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Confessions of a Jewish Smother

April 8, 2018 | by Karen Goliger

I have a problem: I’m a smothering mother.

Recently my oldest child, Alex, moved away from home. All the way from Florida to Michigan. This has been really difficult for me because, you see, I have a problem: I’m a ‘smother’ – yes! A smothering mother. Do you all have one? It seems to be a very Jewish trait!

” Are you ok?!?!? I was so worried!”

Being a smother also means that I am a worrier. And not just your run of the mill worrier, either. Oh, no! I come from a long line of Jewish Smothers, and they specialize in worrying. When you are little if you go outside without your hat they worry you will get sick. If you don’t eat they worry you will waste away (this did not work out well for me, as my elastic waistband will testify!) When you’re a teenager they worry that you might not bring home a nice Jewish boy. Oy! And don’t forget worry’s big sister – guilt. In in addition to the worrying there is the guilt that they give you for making them worry!

Here’s a typical conversation between me and my smother:

Mom: Oy, how could you do this to me? You told me you would call at 8, I was worried sick!

Me: Mom, it’s 8:04

Mom: 4 minutes of hell! Besides you know I keep the clock 5 minutes ahead so it was really 9 minutes! 9 minutes of torture you put your poor mother through . . . and you sound sick – did you go outside without your hat again?

I used to get all upset with my mother for worrying about me – but I don’t get upset with her anymore – how can I when I have become her?

I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my kids if they remembered their key or their phone. How many times I have stayed up late, unable to sleep because one of them was out on a date or just breathing funny because they had a cold. How many times I walked into their rooms late at night just to take a peek and make sure their little chests were still going up and down, up and down . . .

But the thing is, I thought once they were grown up, once I had raised them and they struck out on their own, by themselves, that I would be free! That I could bask in the knowledge that I had raised a full grown human being. How could I have been so stupid? No one tells you that it actually gets harder when they move out on their own. When they are under your own roof at least you can see that they are alive, in their beds, even if it happens to be that they got home at 3 am. But when they move out – oh my God! The torture. My son went to a concert, by himself, in Detroit – yes I said Detroit! – late at night. I practically had a heart attack waiting for him to call me when he got to his car after the show.

And when the phone finally did ring, do you think I answered it with a ‘hello’ like a normal person would? Nope. It was more like this:

Me (frantic): Are you ok?!?!? I was so worried!

Alex: Mom I texted you 15 minutes ago when I was walking out of the show.

Me: 15 minutes of torture! You’re in Detroit, by yourself! You could have been mugged or something! And it get’s chilly up there, did you at least wear a hat?

I’m sure he thinks I’m crazy, but at least he knows I love him – right?

But this wasn’t even the worst thing. The worst was when he moved away initially and drove all the way up north, by himself! But I was his virtual co-pilot. Thank God for cell phones. Cell phones allow me to check on him to know he is ok. You know, stalk him a little – don’t judge me.

But there are times when even a cell phone won’t help. Like when he was shopping for cheap furniture on Craig’s list, all alone, somewhere in Michigan. I was worried sick – I mean the visions of crazy people lying in wait behind the second-hand sofas were just horrifying.

Or how about when he went apartment hunting– in strange neighborhoods with names no normal person could even spell like Ypsilanti. Who ever heard of a word that starts ‘YPS’? I mean, what happens if he really gets into trouble up there and has to call the cops and tell them to come to Ypsilanti and they can’t come save him because the dispatcher can’t figure out how to spell the place so she can put it into google maps? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

All I can say is, thank goodness for social media because I can at least sometimes get a warm fuzzy ‘he’s ok’ feeling by seeing that he recently posted something on Facebook. But I still think that we are behind the times – why won’t they let us put tracking chips into our kids? I mean we put them into our pets, why not children? Ok, technically he is an adult now, but he is still my child . . . and he’s in Michigan . . . by himself . . .

Oh well, I still have two more boys at home to distract me. So, tonight, I will sneak into their rooms and watch their not so little chests go up and down and thank God they are home safe in their beds. Then I will call my Alex up in Michigan to say goodnight, and maybe I will get a little sleep and worry a little less. Ha! Who am I kidding? I’m going to be googling cheap flights to Detroit so I can go smother him in person!

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