It’s Passover and as Michael, the kids and I prepare for a leaven-less week, I am taking a moment out to think about what this holiday and this season mean. Whether you celebrate Passover or Easter…or Eastover… or are simply taking time out to notice it’s spring, it’s a time of rebirth and renewal and, of course, reflection. So, I am remembering a story, a call for introspection, I once heard about Passover and the reason we eat matzah. Imagine a nice fluffy loaf of bread sitting on a table next to a piece of matzah. The bread is bouncy and soft, maybe a bit sweet; the matzah on the other hand is crispy and dry, hard and flat. Now think about yourself. Think about the times in your life that you cover yourself with adornments that add lightness and puffiness and a sort of protective cover for you.
Believe me I am very good at adorning myself, my mom always said, “all you need is a smile and some lipstick.” She taught me that you put a little lipstick on your lips, pat a little on your cheeks and voila you just look happier.” I do believe to a degree she is correct, that is why you will never catch me without a tube of lipstick! But being able to see that no amount of lipstick will cure your sadness, anger or disappointment and the key is to open those perfectly lined lips and share with those closest to you what sits deep inside and unadorned is crucial to living a full life. A full and authentic internal life and one with those closest you as well.
We often are sweet and fluffy and attractive, soft to touch and craveable, but on the inside we sometimes feel crispy, hard and ready to crumble. I know as a working mom I am in a struggle often of creating a mommy that is puffy and soft and able to do it all and absorb it all like fat, soft bread. I am also a women who is feeling dried and crispy inside worrying if there is enough time and love for myself, my husband and my children during each day, each week and each season.
The season of Passover, amidst the stories of freedom from slavery and journeys to new lands is also an invitation to think about being more in touch with our crispy, crunchy, fragile insides. These parts that we hide from others all the rest of the year, this vulnerability is beautiful even if what is revealed doesn’t seem so attractive, it is certainly very real. These parts that may not be the most loveable parts are still critical to be in touch with and tells a story about who we are.
It is the journey, the escape from bondage and an entry into a new land, and that is scary. We might be broken. It is often this fear of being “seen” as broken even by those closest to us such as our spouse or children or parents that can keep us in a type of bondage. A bondage we have created ourselves to keep us appearing as “fine” or in control or trying to divert and distract ourselves from our very own broken parts that frankly can scare the hell out of us.
I’m going to do the following activity to prepare my family for the holiday, and I invite you to join me. Whether you celebrate Passover or not, this can be a lovely way to connect with your children on the themes of the season. Invite your children and your spouse or partner to a picnic. In the living room or outside in the yard it doesn’t matter where you picnic, but it should be somewhere somewhat private. At your picnic have a nice loaf of your family’s favorite bread. Also have a few pieces of matzah, it doesn’t matter what flavor. Start by describing the two and how they differ.
For the purposes of this description, imagine you describe the bread as full, fluffy, soft, fat and imagine you describe the matzah as crispy, flat, and hard.
* Next let everyone have a serving of bread, and while you’re eating talk about the times that you feel fluffy. When do you feel light or happy? What makes you feel soft and at ease? What about full?
*After you’ve enjoyed your bread, have a piece of matzah. Do the same exercise. When in your life are you hard or angry? What about your life feels flat or boring? When have you felt like you could crumble?
*Notice each other’s thoughts, as the parent take time to really appreciate all the aspects of your children, the soft and happy as well as the hard and crispy. It takes all of these parts of ourselves to make us whole. And recognize that matzah and bread are made with the same ingredients; they just have different ways of coming together. Share with your kids how you feel similar to them and how all these parts of ourselves- the hard and the soft are valuable and important.
Finally, aim to spend the week seeking freedom from the pressure to be puffed up and soft all the time, allow yourself to be raw and vulnerable and to lean on one another when you feel like you might break. Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a season of reflection!