The Jewish Daughter Diaries

BOOK: The Jewish Daughter Diaries
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Copyright © 2014 by Rachel Ament

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From
a
Declaration
of
Principles
Jointly
Adopted
by
a
Committee
of
the
American
Bar
Association
and
a
Committee
of
Publishers
and
Associations

All brand names and product names used in this book are trademarks, registered trademarks, or trade names of their respective holders. Sourcebooks, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor in this book.

Published by Sourcebooks, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The Jewish daughter diaries : true stories of being loved too much by our moms / edited by Rachel Ament.

pages cm

(alk. paper)

1. Mothers and daughters–Humor. 2. Jewish women–Humor. I. Ament, Rachel, editor of compilation.

PN6231.M68J49 2014

818'.602080353–dc23

2013050450

CONTENTS

Front Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Introduction: A Black Hole of Nothingness
—Rachel Ament

JDate My Mom
—Lauren Greenberg

Selective Stage Mothering
—Sari Botton

Deviated Perceptum
—Abby Sher

My Grandmother's Men
—Kerry Cohen

They're All Jealous of You
—Mayim Bialik

Ladies Who Lycra
—Meredith Hoffa

Become Carol Breslaw in Just Four Easy Steps
—Anna Breslaw

Every Child Is My Child
—Chaya Kurtz

Bringing Peace, One Man at a Time
—Iris Bahr

You Should Be Playing Tennis
—Jena Friedman

Ominous Pronouncements of Doom
—Rachel Shukert

The Jew in the Backseat
—Leonora Ariella Nonni Epstein

There Was Totally Blood Everywhere
—Jenny Jaffe

The Beautiful Butterfly Yenta
—Lauren Yapalater

Seth Cohen Is the One for You
—Rachel Ament

Classic Cynthia Drysdale
—Rebecca Drysdale

The Inner Monster Speaks
—Emmy Blotnick

Death-Defying Vegetarian Dishes
—Arianna Stern

If You're Gonna Smoke, Smoke Right
—Almie Rose

Love, Sacrifice, and EPT
—Nadine Friedman

Eviction of the Alte Moid
—Deb Margolin

Home for the Apocalypse
—Gaby Dunn

My Mother Played the Drums at My Wedding
—Wendy Liebman

Mom, Everlasting
—Mireille Silcoff

Ya Want an Opinion?
—Iliza Shlesinger

My Little Shiksa Goddess
—Dylan Joffe

Jewish Mom Genes
—Mara Altman

About the Contributors

About the Editor

Acknowledgments

Back Cover

To my dear mom.

INTRODUCTION

A BLACK HOLE OF NOTHINGNESS

Rachel Ament

MOM:
Hi, Honey!

ME:
Hi, Mom.

MOM:
You sound distracted.

ME:
Sorry, I'm just busy with this anthology. Mayim Bialik just agreed to contribute. We've been emailing.

MOM:
Oh wow! That is fantastic.
Mark, get on the phone! Rachel is co-authoring a book with the girl from
Blossom
! They've been emailing! They are good friends now!

ME:
Well, not co-authoring. She is contributing. Rachel Shukert is also writing an essay.

MOM:
Wow, another Rachel! This sounds fun!! Did you tell Blossom that you used to look just like her when you were a kid?

ME:
What? No.

MOM:
You really need to tell her that. You guys had the exact same eyes. Narrow but really alive.

ME:
Well, I don't want to tell her that. It would make me look like some kind of weird superfan.

MOM:
Hold on, let me go find some of your old school pictures. I'll scan them and you can email them to her.

ME:
Mom, seriously, don't.

MOM:
People used to call you Blossom on the street. Remember when your teacher Mrs. Stubbs was like, “Hi, Blossom…I mean, Rachel.”

ME:
I really don't remember that.

MOM:
Sometimes I would see Blossom on TV and be like, “Rachel? No, Blossom. No, Rachel!
No, Blossom!!!

ME:
Mom, she was like ten years older than me. I really don't see how you could have confused us.

MOM:
Okay, I just found that picture of you with a floppy hat. It has a theater mask pin at the top instead of a daisy. But I think Mayim will really appreciate that because she's into acting. I'll have Dad scan it for you tonight.

ME:
Thanks, but I'm not sending it to her.

MOM:
What story is Mayim going to tell about her mother? I bet her parents look like your dad and me.

ME:
Hmm, try Googling them.

MOM:
Just did. They don't look like us! Genes are nuts!

ME:
What do they look like?

MOM:
Like they are from Philadelphia.

ME:
Huh? What does that even mean?

MOM:
They just have this Philadelphian vibe about them.

ME:
Okay…?

MOM:
What is Mayim going to write about?

ME:
About how her mother thought that when something didn't go right in Mayim's life, it was because everyone was jealous of her.

MOM:
Oh that reminds me—do you think your friends Alyssa
*
and Cara
*
are jealous about your book?

ME:
No, they are happy for me! My friends are great.

MOM:
Well, maybe they are like 60 percent happy and 40 percent jealous?

ME:
Jesus Christ, Mom…

MOM:
Well, at least Beverly understands where I'm coming from.

ME:
Who the hell is Beverly?

MOM:
Mayim's mother. I just Wikipedia-ed her.

ME:
You are crazy. I'm going to write about this in the book.

MOM:
You can't keep using writing as a weapon against me, Rachel.

ME:
Sorry, I won't if it will embarrass you.

MOM:
No, you should. I think it will be funny. Who are you dedicating the book to?

ME:
You, of course. The book is about Jewish mothers.

MOM:
Yes, but wouldn't you dedicate it to me regardless?

ME:
Yeah, but maybe also Dad?

MOM:
That's sweet of you. But there's something about a mother that is a bit more crucial and important than a father. It's harder to move forward when your mother dies.

ME:
I don't want to think about you dying right now, Mom.

MOM:
When I die, you will feel like you are sinking into this black hole of nothingness. Everything will be black. You won't be able to see colors for a while.

ME:
Can we talk about something else?

MOM:
How do you think you will respond to my death? A loud hysterical reaction or a quiet detachment?

ME:
I think I'll be hysterical.

MOM:
Yes, you are very reactionary. What kind of antidepressants do you think you will take?

ME:
I guess Zoloft?

MOM:
It's very hard to lose a Jewish mother, Rachel. I hope you have a good support system. A Jewish mother is like an extension of yourself. You are always in my head, and I am always in yours!

ME:
My non-Jewish friends are really close with their moms, too, though.

MOM:
Uh-huh. Okay, honey!

ME:
They are!

MOM:
I'm not saying Jewish moms love their kids more than non-Jewish moms.

ME:
I feel like that is what you are saying, though.

MOM:
No, Jewish love is just different. More frightening!

ME:
Frightening?

MOM:
It can be scary. I'm scared of how happy I get when good things happen to you and how sad I get when bad things happen. You should really email Mayim about this.

ME:
Why would I email her about that?!

MOM:
I read that she practices attachment parenting. She'll understand where I'm coming from. Beverly might also be interested!

ME:
I don't want to keep bothering Mayim. She's busy with a TV show.

MOM:
Just send her a quick note before dinner. She won't mind.

ME:
Okay. Well, I have to go.

MOM:
Okay, sweetie.

ME:
Wait, Mom?

MOM:
Yes?

ME:
I'm glad you are like this.

MOM:
Thanks, sweetie. You know no one has your back like your mom! You think that Cara is your best friend but she's not. I am.

ME:
Okay…

MOM:
Cara wasn't even there the day of your birth. She was in Ohio.

ME:
But she was just a baby. And we didn't even know each other yet!

MOM:
I'm just saying that I was there in the hospital that day holding you in my arms. And Cara didn't even bother calling.

Of course, my mom was—as she always is—right. No one loves me as much as her. And no one else's love can exert such a hold over me. My mom might overwhelm, overstep, and overbear, but she still bears the torch. She still has the power to guide the course of my life, to give it an added spark of meaning. My mom has a way of making me feel like even the most insignificant moment matters: a bad date, a butchered haircut, a fight with a friend. No situation is too inconsequential. If it happened to me, then it matters to her.

Sure, my mom's overconcern might at times make her seem nuts. Extreme love and dedication often blur reason and perception. Every time I miss her call or text, she imagines me hospitalized or imprisoned. Every time I complain about a headache or stomach pain she will want to know who the hell has knocked me up. My mom only knows how to tread in the waters of the extremes. But inside those waters of extremes is insuppressible love.

What makes a Jewish mom stand out is not the degree of her love but how her love materializes. Love suffuses a Jewish mom's every thought, her every behavior. She cannot rein any of it in. And when so much love blares so forcefully out into the world, the sentiment can't help but be returned. America loves Jewish moms because they show us their entire selves. Honesty is infectious. Honesty combined with pluck and gumption is intoxicating.

I wanted to capture this exposed feeling, this raw love. I grew up around a parade of Jewish moms. Now, in my late twenties, living in a big lonely city, I find myself searching for a new squadron of Jewish moms to love. I miss the energy, the warmth, the rawness of Jewish moms. But what I perhaps miss most is the humor. Jewish moms are hilarious. They are classic, old-school camp: bold, unpredictable, and over the top. When I tell my friends funny stories about my childhood or about my twenties, the stories almost always circle back to my mom. She is the heart of every tale. She is where the plot rises, where the dialogue stuns.

A few years ago, I started noticing a similar trend in the stories told by many of my Jewish friends. In almost all the stories, the moms were driving the story line; the moms were peddling the jokes. I wanted to find a way to gather these funny stories of Jewish moms (and grandmas) into a single collection. So I started emailing some of my favorite Jewish writers and entertainers, asking them to send me their stories. The response was astounding. All the writers were thrilled to tell the story of their crazy Jewish mom. And many of them insisted that their mom
had
to
be
the absolute craziest.

Of course I realize the thematic challenges in putting together this collection. I realize that a Jewish mom is not a one-size-fits-all archetype. That there are variants of the archetype, many of which appear in this book. There are Jewish moms who are farmers; Jewish moms who are hippies; Jewish moms who are drunks. I wanted to share all these stories. But I also want to tell the story that connects them. Within all these tales, there tends to be a unifying force. And that, of course, is the way the Jewish mom loves.

This book is by no means representative of the entire Jewish mother experience. I simply set out to share stories that will move you, that will make you laugh. My life has been charmed with stories on top of stories of Jewish moms. My hope is that now everyone else's can be, too.

*
Names changed

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