> Family > Heart of Matter


May 8, 2009 | by Emuna Braverman

I don't know about you, but keeping my kids happy on Sundays is a major challenge.

Sundays -- you can't live with'em, you can't live without'em –- like teenagers, spouses, and parents!

When we spent a year in Israel, where Sunday is just another work day -- I dreamed of those Sundays in America –- family excursions, trips to the beach, picnics, barbecues.

But now living here in Los Angeles, facing Sunday after Sunday of bored children, and birthday parties, and carpooling, and dance lessons, and carpooling, and gymnastics classes, and carpooling, and family excursions, and trips to the beach, picnics, barbecues ... I am ready to pull out my hair (which would not actually be as traumatic as it sounds, since it is covered.)
Sundays have become a challenge.


When we first returned to the States from Israel, 16 years ago, we decided to treat Sunday as another day of the week. In the land of Israel, Sunday is just the first day of the week and treated completely normally. This seemed to me a productive idea so I tried to implement it here. My husband would go to work. I would stay home with all the children. It wasn't the American dream but it seemed to suit my sense of priorities. I guess I'm not as tough as I thought I was. Peer pressure was against me. No other mothers were alone with their children. No other husbands were at the office. Soon I found out why.

Peer pressure was against me. No other mothers were alone with their children with husbands at the office.

The Almighty in His infinite wisdom gave me nine children, each with his/her own needs and desires. "Can you take me to the library?" "Can you take me to the mall?" "Can I have a friend over?" "Can we ride bikes at the beach?" "Can we have ice cream?" "Can we go to Disneyland?"

I'm afraid to set foot outside my bedroom door because I'm jumped on by a clamoring crowd as soon as I appear. What's a frazzled mother to do?


I agree to the baking of cupcakes. Not just the baking but the icing. Not just the icing but the decorating with tiny colored sprinkles that continue to make their appearance in the nooks and crannies around the kitchen for weeks to come.

  • I agree to pancakes for breakfast, if someone else makes them and if someone else cleans up. (Am I really so naïve?)
  • I agree to a science experiment – as long as no fire is involved.
  • And I agree to all the friends over, including one visiting hamster.
  • What I don't ever agree to, at least not overtly, is the mess.


    Did you ever see the movie Baby Boom? After feeding her new child spaghetti and sauce and after watching this infant plaster the walls with it, the heroine exclaims "It would be easier to move." That's how I feel every Sunday afternoon around four.

    There are still a few pots left soaking from Shabbos. There are breakfast dishes, lunch dishes, baking implements, stacks of cups from the countless drinks, and a few items commandeered in the name of science.

    Sometimes I just pray for the cleaning lady to show up Monday morning.

    Sometimes I'm able to maintain my good humor and just pray for the cleaning lady to show up Monday morning. And other times ... well, other times, all those parenting principles I know so well and teach with such integrity, and write about with such authority, seem to disappear in a wave of resentment and frustration.


    I'm open to any solution. How do others get through Sundays? How do you keep children of varied ages happy without spending your life's savings? How do you maintain your sanity and modicum or order? Or how do you ignore the mess?
    Just when I am contemplate making aliyah to Israel solely to escape this dilemma, I stop.

    I remember the opportunity I have on Sundays –- the chance to have special time with each of my children –- a trip t o a book store with one, a shopping expedition with another, pushing a little one on the swings and watching another master her two-wheeler. And I see what a pleasure and joy each of them is individually.

    I remember the opportunity I have on Sundays –- the chance to have special time with each of my children.

    We go to the beach and the ocean is majestic and the color is calming and the mood is relaxing. I appreciate our world. We come home and my husband lights the barbecue (suburbia in the big city) and it's cozy and homey and I'm grateful for my family and our time together.

    And I wouldn't trade my Sundays –- and those special moments, and those delicious cupcakes, and those faces smudged with icing -- for anything in the world.

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