The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, April 18, 2008

"I Am a Mother".

Every once in a while I receive a comment that is so spot on that I like to highlight it.

This is one of them, in response to my recent post on staying home for Pesach.

I am a mother. I have been working myself to the bone. My husband and I are weary with exhaustion. Only 2 days left to the seder. The lists and shopping are done and now just work, work, work.

Would you recommend that I go to a Pesach hotel? Of course, why shouldn't I "enjoy" my yom Tov? Well, that would be the worst thing. I have had a chance to turn the last two months of my life into Avodas Hashem. Every sore muscle, drop of sweat and minute of lost sleep are counting to my Olam Haba. I don't have to have lofty spiritual thoughts to connect to Hashem. Neither me or my husband has to concentrate to be koneh our Yom Tov. Our efforts are enough that we are connected. We are told L'fum Tzarah Agra. Why would I give up this opportunity for a few days of rest?

As for the time with my children, If I were in a hotel, I would be shmoozing with friends, my kids would be screaming and pulling at my skirt. i would want to go to a shiur and leave them with a babysitter. They would be at the children's program instead of with me. I would keep them up either too late at night or leave them in their room alone.

Instead, my 2 year old runs to get me a potato to peel and we discuss shapes. He sits munching on an apple as I explain how to check eggs. My five year old and I check the romaine, prepare salt water and discuss why Totty goes to shul while Mommy watches the baby. this is their holiday now too since they put in the work aside from the coloring and pasting they did in school. They see how we drop everything we are doing, literally, to run do a chesed. We laugh and sing and cry and spend time together working together. They see that challenges are things to make us stronger not to run away from. The key to keeping this time sane has been to turn off my cell and regular phones. It's amazing how much calmer the family is when it's just us. As for Mothers & Bubbies being Shmatas, they don't need to be if Fathers & Zaidies would pitch in. When everyone views the Yom Tov as team play and not as "when can I get my nap" it is the most beautiful time of the year.

As for not being together with my whole extended family, I am not sure if that is such an issue. Leil HaSeder is our chance to transmit our mesora to our children. I don't need to transmit that mesora to my nieces, or great-grandparents or third cousins. Just to my kids. If being together helps with that, great. if not I would rather be at my or my parents' seder where we focus on our kids.

Pesach is a stressful time. I am lucky to have a part-time job so I could do a lot of work with the kids. But attitude and preparation make the difference. It's not about "why should I be the one to do it" but rather "I'm so lucky that I can be the one . . . "



  • At 11:38 PM, Anonymous megapixel said…

    anyone who can afford the hotel can afford lots of cleaning help to clean their homes for pesach. it isnt that hard. and although i have never been to a hotel, i assume the kids run loose, and or go to "camp" while the parents chill. they are not spending quality time with their kids. sounds a little selfish to me.

  • At 3:16 PM, Anonymous cyberdov said…

    Look, Pesach preparation is not THAT hard - unless you are obsessive-compulsive. Find out what is really required and what is simply 'spring cleaning' and not required.
    My wife just started a new demanding job, so she literally was not able to help until Thursday night (and she took off Friday). I work full time as well. We have three kids, the youngest is 16 and still home - but very busy with schoolwork until Thursday when vacation started.
    We also were blessed with the availability of my 18 year old son who is home from yeshiva, and his girlfriend who was with us for yom tov and was able to help Thurs/Fri. We have a cleaning woman who comes once a week - Tuesday. We had 12 for seder, 4 of whom were house guests. By the way, we have a 3 bedroom, 1800 sq ft home, with a small galley kitchen in the basement where we have cabinets for the Pesach dishes. So, here is how it went down:

    >1 week before Pesach - clean the bedrooms for Pesach.

    Sunday - pull up the shopping list/menu from 2005 (last time Pesach was on Saturday night); update it and go shopping for packaged goods; kasher basement kitchen; clean, marinate, and freeze chicken and turkey breast for 1st days of yom tov.

    Tuesday - cleaning woman did a thorough sweep & vacuum. House is now Pesach-ready except for kitchen/dining room. We emptied the pantry for use on Pesach.

    Wednesday evening - fruit and vegetable shopping, and some Pesach takeout food (we use about 3/4 home-cooked and 1/4 bought) (also I had to go to a work-related event, my wife's car broke down, and we didn't get home until 11pm)

    Thursday - put the kids to work, emptying out cabinets in the kitchen and bringing up the dishes. At night, kashered the kitchen (in between airport pickups, providing takeout dinners, etc.). Began cooking - a pot of chicken soup and a pot of meatballs. Bedikat Chametz at midnight. Went to bed at 2:00.

    Friday - cook, cook, cook.

    Work? Yes. Killer? No.
    OK, I understand that if you have 6 kids who are toddlers and preteens, it can be more difficult. But mostly it is about planning and organization - and knowing what you really need to be doing.


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