Red, Red, Wine - Everywhere
It was the first night of Pesach.
Serenity filled a home that minutes ago was bursting with the screams of overtired children.
My children’s faces shone with excitement and wonder as they carefully watched my husband prepare his Seder plate. This was the mood I had worked so hard to achieve.
Whether by cooking, cleaning or just deep breathing, the past week had been tough but it was all about to be worth it.
The kids stood on their chairs, grape juice cups filled to the rim and perched in their right hands. Pesach is special because everyone makes their own kiddush, including women and children.
We began reciting the blessing together - joy and excitement bursting from each of my newly-minted angels.
And then it happened.
Before anyone could prepare for the catastrophe that was about to unfold, almost every inch of the seder table was covered in a deep, lush purple.
My four-year-old spilled her entire cup on anyone and anything in plain view.
Seder plates, pillows, dress-clothes and long hair all fell victim to the tsunami that crashed.
In just a few short moments our holy bubble of paradise was burst by a giant spill and the loud, ferocious wails that followed.
The catch? We were all in the middle of reciting our own kiddush, remember? While we would have loved to comfort our forlorn child, tradition had it otherwise.
With the kids still standing, kiddush cups still filled - except for one - we continued the traditional blessing as the cries escalated and the purple spread.
The decibels rose, and so did my exasperation. How did we go from utopia to fail-opia in the blink of an eye? Where had I gone wrong?
Kid-friendly Haggadahs? Check.
Xanax? Check (Kidding! - it’s not kosher for Pesach).
My chest tightened and my face reddened and the kiddush cup perched in my right hand started to tremble, but I was left with no choice but to...laugh out loud.
As good stories go, you’d hope order was restored and we continued with a beautiful and uplifting Seder.
In reality, there were more spills to come, bickering to be had and off-key singing to be endured. There were endless projects to sort through, questions to be answered, turns to be stolen and crumbs to be distributed.
And yet, while the madness heightened and the clock ticked past bedtime, I started to actually embrace, maybe even enjoy, the imperfections that pervaded our sparkling clean home and perfectly laid-out table.
It has taken me years to let go of perfection and it's still a work in process. But the closer I get to letting go of the ideal, the closer I come to true contentment.
Pesach is, of course, one of the many times our observant home -- filled with four lively kids, two working parents and a crapload of traditions -- faces this test.
I’ve gone from wincing at the slightest sign of a child’s discontent to writing entire emails while a complete tantrum unfolds.
From refusing to allow a single disposable dish to sully our table to letting the kids set the whole thing with whatever plastics and crumpled napkins they can find.
And from enforcing extracurricular activities every day to feeling pretty accomplished if we head to the park.
As long as everyone is healthy, happy and most of all, relaxed (with a few yells in between), I’m good. And we are all better for it.
I grew up pining for perfection, with very little room for error. If I so much as placed second on the podium it often took me an entire week off from school to recover and save face. (You can read more about that here).
So when I see my kids growing up in a carefree space where we emphasize timeless values that encourage giving, sharing and self-improvement, I’m more open to the chaos that comes along with it.
I know there's no one right path, but I also know calming the heck down has helped tremendously.