Tomorrow is my every-so-often date with jumping up on the bimah to do my thing. My “thing”, in this case, is playing gabbai sheni (the “second” gabbai, the person who corrects the Torah reader, as opposed to gabbai rishon who calls out the honors and coaches the folks through what they ought to be doing). For the first time in a long time, I’m flying solo with the kids for the whole day tomorrow, as the wife’s going to a local Autism conference, my in-laws are out of town, and my folks are just a bit too far away to cover.
I should mention that this is with the caveat that the Monster’s actually being dropped off at “Parents’ Day Out” before I head to shul.
Yes, I’ve mentioned that our congregation has a quiet room, which is a Wonderful Thing. I’d rarely get to synagogue at all without it, and as it is, I spend much of the services at High HolyDays in there rather than in my much-more-comfortable seat in the sanctuary, if only because the Monster’s not… calm enough to stay out there for long periods of time. (And, granted, much of the congregation knows us and about the Monster having Autism. If they don’t know us… they’re kind of oblivious, between everything our family does there.) But I can’t leave both kids alone in there while I’m on the bimah – that’s just not fair to anyone (and it’s a violation of the quiet room rules, to boot). Nor can I really manage both children while I’m supposed to be on the bimah. The wife had an offer from a friend to have her daughter watch the baby while I’m up there, and so it’ll be a quick run in the morning to drop off the Monster, then over to shul, then back to pick him up and head home once my little duty is done.
And I feel awful about it.
To me, going to synagogue is supposed to be about both religion and family. (As I wait for folks who knew me in my pre-marriage days to chime in with the fact that I used to go every week by myself just fine without the latter… and yes, I used to go a lot more. It is more complicated when you have kids.) And I feel like something of a failure for not only having to admit that I can’t really go to shul alone with the kids if I’m going to be on the bimah, much less feeling that I can’t handle both kids in a religious space without help. Even if that last bit isn’t quite true – I could handle them just fine, as long as I’m resigned to sitting in the quiet room – it’s still an impression I’m working on.
Just a lot of ‘ifs’ in my head about going to synagogue in general with the Monster. If I could figure out how to explain to him that he needs to be quiet (without food bribes). If I could explain in a way he’d understand about how beautiful the religion is, how meaningful it can be. If I could teach him to read Hebrew so he could daven along with everyone else. And of course, these are all really more ‘if I could right this moment’ – I have confidence he’ll learn it all eventually…
I know God knows what I’m feeling, why I feel that way, and forgives me for my feeling like a failure. I wish I was so understanding.