I love lists. Mostly, I love to cross things off lists. In truth, sometimes I put things I have already done on my list of things to do, just so I can cross it off and feel accomplished. However, these days, my to-do list is getting unmanageable.
In all honesty, it is actually my to-do lists, including the one on my phone, the one on my laptop, the Post-It note scribbled by the side of my bed reminding me to pack the acrobatics clothing and show ‘n tell stuff for the letter ‘K’ tomorrow. (Side note: ‘K’ is harder than you may think for show ’n tell. I mean, what starts with a ‘K’ that actually has a ‘K’ sound, other than king?)
Back to my to-do lists. Here’s my list of super-important stuff I need to do, like:
Make sure I nurture all of my children’s skills and talents, obviously without making them feel pressured to perform.
Be a loving and supportive wife.
Stay on top of my teaching career.
Try and make my home a spiritually uplifting and emotionally supportive haven for my family.
Be calm and happy.
Find meaning and gratitude in every moment of my day.
I feel totally overwhelmed by how much I am supposed to be doing – as a mother, as a wife, as a Jew, as a human. I might even have to add ‘have a nap’ to my to-do list.
Meanwhile, when I go onto social media, read articles online, or pass people while dropping my kids off at school (late of course), it seems like everyone else has it all together. I am sure they all woke up at 5am, spent 15 minutes in grateful meditation, before a brisk 10km jog, came home, showered, prayed meaningfully, and prepared a healthy breakfast of chia seed pudding and organic kale smoothies for their children.
They then calmly woke up their children and fed them, while discussing appropriate current events, then drove them to school, passing out homemade sandwiches and coffee to the beggars on the road, all without breaking a sweat.
I won’t give you a minute-by-minute rundown of what mornings look like in my house, but suffice it to say, it’s nothing like the above scenario.
There’s only one day a week where I don’t have a list of things I am supposed to be doing. I have a million and one things I do before Shabbos, but, as I light candles on Friday night, the stress and insanity – and, make no mistake, the constant pressure we put on ourselves to out-busy each other is insanity – somehow falls away. No matter how hectic my Friday was (and no matter how late or early candle lighting is, it’s literally a sprint to the finish line), it somehow all fades away as I stand in front of the candles. I’m done with doing for the week – I can finally just be.
Shabbos is the one day a week where I get to turn off my phone and computer and stop this endless race to perfection we all seem to have signed up for – and just be. For 25 hours, I suddenly feel like I am good enough. My house isn’t perfect, I didn’t cook all the food I wanted to. I have a slight suspicion that I forgot to put salt into my cholent pot, and I’ve just realised that I forgot to pick up the flowers I ordered for the table. But, somehow, it never really seems to matter. On a physical level, we’re racing up on a downward escalator – the perfection we seek is forever out of our reach. But Shabbos is a soul day, and my soul, and your’s – they’re actually perfect. It’s the one piece of us that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. How could it not be? It is literally a teeny piece of G-d.
During the week, we are too busy racing around like lunatics, feeding this insane notion that if we keep doing, we will become perfect and have these perfect lives. But life’s not like that. This crazy world we live in is imperfect and so are we. Except for our souls. We often live our lives completely forgetting the piece of us within that’s perfect. On Shabbos, for me, the curtains part – and my soul peeks out for a wave. “I’m here,” it seems to say, “I’m what really matters. And you, my friend, the human being who is housing me for the duration of my journey on this earth – you are okay too.”
I have six days a week to do – to change myself and the world and make it better – for myself, for my family, for humanity. On Shabbos, I just am – and who I am is a spark of G-d. That’s the only kind of perfection I am ever going to reach, and the only kind of perfection that I need. Honestly, for me, that’s my takeaway from Shabbos – that I’m good enough.
Temmi Hadar was born and raised in Seattle in a family of 10, Temmi Hadar is currently living in Joburg trying to stay sane and spiritual as a wife, mother, teacher, rebbetzin and human.