Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some things lose their meaning (at least temporarily)

As a child, Yom Kippur meant counting down the pages until the service would (finally) end. From the time I was 8, I was pretty serious about fasting – and that year, I made it through to the very end - only the service ended later than the fast and I ran out to the water fountain to get a drink (thinking I was about to die). I think that it was the same year that I was in a choir of 4 that participated in the service. (My dad was the Rabbi, so the auditioning process was fairly simple.) As a young adult, I was able to understand more of the prayer and connect with more of the ideas of the day, probably giving it some of the meaning I’d learned and some of my own. Yom Kippur began to be extremely powerful, giving me a true opportunity to look at who I had been up until then and being able to make a decision as to who I wanted to be from then on… I would sit in shul and daven, not necessarily paying attention to every word (I don’t know who can), but feeling the importance of the prayer and of repenting. When finally, the shofar was blown, I  burst into tears… As a mom, I want to pass these feelings on to my children. I want all the holidays to be meaningful for them.

My little kids don’t behave well in shul. It could be the fact that there are 3 of them. Or that the shul is way-too-crowded (it is). Or the fact that other kids are playing outside. Or that I just have wild kids (not really).  So even if I took them with me, it’s impossible to concentrate between handing out bamba and drinks, wiping noses, changing diapers, taking one of the girls to the bathroom and breaking up their fights… And, living in Israel, you can’t really hire a non-Jewish babysitter to care for your kids (I know some synagogues in the US have some sort of arrangement), so instead of spending the day in shul or at least in solemn thought, I spend it figuring out how long I can keep the kids busy building with Duplo, what stories will keep them calmest, and trying not to forget to feed them, since they don’t fast (in addition to listening to one of the older kids moan and groan about how impossible it is to fast and that s/he just can’t do it…). Instead of counting down the pages, I count down the hours and minutes until the fast is over, hoping I’ve gotten a little bit of thought in at some point during the day.

Today, as Yirmi sleeps, I’m trying to get into the mood of 9 b’Av. It’s hard. It’s not only hard because I spent half the morning feeding the little kids and the other half playing with them. It’s hard because when it’s finally quiet and I have a moment to think, so many other things keep jumping into my head… And I think that’s one of the hardest things for me about being a stay-at-home-and-work-from-home-mom to little kids. It’s difficult to find time for uninterrupted thought. I never realized how important that is.

I am looking forward to a time when I will be able to feel the holidays – and feel that they are meaningful to me again - and not just be busy finding a way to somehow survive them.


Bea said...

Oh yes. Uninterrupted thought. I get it and I only have one.

An interesting piece, though, on how the holidays change at each life stage. I'm sure you'll find time to recapture the old vibe in the future. And I guess you'll come to think differently about and find new meaning in this phase looking back, too. Well, that's my prediction FWIW.


Sarah said...

i was just going to say what bea said but far less well, so now i've got nuthin. but still wanted to say i enjoyed reading it :)

Thalia said...

at this stage, just a tiny bit of contemplative time can go a long way. I think Gd requires different things from us at different times, you do what you can.