It was Marathon Sunday in New York City. The runners were cutting through our neighborhood of Williamsburg, wreaking havoc on traffic conditions. Moishey’s yeshiva van couldn’t get to our housing development for the Sunday morning pickup. Detours and closed streets all over sent drivers on wild goose chases. Therefore, I was instructed to have Moishey wait some distance from our home, where the van would indeed have access. I walked Moishey to the designated place and waited with him. In the interim, my husband’s friend passed and said ‘hello’ to Moishey. The gentleman then met up with my husband in shul, where he gave him regards from ‘Moishey waiting with his mother for his transportation pickup’. My husband smiled and cynically replied, “Yeh, looks good waiting with a 32-year-old for his school bus, right?” The gentleman turned very serious and said to my husband, “You’re kidding, right? You know what a z’chus this is for your wife? It is such a mitzvah to take our children to learn Torah, but for how long do parents do it with typical children? For the first several years of their lives and then the kids are running independently on their own. Do you realize the magnitude of your mitzvos with Moishey? For THIRTY TWO years and iy’H counting you and your wife are getting s’char for chaperoning Moishey to his bus which then takes him to yeshiva where he learns Torah! You are so blessed!”
What a sobering and uplifting spin on burnout, which often beckons to make itself at home in our lives.
Raising our children with Down syndrome is a pleasure that cannot be measured, but a daunting task nonetheless. As they grow older and we are repeatedly doing what we’ve done for the past years… decades… quarter century…injections of inspiration are what carry us. Seemingly mundane, repetitive tasks take on a new sparkle when the realization of the magnitude of those acts becomes crystal clear – they are constant mitzvos in our lives and z’chusim on our Heavenly scales.
This afternoon I was baking cheesecakes for my little grandson’s upcoming upsherin iy’H. Deep in thought, I was suddenly catapulted back in time – 29 years to be exact.
When Moishey and his older sister were young tots, I traveled to a Manhattan pediatric practice every time they needed a doctor. I realized that it was not a sustainable solution to every fever and ear infection, and I would have to find a local pediatrician. I am a creature of habit (yes, I must’ve inherited some of Moishey’s genes) and kept postponing the inevitable – researching and settling on a local doctor.
Four days prior to Moishey’s upsherin, when I had a to-do list to the sky, I was preparing sliced sweet potatoes for dinner. As a Hungarian balabusta I can vouch that the biggest punishment is a dull kitchen knife. On that particular afternoon I grasped a large knife and started slicing the solid yam, deep in thought, and the knife jumped. It jumped into one of my fingers and gave me an industrial-sized cut. Hatzolah rushed me to a new, young doctor in Williamsburg, whose specialty was pediatrics, but who did ‘seamstressing’ on humans very skillfully too. While the doctor sewed my finger I anxiously told him all about Moishey and the upcoming upsherin, and that I still needed to bake FIVE cheesecakes within the next 2 days. The good doctor smiled as he bandaged my hand until it looked mummified and gave me strict instructions for rest and relaxation.
The cheese cakes happened. The upsherin happened.
Something else happened too.
While the doctor was stitching my finger and we were schmoozing, his kindness, sensitivity, skill and erlichkeit came through and we found our local pediatrician!
Through thick and thin, Dr. Itche Statfeld has been here for our family, and Moishey gets the royal treatment from the doctor and office staff. It’s been 29 years and we’ve never had a complaint.
This has been just one of many examples, especially along our special needs parenting journey, when a challenge was a blessing in disguise.
May we be fortunate enough to recognize that every hurdle, every stumbling block and every injury is indeed a kiss from Heaven.
See you again on July 6th ’22.