Latest update: March 12th, 2012
How come the same people who can’t seem to run their own lives are trying to run everybody else’s? I am really tired of getting unsolicited advice all over the place. It started when I was married barely a year and had no children yet. And it is still going on now that my daughter is Baruch Hashem married and has no children yet, all of a year and a half later at the age of twenty-one, mind you!
My in-laws are among the overly inquisitive (to put it mildly). Now that they’ve exhausted the subject of trying to tell us how many children to have, they want to know how much money we save.
In the years when I tried to help out by working part time while our kids were in school, they looked askance at the horrid possibility that dinner might not be ready when their son and grandkids got home.
Now after years of hard work, when I feel that I’ve earned the right to some relaxation, they want to know why I am not supplementing the household income, being that the children are out of the house.
At the same time, they expect me to attend every simcha that comes up (in our extended large family). I mean, with births, bar/ bat mitzvas, weddings and sheva brochos almost a weekly occurrence, we are being worn thin. I personally find it next to impossible to be everywhere without falling on my face from exhaustion. (Men have some leeway since they don’t need to get all dressed up for an occasion.)
Are we doing something wrong by not offering elaborate explanations or excuses to everyone? Are we mean-spirited if we choose not to answer every ringing phone or doorbell?
And whatever happened to that precious commodity called “privacy?” Is nothing personal anymore?
Sometimes I am tempted to move far away from everything and everyone, just for some solitude. But at the same time, I’d miss my family terribly – yes, even my in-laws. They mean well, I suppose.
I’m not complaining, Rachel, just explaining. And you’re the perfect person to air my grievances to, because for one, you let me have my say without interrupting, and two, I know you won’t harangue or pester me.
Thanks for listening.
Different strokes for different folks, I guess
That’s just the way it is and you can rest assured that many people feel the way you do. For most of us, it is not easy to party 24/7 – especially when large families branch out and attending simchas may require tedious and lengthy to and fro commutes.
If you have your husband, your partner in life, in your corner, you certainly don’t need to please everyone else. Living for everybody can indeed be exhausting.
Underneath all of your frustration, you seem to be well aware of your blessings and the fact that we must be grateful to Hashem for all the good and the positive things in our lives. However, a relaxing vacation away from it all can’t hurt and you sound like you are about ready for one.
Your words are a reminder of something that crossed my desk a little while ago. It went something like this:
If you’re married at eighteen, you’re a rachmonus (pity); if you’re still single at twenty, you’re a rachmonus.
If you have three children in the course of three years, you’re a rachmonus; if you have no children by the time you’ve been married three years, you’re a rachmonus.
If you live close to your parents, you’re a rachmonus; if you live far from your parents, you’re a rachmonus.
If your in-laws are a part of your life, you’re a rachmonus; if your in-laws are not a part of your life, you’re a rachmonus.
If you have a job and work hard, you’re a rachmonus; if you are unemployed, you’re a rachmonus.
If you have “only” four children, you’re a rachmonus; if you have twelve, you’re a rachmonus.
If only the husband is working, you’re a rachmonus; if the wife is working as well, the children are neglected and you’re a rachmonus.
If you have a simcha to attend every other night, you’re a rachmonus; if you can’t go to simchas, you’re a rachmonus.
At middle age – if you are not employed, you’re a rachmonus: if you are, you’re a rachmonus.
If your married children come too often, you’re a rachmonus; if your married children don’t come often, you’re a rachmonus.
If you are caring for your elderly parents, you’re a rachmonus; if you don’t have parents chas v’shalom you’re a rachmonus.
If your children are all married, you’re a rachmonus; if you still have young children at home, you’re a rachmonus.
At retirement age – if you’re both home all day, you’re a rachmonus; if your wife/husband works and you’re home all day, you’re a rachmonus.
If your children must care for your needs, you’re a rachmonus; if your children don’t care for your needs, you’re a rachmonus.
If you live until you’re old and weak, you’re a rachmonus; if you don’t live to be old, chas v’shalom, you’re a rachmonus.
But the bottom line is that everything comes from Hashem, and if you believe that everything He does is for the good and that He guides you all the way, you’re no rachmonus at all!
There is no pleasing everybody all of the time. Just aim to please Hashem, to be there for your family to the best of your ability, and you’ll be fine.
Thanks for airing your grievance to this column.
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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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