Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You Tevye, Me Golde?

I've been cranky at Jeff. No real reason. Cabin fever? My safe, secure punching bag? Poor Jeff. Anyway, I've just kept picking at him until we're both miserable. Yuck.

The other morning, trying to figure out what my big, fat problem was, I creased my brow at Jeff and said, "I seem to have some sort of built-up resentment toward you..."

In true Jeff form, he feigned shock and replied, "Really? You think so?"

Ummmm... yeah.

He went on to observe, "It seems maybe you have some expectations I'm not meeting..."

I knew that to be true, but I couldn't really figure out where my unmet expectations came from.

Until that afternoon.

Snuggling into my chair to watch Fiddler on the Roof, I sang merrily along with the opening number.

"Tradishuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! Tradition!"

As the song unfolded, Tevye told me, the viewer, as if we were in private conversation together discussing the secrets of life, that tradition was good because it meant, "Every one of us knows who he is, and what God expects him to do."

Hear that? What GOD expects him to do.

And what does God expect him to do, pray tell?

Well. The detailed list of Almighty God's expectations followed immediately:

Who, day and night, must scramble for a living
Feed a wife and children
Say his daily prayers
And who has the right as master of the house
To have the final word at home?

The Papaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! The Papa!


I sank down into my chair, hoping it would swallow me completely as sheepish realization flooded my mind.

My expectations for Jeff's role come straight out of Fiddler on the Roof.

I want him to be Tevye.

But the song continued! And revealed why I always feel like such a dismal failure! My expectations for myself! Right there in song and dance!

Who must know the way to make a proper home
A quiet home
A kosher home
Who must raise a family and run the home
So Papa's free to read the Holy Book?

The Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! The Mama!


The song actually shows The Mama scraping fish scales, kneading bread, scrubbing her sons behind the ears, plucking chickens, washing laundry in the river, and pitching hay.

I shrank further into my chair.

I think I should be Golde.

(Minus the husband-skarping, of course, because I don't do that sort of... Oh, wait... that came at the beginning of this blog post...)

And my sons?

At three I started Hebrew school
At ten I learned a trade
I hear they picked a bride for me
I hope she's pretty


And it's sure a good thing I don't have daughters, because I'd spend all my time in the fetal position, being incapable of doing any of the following:

And who does Mama teach
To mend and tend and fix
Preparing me to marry
Whoever Papa picks?

I can't mend, or tend, or fix. Jeff does all those things. And quite well, I might add.

While I teach the boys... Hebrew school...

So *that's* why I've been broiling internally!

Because every day, I wake up as Becky, not Golde! And every day, Jeff is not Tevye! And all day long, we are not a kosher Jewish family! Living in 19th century Russia!

It took me two full days to get up the courage to approach Jeff and confess the root of my cranky angst.

"Ummmm... Jeff? I figured out what my unmet expectations were..."

His nostrils flared only slightly as I burst into song, and he listened patiently throughout my entire explanation (see above).

But then, oh then, the moment of truth.

Looking my husband very seriously in the eye, I announced, "But the thing is, Jeff, I really think the stuff about the Papa is actually Biblical."

His lips disappeared beneath his goatee as he formed them into the thinnest of lines.

I added hastily, "Except for the part about feeding his wife and children. That part we follow literally, since you do all the cooking..."

His eyes narrowed to match his absentee lips. Oh, he felt so self-righteous, glaring at his legalistic, traditional, wannabe-kosher, hypocritical wife who won't cook.

I narrowed my eyes right back. "But you think I should be Golde, don't you?"

Caught off-guard, he struggled internally.

I drove the knife in. "You want me to make a proper home, a quiet home, a kosher home, raise the family, and run the home. Don't you?"

He wanted so badly to deny it.

But he couldn't.

Ha! Got 'im. Looks like he's got some unmet expectations of his own. Raise the family all by myself. I tell ya.

He backpedaled. "Well, if I were really doing all the Papa things, then I would be forcing you to do all the Mama things."

"Yes, but, if you were doing all the Papa things, it would be a lot easier for me to do all the Mama things."

He let it drop.

The sad truth is that we're not in 19th century Russia. We're in 21st century America. And we're not Jewish. We're mostly Western European mutts. We will never wake up as Tevye and Golde, no matter how much we may wish it.


But the happy truth is that God designed us to be Jeff and Becky, and He put us in this era, in this location, for a reason.

In our family, we're making our own traditions. James feeds the dogs and the bearded dragon, Jonathan feeds the turtles and the fish, Mom feeds the cats, and Dad feeds the family. As for raising the family? It's a joint effort.

That's how we do things.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKHTabTYl_M&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b]

PS Topol is still touring on stage as Tevye, at the age of 74. Now that's tradition.