Following my latest Shabbat post, Avigayil pointed out that not everybody experiences Shabbat in the same way. The more I thought of it, the more I felt myself to be in agreement that indeed, for many Shabbat preparations and Shabbat itself is not a source of enjoyment, but rather, stress, rush and fatigue.
For almost the past 4 year now, ever since I was married, I have had the pleasure and liberty (and sometimes challenge and struggle) of being a stay-at-home wife and mother. I have also, temporarily, found myself working part-time, which did much to confirm my belief that I need to be home full-time in order to fully enjoy my occupation as a wife, mother and homemaker.
I can imagine that if I worked outside the home, I would not have time to do the necessary preparations throughout the week that make my Fridays so much less stressful - such as menu planning and freezer cooking. Also, I would get used to a child-free environment if my children weren't with me full-time, and then their noise and boundless energy would come as a shock every weekend.
If I met Shabbat after a week spent rushing here and there, I would not have the energy to host nicely set, pretty meals for my family, let alone guests. If I didn't have a moment's rest during the week, on Shabbat I probably would feel resentful towards my husband for resting after his tough week. Perhaps we'd spend most of the Shabbat squabbling over who takes more of the "chore" of being with the children.
What am I getting at? Essentially, that I'm not superior to anyone, not cleverer than anyone, nor do I have any great secret. Quite simply, to enjoy life at the fullest, as I perceive it, I need time. This is a gift I have had in abundance during the last 4 years - time for the important things. There were plenty of days when I went to bed exhausted, but I was mostly home, and my children were always with me. I didn't have to cope with the additional stress of shipping them off to an institution every day, so my husband and I could go our separate ways until evening.
And, if already we are speaking of the gift of time, perhaps this is a good opportunity to mention that our Shira turned 3 not long ago, and as I look at her, so healthy and beautiful, so lively, funny and curious, I am immensely thankful for being given the chance to simply be with her, and enjoy her, these past 3 years. Nothing, ever, is likely to make me regret the precious time spent with my children.