Today our oldest and youngest children are celebrating their birthdays. To our great delight and surprise, two years ago, our youngest son turned up, 3 weeks early, on our oldest daughter’s 14th birthday. The age gap and the gender difference mean that there is no competition for the day and if anything, it makes it even more special. The other children pushed their luck this morning and said that if we sometimes have something nice for breakfast when it’s a birthday, as it was two birthdays, could they have something nice for lunch as well?
Our children have brought us pride and pleasure beyond measure, frustration, sleepless nights (lots!) and experiences both physical and emotional that I could never have imagined before having children, but most of all a sense of the tremendous responsibility and privilege which we have been granted to raise the next generation. Recently I have realised more than ever how incredibly important it is to bring up balanced children who will be able to engage in healthy relationships as adults.
As the children get older, I feel more than ever how vital it is to give them a sense of security and self-worth; for them to know that they are always loved, even if they are not liked right at that moment. As our daughter stands on the cusp of adulthood, this is my message to her:
Always remember that Hashem loves you; that Daddy and I and the rest of the family love you. We all love you, just for being you, irrespective of what you do. You have been blessed with a unique combination of talents and abilities – it’s our responsibility to nurture them, but it’s your responsibility to use them to the utmost to benefit Klal Yisrael and the world. Whether you decide to take the world by storm, become the prime minister, find a cure for cancer or stay at home and raise a lovely family, we will always support you and be proud of you.
I hope that we have managed to give you both the roots to ground you and the wings to fly with – use them both well, and maybe one day you’ll even be able to find your own socks in the morning!