We slowly file into the already crammed hall where Yom Kippur family services were about to begin. The Rabbis and Cantors already on the bima, watching as their congregants fill up the room with gossip, head turning and growling stomaches. Older generations sitting with younger generations shushing even younger generations. Smiles received by the sulks of children forced to be there, away from things they’d rather be doing like being online or leaping and hopping after each other in the yard.
We take our seats and our teens sit in the row behind us because, as much as they don’t want to be in High Holiday services, they want to sit near us even less. And they are hoping that, because they are behind us, our eyes in the back of our heads won’t see them playing on their phones when they should be repenting for their teenagerisms.
The Cantor begins playing his guitar, signaling services are starting. Familiar Hebrew songs evoke memories of standing beside my parents, miserably uncomfortable in my new High Holiday outfit that was usually too warm for the early Fall, Indian Summer weather that we inevitably have this time of year.
I used to spend my time in services fighting with my sister or admiring the latest fashions the congregants donned, the prayer books couldn’t hold my attention. The holiday may be a serious time but it was always as much of a fashion show as New York Fashion week, each woman one upping the other. Intense business, finding an outfit fashionably fit for such an auspicious occasion such as the Jewish holiday.
Today, I looked around at our Temples congregants, familiar faces from forever ago. Only, instead of sitting, fidgeting beside their parents, their children were paybacks. Actually, all the children were very well behaved. Except mine, of course.
It was shocking to me, I’ve become my parents. It’s my turn to insist that my children stop talking and pay attention. It’s my turn to threaten to punish if the tantrum next to me or behind me doesn’t end. It’s my turn to dress up, but no, I don’t one-up. Not my style.
Men and women, once girls and boys that I grew up with. We are our parents now. Our children, us. The realization is somewhat shocking to me.
I turn to my husband and say “Remind me that I want to write about the fact that we are our parents over on my blog.” He laughs and proceeds to remind me after we got home from services and I had already started on this post.
I look at women who are my age, so grown up and mature looking. And I wonder if I look like them because I certainly don’t feel how they look. I feel like I should be sitting behind parents, embarrassed to be seen with them as opposed to who I am supposed to be…the parent. I shift uncomfortably in my clothing, far too warm for the room we are in. I compensate with my discomfort by hugging and kissing my little guy, the only one who isn’t embarrassed to be hanging with his parents.
How can we have children as old as we do when it’s impossible that we are that old?
Women, draped in diamonds and high(ish) fashion. Men in their expensive suits and male patterned(ish) baldness. So many of them, I knew way back when, simply acknowledged by a nod or a smile but checking each other out from the corner of our eyes. I wonder if they wonder what I’m wondering. How did we get here? Do I look as old (or as young) as her? Where did she get those shoes, they’re fabulous? What was she thinking when she walked out of the house in THAT?
I have a false sense of reality about myself, I suppose. It’s kicked in the ass when I’m sitting in a room full of people my age. And “my age” isn’t young anymore, made obvious by my peers with frozen, surprised eyebrows and frown lines that weren’t there a few years (maybe longer) ago.
All I could think about, during silent prayer was, please G-D, let the price of plastic surgery go down for when it becomes my turn.
Vain? Yeah, but we already knew that about me.
I’m ok with getting older because, as the saying goes, it’s better than the alternative.
I just have a hard time with it when the reality of my age is congregated in one large room, all trying to keep their fidgeting children under control until the service is over.
I gotta tell you, though. I’m not ready to be my grandparents yet slowly, surely and steadily that’s what’s coming next.