It was only two short weeks ago (three? four?) that life still seemed relatively normal.
On a daily basis, I could hear myself saying:
“You’re hiking where? For how many days?”
“Are you coming home this weekend?
“Please be careful on your way back from Eilat. No, really.”
“Yes, you can have the car. Where are you going?”
“You’re climbing what?”
“You’re rappelling from where???”
“Sure, you can have five friends over tonight to watch a movie.”
“Yep, the poike pot is free. Just please clean it out this time.”
And on and on. I look back on those days and the worries of a typical mother of teenagers and feel wistful. I would give anything to have those sleepless nights back, hoping to hear the footsteps of the teenage driver at a decent hour; hoping this one doesn’t lock that one out; hoping the hike went well or the test was aced or the school trip was fun.
And now, we are all inside.
All eight of us watching the rainy or sunny world go by, as we try to create some kind of schedule for the younger kids and help the older ones to schedule themselves. As we create sign up sheets for who is cooking lunch and dinner, for who gets to use the treadmill when, and for whose Bnei Akiva group is meeting on Zoom right now.
And now the questions I ask as a mother include:
“Did you wash your hands recently? No really.”
“Who is making lunch today?”
“Can we get by for one more day without going to the grocery store? I really don’t want anyone leaving the house today.”
“Who left this puzzle half-finished on the table?”
“Did you wash your hands?”
“Can you give me just another five minutes to try to get some work done?”
“Who wants to play a game?”
“Whose turn is it to do the dishes/empty the dish washer/do the laundry/fold the laundry?”
“Please stop playing video games on the iPad.”
“Can you stop doing flips off of the couch for a few minutes?”
My old worries have vanished. No one is taking the car, or tremping home; no one is losing their basketball games, climbing mountains or planning exciting ski trips.
No one is doing anything.
Now, I’ve finally got everyone under one roof. A mother’s dream come true! The three kids who live out of the house during the week are all home. The front door is locked virtually all the time.
And the irony, of course, is that it’s no dream come true.
I adore my children and relish having them all home. I’m actually really enjoying this time to spend with them and the chance to be together.
But while all of my old worries have vanished, they have been replaced, of course, by new and very different ones.
There are worries about our physical health, and that of our families so far away; there are worries about how to keep the kids emotionally healthy in the weeks…perhaps many weeks…to come; there are worries about getting over the disappointment of missing out on the last three months of high school, of missing out on those last precious months of freedom before the army, of missing and missing and missing.
There are worries about not getting sick.
My old worries were, for the most part, out of my control.
My new worries are, for the most part, out of my control.
In my old life, I would count the days until I could get all of my kids under one roof; until they would all be home for those golden 25 hours over Shabbat and we could shower them with love and enjoy time together.
In my new life, we are all together 24 hours a day and I ache for the kids; I ache for the day when I will be able to release them back to their structured, organized lives, or back to their chaotic, colorful and dynamic lifestyles. I can’t wait to release them.
The ironies are not lost on me.