Saturday, April 23, 2016

It's Passover Again, and I've got PTSD

Oh Passover. After last year's miscarriage three days before Passover and breaking my foot walking to the first-night seder (and not realizing it was broken for the first two days, so walking around on it), I think that I've got Passover PTSD.

Yes, for the first time in my Jewish life, I'm responsible for the Passover seder. Since we're in the U.S., that's two nights of seders, folks.

Note: The seder is the festive Passover meal that begins with a lengthy retelling of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt and the miracles therein. Jews use a haggadah (a book of sorts) to retell the Passover story. There are certain foods you're required to eat during the retelling, and by the time the meal actually arrives, many people are all full up on salt water and parsley and lettuce and wine and, of course, matzah

Theoretically we could have gone out the first night, but the reality is that because of that extra month (yes, it's a Jewish leap year), Passover is starting crazy late now and Asher is a creature of habit that I cannot and will not mess with. So the seder starts after bedtime and the Ash man will be fast asleep for mommy's sanity. For the second night, we're having a couple over, and it's what I'm calling the "make up for the first night seder with just the two of us where I fall asleep at the table with a face full of gefilte fish" seder. Yes, the first night it's just the two of us, and my husband has a glowing spirit that is full of stories and singing and ... seder is his jam. I'll let you know how the "just the two of us" seder goes, but I have a feeling it's going to be super disappointing for him. I wish I could pull a couch up to the table.

So the PTSD. There was a giant kitchen fiasco last night that left three dishes I'd made in the "dairy" category because I used real butter, and before you say, "Wait, don't you have a vegetarian house?" the reality is that yes, we're vegetarian, so normally it's not an issue, but we have a guest coming whose custom it is to have meat on seder night, so I acquiesced and ... disaster. Now, the meat seder we're having is slim pickings on food, and that just is what it is and it will be what it will be. Add to that being super preggers and having several jobs and having terribly swollen feet and a toddler running around and a husband who works at the kosher deli (busiest time of year) and who is responsible for fixing the local eruv (thanks, fluke snowstorm last week that tore it down in 17 different places and required 6 hours of fixing today) ... and I broke down last night.

I cried. I was overwhelmed and exhausted and I lost my #@$*. I know, I know. Stress isn't good for the baby. Over exertion isn't good for the baby.

So I think I've finally come to terms with the reality that Passover is just a few hours a way, and it just is what it is. My table isn't set, and as I watch friends post pictures of their beautiful Passover tables with real dishes and real silverware and real glasses I feel kind of lame. I'm 32 years old and don't have Passover stuff. But it's my first time hosting, actually needing those things. In my last marriage and in this marriage, I've always happened to be out or away or just not at home for the seders, let alone the rest of the week.

Someday I'll be a Jewish adult woman with actual stuff for Passover. Someday ...

Anyway, as I come to terms with Passover, I'm also starting to get excited about Shavuot. It's not just because I love cheesecake, but it's because it's my favorite holiday, as it's what I call the "convert's holiday" because Jews read the Book of Ruth. Man I love Shavuot. I loved it even more when I got to stay up all night and teach. Unfortunately, The Blob is showing up on the eve of Shavuot, so who knows how it's going to go down this year. Either way, here's a good read to prep you for Shavuot.

And now? Maybe I should get the toddler-in-a-diaper next to me in the bath and set the seder table, eh? I can't wait for the gefilte fish. And I'm not even kidding.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ask Chaviva Anything: Parenting, Jewish Books, and Jewish Conversion!

It's been a while since I got my Ask Chaviva Anything on, so it's about time. I can't seem to find an easy theme with the questions I have remaining, so we'll call this a grab bag edition. Ready? Let's do this. 
My husband and I are also thinking of having a baby number two. With the first one I stayed at home for almost three years, now we are thinking that I'd stay home for the first year and my husband for the second. You mentioned that daycare is very expensive in USA, but that you make quite good money while your husband makes less. I'm just curious, would it be possible for your hubby to stay home with the kids and you bring in the dough?
Although it's a great idea, we tried this when we first moved to the U.S. because Mr. T couldn't legally work until he received his work permit/green card. The truth is, neither Mr. T nor I are cut out to be full-time stay-at-home parents. Also, we need to be a two-income family (whether here or in Israel) to make things work, and Asher is ultimately a much happier kid the days that he's at daycare. He sleeps better, he's happier, and he's growing into an immensely empathetic and social little kid. In the end, everyone benefits in their own way from our situation. As for No. 2, we'll see how it impacts the current situation and go from there. Stay tuned!
Can you recommend a nonfiction book or two with Orthodox characters? And I miss Ask Chaviva Anything, please write soon!
Aww, thanks for the kind words! As for a book, you want nonfiction with Orthodox characters? Or fiction with Orthodox characters? I'm a bit confused. There are a ton of nonfiction books about Orthodox topics (a lot of biographies and things like Crossing the Borders of Time), but if you're looking for fiction books with Orthodox characters, anything by Tova Mirvis or Cynthia Ozick, honestly. I've been reading The Boston Girl, but the main character and her family wouldn't really qualify as Orthodox by today's standards, necessarily (some go out for lobster on Shabbat). Have you read The Nightingale? It's also a really great read, based during WWII. Also, check out this list over here that walks through fiction throughout the years. If I missed the mark on your question, just let me know! Also, take a look at the archives for "Book Review" here
Did you grow up religious and if not what brought you to your path?
Not only would I say I didn't grow up religious, I didn't grow up Jewish. In a nutshell: My parents raised me smartly on the Golden Rule, despite the fact that the first half of my life we were in the Bible Belt of Southern Missouri and the second half in Nebraska. All of my friends were immensely religious (in both locations), so I attended Vacation Bible School, church on occasion (especially in high school), and so on, but we were never a religious family. Easter and Christmas weren't about Jesus, they were about the common, American secular traditions. From there ... check out my posts and essays I wrote about how I got to Judaism and ended up Orthodox

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