This is the truth. the stark honest truth. Covid19 is not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
My kids are home under my heart. The streets have spat them out and sent them back. My little ones are growing like saplings under a warm sun: playing, reading, dreaming, drawing… No homework and dark bags under their tender eyes, no fear of the wrath of teachers or heartless friends on a cold day. Just the peace that fills a home where Mother is humming and scooping you out of your bath in towels still warm from the dryer, filling your belly with cheesy lasagne and French fries with ketchup.
Mornings are unrecognizable: they are matza pizza and pancakes, movies under a quilt on a big fat sofa kicking away icy feet, sipping Mummy’s leftover latte. Prayer becomes more than rushed brachot in the backseat of Daddy’s car, against a backdrop of hearts beating in anxiety; late! late! late! They are languid and clear as a bell. Slow or fast; whatever our souls dictate on any given day.
Tall boys roll out of bed eventually, all legs and laziness; sloths under a tallis; they’re not early risers but at any hour, they first bind their weary selves to Him… Ve\erastich li le’olam….
Girls are celebrating girlhood… nail polish, and makeovers, hair straightening sessions even for the teenage boys… they take out old dolls, and have the hours to braid their hair and change their clothes… no friends coming over to laugh at their childishness; their lack of sophistication. Small boys are drawing brains, as they do, building lego, nerf gunning their sisters off the couch. The dog is rolling in excess, endless attention. The baby is toddling; everyone notices- he is pinched and patted and talked to and carried and rocked and passed from one to the next to the next, surrounded by smiles and hugs and wellsprings of love that will last him to eternity… He is riveted by the sight of a sunny day, the promise of outside air through his golden curls. He bangs on the glass door to the balcony, and drinks in the world.
I leave the world outside. And happily. I look at the sun and breathe in spring, but I bless it from inside. I am in a cushion of safety and nothingness. Finally standing still, holding my mug, choosing whether or not to clean to pray to cook to play…I savour the stillness of leisure; the lack of pressure, the beating drum of the clock and my heart. The silence is a thick nostalgic truffle; sweet and cool against my palate. It tastes of backyards and barbecues and bruised ten-year-old knees. Why don’t I ever stop to remember, to miss?
I read and read and read.
I talk to my mother overseas in her now home-office. She’s so relaxed.. her own boss now, she has the time to hear about each kid. We speak of the victims and victories of corona… I hang up and pray. For once, I say the psalms and read the English. There’s time to understand what I’m saying to my Creator.
Prayer bends and shifts like everything else, and takes on new meaning. A new format. With all the kids home, there’s little formal tefilah, but my being becomes my prayer.” Let this be my avodah”, I mumble as I pick up errant socks and damp towels, as I cook the fortieth pot of pasta, sip a fifth cup of cheap coffee while scooping up my complaining baby and advocate for whichever age set is fighting for Netflix rights. My calm is my prayer, my conversations with my teenagers, making my husband’s bed and checking mint for his nana tea. “Let this be my prayer.”
Without the Tallit, without tefilin; I am bound to Him. My children are His, my days and nights are His and for Him; in my entirety, I am bound up in Him. This stillness belongs to Him; this illness belongs to Him. He is everything.
In the everyday routine, it feels like my every action runs my world. One loose string in my day and the world feels like it’s crashing in. He’s taken all the loose ends and pulled. The world caught a cold and has gone inside.
I sleep when sleep comes, and I wake with the baby. I shuffle from one teen to the next, coaxing them to bed before sunrise. I ask my husband how he slept, turn on the washing machine. I stack scattered plastic cups and throw them out. I pour myself a hot cup of coffee and drop on the couch; baby on shoulder. I want to open the book… too weary, I smile out the window and with all my soul whisper “ThankYouforthis.”
My big kids are home under my heart. The streets have spat them out and sent them back. My little ones are growing like saplings under a warm sun…
Let this be my prayer…