To our dear Yad Rachel family members,
Purim is around the corner, just days away.
A beautiful Yom Tov, celebrating miracles of redemption and salvation. A day to take the time to recognize and commemorate Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis so long ago.
Feasting, dancing, gift giving, happiness and joy are the themes of the day.
So why is it so stressful?
Why is it that some of us aren’t feeling that happy vibe and instead feeling anxious … feeling overwhelmed…feeling tired… and even, although we feel shame admitting it, maybe feeling DREAD?
It’s a challenging holiday.
So much to do and accomplish for such a short day. Endless costumes, discussions about costumes, costume accessories, and then there’s creating endless amounts of Shalach Manos, kids Shalach Manos (when did that become the standard?), notes to be written to Rebbeim, teachers, therapists, delivering those endless amounts of Shalach Manos in the endless traffic, hearing Megillah twice while juggling babies who can’t attend Megillah, preparing Seudos, attending long Seudos where kids are hyper from too much sugar and too little sleep, dealing with a tipsy husband, the mess, the fatigue…
And of course, weighing most on your mind, is feeling terrible shame that you aren’t HAPPY. And feeling so guilty that you are secretly waiting for it to end.
Yes it’s a challenging holiday. And to some here in the Yad Rachel family, it’s even more than just challenging. When dealing with a post-partum mood disorder, a Yom Tov like this can be so triggering. One wouldn’t recommend someone who is healing from an anxiety disorder to throw themselves headfirst into chaos and lack of routine.
Here at Yad Rachel we understand this dilemma.
We don’t judge or criticize anyone who feels this inner turmoil. We respect how absolutely challenging it might be.
One good way of dealing with an event that’s looming on the calendar is coming prepared.
Be prepared physically, emotionally, and mentally. Come up with a strategy. Often, a well devised plan eliminates a tremendous part of the unmanageability.
Here’s some good ideas to help insure your Purim goes smoothly:
1- Sit down and have a frank and open discussion with a friend/ family member you trust.
Share your feelings. Share your fears. Admit the dread. Often, just getting the feelings out in the open and admitting they exist gives us immediate relief. Be specific so that they can help you brainstorm.
2- If your Shalach Manos hasn’t been made yet, keep it simple.
Newsflash- no one really truly cares about your Shaloch Manos. They are just wondering if you are admiring theirs. Seriously, we hate using the cliché but it’s so apropos- it’s the thought that counts. Your friends and family want to see your smiling face on Purim, not your perfect Manos. This is not the time of year to obsess over color schemes, themes, ribbons, cellophane. Find what works for you- if you prefer to bake, if it’s relaxing and enjoyable, keep it simple with biscotti or muffins.
If you can’t imagine making anything homemade, go to the nearest candy store, ask a sales lady the following “hi, I need your help. Can u walk me through the store and help me put together a Shaloch Manos for under six dollars, including bag, ribbon, sticker?” Most likely, they will have done this hundreds of times this past week so they will be helpful and fast.
3- Cut your list in half
Here’s the rule in my house – every child picks ONE teacher to visit on Purim. The rest gets sent to school. Period. No discussions. We’ve been doing this for years and everyone is still alive and well B’H.
Plot out a route with only super important drop offs. If going in and out of the car is stressful, stay inside the vehicle and send your child representative to the door.
4- Ask a Rav if you have to fast
As someone who has a history of PPD, or if you are currently in treatment for PPD, you might not have to fast Taanis Esther . Please remember a Psak about whether or not to fast, is a very clear yes or no answer. If you are told not to, don’t hesitate, or second guess it.
5- Prepare good nourishing breakfast and lunch
THIS IS IMPERATIVE.
You need strength and koach and energy. Make sure to take a few minutes Purim morning to sit down to a warm breakfast. Same goes for your children – full stomachs equal calm children.
Breakfast ideas – whole wheat grilled cheese in sandwich maker. Or one bowl of instant hot cereal with a sliced banana or other fresh fruit. Have time? Make an omelet loaded with cheese and veggies and serve with spelt crackers. The fuller they are; the less nosh they will eat. The fuller you are; the more energy you have to deal.
Lunch – More often than not, the Purim Seudah is late afternoon/evening. The kids have been up super early; because the day they have been waiting for a full year has arrived! By the time noon comes around they are famished.
Here are some ideas –
This is genius. The night before Purim, put up a big nourishing crockpot of meat and potatoes, or chicken and rice, maybe even a rich veggie soup, whatever your family prefers.
You and your children can dip in and enjoy any time during the day, and it’s both baby and adult friendly.
Keep a lookout for healthy Shalach Manos, put those aside for a quick snack. Try to ignore the tempting cookies and cake. Bless those friends that send salad, homemade applesauce, crackers and dips and eat them if you’re feeling hungry.
6- Seudah plans
Make sure your host has a playpen/crib if you need. Prepare your diaper bag the night before so you’re not left begging your tipsy husband to watch the kids while you run to a pharmacy. Come prepared with blankets and pacifiers.
If you are making the Seudah at your home. Keep the menu super simple and DELAGATE. This is not the time to be superwoman. Try your hardest to have your cleaning help available if possible.
7- Davening and feeling spiritually connected to the Yom Tov
Please understand. By working hard to make the day goes smooth and well for your children and husband you are achieving lofty status as an Eishis Chayil and a true Eved Hashem. This is enough. This is where Gadlus is achieved and measured. Please try to accept that and internalize it. Maybe there will be a friend bragging how this Purim her goal is to be able to daven all three tefilos. Maybe there will be a sister in law of yours who is reciting the entire Tehillim while you barely mumbled Brochos in the morning. That’s all admirable. But your Tafkid this year is to know that true spirituality lies in accepting our limitations as G-d given ones. This is real courage. Loving ourselves and not judging ourselves and not comparing our insides to other people’s outsides, that is the essence of a spiritual life.
We can only do the best we can do where we are at and that’s OKAY.
So whatever you can get to Daven, say out loud “Hashem, thank u for letting me Daven Brochos this morning. I feel ready to start the day right now. “
And if you can’t? A famous Rebbetzin once told us, talking to Hashem while you’re going through your day is just as powerful as any formal Tefilah– it’s a true connection.
8- Don’t feel the need to clean up everything
I think this is why we have Shushan Purim, no? To unwrap Shalach Manos, and clean up from the chaos.
So when u come home or when the last guest leaves, go straight to bed! The rest will get done in the morning. Trust me, it’s not going anywhere!
Dehydration triggers anxiety. Need I say more?
10- This too shall pass.
Anticipation anxiety can create a false sensation that an event is much longer than it actually is.
If you are worried how you will manage. Keep saying over and over.
“It’s just 24 hours. And then we are back to routine. “
We Chas Vishalom aren’t counting down for it to end or be over.
We Chas Vishalom don’t want to feel like Purim is a burden and maybe it would be easier if you stay in bed all day. No!
We just attempted to assist you to help process and participate in it in a healthy way.
Saying “this too shall pass” helps us minimize the feelings of being overwhelmed. We will not be stuck in this anxiety forever. It will end. Just like the day ends.
We hope that by coming prepared into the Yom Tov ,
You will be able to be mindful during some of it. If you do experience any brief moments of peace and quiet, grab onto them and enjoy. Try to match your child’s smile, try to hum along with the music, try to admire some of the amazing creative creations that come through your door. Hopefully those brief experiences will fill your heart and soul with a taste of the joy of Purim.