A woman of valor! Worth more than
business class tickets to anywhere.
Every day I pack my son's lunch,
tuck his homework into his backpack.
I pay the mortgage. I ensure
my car is legal and fit to drive.
I fold and put away laundry.
I text beloveds who are far away.
I serve, I write, I create.
I teach and accompany and plan.
Every Friday night I light
twin fires of creation and Sinai,
chant sanctity into my wineglass.
When the co-op runs out of challah
I uplift a sandwich roll.
I make holiness from what I have.
Even on days when depression
whispers cruelty in my ear
I cup my hands around gratitude's spark
and I tell my child he matters.
And at the end of the week
I sing myself this song. I promise
I'm enough (but not too much)
and I am beautiful in God's eyes.
There's a tradition of reading Eshet Chayil ("A Woman of Valor") on Friday nights -- traditionally, a man reads or sings it to his wife. (There's a translation online here. I also love In loco eshes chayil by poet Danny Siegel.)
I was working recently on a poem that became a lament for the fact that there is no one to sing those words to me.
Then I thought, if there were a variant I could speak to myself, as a single woman and a working parent, what would it say? That's what sparked this poem.