Exhausted. Aviva glanced at the living room couch. She was utterly, completely drained. What if she sat down for just a minute? 

With a shake of her head, she pulled herself away from the living room, back into the kitchen. At 2:00 a.m. on Thursday night — after a way too long week — if she sat down on the couch, she would not get back up. An hour ago, Zevi had popped up sleepily from where he’d dozed off at the kitchen table (he seemed to think his duty as husband compelled him to join her, in spirit at least, in her madness), and mumbled, “Donja think is time tagoda sleep?” 

She’d looked at him, at the red, watch-shaped indentation on his forehead from resting his head on his arm, and told him to go to bed. After all, it wasn’t as if he could help her with the mushroom crepes. 

She rubbed her eyes, stopping when she realized she was getting flour in her eyelashes. Her fridge was packed with gourmet dishes; her house was sparkling like Pesach. And she was a miserable, wrung-out wreck. 

Is this really worth it? She could hear Zevi’s voice — or was it her own? — bouncing off the silent walls. Will Mommy really care if I serve brownies for dessert, instead of crème brûlée? 

No… and yes. Her mother, who’d also worked full-time, had somehow managed to pull off gourmet Shabbosim and a sparkling-like-Pesach home every single week. What was wrong with her, that the effort was turning her into a rag doll? 

A rag doll with a nasty temper. 

She winced as she thought back to the scene earlier this evening. Chavi had come into the dining room, where Aviva was elbow-deep in silver polish. 

“Hey!” her daughter exclaimed, “Didn’t I just polish those candlesticks yesterday?” 

Aviva mumbled something about spots that she’d missed. 

Chavi looked like she wanted to say more, but shrugged instead. “If it makes you happy.” Teenage eye roll. “Anyway, Ma, when will you have time to help me with my Navi project? It’s due tomorrow.” 

Aviva looked up, wide-eyed. “Tomorrow? And you’re just now—” 

“—and I’ve been asking you all week to help me,” Chavi cut in. “And every single time you told me to ask you later!” She sounded near tears. 

Aviva’s shoulders tightened. “For your information, your grandparents are coming for Shabbos, and I’ve been extremely busy getting ready. It would be nice, of course, to have some help—” She quickly bit her tongue, but not soon enough. That was not fair of her, and she knew it. 

Chavi, of course, pounced. “Help? I’ve been helping every single stupid day! You’d think the president of the United States is coming to visit, for goodness’ sake! And now you can’t even help me one little bit for this project, and I’m gonna get, like, a zero on it!” Now the tears arrived. And that’s when Aviva had snapped. “Don’t go blaming this on me! You are 14 years old, and you still need your mother to do your homework for you?” Chavi had stalked out, tears gushing, and Aviva was left feeling like the worst mother in the world.