It's Saturday night and I'm tired. Not just because Y and A had strep, which I seem to have caught, not to mention that M has an ear infection. It's because today was shabbos which is a very busy day in the life of a rabbi's wife (but really most Jewish women). Last night we had 9 guests at our table for a 4 course meal cooked by yours truly. It was a fun meal and they left at 9 45, leaving behind stacks of dirty dishes, glasses and lots of crumbs. Today we went to shul and then spent the afternoon at home trying to entertain three very bored children.
Once shabbos was over, I put on a DVD for my kids and got to work. I did 2 loads of dishes in the dishwasher and washed the rest of the stuff, that didn't fit, by hand. I picked up the books, newspapers and toys off the floor and swept the living and dining rooms. I wiped down my counters and took out all the trash and recycling. I forced antibiotics down three little throats (with some help from their dad) and then I put them to sleep (the kids, not the throats).
And now my apartment is clean again. And it's nice and quiet. I do feel accomplished, although my next step is to start making lists for Purim. Lest you think I am unique, I can assure you this goes on in many a Jewish household every Saturday night.
I always think about this dichotomy. On the one hand I feel like I do so much for my family. On the other hand I know that every other Jewish mother does pretty much the same, so my accomplishments seem like they are nothing special. Just doing my job after all. I am slowly starting to realize that one thing doesn't invalidate the other. While it is true that thousands of women spend hours preparing for shabbos every week- shopping, cooking, cleaning, serving, etc. - I do it for my family in my own unique way and that deserves some sort of acknowledgement/praise. My husband makes a point of thanking me at every meal (except for last night when he forgot-ahem...) which is nice. I think, though, that I also need to acknowledge to myself that all the little things I do- the meals, the clean up, the dishes, the 40 ppl descending upon our apartment next Friday night (did I mention that yet), they all add up to something greater. It all matters.
I know this sounds all spiritual/happy. Trust me, I am not always so happy and smiley when I am scrubbing my pots or cleaning chickens, but it is a greater perspective I try to keep at the back of my mind at least some of the time. I wonder if there is some sort of emoticon or internet shorthand for patting yourself on the back ;)