A look at the calendar. Excitement builds.

There’s that underlying anxiety of pulling off 20 meals: preparing, shopping, cleaning, creating menus.... But I’m handing it all like a pro, because I’m the captain of my ship and I’ve done this so many times before. It’s all about organization and planning and prioritizing.

I’m doing so well that I have time for morning coffee with friends, an occasional manicure, and a shiur. In fact, I’m feeling calm and collected, trying to focus on the spiritual gratitude of this incredible Yom Tov.

In the midst of all this supermom bliss, bein hazmanim enters with a crash and a bang.

Army-sized duffel bags are thrown into the hallway. The stench of unwashed laundry fills the air. Big, tall boys (um, men) lug their belongings into the house, scattering hats, jackets, guitar cases, and tefillin bags all over my serene abode.

The next thing I know, my car and keys are hijacked and my money is mooched as they run about town, meeting up with the chevrah, eating out, catching minyan. Doors open and slam at unearthly hours, disturbing my slumber, waking the toddler. As I fix him a bottle, I notice that the beds of said boys (um, men) are empty. I check the time: 3 a.m.

Frantic, I call them, only to hear an incredulous tone: Why so nervous? Just singing at a friend’s house—the kumzitz is getting started. Don’t worry, Ma, we’re davening vasikin.

Negotiations begin about road trips, car rentals, new suits, and new shoes that must be purchased ASAP, please, thanks very much.

As I haggle with these boys (um, men), I’m at a serious disadvantage. For the past six years, they have perfected the art of the argument.

Breakfast and lunch are served from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m., as I try to accommodate different minyanim, different schedules, different appetites. Toaster oven, sandwich maker, panini press, frying pans, blender, coffee machines: My immaculate kitchen turns into an army mess hall. They insist they’re gourmet chefs and want to teach me how to make a proper omelette.

I can’t keep the fridge stocked, can’t keep the pantry full. Grocery orders come twice a day even though these boys (um, men) manage to meet the chevrah for lunch, supper, Melaveh Malkah in various food establishments across town. Pizza pies are ordered and picked up at random hours of day and night.

My throat is hoarse from begging, cajoling, manipulating: “Please hang wet towels on the rod… Please get up and daven… Please clean your room… Please put away the eggs and milk… Please, please, please help bring down the Pesach keilim… Please brush your teeth, they look untouched since the last time you were home… [and, of course] Please can you not argue with your siblings; they were managing quite fine until you showed up.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 587)