by Bassi Gruen
Sometimes, when the bickering reaches a crescendo, and supper’s burnt and there are three work deadlines looming, I want to slip away. I want to find a quiet cabin deep in the woods and stay there, all by myself. Not for long, just for a day or two, but long enough to soak in the peace and solitude, and recharge my depleted batteries. But I don’t own a cabin in the woods. And who would watch the kids?
Sometimes, when it’s mid-afternoon and the little ones are cranky, we sit together, the three of us. My baby lies on my chest, my just-turned-four-year-old curls up on the couch, head resting on my lap. We sit there like that for a while, saying little, doing little, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Sometimes, when I’ve done ten loads of laundry in 48 hours, and then I peek in the hamper, and there’s more laundry in there, I want to throw up my hands and give up. Sometimes, when my daughter looks up from her plate, gives me a 100 watt smile, and tells me, “You make the yummiest suppers. You’re the best mommy,” I feel a glow that goes down to my toes.
Sometimes, when the kids get into a violent fight -- pulling hair, hurling names, scratching and shrieking, I wonder if I should have each one live in a separate room.
Sometimes, when the kids think I’m still asleep on Shabbos morning, and I eavesdrop on the older ones taking care of the little ones, I think to myself that the greatest gift one can give a child is a sibling.
Sometimes, when my child does something that deeply disappoints me, I become awash with the sense of futility and failure. I wonder if I’ve given my children anything at all.
Sometimes, when my son’s teacher calls just to tell us how well he’s doing, my heart expands with joy, and I whisper a thank you to the One above.
Sometimes, when the nights are punctuated with cries from a feverish child and a ravenous infant, when I never seem to be able to lie down long enough to fall into a truly satisfying sleep, I count the years until my nights -- and days -- will be my own again.
Sometimes, when we go on a family trip, and my eyes linger over each exuberant child, and I revel in our togetherness, I want to stop the clock and hold onto this stage of life forever.
Sometimes, when we sit at the Shabbos table, and I listen to the complaints about the seating arrangements, and the complaints about the icky challah that I spent half an afternoon making, and the complaints about who was chosen to arrange the cold cut platter this week, I think back to my teenaged dreams of how my Shabbos would look, and my spirit is crushed.
Sometimes, when my kids sing Shabbos songs together, hands thumping the table, voices soaring, faces glowing, I’m sure the angels are singing along.
Sometimes, when I tell a child to do something, and he keeps up with whatever it was he was doing before, as if I don’t even exist, I want to curl up in a little ball and cry from frustration.
Sometimes, when my children and I get into a discussion about life, and they hang onto my every word, I get overwhelmed by the knowledge that I’m molding souls.
Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, and see the waistline expanded by carrying five children, and the bloodshot eyes, and the skirt stained with peanut butter, I dream of a different me.
Sometimes, when I scoop up my hysterically crying baby, and she instantly calms down, the reflection of me that I see in her eyes is more than I could ever be on my own.
Sometimes, I wish sometimes was all of the time.
This article originally appeared in The Front Page.