T he magazine rack was stuffed with Yom Tov reading material. I managed to steal a few minutes (and then another few… and then another few) between cooking fish and cooking fish again.

There were quite a few stories about Simchas Torah. There was one about the candy man in shul, one inspirational story about a baal teshuvah and his inner happiness, and one about the cheshek for Torah reignited in a bochur’s soul. There were stories about miracles happening with the chassan Bereishis and chassan Torah, and of course, Kol Hane’arim.

None of the pages, though, were devoted to the other side of the mechitzah.

That is probably because the women’s section is often the place of spirited tantrums instead of spirited dancing. First of all, my middle daughter’s morah failed to mention that the dancing does not take place in the women’s section. Hence Tantrum Number One. She wanted to dance with the flag she brought home from school. In a crowded shul.

The baby in my arms tore the door of the fake aron kodesh on the flag. Hence Tantrum Number Two.

Also, we have a sacred minhag passed down through the generations that pekalach have to be brought along to shul. The pekaleh has to contain a box drink. For the uninformed, aside from the apple-juice flavor, the drink inside has food coloring and sugar and does not quench thirst. It also comes along with a straw to puncture a hole. Once the hole is punctured, the kid grips the drink, and the sticky, colorful liquid spills. Hence, Tantrum Number Three.

And hakafos hadn’t even started yet. And my baby was hungry already.

And I? I so badly wanted to tap into the joy. Yes, of course this was my job, yada yada yada. But I was envious of my husband who would be doing all that spirited dancing while I had to take care of the tantrums, and my arms ached from holding my baby. (Does that count as kinas sofrim?) There was no room for strollers in the shul, and there was no bench space to put her down. And there was no room next to the mechitzah to watch the dancing.

I stayed for one hakafah, while my baby almost pulled the sheitel off the woman in front of me.

It was time to leave.

I was frustrated. And disappointed. And feeling low. I support Torah all year-round. I live on a kollel budget and work hard to make it happen. My sacrifices were practically staring me in the face. All the little girls in pricey shoes and million-dollar hair accessories and all the things I try to do without. It was just too painful to be denied a true Simchas Torah from the inside.

I remembered with longing the many years that the dancing had invigorated and inspired me. I needed that inspiration now. And no, thank you very much, I wasn’t interested in hearing that this was my job and the sechar was tremendous. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 562)