The weekend is here. The first family members have arrived. My lists have lists, which have lists. Your dad is doing his best to be patient as I try to check things off his list too. Three years ago when we chose your actual birthday for your Bat Mitzvah, I’m not sure I realized how much significance could be wrapped up into one weekend. We were still married then, your dad and I - a typical family. You were just 10 and a tiny dynamo of a kid.
Fast forward three years, and everything in your life and ours is so different. You have gown and matured so much and now remind me more of a teenager, than a child. You have taken our hurricane in stride and powered through. You have found your voice, your soul, your village and your true north. You are about to become an adult in the eyes of Jewish tradition and law. I know you chalk that up to early life expectancies when the Torah was written, and on the surface you are practical and likely correct. In my heart though, I understand what Rachel, Rebecca and Leah saw when they looked at their young daughters. They saw the soft, round cheeks more chiseled, they saw the eyes of concentration and focus, they heard a voice more full of confidence and knowledge, and they felt little hands slipping from their grasp.
I watch you while you chant your prayers, your Torah portion and your blessings and I am in awe of the person you are. How did your dad and I manage to make someone so amazing? I listen to your animated recitation of your D’var Torah and I am struck by your passion and conviction. A speech you focused around the topic of acceptance, at an age when that might very well be most kids greatest challenge. You care so deeply about the issues that are meaningful to you in your life.
Unknown to you, your sister is currently compiling a list of “100 Things We Love About Talia” from our friends and family. Do you have any idea how easy it is for us to make that list? Your dad teased your sister that he had 20 off the top of his head and her request for 2-3 from him was “going to be impossible.”
Your stress and mine have hit epic levels in the last few weeks. We are so alike that way, wanting everything to be simply perfect for this weekend. I know that I keep reminding you that even if your worst fear comes true and you “mess up,” that only you and the Rabbi will ever know. But I understand that we both suffer from the desire to not disappoint anyone, to cross every “T” and dot every “I”. I assure though my love, I could not be more proud of you and we haven’t even begun. You are my heart, my love. Your sister is my soul. You are everything I could have ever hoped for in a daughter and so very much more.
I am better because of you. I am wiser and kinder and calmer and zanier and sillier. You, my sweet girl, are mensch and an old soul. You, my love, have untapped and unending potential. You, my Bat Mitzvah, are just standing at the starting line and the finish is too far out to see.
This will be a weekend full of love, laughter, tradition and faith. It will be a weekend of family and food and fun. It will be a weekend when your dad and I work our hardest as a team for you, our love. Because there is nothing the two of us would not do for you. Our divorce is simply a fact of our lives; it does not define us, or you. It’s just our family and we make it work. And because it works, you will kick ass this weekend, no doubt in our minds. I promise to remind us both to breathe in the experience and breathe out the stress. This weekend is about you. Celebrating you. Embracing you. Being in awe of you.
You, my heart, will be a woman in the eyes of Jewish law after this weekend. In my eyes however, you will always be my baby.