I come from a family of strong women, and my mother is the strongest woman I know. Holder of a PhD in Jewish education, she has created an utterly loving and functional family of uber-educated, smart, fun and happy Jews. Her students in every context, whether familial or professional, regard her with a combination of awe and fear.
When I was in high school, my mother was principal of a synagogue Hebrew school, and she asked me to fill in at the last minute for a teacher who would be absent. I realized seconds into the class that obviously, the regular teacher had had a nervous breakdown. The class was full of little third grade assholes who cared much more about being smart asses than being smart. I tried teaching them Jewish history, but to no avail. It was like something out of Dangerous Minds, but with braces and Benetton as opposed to gang signs and guns.
At one point, though, my mother walked in to give me a message. The second she appeared at the door, the little jerks ran back to their seats and sat ramrod straight in silence. My mother silently appraised the class and then left.
One jerk raised his hand. “She’s SCARY. Do you know what we call her, Jordana?”
Sitting on the front desk in that affected teacher-but-I’m-still-cool position, I raised my eyebrows. “What?”
He smiled. “The Terminator.” Everyone laughed.
“Do you know what *I* call her?” I said, leaning forward as though to divulge a confidence.
“No! What?” the class responded as one, eager for new dirt.
Taking a breath for dramatic effect, I said, “Mom.”
To this day, I will swear I heard pee trickle down someone’s leg in the silence that followed.
As you can see, my mother is both inspirational and terrifying. So when she showed up at my door yesterday to look at my insanely-pregnant self – ringing the doorbell only after trying the door and finding out it was locked – I, normally a semi-strong woman, was cowed into submission.
“You look huge,” she said. (Did I mention we’re all about tough love?)
“That baby’s coming out today,” she pronounced. “Start jumping.”
“You heard me. Thirty-six jumps, up and down. Double chai. Let’s go. That’s how you came out and you were 10 days late.”
Maybe I came out at that point because I was 10 days late, I thought as I jumped up and down in the air in 3 sets of 36, feeling happy that we’d already packed the video camera.
I finished, relieved.
“Okay, up and down the stairs. Let’s go,” she said. Did I mention that I live in a three story house, built in the 1880s, with lovely high ceilings?
“Come on,” I said.
“No, you come on,” she said. “You’ll have plenty of time to lie around later. Let’s go.”
Did I mention that no one ever says no to my mother? I mean, sure, sometimes people do. It’s because they’re morons. For example, over 10 years ago, I told her she was wrong — my first husband was absolutely perfect. In her defense, throughout the year-and-a-half long divorce process from said husband, she never said “I told you so.” Arguably, of course, it was obvious. The point is, when you say no to Mom, bad stuff goes down. Don’t go there.
So several flights later, I threw myself on her maternal merciful side and begged to take a shower.
“Good,” she said. “You’ll have this baby tonight. So wash your hair and don’t forget to put on eyeliner and lipstick.” Because as we all know, NO baby is going to come out if the mother is not wearing eyeliner and lipstick.
“It’s at the top of my list,” I kissed her goodbye.
Waking up this morning, I checked the bed around me to see if I had delivered in my sleep. And oddly, I had not. My baby girl, immune to the appeal of a “free Slurpee” 7/11 birthday, remains comfortably ensconced in my increasingly uncomfortable self.
So let’s talk about strong women again for a second, shall we? This little girl in utero seems like a pretty stubborn one to me. She has brazenly ignored her due date of last week. She meets physical challenges with aplomb. She already shows an unmistakable propensity to heed her own drummer. I wonder… when they meet later this week, will my mother have finally met her match?