Another year found yet another frazzled me. My husband got home too close to comfort (but, hey, at least he was able to leave his Blackberry at home!), the kids did not do their pre-yom tov jobs, I wanted to finish Yonah, they did not, I was worrying about my cold and fasting, and whether there is enough food, and whether I will make it to shul.
Next thing I knew, the final meal was served, it was after candlelighting, I realized that I did not set the timer in the living room properly, and I forgot to light a yortzait candle for my father. I crawled into bed, tired.
The next morning, we all walked to shul together for 8:30 minyan. I thought it was brilliant, they have babysitting, I will catch shacharit before Yizkor and then head home with the kids. As soon as I was done with the silent amidah, I got light-headed. I ended up sitting for most of chazzan's repetition, focusing on not passing out and lasting till Yizkor. After Yizkor, I went to gather the kids. The boys did not join the youth groups for davening (this is not our regular shul), and they could not locate the library books that they brought to read. 2 yo wanted to stay, the boys wanted to go. 8 yo nixed his lunch since his sister took his lunch bag and he was not about to eat lunch out of a princessy bag (the contents was exactly the same). On the way home, I got an earful about how he wanted to go to our regular shul's groups since he gets Pokemon cards there and now he missed on a batch. I did not handle that one well.
When we got home, I collapsed, to be woken up with requests for lunch. I told them which shelf in the fridge contained food. Afterwards I was told that they had peanut butter with corn chips and sliced cucumbers. Then the boys entertained themselves for a nice long while. Not all of their entertainment was quiet, though. My husband came home with a sleeping 2 yo later. She did not nap for long, and woke up really cranky. 6 yo tried cheering her up, bu that produced even more noise.
Just around the corner was dinnertime. Apparently, cold noodles were not too appealing, but they worked in a punch, I even got the kids to clean up the whole table and put everything in the fridge. Then there was more running and more fighting and more screaming. Through all of this time, I was trying to read "One Special Prayer" about the service in the Beit Hamikdash on Yom Kippur. Even though the book is billed for young adults, I found it very fascinating and informative. At some point, after I sent everyone to get pjs on, 8 yo came over and asked me to read the next chapter out loud. It happened to be about the goats and the lottery. Now, to backtrack, I tried to engage the boys in some learning earlier in the day. I offered to finish Yonah and was rejected. I asked whether they knew about the "two mehhhs" meaning the two goats. That led to a few guesses, and then a complaint from an 8 yo about how we can be so cruel to animals. I probably did not offer the best answer to that one, lying on the couch in near-darkness (messed-up living room light). So when they climbed into my bed (next to a window with twightlight streaming in) and eagerly listened to the next chapter, containing quite technical descriptions and no pictures on the majority of pages, I was a bit surprised. I liked that one of the kids in the book also asked about why the poor goat has to be thrown off the cliff. 6 yo made a joke about "ish iti" ( a person who accompanied the goat). We learned that he was offered food along the path to the desert. I did not know this at all. 6 yo said, that's why he was called "ish eat-i"!
They asked for the next chapter, after which they willingly allowed me to tuck them in. Goodwill prevailed again.
Although I wish I squeezed even more meaning from the Yom Kippur, I think that ending it on a high note with the kids was meaningful in its own way. They will learn what they want to learn and when they want to learn it. I feel that this lesson is being taught to me again and again.