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Double Take: Perfect Facade

Shaina King

Logically we knew it shouldn’t matter — even if Tziporah’s parents viewed us as failures, it wasn’t true. But emotionally it was too much to handle

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

 Mishpacha image

 

P

inny

“Okay, everyone, time to get into the car!”

“Stop! Stop! Abba, she’s stepping on my gown!”

“Hey, Rina, take it easy. Let me…”

“Thanks, Pinny.” Tziporah sounded breathless. “Everyone, get into the car. Ari!” She looked around.

I put Rina down. “I’ll get him.”

He was facedown on his bed with his earbuds in his ears, no socks, but at least he was wearing his suit.

“Ari, time to go.”

He shot me a withering look. I was glad I hadn’t sent Tziporah to call him.

There are so many rules to parenting, and they all make sense: give the kid freedom to make choices and let them learn from mistakes, set boundaries and don’t make exceptions, be friendly, be authoritative, be firm, be flexible.

Which rule applied now?

Finally I said, “Are you coming to the wedding?”

He didn’t react. I felt the familiar, sinking feeling. Can you pray without moving your lips?

Then he got off the bed, put on his shoes, and got into the car.

We pulled up outside the wedding hall along with Tziporah’s sisters and their families. There was all the shrieking and kissing and exclaiming over how gorgeous everyone looked. I stopped unloading the car for a second and looked around.

Good.

We looked just like everyone else.

My wife Tziporah is the middle child of seven sisters. She didn’t have the confident trust a mother places in her oldest, and she didn’t get the indulgent love of the youngest. When she was born, the family was in financial crisis, and her mother never seemed to think she needed new clothes or school supplies or anything special of her own. She never seemed to think Tziporah herself was special, either. When Tziporah was in high school, her father’s business began to do very well, and their standard of living improved dramatically, but Tziporah always felt overlooked.

When I met Tziporah, I didn’t see any of that. I saw her brightness and creativity. I loved her laugh and I loved her dreams. I didn’t understand why she was so nervous when we were dating, but after we got engaged, she confided that she just couldn’t believe I would want her. I didn’t understand that either, until I got to know her family. There were already three brothers-in-law before me; they were happy to have me, but there wasn’t much fuss. I didn’t care; Tziporah and I built our own dream home, and I made sure she knew she was the most special person in it.

Don’t think the thing with Ari was all about image. We pulled out all the stops for him, pursued every lead, reached out to anyone who might be able to help. When he started to dress differently — even worse, talk differently, act differently — we didn’t avoid going places with him. Tziporah, who had felt so ignored as a child, made sure he knew we treasured him, accepted him, were proud to call him our son, no matter what.

The only sticking point was her family. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 698)

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