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Dancing in the Kitchen

Estee Rabinovicz

My mother made a decision: If she wanted a home fueled by love, light, and happiness, no one could create that energy but her

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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HAPPY HOME After all is said and done, every single one of my siblings, from the whitewashers to the psychoanalyzers to those in between who say there is nothing to whitewash or psychoanalyze, agree that notwithstanding a forgotten book report or two (or ten), our home was a happy place to be. And no one doubts who gets the credit for that

M y mother danced in our kitchen.

The fridge might have broken or the sink backed up, or maybe a teacher called for the third time in a month, but she danced.

It wasn’t always simple. We lived out of town, had no Jewish neighbors, and Mom didn’t drive. She’d walk to the supermarket 15 minutes away to do her shopping and take a taxi home with 37 bags of groceries (or wait for our father, who would get there after his last shiur and locking up the shul after Maariv), but she danced.

Her closest relative lived an hour and a quarter away, and as the wife of a pulpit rabbi she was unable to pick up and go to her own mother for Shabbos if she ever needed a break. There were no pizza shops or kosher takeouts to fall back on after a hard day, and no kosher catering, so that a Shabbos bris meant she “catered” it herself… but still, she danced.

While my mother pumped up the music and danced (often grabbing our arms to swing around with her) her peers were going back to school for their master’s degrees, hanging shingles outside their doors, and advancing professionally.

Our mother accomplished what she set out to accomplish. She wanted light. Lots of light. A light strong enough that her kids would take it with them into their own homes

While she danced, her friends went on vacations and traveled and got manicures and met for coffee. She was in our tiny gray-and-white Formica kitchen, cooking, baking, dicing, wiping, asking about our day… and dancing.

*

Early on, my mother made a decision: If she wanted a home that was fueled by love, light, and happiness — not just temporarily but to spill over and carry her family on magical wings later on in life — there was no one who could create that energy but her. And, come what may, she’d do it.

I won’t whitewash. I won’t pretend there weren’t challenges or that my mother sang and danced her merry way through the tough times. Like everyone else, there were bumps in the road. Money was tight (did we know that at the time? I can’t remember.), there were chinuch issues and medical issues, household help was nonexistent — or at best, scarce, in the later years — and by the time her teenagers were old enough to really help, they were too busy… dancing in the kitchen.

Those were different times, and where today’s mothers can avail themselves of classes, CDs, books, and lots of talking things out, the mothers of yesteryear relied on instinct, thinking things through on their own, and prayer. Lots and lots of prayer... (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)

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