I am not a multi-tasker. It may be touted as a female trait but it seems to have missed me! I can’t cook and talk on the phone and do homework and organize a PTA event all at once although I could manage each of those at separate times.

The advantage of this is that when the Jewish holidays come, it’s a total immersion course. It’s like learning French in France for the summer. Nothing else exists but the holiday and my family members who are here to celebrate with me. It’s all consuming and if there are events occurring in the larger world (or even the larger neighborhood!), I am, for the most part, blissfully unaware. Then the holiday ends, my children depart for their own homes, I spend a day at the Laundromat and I have to resume “normal” life.

It’s not that I don’t want to; I do. It’s not that I don’t love my job; I do. It’s just that a total reorientation is now required. I have been living one way for the last month – all Passover and family focused – and now I have to return to a different way. Instead of jumping out of bed to begin yet another meal and hold a crying baby, I have classes to prepare (and teach) and articles to write (!) and it requires a different pace, a different way of looking at my day.

It sounds minor but even this type of change is never easy. In some way instead of rushing to do, I have a little more time to be, to think, to study, to ponder. I can slow down – just a little – but I am out of practice. I haven’t had the space, the ability to focus, what we call in Hebrew the “yishuv hada’as” – the sense of being settled – that allows me to prepare classes and probe new ideas.

I am reaching for it again but it isn’t easy. All transitions are complicated. The first few days after the holiday, I got up early and baked. “How can you still be cooking?” my friends asked in shock. “Because it’s what I’m used to” is probably the right answer. In a very short time, it had become a habit and habits, even recent ones, are not so easy to break.

It’s amazing how quickly habits are formed; and it’s stunning to see their power. Now I have to go about breaking the patterns of the last month (only to reform them again in about 5 months around the High Holidays) and it’s not as easy as it sounds. I am slowly turning around my mornings to focus on learning and class preparation and not trying out the latest cake recipe.

I am disciplining myself to sit still and read, even as my body is preparing to jump up and do. The challenge is that there really is always something to do. And just to make things even more difficult, I decided to redo my kitchen floor right after the Pesach rush (a glutton for punishment or an avoidance strategy?). Anyway, the good news is that life (and the demands of work) force me to change. And that change is actually possible. From this small experience, I see that, while difficult, growth is available. Like all else, I have to choose it and really mean it.