Friday, March 19, 2010

Traffic Will Only Get Worse, Until... and Unpleasant Memories

Traffic Will Only Get Worse, Until... after Passover.

This morning when I got up and checked my email, I didn't see any notices of comments on my blogs.  I guess that everyone's too busy with Passover cleaning etc to visit.  So, what did I do?  I visited blogs, something I very rarely get to do.  Too rarely considering blogging etiquette.

This is not going to be one of my best Passover cleaning years.
  • I hate cleaning, always have.  I try to run the house to minimize the spread of the forbidden chametz.
  • I'm on antibiotics and feel very down.
  • With my father here, I can't ignore him for hours on end, nor can I fill up the hallway with junk.
One of the things I remember that the Rebbetzin (Rabbanit) Yemima Mizrachi said was the importance of making Pesach cleaning a fun time, so the kids would have good feelings about it and not hate it and the holiday.  I goofed very big on that.

When I first became religious my parents were very angry with me.  This was in the mid-1960's and they had never heard of the phenomena of Jewish kids taking on the mitzvot and traditions their parents (and grandparents) had rejected.  Later on, they could mentor others through the trauma, conveniently forgetting the horrors I had suffered, due to their anger. 

One trauma for me was the pre-Pesach cleaning.

My mother's kashrut compromise was "two sets of dishes," one for "everyday" and the other for Passover.  Yes, two sets of traif, non-kosher, forbidden according to Jewish Law.  Over the years I've discovered a few others raised in that sort of home.  During the year, not only didn't we separate milk from meat, but shrimp and other forbidden foods were cooked and served in our home.

When it came to a day or so before Passover, the kitchen, and only the kitchen was cleaned, and the dishes, cutlery and pots were switched.

The first Passover after my grand announcement my mother said:
"So, you want to be religious?  You clean the oven!"

It was punishment.  Yes, tough cleaning was my punishment.

For my mental and physical health I try to keep stress far away, so I do everything not to obsess over cleaning.  I've learned to work in tiny doses.  Flylady calls them "babysteps."  I wish I had learned all this when my kids were little, or best, before they were born.


Anonymous said...

taking care of your father is a mitzvah at least equal to that of cleaning for pesach, so i think you have your priorities straight here.
interesting to hear about you youth and returning to tradition. obviously i wasnt there, but your mother telling you to clean the oven really was not necessarily a punishment. from your brief portrayal here it seems that she was just asking you to work for what you wanted.

Baila said...

My parents, who are religious also failed in the "Let's make Pesach cleaning fun" area. I actually think making it fun is a bunch of bogus. I give my kids a list of things to do everyday (they are now on vacation). They can have fun when their jobs are done. Since I'm at work they can manage their own time and do it whenever, as long as it's done when I get home.

So I guess I'm failing miserably as well.

Batya said...

a, thanks for the nice words about my father, but re: my mother, you weren't there and haven't a clue. Please don't spin it pc.

Baila, I'd make my kids in charge of their rooms and neither enter nor criticize. There were years when they seemed to enjoy pitching in. They've always known that cleaning isn't a specialty of mine.

Hadassa said...

I hate cleaning so much that I can't lie and try to convince my kids that it's fun. Many people who give advice on child rearing are in favor of making cleaning fun, but I just can't do it, so I avoid lying. My tactic is explaining that living in a mess is not fun and that we have to clean in order to live pleasantly. I agree with Baila. Fun is what we earn after cleaning. Certain water related tasks can be fun, provided that the weather is warm and furniture is not in the way, but how often does that happen? Cleaning for Pesah involves a mitzva so I stress that. Their good feelings come from a job well done (if that's the case) and chocolate bar prize, not the fun of cleaning. I don't consider that failure.
Refua sheleima.

Batya said...

Maybe it's being able to clean without the accompanying stress and resentfulness. Kids pick up on emotions. Because of all my "baggage," it's hard to do routine chores without feeling that they are a "big deal." I was amazed at myself on Friday for just polishing the candlesticks without making a big deal and freaking out. OK, I did forget about the kiddush cups. We don't use them on Pesach, since we have special KP glass ones. At the same time I "effortlessly" switched the cloth under the candlesticks. None of this took all that long, and now it's done.

Banish perfectionism.

Keli Ata said...

I'm sorry cleaning was used a form of punishment for you:(

As you know, my mom wasn't Jewish but she was quite the perfectionist when it came to cleaning. Everything I did was wrong--she insisted that the floors be swept into a pile in the middle of the room rather than make smaller, easier to manage piles to sweep up.

Dish washing...SIGH! I despise it to this day. Everything I did was wrong--glasses had to be done first, then dishes, then utensils etc.

It was so bad that I asked to exchange chores with my brother and take out the trash but that was boy's work and dishes/cleaning the work for girls so I was stuck.

How many times did I hear, "You're doing it wrong"? That led to insecurities is many other aspects of my life.

It wasn't the work I had to do, but the constant criticism that hurt me.

As a result I just stopped caring and trying to please and so I am not the best housekeeper either.

My house is clean and relatively uncluttered. That's the best it gets. My house will never be described as immaculate.

Batya said...

Keli, we have a lot in common. I gave up trying to keep things in order and clean for years because I "did it wrong." I have no interest in a dishwasher, because I'll never figure out "how to put the dishes in correctly."

Hadassa said...

Batya and Keli, you are not alone. I personally know two more people who faced what you faced. The effects are felt generations later. Keeping a clean house is hard enough without constant criticism, or being comfortable living with a mess because one grew up like that because of a previous generation's reaction to that criticism. So to any compulsive neat-freaks reading this blog, if keeping a spotless house makes you happy, great, but don't let it stress anyone. (You can come and clean mine. Sweep it anyway you want. I promise I won't interfere.)

Batya said...

Any sort of obsession isn't any good, Hadassa, I've worked on myself over the years. I'm a different person.