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Feb 24 2014

In Defense of Overachieving “Good Mommies”

By at 11:37 am


When I read about the Evil Eye as a kid, I imagined it as an eye in the sky, ready to glare at anyone who boasted of their accomplishments or counted their chickens before they hatched. But the Evil Eye is, and always has been, other people. recently published an essay by (Kveller contributor) Elissa Strauss discussing the new tyranny of the “bad mommy”:

Instead, today’s bad mommies are as smug, and even sometimes smugger, than those good mommies they aimed to resist. These parents, products of a culture that thinks it is just so hilarious to tell parents to “Shut the Fuck Up” while telling their kids to “Go the Fuck to Sleep,” are the new sanctimommies. These women take real delight in being the “worst mom in the world,” “scary mommy,” the “world’s worst mom,” “bad mom” and  “bad mommy.” Most of these women don’t really consider themselves bad moms (I doubt anyone who writes regularly about being a “bad” mom could really possibly be one), but instead take the position as a way to assert their superiority to the “good ones.” Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 30 2013

Nesting For My Fifth Child… Who’s Already Born

By at 10:00 am


Jordana Horn recently wrote about nesting before the birth of her fifth child. We are also awaiting our fifth child, and this nesting period is different from our previous ones for several reasons. Most significantly, our fifth child is already born. He’s waiting for us in an orphanage on the other side of the world.

After our fourth child was born, darling husband and I were fairly sure that we were done procreating. We were less sure that our family was complete. Since my husband was adopted, adoption seemed to be a natural way to grow our family. A small part of me also hoped that by choosing adoption I might avoid some of the worry that I experienced during each of my pregnancies.

Parents in the adoptive community sometimes talk about the similarities between pregnancy and waiting to adopt. Personally, I have definitely experienced moodiness, anxiety, and weight gain again as I wait for this fifth child. I have also, once again, felt the impact of generations of superstition. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 7 2013

Should I Kvetch or Kvell About My Kids?

By at 9:49 am

evil eye hanging“So what are your kids up to these days?” I get asked by polite friends and family looking to make conversation.

I’d like to make polite conversation right back at them. But, I never know how to answer the above question.

I could say that my oldest son just got accepted into the most competitive public high-school in New York City, that my middle son was invited to join the pre-professional program at his ballet school, and that my 6-year-old daughter is learning to program basic games and animations on her computer.

But, that would sound like boasting. And boasting is obnoxious.

Plus, there’s the fact that my grandmother always taught me to watch out for The Evil Eye. When you admit (even to yourself) that any kinds of good things have happened to you, The Evil Eye (I picture Saruman from “The Lord of the Rings”) manages to hear it wherever (He? She? It?) hangs out, and promptly swoops in to make every single one of them disappear all the while cackling “Ha, ha, ha! Your puny, spitting ‘pu, pu, pus‘ wield no power here!”  Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 16 2013

Do You Pu Pu Pu?

By at 9:40 am

collection of evil eyesMy husband and I are pretty rational people. He’s a scientist, for Pete’s sake. But more and more often we find ourselves falling prey to superstitious behavior. We pu pu pu like it’s going out of style.

So, what do the bubbes mean when they “pu pu pu“? It’s short for “Bli ayin hara pu pu pu,” which essentially translates as: “There should be no evil eye spit spit spit.” Its Yiddish cousin is “keynahora.”

Basically, there’s a superstitious fear that by speaking about your fortune you’re actually attracting the attention of the evil eye, who will come down and spoil it all. God forbid. (Have I mentioned that my 2-year-old says God forbid?!) Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 27 2011

Evading the Evil Eye

By at 3:56 pm

Pregnancy can make a woman superstitious. I have never been superstitious, and yet, when the doctor called last August to say I was pregnant, I didn’t know what to do. I only knew that I didn’t want to mess up my first shot at motherhood. So I began adopting behaviors to ward off the evil eye (that old Jewish superstition that if too much attention is paid to you, something bad is bound to happen).

Every pregnancy book hammers home that the first trimester is the riskiest. So, why jinx it? My husband and I agreed not to announce the life growing inside me until I had safely cleared week 14.

This was both easier and harder than I had anticipated. On the one hand, my morning sickness was so intense that I spent my days hopped up on Zofran and sleeping 13 hours a day, hoping for any relief from my perpetual nausea. I withdrew almost entirely from my social life, so there was little danger of my slipping and telling anyone. Of course, when I did go out, I was a wreck. Preparing for a job interview, I realized that my biggest fear was throwing up on my interviewer. I began carrying a paper bag whenever I went out–just in case.

Soon, the time came to tell the family our big news. Both sets of grandparents were over the moon. This would be my parents’ first grandchild.

Family and friends began asking about the baby registry. Still low on energy, I had no interest in shopping for onesies and furniture, or anything really. Happily, my husband and I agreed to follow a Jewish superstition and not bring baby things into our home pre-baby. Thwarting evil eye once again!

To continue to avoid the evil eye, I decided not to have a baby shower. The Conservative rabbi I consulted explained that the tradition of not having a baby shower is custom and not law, and that is essentially based on a superstition, the gist of which is to evade the evil eye. The risk of losing the fetus was greater in the past, but with modern medicine it is less of an issue. Knowing the back story made me feel more educated, but the whole idea of a shower still didn’t sit right with me. So rather than have a traditional shower with gifts, I opted for a giftless girls’ night out; the evil eye was not on the guest list.

Meanwhile, my family continued to check in about whether I had prepared a registry, and my husband asked if I were sure I didn’t want to get cracking on it. I didn’t. I stuck to my plan and spent March comparing checklists from an old friend (mother of one) and my sister-in-law (mother of two), along with the indispensable Baby Bargains and parents’ comments on Before the month ended, I quietly posted my thoroughly researched registry online. I made sure our families knew it was available, but I didn’t publicize it. In a sense, it was there in case anyone needed it.

I started out this pregnancy nervous. But at some point, I became sort of Zen. After 32 years as a Type A personality, I simply felt certain that things would work out as they should. Interestingly, it has been those around me, my husband and the grandparents, who have become more nervous.

For various hazy reasons, everyone has become convinced the baby could arrive early. So, now I humor them. In recent weeks, I have greenlighted the grandparents’ buying a few starter essentials. The car seat has arrived at my parents’. Our pack and play bassinet is on its way to our tiny apartment. And for the time being, our baby girl remains a comfortable lodger in the Hotel Mommy. She’ll arrive in her own good time, and until then, we’ll make sure she has a few of her own things here at our apartment. Perhaps we’ll even buy her a hamsa to hang over her as she sleeps, always keeping the evil at bay. After all, it can’t hurt.


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