No matter how determined I am, it happens every time.

My little three-year-old will have done some misdeed, as mischievous three-year-olds will do. He may have crayoned on the wall again, or pulled his sister's pony tail really hard, or refused to share his toys with one of his playmates. For any of these, he will have earned his "consequence" — three minutes of "time-out", as advised by the experts, one minute per year of age.

He'll just begin sitting on the designated step. Not even a half a minute will have passed when he'll approach me, blue eyes wide and intent, and mouth those magical words that melt a mother's heart.

"I'm sorry, Mommy. Can I come out now? I won't do it again."

Of course I am aware that within the hour he will repeat the same, or worse, misdeed.

Nevertheless, I am also aware that, for that singular moment, his apology is sincere, his resolution real and his request heartfelt. So how can I deny him?

Sure, I may remain resolute the first time he asks, and have him stay long enough to at least serve almost half of his three-minute sentence. But eventually I'll succumb to his pleas.

After all, we all make mistakes. The point is to learn from one's follies. Who's to say that the extra minute and a half would impart the lesson better? Besides, don't I also want to teach him the equally valuable lesson of forgiveness? And moreover, I just can't bear to see his face, so full of hope, fall as a result of my own doing.

Every mother knows this. Every mother has experienced it with her children.

And that's when I wonder about You, G‑d. I think about how long the "time-out" of our galut (exile) has lasted. Don't you see our sad eyes raised to you? Don't you hear our apologies for our misdeeds? Don't you see our faces full of hope? Why must we be sent back, time and again, to finish serving our agonizingly long "time-out"?

Then I tell myself that perhaps galut is not like that at all.

Maybe it's more like me watching my six-year-old learn how to ride her bike without its training wheels.

I hold back, watching her try, again and again.

I brace myself for the moment that I will let her go, beyond my secure hold. Sadly, I watch her tip over once more. But as she falls and scrapes her knee against the hard concrete, I usher her into my arms and wipe away her tears.

Eventually, if frustration overtakes her, I insist that we've practiced enough for now. Her feelings of failure are not worth the gain of the skill, and we can try again a different time when her self-image won't be so tarnished.

Then I wonder about You, G‑d. Why after our falls, don't we always feel Your warm embrace? Why don't our tears feel like they are being wiped away? And is the growth really worth the pain?

Then I tell myself that perhaps galut is not like that at all.

At that point, I think perhaps our long and bitter exile is more like me insisting that my eleven-year-old clean her room. I'll tell her to go back, time and time again, until I know that she'll experience the pride and satisfaction of a job perfectly done.

But even then, I'll monitor her reactions ever so carefully. I know that there is a fine balance between pride in earning something through one's own efforts and losing interest in it altogether.

So, I may help her along, or get her started in tidying up. I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that she doesn't despair because I know fully well that when she feels powerless, her efforts will be too.

Then I wonder about You, G‑d. I ponder why you allow us to feel so powerless. True, we will feel such pride in earning our redemption, but aren't You risking that we lose interest in it altogether?

I don't know which analogy to the various stages of my children's life is more precise. I'm not sure whether galut is a consequence meant to impart a lesson — like my three-year-old's time-out — or a learning experience to gain a new skill or awareness — like my daughter's bike lesson — or a refinement process that is self-earned —like cleaning up a room. Or maybe it is a combination of all of these. But one thing is clear to me. I am certain that at some point, You, too, have a breaking point.

Be it our tears, our frustrations, the degeneration of our self-image or our sincere longing and hope — at some point, I know that You, too, will decide enough is enough.

I just wonder why it's taking so long to get You to that breaking point.