Thoughts for Mothers – and Sons – On Mother’s Day

The Jewish mother is not just a mother that happens to be Jewish: it is in many ways an idiom in itself. One may say that being a Jewish mother is not only a matter of genes, but it is a very particular set of mind. For the Jewish mother, the child is not just an attachment, but something that goes between a dream and a fulfillment. Because of that, the Jewish mother is not only taking care of her children, but a great part of her soul is wrapped in them. Did my child eat? Did my child sleep/ What happened to the scratch on the leg? These are parts of the makeup of the Jewish mother, whether she is an old-fashioned grandmother from the remote past, or a highly sophisticated lady of the present. The Jewish mother is not a matter of duty: a job, a vocation; but it is a real part of self, self-identity and self-expression.

Because the Jewish mother is so prominent in the lives of her children, quite a number of modern children feel that her presence is a little bit too much. In a way, it is also a result of having more leisure, and fewer children, that sometimes makes the Jewish mother overpowering, overbearing, and just too much. But even those modern, pampered, internet-fed children who may complain verbally or write horrible novels about the Jewish mother, still keep it somewhere in the back of their minds, hidden with all kinds of unspeakable notions, the clear knowledge that even when “Nobody cares for me,” and sometimes for just reasons, mother will care.

To be a mother, in any case, is to care and sometimes to worry; but in every generation, the good advice to a Jewish mother is: do not overdo it. The mother’s intentions may be of the highest spiritual and moral levels, but she does not have to speak about it constantly. When a child needs a sweater, the mother is advised not to give, instead, an expensive fur coat. And the same is true about many other things, from food to piano lessons.

An ordinary child obviously takes his mother for granted, and it is quite common that the child may say it in the sweetest voice, “Mommy you don’t understand me, you are pushing me, and you are too obvious.” The fact that even good children may say it from time to time does not mean that it is the right way of behavior. Sons (perhaps unlike mothers) should economize in their criticism and in their advice. A god mother and a good child should be much more aware of each other, and try to keep this strange, weird, wonderful relationship in the best way.