I am not trying to get you to join Facebook (although it couldn’t hurt).
In the past few days, I’ve been remembering my day school education. Specifically, those (usually female) teachers who told us of the tradition that women relax while the candles are burning each night. And while I sort of pretend to maybe relax, I completely and totally fail. It is the perfect time to make your latkes, to decorate the donuts, to set the table. It seems completely incongruous with a mother’s way of scheduling.
Every year I find myself in a similar predicament. Much like Santa, I’ve made my list and checked it twice (I sort of leave off the naughty or nice part) and head out shopping. We like to give our kids a small gift each night. One night we give them board games and turn that night into a games night. One night we give them all sorts of dreidels and spend the evening playing dreidel. Every once in awhile when we feel really creative, we make up a family treasure hunt or game and play that too. But I also buy them STUFF.
I have decided to grant myself one more hour each day. I have big plans. In my standard 24-hour a day cycle, David and I get our five kids off to five different school buildings each morning. My mornings are spent working, keeping on top of the house, debating the pros and cons of doing the laundry. My kids start arriving home at 1:30 in the afternoon. So my afternoons are art projects, Phineas and Ferb watching, homework doing, and dinner cooking.
For my boys’ britot, I stood way back in the back. I could not bring myself to stand close to the action. I didn’t change their diapers for the week after the brit. I left that to my very capable husband. I figured, and rightfully so, I had done my job gestating and delivering those boys, I could step back for a bit – especially when I was feeling overwhelmed and a bit grossed out.
All four of my sons were on antibiotics this week. Two were fighting off strep, and the younger two had ear infections. For me it meant juggling a little more and neglecting the dishes in the sink for a little longer.
I have spent a considerable amount of time wondering what my kids will remember about their childhood. Will they remember the thousands of times I read Sandra Boynton books to them? (I believe, after a long decade of Moo Baa La La La, that three singing pigs should be saying La La La.) Will they remember the end of summer extravaganzas? The Shabbat afternoons of board game after board game? Or will they remember searching through the laundry for the gym shirt that I forgot to wash? My inability to sit in traffic? My impatience with learning the 8 times table?
I often joke that my nine year-old son would make a wonderful Christian. He has the confessional part down pat. For as long as I can remember, as soon as he gets home, he dumps his bag and the confessional begins. I, of course, play the part of his priest. I am told who he fought with, how many times he left class, what perceived slights he endured, what he doled out to others. When he is finished listing pretty much everything, he grabs a snack and runs out to play with his friends leaving me feeling tired, overwhelmed and perhaps in need of chocolate.
With the death of iconic TV mom, Barbara Billingsley, from “Leave it to Beaver,” I’ve been thinking about mothers who shaped generations of young girls’ minds. I’m not sure Mrs. Cleaver gave us much wiggle room to be real moms with her pearls and her heels as she dragged out her vacuum cleaner. Added to that, of course, are the dozens of stereotypes about Jewish mothers (a whole other blog entry), and we may really be fighting a losing battle. There is a line somewhere between the ideal and the real that I’ve been looking for.