T he day was a bustle of visitors arriving, and Aviva smiled and simpered and graciously accepted compliments: “You look amazing! I’d never believe you just gave birth!” “Your home looks stunning. As if you didn’t have a newborn and eight other kids to take care of!” “Where in the world did you find time to bake like this for the vach-nacht?”

Aviva flung her newly set sheitel over her shoulder and smiled, smiled, smiled. The compliments had never been so well-deserved. She made sure to demur modestly, to pat Chavi on the shoulder and insist her eldest daughter deserved much of the credit. But she knew, her whole family knew, that it was her hard work, fueled by sheer, sleepless determination, her utter insanity as Zevi called it (and she privately agreed), that had created this glistening, glamorous welcome for their arriving family.

Zevi had shaken his head and stayed pointedly out of the endless discussions about bris décor and menu taking place between Aviva and Naama, with Chavi’s occasional input.

With both their families from out of town, everyone had arrived early to be there for the big event. Now, finally, they had all come, the vach-nacht was tonight, and everything was perfectly in place. With a heavy dose of makeup, and even heavier dose of caffeine, Aviva had managed to disguise the damage of sleep deprivation. Little tzaddik’l was decked out in his pre-bris best, currently being fussed over by Zevi’s mother and sisters.

Her mother-in-law had given her a warm hug, eyes brimming with tears as she wished her “all the nachas in the world” from the baby, and, after exclaiming over how thin Aviva was so soon after giving birth and how she hoped she was taking it easy, she ran over to the baby, ignoring the carefully placed bouquets, and the buffet of sandwich wraps and crepes laid out on the dining room table.

But that was okay. Aviva hadn’t put in all this effort for Zevi’s family. It was Naama’s whistle when she stepped through the door, her other sister Chumi’s murmur of “I’m impressed” as she sampled a crepe, and, most of all, her mother’s curt nod of approval, the look that said, “I see you finally got it together,” that made Aviva know it had all been worth it.

Now they were all standing around, eating, chatting, enjoying the party Aviva the kimpeturin had thrown. At a certain point her mother-in-law whisked her away, telling her the baby needed to eat. Aviva dutifully went up to her room, ignoring the twinge of resentment, and it was only when she rested her head against her nursing glider that she suddenly realized how exhausted she was.

Two hours later, she awoke with a start, the baby asleep in her arms. Two whole hours! They all must be wondering what happened to her. Carefully, she laid the baby down in his bassinet and walked downstairs. Her in-laws, she saw, had left, and her own children had scattered, but her parents and sisters were sitting in a tight group in the living room.

“…don’t understand her,” her mother was saying. Aviva’s breath caught in her throat. “All this fuss? Why doesn’t she hush things up a little? If she had any sense, she’d have done the bris right here, just the family, instead of inviting the world.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 546)