I spent last weekend in scenic San Jose, California, where my husband is from. His mother still lives in the house my husband grew up in, and we visit several times a year with our boys, who delight at the fact that their Safta has saved every single one of their father’s toys.
The house is a veritable treasure of 1970s and 1980s Star Wars, GI Joe, Fisher-Price, and the like. It’s sort of Miles’ and Fred’s Shangri-La. Once we set foot in the door, they only come to us for food and to complain that we’re ruining their playtime when we request that they bathe and change their clothes once a day.
This past weekend, though, we were in San Jose so that I could speak at my mother-in-law’s synagogue. Once she began her conversion process (my husband, Mike, was raised Mormon), she joined the Reform synagogue where, coincidentally, my aunt and uncle have been members for over 20 years. I was asked to speak about the “Universal Values of Jewish Parenting: For Families of All Backgrounds.”
The talk and my 40 minutes of Q & A were very well received. I especially loved talking to people on the break and after the talk ended, including a man named Sheldon who had no clue who I was but liked my talk anyway (the irony of the fact that he shares a name with my on-screen boyfriend was lost on him). I also met a bunch of awesome mamas; many of whom are fans of Kveller.
The mamas might have been my favorite part of the day. When I give parenting talks, I am thrilled when I see mamas with breastfeeding babies and babies in slings and babies being rocked and whispered to. I have been glared out of many a meeting, synagogue, and wedding over the past six years because of my breastfeeding-happy, chatty, mumbling kids, and it is always my pleasure to welcome mamas to stay for as much of my talks as they want to, “noisy” babies included.
After talking to these moms and fielding questions, what I realized is that what we do here at Kveller matters. I don’t mean me and Carla and Jordana and Meredith and Deborah and Matthue and all of the other writers and editors whose words you read on these pages. I mean that what happens when WE–the collective WE–meet on these pages and then go out into our communities, matters.
I met a woman who wiped away tears of comfort and relief as I answered her question about how I respond to people who call me a mutilator for entering my boys into the covenant with a bris. She knew to ask me that question because of how I put myself out there on Kveller as a holistic and observant mama.
I met a woman who told me she had a terrible relationship to fasting on Yom Kippur; she disliked it, didn’t know how to do it with kids, etc.. She shared with me that she took to heart the essay I wrote about it on Kveller and she took my suggestions. She was beaming as she told me she took Yom Kippur one hour at a time and kept thinking back to my Kveller post all day long. She said she had “the BEST fast ever!”
The internet terrifies me sometimes. It has made our world bigger than I can sometimes handle. It makes child porn, freedoms of speech I sometimes wish weren’t so free, and electronic research in place of library card catalogs. But the internet has also made my world smaller and more intimate. You may not know me, and I may not know you, but we are connected through the words you are reading now. And I am writing about you as I write about myself.
I was never especially popular with girls. I still don’t do terribly well in the realms most women operate in. But I love the sisterhood. And I love bringing the sisterhood closer through my life on Kveller. I love the diversity of our experience, and I love growing as a person through hearing other people’s perspectives. I didn’t know how to write like this until I arrived at Kveller, and as you have found me, I have found myself.
Thank you for being a part of this community of amazing women and men. I’m sort of kvelling.