Throughout the many challenges we have in life, we try to always do the right thing and make the right choices. And yet, at times, despite what we may feel is the right thing to do, we do the opposite.
I’m on the road a lot and there are many opportunities where I can exercise this challenge. If somebody cuts me off abruptly on the road and I clearly have the right of way, I will not fight with him. I will let him in since I want to protect my life as well as my car. When it comes to physical manners we tend to understand very clearly if somebody needs our help. If someone is in a wheelchair we will help push their chair in order to help and get them someplace.
However, how many times do we read the signals if someone needs help when it is not physical? Somebody is having a hard time emotionally, or someone is stressed out from a certain situation. Someone can’t cope with their own challenges and they behave in a certain way just because they feel helpless and are emotionally unequipped to deal with the full challenges on their own.
Being a parent is one of the biggest blessings in the world. It is also one of the biggest challenges I can think of. Yes, it’s wonderful, and yet, it’s the most personal work on one’s self ever achieved. Living alone is quiet, nobody bothers you, you have your own space, you can come and go as you please, and you don’t have to give an account to anybody about what you are doing.
When our children are little we are totally involved in their care. We have many sleepless nights, we provide their food and their clothing, we take them all over, and we enjoy their company. We’re never lonely, as we have our sweet lovable children to hug.
When they grow up they don’t need us physically by their side as they did when they were young. This is true especially when they are married. But emotionally there remains a strong attachment.
Sometimes our children themselves don’t even realize how much they need their parents. Especially young parents since they feel like they want to do it all by themselves or they know better than their old parents. In many different situations they won’t even ask for help since it’s not physical help, and they are not sure what to ask for.
Recently one of my children was in the process of looking for a new apartment and moving. So I had him stay with me with his wife and two children. This challenge took longer than expected and my children’s stay was extended. Once again this sounds wonderful, and yet on the flip side of the coin this encountered many new challenges as well. And this is where the right thing to do is not always the right thing. I found myself many times, while my children were in the house, getting upset about the mess or the disorder of the daily life. I found myself commenting right and left about things they were doing with their children. I would say that this was not the best situation for any married children to live in the same house as their parents. I was thinking they should leave, they should go someplace else; they should not live with me, since I need my space and they need theirs. However, they had not found a place yet and there weren’t many choices for them for where to go in the meantime.
I was almost at the end of my patience and of my understanding, and was about to tell them, listen you guys have to leave, I can’t handle this anymore, I need my space, I need my life, and you have to go.
Thank goodness for my older daughter who was around one day and saw what was happening in the house. She saw my great frustration and then on the other hand she also saw their great distress. She said to me “Mom, parents sacrifice a lot for their children. You always tell me that in life we’re here to fix things, to amend, to correct our ways. G-d has many ways of helping us fix our attributes and the things we have done wrong in life. If Hashem sends us a challenge it is not to punish us or to have us be in pain, it’s for us to grow and change, and therefore if the situation is really hard for you, this means that this is an opportunity for you to grow, and change things that went wrong.”
The right thing might have been to tell them to leave since it doesn’t make sense to live with your parents when you are all grown up and married with kids. However, the right thing to really do was to listen to their aching hearts, to their pain, to their frustration, to their lack of ability to do anything else. When our kids were little and got sick we didn’t give them over to another family, to different parents. We didn’t sell them off. We lost sleep, time, and aggravation. And when they were sick we were sick as well. So if my child who’s older now is experiencing so much frustration and pain emotionally, and is having such a hard time dealing with his challenge in life regarding finding a new place, I will be there for him. Luckily I have room in my home and definitely room in my heart.
Therefore, at this moment I will overlook the mess, the space, the things that I’d like to do differently. I realize that this is an opportunity to help them, despite my discomfort. Thank you Hashem for the opportunity to grow and thank you Hashem for my daughter who helped me see the light.
Please Hashem give me the strength to do the right thing, the really right thing, despite what I feel. Thank you Hashem for my children.