It was one of those melancholy days, with my mind looping a song from my teenage years that awakened longings for things that could never be.

The usual morning rush, with a twist. My three-year-old, Adelle Leeba, needed blood tests. Hopefully, nothing too serious—just being a responsible mom. The three big kids off in their various directions, the baby in his stroller, my laptop and work bag over my shoulder, we entered the clinic. I explained that it would hurt for a second, and then she would get a sticker and we would leave. She nodded; I held her arm and prepared for the shriek. It didn’t come. I saw the blood filling the vial; I looked at her face. She waited patiently as the nurse filled two more vials, and then happily accepted the proffered sticker.

I was somewhere on the spectrum between pleasantly surprised and utterly shockedI was somewhere on the spectrum between pleasantly surprised and utterly shocked. We chatted about this and that as we wheeled the baby towards the sitter. I exclaimed how proud I was of her that she didn’t cry. Five minutes later she said to me, “Right, Mommy, also for you they took blood and you didn’t cry.” What was she talking about? “Right? One time you went to the doctor and they gave you a needle and you didn’t cry, right?” I thought back: had she ever seen me have a blood test?

It took me a minute to remember, but she had. It must have been at least six months earlier, when she was about two and a half. I don’t remember why I had taken the kids with me, but I had gone for a routine test in the same clinic with the same nurse, and Adelle Leeba had seen me do exactly what she had done (sans sticker). I hadn’t thought much of it at the time.

I dropped her off at her kindergarten, with a proud explanation to her teacher about why she had been late, and was off to work.

The evening was more of the usual, with that lonely soundtrack still playing in my mind. Perhaps it was nostalgia, or me trying to recapture whatever it was that I may have lost, but I started looking through some of my writing from years ago—words and experiences from a different place, and a time when bottomless sinks of dishes and baskets of laundry, utility bills and work e‑mails were not my primary concerns. I was squarely confronted with miracles. Acts of kindness that G‑d had clearly done for me in those times when my connection to Him was fully fresh and of foremost priority. That was not an easy time in my life; my leaves were bright green, but my roots were still shallow. My strivings then drove me to my utmost strength and beyond, as my steps danced between serendipity and providence.

It was always on His terms, not mineThe nostalgia lingered as I faced the sink, ready for the showdown. “I sure could use a miracle right now. Send one of those divine smiles my way. Hey, I’ll settle for a wink. Could you let me know that I’m not on my own?” What are the criteria for such Executive decisions? Was I more worthy then? I think back over the incidents that had been refreshed in my mind in the story I had just read. When were the times that G‑d had decided to make His appearance so clear?

It was always on His terms, not mine.

I zoom back to the present. Wait, what happened this morning in the clinic? Could that be my coveted wink?

In the last year, my three-year-old has seen her father be hospitalized for his mental illness. She has seen me through the stress of downsizing to a smaller apartment and much smaller budget, through the struggle and juggle of a new job, all the family responsibilities, and the legal bureaucracies of divorce and visitation agreements.

She is still smiling and strong.

And she has quietly learned that you don’t need to scream from every prick.

I’ll call it a miracle. A full-fledged Smile.

On His terms.