I pride myself on high productivity and efficiency in my work. I own a successful photography business and have helped run a variety of organizations. Give me a list; I will get it done, on time or faster!
If only motherhood could be as simple as checking off the boxes.
Twenty years ago, I placed my first baby for adoption. I signed away my rights and gave her to another (fantastic) family. (To read about the adoption story you can read it here.) But I did not stop being her mother, even when I didn’t see her for eighteen years. Once I started loving my daughter, I could never cease.
Same goes for my daughter who I bore and raised. As long as I am breathing, I will love her with all my heart. I have given her all I can, and I pray hard for her even in the time she appears not to want my involvement at all in her life.
If I have learned anything these last twenty years, it is that motherhood always requires being in uncharted territory. No checklists, no maps, no script. Only your intuition, values, and love to serve as your guideposts.
I am so grateful for my mom, my guide, of blessed memory. I always would say to her, “Mom, I am raising one girl, how did you raise four?” She would look at me and just smile.
My mom advised me often to stand by my decisions, no matter what path they may lead me down. Every mother has to make many decisions daily. Some are small, like what am I going to feed my family today. Some are big, life-changing decisions. Did I teach my child right from wrong? Am I giving her what she needs? In my case, I also had to ask, was adoption the right thing to do?
As someone who has been both a birth mom and for some years, a single mom, I can tell you it can be a lonely journey, particularly when I was pregnant and unmarried. Some decisions I’ve made others would agree with, some others would judge. But they were mine to make. No one can take your journey as a mother for you, but often we moms need to lean on each other and on the others who care about us.
That’s why I was surprised and delighted when a few months ago, I read for the first time about the work of In Shifra’s Arms (ISA). ISA is the only Jewish organization in the United States dedicated to helping vulnerable pregnant women in crisis. ISA offers Jewish women loving support during pregnancy and after; they are available to help for an hour or more than a year, depending on the woman’s needs. They assist both single and married women. They help women who have been abandoned or abused by the baby’s father. They help women who are in a vulnerable place financially or in their marriages. It’s clear to me how much their work matters. My life would have been much better if ISA had been there for me twenty years ago.
Along with many Jews, I am proud of being pro-choice. I didn’t need anyone to make my choices for me, nor do I want to make another’s choice for them, but I did need people to walk alongside me on my journey.
When someone is pregnant, on the brink of motherhood, and vulnerable, it is our community’s job to step up. With the work of In Shifra’s Arms, the Jewish community finally is.