Mornings in our house are not pretty.
Envision if you will, a Lord of the Flies-type of chaos, where it is unclear who is in charge of whom. Witness, if you dare, the hasty dissent of highly developed cereal-eating man as he spirals backwards, evolutionary speaking, millions of years towards his primordial self. Cherished household items, paid for by the fruits of professional, university educated labor, strewn haphazardly across the floor like innocent victims of a terrible attack they weren’t fast enough to escape. Wardrobe malfunctions, suddenly contagious, spreading like a plague. People shouting at one another as if practicing their lines for a TV show that mocks police academies and military training bases. An inconsolable, teary child, in mourning over a slice of cold toast he had every intention of finishing but which has just drowned in a pool of milk, only inches from the kitchen sink. Another child, blissfully unaware of the carnage taking place around him, jumping on the couch, entirely uninhibited despite being naked and five minutes from departure. And yet another, asking questions that only the internet or a therapist could answer.
Maybe some of this is familiar to you, though I sincerely hope not.
This, unfortunately, is our reality day in and day out. Unless, of course, it is Saturday. Ah Saturday! The blessed day of rest, and if you live in Israel, the only day of rest. A day free of alarms, timetables, soccer games, and other irritating activities that we fill our days, weeks and lives with. Saturday mornings are a delicacy, to be savored intentionally and quietly, accompanied only by the things you truly love (coffee, books, iphone + charger). Nothing to do, nowhere to be. For the exception of trips to the bathroom and beach, the entire day’s activities should be conducted from bed.
If I were the author of the Sabbath commandment, it would read – ‘Thou Shall get up when you want & Stay in Thoust pajamas,’ and I would be its most fervent adherent. Very rarely does there arise a reason to disturb this divine dictate, as I am highly skilled at avoiding entrapment in an engagement that may force the members of our household to ‘get it together’ in the first half, or honestly any part, of a Saturday.
In my religion (mine as in I made it up), one is basically entitled to do whatever the hell they want, bar anything morally reprehensible, and as long as it doesn’t upset your core relationships. Core relationships are defined as those that you have either been born into or just really like having (these do not always coincide). Therefore, if someone you care about asks you to do something, or invites you somewhere, you swallow your dissent and graciously oblige, even if it means compromising on your deeply religious values of doing what you want all the time. This is how this Saturday morning ended up being different from all other Saturday mornings.
A friend of ours asked us to join them in a small, early day Sabbath celebration, involving a buffet, the loveliest of people, and located very conveniently up the road at their family friendly, modest synagogue. Confounded by our sheer adoration of these folk, we were left with no choice but to break our Sabbath traditions and join them in theirs. Sadly, this meant that today started in the manner that all days start in (see above), with the added pressure of organizing ourselves into a synagogue worthy, appropriately attired, happy family. Let us pray.
Aside from the usual tumult, there were hot iron related injuries, a disproportionately heated debate about the appropriateness of flip flops vs. soccer cleats in places of worship and a creative discussion over how to make something that we already own look like a brand new gift. In a Horror meets Religion meets Toy Story type movie scene, the boys’ kippot came to life in order to engage us in an ill-timed game of hide and seek which we were very sorely losing.
I went through my usual pre-game synagogue tantrum where I launch into a diatribe about not compromising my clothing and by extension my soul in order to conform to archaic misogynist notions of how women should look. (This NEVER fails to end with my awkwardly writhing in embarrassment once inside the sanctuary, wishing I had worn more and cared less). My husband the atheist, and ironically the only member of the family thrilled by the idea of going to synagogue, was dressed literally hours before any of us had worked out what day it was. This left him with ample time to ponder the plight of our poor, poor rooftop plants who are most certainly not receiving the attention and water they desperately need, failing to notice that the children who had dressed themselves actually looked like pint-sized escapees of a beachside insane asylum (sandy shoes).
Crumbling under the pressure, accusations of botanical neglect and the repeated use of the word ‘wilting’, I went off on a much needed lecture about household responsibilities, loud enough to benefit anyone in a 5 mile radius who might be struggling with similar issues. In the midst of all of this, how could I have possibly known that the makers of my dress had courteously sewn a zipper down the side in order to get it on without the need for grotesque body contortion, child-birth-like noises and, of course, cursing?
When we finally made it into the car, I turned around to the three appropriately dressed, trembling children in the backseats and flashed them my best ‘mommy loves you’ smile. This is the smile that absolves me from the war crimes I may have committed earlier, and sets the mood for a brighter day. Finally a guilt-free, contented passenger, satisfied with my reflection in the rear view mirror, I was able to focus on my Twitter account while dangling a freshly washed pair of flip flops out the window so they would dry before we arrived. Suddenly one of my absolute favorite Streisand songs came on the radio and I took it as a sign from Above that we were being rewarded for being good friends and Jews. I sang and danced along to my heart’s content and neighboring cars’ amusement. I lovingly stroked the back of my husband’s neck, which is code for ‘everything is going to be alright’. I rejoiced in life and all of its complexions, warmed by the thought of seeing our friends, maybe making new ones, eating bagels, and eventually unzipping my dress and getting back in bed.
It was Saturday, after all.