I’m no stranger to keeping kosher at home, and while there are times when it gets a little…okay, I’ll say it, inconvenient. For the most part, I don’t actually mind keeping kosher. Except for when it comes to Passover.
Making my house kosher for Passover is something I dread doing to such an extent that in the 10-year span since getting married, I’ve yet to attempt it even once. Instead, I’ve taken a shortcut year after year—packed a bag, sold my chametz, and headed to my parents’ place for the week.
Before I had kids, piggybacking on my parents’ Passover was a no-brainer. I’d be going there for the seders anyway; why not overstay my welcome just a bit? Now that I have kids, packing for the week isn’t exactly a picnic. Nor is cramming our family of five plus a dog into my parents’ modest three-bedroom home. Yet I’ve done it in years past, and I’m planning to do it again, and it’s all because I don’t want to deal with Passover at home.
And naturally, I feel guilty about that.
My guilt comes from a few places. First, in a way, I feel like I’m letting my family down by bailing on Passover in our own home. Is it a lot of work? Yes. Do I have time for it? No. (Did I mention that now’s my busy season at work?) Am I making excuses? Absolutely.
For whatever reason, the idea of re-kashering my kitchen, buying new cookware, and eliminating all traces of chametz just seems too daunting. My mother spends countless hours switching over her dishes, clearing out cabinets, and so forth. Every year, by the time the first seder rolls around, she’s so utterly exhausted I don’t know how she even has the energy to sit at the table, let alone serve everyone food. I know I’m really just being lazy, but I also don’t want to reach the point where I resent Passover because of all the work involved. Going to my parents’ place for the week just seems like the easiest solution in all regards—especially since we’d already be going for the seders.
But here’s another reason why I feel guilty. My mom is the hardest-working person I know, and preparing for Passover is probably the most stressful, harrowing thing she does all year. And rather than make the process easier for her, I feel like I make it harder by invading her home for a week after the big event.
Now if you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably thinking, “Well why don’t you offer to help her?”
But that’s not so easy either. My mom lives a good hour away, and during the week, I’m home with my kids, the youngest of which are a rambunctious pair of 2-year-old girls. To help my mom prepare for Passover would mean that I’d need to bring them with me, thus negating said help. And while I’ve offered to help her on a Sunday, she insists that there’s no point in me schlepping out to Brooklyn to spend a couple of hours helping her sort through dishes when my father is home and capable of offering the very same assistance.
And also—and I’d say this to my her face—my mother is just plain not an easy person to help. She likes things done a certain way and would almost always rather have everyone clear out of her space and let her do her thing than have people pitch in. Even if I were to somehow find adequate childcare on a weekday, I’d probably annoy her by being there. Still, I feel bad leaving her to tackle this monumental task all by herself.
And there you have it—two completely different sources of guilt, and a pattern that looks like it won’t change soon.
Sure, maybe I am being lazy by not making my house Passover-friendly, but is there really something so wrong with that? And while having extra people in her house for a week will no doubt make things more stressful for my mom, she loves when our family comes to stay and even promises she doesn’t mind the added noise we bring to the mix.
Perhaps there will come a time when I’ll need to deal with Passover on my own, or I’ll step up and choose to do so to give my kids a greater understanding of what the holiday entails. But for now, I admit that I enjoy enjoy the fact that I don’t have to reconfigure my entire kitchen in order to celebrate it.