I tap my toes as I wait for the pancakes to bubble enough to turn over.

I am making my children pancakes, which I don’t do often, since the mornings are so rushed and pancake-making is such a hassle. But this morning, I have decided to make this special treat for my kids and myself.

I feel a little fidgety. I figure that if I get four pancakes in quickly, I might have time to briefly check my e-mail. Since I live in Israel, e-mails from the U.S. often come in while I’m sleeping.

I feel gratified as the e-mails descend on my screen

I dash to my computer, and feel gratified as the e-mails descend on my screen. I must be important! So many people want to contact me. Never mind that more than half are ads or come from different e-mail groups.

Okay. Here’s an e-mail saying that a change I’ve requested has been made. Inadvertently, an illustrator was credited with writing an essay of mine. Of course, these things can happen, but I wanted the fame I deserved. That was gratifying.

Back to my pancakes, which seem no worse for the wear for sitting a few extra seconds. But after I turn them, I have to stay put, as the second side cooks more quickly. I dare not return to my computer until the next new batch is in the pan. Yikes! Why am I doing this? I wonder.

Once the next batch is in, I peruse more e-mails and see that someone has commented on that same essay. Wahoo! “Lovely article,” reads the comment from a woman I don’t know. I’m in heaven.

I head back to my pancakes with lightness in my heart. I even hum a tune. And my pancakes are looking better too.

Some time ago, my friend Sarah told me she was committed to staying home with her young children. But after a while, she returned to work as a nurse. “I just didn’t get enough recognition as a mom,” Sarah confided. “And after paying for day care, I come home with basically nothing.”

I was shocked that my friend left her children to go to work for no financial gain. Clearly, the reward of outside recognition was what she craved. I thought of my own mother, who stayed home with us. She built her life around our family, and she took pride in her work as a homemaker.

She taught us to tackle any job with the attitude that we should do it properly. When she sewed on a button, she used the right color thread. For others, a pretty-close color was good enough. Not for my mom. “I’m a nice person!” she’d exclaim. “I deserve to have it done right.”

No one gave her a standing ovation for buttons nicely sewn, or accolades for home-cooked meals. She found fulfillment in what she did, because her purpose was to care for our family. She taped up several magazine pictures in the laundry room. One showed a woman in a flamboyant outfit vacuuming. Another read: “Housework isn’t work, it’s poetry!” My mother made her homemaking into poetry, without a lot of fanfare, without seeking others’ approval.

And here I am making pancakes, yet finding much more satisfaction from others’ valuing me. I pause as I flip another batch. I remember learning in a Jewish philosophy course that a person’s real value is determined by his or her relationship to G‑d.

“Can’t I be valued for my own accomplishment and achievements?” I argued.

“Of course you can be valued for things you do,” the teacher replied. “But what really counts is what G‑d thinks of you, and that’s determined by your relationship with Him.”

It took me a while to come around. I was scheduled to go to graduate school, and my own achievements and academic accomplishments were very significant for me.

I did go to graduate school, got married, had children, and accomplished many important things. But I came to realize that, indeed, my own worth was determined by G‑d and not by letters after my name, or anything else.

Here I am, making pancakes

The pancakes were delicious, and even the folded-over ones were eaten happily by my children. I didn’t write a great treatise this morning or bring about world peace. But I did emulate G‑d, who we say in our prayers “feeds the hungry.” G‑d created our world with kindness, and still is constantly doing kindness for us. This morning I, too, created with kindness. I asked myself, did that pancake session strengthen my relationship with G‑d? Did it increase my own feeling of self-worth? The answer is most certainly yes.