Why I Need To Learn To Be "Enough"

I have to be honest; Passover has never been one of my favorite holidays. Maybe it’s because the Seder is so long, or because trying to coordinate so many people to pay attention in our super long Seder table (as in 30+ people) for one Seder, after completing the first half at another Seder, is just too much. I am not someone who thrives in rooms with a lot of people and a lot of noise, even when I’m surrounded by my loved ones. For years now, my sisters and I have had to split our time between two houses in one night. Granted, I don’t always get to go to Chile for Passover, but even during years that I don’t, I still have to “virtually” divide myself for both, mostly in solidarity to my sisters, and so I can be “there” for both sides of the family.

This year, the Seder has taken a whole different meaning for me. It goes beyond the fact that we all have to celebrate a very family-centered holiday (in my family’s case, more so than all the other holidays throughout the year) separate from one another. Seder means “order”, and the irony of spending a holiday that centers on a centuries old ordered ritual during a time in our lives where uncertainty takes over is not lost on me. As someone who does best in overly organized routines, this week has been by far the hardest part of this whole social distancing period.

There are a few songs that characterize the Seder for me (and probably for many of you as well). First, there’s Avadim Hainu, which talks about how we were once slaves in Egypt, and now we are free. Then, there’s the Ma Nishtana; this is the song about the four questions that children are expected to sing and talks about how this night is different from all other nights. Then, there’s Dayenu, which means “It would be enough”. I could write 2000 words about how each of these songs resonate with our current global situation. We are slaves to a virus, and one day we will be free; how is this night different from all other nights? Well, the world is under siege from an invisible Pharaoh so to speak, and we don’t get to celebrate like we have for centuries. And then, there’s Dayenu… During one of our family Zoom Seder’s, we went around asking what our Dayenu moment would be right now, and it got me thinking:

Are we able to fully appreciate “enough” right now?

Here in New York, we are entering week four of Social Isolation. Days are long, and like my mom likes to say every day during our afternoon chats “it’s like being stuck in Groundhogs Day”. My days consist of work, professional development, homeschooling two kids, cooking, finding some type of new and exciting activity for the kids, and a few times a week, Fellowship work. Of course, some days are different than others, and my reading time takes over the “special activity”, mainly as a survival move if the morning has been long. Those days? Those are the hard ones: when I have to battle with the idea of how doing something for myself takes away from my doing something to make this time easier on my children. On those days, all I think about is how I would give anything for my kids to go back to school so I can go back to having time for myself. On those days, my biggest struggle isn’t that I didn’t have time for myself; it’s that I wasn’t enough for my children.

But then came the Seder, and I thought, how am I defining “enough”?

I see the flaw in my thinking. I have spent my time in the past four weeks juggling keeping the children up to date in their education, unfazed by the uncertainty and anxiety of the outside world, healthy. I have spent my time struggling to keep myself making healthier lifestyle choices as to avoid falling into a deep depression. I juggle Zoom calls between my different professional responsibilities, and while I end up feeling like a Zoombie by the end of the week, I am grateful that I had a chance to interact with other adults in a space that helps me grow. The fact is, I earned that extra hour of reading during the day, or that hang out Zoom call that isn’t directly related to work, and not because I did so much during the day, but because I did “enough”.

The reality is, I am not the type of person who can make the best out of a situation when I am trying to manage my anxiety. I would love to work on new and exciting art projects with the kids every day or go outside with them and do something when the weather is nice or work out and do yoga every day so I can stay healthy. However, I am not that person, and that needs to be enough. It doesn’t need to be enough for my family; it needs to be enough for me.

Right now, when the world is unstable and doubt takes over our lives, we shouldn’t define “enough” as doing as much as we possibly can. Yes, we should all strive to doing our best. But on days when the world feels like it’s falling on our heads, “enough” should be defined as whatever we can handle.

If I am able to feed my kids three meals a day, and they spend the rest of the day on their screens, that would be enough.
If I am able to spend 10 minutes coloring with the kids, and the rest of the day they play by themselves or watch movies, that would be enough.
If I am able to read 2 chapters of my book while the kids do their own thing, that would be enough.
If my children spend the whole day on their screens, and I am able to do my work undisturbed, that would be enough.
If I am able to have a good cry at the end of the day from exhaustion or just anxiety, that would be enough.

We need to stop trying to make “enough” be more than we can handle. We need to stop looking at “enough” as a mediocre attempt at survival. We are slaves to this pandemic, and this night is worlds different than any other night.

But if we can get through today, without worrying about tomorrow, Dayenu.


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