Sunday, March 16, 2014

on Purim, leaning back and control

Today is Purim. Happy Purim,y'all!

Time to be happy, time to let go, time to realize who is in charge.

I have been tightening and tightening my homeschooling belt, and things were feeling worse and worse. We were dissolving into more fights, more arguments, more mental reasons for sending them all to school. It did not help that external factors were not aligning, and there was a lot of external pressure to get this or that done.

In the middle of all this, a few things happened. Both local Kroger and Publix pulled out their Pesach displays, with shocking prices. The Pesach order for kosher coop went out a few weeks ago. Do you know how many people you will be having over Pesach eight weeks in advance? I don't, but I have to guess what I'll be making and in which quantities. Throw this on top of that my usual shmura controversy...

I did not grow up with Pesach. Neither did my husband. He got a minchag (a custom) from his rav to eat shmura on Pesach. When we got married, and were living in New York, we did shmura. The expense was driving me nuts, and knowing that this is a chumra (a stringency) and not halacha, added to the stress. Then we moved to Houston, and I had to place my matzah order weeks in advance. I normally like to plan, but this additional step of planning Pesach before Purim was nuts. Then we moved again. Now I had to place hand shmura order in one place and machine in another, with different deadlines and pick-up times, and both orders had to be placed well in advance. I was crumbling. First two years, I had friends get married in NY two weeks before Pesach, so I drove up, stayed an extra day to go to Brach's and bought my shmura there. Last year I had a baby, but my husband took care of the ordering. Machine shmura was supposed to come through coop, but it didn't. Before I had time to stress, I found some in Publix, innocently sitting on a shelf.

This year, I was too overwhelmed to keep track of when and where shmura was supposed to be ordered. I spoke to my Chabad friend about how I do not feel that I am exactly on a spiritual level which would warrant eating shmura, and she said: "Fake it till you make it." Well, this year I did not feel like faking it. And I do not believe that outward religiosity should come before inner spirituality. So when the deadlines passed and my husband did not order shmura, I said that we are not doing it this year. Publix did not have any and was not planning on bringing it in.

Lo and behold, Costco brought in some hand shmura. My husband got a few boxes, and I decided that all machine matza will be regular this year. I just stopped stressing about it.

At about the same time, this tragedy struck. A young mother passed away, and the internal tumult intensified. I did not know her personally, but this was such a close and horrific call, that I kept on thinking and thinking about it. And at the same time I came across this article. When I read it, I wanted to stand up and pump my fist: preach it, sister! I am so ready to lean back, and so are my friends. Why are we hosting people for sedarim when we need quiet? Why are we stressing about not creative enough costumes? Why are we berating ourselves for not feeding our kids organic when my conventional sweet potato is growing TEN TIMES BETTER than organic one? (I will post pictures one day, I promise!)

Meanwhile, things at my home front kept on deteriorating. I had a full meltdown on Friday night, right in front of my kids. I had a talk with my husband: please, we have to do something, send them to school, find a program, get cleaning help (we have been cleaning the house ourselves and it has been too much). He listened and said: why don't you just go on vacation? Call the school year over, only do things with kids that they want to do, let it all be, and you can always pick up in a week or month or next year. Basically, he suggested going back to unschooling. What's funny is that 7 yo has been asking me to unschool him lately, despite smoothly finishing Lech Lecha, despite starting on Vayeira in regular chumash, and despite his desire to do two pesukim a day...

Additionally, the Rabbi in shul gave a pre-Purim speech which touched on how many things happen, and they are horrible things (meaning the communal tragedy of loss) and we cry at the time, but these tears are there for a reason and we might not know what is the reason till much later on. Oh, and he also mentioned how on Purim it would be appropriate to ask of Hashem with abandon, since we give out tzedakah without investigating, so Hashem gives out our requests. I filed this away, thinking primarily about my tears in my current sorry state of being overwhelmed.

This morning I got to shul for megilah reading a bit early, and I had a unique opportunity say Shemone Esre without distractions. I prayed and asked and requested calmness and best decisions for all current situations.

Afterwards, when I got home and started getting ready for the seudah, I realized that I never got balsamic vinegar for marinated mushrooms. I looked earlier in the week in Publix and at the local farmer's market, but neither one had it. I decided to try Kroger, maybe they have it in their large Pesach section. When I got to the store, I saw that they expanded their Pesach display, so I went looking through it. I found my balsamic vinegar, but I also found... drum roll... machine shmura matzah! 

I just started laughing. Just at the time when I gave up on hunting down matzah and on being stressed about matzah and on feeling not quite right in my observance, Hashem sent me a little reminder of who's in control here. As I stocked up, I realized that what I minded about keeping shmura was not the expense, or the level of observance. What I minded the most was worrying about Pesach before Purim and scheming and planning and bending over backwards to get this matzah. When it was right there, just sitting on a store shelf, and Purim planning had passed, I did not mind buying it at all.

There we have it: if we just let go and let Hashem be in charge, he will help us connect the dots, everything will fall in its place. We just need to lean back, release the reigns. I am planning on going back to unschooling, because my sanity comes before outward appearance of busyness.

One final detail: when my husband was putting away shmura boxes, he came and told me: "You know, there is a bottle of balsamic vinegar sitting down there with the pesach food." 

1 comment:

  1. we keep our hand shmura and our machine shmura for years and years in our pesach closet. if we want to make it taste awesome after a few years, we put whatever we want for that meal it in the oven for a few minutes to make it toasty hot.
    lizabennett yahoo