“Ok, we need to add 2 and a half cups of flour,” reading the printed recipe.
“Oh my G-d that’s like ten 1/4 cup measures!!!” yells First Daughter.
“Oh don’t be so melodramatic,” I snap back.
“That’s not melodramatic, that’s mathematics,” replies First Daughter, as she let’s me have a glimpse at her inner-twenty-year-old.
“It is not!” I yell back. “Why do you have to keep saying these things?!? Look,” I start to lecture, “You need 4 quarter-cup measures for a full cup, then…” and then I start slowly doing the new math in my head. “Fine, ten of that quarter-cup measure. You know if we had a servant who could have washed all of our full cup measures from the previous cake, we wouldn’t have this problem.” I collapsed into a hard chair.
Now, why was I so tense? I can explain with just one word: Friday. Every Jewish mama knows about the dreaded Friday, where we slave in the kitchen for hours, just to prepare a dinner, a lunch, and then snacks for a third meal (actually the second meal of Saturday. The counting here alone drives me crazy. Friday night dinner is called just that, Saturday lunch is called just that, but Saturday dinner is called “Third Meal”, because it must be reckoned numerically, counting from Friday evening. Does no one eat breakfast?) And no Shabbat is joyous unless you have guests. And if one has guests, one must show off, and the ol’ Sloppy Joe must get dressed in a tux, side salad dishes must abound, your challah must actually have a taste, and then of course, there must be dessert.
All of this crazy effort buys us beautiful moments in time, that I know will be part of the memories our children cherish. There’s nothing like a dinner that has servings and dishes, and everyone sitting at the table. And the fact that we all sit around the table on Friday, Saturday and Saturday part -two (or three, depending on your viewpoint), takes the pressure off having to have everyone sit together during the week.
But sometimes, I want Calgon. Just a break.
Actually, I don’t want a break. I love my life, and I’m always scared of it being yanked away from me. I think I want to turn down the volume sometimes, to reduce the chatter, to eliminate the background noise.
I worry sometimes, that all of this effort is wrinkling my skin, weakening my teeth. I worry that my children will need and want me less and less in their lives as they grow older.
I worry that they will resent the choices I made for them.
I could try talking to husband, First Daughter, Second Daughter, Third Daughter, Fourth Daughter. Sharing my fears, hopes, dreams, etc. They would hear me, and be generally supportive, but they have their own fears, hopes, dreams, etc. Such an effort wouldn’t really be sharing, anyway, more like unloading, burdening. I would cling to my children and husband and demand they ride along with me, abandoning their own paths.
And into this mix, comes the dreaded Friday. All of the self-obsessing has to take a back seat as we begin the preparations for the holy Shabbat. We cook, we clean, we yell. Faster, faster, faster – how much time is left? Who has taken a shower? Who’s still dirty – do we have enough hot water? For once, can’t we have mopped floors? Look, I made jelly! Look, I made hummus! Crap, I forgot to start the soup – but we have jelly!
And then we have Shabbat. Quiet, peaceful Shabbat, when no one is fighting over the television (because it’s not allowed.) Sitting at the table in pajamas (we’re a little funky that way.) Passing this, gobbling that, giggling at Husband’s silly jokes. We’re all beautiful and loved.
What does any of this have to do with ADHD? Well, Extra-Ordinary parents have been writing a lot lately on the internet. “The top 18 things a Special Needs Parent Wants You to Know!” “9 Things Never to Say to a Parent with a Disabled Kid!” “5 Facts you must know about Autism” (The counting is driving me up the wall, seriously, why must we continuously number lists?) The articles are good, but it can sometimes give the impression that our lives are always a struggle of some sort. That we are sad, and pray for a glimpse of normalcy. This is true, this is a big part of our lives.
But not the biggest part. What is the meaning of our life? It’s the way of buying time with each other. It’s Shabbat, it’s the laughter at a ridiculous joke, it’s a really good piece of cake baked by a loved one. I think Extra-Ordinary parents learn this very quickly, as the rat-race of accomplishment collecting really doesn’t suit us, but this can’t be conveyed in any kind of list or marked by a trophy.
“I want you to know, I love you, you are perfect,” I said to First Daughter. I glide over to Second Daughter “I love your laughter,” I say to her. Sashaying over to Third Daughter, I tell her: “You have a beautiful way, calm and serene.” I pass by Husband and toss out the words, “Love you,” and hope that he gets the full meaning of all 14 years of our marriage. I swoop over to Fourth Daughter and yell, “Thank you so much for coming to us! We love you!”
First Daughter, channeling her inner-twenty-year-old, tells everyone that Eema is a little tired and needs a massage.