Marc is working more and more on Saturdays now.  Which sucks, for me, on a couple of different levels.  One being that it’s Saturday, Shabbat, and I like to spend the day with him and the kids, and the other being that it’s Saturday, and he’s not here to help me with the kids.  I’m doing religious school, dance, errands, everything else with all three kids and no Marc.

I woke up bright and early, and got all three kids up and dressed.  Mostly, sort of, fed.  We were out the door by eight, dropped Marc off at work and go to the synagogue nice and early.  We’re NEVER early for services, so that was actually kind of pleasant.  Except that the toddler service didn’t start until about twenty minutes later than it should have.  Jessie went upstairs to her classroom, but because Sam’s class was going to be coming downstairs to join the tot service with Julie and I, I just kept Sam with me.  After the toddler service, I went into the big sanctuary, and watched the last part of the bat mitzvah that was going on.

I’ve been officially Jewish for about five years now, and attending religious services for close to eleven years.  BUT, I’ve never actually attended a full service.  I’ve never not had a little kid there who’d start making noise.  I’ve spent hours in the lobby, hanging in the bathroom (they’ve got a big cozy couch in there for nursing and reading).  I’ve organized the playroom, and had story time in the lobby.  I’ve organized races in the big hall, and spent a lot of time reading articles posted on the bulletin boards.  But actually attending services, not so much.

I’m President of the Sisterhood now, and mostly I really love it.  And I’m trying hard to be more visible, more THERE.  Partly because I want to do it well, being President, partly because I want to make sure my kids see that Judaism is a lot more than just attending classes when you’re a kid.  And partly because I’m sensing, as I get older, and move out of the hugely hands-on portion of parenting, that there might be something to attending services.  I’m not sure, but would like to explore the option.  So I’m trying hard to actually get into the sanctuary, and be a part of what’s going on.

But with three kids, it’s not always feasible.  Fortunately – the kids keep getting older.  And yesterday – Jessie actually took Julianna out for a while, and let me sit with Sam and stay in services.  I still missed the vast majority of it, between attending the tot service, and Julie melting down and me having to spend another half hour in the bathroom trying to chill her out… but I made it longer than I ever have before.

There were a million people there yesterday – which didn’t help Sam feel at all okay.  He still struggles with anxiety, and big crowds are always going to make him uncomfortable.  He didn’t know exactly where I was all the time either, which added to his stress.  He wasn’t freaked out, just stressed.  Jessie was wonderful with him, not only did she get candy to bring him because he was too nervous to go get it with all the other kids, but when I finally got Julie happy enough to leave the bathroom, she was walking him thru the buffet line and helping him get food.  Once he saw me, he started crying, and it took some consoling, and a little chocolate, before he felt better.  I went to try and get him some food (nobody had really eaten anything) but it didn’t take long before he and Julie got into a fight and he set off looking for me, holding it together but only by a thread.  I gave up – and said goodbye and dragged my three kids, one sobbing, one whining and the other happily holding a sundae to go, out to the car.  Sam was so stressed and miserable at this point that he couldn’t even hear me talking, he was crying so hard, and he sobbed the whole way home.  Then winged himself in the eye with the seatbelt when he unbuckled at the house.  As I’m sure you can imagine, this did nothing to improve his mood.

It didn’t get appreciably better.  I got him calmed down and relaxed.  Got Jessie to dance class, and set off to Walmart to pick up Marc’s rx.  Then realized that I didn’t have the debit card/credit card in my wallet, had to leave.  Drove back to dance class, picked up the  girl, then remembered that nobody had eaten yet, and stopped for coffee/bagels.  Had an extra forty five minutes before we had to pick up Marc, and went to the library to get new books for kids.  Then we went to Home Depot, picked up Marc and stopped at Walmart (stupidly) to get the medication.  As any parent knows, taking a kid shopping when they’re exhausted and hungry is a recipe for disaster, and yeah, I relearned it again.

In the end, it turned out to be a lovely night.  After a considerable amount of tears and hysteria (Sam cried in the store, Jessie cried on the way home because Sam’s crying in the store embarrassed her, and Julie lost it once we got home because she had gone all day with no nap).  I got Girlfriend to go the bathroom, into jammies and teeth brushed and laid her down for bed.  Marc and I made dinner (trading off between cooking and childcare) and then the four us (minus sleeping Julie) sat together and watched Modern Family reruns until bedtime.

I don’t like Saturdays without Marc.  I don’t like doing this without him.  Not just because it’s harder to be the one parent with three kids, but because he’s my buddy and I’m sad and lonely without him on Saturdays.  And Sundays, because he’s working again today.

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