I have an addiction to social media, but that is not the topic of this week’s column. One of the groups that I follow on social media — on Facebook, to be precise — is called “Jewish Women Talk About Everything.” And boy do they. This group is comprised of all types of Jewish women. Religious, non-religious, sort of religious, pretend to be religious, converted, converted back, atheists — there are all kinds. This is what makes the group so interesting.
Some of the political discussions that erupt from a simple question like, “Do you eat matzo balls in your chicken soup?” would really surprise you. Because who knew that soup could be political? Who knew that the Democrats control the chicken industry and Republicans are wary of matzo balls? (Of course, I am making this stuff up, but you never know. I am still recovering from a Purim article about six or seven years ago that everyone thought was about them, and there are still people not talking to me from that. Yes, people are nuts. Especially ones with really tremendous egos. But I digress.)
Back to the Facebook group. Once in a while, a topic or question really interests me, and that is happening again now. Follow along, please. A woman with three or four young children (I cannot remember specifics because I am a woman with three or four adult, yes I know that is a relative term, children, and I cannot remember most things) wanted to know if there was any advice more seasoned parents could give on “If you could do things differently as a parent, what would they be?”
There were more than 100 comments following this questions, and I have got to say, the answers were kind of surprising. First of all, I cannot believe how many families had family dinners a few times a week. Like where the whole family sat down to dinner. Apparently these families did not have kids who did extracurricular activities like Jew/floor hockey or TBO (Teaneck Baseball Organization, thank you Sue). I don’t even remember having family dinners during the week with my “family of origin” back in good old Fair Lawn. Did we? I have no idea. I will have to follow up with my sister about that. Though it does always surprise me how different our recollections are of what it was like growing up in our home. But that is for another column. I really want to get back to these responses.
Ok, so family dinners was a big answer. One or two mothers said she would have rested more. I am not sure what that was about. More rest equals less time with your kids, but maybe if she had gotten that rest she would have been nicer to her kids? I am not really sure. Sometimes I wish there could be follow up questions to the responses — did she beat her kids? Throw things at them out of frustration because all she really wanted was to take a nap or watch Young Sheldon? Are her kids in jail now? I’m sorry. I just am so curious about what happened to her kids that “resting more” was her response. Ok, now I am done with that one.
The really fun answers had to do with sending kids to public school instead of private school, if they could really do things over again. And that just confused the person who posed the question because she was all excited about sending her kids to a Jewish day school. (I don’t know which one and I don’t know where the author of the question lives.) A bunch of moms wrote about the trips they took their kids on. That made me think about the countless hours Husband #1 and I spent in the car with our monkeys, taking them to 23 baseball stadiums and a handful of football stadiums and training camps. Ah, good times. And so worth it considering what they are all up to now. But would I do that all again knowing what I know about how they are now? Of course I would. That was why this question was so interesting to me. And why I was so interested to read what other mothers thought.
None of us know what we are doing. And those of us who didn’t like the way we were raised just want to be different than our mothers or fathers were to us. And as for how your kids will turn out — let’s be honest, it is all a crapshoot. Hold on tight and pray that they will all be healthy, happy, and think that their parents were the absolute best.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is in major Strudel withdrawal and can be seen wandering the streets looking at videos of her.