I know it sounds pathetic, but I secretly dread the month of June. I’m not referring to the unscheduled lazy days on the horizon. (No more homework! Yay!) I’m talking about all the festivities that come before summer break.
I’m a born and bred out-of-towner. Aside from some inevitable small bouts of homesickness, I’m very happy living here in New York. I’ve long since made peace with the decision my husband and I made to raise our family in a city hours and hours away from my children’s bubbies and zeidies. But I—who was privileged to grow up in close proximity to my own grandparents—know exactly what my children are missing out on. And so I make it a priority for us to spend hours on the phone, actively working on cultivating the bond between generations.
But there’s something about the empty seat by my side at our small milestones, the siddur plays, kindergarten graduations and end-of-the-year presentations that reminds me of what we’re missing. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t take our blessings for granted. I know how fortunate we are to baruch Hashem even have parents and grandparents for our children to speak to on the phone and to visit for Yom Tov, may they all live and be well ad mei’ah v’esrim shanah. That being said, I always feel my parents’ and in-laws’ absence strongly in an auditorium packed with so many bubbies sharing in the nachas that my mother can only view from the small screen in my hand.
That’s me in the front row of the audience, awkwardly clapping too loudly when they call my child’s name, trying to compensate for the fact that I’m the solo member of my family in attendance who is there to applaud for him.