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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/08/06

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Readers Respond To ‘A Mother’ (Chronicles June 30) – Part 2

Dear Rachel,

I would like to stick up for us “working moms.” I agree that there are some misguided women who choose to leave their babies for many hours a week to go to lunch, salons, the gym, etc. They probably need to examine their priorities. Most frum women who work do so because their income is needed to meet the many demands on a frum family’s budget – such as tuition, Shabbos clothing, kosher food, camp, etc.

The letter writer who attacked working women with such venom, suggesting that our children are doomed to horrible fates, left me wondering what is missing from her own life that she feels the need to viciously attack a huge segment of our community.

My husband works at a very fulfilling profession, but sadly his compensation will never be enough for a frum family of six living in New Jersey. I have worked my entire adult life and have had four children while working. I am a controller for a large company in New York City. My job is demanding, but B”H, our incomes combined enable us to meet tuition and mortgage payments in a nice unassuming frum community, put food on our table, enjoy Yom Tov, send our kids to camp, and that’s about it. Both of us work hard, and there is still no “room” to “lower our standard of living” as the letter writer suggests. I believe many working mothers find themselves in similar situations.

At different times, my children have had babysitters, been in day care and have been cared for by grandparents. The letter writer proclaims that I cannot work and have kids, and that my choice at the outset should have been to not have any children. I find that to be a scathing and hurtful comment. I invite her to come and meet my well cared for, polite, joyful and derech-eretz’dik children.

Most working mothers deal with the heartache of missing some first smiles, first steps and a few school plays as well. But we do the best we can with the circumstances and nisyonos Hashem has handed us. We need to focus on the “peckel” Hashem doled out to us, deal with it the best way we can and devote as much as possible to our children when we are home with them.

I implore all your readers not to judge as the letter writer did. That is not the way the Torah tells us to act, and that is not the way we should be treating one another. Instead of judging, reach out to your friend or neighbor and try to understand their situation, to see if there is any way you can offer help or comfort. Only then will Moshiach come, and Jewish mothers will no longer be separated from their precious children.

A Devoted Working Mother

Dear Rachel,

In response to the judgmental mother who wrote to bash all working mothers, I write to say that I am a full-time working mother of five beautiful, wonderful, well-adjusted and very loved children. I am appalled at the letter writer’s insensitivity and narrow-mindedness. I know many full-time stay-at-home mothers (which she is not, according to what she states in her letter) who are very fortunate they can afford to be home to raise their children, yet they don’t go around judging mothers who need to go out to work.

My situation does not allow me to stay home. Though I work full-time, my husband or I see our children off to school every morning, and a sweet Polish woman takes them off the bus when they get home. In the evening, it is I who feed my children, do homework with them, bathe them and tuck them into bed by 8:00 p.m. with shema and a kiss.

I don’t preen in my time away from home, nor have I deliberately chosen the hardworking lifestyle. Known to be fine and well-behaved − the result of having parents who do not judge others, who are honest workers, and who treat people with kindness − my children are straight-A students, eat home-cooked meals, wear hand-knitted sweaters and want for very little. Yes, they have more responsibility than other children, which has made them independent and capable.

I’m not advocating that this is for everybody. But has the writer, who accuses all working mothers of collapsing from exhaustion on Shabbos, been to visit these families? Every Friday night my children bring me their parsha notes which we review; we then daven and set the table together.

We should JUDGE, you say! I say take some time out from your busy mothering to read Pirkei Avos: “Don’t judge your friend until your reach his/her place” I wouldn’t want Hashem to judge me, and therefore I don’t go around judging others. You must have been absent in school when they taught “Dan l’kaf zechus (to give others the benefit of the doubt).” You have no idea of the schedules of the mothers of children you see in the park with hired help. Besides, it is none of your business.

Last but not least, how dare you place the blame for rebelliousness of teens on “working mothers!” Factors such as ineffective teachers, bad friends/neighbors/environment and depressions, cam all play a role in teenage rebellion. The best parents can end up with a rebellious child.

Hashem should give us all siyata d’shmaya that our children should grow up and head in the right path, because we all try to do the best we can with the life and children we have.

A Hardworking, Devoted and Loving Mother

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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