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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/26/09

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Dear Rachel,

I am writing in response to a common complaint from the grandparents of this generation regarding their daughters/daughters-in-law. I’ve read letters, not only in this publication, but in many different frum magazines, from horrified bubbies who are wondering how they raised such selfish and spoiled daughters. These are the same bubbies who are dreading Yom Tov and Shabbos, stating that their children use them and abuse them as slaves, babysitters, cleaners and cooks.

I’d like to respond to these claims, if I may, as both a daughter and a daughter-in-law, and see if I can possibly present a different side of the situation.

Having posted this discussion to my sisters, sisters-in- law, friends, cousins and co-workers beforehand, I present this as a unified front. Even though I will tell my own story, please understand that everyone I spoke to and polled could say the same thing.

I have been married for six years and have three children, ages 5, 3 and 1½. Neither my parents nor my in-laws have children left at home, and when Yom Tov approaches, both sides dread being home alone and beg us to come. Despite the fact that it is much easier for us to stay home with our growing family, we always accept their invitations. Before each Yom Tov, I offer my services and almost always show up with kugels, salads, an extra dessert, etc.

Before I had children, I gladly joined my mother or mother-in-law in the kitchen and helped with the preparing, serving and clearing up, but with young children it is simply impossible to care for their needs (helping them eat, breaking up fights, running after a toddler that gets into everything, trying to prevent spills, etc) AND do all the helping out that I used to! I feel that just watching my children and seeing to it that they don’t make a mess or get hurt should be enough of a help to both my mother/mother-in-law, and that I shouldn’t be expected to do everything else besides.

I remember the one time I left the table to help my mother-in-law in the kitchen, hoping that my children were okay, I returned to find the one-year-old alone in the living room with matches, sucking off the phosphorous.

The disorderliness resulting from the children’s clutter is agitating to both sets of parents, which ultimately upsets us all. I don’t understand why they don’t understand that part of having young grandchildren over means a little mess – despite our (my husband and my) efforts to prevent and clean up the untidiness. Somehow, we never did or tried hard enough.

And as for the babysitting, I think that many daughters and daughters-in-law are wondering the same thing that I wonder. Of course not all situations are the same, but both my mother and mother-in-law work very part-time (three-to-four hours a day in the afternoon). I don’t call the house before nine, knowing they are still sleeping.

As for me, my children are up at 5:30 a.m. and Shabbos and Yom Tov are no exceptions, except for being a little more trying. So it does occasionally cross my mind when I’m away for Yom Tov and I’m sitting alone on the living room floor with the kids during those early hours while my mother or mother-in-law sleeps, that I would so appreciate if they would think to say, “Go sleep late… I’ll give you this break ” – just once in a while.

I’ve never said anything to them or asked for anything, but I know that many girls my age are juggling many young children, work jobs outside the home, care for all of the household responsibilities and feel NOT that they deserve a break or G-d forbid that it’s coming to them in any way, but rather that it would be so thoughtful if someone realized just what a gift it is to sleep late on a Shabbos morning, or indulge in a Yom Tov afternoon nap – even if only once in a couple of months.

In general, I feel that the “trend” has become for bubbies to vent about their daughters, resulting in lots of lashon ha’ra – most of it is untrue or way over-exaggerated! I believe, in fact, the opposite to be true: That there has never been a decade of young married women involved in more chesed, more growth and an astonishing array of accomplishments while shouldering a seemingly impossible amount of responsibilities.

The existence of the truly selfish daughter or daughter-in-law is real, I don’t deny, just as there exists a truly unloving or selfish grandparent. But I think I speak for thousands of daughters and daughters-in-law when I express our gratitude to you, the grandparents that the previous generation never had the privilege to enjoy, and for our special relationships with you. We truly appreciate your love, availability and generosity – and for the most part I believe this generation of young ladies to be doing a very fine job both in “mothering our children” and ‘”daughtering’ our mothers.”

Please send your personal stories, thoughts and opinions to rachel@jewishpress.com

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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