Chanukah is a time for miracles, for achieving the impossible–or redefining our possibilities. Before Chanukah, I went to a lecture by Rebbetzin Shira Smiles about holiday. One of the many points she made was that the miraculous nature of Chanukah can allow us to grow beyond our natural limits. 7 is the number of nature, and the 8 days of Chanukah allow us to stretch farther than our current natural limits.
I certainly tested my limits this Chanukah. As far as cooking goes, Chanukah is always a little crazy around here. Other than the singing, dancing, spinning, “Kids, get away from the fire!” routine for eight nights, my cooking philosophy does an about-face as well. Yes, the woman who claims that franks-in-a-blanket are not real food and has never willingly fed her children mallawach has been known to fill a pot with canola oil on Chanukah and DEEP FRY. My husband finds it amusing. I think the house stinks like oil. But I like how customs can make food more meaningful, and how much damage can be done with a doughnut or two once a year?
This year, I tested my limits way beyond the kitchen. It was my first time spending five days by myself with five kids (with them on vacation for most of the time!) and no car. I sometimes make the mistake of comparing myself to other mothers who look and sound calmer, have a cleaner house, or whose kids always look like little angels. This week, I prioritized the kids over the house and tried to plan ahead as much as possible. The kids I all rose to the occasion, and not only did we make it, we had a lot of fun! The part that my husband finds the most incredible is that the six of us were out of the house one morning at 8:37, all packed up for a day at the zoo. Sitting on the bus that we took since we really had to be out before 8:30 to catch the train, with my boys sharing a seat three seats away to make room for two other women to sit, baby on my lap and my youngest daughter throwing up her breakfast into my hands, I managed to stay calm, and I felt like supermom. I was also really glad that my sister was meeting us at the zoo and after three bus rides, two train rides, a new dress for the little one, and three and a half hours at the zoo, my mother-in-law was meeting us at home for supper. I learned that it’s both fun and exhausting to play super-mom for a short while, and I’m really glad it was only for a few days. I thought I would need a miracle to make it through the week. Instead, I pushed myself to the limit and gained a new respect for single parents and a deeper sense of self-respect as a mother!