A few weeks ago my family and I were visiting extended family on Long Island. First thing Friday morning we loaded the kids in the car and by 7 a.m. we were on the road. With only stopping twice to pee and nurse the baby we managed to hit minimal traffic and rock out Pittsburgh to the Big Apple in under nine hours.
Since it is not humanly possible to visit the Land of Pizza and Bagels without indulging, we met up with co-contributing editor Adina and her family for THE WORLD’S BEST PIZZA (Umbertos, New Hyde Park).
I texted Adina that it hadn’t occurred to me but we might need to wait for a table. She texted back, “Let’s pray for 15 minutes, my girls might be monsters.”
We all piled into the entryway and did the hand-out-snacks-and-distract-the-kids dance until the hostess came over to tell us they accidentally seated another party at our table in the pizzeria so to make up for it they would seat us in the fancy part of the restaurant and allow us to order pizzas there.
So we schlepped twin 2-year-olds, and a 3-year-old and 10-month-old who hadn’t napped all day past white-clothed tables of childless couples sipping sparkling water and dining at their leisure. I’m pretty sure they were all horrified.
A Cheese Neapolitan, A Grandma Pie, and an order of spaghetti and meatballs combined with lots parental tag-teaming and we had an awesome dinner. The Daddies even took the brunt of the kid duties and allowed the Mamas to chat a little.
My son picked his nose and threw a piece of bread. The girls fished ice cubes out of fancy water goblets with their fingers and my baby turned aforementioned white linen tablecloth a nice marinara-shade of red, but what I remember most is how delicious the food was and how happy we all were to be together that Friday night.
As we left hours later walking past the same tables now serving different rounds of childless patrons, I was really proud of all our kids.
This summer I’ve especially come to appreciate the sentiment of togetherness. There have been many nights this year that I’ve lit the Sabbath candles alone with just my children. We are cherishing our summer weekends with family, friends, food, travel, and fun. Letting our children be children and finding joy in the chaos.
We haven’t been home to light candles very often but we’ve sung haMotzi over pizza crusts, churros, and tortilla chips. The sentiment of Shabbat is not lost, just redefined by spontaneity and togetherness.
Tonight we will be home for Shabbat. I told my son that we’ll need to walk over and get a challah for dinner. He looked at me and said, “Oh so we’re not going to pretend a hot dog bun is challah again tonight? Because that was fun.”
You’re right buddy, that WAS fun. Shabbat Shalom.