apartments, and the myriad stuff and matters that will soon anchor these soaring souls, tying them to the joys and challenges of building a home in this physical world.

Baruch Hashem, thank G‑d a million times over. It’s wonderful, it’s amazing, it’s a miracle and tremendous blessing. Please don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled to the heavens that my daughter has found her soul mate, and that we’re hectically, busily diving into wedding preparations.

This is what we pray for. At the very moment of birth, we bless the parents to raise their barely arrived, fresh with the smell of the Garden of Eden still lingering newborn—to raise the sweet baby to Torah, marriage and good deeds.

But we parents have to open our hands and let go. And it is mostly so sweet, but there is an undercurrent of a tiny whisper of nostalgia as we transition. Maybe I’m feeling it more because this has been a year of much loss and change in my family. The wedding will be, please G‑d, in a good and auspicious time, three days after my father’s first yahrtzeit. I feel him blessing her; I feel how life is full of movement. Souls come down, souls leave, and we are called to embrace the process, squeeze out the meaning and savoring each one we are fortunate and meant to share our journey with.

I remember the delight and also the quiet shock when our oldest daughter got engaged and married. There he was—clearly her other half; she was no longer primarily ours. And the day after the wedding, when she walked through our front door, as she had thousands of times before, something was different. There was a silently clearly defined line of otherness.

For me, that shattering sound of the stepping on the glass as the wedding ceremony ends is a jolt, a cymbal joyfully demarcating the radically different movement of this rich life symphony. Crush! Mazel tov! Next stanza.

And it’s not just weddings. As a preschool teacher, I chuckled but understood parents who hovered by the door, wanting their busily playing child to be just a little clingy or sad to see them go, instead of running full strength forward towards their day.

Then there are the budding bat and bat mitzvah child/adults. With perhaps a whisper of a mustache, and awkward and precious breaking voice; with a young woman emerging from a giggly school girl. That delicious, impossible mixture of “Wasn’t she just that little mud-faced kid?” and “Where did he get that courage to address a crowd with youthful, eloquent insight”?

So, we mothers smile. And glow. And wipe a tear. Of a heartTo everything, there is a season bursting as a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. We loved that warm and cozy cocoon of baby on lap, toddlers hand trustingly grasping ours, young adult shying confiding in us. But to everything, there is a season, as King Solomon taught. It’s time to put on the lipstick and smile, say l’chaim, kiss that stage goodbye and embrace that child with love and support as they move on to the next glorious step in their unfolding story.

As a Chassidic song expresses: May our cup be overflowing with blessings to the point that we’re just overwhelmed with goodness, gasping for air as it were, calling out Enough! May G‑d bless us with abundant celebrations, and grace and strength, to embrace and savor the multitude of emotions they evoke, and to guide our families through each rich step of their and our lifecycles.

Miriam Karp is an award-winning writer, artist, Judaic studies teacher and lecturer. Her paintings explore intimate moments in Jewish life. Her first book, Painting Zaidy’s Dream: A Memoir of a Searching Soul, shares her story of search. Miriam lives in Cincinnati with her husband and family. Visit her website here.
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Anonymous Hackensack NJ February 22, 2017

It is clear to me nowi have missed absolutely everything
Thank G-d at least
i can experience
flavor
through your words Reply

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