Monday, April 07, 2008

No Right to Complain

Making Pesach is difficult. I know this, yet I do not speak from experience. You see, RaggedyDad and I are lucky enough to spend Pesach with my parents, and we simply close up our chametz-sold apartment for the week. They live about a ten-minute car ride from here, so it doesn't get much more convenient.

This will be our seventh Pesach since we're married, and it will be the seventh time that we've packed up and moved in with my folks. That's right, I have 3 kids, and I have yet to make Pesach. I'm ready for the jeers, the stones you want to throw at me, and the nasty looks. I know, I know, I'm a big baby and a spoiled brat for getting off so easy.

Around this time of year, I feel like I just want to hide for the few weeks before Pesach as other friends and family members kick it into high gear with their cleaning and Pesach preparations. During Pesach itself, we aren't around, and then there's a week or so after we return and everyone's getting their lives and homes back to normal.

Some of the remarks I hear are stated bluntly, and some are more veiled. But the subtext is clear, and it is a tense time for me and relationships with people whose resentment is palpable. "I'M SORRY!" I almost want to shout. I really am. I wish I could just make the work disappear, and give everyone the chance to focus on Simchat Yom Tov and not just on the labor-intensive, nitty gritty of Pesach preparation.

Granted, the things I will be dealing with greatly pale by comparison. Among them, packing up the five of us for the week, cramming us and our stuff into the 1 1/2 rooms we'll be alotted in a totally un-child-proof environment, wanting to help but being incessantly in the way, keeping everyone quiet and well-behaved in a home that's not ours, the stairs that I am unaccustomed to at this point, repacking, the laundry-thon at home, disrupted daily schedules that may or may not ever get back to normal, and of course, everyone, um, hating me.

I know that those things are really minor in comparison, and believe me, I do not complain to the Pesach-makers. I don't dare. There's not much to talk about during these couple of weeks, when we ask each other what's doing, and the discrepancies between what we're each busy with are so pronounced. I tend to sort of avoid people because I can hear their internal dialogue regarding my combination of luck and chutzpah, and I'm sure of it because of the occasional comments that slip out, intentional or not.

While I haven't yet paid my Pesach dues, my husband certainly has. His family lives overseas and is totally assimilated, so obviously, Yom Tov with the in-laws is not a consideration, nor is having their help in any way at other times, but right now, understandably, what everyone's thinking of is Pesach. Before we were married, he spent several years working hard at Pesach hotels for the week of Yom Tov. He doesn't quite understand the social tension this time of year. But I assure him that it is a real issue, and one that only gets more pronounced as we find ourselves outgrowing the newly-married-young-couple category. Most of our friends have made at least some portion of Pesach themselves.

I did suggest to my mom that we come back to our own apartment after the sedarim this year while I went over the list of what my mother would like me to buy for Yom Tov in my neighborhood where some stores carry certain items at better prices. At this point, Sukkos and Pesach are just about the only times we go to them.

Us never having made Pesach, and not having a Sukkah (or a place to construct one) also precludes my brother and sister-in-law from inviting my parents to their house for these two holidays, and believe me, I hear about it on that end too. We cause trouble in lots of ways. "But where would the Raggedys be for Yom Tov?" More guilt. More cringing. More shame. For this Pesach, my mother assured me that they do really want us to come, so I'm trying to shirk off the extreme discomfort I feel.

I think that it comes down to this. Everyone has their challenges, and their breaks in life. Some people really do seem to have it harder due to different circumstances. The various arenas - physical, emotional, financial, and in terms of the different kinds help people do or don't get from their spouses/parents/in-laws/children, etc. differ for us all in terms of what we have to deal with or where we 'get off easy'. It is impossible to know what another person's "pekaleh" really consists of, because even if you truly knew, you wouldn't know it from their perspective. Making Pesach is one of those challenges that is more public and more obvious. Which is why, since I'm not doing it, I'll be keeping a low profile between now and May.


Diana said...

Making Pesach is the "People You May Know" of Jewish Holidays.

SaraK said...

Why do people think they have a monopoly on complaining just because they are making Pesach? I agree with you, RMom, everyone has his/her "pekalah" and no one else has any right to begrudge someone else's perceived non-hardships.

Annie said...

Making Pesach isn't that big of a deal. People looove to complain about it though.

Also, how come you get slack for it, and not all of those who sell their apts/houses and move down to Florida for a week? Or go on a cruise?

In the modern day, where more and more women work full-time and raise a family, it is absurd to assume that we "should" be doing things exactly the way our mothers did. If your parents are willing to let you catch a free ride, enjoy it, and make sure to invite them to stay with you/do all the work for some other chag.

mother in israel said...

If you can't complain on your own blog, where can you?

Seriously, stop feeling guilty. A lot of cleaning for Pesach is done because of social pressure, and I prefer not to speak about it with most people.

Anonymous said...

In my circles, the average couple after seven years of marriage is still going to their parents. Don't feel guilty. All those jealous people would LOVE to switch places with you. You have enough other opportunities to assert your adulthood; you don't need to make Pesach to prove it.

Erachet said...

People like to complain. In fact, they go out of their way to. You shouldn't feel guilty!

Chag sameach! :D

~ Sarah ~ said...

i'm going away to friends for pesach and i do not feel one smidge of guilt that i'm packing up and not having the hassle.

no need for guilt!! just enjoy :)

RaggedyMom said...

Wow, you bloggers are a nice bunch! I am still holding out for someone anonymous to malign me, at least a little.

I think that all the comparing matters less as I get older. Though by the time this stops bothering me, I'll likely be making my own Pesach!

Jack said...

I can't believe that you haven't...Ok, Just kidding. Doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Abbi said...

Well, my mom didn't make Pesach till I was about 22, if that makes you feel any better. We always went to family, either one or the other set of grandparents or any number of their siblings (one time we got stranded unintentionally at Mount Airy Lodge due to a freak snowstorm).

We are packing up and moving into my inlaws because I'm due a week after Pesach. I also feel a bit guilty that I'm not cleaning or shopping like mad.

In short, don't feel guilty, you have a lot of company, enjoy the freedom! When your kids are grown, or at least older, they can help you make Pesach and it will be so much easier then!

LittleBirdies said...

Plenty of people don't make pesach until their parents/in-laws feel it's too hard due to "old" age and then they switch roles (where the kids make pesach and the parents pack out)

Ariella said...

Raggedy Mom, don't feel at all guilty. My brother and his wife have never made Pesach in their own home in over 22 years of marriage. They go to her parents unless he gets an arrangement at a hotel. My husband and I, on the other hand, have been making Pesach on our own from about the third year of our marriage. My husband really helps get the house ready, but there is still a lot entailed in planning the menus, shopping, and, of course, cooking and baking.

triLcat said...

Honestly, it's not that hard to make pesach at home. I've been doing it since I moved out at 23. I don't make my own seder, because it just doesn't seem right to have a seder with fewer than 10 people, and we'd be 3 this year, including Baby K.

People go absolutely cuckoo over it. That's their problem. Personally, I think you'd have an easier time staying home than going to your parents, but that's your choice (and your parents' and husband's)

torontopearl said...

Don't feel guilty. Your parents should live long and be well and get to enjoy their children and grandchildren and you should enjoy your parents. A chag like Pesach deserves family; your time to make Pesach on your own will come. You've clearly pointed out that it isn't easy all around...whether you're home making it yourselves or at your folks. Go, go, enjoy.

I'm married almost 14 1/2 years and we've always made Pesach. In the early days, we'd have one seder with one in-law and do the long walk for the second seder with the other in-law and go home after Yom Tov was out, so we were always prepared. It's just that the space to prepare got bigger and bigger with our move from an apt. to one house to a second house.

It's a stressful time but we manage and my husband and I make a good team in Pesach planning, preparing and maintenance.

SephardiLady said...

Enjoy your Pesach. We are going 1/2 and 1/2. It is proving to be a lot of work to get ready, but only because I have too much on my plate workwise and I just can't get into the mood. I've been holding of going to the kelim mikvah. That is my weakness.

frumhouse said...

You not making pesach isn't going to change anyone else's situation - so why should they care? Would their preparations be any easier knowing that you also had to clean and cook?

I say enjoy the time with your family and don't worry about jealous people.

faith/emuna said...

ive been making pesach and seder etc since i got marrried over 18 yrs ago. i think its time you made new friends. let everyone do whats good for them. just dont complain to me that its 'just as hard' to pack up etc. i generaly avoid talking to people b4 pesach since its very easy to get into some sort of pesach one upmanship etc. i talk to one good friend and with the rest of the people i try to change the subject - guys i came out to the park to air out from pesach cleaning - cant we please talk about something else?
hope you had a wonderful pesach, try to feel good about all your decisions and to avoid people who dont have an ayin tova. (and prepesach most of us are not at our best - most woman are lacking on sleep, healthy exercize and good nutrition - and under alot of stress)

frumhouse said...

Hey busy lady! Just popping in to say hello and miss your posts!

Perel said...

oh, nati. i love how you write this as though being a mother of three isn't enough work.