Dear Dr. Yael,
I read the letter from the mother who hosts her married children over Yom Tov and resents that they do not help more. While I understand that this mother feels overworked and exhausted, I wish someone would write about the other side.
I love spending Yom Tov with my parents; however, going there with all of my children is not easy. Besides for having to pack up everything we own and that the kids “need,” we all have to squeeze into one room, which isn’t very conducive to sleeping. While this may sound like I’m being whiny, it is really a sacrifice on our part.
Do I feel lucky to be able to share Yom Tov with my parents and be hosted by them? Absolutely! But as amazing, delicious, and special as that it is, it is also so tiring.
I am constantly cleaning up after the little ones and hardly sleeping at night. I have to make sure the little ones do not destroy anything or hurt themselves and, while I wish I could help more in the kitchen and with serving and clearing, it always gets done before I am able to do so – I am changing a diaper or feeding the baby.
I feel terrible for my overworked mother and single siblings, but I also do not see how I am able to give more. It is really easier to stay home, but Yom Tov together is special and I am reluctant to give it up. I would invite my parents to me, but we can’t host all our siblings. I know my mother feels disappointed that we don’t help more and I wish we could, but as much as I try, I feel like there is not anything else I can do to make more time to help.
I so appreciate your column, but the idea of sitting down, setting boundaries and coming up with ideas for how we all can help – well, we are living in a house for two and a half days that is basically too small to accommodate the crowd and have a mother and siblings who are amazing, but overworked.
The only thing I can think of is that we should all try to prepare some dishes at home and maybe not come all together.
I look forward to your response.
Thank you for writing and giving us another perspective on this challenging situation. You are correct that for many mothers having all their children together for a Yom Tov is very important, yet it brings with it a host of issues. When I ask my friends, “How was Yom Tov?” The ones who went away say, “Amazing,” and the ones who hosted often say, “It was very nice, but baruch Hashem, it is over.”
Having children host their parents may be a solution, even though it would cut in on family togetherness. I think every family has to have an open conversation about what could work and what wouldn’t.
If your mother wants to continue to host, then maybe you can explain to her that you feel terrible and ungrateful when you can’t help as much as you’d like, but you also don’t want to let your toddler destroy her home. That means you are running after her so that she doesn’t damage anything – including herself. You can also explain that while you wish you could do more serving and cleaning, you’re often feeding/changing children or exhausted from doing so all day and night. Tell your mother how grateful you are and that you wish there was a way to show her how much you appreciate her.
And, maybe it is time to start hosting your parents. I see this happening more and more – children often have larger homes than their parents and this way their own children can sleep in their own rooms. Kids will misbehave less if they are not uprooted.
Please discuss this with you parents and siblings so that you can all have a more enjoyable Yom Tov! Hatzlocha!
Dear Dr. Yael,
I am writing to you in response to the letter from Confused about appearances and proper dress in our community.
It strikes me that there is such a focus on outward appearances and not enough on a person’s middos. We care too much about what people wear, what their Shabbat and Yom Tov tables look like, and how it all compares to us.
What makes a person a mentsch, someone to look up to, is the way in which they behave. Do they act kindly to other people, do they reach out to others in need, that’s what matters.
I do not care how anyone dresses as long as they are properly dressed for the venues they attend. Who made these laws anyway? The Torah mentions modesty, not pantyhose and types of skirts. We should be united as brothers and sisters, not be critical of each other.
Our enemies don’t care what type of Jew we are; they simply want to destroy us. Let’s stop destroying ourselves.
Stop and Think
Dear Stop and Think,
Thank you for your intuitive letter. It reminds me of a quote: “A lot of problems in the world would disappear if we talk to each other instead of talking about each other.”
You are correct that we should be focusing on becoming the best people we can be and not worry so much about what others are doing or wearing. I think that people who are busy talking about other people and not doing what they need to do are missing some essentials that come with being a ehrliche Jew.
I wish you hatzlocha and thank you again for your letter.