So my daughter Casey had her Bat Mitzvah this past weekend—and now I’m feeling down.
This was inevitable. It’s how I work. I felt down in the aftermath of my 20th high school reunion. In the aftermath of my 40th birthday party. In the aftermath of our vacation last summer to Virginia. You have all these plans, you look forward to an event, forward to an event, forward to an event. Then, poof, it’s over.
I loved my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah more than any event I’ve ever loved. I truly did. First, you have this little peanut of a baby, and she’s small and innocent and drooling all over the place. People tell you how fast she’ll grow, and you listen and nod and sort of ignore. Suddenly, she’s grown, an you’re watching her during this milestone, half heartbroken and half overjoyed. It’s the strangest emotional merging of all time. You want your baby back, and you simultaneously want her to spread her wings and fly away. You start counting the years until she leaves for college, and the number is getting smaller and smaller. She no longer fully needs you, or fully wants you around. She loves you. That’s clear. But the need isn’t what it was. There are friends to hang with, places to go. You’re a little less Daddy, a little more Dad.
And yet … you’re OK. Because she’s confident and secure and standing before 100 friends and family members, doing this amazing thing. Actually, let me back up—the “100 friends and family members.” It’s big. Like, big big. Because “100 friends and family members” usually only gather under one roof at your wedding and funeral. But here they were—in California.
The ceremony was held at our synagogue, then the party (planned almost exclusively by the wife, who’s an event-organizing superstar) took place at a low-key, far-from-opulent nearby beach club. It was just … fun. There was a DJ, there was a buffet, there was an open bar and there was the beach. We had some fire pits set up, and the kids roasted s’mores and played in the sand and climbed a big ol’ tree. I’ve attended a good number of high-priced, everyone-dressed-to-the-nines Bat and Bar Mitzvahs, and while they’re certainly fun, they’re not us. We’re casual, laid-back, outdoors-centered. We love being surrounded by friends and family members; get lost in good conversation.
And now … it’s over. Everyone has left. The house is quiet. My sister in law and nephews flew out this morning, leaving behind sheets, some pillow cases and a few dirty cups in the sink.