Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Iyar 5759, May 12, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly

















Home and Family
Bessie Baalebusta
by Menucha Levin

Two hours till Shabbos on a sunny Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. Temporarily, I escape the steamy kitchen chaos -- the vegetable peel aftermath of cholent and salad making -- to hang up one more load of laundry. It's winter and I don't have a dryer, and wet laundry is anxiously awaiting its moment in the sun.

Quickly pegging the assorted shirts and pants while enjoying the fresh air, I see my neighbor -- I'll call her Bessie Baalebusta -- going for a walk with her little children. Two hours before Shabos (and one of the earliest of the year, at that!) and already they are bathed, brushed and beautifully dressed. Even from across the street, I can see their hair shine. And bli ayin hora, she's got five of them under the age of six, or is it six under the age of five? I'm not quite sure, but she definitely has a set of twins in there somewhere. Always surrounded by children, Bessie is constantly calm, competent and organized in a way that I could never be.

All her Shabbos food was cooked and prepared early in the week. No last minute loads of laundry for her, chas v'sholom. Vegetable peelings strewn across her kitchen table in a Friday beat-the-clock frenzy? Never!

Bessie is an Organizer, the kind of woman who plans ahead, makes lists and schedules, sticks to them, and has her whole life down to an efficient science. She starts her Pesach cleaning the day after wrapping up all the Chanuka menoras instead of letting them gather a thick layer of gray dust on the window ledge. Mold simply would not be permitted to grow under her kitchen sink.

Like many women, Bessie is capable of doing several things simultaneously, but she can do them faster and better. For example, she can cook spaghetti, change a diaper, fix a toy, organize a carpool over the phone, break up a toddlers' fight [Ed. Bessie's kids fight?] and plan a smashing birthday party for twenty-two kids at virtually the same time. She has at least a dozen recipes for foolproof gefilte fish (even for Pesach). She can listen patiently to a five-year-old's endless story about her day in gan. She is quite capable of managing on only four hours of interrupted sleep.

And, of course, you can eat off her glossy kitchen floor any time you feel like it.

She cooks nourishing, wholesome, well balanced meals for her family. Her kids don't even know what junk food is, let alone regard it as a staple item. As she cleans, mops, scours, scrubs, vacuums and washes, she listens to Torah tapes for inspiration. She collects tzedoka for worthy local causes. She davens with her children every day. Even in her ninth month, she still invited Shabbos guests.

A true eishes chayil is Bessie. She never spends frantic moments searching for a crucial lost document. Neither does she possess a hazardous handbag referred to by her family as "the black hole." UFO's (Unidentified Fungal Objects) never grow in the dark back corners of her fridge. Apart from everything else, she is perpetually cheerful, patient and amazingly sane.

Does she ever lose her temper and shriek at her kids? Do they ever go off to school with mismatched socks and untrimmed fingernails? Do her children ever scratch their heads for some unmentionable reason?

Does she ever have those crazy mornings when nothing goes right, when essential schoolbooks disappear, snacks can't be found, the last bag of milk has turned sour, someone lost his left shoe and everyone is snarly and running late?

Definitely not! The Bessies of this world simply would not allow these calamities to occur. These women do an incredible job and they have my deepest respect and admiration, despite the occasional inferiority complex they inflict upon me. But maybe it's time for us Disorganized Deenas and Last- Minute Layas to stop comparing ourselves. Maybe we should band together and fight back. We may not be perfect, but we're not doing such a bad job, either. Our husbands and kids still love us, right? I managed to hang up that laundry, tossed out all the vegetable peels (even the one that rolled under the radiator), wrote this article and still got my candles lit on time!

Who needs to eat off a kitchen floor, anyway?

[O.K. Managing Menuchas of the world, unite, and do some more writing for Yated's Home and Family! Never published before? Try your luck. We've launched writers for their first time. Bet you the Bessies can't write like the Menuchas! You have to be a bit spacey and original and disorganized to take time off for such essential non-essentials. But, Menucha, you've given us plenty to be proud of -- for being our own lovable selves. And -- readers -- the challenge is on -- not necessarily two hours before Shabbos! Our FAX - 02- 5387998 or address: Weinbach, Panim Meirot 1. Entry need not be typewritten, just legible.]


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