Home / Musings / Musings-29


My Favorite Day of the Year

Yitti Berkovic

 My eight-year-old son was not in the mood of doing his homework.

While I prodded him to consider how many apples Mike has if he has six times as many apples as Sandra, he chose instead to ask me every random question that popped into his head.

“Ma, who is your favorite civil war general?”

(He just finished reading one kiddie book of historical fiction and suddenly he’s a civil war buff).

“Ma, would this corn on the cob grow in our backyard if I planted it there?”

 (Not with my black thumb. I can’t even keep a Trader Joe’s orchid alive).

“Ma, what’s your favorite Yom Tov?”

Aha! Finally, a question I could answer.

I was in middle of trying to find a last-minute costume that could still be delivered before megillah reading (please remind me next year that it isn’t a mitzvah to wait until the last second!), so I answered with the Yom Tov that was very much top of mind: “Purim!”


Apparently, that was the wrong answer.

He looked at me askance. “Can’t be.”

“Why not?”

“Because Purim is not fun for you.”

“It’s not?”

“No. All you do is drive us around and warn us not to eat too much candy. Why is that fun?”


Now I was as stumped as I was with the corn on the cob question.

Because he’s right. 

At least on paper, Purim should not be my favorite Yom Tov. You loyal readers already know that I’m not the creative type, and coming up with mishloach manos themes or adorable costumes gives me hives. And in the run-up to Purim, I’m usually stressed: I’m stressed that Amazon won’t deliver the socks that are absolutely necessary (in her words) for my daughter’s costume; I’m stressed that my son’s rebbi is only available to see students between 11:00-12:00 and lives in entirely different zip code; and I’m stressed that I forgot to take out the meat for the seudah and it’ll never defrost in time.

Does that sound like fun? Not so much.

And when Purim arrives, my husband and I sweat through the day like overwhelmed event planners, barking questions (him) and orders (me) about how to get through the day unscathed: What’s our next stop? How many more mishloach  manos do we need? (“Quick! Rip off the label and regift that really nice one for the rebbi!”) When are you davening Minchah? At what time do we have to wash? Do our kids have any teeth left?

Again, hardly anyone’s idea of super fun time.

So, I understood my son’s befuddlement. If Purim is more frenzy than fun for us adult folk, why is Purim my favorite Yom Tov?

I think I know the answer.

It’s because on Purim, it feels like the mitzvas hayom is to be a mother. To be a mother who isn’t concerned about rules, about structure, about serving a balanced dinner or about getting the kids to bed on time. To be a mother who puts her children’s simchah above all. 

Because the imperative of marbim b’simchah is candy-colored and chaotic. When diets are more sugar than protein, when the kids’ clothes are intentionally mismatched and their hair is in disarray, when bedtimes are upside down or nonexistent – it means I was the best mother to them that day.

It’s vnahafoch hu – and it’s so freeing! 

Purim is unlike so many other Yomim Tovim when I feel pulled between two roles, when I long to be in shul, when I feel guilty for not having more kavanah while also feeling guilty for not playing on the floor enough with my kids. It’s unlike other Yomim Tovim when I feel bad that I fell asleep on the couch after Tzafon because I was tired from cooking all day, or when I feel bad for finally getting to shake lulav and esrog when the sun is on its way down. 

Yes, I know that Purim is a special yom tefillah, and my Tehillim stays with me all day as I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but still, on Purim, it feels like my very tafkid is to be the happiest mother I can be – whether it’s when I’m shuttling my children from one spot to another, when I’m reminding them to give mishloach  manos to the classmate who might not get any, or when I’m whipping up a seudah that will nourish them after eating nothing but Sippys since 6 A.M. 

I’m mikayim the mitzvos hayom late at night and in the early morning at (a gragger-free!) megillah leining for women, when I give one mishloach manos, and when I write a check to the adorable bachurim who dance through my front door. Then, for the rest of the day, I get to tap into the simchah of the day, a simchah that comes from letting my children be children and experiencing the day through their eyes. 

Is there a greater joy than watching a two-year-old see himself in a costume for the first time? A greater joy than seeing a six-year-old dance with his rebbi (dressed as a dinosaur) for the first time? A greater joy than seeing your high school bachur go collecting with his friends? (Okay, this “joy” comes with anxiety, and I’ll skip the vicarious hangover, but maybe one day I’ll see the joy in this stage too).

So, my eight-year-old doesn’t believe I’m actually having fun on Purim, but budding civil war buff that he might be, he doesn’t yet understand that for an old lady like me, my simcha comes from letting go of all the demands I make on myself to be a “responsible mother” at all times. My simchah comes from embracing v’nehafoch hu and letting all the rules fall to the wayside. My simchah comes from tuning out my children’s arguments (“you can’t have that chocolate bar – it came in my mishloach manos!”) by convincing myself that they’re simply in character to match their costumes– no need for this mother to intervene!

So maybe Purim isn’t “fun” for us mothers in the technical sense. Maybe it’s more exhausting than entertaining. Maybe I’ll need to read this article to myself when my head is pounding on Purim day because every one of my kids is sticky from a Laffy Taffy rope, and I’m thinking I’d rather scrub my oven for Pesach than sit in traffic for one more minute.

But all I’ll need to do is remind myself that when I get into bed Purim night, bone-tired and too exhausted to even think about the empty snack bags and confetti that litter my kitchen floor, there’s zero guilt. There’s zero self-flagellation. There’s just that giddy joy that the day went exactly the way it was supposed to, and I was the very best mother I could be. 

And that’s why Purim is my favorite day of the year!

Other author's posts
Leave a Reply
Stay With Us