I took my 1-year old daughter recently to tipat chalav, a public community health center primarily for babies and toddlers, for a regular check-up. She got weighed and measured. Thank G‑d, everything is normal and good. The nurse then asked me, “Does she know her body parts?” I looked at my giggling toddler running around the clinic, climbing up and down on the kiddie chairs. Body parts? She’s my fifth child. I wanted to laugh, “Do you really think I have time to teach her words like nose and toes?” I thought.

I returned my gazeWe’ll get there. That seems to be the motto of the day for me back to the nurse, smiled and shook my head instead. “Not yet, but we’ll get there.”

We’ll get there. That seems to be the motto of the day for me. “We’ll get there.” And in this case, I can honestly say that yes, eventually, I’m almost positive that we’ll get there. G‑d willing, she will know one day the word for her hand and for her mouth. Eventually, she and all the rest of them will, at least I hope, be able to eat with a fork and not with their hands, brush their teeth without me nagging them and learn not to throw their dirty clothes on the floor.

But what about everything else? All the things I want to teach my children? All the places that I want to take them and all the things that I would like to buy them? The opportunities that I want to make accessible for them? What if I get to it, and what if I don’t? What if I can, and what if I can’t?

Really, can we get to it all? Do we even want to? Is that the goal?

The other day, I rolled up my sleeves to sprout lentils. Yes, on my list of wants is for my children to eat healthy food. I washed the lentils and soaked them overnight. The next day, I rinsed them off and put them in a dark cabinet. In theory, I was supposed to take them out and rinse them off each morning and each night for the next two to three days. Guess what? For me, it’s no surprise. I forgot about them. And in the meantime, my kids probably ate yogurt with fruit or spaghetti and toast.

A miracle happened much to my surprise. When I rediscovered my lentils a few days later, they had grown on their own! I never saw such beautiful, healthy-looking sprouts. In the end, my kids didn’t like them, but I gobbled them up. At least I displayed a good example for them. As I munched on my lentil sprouts, I realized something fundamental. I have to put in the effort that I can, but I also have to take off some of the self-pressure because growth is not dependent on me (and my husband) alone.

Our rabbis taught: There are three partners in man: the Holy One, blessed be He [G‑d]; his father; and his mother (Kiddushin 30b and Niddah 31a). Three partners! And as I heard once from a loving and remarkable mother of more than 10 children, I’m just the junior partner; the Senior one is G‑d.

PracticallyLife is a balancing act of priorities speaking, what does this mean? It means that life is a balancing act of priorities. I’m not going to be able to give and do everything, and I don’t have to. I won’t be able to get to do everything and take care of everything that I want to. And you know what? I find I’m so much more relaxed and happy when I accept this reality instead of fighting it, and give over to G‑d all outcomes and control. I’m actually a calmer, happier Elana—a calmer, happier mommy.

I will nurture and provide the best tools that I’m capable of to my children. If I have a child struggling with something, I’m going to try to get whatever help he needs (therapists, tutors, etc.), but first and foremost, I give it (the problem, the situation, the challenge) over to G‑d, the Senior Partner. I remind myself that this child is His as well, and that He cares and loves this person more than I can understand or imagine.

Do you know what happens when I do this? To my delight, to my amazement, like the sprouts, they and I, we still grow!