I remember it like it was yesterday. Bedikas chametz night came. The entire house was gleaming. Delicious smells were emanating from the kitchen, as my mother stood there, looking utterly exhausted.
My father made the Bracha, and began to search the house. An hour or so later, when the bedika was done, my father complimented my mother. "The house looks beautiful. Thank you." my mother, in turn told my father that all the children had helped so much. Eager for attention, the children would all clamor for a chance to tell my father what THEY had done. A little girl of about five or six, I happily told my father "....and I scrubbed the wall in the hallway!" My father smiled at me, and I felt so special. I had contributed greatly to the pesach cleaning efforts! I felt great. The feeling lasted about five seconds, or long enough for my sister to pipe up "do you really think that mommy needed you to scrub the wall there? Puh-lease! She was just trying to keep you out of the way!"
That comment hit me like a ton of bricks. Me? I did a task that was useless? How could it be?
I thought back to how I spent over an hour of my life going over and scrubbing the same square foot of wall space that only got dirtier as I went along. And I thought about the puddle of soapy water I had sat in, the puddle that grew larger as I 'cleaned.'
And I was incredulous. Could my sister be telling the truth? Could it be that I really had been USELESS? I was crushed.
Looking back, I feel silly. Of COURSE my mother was cringing as she watched me mess up her floor with a puddle of soapy water. Of course my mother had no reason for me to scrub the wall.
But the lesson I learned lived on. My mother made me feel so good, so useful. And even after my sister blew the whistle and exposed my mother's trick, Mom managed to smooth it out, and make the 5-year-old SD feel better.
Because, looking back, I realize that there
is no better feeling in the world that that of being useful, of being needed.