I love Jewish holidays. Lots of rules, rituals, customs. Things that you have to do and things that you really shouldn’t do. Structure. A schedule. A routine. Clear expectations. Eat a round, raisin challah on Rosh Hashanah and you have a week-ish to scarf it down to your repenting heart’s content before Yom Kippur’s kitchen open sign flips over to close. Ignite one of eight single wicks progressively at the beginning of each new night of Hanukkah and extinguish the candle with more than one wick at the end of Shabbat.
On the other end of the spectrum are those holidays with a wide open field of dreams. It is on each of us to plan, fill the day, meet unsaid expectations. Raise the bar from the previous year. Be the talk of the town. Plan a blow out bash and count down from ten to one to acknowledge a new secular year and a flip of the new year’s calendar page. Celebrate the football game of all games in a “super”, over the top, high caloric, who makes the best nosh sort of way. Valentine’s Day. All dependent on the other person in a relationship to plan. Besides the fact you need a partner to celebrate the holiday. Which leads me to one of my less favorite holidays of the year that falls into the latter category. Mother’s Day.
I am the event planner in our house for all holidays, made up and real ones. Birthdays, full and half. Family outings and family nights in. As the dollar bill says, “In God We Trust”. Each May all I can do is throw a small prayer up above that my family will pick up the reins when I put them down on the ground for this one day celebrating me, the person that helped make us a family, 9 months at a time. In my family I sorta trust.
And in this outlier year of quarantine, I assumed it would continue to be in line with previous years. My normal glass half full attitude was poked full of leaking holes. My bar was set so low it would need a crowbar to pry it loose.
But I’m happy to say, Quarantine Mother’s Day 2020 rose to the top of my list of all time favorite memories. My family rose to the occasion.
Since in quarantine, I sit down to eat breakfast with my children most mornings instead of grazing while packing school lunches. Therefore, my eldest daughter knew exactly what to put on the menu for my special holiday breakfast in bed. “Here Mommy. Here is your spoon of peanut butter. And I told daddy to let you add your own extra stuff to your coffee since I know you like it exact”.
And not one eye roll all day when I repeatedly pulled out my phone to snap a pic on my ongoing quest to document quarantine. You know, photos of my three children whose slick dance moves are documented with TikTok and countless selfies on Instagram with that goofy fishy face. Cue Mommy’s eye roll.
My three children didn’t even visibly show their reluctance as they tore their attention away from their electronic devices to do whatever task I asked to spend time together. Some combo of kiddos kickboxed to a workout video, started the sourdough starter, whipped up the latest trend in whipped coffee drinks, and did a photo shoot for a future blog (the youngest posing with rolls of toilet paper and the other two snapping photos).
And my husband asked me at least three times from the warm inside of our Midwest home, that even though it was in the low forties with gale force winds (snow in the forecast at one point) he would gather the kids to leave the house and go on a walk (one of my favorite activities). He offered up this activity with a P.S. of little complaining from the participants (coupled with a stink eye focused on my nine year old son). I passed all three times but the gesture was certainly appreciated.
My middle daughter apologized for not having any presents. I said her presence is present enough. But this year it was more than that. Being home in quarantine all these weeks stuck on top of each other and underfoot, life has slowed down. Family dinners instead of middle school basketball practice, family movie nights instead of running off to a volunteer committee meeting. We are re-getting to know one another. Noticing each other. This Quarantine Mother’s Day my family used what they noticed about me these past few weeks to show their appreciation. And I took notice with appreciation.
I learned a valuable lesson this Quarantine Mother’s Day. I will look at future Mother’s Days differently, remembering the gift my family gave me: in my family I trust.
I hope you had a good Quarantine Mother’s Day 2020.
This blog post is by Jennifer Saber. Jennifer, who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is Shutaf’s Educational Development Consultant, North America.