The Queen of My Self

September marks the beginning of the school year. And even if we have not attended classes in ages, we are still affected through our children and grand kids, as well as our own memories. 


Who doesn’t send off children anywhere without a pit in their stomachs?
By Iris Ruth Pastor

Whether it’s college, summer camp, or kindergarten? Is it really going to happen? Have we done all we could to prepare them for leaving the nest? Are they well equipped and knowledgeable about the challenges they will encounter? These concerns are legit.

Now it’s that time of year again when parents across the country will be sending their precious children off to their freshman year of college. And there are new concerns. I remember sending my each of my five sons off to a university years ago – concerned about tuition and room/board funding issues. Fretting about no longer being in control and in charge. Obsessing about if the college they ultimately chose was the “right” one. Fearing they would be lost in the wave of other entering freshman and neglected and overlooked.

Amidst my reminiscing, I began reading the book Irena’s Children, the story of a courageous woman during World War 2, smuggling thousands of children trapped in the Warsaw ghetto past the Nazis – to safe houses, orphanages and convents.

On the eve of my sons leaving home for college, I worried incessantly that the meal plans offered through the dorms were carb-laden and unhealthy. And that my children would pack on the dreaded “freshman fifteen.” Parents of children in the Warsaw ghetto worried over food too, but didn’t have the luxury of worrying about excessive carbs and healthy food choices. Official rations allotted to Jews in the walled-off area were 184 calories per day per person. If lucky and/or wealthy, food was available through the black market at exorbitant prices. And great risk.

Would my kiddies be safe on campus? Get a bid to the fraternity of their choice? Survive Hell Week? In the spring of 1942, 2000 Jewish children had begun living separately from their parents too – but not by choice. They too had new living arrangements and new challenges. Alone on the streets of the Aryan side of Warsaw, young Jewish men hiding outside the ghetto were in constant danger. Thugs and black mailers sadistically and randomly stopped young teenage boys and ordered them to reveal their penises for inspection. Circumcision was an instant death sentence. They had no “choices.” Every day was “Hell Week” for them.

A high school guidance counselor once told me acceptance to college called for a parent’s quick trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond for quilts, bedding sets and extra shelving. And to the Apple Store for a laptop computer, iPad and iPhone – all of which parents hoped their kids would utilize fully to keep in touch. Parents who made the agonizing decision to have their children smuggled out of the ghetto had no time to prepare their children for the rigors they would face. Their last parting message to their kids was not to keep in touch – that was far too dangerous. The most common  parting message from parents to children before turning them over to Irena and her cohorts was to urgently remind them “to wear the best disguise of all: happy faces.” Their goal for their sons and daughters was not a diploma, but survival and to somehow be reunited with their families when the nightmare ended. Few were.

Copyright © 2017 Iris Ruth Pastor, Writer and Speaker, All rights reserved.

To be continued… Part 2 will post on Friday, September 15th…


Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to

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