"S o, it’s showtime tonight, huh? The big debut. Excited?”

Gabriella twisted her head to stare suspiciously at her husband, who was focused on the road ahead of him. His expression looked innocent enough, but surely he was being sarcastic?

She decided to answer in a similar tone — especially since six pairs of little ears were listening from the back of the minivan.

“Oh, yes, after all my hard work, and years of training, I can’t wait for everyone to see the fruits of my labor.”

From the glance that Shmuel threw her — he most definitely detected the sarcasm underlying her words — she began to wonder if maybe his hadn’t been, after all.

She bit her lip. Somehow, the thought depressed her. Did her husband really think that this was her best effort? Her pride and joy? The most she could do with her life? This little family video she’d made?

As if on cue, her oldest piped up. “I can’t wait for Grandma and Grandpa to see our video! You didn’t tell them about it, right, Mommy? They’ll be so surprised! It’s the best video ever, ever, ever! Even Tzippy said that when she saw it, and she has a million aunts and cousins, and they’re always making videos for their family parties.”

Now that she had the approval of a nine-year-old, maybe there was no need to be depressed, after all.

With a twisted little smile, she shook her head to clear out these thoughts. And felt her sheitel sway from side to side, straight into her eyes. Gabriella opened the sun visor to check herself in the mirror. Yes, her sheitel still looked normal, she confirmed for the umpteenth time. Ironic how nearly the only time she wore it was to visit her family.

“Mommy, you look so pretty.” Her daughter sighed.

Gabriella snapped the mirror back up. Better nip this one in the bud real fast. Turning around in her seat, she smiled and said, “And you, Shaindel Ayelet, look absolutely beeyootiful!”

The girl giggled, and smoothed down the skirt of her favorite Shabbos outfit. Gabriella was the only one who called her Shaindel Ayelet; in school and with her friends she was just Shaindy. But Gabriella had petitioned hard for the Ayelet, back when her firstborn was still a wrinkly, scrunchy-faced two-hour-old miracle, and the thought of having her daughter be just another Shaindy made her blood run cold.

Shmuel had already learned to humor her by then — he, who, despite his baal teshuvah background, or maybe because of it, wanted nothing more than to raise a family of card-carrying, fully blended members of the heimish community, and had, poor guy, ended up with a wife who wore colorful headscarves to social events and insisted on retaining her English name even after going chareidi.

So Shaindel Ayelet it was, and if the pairing sounded incongruous even to her own ears, well, it was no more incongruous than Gabriella herself — a woman who’d sacrificed everything to lead a more Torah-true lifestyle, but still, after all these years, persisted in considering herself an outsider. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 587)