Last week was my mother’s birthday.
Or it wasn’t.
You see, in the Jewish section of Rabat, Morocco, during the 1930s, annual celebrations of birthdays occurred way under the radar. After all, as my grandmother would often point out, there was an infamous ‘evil eye’ that spoiled any good in the world when it was revealed.
To recall birthdates, other incidents were paired with them. In our modern age of ‘information saturation,’ imagine how a conversation with my grandmother would go:
Scene: Pediatrician’s Office
Receptionist: “Date of birth, please.”
My grandmother (holding my squirming mother in her arms): “Ok, so we know it was sometime in February, or it could have been March, but it CERTAINLY wasn’t January. I clearly remember Mohammed’s cow giving birth to [whispering, so the ‘eye’ could continue its focus somewhere else] a healthy calf [sigh of relief]- the weather was cool, nothing extreme, but I DO remember a full moon had just passed. Wait…this could have been when my son was born…”
I’m not sure how February 9th became one of my mother’s birthdates. The other is…um…[when did my grandfather see that shooting star?]..March 17th, I think, which corresponds with the bar of Irish Spring I once found in my parent’s bathroom.
If you ask my mom, the only thing she’ll confirm is that she was born on Purim. Or sometime near it. This explains my mother’s distinctive joy and humor towards life that I’ve never encountered in anyone else, except her siblings.
The truth is, I’m also joyful – I can’t ever miss my mother’s birthday: If February 9th passes, there’s always March 17th. And if that falls through, there’s Purim, a celebration unto itself.
But no one is as thrilled as my mother, who not only reaps triple the amount of birthday gifts and cards as the average person, but also manipulates the years in her favor, recently pondering whether she was, in fact, born in the 1930s at all. “I think I’m beginning to remember that it was sometime in the 1940s…”
This trend poses the obvious quandary: the younger she dates herself, the younger I become, meaning that eventually I’ll have to explain how I managed to give birth to my 21 year old daughter when I was only 12 years old.
But that’s my mom. She doesn’t fight aging; she’s just surprised when it happens.
As you can imagine, it doesn’t take much for me to think of our girls at the Home. At this moment, the thought of them moves me to appreciate the significance and precious gift of celebrating my mother’s life. My heart aches when I imagine what it’s like for these fragile souls, catapulted into a lifetime without the splendor of a mother’s love to enhance their lives.
Here at Lev LaLev, we try to make it up to them each day. Arriving at the Home with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and maybe a few personal items, each girl is provided with a comfortable room, clothing and other supplies: From toothbrushes to shoes, from educational tutoring to specialized therapies, like pet therapy, where interaction with animals stimulates the release of emotions, the first stage of healing from past traumas.
We couldn’t do it alone and, thankfully, we don’t. There’s so many of you around the globe who carry these girls in your hearts. That’s Lev LaLev: Heart to Heart, from the girls’ broken hearts to the generous hearts that enable them to heal.
Nothing can replace motherly love. But together, we are nurturing these vulnerable girls into new futures where they can stand on their own as joyful mothers of their own children.
How grateful we are to you for giving them the chance!
We’re months away from the official Mother’s Day, but still I’d like to send a special ‘thank you’ to all mothers out there, including the ones to come…
Director of Development