Shalom. In English, that word just looks cheesy to me. As though it is more of an American Jewish Renewal word than a Hebrew one. And yet, I have found it increasingly useful in my day to day life. One Shabbos night, as I was trying to fall asleep, and failing (my increasing insomnia is perhaps another blog for another time), I started repeating the word Shalom over and over with every out breath. A type of meditation to calm my mind. But instead of letting my thoughts flow out with each breath, I was actually focusing more on more on what the heck it means. Why does Shalom mean hello, goodbye and peace. How can it mean all of those things? I'm sure greater minds than mine have pondered the question, but here's what came to me that night:
If in this moment I can embrace, accept, greet whatever is here, and at the same time, release, let go of, say goodbye, to whatever isn't necessary right now, then I have peace. For instance, right now I have exhaustion, cranky kids, and a small headache. I am accepting all that as what is here and not mine to control. I also have anxiety about taking out the kids tonight for hockey practice, guilt over putting the kids in front of the computer so I can take this moment to rest, and a house that could really use a good cleaning. I am letting all that go right now. That is not necessary in this moment. And so, I have Shalom. Peace. In this moment. But of course, in the next moment I will worry about dinner and so on. But Shalom is about this moment. And when the next moment comes, it will be that moment's turn for hellos, goodbyes and G-d willing, more peace.
It's constant. And exhausting in it's own way. But I know that if I somehow can keep it as a mindful practice, than it will be less effort and more natural.
My life in the last 24 hours has felt like a roller coaster. There was trying to pack and leave my house with three kids. Getting to Pittsburgh. The joy, and pain, of seeing friends that I love and miss terribly. Leaving my kids with my incredibly supportive in-laws so that I could finally have a night out. It has been a VERY long time. A few of my girlfriends got together (I had sent them one of my sos's saying I was in dire need of some good ole fashioned girl love) and boy did they spoil me! I felt so loved. So cared for. I reached out, they reached back, and that felt soooo good. Then I saw my husband and, through a miscommunication turned argument, all that flying high, crash landed me into the dirt. It's amazing how a full night of love and friendship can instantly evaporate through one bad argument.
When I got back to my in-laws I crawled in bed with my son and tried to pass out. Listening to his little murmurs (even at age seven the sounds of sleep are so beautiful) and feeling him stir, I put my arms around my child and felt peaceful again. I felt the love of my friends surround me again. In being able to love my child I was able to open up to the love going in and out of my heart. So in that moment I said hello to my heart full of love and let go of the pain of a few moments anger.
But the rollercoaster went around another bend and I didn't sleep at all. Those sweet sounds and twitches became a knife's edge bursting my dream bubbles. No sleep.
Morning came way to soon and somehow I managed to get all kids into the car by 9:30 without too much hassle. We all went potty, had our snacks and were on the road.
Fifteen minutes in, I'm chatting on the phone with my dad when I hear the dreaded words, "Mama, I have to poop." Everything crashed again. Ready to explode with unnecessary words like, "But I sat you on the potty fifteen minutes ago! Why didn't you go then?! What the hell is wrong with you?! Do you have any idea what it means for me to go into a gas station with three sleepy, pajama'ed kids and then get you all back into the car?!!!" No, she doesn't. She is three years old.
Lucky for me, before I could say any of those things, my father, still on the phone, said, "Tovah, surrender. There's nothing you can do." Shalom. There it was. Her needing to use the bathroom was out of my control. Hello three kids in the bathroom. Goodbye anger, annoyance, frustration. Hello standing in the freezing parking lot waiting for seven year old to change into pants to avoid embarrassment. Goodbye personal embarrassment at standing in the parking lot with two messy kids in not warm enough pajamas, waiting for their brother. Hello funny looks from all who watched my gleeful daughter run through the gas station store in feeties and boots. Goodbye apologetic look on my face to the spectacle that my family was in that moment. Hello taking turns holding the baby so we could all go just one more time. Goodbye to the anger at how long it took my daughter to actually poop. Shalom.
I was even able to fill up my tank, wash my windows, check my oil, and add a quart of it without a funnel. I was beginning to feel like a superstar. Driving down the highway, my husband even calls and we make amends. The youngest two are asleep almost the whole ride. The big boy reads himself chapter books in the back seat. I am Shalom Mama Rockstar!
And then we get home. My son instantly throws a full blown fit at having to clean his mess in the backseat. My baby wants chips so that he can throw them on the floor. My daughter wants all the toys in purses and hoarded away. The laundry is waiting. There's no dinner. Hockey practice is in a few hours. All the coffee in the world couldn't take away the fog in my brain.
I want to cry! They already got screen time this morning when they woke up at my in-laws. They even got to watch a movie last night. A good mom should tell them to go play while she rests. But the only way I know to get my kids off my back is to bribe them with more screen time. But only a bad mom would reward her son's tantrums with a movie. Only a bad mom would put her own rest above teaching her children proper lessons.
But in this moment, Hello to a hard life. Hello to being out here where I can't call my friends to take my kids for a few hours. Hello to the choice of losing it and showing my children impatience, anger, and meanness if even lightly triggered versus putting them in front of the computer and taking this time to take care of me, and showing them self-compassion. Hello to taking this good advice from my wise sister. Goodbye to self judgement. Goodbye to good mom versus bad mom. (Hello real life mom.) Goodbye to afternoon of fighting and yelling and pleading and crying and punishing. Hello to happy-ish kids and a more rested mama. Shalom.
And now we're back here in this moment. And it's a good moment. A peaceful moment. Shalom.
1. Aunt Faith and Uncle Chainsaw for being most kickass siblings in-law last night
2. Savta and Daddy Mike too
3. A night of love with my girls
4. Shalom moments