Dear Ta And Ma, I Want Parents

I’m in bed with my sweet little sister sleeping beside me
My mother wished me a good night
My friends on the group chat are all enjoying the last joke I sent
My older sister thanked me for the help I gave her

I’m surrounded by so many people who all seem so loving
So how come do I feel so alone?

I get up and go to school where I find my friends. Wait, my friends aren’t friends, they’re just my classmates who I try to be friendly with. I feel so bad to be there taking away their liberty of being whoever they want to be, because when I’m there they have to put a mask on. Put on a hypocrite smile and nod, a fake laugh, give a compliment they don’t mean. Because I’m the principal’s daughter, yeah. The rabbi’s daughter. Why do they have to be fake, I don’t know. Will they ever become genuine friends, the answer is no. Okay, I’ll take that and move on. I can count on my loving family.

I’m with my older sister and we’re each in our own corner doing what we have to do. We take a break, we talk a little. She’s munching on something and chewing with her mouth open and her chin up, such a disgusting way of eating. Anyways, she tells me about some cute things her kids in preschool did, I tell her about some funny things that happened in school. And oh no, I don’t know on which word I tripped but something I said must have been a mistake. Her attitude towards me changes, she’s suddenly all angry about something. And there we go, she calls me a little chutzpaniak, an idiot. I’m so used to it I already know I shouldn’t answer. I don’t say anything, and it’s better this way than showing her how wrong she is. She’s always right. But one thing I forgot from experience is that I shouldn’t talk to her at all. That’s the part I keep on forgetting. But what can I do, I have to talk to her at some point because I live in the same house as her. Okay, I’m used to it, let’s pass.

I see my little sister, my little princess. She’s so happy, and the next second, she’s kvetching about something. I ask her what happened but she won’t tell me. She becomes more kvetchy and angry and upset by the second. How did this sweet girl turn into such a kvetchy girl? I’m so upset at seeing her acting like this, and seeing her getting away with it. My mother always has an explanation to ignore my sister’s behavior: she’s tired. Oh but poor girl! She’s always kvetchy, that means she’s always tired right? So maybe being tired isn’t the problem? But I’m only her older sister, I can’t do anything about it. And I’m used to it, I’ll pass.

I’m working in the dining room, or at least I’m trying to. The boys are there too. They’re having a concert. They’re making so much noise, and it’s very hard for me to bear because first of all it hurts my ears and second of all I can’t work. I ask them to stop but they won’t listen. Oh, they stopped their music now, what a good timing. Or did I talk too fast? These boys who acted like best friends are now fighting like two animals. They’re screaming and yelling at each other, pushing and kicking each other. I try to make them stop, to no avail. All my concern does is make them attack me. Now I’m the victim, or sorry, they are the victims, with the mean and immature big sister bothering them. I don’t say anything, I don’t try to prove the truth, it won’t help anyway. Why should I say anything? Staying quiet is better. Also, I’m used to it, let’s pass.

Late at night after the boys already went to sleep my father comes home. He walks in, takes off his coat and hat and mumbles a bearly audible hello. As usual he adds in his quick question, asking how school was today. He’s not waiting for an answer, he’s just asking. He eats quickly then falls asleep on the couch, wakes up, and goes back to work. So much time put aside for his family. So much communication between you and us, Ta. We never see you nor talk to you, and I wish it was different. But that’s the way it is, I’m used to it, let’s pass.

Shabbos comes. The whole family is home. We forgot something while setting the table so someone goes to get it. My father becomes impatient and calls out loudly for him. What did the poor kid do? He’s just going to get what we forgot! We sing eishes chayil, but my father doesn’t take the time to sing it nicely, to install the nice Shabbos atmosphere. What a shame. During the meal, he wants another challah. He asks someone to bring one. We end up being three in kitchen, all coming to get the same one challah he asked for. It’s very annoying, can’t he trust us that we’re doing what he asks us to do? Can’t he start being more patient? Why ask three people?! Okay, we’re used to it, let’s pass.

Later at the meal, we hear bribes of conversation about new projects and new things the Chabad House is doing. This one is helping, that one gave the idea, this one doesn’t yet know about it.. Who doesn’t know about it? Us.

Us, the kids of the shluchim who should maybe know about what’s happening, especially before other irrelevant people? That always happens. We’re not important, we’re just his kids here doing this and that, but other people are much much more important than us. The most random person on this planet has spoken more to Tatty than all of us kids together. He makes so much time for everyone else, but not for us. And in those few rare moments when he is with us, on shabbos, he doesn’t even actually spend it with us and make it enjoyable. He doesn’t talk to us, he’s deep in his Sefer preparing his next dvar Torah or shiur. He’s not making us feel like a composed relaxed family, he gives us that feeling of impatience. Even to just listen to the little kids say their Shabbos dvar Torah there’s no patience. It’s sad. But we’re used to it, let’s pass.

Later after the meal my mother and father are talking together. They’re exchanging some news from school and preschool, and then, we kids don’t know what happened, they start arguing. My mother tries to explain what she’s saying, and my father just yells back: “you think you’re always wiser than everyone right?”. Firstly why doesn’t he listen to what my mother has to say, why does he always think that only his way is right, and nobody can ever tell him the opposite? Secondly, what kind of a scene is this to act out in front of their kids? Their kids are sitting there, stuck in their seat not daring to move or make a sound, while their father talks in such a disgraceful way to their mother. When we see those times my father treats my mother this way, we feel very bad, but we can’t do anything. How I wish I could write a long letter to my father telling him what an image he’s showing and how unappreciative he is of my mother. But I can’t and won’t do it anyway. Better stay quiet. Anyways, I’m used to it, let’s pass.

It’s Sunday and we’re home, I’m doing homework, the kids are playing. My mother calls us to eat supper, we go into the kitchen and we sit down. In a very hurried manner she gives us to eat, we feel like a kind of impatience. We eat, some kids start talking, telling things. My mother nods impatiently. We finish eating and she tells the boys to do their homework. She’s helping one of them, and she’s very impatient with him. She want to do it very quick, he has to go to sleep. Quick, quick. This feeling of impatience is noticeable, and not pleasant. But I’m used to it, let’s pass.

On Monday after school I come home and find my mother. I’m in a good mood and feel happy, I passed a very hard test with the highest mark. I’ll tell her, she’ll be proud. In the same time, maybe it will connect us a little more. All I got is a hardly detectable nod. Oh, I’m so sorry mom for bothering you. Forgot you were busy with things more important than me. Okay, I’m used to it, let’s pass.

You’re in the kitchen, I’m there too. I hear my little brother excitedly coming to ask you something. I look at you, at him, back at you. He’s looking at you with an expectant glare. You give him back such a fake smile, can I call that a sarcastic smile. It’s probably not sarcastic, it’s just fake. Because you weren’t listening to what he said and you’re thinking about something else anyway. Why can’t you be present when we talk to you? Just be here. Oh, we’re used to that, let’s pass.

The next morning you drive us to school. We’re late and you’re still hoping we’ll get there early enough. You’re so nervous, we probably realize that more than you do. Sitting next to you in the front seat I can feel the tension so strongly, it’s very hard to stand when I’m trying to be calm before school. But I don’t say anything, what should I say anyway? Okay, I’m used to it, let’s pass.

After school, on the way back home, the kids are talking together, telling each other in an excited tone something that happened that day. You call out a “shhaa”. At supper we’re sitting at the table, talking together. We discuss things, and then and there you call out again a “shhaa”. We don’t know what to think. We’re just talking together, not making noise, and you ask us to be quiet? Is talking not permitted in this house? Okay, we’re used to it, let’s pass.

The kids now have to go to sleep. It’s already late, and you have to yell at them that they have to go to sleep. You yell at them asking how they will wake up the next morning because they’re going to sleep so late. But you’re here to blame, you’re their mother and you have to put them to sleep when you want to. They can’t help it that’s it’s already late and they weren’t yet sent to sleep. Okay, we’re used to it, let’s pass.

Before we know it, it’s Friday. You need to run out to do something and you ask me to cook the chicken. I tell you I will do it. But before you go out, you ask me if I know how to season it, if I know how to place it in the pan, you tell me that I have to add some water, you show me how to put it in the oven and take it out. Mommy, was I born yesterday? Is it the first time you see me in the kitchen? Is it the first I cook? It’s very hard to have to go through this process of you showing me you think I don’t know anything. But okay, I’m used to it, I’ll pass.

You come back and you need to pass by but I’m accidentally in your way. You’re hurried and you don’t say sorry, you shove me aside. Later, the same scene occurs, you shove me aside. Later again, during Shabbos, we’re standing in the kitchen plating the food and I’m standing in front of the surface you want to work on. You don’t say sorry, you shove me aside. I’m used to it, but I let out a sigh.
You notice it and become enraged, and you announce to the first sibling you see that I’m such a teenager, I’m a first, you’ve never seen anything like me. You make me upset, and one thing you never knew about me is that I’m sensitive. I let a few tears roll out.

And then, I think of all of the above, and it all becomes too much to bare, and I burst.

I burst and I can’t stop. What you just pierced is a huge water balloon that’s actually withholding an ocean of feelings. An ocean is infinite. So much is the amount I’m withholding at all times. And now you see a little bit pouring out. You start telling me how crazy what I’m saying is. I’m just saying I can’t stand my life. It is what it is. You don’t know what to do with yourself, and let me tell you, neither do I. You’re not used to seeing me express my feelings, actually you’re not used to any of your kids expressing their feelings, and on the other side I’m not used to expressing them. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined that one day I would cry so much, say so much, being that open to someone. It had never even occurred to me that such a phenomenon is possible. Express a feeling? What does that mean?

I never expressed a feeling before, but here I started with some tears and I couldn’t stop. You’re shocked and surprised by whatever I tell you, the whole family is agitated. All they were expecting is some gefilte fish.
You change tactics, trying to show me that you’re understanding and compassionate. But you don’t understand anything. You don’t understand what I’m telling you. And I’m not even telling you a fraction of the tiniest part of what’s within me. At this point I need someone I can hug, I need a shoulder on which I can cry some more tears. I give you a hug and you’re not used to it. I am not either, had you ever given me a hug before? But I don’t care, I can’t think straight anyway in such a state.
You then tell me as your final word, which you think is magic medicine, that I have a loving family and that my family will be the closest thing I have.

Mommy, read the whole thing again. Do I have a loving family? Where does this fantasy come from?

I don’t feel I have a loving family and what you say just makes me cringe. I would have been much better off if I had never broken apart, if I had never burst, if I had just continued my normal amazing and sweet life of keeping everything to myself.

Motzaei Shabbos. 4:11 A.M.

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1 Comment

  1. Chanie September 2, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    I totally relate to you and have a very similar story. In a dignified, respectful way this issue needs to be addressed with shluchim. although I still have issues until today from the neglect, i know my parents deeply loved me and were just so overwhelmed and preoccupied. They thought about me, talked about me, cared so much about me,but on a day to day level they did not have the energy and focus to show the interest that they had in me. Only as an adult i realized how much they put in to me, but growing up i felt like i was one of the chores on their to do list. Your parents may have emotional issues, or they may just be overwhelmed. If they’re overwhelmed continue to talk to them about it. If they care about you, continuously bringing it to their attention in a mature way will help.

    This is a real issue and i hope it can adressed at the kinus hashlichus. Shluchim are incredible. This is unintentional and simply needs to be brought to all of our attention and become a conversation.

    One thing i can assure you Is that you are not alone, the Rebbe is with you. The Rebbe does not remain a baal chov. Even though our parents were too busy to show interest in us, we all turned out to be happy,well adjusted , good people who are very close to our parents. We were able to make up the lost time as children when we were adults and were able to connect to our parents in a different way.

    The Rebbe will make sure his shluchim are taken care of. I can vouch for that. Hopefully in the near future something will be done to raise attention about this.


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