This morning, I woke up 15 minutes earlier than usual in order to pack up the lunches I was too worn out to make the night before. And as the rest of my house slept and I spread white cheese onto slices of bread and washed off apricots to slide into backpacks, I whispered in my heart, “Behold I am prepared and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of v’halachta b’drachav,” to walk in Hashem’s ways. And I felt my heart start to smile as I remembered that just like Hashem provides food for the world, I am providing food for my children.
It took a while for my kids to start trickling downstairs. And 4-year-old Yaakov, for some reason, was all out of sorts. First, he was fighting with his 10-year-old brother who had, he insisted, stolen his seat at the kitchen table. Then he was upset that I had given him an apricot for gan instead of a green apple (true, I should have known he always prefers green apples over everything). And then he had a complete meltdown that his oatmeal wasn’t hot enough, and it still wasn’t hot enough, and it still wasn’t hot enough, and then it was too hot.
And all the while I was whispering in my heart, “Behold I am prepared and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of gidul yeladim” of raising children. And these words, somehow, magically, lifted me above the bickering and the hullabaloo and the meltdown, reminding me that no matter how badly my morning was going, I was doing something of great importance, raising a Jewish family!
I finally got out of the house half an hour later than usual. Yonatan goes to a gan at the house of my next-door neighbor, so in theory it should take less than a minute to get there. I say “in theory” because every morning Yoni insists on walking all the way around to gan, and his way takes at least five minutes or more.
And as I walked the long way I whispered in my heart, “Behold I am prepared and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of v’ahvta l’reecha kamocha” of loving your neighbor as yourself. Just as I like when I can do the things I want to do, I am letting Yoni walk the way he wants to walk. And saying those words made me feel good about myself, good about walking the long way (for the millionth time), even.
Many JewishMOM readers, as well as our great rabbis are divided about whether it’s important to have intention when we perform the many mitzvot we JewishMOMs do over the course of our day. And I know that for me, occasionally I have intention, and more occasionally I don’t. And I also don’t know the spiritual ramifications of this or that.
But I do know that when I manage to have intention, it injects a special happiness, satisfaction, and even something bordering on excitement into mothering moments as dull and even draining as sandwich prep at 6:45 a.m., refereeing meltdowns over too-hot oatmeal, and walking the loooong way to gan. Yet again.