Today, while driving my kids to the playground in the next community over (the only thing I could motivate to do on this 169th Day of Passover vacation in Israel), I found myself in deep discussion with them about Jesus and parenting.
Two topics I know almost nothing about, but pretend like I do, sometimes.
The conversation began with my realization that today is Easter Sunday.
You wouldn’t know from the look of things around here that Jesus died for our sins in this neck of the woods some 2000 years ago. This is what it’s like to live in the boonies of the Jewish State.
Easter is just another Sunday in Spring.
I don’t know much about Jesus, and I certainly told at least three partial untruths, unintentionally contributing to the spread of blood libel I’m sure. But it all made for an interesting enough diversion to keep the backseat from being a war zone for five minutes.
If that’s not a Passover mitzvah, I don’t know what is.
It’s been a long, tough school break.
One that only looks perfect in pictures.
The last 16 days is the longest I’ve been alone with my kids since I went back to work full-time two years ago.
And I haven’t even been alone that whole time. I’ve been lucky enough to have my mother in town visiting; my in-laws taking over for a day or two; and my husband around for the Seder and the weekends.
In the days leading up to the long break, I mentally prepared. I even convinced myself all this time alone with them was going to be kinda fun. I must have forgotten the agony of those long holiday vacations back in America when I was a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom. And I completely forgot a basic life lesson:
16 days together with anyone — no matter who, no matter how much you like them — is TOO LONG AND ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU HATE YOURSELF, AND EVERYONE ELSE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ADORABLY CUTE BABIES AND BUNNIES.
No, this vacation wasn’t perfect, and made me doubt at times my parenting, my career, and our decision to move to Israel.
But it wasn’t without its moments. Teaching moments. Learning moments. Loving moments.
Like the moment today after we finished talking about Jesus and the Jews.
We had just entered the gated community with the cool playground.
I openly admired the houses there. One in particular with solar panels across the roof, a fat wooden tree house in the shaded backyard, and a porch swing gently embraced by flowering vines.
“Wow. Look at that house. I want to live there when I grow up,” I said aloud mindlessly, still in my imaginary future.
“But, Mommy, you are already grown up,” stated the middle son, who depending on the day can be both the wise, the simple, and the son who did not know how to ask.
“True,” I said. “But, the part they don’t tell you in school, is that you are always growing up. That’s basically, I’m afraid, your life’s work.”
Groans and denials from the back seat as we arrived at the playground.
“What are you talking about?
“Grownups get to decide everything!”
(After 169 days together, you could say that a few punishments have been handed out and threats thrown around.)
“You think they teach parenting at school?” I pressed my kids, cranking my neck around to give them my most serious, yet loving advice face. “Every single decision I make when I’m with you guys is a potential HUGE mistake, or at the very least a big, fat lesson for me to learn for next time. I’m growing up the same as you! Living, learning, figuring stuff out.”
I park the car.
And then they open the doors and run off to swing from a rope tied to a tree.
So much for teaching moments.
I start to say something to them — to shout at them from the open window.
“Did you hear me?!
But I can’t quite get out the words.
I’m too busy growing up.