Two Sick Kids, Nine Guests…Dayenu!

I know it’s a little early for Passover, but my 2.5 year old has been crooning that Passover fave, “Dayenu” (literally, “it would have been enough”) along with his CD every day on his way to nursery school.

While he really doesn’t understand the deeper meaning of the song (being grateful and satisfied for every stage of redemption “that God took us out of Egypt, Dayenu”, “that God gave us the Torah, Dayenu”) hearing it again and again made me think about another meaning of the word as a mother of two children under the age of 3.

And the scenario this past Friday night really brought it home.

My husband, a rabbi, went off to synagogue to lead Friday night services. I put Tamir down to sleep a little early so that I could prep the house (and the meal) for nine congregants coming over for Shabbat dinner. Yael, my 12-week-old was fast asleep in her chair (did I mention that she is recovering from pneumonia? a diagnosis we gleaned only after a week filled with doctors visits, blood tests, and a spinal tap) and the guests were expected at 8 pm.

I was at the 7:45pm mark, with 15 minutes left to do the quick sweep of the house to make sure that everything was in order, thereby giving the (false) impression of “I got it all together” when the following things conspired against me:

  1. Tamir started screaming, (he had a fever and an earache, and refused to take medicine)
  2. Yael woke up and started to howl her hoarse pneumonia induced cry (it was time for her to nurse)
  3. A migraine started to creep up on me (a hormonal “bonus” after my second delivery)
  4. My husband arrived home, covered in snow (he had walked home from synagogue.)

And only moments later… Nine guests walked through my front door.

Trying to maintain an air of ease and grace is not easy with little kids at home. When one of our guests said “why didn’t you just cancel?” I explained to her that I want to believe that I can still do all of the things that were easy for me to do without kids, or even with just one.

But having two children under 3, especially when both are sick, is a whole new calculus. And for now, I think I am going to need to sing my own version of “Dayenu” Sometimes, you have to pare down and anything else, is just too much.

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Dasee Berkowitz

Dasee Berkowitz is an educational consultant, community builder and writer. Her pieces have appeared in Haaretz, the Forward, Kveller, MyJewishLearning and JTA. She currently lives in Jerusalem Israel with her husband and three children.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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