Finding myself in the Middle East

Thursday, March 5, 2009

...Just as the Little Boy had Known it Would

"She tried to press coffee and cake on her guests."

I read that line in a book (Herman Wouk) and although it had next to nothing to do with the story, it leaped up off the pages and wrapped itself around my brain. Because. Those guests were unexpected. They just walked right in. Which means that she had cake (homemade, too) ready and waiting to serve.

I want cake and muffins and homemade bread in my freezer. I want to serve three course meals, each course delicious as well as nutritionally balanced. (I also want a 18-inch waist to wrap my apron around, but this is about me being ALTRUISTIC, not thinking just ABOUT MYSELF. So I will not even MENTION the waist desire.)

It's like when we write up a Schedule of the Week. And on paper I am totally cleaning the toilet like, every time I walk into the bathroom, and the couches every second, and laundry before it even hits the bottom of the hamper, and sponja? I will finally go to my Israeli neighbor and get instructions on how to do a real one. The kind where you use 4 inches of water and spray it down soapy and grey onto unsuspecting passerbys because that's how it is done. And that's how we've been doing it for 4,000 years, and that's how it must always be done. (That's one of the problems of being a member of a really, really REALLY long-lived race. Whatever bright new ideas you have, you can bet that someone and his camel had the same idea. 2,000 years ago. And it failed. Miserably. And everyone will delight in telling you so.)

And then you are (using "you" instead of "I" for A) literary style B)avoiding personal humiliation) too tired in the morning because you woke up from the interesting sound that is a combination of Princess climbing into Coco-pop's crib and landing on her sleeping face and the new neighbors starting construction at 6:45 in the LORD'S HOLY MORNING (the sound is sort of like a banshee meeting a woodchopper) and then one of the babies (you babysit in the morning because you are masochistic) shrieking from the moment his smiling mother left until his smiling mother returned.

So there went the morning, and thoughts of laundry and homemade bread.

The afternoon is a whirl of Princess painting on the walls and Coco-pop's hair. Then they go into bath and bed kicking and screaming and with 3 gallons of milk ("a little teen tiny teeeeeeeny little bit more, Ima?") Dinner is put together on an express train, you straighten up the disaster left in your girlies' wake and wipe the paint off of the walls, and then wave at the laundry detergent and sponja stick in a friendly but slightly distant way on the way to bed.

But really, that was the parenting magazine version of your day. Like, "Stumbling to the coffee machine, I brewed my breakfast." If you were to be completely honest with yourself, there are many many many moments in between. Like when Princess curled up on the couch and read a book out loud to Coco-pop. Coco-pop napping, and Princess dragging a stool and a box of toy dishes to the kitchen counter, and you knowing that that would be the perfect time to bake something with her.

I'm thinking about all this because it is a week before Rosh Hashana, the new year, and I am thinking about what to take on myself that will be different from all of the grand plans written up so neatly in my journals, year after year after year. A wise person once told me that you should think about what you want to take upon youself, and then cut it in half. Then cut it in half again. And one more time. Make it so small that it will actually slip into your soul and take root.

So. Making homemade bread once a week (18-inch waist, anyone?) and all other symbols of being the perfect wife and mother must be chopped and chopped and then chopped again. The only changes that take root are the teeeeeny tiny ones.

I hope that, like seeds, they grow.

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