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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/01/06



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Readers Respond To ‘A Mother’  (Chronicles June 30)

Dear Rachel,

Oh please. Another whiney stay-at-home mother wondering why she is the last good mother in the world, while the rest of us evil mothers dare to leave the house without our little ones.

”A Mother” says we should judge. “Let’s walk into the homes and schools of our communities and pull these mothers out and judge them − for the misguided, foolish, undeserving women that they are.”

The Torah commands us not to judge until we have walked in someone else’s shoes. When “A Mother” sees a babysitter with a child, she has no idea if the child has a mother, whether the mother is out working to pay six yeshiva tuitions, or if she supports the family while taking care of her ill husband, etc. It is easy for this mother of one little neshamala to criticize others when she hasn’t yet faced tuition bills and camp bills, when she is still so full of joy from finally having a baby that she fails to understand how other mothers could possibly tear themselves away from their children for even a second.

I know many stay-at-home moms who are great mothers to their kids − yet they can be found on any given day of the week at the library, gym, etc. Since when has this become a measure of good motherhood? Good mothering means hugging, talking, comforting, and being there for your children − in private.

Show me a mother who doesn’t agonize over whether she is doing the best for her children. Show me a working mother who doesn’t feel guilty about leaving her children to make a living, whose heart doesn’t bleed when her small children cling fiercely to her legs as she leaves for work. Mothers don’t need outsiders to judge them. They judge themselves in the harshest light possible each and every day.

To all mothers out there, you know in your hearts whether you are doing right by your children. Do not listen to critics who know nothing of your personal circumstance, and have no right to judge you. You know that you have been entrusted with the greatest gift possible − children who need your love the most. Love alone, however, will not provide these precious neshamas with food, clothing, education and shelter. Do not feel guilty about finding ways to give them the love they need while working for the things they need. We are all part of Klal Yisrael, and rather than join in the all-American debate of working versus stay-at-home mom, we need to embrace and support each other in being the best parents we can possibly be.

Mother of four, working part-time

Dear Rachel,

I was a stay-at-home mom for years and strongly advocate for mothers to stay home with their children if at all possible. However, I was shocked at the style in which this letter was written. There’s so much hostility, name-calling, inappropriate suggestions and unjustified accusations. I would like to ask the writer of this letter some questions, if I may.

1. Why are you so bitter and angry? Can you be missing the independence you had before your baby was born?

2. Who appointed you posek or rav? How do you come off suggesting that women use birth control?

3. Did it ever occur to you that women who support their husbands to enable them to learn full time or help their spouses get through college, consider this a privilege and not a burden?

4. Who are you to judge G-d’s beloved daughters, wonderful Jewish mothers who are chipping in and going to work in order to help their husbands pay tuition, utility bills, and yes, even put bread on the table?

Our Sages tell us “Don’t judge anyone until you are in his shoes.” And if you would find yourself in his/her shoes, you wouldn’t be so eager to “sell the shoes off your feet” to ease your family’s financial situation. Neither would you heed your advice to others − to “beg” on the street, take loans, or move to another city or country.

Last but not least, let me enlighten you: dysfunctional children are not a result of mothers going to work. They are unfortunately a result of environment and our advanced technology (Internet) plus bad friends they hang out with. This is a topic in itself, which I will not go into.

A word to the wise: Don’t judge! Only the One above Who is perfect has the right to judge, and if you don’t want to be judged too harshly by Him, then don’t do it to others!

A distressed reader

Dear Rachel,

I am writing in response to the letter about how we mothers are evil when leaving our children with others. The writer even goes on to say that our peers should judge us poorly. How dare she! She doesn’t know anyone’s circumstances and shouldn’t make a broad statement like that.

I go to work five days a week. Trust me; it’s not a picnic. If I would had my way, I’d have gladly stayed home the past 11 years. My children know they are my priority. I am always available by phone. They are aware that if I had my choice, I’d be with them!

I’m so happy she can stay home − just wait until she has six children, all in day schools with tuition beyond a paycheck! Let her call me and see what my life has been like and then dare to sit in judgment of me!

Ask a rav, she suggests, about working versus staying home. Just where does she think our boys are getting their ideas about learning in kollel to begin with? Oh, that’s right, it’s not the girls who should go out and work − better to find a “shver” [father-in-law] to do it for you.

I could go on and on about so many things, but it’s Erev Shabbos and my work is not yet done.

(To be continued)

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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