Every day when I venture out into the streets for my daily quarantine walk, I see mothers heroically juggling their families with their jobs. I see the same thing in our Moment family. Our deputy editor is working full time from her apartment, much of the time with her nine-month-old daughter (the darling of our Zoom editorial meetings) squirming on her lap. Other staff members are struggling to homeschool their elementary school children or cooking for teenagers and adult children who have returned home. Others can’t see their adult children for safety’s sake. It’s no easy time to be a parent, let alone a Jewish mom!
That’s why for Mother’s Day this year, we’re asking you to tell us about some piece of advice—funny, serious, silly—your mother (or aunt, grandmother, etc.) has given you. (We know men are working hard too, and we’ll be celebrating them for Father’s Day next month.) My Jewish mom died eight years ago this month, and I miss her smile and steady presence. I still have envelopes full of clippings she loved to send me. A feminist for her time, my mother was a successful leader who taught me that I could do whatever I put my mind to. She also sent some mixed messages, such as it was a women’s job to acquiesce to achieve peace in the home, shalom bayit. And while she always wanted me to be an independent woman and go to law school (I didn’t), she also gave me some very odd advice. It boiled down to: “Organize the clothes in your closet by color and you will marry a doctor!” I didn’t, and I didn’t, plus I laughed at her. But since she died, I now arrange my clothes by color. Not because I want to marry a doctor (I’m happily married to a non-doctor) but because it’s a small thing I could have done for her and it brings me joy.
My mother was beautiful, well-coiffed and always put together. She wanted me to love clothes, makeup, doing my hair, and most of all, to have a flair, as she did, for outfits. Life was easier for women who did this, she made clear. Again, I was a disappointment to her in all of these departments. I wore my hair long, disliked makeup and had no interest in matching clothes with scarves and earrings. Still, when she died something shifted. I spent the year shopping for clothes in her memory and developed a new sense of style. I’m not sure that it’s made life any easier, but she would be thrilled!
Happy Mother’s Day!