Special Note: Those of you who have been following my columns know that for a number of weeks, I have been focusing on current world events, which are indeed overwhelming and frightening. Just the other day, I had a discussion with a prominent businessman who is also knowledgeable and connected to the world of politics. He made a simple, but telling statement, “Rebbetzin, if a year ago, someone would have told me that the powerful financial institutions of Wall Street – Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, etc., would disappear and the current political situation would look as bleak as it does today, I would have said, That’s preposterous and impossible.
But today, the impossible has become our reality. Events are transpiring so swiftly, that we have difficulty absorbing them. Our generation is sleeping, and we have failed to react to that which is befalling us. So I felt compelled to devote my columns of the past month to those events. Nevertheless, despite the critical world situation, personal problems – family, shalom bayis, children, illness, continue to assail us. I receive hundreds of e-mail requests for help weekly from every part of the globe, and while, in the past, I published many of these letters, for the past few weeks I have been responding to them personally. Some of these e-mails, however, do not lend themselves to personal responses, but require the public forum of my column since many people are reluctant to identify themselves and write anonymously, or the letter writer hopes to convey a message that will be read by people involved in his or her problem. So I now return to addressing family conflicts through my column.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,
I truly enjoy reading your column in The Jewish Press and have heard you speak in person. I am always inspired by your words. I am writing to you about an issue that you have addressed more than once. I realize that this would have been more appropriate to address before the Yamim Tovim, but I hope you will still take the time to address this matter.
In the past, you have printed letters from bubbies whose married children come for Yom Tov and act like they are in a hotel. According to the letter-writers, they work very hard all of Yom Tov and are constantly cleaning up after their grandchildren whose parents do not help at all in the kitchen or with other household chores. I agree with you that married children should help out. You have not, however, addressed the needs of the married children who visit their parents or in-laws for Yom Tov who work hard the rest of the time and would like to take it easy and relax.
My parents live out-of-town, while my in-laws live within driving distance from my husband and me and our son who is less than a year old. My husband works full-time and I stay home with our son who has special needs that require therapy and visits to specialists. Additionally, I must deal with bureaucracies in order for my son to get what he needs, which can leave me frustrated and worn out. I have no outside help and, therefore, do much of the housework myself (my husband does help when he can) on top of taking care of my son. We often have guests for Shabbos and some Yamim Tovim and I do the cooking myself. I do not mind doing all this; I am just trying to give you an idea of how hard I usually work.
Because of the timing of the Yamim Tovim this year, we were not able to go to my parents at all. We did not go to my in-laws either, because we feel they demand that I help more that what is reasonable and expect me to make that the priority even more than taking care of my son. My mother-in-law is not like the bubbies that write to you saying that they never get out of the kitchen. She and my father-in-law are professionals who have had live-in housekeepers who do most of the household chores during the week from the time my husband was an infant (he is the oldest of several).