Joy and Trouble

October 15, 2008

Today I will finish off my Jewish New Year train of thought.

The most common Rosh Hashanah greeting I’ve heard is something along the lines of, “May the new year be sweet.” There is a definite focus on sweet foods as a metaphor for good things to come. Apples dipped in honey and honey cake in particular.

The other common greeting that I’ve heard is a wish for nachas. No, not nachos. No chips and salsa in Judaism. Nachas. Pronounced with the gutteral ch sound. Sort of like knock-us, but instead of ck, you sort of clear your throat.

Nachas is yiddish for pride and joy. The opposite is tsuris, meaning trouble, worry, heartache.

Both words can have broad meanings, but typically nachas refers to joy specifically from children or grandchildren.

The entire holiday therefore feels exclusionary, inadvertent though it may be. The well-intentioned e-cards and mass emails mock my infertility.

During the almost 7 years I have been trying to conceive, I have had exactly 8 days of nachas, the 8 days before my first miscarriage. That works out to 0.3% nachas and 99.7% tsuris.

If I conceived during the next IVF cycle, by the time my hypothetical child started kindergarten, my nachas:tsuris ratio wouldn’t even be 50:50. By the time the child graduated from high school, it would be up to 75% nachas and 25% tsuris, assuming that throughout adolescence the child did not give me a single day of tsuris. Fat chance of that, but bear with me. And assuming that the child continues to offer nothing but joy every day thereafter, my nachas:tsuris ratio won’t exceed 90:10 until the child is almost ready to retire. Perhaps the child would be a grandparent by then, and I will have become a great-grandmother. Did I mention that 7 years is a really long time?

I don’t mind the wishes for a sweet year, but maybe people can lay off the nachas wishes for the infertiles and others without children. Instead, next year’s Rosh Hashanah greeting cards can declare:

May the new year be filled with nachos.


6 Responses to “Joy and Trouble”

  1. Mel Says:

    Very funny 🙂

    Though I use nachas for anyone I love–like I feel nachas over my brother’s career. Or when a fellow IFer gets pregnant.

    Though nachos are tasty.

  2. ~willow~ Says:

    LoL! Perhpas you can suggest that to Hallmark or other greeting card companies 🙂

    [I’m making my rounds visiting potential cross-pollination sites, btw – hi!]

  3. Nity Says:

    For Random Reassurance Week, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate how you educate me on things I don’t know about in a way that makes me want to learn more.

  4. Lori Says:

    My new year’s wish for you:

    And nachas. Not to be confused with tuchus. Or nachas over your tuchus.

  5. clare Says:

    that is a very powerful post… those numbers hit me hard. 7 years *is* a really long time. I’ve always thought of heartache, but the straight ratio of catch up time hit the rational side of me hard. no wonder all this heartaches leaves wakes to sail over/thtough in the future.

  6. Malky B. Says:

    I think all holidays are hard on those wanting to have children. Simchas Torah being the hardest – all those babies in synagogue. Both my husband and I where down this year on that day. Love the post – may the nachas start soon for all of us.

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