It’s seeping in. The changes in my nuclear family are slowly ebbing into my awareness. My oldest daughter is moving out in less than a fortnight; BH, she’s getting married!
On the one hand, whereas as children are a large, integral, part of one’s existence if one is so blessed (my husband and I gave this daughter, our first child, the middle name “Nasia,” from the Hebrew word for “miracle,” because there had been reasons why we had not been certain we would be accordingly blessed), they are not the totality of one’s life. People continue on, with or without children. Consider that we are also possessed of relationships: to G-d, to ourselves, to our partners, to our friends, and to our local and global communities.
Similarly, watermarks, that is, important events, do not constitute the entirety of our lives. Day to day happenings, comprised of the choices we make every few minutes or every few hours, such as whether to wake up on time or not, whether to pray slowly or quickly, and whether to eat a healthful breakfast, an unhealthy breakfast, or no breakfast at all, are at last as important to us as are our lives’ singular moments. Likewise, we are impacted by the ways by which we actualize our choices. For instance, do we live mindfully or mindlessly, do we try to improve our middot or not, and do we take into consideration the bearing of our actions on other folk or to we ignore the influence we have on them?
Regardless of how that complex design, which we call “existence,” is formed by the relative patterning of our special with our ordinary times, it remains, wonderfully, the case that my oldest child is getting married! This is the initial “parenting of marrieds” event for my husband and for me. Thus, we are living through the array of emotions that accompany such goings-on, plus we are living through the array of emotions that surround such goings-on when those goings-on take place for the first time. Whereas I grasp that feelings tend to take on superlative attributes when they are initially owned, when they are first experienced, I nonetheless remain overwhelmed by all of the input currently pouring into my psyche. A sensation of being beset is not necessarily a bad consciousness, yet it is fullness.
In comparison, recall your Bat or Bar Mitzvah. Think on your first shidduch date. Reflect on your own wedding or on the birth of your first child. Likely, you will agree with me that we individuals are more proficient and less anxious by the second, third, or twentieth time that we undergo any dynamic span.
Sadly, we are also, at least a tad, less awed during subsequent occurrences. I don’t believe it is so much that we are jaded when we reencounter life’s punctuations as much so as it is that in reencountering them, we receive smaller tests of our emunah and so feel less of a cosmic tug. Usually, during a second, third, or twentieth exposure to a happening, we have at least a vague notion of what to expect. Not so, the first time.
In the case of our daughter’s forthcoming nuptials, no matter how many books my husband and I read, no matter how many advisors we seek, no matter how much unsolicited counsel we receive, fear will necessarily find more of our spiritual pores than it will when we, IYH, go through later repetitions of the same happiness with our other children. Correspondingly, any faith we materialize during this time, our virgin experience of a child getting married, s is that much purer than it can be during subsequent times.
For perspective, reflect on your first day of school, recall your first time in a swimming pool, remember your first opportunity to participate in public speaking, and think back on the first time you signed for a loan for a house or for a car. All of those occurrences had great potential to end well. All of those occurrences, simultaneously, were difficult. At such junctures, we have to trust.
Because we are not automatons ad because Hashem and His kindness are not literally palpable, we hope important events end well, especially the first time we proceed through them, but we can not know beforehand, that they will. We have no means by which to guarantee outcomes. Quite the opposite is true; the bigger our investments of our resources, of our time, of our money, or of our strength, often, the more we ache for our experiences to go smoothly.
Since we can’t, by ourselves, secure results, we tend to each to The Almighty. We get what we are supposed to have, which is not always what we want. Sometimes results are better than hoped for, sometimes not.
So, points of anguish become points of joy. What seems real proves to be illusionary. We feel, in unequal and unpredictable measure: despair, ecstasy, hopeless, and elation. We’re supposed to: rod and staff, sweetness and light, Hashem raises us.
I’ve never married off a child before. I don’t know how to do so. My plan, hence is to gather up all of the benevolence given to me, sing gratitude for it, and imperfectly enjoy my child’s simcha.