8 Ways I’m Slowly but Surely Morphing Into My Jewish Mother

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Growing up with a Jewish mother is a singular experience. And as I get old (my 30s are creeping up on me like my dad’s weird aunt at Thanksgiving), I am realizing more and more that I am becoming my mother, or, if not completely morphing into her, at least adopting several of her many neuroses and habits. And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.

The amount that these habits are predicated on my mom’s and my Jewishness is unclear — we could very well just be overly anxious people, but it’s nice to think that there’s something culturally binding, bigger than our family ties at work here (my dad’s Jewish too — it’s coming at me from both sides!). It also probably helps that we’re from New York.

But these habits aren’t limited to liberal, Jewish women from the greatest state in the U.S. I’m willing to bet they’re fairly universal. Or you might read them and just think I’m insane. In any case, here’s what I’ve adopted from my amazing ma.

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(My mom looks nothing like Sylvia Fine from The Nanny, but I do relate to her and Fran on a molecular level. They might use approximately 3 million percent more hairspray than me or my mom ever has, but their love is true.)

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Wallet, keys, phone, purse, tissues, gum, hair ties, sunglasses, shopping list, jacket, umbrella, charger, wallet again, keys again, phone again… You get the idea.

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This applies to friends and family who have just left the safety of my nest or people who I know are heading home in inclement weather. But I’ll take a “Made it home!” text from literally anyone and feel that sweet, sweet relief.

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I can’t imagine that no one else does this because the plague is going to come back and it’s going to be from rat feces on the top of canned goods. While we’re at it, I caress my canned food like a crazy person looking for dents because not today, botulism! Maybe I should stop buying canned goods. It’s taking a toll.

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This I know comes straight from my mother. Once she called poison control after feeding us mashed potatoes because she thought the potatoes were slightly green and that green potatoes might kill us. Needless to say, we survived. But it’s true. Chicken’s a teensy bit slimy? Maple syrup’s crusted at the top of the bottle? Why not give it a google? It’s not going to hurt. But eating slimy chicken might!!!

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I come from a very open family. We all talk about all of our problems all of the time. I often find myself repeating my issues du jour on speaker phone “so everyone can hear this time.” And it’s great. I get so many opinions and options about how to address every situation I find myself in. But this also means that I expect everyone else in my life to want to talk about everything that’s happening in their lives, and I’m learning (slowly, very very slowly) that this is just not how some people operate. It’s a process.

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Are you sad? Here’s a cookie. Are you happy? Here’s a cookie! Food is the perfect solution to every problem, the perfect reward for every celebration.  When someone reveals to me anything that they are feeling, it’s really a struggle for my first response not to be, “Pizza is the answer.”

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I am also terrible at estimating the amount of food I need whenever I’m throwing a little shindig. I never underestimate. I don’t even overestimate. I mega-super-overestimate like it’s my job. Leftovers are one of the best things about life, so I’m not exactly complaining. It’s just a facet of my being.

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Relationships I’m not even involved in! “You should keep in touch with BLANK,” I’ll hear myself say, wondering how my mother entered my body and is now speaking out of my own mouth, “I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.” “Text them back, they’re going to think you’re mad at them!” “You should really call your mother.” I don’t stop.

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And I do. Every day on the way home from work, I call my mom and we catch up. Sometimes we don’t have a lot to go over and we’ll just touch base. Other times, we (but mostly I) can’t stop kvetching. I may live on the other side of the country from my Jewish mama, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not becoming a version of her with every passing moment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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