Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How I Became a Jewish Mother

If you think of Mel Brooks and his routines about “Jewish Mothers”, you'll get the picture in a heartbeat. Mistresses of the guilt trip, JMs are capable of putting sons (especially) and daughters into mental dungeons for supposedly failing to appreciate a Mother's Love. Several Jewish mothers are among my intimate friends. But they are far afield from the portrait that Brooks paints of their concern about every single thing that touches the lives of their offspring. Along with large dollops of “don't worry about me, your mother, it's YOU that I cry over.”

Skipping from Ireland to Israel is not an easy trip but I did it recently while worrying about our brand new great-granddaughter, Huntley, who caught a cold. She is a Manhattanite, albeit a very young version of that species, and as yet unaware of Bloomingdale's, Grand Central and Central Park. Huntley caught a cold somewhere, we suspect from her wonderful working mother who insisted on balancing business and imminent delivery right up to the moment when  contractions kicked in. (The courage of young women who manage such feats is surely the topic for another column, but for the moment Baby Huntley is the focus.)

Many a parent or grandparent takes comfort in the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy – as in what you don't see or know allows you to stay in a sea of serenity. Not so for me in Florida.  I worry about every one of these 1358 miles between our house and Huntley's crib. My Wasp wife, no Shamrock she, as well as the Jewish (and all other) mothers in our gang, take a pragmatic view of situations generally. And specifically in the case of my attempts to micro-manage health concerns when her mother and grandmother are right there in the NYC scene watching Huntley like the two Mother Hens they are. Ah, well. Such is life.

I also wondered if Mel Brooks has a routine centered on the plight of males who are parents, grandparents, great-grandparents whose sole role in the miracle of birth seems to be limited to one-liners during Happy Hour.

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