It wasn’t until I moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles to attend UCLA that I really appreciated my mother. While other kids’ parents visited once, if at all, my mom had preplanned quarterly visits that always involved a few killer dinners, some shopping trips to stock up on clothes and the obligatory grocery shopping trip that had me looking like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep. And though I had an on-campus job, the money all went to savings or spending, not to tuition. That’s because my mom and dad paid my tuition, happily I might add. Both Mom and Dad felt that it was their duty and their pleasure to educate their children.
This was normal to me. But I quickly learned that I had the mother of all moms, a Jewish mother. See Judaism may be a religion, but Jews see it just as much as a culture. The culture of Judaism values family, tradition and connection just as much as it values the day-to-day religious rules. And Jewish women are notoriously strong, outspoken and opinionated. The combo makes Jewish mothers cuddly balls of steel, always just a phone call away.
Now before you go thinking having a Jewish mother means life is all one big shoe sale, it’s not. Jewish mothers are as strong as they are supportive. Disappoint your Jewish mother and she’ll let you know, over and over again. That’s because Jewish mothers love to give. But they require one thing in return, you not making an ass of yourself or her. So in addition to getting good grades and coming home for Rosh Hashanah, it’s in every Jewish kid’s best interest to date the right guy (employed!) and get married (as soon as possible, but not too young!).
So if you’re thinking being a Jewish mom sounds pretty good (it is!), here’s how you, too, can be a Jewish mother:
1. Always have a full meal on hand, or know where to get one.
When Jewish mothers hear the term “suffering,” they hear hungry. A Jewish mother would never wear white after Labor Day, nor would she ever be caught dead around her children without enough food to fill a Costco. Her ancestors wandered the desert for 40 years. Her kids are not going hungry now. So now you know why most Jewish mothers carry such big handbags, there’s a roasted chicken inside!
2. Emergency-only credit cards should be used for car repairs, but can be used for a trip to Bloomingdale’s.
It doesn’t matter how old her child is, a Jewish mother wants to make sure her kid has money on hand for an emergency. And yes, an emergency can be half off at Nordstrom. That’s totally legit!
3. No matter how small your child’s crisis, make it an emergency.
Every Jewish mother’s tombstone will read, “Do you need me to come over?” That’s because there is no crisis too small for a Jewish mother to turn into a big one. And yes, that means Jewish mothers have very cared for toddlers who will probably turn into eye-rolling college students who feel smothered because mom just came over to fix a hangnail.
4. A true Jewish mother knows you can never have too many pairs of black shoes.
While Jewish fathers might not get it, Jewish mothers are proficient shoppers who love to take their children along for the ride. And while a professional Jewish mother will use tactics worthy of the Navy Seals to hide her purchases from her Jewish husband, it is well worth it. Because the only thing Jewish mothers love more than shopping is spending time with her kids.
5. It’s not bragging if you’re talking about your grandkid.
The only mother who can out-mother a Jewish mother is a Jewish grandmother. Jewish grandmothers regularly refer to their grandchildren (who might still be in the womb) as gorgeous geniuses who can do no wrong. What’s wrong with that? A grandma’s job is to think her grandkids are perfect. Jewish grandmothers do!
6. A Jewish mother likes her daughter’s husband, ish.
It doesn’t matter if a Jewish girl brings home a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Bono or the guy from the frozen yogurt shop, her Jewish mother will politely like him, but not really. That’s because Jewish mothers are close to their daughters and can’t really stand the idea of someone getting closer.
7. Jewish mothers are the ultimate grudge collectors.
Maybe it’s the wandering in the desert for 40 years or the hundreds of years of oppression, but Jews in general tend to be fiercely loyal. Jewish mothers are so loyal they’ll remember who wronged their kid in preschool and will still hold a grudge 30 years later. Any time that kid’s name is brought up, she’ll be sure to say, “Uch, I never liked that kid.”
8. Jewish mothers always express their opinion even if it’s 20 years later.
A good Jewish mother will support her child through failing out of college, dating the wrong guy, marrying the wrong girl and buying that house that was priced way over asking. But at some point, and that point could be 30 years from now, she’ll bring it up. She’s trying to help, but the conversation will always leave her kids in tears.
9. Jewish mothers never talk about sex.
Add sex to the long of things about which Jewish mothers don’t want to know.
10. Jewish mothers know everything.
It’s true. Jewish mothers know how to baste a turkey, jumpstart a car and navigate a charity dinner with the charm of a world leader. In fact, there’s nothing a Jewish mother can’t do. Well, she can’t keep her opinion to herself, but nobody’s perfect.
11. A Jewish mother never turns her back on her kids.
What might be the best quality of every Jewish mother is she’d never say no to her child. Maybe she should when her child is 47 and still living at home. But it also means that no matter how her child fails or screws up, she’s always there…to remind her child that he or she should have listened to her in the first place.