The phone call shook me up.
My little boy walks home from school. Himself. It was hard for me to let go again after the horrific events of this summer. But he is old enough to do it, he is ready for it, and it's what he wants. So, despite my uneasiness, I understood that this was the right thing.
The woman on the phone introduced herself. She saw my little boy standing on a street corner looking confused and she offered her help. She described where they were, and my heart stopped.
It was a spot so many of us became familiar with as we watched Leiby Kletzky, lost and alone, finally walk off with a monster.
It's a confusing corner. My little boy was ok. He would have figured it out on his own. He was never in any real danger.
But I couldn't stop shaking.
From the moment my first child was born, I promised myself that I'd keep him safe. I'd protect my children forever. I'd shield them from life's harshness.
I can't do that, of course.
But I can worry.
I worry when they leave the house in the morning. I worry about them crossing the streets. I worry when I see cars speeding around a corner. I take a mental count of all my children when I hear a siren or a short stop. I worry if one of them looks pale. I worry about them making friends. I worry about shidduchim.
And then they grow older, and they move out on their own.
And I still worry.
My son and daughter-in-law came for Succos. I love seeing them. I love seeing my son in this new role, and I love seeing how happy they are.
My daughter-in-law was not feeling well one morning, and we had a bit of a scare. She was ok, but I worried for the rest of Yom Tov.
One of Chava's punishments is tzaar gidul banim – the pain of raising children. She will be tired and stressed and overworked. There will be the daily pressures and the inevitable crises.
But it's deeper than that. Her curse is her mother love. She will spend all her days worrying about her children. There is pain in that love.
But along with the pain, there is beauty. It is a unique love.
I realized that I will never stop worrying.
My children will grow up and leave home. There will be new people joining our family. And every new family member is another person to worry about.
And another person to love.