4 Cheshvan 5781 / Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Torah Reading: Noach
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Little Queen Esther    

Little Queen Esther

The little queen stood in front of the mirror next to the yoghurts and whipped topping, kissing her reflection over and over as if to say, “I love you! I really really love you!”


Today, while navigating my shopping cart through the dairy section, I came upon a most thought provoking sight. There, standing before the mirror in the dairy case, was a little girl of about three or four. Being that it's Adar in Israel, most school kids are walking around bedecked in their Purim finery, even though Purim is a few days away. This little girl was no exception. Dressed from head to toe in a white frilly dress, she was either a little Queen Esther, or a bride. But it wasn't her costume that enchanted me. It was the incredible love she was displaying—for herself.
She stood in front of the mirror next to the yoghurts and whipped topping, kissing her reflection over and over. She looked at herself as if to say, “I love you! I really really love you!”  I stood there completely enthralled. If only I loved myself a tenth as much as this little girl seems to love herself, my life might be quite different.
I couldn't help but mumble to myself as I pushed my shopping cart along. If only, I said, I should love myself even a fifth of that! Here I was, over tired, with a two week sinus something hovering over me. I did not make time to go to the doctor. I would rather be the martyr and let my head and neck keep pounding away, while I tried to focus on the task at hand, namely, pushing my heavily laden shopping cart (Baruch HaShem!) in the midst of a throng of shoppers with loud Purim music blaring in the background. That was after having braved the paper goods store (more blaring music) the shekel store (even more blaring music) and having stood in line for ten minutes at the costume store trying to exchange a pair of defunct suspenders for one of the kids costumes. Not to mention the other two to three errands in between.
And here I find myself (sitting at least) after having come home, dealt with the usual normal chaos, (Baruch HaShem!) and the clock is about to  strike half past midnight (do clocks on computers actually 'strike' or do they sort of digitize?) I have baked brownies, two batches of chocolate chip cookies, and I am baking for shaloch manos and Shabbos. And all I could think is, “What's wrong with me?!”
What would I rather be doing right now? Going to bed. And what else? Reading a book. And what am I doing? Standing in y kitchen whipping out marble cake brownies like a washed out Martha Stewartstein. Instead of going to bed early like all of my reasonable neighbors, I'm here burning the midnight canola oil, my aching feet and sore back  a testament to my never ending martyrdom. Come morning, I will try to ignore the blaring alarm clock, only to run down the hallway screaming “Dudu is coming! Dudu is coming!” twenty minutes before the bus is set to come. (Dudu is the ever patient school bus driver who has been known to wait several minutes for the Kovan children as they locate the one missing shoe, or the misplaced sandwich.) I will slump in my chair after the last Kovan child has left for school, bleary eyed, adrenaline pumping through my veins after having finished the lunch -making -snack -packing- tzit tzit finding-marathon that just was. A  night owl by nature, I have never made peace with mornings. I can't even count on a caffeinated booster shot since I don't drink coffee!
But if only.....if only I loved myself enough to get to bed before one in the morning. If only I would organize myself so I didn't have to beat the rush to the school bus each morning. There are so many if onlys'....
Sometimes I fantasize about joining some OA meeting (Over-doers Anonymous). I can picture myself standing up before the assembled group, of over-doers like myself. Clasping my hands nervously before me, I would stare at the floor, and begin my story.
“Hi, my name is Natalie, and I am an over-doer.”
“Hi Natalie,” would come  the encouraging response from the crowd.
“Well,” I'd continue, “So I stayed up late last night because I needed to clean my kitchen, wash the floors, do three loads of laundry for tomorrow, and start on organizing for Pesach. But that was after I took one kid to the doctor for a strep test, which was followed by an orthodontist appointment. Then I had to go to the supermarket because we're all out of bread for tomorrow, but that was before I made dinner—or wait—was that before we went shopping for a Shabbos outfit—anyway, no---was that after there was that knock on the door, and the neighbor's kid came and we--”
If only. If only I loved myself enough to get off the hamster wheel every once in a while. I am so busy , Baruch HaShem asking everyone what they need all day long, that I forget to ask the same of myself. Hours could pass before it registers that I need a drink(not the alcoholic variety), or that I skipped lunch altogether. Sometimes I forget to cue in to what MY body is trying to tell me, because I am so focused on everybody else.
I know that I am not alone in this. I know there are others out there, just like me, who refuse to refuel. I remember reading a book on postpartum  depression for a course I wanted to take. It gave the analogy of a woman being like a water pitcher, constantly filling all these little cups. The problem is, when the 'pitcher' refuses to refill itself, it becomes inevitably empty and dry.
How many times haven't I passed by my art supplies, my Prismacolor pencils calling my name, my hands itching to sketch something, to draw—anything! I walk right by, say 'later', and later never comes.
How many times have I longed to just sit on the floor with my kids playing a matching game, or reading through a pile of books? Instead, all I can see are the pile of dishes, the pile of laundry, that Baruch HaShem are part and parcel of a family---and I choose that which might be responsible, but not desirable or fun. Whereas the teenage years are filled with mostly fun experiences, centered around ones ego, I now find myself at the opposite side of the spectrum. Where is the balance? Where have I gone?
If I can't love myself enough to replenish my own needs, without the ego getting in the way—then what good am I to all those around me? When I serve everyone lunch, and I neglect to feed myself, and two hours later I snap at an unsuspecting bystander, i.e. ,  one of my kids—because I am hungry and dehydrated—then my neglect becomes everyone's neglect. By neglecting myself, I am not giving fully to those around me—I am simply 'getting by'.
It's been a couple of weeks, and I can't get that image of the little girl out of my mind. There's no need to be a narcissist—but if I can't love myself, even a little bit—where does the love come for my family? For HaShem? Where does the energy come forth to nurture all those important relationships in my life, if I never nurture myself? At least a little bit....
I can't say that I have made any major life changes. I have yet to pick up my colored pencils, especially with Pesach looming on the horizon. I haven't picked up on my walking, or done a host of other things that are calling my name---but that image of that little girl is seared in my mind forever. And maybe, just maybe when I stand in the dairy isle the next time, I'll buy myself that creamy calorie loaded cheesecake dessert I've been pining for—just because. And I'll look into that same mirror and give myself the thumbs up.
That's a great idea – I'm going to give myself Shaloch manos (a gift) for Purim: I'm going to listen to what Rebbe Nachman has been trying to get into my head, to look for my good points and start loving myself. Wow, then it will be so much easier to love everybody else.
Thank you, little Queen Esther...

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Simply getting by -?
CDG Yerushalayim2/28/2012 11:40:34 AM

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