"S habbos Hagadol in a hotel!” Aviva looked around at the lobby full of people milling around after shul Friday night. Zevi had just walked up to the quiet corner where, for the past hour, she’d been resting in an armchair, gently rocking Yerachmiel in his stroller.

She knew no one, and found she wasn’t even tempted to introduce herself to the cluster of women sitting nearby. When she considered how her younger self would have been the center of the group within minutes, she could only shake her head and wonder why it had taken her so long to discover the magic of just being.

She nodded toward the scene in front of them. “I know why I’m here, but what in the world are they all doing here a few days before Pesach?”

Zevi sat in the armchair opposite her. “And why are you here?”

She raised her eyebrow. “Because my husband kidnapped me.”

He nodded seriously. “Maybe these women all have the same excuse.”

“Or maybe they’ve been working really hard for the past few weeks. Unlike me,” she murmured.

Zevi had insisted on hiring help to do all the Pesach cleaning. Insisted wasn’t even the word; he had done it behind her back. One morning, a few days after the bris, just as she’d begun waking out of her self-pitying haze to realize Pesach was frightfully soon, she’d opened the door to find four eager bochurim standing there. She’d thought they were collecting for their yeshivah, but Zevi had quickly appeared.

“Ah, chevreh, you’re here!” And, ushering them past a bemused Aviva, he’d proceeded to give them instructions. “Goldberg, you take the seforim shrank. Rosen and Fried, the kitchen cabinets — and watch the china, my wife’ll kill me if anything breaks. Markowitz, start on the fridge. Help yourself to anything in there but my buffalo wings.”

He had then forced Aviva up to her bed, assuring her that he had everything under control. “Give these men two days and a couple pies of pizza, and the place will be Pesach-perfect.”

Aviva didn’t know how she’d allowed herself to be convinced — she’d never before relinquished control of her Pesach cleaning. As the hours had passed and she strained her ears to listen for suspicious crashes above the blasting music, she’d begun to formulate plans of sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to redo all of their work. Just in case.

She’d been dozing when Zevi came to check on her. She woke with a start, and blushed out of a vague sense of guilt. How utterly decadent, taking a nap a week before Pesach! Zevi, on the other hand, seemed to be having the time of his life.

“You don’t usually get this excited about Pesach cleaning,” she’d grumbled.

But her real concern was how they could afford all this help. Without directly answering her, he’d announced that, not only that, he was also taking her away for Shabbos Hagadol. It was all arranged, he’d even reserved the grandparents to babysit. (His parents, not hers, he’d hastily assured her.)

“And how—?” she’d tried again, but he’d waved her off.

“That’s for me to worry about.”

And so here they were, a whole Shabbos with just the two of them and the baby, and someone else doing the cooking and cleaning.

“I could get used to this,” she said, later that night, as they went for a walk around the lit-up grounds.

“I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen you this relaxed,” Zevi said.

Aviva laughed. “Can’t say the same for you.”

“Yeah, well, that’s me, always chilled.” An odd shadow passed over his face.

“You know,” Aviva said, after a pause, “Sometimes I’m jealous. I wish I could be more like you.”

He snorted. “No, you don’t.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 549)