Why are we always placating, mediating, even apologizing?
Why do we have to feel like we’re the ones mucking up family tradition?
Why do we always have to explain how it’s really not so hard or different to do things our way?
Why must we look the other way or come up with rationalizations for our kids when our relatives dress inappropriately/kvetch about how the mechitza demeans women/run to the bathroom to answer a cellphone on Shabbos/mix up the milchigs and fleishigs in the kitchen/ask for the billionth time what could possibly be wrong with taking the kids to the movies/insist that their level of Judaism is the “normal” way to be.
Why do we have to suffer the anguish of severing a relationship because it’s just impossible to attend the wedding of an intermarrying sibling. (Or the “Bar Mitzvah” of a nephew whose mother is not Jewish.)
Why do we have to always pretend everything is just great, for fear that complaining will disparage frumkeit? Uptight about a childrearing issue? “You wanted to have all of them–in my day three was the limit.” Exhausted from all the cooking? “Can’t you take a break from Shabbos just once?” Money worries? “Public schools were good enough for you.” Stressed out preparing for Pesach? Well, forget any sympathy from parents who store the matzoh in the cabinet next to the bread.
Most of us are just a generation removed from Yiddish speaking, kashrus keeping, semi-Shomer Shabbos grandparents. But our parents were urged to break free and become “American.” We don’t worship the material accomplishments, the country club membership that defines our parents’ generation. And by circling back, we’re negating our parents’ values.
We’ve been there. More than anyone, we see the two sides to the dilemma. The problem is: there’s no possible compromise because…we know we’re right.
Our solution can only be anticipating the heightened nachas we’ll feel as matriarch or patriarch for our children’s futures. And to bite our lips.