I have Passover Anxiety. It is real. And it is spectacular.
It starts around the end of Purim, to be honest, but now, a week before the first seder, it kicks into overdrive.
Every year, I find my anxiety evolves. Here are some of its usual focal points, and how I cope with them.
1. Food issues.
As a younger, less-jaded mother, I used to get beyond stressed out about whether my toddlers would starve to death over Passover. I have had years upon years of toddlers at this point. Inevitably, in that age two to five bracket, I always seem to have one kid who only eats bread, pasta and variants thereof. This used to make me panicky at the thought of an eight day long holiday in which I would watch my little baby wasting away.
The years, however, have hardened my heart, and I have now adopted a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. All Who Are Hungry Will Come And Eat (Whatever They Can When They Are Hungry Enough). We are unbelievably fortunate people to have the money and wherewithal to feed our children. If they don’t like what I’m serving for eight days? They’re going to whine a bit and figure it out. Period. As everyone’s bubbe used to say, “that should be your worst problem.”
I will add that my stress has lessened thanks to the prohibition on kitniyot being lifted. Thanks, Conservative Judaism – you rock! (Rice is pasta-like enough to sustain the four year old for eight days.)
I don’t know about you, but I have children who make it their mission to scatter crap everywhere constantly, as though it is some unspoken, screwed up game designed to make me go stark raving mad. I am not a naturally neat person (that is basically the biggest euphemism for “slob” that you have ever heard). That being said, I have ti say say that it even bothers ME a bit to find a Tupperware container holding the remains of leftovers behind the couch from who knows when (“Oh, sorry, Mom, I forgot.”). So the idea of Passover cleaning is almost like telling a baby to go climb Mount Everest.
Yet again, my answer to this stress is to be kind to myself. Being kind to myself means making a chametz cabinet and blocking it off with police tape and selling the chametz. It means eating off paper plates and/or glass or some combination thereof, rather than changing out the dishes.
There is only so much I can do here, people.
3. The Seder.
This is my biggest cause of stress. I love the seder. For the past few years, I’ve hosted a seder in my home and this year will be hosting nearly 40 people.
Yes, I am stressed about the food (it will not be good), the seder plates (only doing one this year – the idea of doing a billion seder plates so every guest can have one close to them was last year’s insanity), and the seating (My husband, spatial-relations expert, claims he can make it work. I am not so sure but trust him.). But what stresses me out above all else is making it an Amazing Seder.
What matters to me is the content of the seder and the fun level. I want it to be engaging, innovative and joyful. I have sacrificed deliciousness on the altar of fun, believing that fun and engaging are more memorable than food. (I have also made innovations, like serving toddlers matzah balls without the soup to avoid trips to the burn ward and only serving white grape juice/wine to avoid rug problems, that make my life slightly easier.)
But please notice that even now, I am writing this blogpost rather than formulating a blueprint for my seder seating.
Please notice that as I attempt to amuse you, I am not thinking of ways to amuse my guests for next Tuesday night. True confession time: this is all because I am an inveterate procrastinator. I will also add that my children go on vacation on Friday for the week, so I will have six kids running around the house telling me that they are bored at the very same moment I am trying to plan an entertaining seder.
Speaking of which, now it’s time to pick up some kid from school. Another day’s time spent…and the Pesach countdown clock ticks on…