Earlier this week, PopChassid wrote “A Tribute to Mothers” on his blog. I suppressed the urge to post the link to my daughters’ Facebook walls.
It’s not that my children take my love for granted. It’s just that the love often gets overshadowed by discipline–both of which are necessary–and they fail to recognize that the latter is an aspect of Mother-love.
This post serves as my personal Defense of Mothers Act. I write not in my own defense, but in defense of and tribute to my mother. Now, decades later, I appreciate her insistence on proper elocution and daily efforts to make me speak clearly. Although I remember her refrain–I can hear it reverberating in my head–I can no longer recall what my four year old self felt when she said: “SMILE when you say I.” I’m sure that I was exasperated by her ongoing attempt to erase any trace of Staten Island accent. Last Shabbat, when the subject of regional accents came up at lunch, I did a pitch perfect “imitation” until I was laughing too hard to speak. I caught my breath and acknowledged my mother’s discipline that I now realize was an expression of her love.
By the time I spoke to my mom, a few days later, I had forgotten to tell her about that conversation on Shabbat. I forgot to thank her. I hope that she reads this iDOMA and smiles knowingly: Mom, I SMILED every time while I read this piece aloud to check for typos.
And here’s a little something–in my own defense–just in case my daughters are reading:
I am supposed to be writing. I have numerous deadlines.
I’m unable to organize my thoughts. I’m unable to find words in the silence.
I consider that sitting at the computer a moment longer will cause me to drown in frustration. I decide to spend the day in the studio. A day turns into a week of productivity, just of a different sort.
Three things I accomplished this week:
1. Meeting in person and speaking by telephone with several people with whom I hadn’t connected in some time. If, God forbid, I die tomorrow, no one will miss the words I failed to write this week. I would, however, regret if I neglected the people I love. I was deeply affected and inspired by this reflection in the New York Times Magazine.
2. Making a mess in the basement studio; I was throwing on the wheel with red clay. I’d love to post pictures, but I’m afraid that my spouse would see them and feel compelled to comment. (Guess which one of us works in a Nanotech Clean Room and which one of us prefers to play in the dirt…)
3. Participating in an art class with my friend and co-teacher Flora Rosefsky. I’d led the text-study session last week and planned to attend her studio-art session this week. I could have stayed home and used the time to write. Instead, I chose to connect with our students through creating art-midrash.
Here are photographs of my Found Art Sculpture titled “One Breath.” If you want to read the only words I’ve written this week—an artist’s statement explaining the piece—click here. Please share your thoughts in the comments section!
One Breath (front)
“One Breath” (back)
My October post at Tiferet is a reflection on Genesis 2:18 that I wrote in honor of the better half of my team, who happens to be celebrating a birthday this week:
“It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper corresponding to him.” (Genesis 2:18)
There is a story in our family repertoire about our younger daughter, who told her preschool teacher about our family’s preparation for Sabbath dinners: “My dad is the cook and my mom is the baker. They have good teamwork.”
In addition to being adorable, our budding feminist was sharing one of the values that we had tried to instill in all three children: the need for equality within marriage. We have a pretty egalitarian partnership, and…Read more →