It all started with my son Max. I had planned a big extravaganza. In fact, people still have my deposits from that extravaganza that never happened. We ordered a bunch of supplies and had all our vendors booked for Maxopoly. It was going to be a lot of fun and it got cancelled. Max had a Zoom Mitzvah during Covid, and I was not a happy camper about it. I wanted his service to be at our synagogue and his party to be at River Works. Max studied hard and did an amazing job on the computer in front of hundreds of people watching with us. I was definitely left scarred. Proud and scarred.
Moving on to my daughter Ella’s Bat Mitzvah. I was very gun shy to plan this event. I didn’t want to go all out and have the same experience. Ella and I agreed that we would plan a small but great event for her and her friends. She did a wonderful service at our synagogue and had a great party with her friends at Santora’s banquet room. It was a success and Ella was happy with how it all came together.
My first child is my guinea pig, and we learn together. I usually have a better feel for what I’m doing with Ella. Ella gets the best of me. By the time I get to Lillie I’m tired and done. Do I really need to plan another Bat Mitzvah?
Lillie is supposed to have her Bat Mitzvah in 2025. She attends religious school on Sundays, and she attends her Hebrew tutoring lessons on zoom on Thursdays. She gives me such a hard time. In her defense, Seth and I never wanted to go to religious school either and neither did Max and Ella. No one is excited to go. My parents made me, and Seth’s parents made him go. I am not my mother, that’s for sure. She is much firmer than I am.
On the way home from school, Lillie sighed and said she didn’t like Thursdays because she has Hebrew. On Sundays, she never wants to wake up early and go to religious school. Do you blame her? Why are we making her do this? On the way home from school I felt so bad for making her do all this stuff so that she could have her Bat Mitzvah. We did two, isn’t that good enough?
I told my husband that I’m done. I told him that I don’t want to force her to do Sundays or Thursdays. I told him that Lillie is tougher than me. I told him Max had his Bar Mitzvah and Ella had her Bat Mitzvah. I told him that’s good enough.
The next day I found out that Seth was up all upset over all these words that I spewed out to him. You see, I vent a lot of stuff out when I’m frustrated. I don’t think about how important my words are to Seth. I don’t think about how important the Bat Mitzvah is to Seth. I was too busy focusing on myself and wanting to make my life easier. I was tired of fighting with Lillie.
Sometimes I want to take the easy way out. Sometimes I don’t want to fight with Lillie. Sometimes I want to give in to her. Seth is tougher than both of us. Seth wants a Bat Mitzvah and Seth is going to get a Bat Mitzvah.
Seth told me how upset he was with me for not caring much about her Jewish education. Seth is firm. Seth is disciplined. Seth follows through with things. Seth is so many things that I admire.
He had made his case to me. He wants her to have her Bat Mitzvah and he wants my support. I’m upset with myself for upsetting him. You see, his desire for this means more to me than Lillie’s desire not to go. Ironically, Lillie told me this morning that she had a dream about her Bat Mitzvah. It is going to happen.
No more saying that I don’t care about it.
No more lack of support to Seth.
No more making my husband feel bad.
I may stray away, but I always come back to my Jewish roots. Seth says, “Can we have Shabbat dinners? Can we go to temple sometimes?” My answer is yes. You see, Seth found me in temple. That is where we connected. That is where we were married. That is where our children had their naming ceremonies. That is where Max had his Bar Mitzvah. That is where Ella had her Bat Mitzvah. That will be where Lillie has her Bat Mitzvah.
The parenting lessons here:
If Lillie sees wiggle room, she will take it. If I give her an inch, she will take the mile. She knew that I would give in. She knew that she could push my buttons. Our kids learn how to work the system.
The marital lessons:
Think before I speak. Seth takes everything I say very seriously even when I’m just venting. I need to be disciplined in what I say. I need to take his feelings into account more. I care about Seth and what he wants.
Sometimes I get it wrong. This is a story of me getting it wrong. A story of letting my kid walk all over me and not worrying about what is important to my husband. I’ve learned my lesson. I didn’t like seeing him upset. Time to support my husband and be a better wife. They may say, “happy wife, happy life.” I say, “My husband’s happiness means the world to me.” I want him to feel important and I want him to have what he deserves.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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