Taking Stock| September 20, 2022
We love a good cheshbon hanefesh. And, we’ll admit it; this time we submitted our own questions
Yes, we’re doing a self-audit at year’s end for plenty of serious faults, but since that is unequivocally hard work, we thought we’d take a look at some of the little flaws that don’t really require repentance. And speaking as two serious writers who make a (very comfortable) living by examining the idiosyncrasies of frum life in an effort to eradicate all pet peeves from our midst, we love a good cheshbon hanefesh. And, we’ll admit it; this time we submitted our own questions
I feel like I spent this whole year hearing what was going on in my friends’ and siblings’ lives way after the action already went down. I wish my friends and family would just fill me in quickly, but I found out that Yanky got a new job when he got promoted nine months in, for Pete’s sake, and I only knew that the Schwartzes were selling their house when the new neighbors knocked on my door to ask to borrow some toothpaste (gross, keep it). My goals for this year are to be in the hock center instead of on the periphery, maybe even cause some hock of my own. How can I improve?
We’re sorry to have to tell you, but the key to staying in the know is simple: staying on the top of other people’s minds. It’s hard work. It’s a job. In fact, it’s a full-time job. Quit whatever else you have going on and devote your days to making sure that the people in your life know you’re there.
If you haven’t started each day with “Hiiiiii, what’s new with you?” to at least 15 of your nearest and dearest, consider the whole week a failure. You got this; those “Send this out to ten people in the next ten minutes or else” chain emails in the 90s were nothing but training for this very endeavor. As far as causing your own hock is concerned, quitting your job to devote your life to keeping up with your friends will probably solve that problem, too.
I didn’t get enough metzios this year. My sister is always showing me now-defunct Amazon links for things she got within a five-minute seller’s posting mistake window, and I probably missed three sets of $350 JFK-TLV tickets that everyone else chapped arein. How can I maximize my spending on things I absolutely don’t need but can’t turn down because it’s just such a great price?
Easy. Pay your sister a retainer to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Did she order you a 12-pack of nonreturnable boys slim-fit pants in a size six even though you only have girls? Who cares, a sale’s a sale. (Ask her for a reduced fee and you can call that a metziah, too!)
When bedtime rolls around, I can reliably be found drifting off in my five-year-old’s bed, while she waits me out and sneaks off to raid the snack closet and play with my older three until I wake up with a start and a neck crick at ten p.m. Round two of bedtime doesn’t go much more smoothly. I need this year to be better, but how?
You can absolutely join the league of moms who have bedtime down to a science. In fact, it’s simple! Start bath time at precisely four p.m. daily, and make sure that from then on, all ambient noise and lighting around your children is soft and relaxing. Neighbors still shriek-giggling outside? Keep the windows closed and keep your eye on the clock. Start the bedtime routine at five p.m. sharp and basically, you’re going to bore your kid straight to sleep. It (with melatonin) works like a charm.
Any time I see anyone asking about how to improve their shalom bayis, the answer is always, unequivocally, to institute a weekly date night. So I did: Sunday nights at eight p.m. sharp my husband sits at the kitchen island so we can shmooze while I scrape out the cholent pot while he eats the microwaved cholent. You could set your watches by us. The problem is, it doesn’t quite do the trick — it kind of feels like we’re both phoning it in. This year, I want to take our relationship to the next level. Is taking on a kabbalah to have two date nights a week kind of nuts?
You can do anything you set your mind to. Two date nights a week? Wild, but we love it. Might we suggest a Wednesday night linen-folding sesh? A Monday night dish-putting-away marathon? A Friday night seudah together? Going to PTA on a school night? The sky’s the limit, you crazy people.
I’m a working mom of six, my husband works and learns, and basically, life is hectic, like it is for everyone else. Sure, I volunteered for mesivta carpool three times a week this year because driving to yeshivah alone is the most vacation I’m going to get, but so what? I’m fine, probably. I know there must be some unicorns out there who actually manage to calmly float through life, I just haven’t met any. Who are these people? And what do they know that I don’t?
You’re right, there are people who are so relaxed when they meet you in the grocery aisle. Those people are either:
in a fugue state
living a lie
any mixture of the above
secretly crying into their pillows at night
You, too, can achieve such levels of chill by following those protocols. Other options include: become independently wealthy and outsource your ZARA returns to a mother’s helper (If you’re too wealthy to shop at ZARA, you don’t need advice from this column), buying premade schnitzel that you can throw hot popper sauce on for that homemade touch, or asking your mother-in-law for advice (and be prepared for that advice to be that if you would like for your life to be perfect, what you should do is just be perfect.)
I really try to resist buying into the rat race, but every time I tell myself not to care when my friend Chanchy low key name drops the hot new Shlumps shoes she’s trying to get in her daughter’s size, I find myself accidentally pressing “order now” on shlumps.com size seven beige winter espadrilles that I scoop up for a cool $294.99. Oops.
This is a toughie. We’d recommend exposure therapy, in the form of reducing your closet to a capsule collection of only out-of-date clothes until you can wear animal print, tunics with pencil skirts underneath, and short-sleeved sweaters with shells underneath without batting an (unmascara’d) eyelash. Enjoy living the life of someone who is too cool to care.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 811)
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