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Pesach: How Do You Survive the Week Before?

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I really do love Pesach. Now, this love did not keep me from lying awake in bed the other night, between the wee hours of 4-6 a.m., fretting about when the car was going to get washed, when I should do the cabinets and ohmigod, what are we going to eat this week????
The week before Pesach is always an explosion of craziness. Work deadlines, cleaning deadlines, kids home from school, the inevitable sick child. But that’s what makes it so rewarding when you finally make it to the finish line! (Right?) Also rewarding: Finally getting to eat food, after subsisting on leftover oatmeal and breadcrumbs for a week. (Seriously, what am I feeding these people this week?)
I am jealous of my overachieving friends who started cleaning weeks (No, that was not a typo. Weeks) ago and are now nearing the end. I resent the carefree friends who say, in a jaunty, devil-may-care way, “I only need two days to make Pesach. Why is everyone making such a big deal? Pshaw.”
In between Overachieving City and Carefree Town lies Panic Expressway, where I am currently sitting, stuck in traffic. (Is this analogy making any sense? If so, please explain it to me). Too lazy to get my tuchus moving but not zorem enough to be all, “It’ll get done, no big deal, dust isn’t chametz after all.” (P.S. “zorem” is one of my favorite Israeli expressions. It means flow, as in flowing water, and used in the sense of “go with the flow.” To be zorem. "Chametz, wametz," zorem people would say. Use it early and often. You’re welcome.)
The answer to surviving the week before is, as I have found with most things in my life, to lower my standards, such as they are. Also? Relying heavily on the blessing we say before Pesach, when we ask that any leftover or overlooked chametz should be considered null and void like the dust of the earth. Are there leavened crumbs in the boys’ underwear drawer? It is a distinct possibility. But I am not rooting through every drawer in the house just on “distinct possibility.” It’s like my 4-year-old’s attitude when I caught him with an orange marker in his hand and orange strokes on the wall. Did he draw it? It is a distinct possibility. But I don’t know for sure, as he would point out, if he could articulate that in words. At worst, “IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!” And so I let it go. And so, too, I will let go the thoughts of crumby drawers.
How obvious is it from this post that I got very little sleep last night, due to the aforementioned sick child?
So anyway. Lower your standards. I am saving my energy for the kitchen. And also the couches and toy boxes, because I have seen with mine own eyes the eating of granola bars—so much leavening happening in those granola bars—and the oat-y crumbs falling ever so gently into the dark recesses of couch cushions and Lego boxes.
How else do I lower my standards, you ask?
“Dinner” becomes a somewhat loose term this week. I stop caring how often my children have eaten pasta and cereal. Let them eat cake, I say! No, for real. There is some cake leftover from Shabbat. That may become a side dish tonight. I try to hold out on the “takeout” till later in the week, because SO MUCH OF THE SPENDING MONEY THAT IS HAPPENING OH MY GOD. But it will happen. It’s inevitable. As surely as the children will be deaf in the face of my pleas and shouts to pick up their shoes but will hear the whisper of an insult from their sibling who is three blocks away, so too, shall Pizza Man come hurtling down our street before the week is out.
General cleanliness this week is out the window. Hmmm. The window. If I could actually throw stuff out the window that would go a long way to helping this place look less like a pantry and a closet got drunk one night and vomited all over the place. But we live in an apartment and I don’t think my downstairs neighbors will appreciate being pelted with arm floaties, a piece of a Power Ranger sword and random markers and balloons that I am too lazy to clean up. (P.S. Come summer, will we have any idea where those arm floaties are? No. No we will not.)
So that’s how we are surviving the Week Before. Hopefully, this lowering of standards will help us arrive at seder night relaxed and full of good cheer. Or not. Whatever. That’s what the four glasses of wine are for.
How is it going with you? Are you an overachiever, a carefree-er or are you sitting next to me on Panic Expressway?

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