Tuesday, March 31, 2015

pre-pesach jitters

Pesach is coming.

I don't want to read about fifty gazillion amazing things I can do with matzah.
I don't want to read about twenty desserts that taste like chametz.
I don't want another handy Pesach checklist.
I don't want to read about your panic over dirt in the bottom of your fridge which your OCD will not let you pass over.
I don't want to read about your emergency of a cleaning lady or a babysitter quitting. I definitely do not want to read how stressed you are over having your kids home for a whopping three days.

As we get closer, I do not want to see cute ideas for seder set-up. I don't want to see a charoset bar. Charoset was supposed to symbolize clay, the back-breaking labor of the Jews. There is a good reason why we had to leave Egypt and materialistic slavery behind. I am not planning on slaving over charoset.

I do not want to see your seder set-up unless:
1.I am invited to the said seder.
2. Your kids set the table up, with all the imperfections and cuteness, and you JUST LEFT IT as they set it.

Every year I tell myself not to stress over Pesach, and every year I find myself stressing. I have been in tears just about every night last week. Last night, to top it all off, 2 yo managed to march downstairs, into Pesach kitchen, with a cup full of chametz cereal. We do not allow food downstairs, keeping it chametz-free year-round. We usually keep the gate closed, but I guess it was left open with all the cooking and running back and forth, He used the opportunity. I lost it. I yelled at all the kids to get into the pajamas NOW, and get into bed. I did not tuck anyone in (except for putting 2 yo into his crib). Then I sat on the couch and cried.

Pesach is supposed to be about freedom, and we are supposed to free ourselves from expectations. We are supposed to let go, be ready to shift perspective. Every year I beat myself up for not reading up more about the seder, for not feeling ready to tell the story of Yetziat Mitzraim, for not engaging the kids enough, for stressing too much about food and cleaning, and not enough about what is really important.

Every year I want to make something memorable for the kids, and every year it ends up being a last minute project, not completed because I am out of time and steam. This year, I sat at the computer and typed up a bunch of questions pertaining to the seder. Most of them are open-ended, not halachic, in hope of engaging even my younger kids. I printed them, cut the out, and folded each piece of paper. I' m hoping to place them in the middle of the seder table to spark some discussion. I'm also planning on serving a lot of veggies for karpas, to keep them munching. Finally, I made candied nuts, to be given out to kids for good questions and good answers. That is straight from the Gemara. The wine was supposed to engage the adults, the treats were supposed to engage the children.

Every year I hope it will be different.
Every year I hope to get more learning done with the kids, so that they come to the seder prepared.
Every year it ends up being the same: short of my expectations, stressful, sometimes meaningless.

My boys love Pesach because of their birthdays. They love the season. They love plotting how to steal the afikoman and where to hide it. (We had a memorable hiding spot many years ago behind the garbage can in the bathroom). I doubt they love the stress that I am feeling. I don't want them to remember the stress, I want them to remember the excitement and the joy. I don't want them to remember the food. I don't want them to dread the food, either, but it should not be the focus.

I am still learning how to balance it all: be happy in cooking and cleaning, be learned enough to know what to clean, be relaxed enough so that I am available to the children, and get it all done on time.

If we all had to leave our current materialistic Egypt, would we be able to? Or would we be too attached to the way we always do things to let go?

1 comment:

  1. It's hard... I found that it works to learn the themes with the kids in the middle of the year, say when we are reading the first half of Shemos, and then a lot of themes in Bamidbar are very connected, just slavery on a different level. So is Vayetzei, the aggada even compares Yaakov's galus at Lavan's to ours in Egypt... They have amazingly good memory if they are interested in the subject -- my girls often say out things which I spoke out 2-3 years ago at the table and forgot myself already :-)

    Hashem should bless you with endurance and a healthy nervous system :)

    Hashem oz leami yiten, Hashem yiborach es amo bashalom