Thursday, June 29, 2017

I Was a Perfect Mother Until I Had Children

That’s what someone told my best friend when we were in high school. The woman had just done something that seemed outrageous, slapped her child or cruelly berated him in public, and my friend’s face had registered horror. Despite her horror, and even though she was over a dozen years away from being a parent, somehow she was able to hear the truth of that mother’s words. She repeated them to me and I haven’t forgotten them.

So many times I caught myself saying something to my children I’d vowed I’d never say. Or doing things my parents had done which I’d hated and sworn I’d never do. I wasn’t a prefect mother but, by some miracle, my children are grown with children of their own. And although I think they are generally good parents they, like all parents, are not perfect. But can I complain about what I perceive as their mistakes? NO! Maybe, just maybe, I can make a suggestion now and then.

Recently I was supposed to babysit one of my grandchildren so I ordered pizza to have a special dinner for him. Before he arrived, though, his father called and told me the child did not deserve pizza and asked me to cancel the order.

“What!” I was most indignant. “It’s my right as a grandmother to spoil my grandchildren. You don’t mind when I help out paying for lessons or clothing. You don’t complain when I buy him presents.”

My son was not impressed. His son had misbehaved and needed to suffer the consequences of his actions. I needed to find a home for the pizza. Later, after I had a chance to think over the situation, I realized my son was not wrong.  He was the one who would need to go to the teacher’s conference if my spoiling caused him to misbehave in class. It was he who would have to schlep his child to the dentist if my grandmother treats caused cavities. As a parent the responsibility of his son’s misdeeds went to his doorstep, not mine.

The way I look at how my children are raising my grandchildren is very similar to the way Diaspora Jews look at Israel. From afar they think they can understand the situation here much better than those of us living here. In some ways they’re correct. We all know the maxim can’t see the forest for the trees.

Yet, no matter the insight of the Jews living overseas, they don’t have to live day-to-day with the decisions they think we should make. Even though they send generous donations here they are not obligated to pay taxes. It doesn’t matter whether their views agree with mine or not, they do not have to survive with the implementation of their suggestions.

I know I could have done it more graciously, but I did bow to my son’s instructions. No doubt I can find ways to spoil my grandchild that are acceptable to his parents.  I can try my best to be a “perfect grandmother”. Meanwhile, Diaspora Jews, who think they know how Israel should be run, can make aliyah, live here, vote, and try to make a difference. In fact, they can become “perfect Israelis”.
courtesy of

(Some facts have been changed to protect the privacy of my wonderful sons, daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.)

1 comment:

Batya Medad said...

I've been given instructions to go against all of my old rules and spoil the grandkids. It's a whole new world.