One of the things that I loathe about my Passover cleaning is cleaning my kids’ car seats. If there is one place that is a leavened product-magnet it is my kids’ car seats. Whether it is Popcorners, or rice cakes or a bagel on-the-go, it seems that those things can never get cleaned. Without Passover, their seats might always be gross. Are you with me?
So the other day, after removing all of the padding and shifting the buckles and straps, as I was vacuuming their car seats outside on a beautiful, warm day, I saw a half of a mini pretzel and a cheesy whale cracker stuck in a tiny crevice of the little one’s seat. Lovely.
But no problem here because…
My mom just won a new Dirt Devil as a door prize and she passed on her winnings to me, just in time for Passover. (Thanks, Mom). I took out the smallest attachment and put it on the vacuum. I was excited to suck up the food pieces with it.
But no such luck.
Even the smallest vacuum attachment could not reach those pieces of hametz, leavened snacks.
I immediately began to worry. How would I sleep at night during Passover knowing that a half of a mini pretzel and a cheesy whale cracker was stuck in her car seat? Would my declaring all of my leavened products like dust in the earth be good enough when these snacks were much larger than a speck of dust? Since I cannot own leavened products on Passover, would my temporary selling of it to someone who was not Jewish satisfy, even though I can see it?
I tried to get it with my fingers. Nothing. Maybe my small pinky? Nope. That didn’t work either. I ran inside to get a handful of Q-tips. Surely that would do the trick. But even the Q-tip could not dislodge the hametz from its hiding spot.
The fact that I was so concerned about this made me feel – for a slight second – righteous, as if God saw my determination as even a little bit worthy. Do I get an “A” for effort?
I moved to my other daughter’s car seat, as if taking a break to clean the second car seat would loosen the hametz from the crevice of the first one. It didn’t. Because after cleaning the second seat, the half of mini pretzel and cheesy whale cracker were still there in the first one.
I became frustrated and so I decided to bang on the side of the car seat, as if to use force to dislodge the hametz. I thought of my kids singing “Bang, bang, bang, dig your hammers low…” – that kids’ Passover song that describes the slaves in Egypt. But the banging didn’t work either. And then, in a last ditch effort, I decided to do something a little different. I turned over the car seat and shook it a bit. And then…out popped the half of a mini pretzel and cheesy whale cracker onto the blacktop of my driveway. Uh-mazing!
I took a moment to celebrate and then I paused to think about my methodology in getting it out.
I had been pushing and pulling, picking and prying at those things, all to no avail. I had used all sorts of instruments to suck it out, pull it out, and poke it out. And then, when I finally took a completely different approach – turning the entire car seat upside down, something finally shifted – and it didn’t even happen by force.
Isn’t that true of life, too?
I instantly thought about areas of my life where I tried to control, force, or push my own agenda, thoughts, feelings and hopes. Sometimes this was at the detriment of my family members or my co-workers, and other times, I realized that I was the only one that lost out.
Sometimes to get rid of the hametz, of that which bogs us down in life, we have to shift our perspective or our understanding. Sometimes to remove the schmootz, the goop of our lives, or to move on from a problem, we just have to see it with new eyes, or try not to force that which cannot be pushed.
And when we do that, we are blessed with showers of mini pretzels and cheesy whale crackers that pop out, completely on their own.
Isn’t it amazing how things just fall into place when we don’t try to force them?