This week was our middle guy, Zachary’s graduation from preschool. I bawled as I watched him fiercely hug his friends. My eyes teared up as we compared photos of Zachy at age 2 and now, Zachy at age 5. And I could barely hold it together when his teachers placed a tallit over his head and blessed him. But I wasn’t crying because of an ending. I was crying because of the gratitude I feel in Zachary’s ability to reach this day.
A few years ago, I told a friend that I wished “time would stop.” And her response: “No, that’s exactly what you don’t want. You don’t want time to stop.”
She proceeded to tell me a tragic, heart wrenching story in which she remembered taking her high school aged son to his first funeral, the funeral of a fellow classmate, around age 16. After sharing the painful details of the day, my friend looked at me and said, “That’s why I don’t cry out of sadness at graduations or bar mitzvahs or weddings. Nicole, you always want them to grow up—you want them to be 17, 18 or 19. Embrace what your child is going through—even if the road is a little bumpy, bumpy is better because bumpy means you’re here. Appreciate the milestones—it means we get to see another day.”
My natural, maternal instinct is to let my heart sink into my chest, let a tear or two slide down my cheek, tighten my grip around my children, and pray to God, “Just let things stop for a moment so I can catch my breath. I’m not ready for everyone to grow up so fast.”
But the challenge is to appreciate when we get to move forward. Today, we take another step, another breath and for that—we shouldn’t cry—at least not out of sadness. Instead we thank God for reaching this moment, to revel in the celebrations, to be alive.
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, Shehechiyanu, V’kiyemanu, V’higianu Lazman Hazeh.
Praised are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who gives us life, sustains us, brings us to this moment and whispers…
The best is yet to come.