Morning Blessings

Morning Blessings

I’ve been noticing recently that my husband is taking a few more minutes to recite Birchas Hashachar (morning blessings). Of course, he has good reason for the extra concentration. I am expecting, G-d willing, our sixth child. I know that his thoughts are focused on praying for the health and welfare of his growing family.

But there is one blessing, in particular, about which I wonder: Does he now pause over it for an extra moment of contemplation? Have its words taken on a deeper significance to him, as he recites, “Blessed Art Thou...that You have not created me a woman".

As he watches me struggle with my bouts of nausea and lassitude, with my raging hormones and assortment of pains and discomforts, surely he cannot help but feel gratitude to be exempt from this burden?

These days, my world has changed drastically. While I am thrilled with the wonder of a life growing inside of me, and while I am filled with anticipation of this new soul about to make its debut and join the ranks of my children, the long wait is achingly difficult.

Not long ago,  I used to wake up filled with eager energy to tackle the novel challenges of a brand new day. I would look forward to confronting new projects at work, implementing new strategies, devising new programs, formulating new ideas. I reveled, too, in taking care of my home, frolicking with my children and inventing new activities of interest for them. Nowadays, however, my mornings begin with sickness which progresses into burdensome heaviness, lethargy and immobility. My days revolve around simply trying to survive one hour after another until a night’s fitful sleep provides some refuge from the tormenting moments of sickliness.

This is how my days pass, week after week, month after month. I no longer feel in control of anything. My brain and body seem to be working hand in hand in a grand conspiracy against me. Any thought with the slightest degree of complexity is too straining to tackle. My burgeoning body is growing way out of control, pounds heaping upon pounds, collaborating against my remaining agility. Energy is a word of the past, as the slightest exertion is burdensome, an effort beyond my capability.

Yet in this state, somehow, a new realization has also dawned – as if a new space of awareness has opened up within me. I’ve come to realize, quite simply, that my situation and circumstances are not in my hands to control. While I do the small bit that I can and put forth whatever effort I am able to muster to order and run my life, there is an underlying realization that everything – projects at work, my health, the activities or issues in my children’s lives and even my own thought process – are no longer mine alone.
As I’m forced to relinquish my reigns of control, usually such an integral part of my personality, I am faced with a new reality. I am compelled instead to fall back on You and Your control. And as I fall back, relegating it all to You, I find that the fall is surprisingly not hard, that there is a cushion of a new pillow of faith and comfort.

So my husband futily empathizes with my pains and discomfort and he tries to offer practical assistance. He davens on behalf of me and our family with extra concentration and devotion. And he thanks G-d with a measure of relief for not making him go through this physiologically debilitating and emotionally draining condition. As a man, he can participate in the birth of a new child without the need to be so transformed and so wrung out in the process.
As for me, as I try to focus my unfocused brain on my prayers, I too spend slightly more time on my morning prayers.

And I too thank You, G-d. I thank You for all the good in my life. I thank You for my husband and children. And I thank You for the blessing of a new life developing within me. Perhaps I should be able to thank You for my aches and pains too – knowing full well that the end result will make it all worthwhile – but quite honestly, I cannot. Perhaps it is because I can’t really fathom why such absolute joy must be marred with such sickliness. Or perhaps simply because, in the meanwhile, G-d, it hurts.

But the genuine thanks that I do offer You is for the realization, through all this, that this pain – and with it all the suffering in the world, all the good and bad that You have chosen to intermingle in Your creatures’ lives – is happening exactly according to Your plan, exactly according to Your wishes.
I thank You for the awareness that You are fully taking care of me. It eases my mind to know that You are working it all out, exactly as it is meant to be.
And falling back into that space, that comforting pillow of faith, in realizing that You are controlling it all – whether I appreciate it or not, whether I understand it or not – makes me say my prayers with slightly more conviction.
I take a moment to pause in reflection as I read the prayers that women have traditionally recited instead of the one my husband just read. And I think with absolute and honest conviction, “Thank You, G-d, for making me – and Your world – exactly as You want it to be.”

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