Two years ago – few hours before Erev Yom Kippur 5781 – there was a war in my living room.
A three front war: we were all angry at each other, no alliances, each person for themselves.
I don’t remember how it started or who took the first shot but it was brutal, and we were all guilty.
Shouting ensued, and some days I’m the grownup and some days I am not, and davka hours before sunset and the beginning of Yom Kippur I was a howling jackal.
The thing is, logically I knew I wasn’t fixing anything. Logically, I knew I was making it worse.
And so my anger grew – that internal rage where you want to tear through your own skin and you feel wretched, so you shout and want to break a dozen plates.
And I saw my kids were caught in the damn trap, too, howling beasts all of us.
So I summoned every ounce of strength and I took a deep breath and let my mind catch up with my feelings.
I shouted “ceasefire.”
The kids looked at me with their cartoon eyes.
“You take the living room,” I said to my son. “You take the bedroom,” I said to my daughter. “None of is are allowed to speak until 5 pm and then we will walk out to the fields and apologize. To ourselves and each other. “
“Nip it, kiddo. I’m taking a shower.”
“Why don’t we just apologize now since you’re just going to force us?”
“Because I am fkn angry and I’m not ready to apologize and I don’t think you are either. Five o’clock. We will go out to the fields and forgive each other and ourselves.”
I took my shower and got dressed.
I heard my daughter say to my son “please tell me why you got angry.”
“You should know.” He said.
“But I don’t and I want to fix it so please tell me, so I know how.“
The silence was thick and dusty.
And he told her.
“I didn’t see it that way and I am sorry I hurt you,” she said.
A long moment passed.
“Ok fine. What did I do that made YOU angry?” He asked.
And she told him.
By the time 5:00 rolled around, they were allies, and we had signed a peace accord, the three of us.
“But we still need to forgive ourselves,” I said as I opened the door.
“Why?” My son asked
“Because even though we all act like assholes sometimes we are basically good people, and when we forgive ourselves it makes it easier for us to let go of all the bad things.” My daughter said.
She was right.
So we walked out into the blue October day and Down the Road to the fields, and we forgave each other and ourselves.
And then morning came, and she snapped at him and he snapped at her and I snapped at them both.
Shame settled down in the pit of my stomach. Yom Kippur. And we had signed our peace accord just hours before.
“But we were supposed to stop fighting!” My daughter cried, and it was as though she could read my mind. “What’s the point of the stupid apologies if we are just going to get mad again?”
“It’s life,” my son said. “And we will always fight and we will always forgive each other. That’s what families do because we love each other.”
And he opened the door and we walked out to the fields again, all over again.