The unexpected perks of not having reading material

For the second week in a row, I have found myself without any new reading material for Shabbos.  Since those wintry Friday nights are so long, it’s a great pleasure of mine to curl up with a blanket and a book (and maybe some cookies).  Lately, though, I’ve been stymied by my own lack of planning.  The books I currently own are not enticing to me at the moment, and so I’ve felt a bit of anxiety, dread and impending boredom as I think about all the time I could be spending reading that I will be, well, not reading.

A curious thing has happened during these bookless weeks.  Two curious things, really.  The first one is that without the pressure of my overwhelming desire to read something stimulating or entertaining, I actually got down on the floor and played with my kids.  That kind of active involvement has long been a struggle for me, and having a book to read has only perpetuated the challenge.

So yesterday, since I wasn’t engrossed in a book, I made a spectacular lego house with Little Man AND helped the baby stack some blocks (fine motor skills, here we come!).  I arranged a playdate for Little Man with a neighbor boy.  We looked at and discussed pictures from a big book of Monet’s artwork.  I held the baby while he drank his bottle.  We all got dressed before 9:30 a.m. (this is a major achievement for me on Shabbos).  I also spent a good amount of time with at least one child on my lap.  It was really, really satisfying.

The other pleasant surprise I experienced was finding out that I have great reading material in my house after all.  Remember the parsha?  Yeah, the one that happens every week?  A long, long time ago (like, six years or so), a rebbetzin suggested that I read the parsha every week.  That it would be good for me to stay connected with the what was going on in the Torah, especially after I had kids and wasn’t going to shul much (like right now).  I took that to heart, I really did.

Six years later, I barely open the Chumash.  In fact, when I have other reading material (even frum magazines or what have you), I barely even think about the Chumash.

However, since I do have a compulsion to read something while eating, I ended up reading the parsha AND reading some of Rashi’s commentary, too (love that Sapirstein edition!).  It was also really, really satisfying.

Am I going to be able to keep these two wonderful things going once I do remember to get some reading material?  I sure hope so.  I think it’s a great example of how a situation which could have really put me into a bad mood ended up with a fabulous outcome.

Have you experienced a situation that seemed dreadful and turned out to be good? 

18 thoughts on “The unexpected perks of not having reading material

  1. I felt that way when our TV died. Now granted, I don’t watch much TV these days anyway. But I was so sad that we didn’t have the option. When after a while, it was sort of a relief not to have it there to watch.

    1. There’s something about losing an option which can be really scary. I think we have waaay too many options these days, though, so a little minimalism is good for us.

  2. This post is conjuring up all these memories of playing board games with my siblings on Shabbos afternoons, and always really, really hoping that either Imma or Abba would play with us, too. (They often did.) For us kids, any game was ten times better with Imma or Abba in the picture. I’m sure your kids felt that last Shabbos!

  3. I love this post. I only have one son, so I am fortunate in that my time isn’t so divided. My dude gets plenty of attention from his mama. In fact, sometimes I have to work on getting OFF the floor and going about my way to do things like plan lessons. (He’s just so interesting! And he’s 12, so the times that he actually WANTS me are becoming fewer and farther between.)

    That said, we tend to read the parsha during the week together. Because he is in the throes of studying for his Bar Mitzvah on Saturdays, these days, I like for him to be able to just relax. Honestly, relax. He is so busy every other day of the week. On these days, we play board games and read and chat. And, as you said, he visits neighbor friends. Hopefully, soon, he will be sledding in the backyard!

    Great post!

    1. You sound like a great mom, and he sounds like a great kid. I can’t even imagine Shabbos with older kids. Wait, I can’t imagine older kids at all. But now I have a nice mental image, so thank you!

  4. I remember when I friend of mine posted on facebook, “computer was broken yesterday. made three course meal and cleaned the oven!” It can be scary when our escapes break down on us; but strangely liberating and productive!

  5. Ooh.. that got me thinking. Since I teach, I always feel like I don’t invest enough energy into my kids. To make up for it, I “block off” the hours that I am home with them and focus on them. Suppose there are advantages… gotta blog about this one. Thanks for getting me thinking, Rivki.

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