Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meant For Each Other

My friend is very frustrated with her bluetooth. And her phone. They just won't sync. She brings them together, the phone searches for its trusted device...and although it's right there, they can't find each other. Or won't.

She doesn't give up. She puts them nose to nose, trying to get them to recognize their match.

It doesn't work.

You can't force love.

I don't have that problem with my bluetooth. I don't use it a lot. Most of the time, it's buried deep inside my pocketbook, with the power off. And I carry my phone in my hand. They need to be separated. Because as soon as Bluetooth sees Phone, it springs to life.

I do what I can to sever the relationship. I go into my phone settings, find bluetooth settings, and make sure that's turned off. I double check the power on Bluetooth. It's off. I put Bluetooth in the little pocket, and carefully zip it shut. Phone goes into a separate pocket. Done. I feel victorious. And evil. And a bit guilty. Kinda like the way I felt when my daughter made friends with a girl I didn't like, and I did whatever I could to keep them apart.

It worked for my daughter. It doesn't work now. A call comes in, and sparks fly.

I check all the settings again. I'm not taking any chances. Bluetooth gets zipped into my pocketbook. I sling my pocketbook over my right shoulder, and Phone goes into my left coat pocket. I don't even feel bad anymore. I smile, smug.

The phone rings. I reach into my pocket, secure in the knowledge that Phone and I now understand each other. I press talk, and say hello. There's no one there. My confidence wavers. I glance at the screen. The call continues, with Bluetooth and Phone united.

That's when I know they are destined to be together.

I use my bluetooth all the time now.

They're meant for each other. And nothing I do will keep them apart.

It is said that ever since Hashem created the world, He has been kept busy making shidduchim. And that making a good match is as hard as Kriyas Yam Suf. Forty days before a child is born a voice is heard: this person is destined for that one. Somehow our bashert, the person destined for us, waits for us.

I've waited for this moment. Who would be special enough? Who would be the one? It seemed like a search for a needle in a haystack would be simpler.

We hit some bumps along the way, but we are not running the world ourselves. The Master of all souls, the Matcher of all matches guided us, wondrously orchestrating this all.

My son is engaged.

She is sweet and warm and smart and beautiful...and perfect for him. Their souls are partners, matching halves of a single whole.

They are meant for each other.

Like Bluetooth and Phone.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

To Love And Protect

I'm a mother. I have a fundamental instinct to protect my children from pain. In the course of their lives, I've soothed, encouraged, held, hugged and protected my little ones through the bumps and bruises associated with living. My love for them is a protective cloak guarding them from the many perils that threaten to harm them as they walk this journey of life.

There have been moments...holding a crying boy whose feelings have been hurt by another child, watching a sad girl trying to heal after a broken friendship...when I am overcome by a powerful, physical instinct to protect and fight for my child.

My daughter is in 7th grade - the year of G.O. elections. In her school, one girl is nominated from each of the 7th grade classes to run for G.O. President. The class votes, but the teachers make the final decision.

Elections took place last week. My daughter was really excited, having been obsessed with this since 5th grade. She felt that her chances of being chosen were pretty good. She had all the qualities needed and fit all the necessary qualifications.

I agreed, of course. I was sure she'd get plenty of votes, and I knew that her teachers recognized her talents and abilities. But I cautioned her during the week that if she was not chosen, she shouldn't be too disappointed. There are close to 30 girls in her class, several of whom would be good choices.

I waited with baited breath the day the results were to be announced. She came home, downcast.

"Who won?" I asked, my heart in my throat.



"I don't mind that I didn't win," she said. "But this was not done fairly. Miriam got only one vote. The head of G.O. is her aunt, and her sisters and cousins are always chosen."

My mother bear instinct kicked in. This was an outrage. How could they do this? How could they lead these girls to believe that their talents and hard work would earn them a chance at winning? How could they instill hope, when no one ever really had any chance?

I didn't want my daughter to suffer. I didn't want her to feel any pain. I would fix this.

I didn't, of course. I hugged her, I listened to her, I empathized. But then I let it go. I know that life is not easy. If I always pave the way, and continually make things easier for my children, I will create adults who are not able to deal with the real world.

My son is no longer a child. He's had his share of childhood disappointments. He's weathered his adolescence, gotten through his teens, and has grown into a mature and serious adult. Dealing with the real world.

And in the real world, I can't protect him.

I see his pain...I watch him suffer. It tears my heart apart. And there's nothing I can do to take his pain away. That protective cloak I naively believed could shield him from every trauma lies crumpled on the floor at my feet.

Motherhood brings out exceptional strength in me. No task is too small or sacrifice too great. In my mind's eye, I can see myself jumping in front of an oncoming train to save their lives. In my imagination, I can always save the day.

But when my son is suffering more pain than he ever has before, I can't protect him. All I can offer is a hand to hold as he walks the road that lies before him.

It's not enough...