Bar Mitzvah, bar mitzvah party, lessons learned, love, parenting, stress

I Should Have Known…The Joys of the Unknown

I should have known that the bar mitzvah wouldn’t look exactly as we had envisioned, and that I would be tested in all sorts of ways. I should have known. It’s surprising that, after 13 years with this glorious child, I haven’t yet learned my lessons.

On the day that Yehuda was born, we woke our babysitter at about 6:30am to tell her that it would be a long day and that we would be bringing our 22 month old, Matan, early. She very apologetically told Josh that she had strep and that she wouldn’t be coming in today – for the first time since Matan started daycare at the age of three months.

It was a day of improvising and creative thinking.

And I should have known when my birth plan appeared to go up in smoke, as my water broke and my doctor (who was a friend) gently reminded me that they would have to induce with petocin, and that it would probably mean that I would need an epidural and would not have the natural birth that I envisioned. I got through without the epidural, but it was still the birth that was the most different from all the others and the one that challenged me the most. Yehuda taught me that the body can do incredible things even when others say it might not be possible.

So the creativity needed for the bar mitzvah, the flexibility and change of plans shouldn’t have surprised me in quite the way that it did.

All of our children teach us – they all help us to grow, to see our shortcomings, to learn flexibility. But somehow this child, of all of my children, helps me to grow and to really understand how much we are not in charge.

You know the expression that we plan and Gd laughs? Well, this appears to be the theme song of Yehuda’s bar mitzvah.

And we were taught over and over again that our plan is simply not the one that ends up happening sometimes – and to let go.

So I should have known that our meticulously made plans to go to Leket, to do a charity project in honor of Yehuda’s bar mitzvah, would be cancelled due to rain. And that the adventurous trip to Jerusalem with the family would be as well on account of snow.

And I should have known that the snow would start to fall exactly as predicted at 5pm on Thursday, leaving my dad and brother to make a decision in New York about continuing with their flight to us or turning around and going back to Sunny LA. (We missed you!)
Here are my brother and dad waving from the airport in New York.
And I should have known not to be surprised when I woke up Friday morning with a foot of snow on the ground to realize we had no water in the house. (Fortunately Josh figured that one out).

And I shouldn’t have been surprised Friday night as we sat around the beautifully decorated table celebrating Shabbat while thunder and lightning flashed and roared across the blankets of snow and hail crashed against the windows.

And then, the electricity shut off a number of times during the night, teasing me into believing that I would be serving cold food to our 22 guests the next day for lunch.

But then by the next morning, I was ready to roll with it when the eight of us packed up our bag on Shabbat morning and hiked through the snow and slushy roads to shul. It was quite cute, actually, watching all of us hiking together and making our way to Yehuda’s big day. Matan had a huge backpack on his back filled with our dress shoes, books, a ton of candies and baskets for handing out the candies.

And I managed to roll with it when we arrived at shul and discovered that my safety net was filled with snow. I had been worried for weeks about how I would keep the two little brothers quiet while Yehuda davened and layned his parsha (read from the Torah) and I was reassured knowing that they would play in the kids’ toy room (Midrash Chanan) set up for this purpose and that they could always go outside to play. As we arrived in shul, I realized that the toy room was locked and that the path leading to it was blocked by a thick blanket of snow. And that they would obviously not be going outside to play. Deep breaths. But it brought me right back to Yehuda’s birth and the call to his nanny with strep. And I had to simply put up my hands and laugh, once again.

Yehuda did a beautiful job in shul, the grandparents who were with us all managed to hike through the mounds of snow to hear Yehuda, and our food was even warm.

And then, Saturday night, I should have known it would happen when Eliav came down with a fever and what appeared to be strep. I hustled to find him a strep test, to get him medicine and to tuck him quickly into bed and pray that the morning would be better. (Thankfully, his meds kicked in and he was fine.)

And then, I should have known Sunday morning, the day of the party, that Yehuda would come in at 5am complaining of a sore throat. NO! I thought.


But it was.

And while Yehuda’s rapid strep test showed he didn’t have strep and the doctor was sure he was fine, the more accurate, overnight test the next day showed that he most certainly did have strep during his party.

And yet, he was composed and beautiful, spirited and joyous at his party as he toughed it out throughout the entire evening. He held it together, crashing the next day in a heap of strep-induced fever and chills – but not until the party was over.
The first of the bar mitzvah pictures…we are waiting for the rest!

Life isn’t always what we plan. That’s for sure. And truly, what I have learned from this child over and over again is that what really defines you in life isn’t what you plan and hope and assume.

It’s what you do with what you’re given.

It’s how you handle the stress of a foot of snow the day before the bar mitzvah and how you handle the water issues, electricity issues, grandparent arrivals and more. It’s how you handle yourself at  your party, pumped up on Advil but fighting through the strep to have as good a time as you can, and to even say “Thanks Mom and Dad” at the end.

And that, really, is the blessing and the lesson that I appear to be given throughout Yehuda’s life.

And I am grateful to learn these lessons through smachot (joyous occasions) because we are typically plagued with such challenges through painful moments instead. I gratefully approach each joyous moment with this mystical and magical child, ready for the next adventure and the next change that life appears to bring.

Mazal Tov Yehuda.

You were awesome.

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