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Lifelines: A Mother’s Love

Lifelines: A Mother’s Love

I felt the familiar feelings of frustration mixed with guilt starting to bubble up inside me, and I knew it was time for me to detach. I had done all I could for Aviva; now she was going to have to deal with the situation herself.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock.

It was the morning of my daughter Aviva’s school trip. Her class was going to a place where they would get wet, and they needed swimming gear as well as a change of clothing. 

With 20 minutes left until she had to leave the house, ten-year-old Aviva decided that her regular swimming bag was not big enough to fit all her stuff. “Mommy,” she called out in a panic, “I can’t fit all my stuff in the bag!” 

I stopped in the middle of dressing my two-year-old, and hurried to Aviva’s room to help her. On the tip of my tongue were the words, “Why didn’t you pack last night? I don’t have time to help you now.” 

Instead of letting these words out, I took a deep breath. Criticism wasn’t going to be helpful now. Focus on helping the child, not berating her, I instructed myself. 

“How about we put some of your stuff in a separate bag?” I suggested. 

“NO!” she responded. “That’s so nerdy.” 

Another deep breath. Don’t argue with her reality. She needs support, not judgment. 

“I have some more bags down in the basement,” I said. “Maybe we’ll find something that can fit all your stuff.” 

We went down to the basement, and I showed Aviva several different bags that were eminently suitable — at least in my opinion. She disqualified every one of them. 

“I’m not going to be able to go on my trip!” she moaned. “I don’t have a bag!” 

I felt the familiar feelings of frustration mixed with guilt starting to bubble up inside me, and I knew it was time for me to detach. I had done all I could for Aviva; now she was going to have to deal with the situation herself. Her unhappiness is not a reflection of me as a mother. She’s entitled to figure it out on her own, and she’s entitled to my support as she does that. 

“I’m sorry you don’t have the kind of bag you want, sweetheart,” I said. “I need to finish dressing Yossi. If you need me, I’ll be in the living room.”

Photo: Shutterstock

Glancing at my watch, I saw that Aviva had to be out of the house in five minutes. Don’t pressure her, it’s just going to make things worse. Trust her to come up with a solution. Now it’s her problem, not yours. 

With that, I walked away calmly. 

Two minutes later, Aviva entered the living room carrying one of the bags I had showed her. “Mommy, can you help me pack this up quick?” she asked. 

“Sure,” I said. In less than a minute, the bag was packed. I gave her a kiss, and she was on her way, still pouting slightly. 

Job well done, I congratulated myself. Just because she’s pouting doesn’t mean I did anything wrong. And to the other voice in my head, the one that said, What a lazy, incompetent mother you are, always down to the wire, I said, No, Ma, that’s just not true.

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