When Jewish guilt meets Mom guilt

Passover is coming up (starting Saturday night), and I’m having to make a decision about whether to observe this year. It seems very difficult to do so, given that I’m about to hit the last trimester. On the other hand, I feel bad not observing, because I’ve never not observed since becoming a Jew ten years ago (yes, I calculated that milestone recently). Dan and I have been reasonably scrupulous about it, especially for Reform Jews, and it’s important to me. It’s just that right now, I kind of have to eat whatever whenever.

It’s true that I’m already trying to minimize the amount of refined sugar that I’m eating, which means that I’m not eating a lot of bready products to begin with. However, breakfast is Cheerios every day, and I am consciously eating a lot of whole grains, which are clearly out. I’ve also been relying quite a lot on yogurt, tuna, bagged salads, “tomato-based products,” and so forth, for all of which I would have to find specifically kosher for Passover equivalents. Living in Houston, kosher l’Pesach products are not that easy to find, as Dan and I have discovered in the past. The year we lived in Pearland, for example, there were no grocery stores in Pearland that even carried Passover matzohs, let alone other products. 

Complicating this is the fact that Dan still wants to observe, so we’ve decided to at least do Passover dinners like salmon and the matzoh lasagna that I make every year, so that he can observe for the one meal he eats at home. I, on the other hand, am faced with the choice of either not observing at all, which makes me feel bad as a Jew, or observing and being on an even stricter diet, which makes me feel bad as a mom. Nathan’s relying on me to provide him all his nutrients, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job of balancing things so that he’s getting the right mix. I guess the upshot of all this is that I should probably just get used to feeling guilty about something all the time from here on out.

4 Responses to “When Jewish guilt meets Mom guilt”

  1. regan
    April 15th, 2008 14:17
    1

    As I am horribly nosey, I was wondering what you were going to during Passover. I just read an article about how some of the Jewish runners of the Boston marathon, which is happening during Passover, are not going to observe on the day before and the day after the marathon because it would be unhealthy to do so. I think being pregnant is an even better reason to not observe.

    Although, on the other hand, I’m sure many pregnant women have observed Passover with no ill effects. It probably just all boils down to your comfort level with not being able to eat freely.

    Blah, I am long winded about a topic that does not relate to me in any way, what-so-ever. Awesome.

  2. erinmak
    April 15th, 2008 14:24
    2

    Actually, I saw that article, too, and that was part of my decision-making process. Coincidentally, the rabbi mentioned in the article, Jonah Pesner, was the rabbi who married Dan and me in Boston!

    If we lived in Israel, I think there’d be no question, but I think my diet would be a little different to begin with then, too. Since we’ll be eating dinners together and the dinners will be Passover-compliant, I’ll be observing 1/3 of the time, so that assuages my guilt a little bit. I guess I need to become good at rationalization, too …

  3. ctate
    April 16th, 2008 15:00
    3

    My impression was that health pretty much always takes precedence over kashrut — starving to death but just found a cache of bacon? Go ahead; HaShem understands. That line of thought suggests that pregnant women, being in a special health category, should most properly eat what is best for their child-to-be.

    In a different direction, you and Dan could just declare by fiat that you’re Sephardim, and go ahead and eat rice and beans. :)

  4. erinmak
    April 16th, 2008 15:38
    4

    @ctate: All of this is true, but it doesn’t change my guilt levels. And, in fact, being a convert I’m neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardic, so we’ve never observed the uber-restrictions on corn, beans, rice, peanuts, etc. We just avoid the six named grains and yeast.

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