Library: Parenting
Parenting Articles by Chana Weisberg

Because She is Mine

Barely a week has passed since Sara Leah has entered my life. It's hard to believe how in such a short period of time my world could be so dramatically altered.

It's amazing how this tiny package -- less than eight pounds of human being -- has made her presence felt throughout my day and night. Every room in our house has been transformed to accommodate her needs. The desk in the family room has become a diaper changing station. Her crib, carriage, rocking seat and other baby paraphernalia have become the dominant element in our home decor. Hour after hour is taken up with holding her, soothing her, changing her and, of course, the round-the-clock feedings.

The relationship is definitely a give-and-take one. I give her my all, and she takes. She is still a few weeks shy from smiling, cooing back or even gurgling happily. Most of the time her eyes are shut tight, and hold little recognition when they do open. Basically she sleeps, eats, cries and requires constant care.

But there is nothing that brings me greater contentment than clutching my baby's five perfect tiny fingers, or stroking her cottony soft cheeks, her head cradled against my shoulder.

Nor am I the only one in our family to feel this way. All of my children have commented, each in his own way, how much they love "their" baby. How cute, soft, perfect "their" baby sister is -- despite the fact that she robs them of their mother's time and attention.

Watching me rocking and singing to Sara Leah for the umpteenth time after a particularly taxing day and grueling night, my husband commented, "It's unbelievable what an outpouring of love a parent shows to her child. Look at what you went through because of her -- pregnancy, labor and then her non-stop crying as you tend to her with a sore and recovering body; yet you still hold her with such adoration."

But this is the love and bond every parent feels towards her newborn. A love simply because she is mine, despite her lack of giving anything back.

In fact, it's precisely because she can't give anything in return that the connection is so strong.

As any parent, I love each of my children unconditionally. But as each of them grows and our relationship deepens, the original, pure, unconditional love is no longer as apparent. That bond becomes subsumed within and sidetracked by all that my child gives back to me: the nachas, the adorable smiles and hugs, the witty comments, the affection and the friendship. The more my children grow and mature, the more I no longer only love them, but also come to like them -- as the unique and special personality that each one becomes.

My newborn Sara Leah, however, with her lack of anything to give to me, exemplifies the depth of our simple connection. A pure, intrinsic love deriving wholly from the fact that she is mine.

There is only one thing I can think of that's akin to this love. It is a love that mimics the deep and unconditional love between G-d and us.

It's like the deep bond with G-d that the Chassidic masters spoke of: the bond elicited by the simple, spiritually "uncharismatic" individual, who unlike the spiritually developed, righteous tzaddik, gives nothing in return.

Like a parent's love towards her newborn, this strong outpouring of love from G-d to all of us is not due to our merits, talents or strengths. It's not because of our spiritual stamina, positive qualities or because of any "nachas" we may give Him.

It is simply and only because we are His.

Chana_Weisberg is the author of three_books on the lives of Biblical women and on the feminine soul. She is the dean of the JRCC Institute of Torah Study in Toronto and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, relationships and mysticism.