For the past four years, I’ve either been pregnant or nursing on Yom Kippur, so I got a pass on the whole fasting thing. Yes, I was that super classy pregnant woman waddling her way out of services every couple of hours so I could hide behind the building and scarf down my nuts and cheese and take long, satisfying gulps from the water bottle I had hidden in my purse. It felt so wrong, and yet so, so right.
But this year is different. I’m not knocked up and I haven’t needed a nipple pad in months. (Can I get a Hallelujah here, people?) But the joy of having my body back is somewhat tempered by the Big YK. I’m supposed to fast this year.
And I’m not going to.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be chowing down on pasta or burgers, and I’ll summon the willpower to steer clear of the coffee maker and the Chunky Monkey. But I will be snacking from time to time, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. Probably not.
The thing is, I’m a crappy faster. Within a few hours of my last meal or sip of water, I get grumpy and snappy, and by mid-afternoon, I’m downright bitchy. I lose patience and composure, and my problem-solving skills pretty much disappear. I can generally make it through the day when all I have to do is sit alone in contemplation. But this year I’ll be running around with a husband who fasts (and cooks while fasting) with a smile on his face, and a preschooler and a toddler who will be eating every two or three hours. You can imagine how well that’ll go for all of us.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t bail on fasting just because it’s going to be hard. (Well, probably not.) I just can’t imagine that G-d expects parents of young children to fast. Or maybe G-d couldn’t care less, and s/he’s laughing at all of us who are making such a big deal out of this. Either way, and from what I can tell, the whole point of fasting is to be present in your body, in the moment, to fully experience and repent for the sins of the individual and the community. The reality is, I’m going to spend the day herding my little cats from home to the kids’ services, back home again in time for lunch and naptime, and hopefully back to shul in time for the break-fast. There will likely be some suffering in there, but I’m not anticipating a whole lot of time to just sit and be present, to meditate on how and when I have missed the mark in the past year, where I have room for improvement.
I’m not bailing on all of Yom Kippur, though. Josh and I are ditching the kids on Friday night to go to Kol Nidrei services (we Jews really know how to rock date nights), and I’m hoping to take advantage of nap time on Saturday to spend some time on my own, thinking about what I have done this past year, and how I can do it better in the future. That might even include fasting next Yom Kippur.