I just woke up in a cold sweat. A dream? A nightmare? Both? It was so real!
We arrived at the venue for your bat mitzvah. We both looked fabulous—hair and makeup ready, our dresses, shoes. It was going to be the perfect night—fabulous, just fabulous! (Just between the two of us . . . after all the money your father and I spent on this event, it had better be fabulous!)
We walked into the hall, anticipating the sight. But the hall didn’t look at all as planned. Where was the lighting? The neon sign with your name? The ghost chairs? The flowers? The DJ, dance floor, photographer, videographer? (“I arranged for surprise hip-hop dancers to perform for you and your friends . . . Where are they?”)
“What’s happening here!?” I yelled. “Where is everyone!?” I yelled some more. “Three hundred people are arriving in an hour! Hello!?” Could we have gone to the wrong address? Did we tell everyone the wrong date? I checked my phone. Everything was correct. “Wait, how come I don’t have the event planner’s number here? And, WHERE IS SHE??”
I can’t breathe. Chest pains. Oy! Should we call the paramedics? I’m crying. “Oh, shoot! My makeup must be running, and we have pictures soon.”
“Mom, you have no makeup,” you say. “What do you mean? We just spent two hours with the makeup artist,” I answer. Then I look at you and gasp! “Where is your makeup? Where are your party clothes? What in the world are you wearing? Your hair—what have you done to it?”
“Stop it right now! Is this a joke?”
Suddenly, in storms that event planner of ours. She’s tiny and cheerful. Why is she so annoyingly bubbly? I knew I shouldn’t have hired her! I should have done it all myself. She grabs you by the arm and says, “Ready? Ready? The sun will set soon. Your big day is arriving.”
I don’t know who looks more confused, you or me. “Ladies, come, we have to prepare,” she says. “Prepare? Really? I hadn’t noticed. And how exactly are you going to get this place ready . . . in LESS THAN AN HOUR?” Did I mention I was yelling? I’m about to grab her little body and strangle her, but you stop me. (“Why is she so skinny? It serves me right for hiring an event planner that is skinnier than me. Remind me not to make that mistake again when your wedding comes.”) You tell me: “Mom, calm down, and listen. Let’s listen.”
The event-planner-turned-fairy-from-hell says to me: “Mom, tell your beautiful daughter your speech.” “Speech? Who cares about a speech!? Lady, w-h-e-r-e is the lighting; w-h-e-r-e are the centerpieces? Did I mention that people are showing up in less than an hour? The Schwartzes, the Goldmans, the Levys, our relatives, business associates . . . E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. Produce a party immediately or you’re fired!”
“No worries, we will have a party,” she says calmly. (“Oy, her voice is so annoying!”) She goes on. “First things first. Mom, come on, tell your daughter: ‘Why is this such a special night? What will be different in her life starting tonight?’ ” (Seriously!? When did this turn into the Four Questions?)
“OK, Mom go, you’re up!” she says to me, smiling broadly as she pushes me to the center of the stage. The fairy is now getting feisty. I knew I shouldn’t have hired her.
I open my mouth, and words begin to come out. Words I don’t recognize, at least initially. But then, I do. They feel so real, so genuine. It was me, speaking to you . . .
“ . . . Earlier today, I watched your reflection in the mirror as the hairdresser did your hair and the makeup artist applied light makeup on your beautiful face. You are so beautiful. I’ve always thought so. But today, I saw something more real than what one usually sees in a mirror. I noticed you. Your beauty really comes from deep within you. There’s something that makes you who you are—something that will never change, no matter how you age, whatever hairstyle you choose or what makeup you put on. You have a soul. A beautiful soul.
“Tonight, we celebrate that you have a soul—a G‑dly soul, a piece of G‑d. Tonight, we celebrate that on your 12th Hebrew birthday, G‑d entrusts this soul to you. The party, the presents, the dancing are all great, but G‑d’s gift—your soul—is, by far, the greatest bat mitzvah gift you’ll ever receive.
“Tonight, is the night G‑d says “I believe in you. You’ve got what it takes to help Me perfect this world.” I, of course, couldn’t agree more. I always knew you were destined for fabulousness.
“Now, there’s one catch: What you do with that soul is entirely up to you.
“She’s kind of quiet, you know. She doesn’t fuss much. She would love for you to nourish her, to keep her strong and thriving, but she won’t impose. You have to help her assert her needs. Her needs? Yes, and often they might be different from your wants.
“When you want to sleep, she needs you to wake up early to help someone else. When you want to spend all the money you received on your birthday, she needs you to donate 10 percent of it. When you want to go out on a Friday night, she needs you to stay home and light Shabbat candles. She loves those candles. Oh, and then she loves to spend Friday nights at home with family and friends, enjoying a special meal.
“While we’re on the topic of fancy . . . Fancy stuff? She doesn’t care too much about that; only sometimes. Only when G‑d wills that it’s important that we do special stuff. Like that kosherbrisket that Bubby makes. She likes you to eat that, and she likes a nice kosher wine on Shabbat and holidays. Surprised? You just have to get the hang of her. But, in a nutshell, this soul of yours really only knows G‑d’s will. Really, connecting to G‑d is all she needs. When she gets that, she’s healthy and strong.
“And that’s all to your advantage. Because then, you can really change this world for the better, all while being who you truly are. From now on and for the next 108 years of your life, my beautiful child, you should pay heed to the real girl in the mirror. Know that every time you are true to her, you are on your way to being your most fabulous, beautiful self, living a fabulous, beautiful life.
“I love you forever, Mom”
You hugged me. I think we were both crying. Our makeup was not running though. I felt the photographer take a picture of our embrace. I heard people clapping. I looked around me. I gasped in astonishment. Oh, everything looked beyond fabulous! Much more beautiful than we had planned.
As I walked back to my seat, I noticed the waiters serving brisket. Brisket? Smells fabulous! (You’re right, I do use that word too much.) I whisper to our tiny event planner, “We ordered brisket!?” She answers, “Yes, the bat mitzvah girl requested her Bubbie’s brisket. Wait till you taste it. Enjoy and mazel tov again!” (I couldn’t have chosen a better event planner.)
This has been the perfect bat mitzvah … just fabulous!