A few weeks ago, which feels like an actual lifetime ago, I wrote a column about my “empty nest.” Over the past few months, people have asked me what it has been like not to have anyone at home, so I wrote about it. And I was going to submit it to my editor for this week’s paper. When I re-read it this morning, I just had to laugh. “I can’t publish this!” I said to husband #1. “I cannot even believe that I wrote this!” To be put in the category of “man plans and God laughs.” Apparently though, if you complain enough about not having anyone home, they all come back … of course they had no or little choice, but, hey, all that matters is that they are home, right?
Husband #1 turned 50 this past week. Originally, we thought we would have no one home with us for Shabbos. And then, as you all know, we were in the midst of a pandemic. Son #3 flew home from Israel almost three weeks early. I was very excited that he was coming home, but when I realized that he was coming home, it dawned on me that I had turned his room into a storage unit. Literally. So I got to work cleaning it up, which meant putting everything into son #2’s room, because I figured he was never coming home from his yeshiva in Baltimore. Well, soon after I thought that, son #2 informed us that he, too, was coming home. Not because he wanted to, mind you, because he was one of the last out-of-town hold-outs. It was him and a select few wayward souls who weren’t giving up. They had enough faith in God to ride it out — until they were told to leave. Then I was forced to clean son #2’s room. Which, I guess, was a good thing.
This brings us to last Friday. At 4:15 p.m. husband #1 received a call from son #1, “Dad, can you come pick us up?” The one positive of a pandemic? It took less than two hours, during rush hour, to drive to and from Far Rockaway on a Friday afternoon. And then there were six of us. DIL #1 has never been with all of us for a Shabbos. This was going to be interesting. But it was really nice having everyone together. And it seems that this togetherness is going to continue until … we have no idea when. Every so often I will look at my daughter-in-law and say, “I am so sorry that you are stuck with me!!!” But we are still in our honeymoon phase, so I think we are OK.
We are in unchartered territory, all of us. Knowing that we have no control and feeling like we have no control are two different animals. And as we move closer and closer to Passover, that lack of control feels even more overwhelming. I already made my kosher-for-Passover chicken soup because it made me feel like I did have control over something. And then I thought back to a few years ago, when we lost power for 10 days before Passover, and all the stuff that I had cooked and frozen needed to be thrown out because of the outage. Man plans and God laughs.
Everyone is dealing with this in their own way. We have no choice. In my house, we turned our hockey room into a beit midrash — a house of learning. The boys each have all of the books (seforim) down there, and they even have my parents’ Torah for good measure. I give them a lot of credit. They wake up early and go downstairs and pray and learn. As opposed to me, who is trying really hard to gain back all of the weight I have lost and watch as much mindless television as possible. We all have our own ways of coping.
So now my empty nest is full, and I am back to my job as short order cook, housekeeper, and concierge. I am taking meal requests and trying to stay on top of our supplies. (Which is hard to do when ShopRite limits us to one box of tissues per family. So, of course, I wait on four different lines so I can come home with four boxes of tissues.)
In any event, I wish all of you good health, sanity, and peace of mind. I hope I can keep you all laughing during this ridiculously trying time in our lives and in our history. And I really look forward to the time when we can look back on this and say, “Gee, it wasn’t really that bad….”
With love to all of you (except those of you who don’t really like me),
The Frazzled Housewife
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is turning into the shape of lazy boy recliner, and there is nothing wrong with that.