Okay, it was bound to happen sooner or later — pre-event stress.

But over flowers?

I feel totally prepared and comfortable with my Bat Mitzvah service. And there are practically no bells and whistles surrounding the service — at least not compared with my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah four years ago, which involved printed invitations, hotel rooms and transportation for about 25 out-of-town relatives, multiple family dinners and brunches, a DJ party complete with chocolate fountain for the teenagers, and shopping expeditions for two completely different outfits for the Bat Mitzvah girl. (Plus we were coordinating all this with another girl and her family.)

Mine will be positively Zen-like in comparison!

But still, it’s a week away, and so the stress hit me tonight. Over the silliest thing — flowers.

At our temple, the Bat/Bar Mitzvah family is in charge of providing the flower arrangement for the bima (dais). It’s a big room, and so needs a big arrangement, and that can get pricey. Several weeks ago, I was at a Bat Mitzvah where the family placed five orchids on the bima instead of a florist-designed arrangement, and it looked great. Simple, elegant and LESS EXPENSIVE. I asked the mom where she got the orchids, and she said Costco, for about $13 each.

Bat Mitzvah orchid?

I figured orchids were the way to go. So yesterday I went to the Costco in Richmond and discovered they were totally OUT of orchids. The store computer said there were orchids at the San Leandro Costco, so I drove to San Leandro.  Of course they were totally out of orchids too. Apparently orchid season ended with the end of Chinese new year. I could have bought some bare-root rose bushes or blueberry bushes, but that didn’t seem to quite fit the bill.

Today I stopped at Trader Joe’s, which also has orchids. But were they the right orchids? Were they pretty enough? Full enough?

With floral design, we have ventured into one of my areas of total lack of competence and confidence. I couldn’t trust that my orchid choice would be successful. I came home and called the florist we had used for our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah — and was told the arrangement would cost two hundred and fifty dollars. And that the price of little stemless carnation heads — which congregants throw at the Bat Mitzvah in celebration after she completes her chanting — has gone up and would cost something like one hundred and fifty dollars.

(You can gauge my stress by the number of italics and capitalized words in this blog post.)

So I called another florist, who it turns out is somewhat cheaper. I’m still gagging, but not quite as much.

But this is only partly about my floral insecurity. There is suddenly a lot going on. My sister and her family are arriving from Rhode Island tomorrow for a weekend visit, and the day after they leave, I’m taking my daughter down to L.A. to look at colleges until Wednesday night. On Thursday night, my father-in-law arrives. Somewhere in the middle of all that, both my husband and one of my nephews have birthdays. And I have a couple of work-related interviews, a j. weekly board meeting, and my second dress rehearsal.

It occurred to me that with kids, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah child just has to worry about getting their chanting and d’var Torah right, while the parents worry about logistical things like hotel rooms and flowers. Everyone may be stressed out, but the stress is divided.

As an adult Bat Mitzvah, on the other hand, I’m in charge of both the substance and the logistics. Even with help from spouse and friends, it’s kind of like being my own mom.


Okay, I feel somewhat better having written this post.

Blogging as stress reduction? I never thought about that when I started Midlife Bat Mitzvah.

But it’s cheaper than paying for a massage, and healthier than downing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.


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9 Responses to “Stress!”

  1. molly schuchat Says:

    I always thought big sunflowers were what you like. Why not those?

  2. Janice Dean Says:

    It sounds like it’s time for another round of cheerleading from your Virginia fan club. **shakes pom-poms again** I like the sunflowers idea suggested above by Molly. Our church has a Flower Guild, which (very generously) provided the flowers for my wedding, so I haven’t been in your position. Good luck! I’m praying for you to have peace!

  3. Mark Says:

    Hey, what do you think they did with the orchids after the Bar Mitzvah three weeks ago? Borrow them!

    People at our synagogue have put up some really pretty large baskets of oranges and apples that then went to a food bank.

    See you next week!

  4. rachel Says:

    Oh yes. I remember this well. I didn’t go loopy over flowers though (not the bar/bat mitvah family’s responsibility, thank fully!). Like you, for the service itself, I was fine, in control, lookig forward to it.

    It was the decor. I didn’t go for printed invites and cards to go on the seats – I made my own. I thought, hey, this isn’t a 13 year old’s event, so I can do what I want. And I had the ideas there for everything to look and feel home-made, simlpe, yet attractive.

    So, I had the placecards to do, but I couldn’t work out in my head how many I needed. And then I panicked that I hadn’t enough, or too much.

    So silly.

    My decorations actually went down really well, everyone loved them and a future bat mitzvah family asked my permission if they could do something similar (yes, my permission, bless them!).

    Breathe – in – out – in – out.

    It will be lovely. I wish you well with it and hope you enjoy your day as much as I did mine…

  5. hana Says:

    Ilana, I have been translating Atkinson and Hilgard´s Introduction to Psychology for almost one year. Currently I work on the chapter dealing with stress (what a coincidence…) Now I know that scientists have found that people who reveal their personal stress in diaries or essays are healthier that those who don´t. Scientists believe that writing is helpful because it assists people to find meaning in the events that happen… Keep writing, chances are you will stay mentally and physically healthy :)) And it is nice to read your stories :)

  6. Bat Mitzvah Soon To Be Says:

    Mine is two weeks away. INTENSE stress… thanks for making me feel I’m not the only one.

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