This morning I decided to give my kitchen a thorough scrubdown. I sat down and hugged my morning glass of tea as I mentally planned the day ahead.

Bleach, I thought to myself as I added more sugar to my glass. Who am I trying to kid? I’m not one of those super balabustas who bleaches the counters, backsplash and cabinets regularly. But deep in myThis was today’s mission, and there was no escaping it heart, I knew that this was today’s mission, and there was no escaping it. As I changed into my old stained robe and got out my trusty bleach, scrubby sponge and gloves, I wondered what is it that compels me to scrub the grout in between the bathroom tiles when the rest of my house is in a state of total disarray. It makes absolutely no sense. In these weeks before Passover, I should focus my energies on the real chametz—the areas that need to be dealt with—but somehow I’m afraid to open the closets and see my own inadequacy, all of the areas where my minimalistic approach to housework builds up into chaos.

As I survey the house, I’m faced with a scene that would put even a non-balabusta like me to shame. The toys my baby played with this morning carpet the living-room floor. The high chair is awash with cottage cheese and milk from breakfast. As I move upstairs, I’m hit with my daughters’ bedroom—a battleground littered with shirts, tights and socks, the remains of this morning’s fight.

“Those are my tights you’re wearing!” one daughter screamed. “I don’t have one pair of tights to wear to school today! I know that you are wearing mine!”

“No, they’re not. Why are you accusing me?” the other responded, as she began rummaging through her sister’s drawer to find her tights.

The two of them continued throwing clothes out of their drawers. Fighting nonstop. They say that it’s healthy; it helps siblings learn how to deal with each other, to tolerate differences, to compromise. Yet I see little tolerance being learned, just shouting and bickering, and clothes strewn all over the floor. I wonder: What’s going to be with these kids?

So today, I’m bleaching my counters. It sounds crazy, and it is. But this tiny corner of beauty—of deep, thorough clean—somehow helps restore my inner calm. If I get the counters and backsplash to shine until I see myself in their reflection, I’ll feel better.

As I pour more bleach in my sink and watch the grime melt away, I realize that this is what I need to see in my children. A tiny corner of pure white. To look for any area where they are truly great, where they have potential to be truly great, and keep it on the screensaver of my mind every time I look at them. Not to see the fighting, name-calling, hair-pulling, pinching ... but to see that tile shining brightly.

My daughter studiedShe did it because she knew how important it is to put in the effort for her test the other day, even though it was hard, even though she didn’t want to, even though she knew she probably felt that she wouldn’t succeed as she expected. She did it because she knew how important it is to put in the effort. My other daughter didn’t take a piece of cake recently because there wasn’t enough for everyone, and she didn’t want someone else to miss out.

My sink is starting to shine, and I am beginning to understand that Passover is about freeing myself from my limiting thoughts and beliefs. In the gleam of the bleached backsplash, I see my own image and that of my children, too. It’s a bit hazy, but its beauty is beginning to take form. By tomorrow or certainly by next week, my kitchen will be grimy again, but in my heart I’ll know that under the layers of particles is tremendous potential. And If I can uncover that in only one tiny corner of my home, in one tiny corner of myself, in one tiny corner of my children, it will be truly beautiful.