Wednesday, May 18, 2016


3:34 AM

Dear Henry,
      By all accounts it's the middle of the night. My 16 month old princess is snoring away like a Malaysian tapir. The others are sleeping soundly like little lion cubs. But not me- I am wide awake.
I am literally so excited I cannot sleep. Not because I am going to a Backstreet Boys Concert tomorrow, nor because I am going on a swanky vacation to the Congo. I am too excited to sleep because in 9 hours I get to go to the airport and pick up The Better Half, after ten very long days.

9:45 AM
      These past ten days, as I've manned the ship as a Stay at Home Dad, tending to the house, my four delicious children, laundry, dirty dishes, dirty diapers, you name it, I have learned an awful lot. I have learned that there is no wrong way to boil an egg, though there are a heck of a lot of wrong ways to strap in a child into her car seat. I learned, after a year in our house, where the measuring cups can be found. I learned that my youngest son is the only one of my children who cares for these snacks called "fruit leathers," and I learned that my 16 month old Tzippy loves being tickled while she has her diaper done. I also learned that either our brand new dryer needs replacing, or I shouldn't dry three loads of laundry at once. I learned that olive oil is a great way to remove gum from one's hair, and I also learned that it is not a good idea to throw a ball in the vicinity of a glass picture frame. I learned how to make a burrito in 10 seconds, and how to make a bowl of oatmeal in a minute and a half.

    But I also learned a few deeply profound life lessons-- lessons deeper than the Hampden Heights Swimming Pool deep end. Right now, oh Henry, I will discuss three of them with you. The first of these lessons is that human beings have such tremendous G-d given potential, it is truly astonishing. The great Mussar master, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka teaches of the concept of Gadlus Ha'adam--the greatness of man. We are created in the image of the Almighty, and as such have incredible potential and capabilities. It is our job in this world to tap into that wellspring of talent we each were gifted by G-d. If you would have asked me 10 days ago how I would fare running the home for 10 days by myself, I would laughed at you. What do I know about running a home? I haven't done laundry since I was in college, I am not the most talented diaper changer, I don't know how to run the Dishwasher, and I cannot cook or bake. How was I expected to do all of this in addition to maintaining my patience with my four young children, and enable them to continue to thrive on a daily basis? But as my wife left at 5 AM in the morning, I realized that I was left with no choice-- I would have to dial into these previously untapped resources within me, and do the best I can. And by golly, I think I did a pretty decent job. In life, if we all felt an urgency to get a task done-- if we felt like we had no choice but to accomplish the job-- it is amazing how much we could truly achieve by utilizing talents and abilities we never knew we had.

   The second lesson I learned came as a surprise. You see, going into this adventure I already knew The Better Half was the epitome and embodiment of what a woman and wife should be. I thought that my absolute respect and admiration for her could increase no more-- it was already at the ceiling. After this trip, my respect, admiration and love for her is, as hard as this is for me to fathom, even greater than what it was before. I have concluded, without a doubt, that women in general, and my wife in particular, are possessed with super-powers. It is unreal what she does on a daily basis. Me getting a small taste of it for the last ten days was immeasurably valuable. I was faced with the dilemmas she is constantly faced with: One of our daughters is not yet in school. What do we do when she takes her morning nap? Should we ourselves rest, so we can be at our best later? Should we blogg, as I have opted to do at the present moment?  But there is too much still be done! What about starting the laundry load? Or emptying the dishwasher? Or maybe cleaning up the toy room? The dining room needs some vacuuming maybe I should do that? But,the kids are going to be hungry when they get home from school, maybe I ought to prepare them a snack? Speaking of food-- I am hungry, maybe I should eat now!  What about obliterating my festering dandelions? There also are a number of emails I need to respond to... These dilemmas my wife deals with on a regular basis, and she also takes care of me, and manages a job on top of all of that-- and does it all with such immense grace. How she does it, honestly, can only be attributed to the super human powers that the Almighty has given to her.

   And finally, the third lesson I learned: It really comes down to this blogg I wrote a few years ago when The Better Half went away to a conference for three days. At the time, that was the longest she had ever left, and I was at home with two children. I reflected in that blogg that my wife is my true inspiration, who motivates me to no end. In the days leading up to the trip, what gave me the most anxiety, was how I would manage the daily tasks of running a home without my wife there to help. I was most nervous about getting the kids off to school, feeding them, and getting them to bed, while maintaining order in the house. But, after ten days of doing exactly that, I can tell you that the hardest part was not the mundane routine that I had to perform on a daily basis. The hardest part of the last ten days was operating with a feeling that I wasn't fully present-- part of me was certainly absent. Ten days without having my wife by my side were in fact the ten longest days of my life. Every day I had a clear number in my head of how many days we had left until I could see her again. The feeling of incompleteness consumed me each of these 10 days. A natural lack of motivation permeated my entire being. On the rare occasion I was able to speak to her without being interrupted by my children I felt renewed with life and vigor that carried me throughout the day, and gave me a high for hours. In this week's Torah portion of Emor, the Kli Yakar describes a man's wife as his sustainer. He quotes the Talmudic passage that notes the fact that while a man might bring wheat home, is he the one who turns into bread? If he brings home flax, is he the one who turns it into clothing? A man's wife takes his abilities and potential, and turns him into a man. As the Kli Yakar says, she lights up his eyes, and stands him up on his feet.

As I am about to set out to pick up my wife from the airport, how true these words ring: I have no doubt that as soon as I see the Better Half, my eyes will once again be lit up, and I will be back on my feet. I truly can't wait.

Forever yours,
Danny Wolfe

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