T wo years later, I was blessed with another pregnancy. The years in between had humbled me: My family was growing, but I felt like I’d shrunk.

“I used to be so in control,” I complained to my neighbor at the bus stop on the first day of school. “But now I feel like I need another four hands. And maybe also one more head. Is that too much to ask?”

“Wait, does that mean you have a head?”

I kept my face straight. “I do, I just have no idea where I put it.”

“At least now we go back to blessed routine,” she said.

I didn’t feel blessed. I felt exhausted. I smiled at her. With my lips closed so she wouldn’t see my gritted teeth.

The boys’ bus came early, the girls’ bus came late. My hold-it-togetherness was crumbling fast.

Finally it was just me and Danny. The tension that had been riding over my back and shoulders tightened around my throat. He would not go gently to his new morah, I knew that.

I led him inside. He clung to me.

“Come, Dan, let’s play.” I sat cross-legged on the floor. One of the assistants sat down near me. “Let me tell you about Danny,” I began. I lifted him onto my lap and opened my mouth and at that moment, that exact moment, my heart turned over and started to gallop.

No, you’re joking, this can’t be happening now.

I looked at the morah. She looked back expectantly. I tried to get myself together. “Um, okay, so Danny… Danny’s scared of new people.” This was making no sense. I had to get out of there.

“Sure, lots of kids are anxious on their first day.”

Duh, everyone knows that. She probably thinks I’m crazy. “Sorry.” I leaned back, putting my weight on my arms. “Sorry, I’m, um, tired. I guess it’s best if I just leave.”

It was not best if I just left. I never did that to any of my kids before. I needed to stay there and help him acclimate.

I needed to get out of there as fast as I could.

I left Danny crying in her arms.

It’s not life-threatening. The cardiologist said it’s not life-threatening.

Murphy’s Law dictated that my husband was traveling and unreachable. I called my sister-in-law, stumbling over my words, my fear. “I just left Danny crying at his new morah, I feel like my heart is racing again, maybe I’m just nervous, I don’t know!”

“I know, it’s so hard to leave a kid by a new morah.”

“I know, but…” I didn’t want to say it, didn’t want it to be true.

I walked into the hospital on my own two feet. Maybe it really was nothing? I’d feel really stupid, which was totally fine.

The EKG read 165. “I don’t want the cardioversion,” I insisted. Doctors hate it when you tell them what to do.

“This is protocol.”

I hated the nurse immediately. She didn’t even look at me when she talked. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 574)

4) Tempo Story: Locked