I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I made that promise.

Before the High Holidays, when my oldest daughter, Chaya, was about to start school, I went together with her and her younger sister Rachel to buy books for the new school year. Since Rachel hasn’t yet reached the exalted stage of first grade, she was being left out of the excitement, and she voiced her disappointment. She wanted me to buy her something, too.

“You know what?” I told her on the spur of the moment as I stood in the store. “It's true that I’m not buying you school supplies, but without any promises, I’m going to take you swimming on your own once.” Her eyes lit up at the thought of this offer, and I left the store with a happy about-to-enter-second-grade girl and an about-to-go-swimming-alone-with-Mommy Rachel.She voiced her disappointment

Then came the busy season of the High Holidays and the start of the new school year, and my promise was all but forgotten. Rachel, however, wouldn’t let me forget it; every so often, she would remind me about our swimming date. So, one week in the middle of the winter, when I planned my week, I put “going swimming with Rachel” as one of my top priorities. I arranged for a babysitter for the other kids, rearranged my schedule, put my other activities on hold, and out we went.

We arrived at the pool and found a very spirited team of teenagers there, with blasting music. Something seemed wrong. Indeed, the secretary informed me that the free swim session that was slated for that hour had been canceled last-minute, and she would give me free tickets as compensation.

Home we went, promise not yet accomplished.

A few weeks later, swimming was on my top priority list again. This time it was vacation time, so getting out of the house just with Rachel was even more of a feat. But we did it. This time the pool was open, and we had a special time splashing about together.

That night, I heard Rachel regaling her sisters with the tale of the pool. There was a lilt in her voice that hadn’t been there before. And there was a special light in my heart that I hadn’t felt for a long time.

It proved to me what I had heard, learned, and preached so often. Yet when I felt it in my life so clearly, it engraved itThe harder something is for me to accomplish, the more joy I feel when I complete itin my soul once more.

The harder something is for me to accomplish, the more joy I feel when I complete it.

Quietly, I spoke to my daughter: “Thank you, Rachel, for persevering in your request for the private swim with Mommy. I know you had to work hard to achieve it. I hope to learn from your perseverance to work towards the things I want to achieve in my life. I hope to continue to ask G‑d to help me with the goals that seem hardest for me to reach. Because I’ve learned from you that persevering with your request bears fruit, and that joy is more special than can be put in words.”