When Miriam was three years old and noises from her room indicated that she had woken from her nap, I went to get her and was greeted by a bright, beaming face. While she somewhat resembled the child I had put to sleep, there was one distinct difference. She had taken the opportunity to give herself a haircut, and tidily hidden under the bed was a mound of hair and a scissors. She seemed quite astounded that I knew what she had done, which enhanced my image as super-Mommy but did little to restore her looks.
That night was the start of a Jewish festival and my day was hectic. Fortunately, my friend, Mary, was taking her daughters in for haircuts and added Miriam to her entourage. My little girl returned a while later sporting a slightly lopsided pixie cut which almost looked as if it was intentional. It certainly was adorable.
Miriam’s hair grew back but this week, once again, when I come into her room there will be a distinct difference. This time, a bridal veil will sit atop her tresses. When a Jewish baby is born, the parents receive a blessing from their friends and relatives. The traditional wording is, “May you have the merit to raise (him) (her) to Torah, chuppah (the wedding canopy) and maasim tovim (good deeds).
My husband and I were the recipients of those good wishes when each of our children was born. Enveloped by those words, from the very early days our focus inevitably extended beyond those events which initially preoccupied us. Certainly we reveled in the first smiles, rejoiced at the initial halting steps and marked hundreds of momentous events during our children’s infancies, toddler years and childhoods. But from the very start we were reminded that our task wasn’t one of child-raising but one of nurturing a future adult.
The blessing encompasses an important thought. It opens with the recognition that being present in your child’s life is a gift, a concept that is all too easy to forget in the daily routine. It is with deep gratitude to God and with hearts overflowing with emotion that my husband and I this week escort our daughter, Miriam, to the chuppah. We pray that she and her chosson (bridegroom), Anshel, build a home where Torah and good deeds are ever-present, where an impish sense of humor thrives, and where bright, beaming faces greet all who enter their home.