Sisterhood Blog

Becoming A Grandmother

By Jane Eisner

  • Print
  • Share Share

Mother’s Day, 1983. I’m sitting in our cramped apartment kitchen in Philadelphia with my husband and two older friends who were, I guess, substituting for our own parents that day. The crazy traffic along the Northeast corridor on that Sunday in May often meant that we skipped visiting my mother in New York and my mother-in-law in Virginia. We were never big on Hallmark holidays, anyhow.

But this day was memorable because we excitedly told our friends that we were expecting our first child. Mazel tov and hugs all around. Champagne. I probably took a sip, in defiance of the admonition to avoid alcohol while pregnant. I have always made exceptions for champagne.

It’s now 30 years later. That baby-to-be is grown up, married and expecting her own child. Besides acknowledging the stunning passage of time, I find myself contemplating motherhood today in an entirely new, confusing, wonderful way.

Some of that meditation focuses on my own flaws and shortcomings, a typical place for a Jewish woman like me to start. I pray that my daughter will have more patience than I remember having, that she will be able to more successfully subsume her frustration and irritation at all the ridiculous things babies and toddlers and teenagers do — or at least hide it better than I did. I pray that the angst over balancing work and family life will not hover over her as it did me, like a heavy gray cloud, ready to spill forth at any moment. At least there are role models now, women (and men) who are creatively figuring this out, with some help from society and, I’m afraid, no help from our government.

And, of course, I worry about my grandchild-to-be — especially about the way technology is overtaking human relationships, messing with concentration and thought processes, exposing youngsters to content far beyond their ability to digest it properly, opening up even more awful channels for expressing hate and meanness. What’s my role, as someone tied to her phone six days a week? How do I grandparent in this new reality? How do I respect my daughter and son-in-law’s choices? Will I know when to shut up?

We live in a strange time when each generation believes that the pressures of motherhood are greater for their daughters. I know that my mother thought my juggling act was more difficult than the simpler path she took, mostly willingly, to focus on domestic duties and wait until her own daughters were grown before reentering the workforce. Will this cycle continue?

And yet… There’s probably never been a better, safer, more promising time and place to be a Jewish mother, and I don’t want to forget that. Being able to contemplate the next generation in our family, imagining what’s behind my daughter’s rounding belly, is a blessing and a joy. I remember looking at her shortly after she was born, and saying to her — well, you’ve got me for a mom. We’re stuck with each other. That’s what motherhood is: A never-ending connection. The umbilical cord is cut, but we are still tied to each other.

My daughter probably doesn’t recognize this now. But she will — perhaps by next Mother’s Day.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: daughters, mothers day 2, mothers, mother's day, family, feminism

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.