It was time to make more of an effort
What mother of young children has time to pray?
Not I, not when my children were small! I was a pushover for a bleating infant or a toddler’s tantrums. And mornings were such a rush: get everyone out to school, get myself to work. When was I supposed to daven?
On top of it, I was a baalas teshuvah, and even though I’d learned to pray, I was convinced (probably rightly so) that I was far slower than the women who’d davened every morning of their Bais Yaakov careers. And I was idealistic enough to think prayer should be concentrated on rather than mumbled at the speed of light.
I ferreted out the most lenient opinion — which said a woman is only required to recite a full Shema every day — and stuck to that (it was a Sephardic opinion, so don’t try it without asking your own LOR).
But when my kids got big and self-sufficient, I ran out of excuses. Life was still busy — work, phone calls, grandchildren. But it was time to make more of an effort. I started davening in the mornings and found it satisfying. It focused my mind on Hashem, and my priorities in life.
I prayed every morning… with the exception of Fridays. Who had time on Friday, especially in the winter when Shabbat comes in at 4:10? How could I possibly pull off two four-course meals for family and guests, get the house in order, and also pray?
What finally flipped the switch was something I read. A new baalas teshuvah was hanging out in the home of a woman with ten children. When the woman told her she prayed every day, she gasped, “How do you do it?”
The woman shrugged. “Who can’t find ten minutes a day?” she replied.
That was the remark that demolished my excuses. Ten minutes! Ten sounded so easy, so manageable. How often, even on a Friday, did I waste ten minutes taking an unnecessary phone call, checking my email, peeking at a book I’d been reading? Why couldn’t I give Hashem the same priority?
Okay, my davening usually took longer than ten minutes. But maybe I could (ouch) get out of bed a few minutes earlier.
So, I started praying on Fridays, too. I learned that everything manages to get done anyway — even in the winter. Yes, there’s still the occasional Friday when life is so hectic it gets lost in the shuffle, like when I’ve stayed up late helping a daughter with her newborn, and then her two-year-old wakes up early and needs breakfast, and after that, my husband comes home from shul and everybody else has to eat. After I clean up the Cheerios and spilled milk from the floor and get the toddler to gan, I get a call from someone I absolutely need to interview who can only talk that morning. And then it’s 11:30, and I haven’t put a blessed thing on the stove yet….
But for the most part I try to pray first thing, and I feel good about it: It leaves me with a sense that there’s more to Fridays than cooking and cleaning. After all, isn’t connecting to Hashem what it’s all about in the first place?
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 758)
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