The Big Secrets

Words by Sloane Citron

Photos by Scott R. Kline

Last winter, my oldest son Josh and his lovely wife Adara were eager to meet up with us as they wanted to share some news. They came over to our home, and after some small talk and drinks, they said that they wanted to tell us something important but that it would have to be a complete secret. I anticipated their announcement, but it was nonetheless exciting to have them ready to share the news.

“We are pretty thrilled about this since we’re gonna be first now,” said Josh, referring to the unspoken competition to see who would have the first grandchild, since he and his two older siblings all got married within a year of each other. “So we’re happy to tell you that Adara is pregnant!”

He and Adara went on to tell us all about the pregnancy, how she was feeling and her expected due date, which was right around Thanksgiving. We all hugged and laughed with joy as they excitedly shared all the details. But they rightly swore us to secrecy. We were the first to know, and they didn’t want anyone else to find out until they were well along in the process. Of course, I was happy for them and the idea of a new baby coming along filled me with cheerfulness for the future.

Two weeks later, I returned from a week-long trip overseas visiting my youngest child Coby. The journey back, an arduous 16 hours, left me disheveled and tired as I finally walked in my door around 10PM. There waiting for me was my younger daughter, Tali. I was surprised to see her given the late hour, and since she and her husband Sam live about 10 minutes away, it was unusual for her to be around at this time of night.

But I’m always happy to see my kids and I gave her a big hug and kiss. Moments later, the front door swung open and Sam walked in with, like always, a big smile on his face.

“Sam’s company is having an event and they want pictures of everyone’s families and today is the last day that we can take the shot,” Tali explained to us. Rather exhausted, I thought to just get it over with so that I could take a shower and get into my waiting bed.

Tali fussed around a bit getting us framed correctly on her phone and setting up the timer apparatus. She pushed the button and then ran over to join us, and we all put our arms around each other and smiled for the shot.

Tali said, “Okay. After me: One, two, three, Tali’s pregnant!”

It took me a few moments, especially in my groggy state, to understand what I had just said. Indeed what we had all just said. And then I got it.

“Really?” I asked with a thrill in my voice. We all hugged and then sat down together.

“You can’t tell anyone,” my daughter sternly said. She then shared all the details, explaining that the due date was right around, uhm, Thanksgiving. As the third child of four—and tired of always being lumped in together with her siblings—she was excited, she said, to finally be first at something.

For many weeks, including many family gatherings, I had to stay silent, even as I started to see slight changes in my daughter and daughter-in-law’s bodies, both of them choosing to continue to wait before sharing the news. Both expecting at the same time. Both believing that they were going to be first. I could only chuckle to myself.

During our Seder feast, one of the commandments is to drink four glasses of wine. We had a big group this past year and on the table were both wine and grape juice. By the end of the night, when it became clear to all that Tali and Adara were carefully avoiding the wine and only having grape juice, the jig, as they say, was up. Once all the friends were gone—and it was just family members—out came the news that both couples had babies on the way with the same due dates. I laughed and laughed as I told them that I knew about the dueling secrets.

Ultimately there was no drama, as Josh and Adara had a boy, Evan (meaning “stone”) Joseph, almost a month prematurely. Tali and Sam’s daughter, Liav (my father) Brea, was born a few weeks later. I was kind of hoping that Tali would be first since I knew it meant more to her, but of course the old Yiddish proverb that says, “We plan, God laughs,” held as true as ever.