A Word From The Weiss
Maybe it was intrusive. Maybe it was insensitive. Or maybe it was just plain Jewish.
I will let you be the judge.
But by the time you read this, she will know what I did, and I feared she would judge me. Harshly.
Last weekend, you see, at my
instigation, my husband and I basically snuck into our daughter’s apartment while she wasn’t there without bothering to ask her permission.
We took the liberty of making this meddlesome move – or so I remain convinced – with the best of intentions,
meaning out of parental concern, strictly for her own good.
There are parents who snoop in their
children’s belongings for
drugs and other such contraband items.There are those who meddle in their grown children’s
love lives. (People like that other, notoriously meddlesome Jewish mother –
Crazy Jewish Mom.)
never deign to do that. Or given
my daughter’s good judgment, need to.
We performed our little stealth mission with a far less menacing purpose
I hope it won’t embarrass
her for me to divulge what it was we did: go in uninvited, do her
laundry, clean her room, change the sheets, and leave some food in the fridge.
We did this not because
she isn’t perfectly capable of taking care of herself under normal circumstances. Quite the contrary. It’s just
that four weeks after suffering a concussion, she has yet to return to anything even resembling normal
month, as I chronicled the last time
I had the koyekh (Yiddish
for “strength” or “energy”) to write here, she
had the great misfortune to collide with a large tree branch that extended into her path and bump her kepele (head). Bump it hard! Although four weeks have passed since that incident, Allegra is still struggling – not just to keep her head above water, as they say, but to actually stand up straight. Diagnosed with a mild to moderate concussion, she is still
feeling dizzy, disoriented, and completely wiped
Then there are the short-term memory issues. She still calls me regularly to
say things like, “I was supposed to do something tonight, but I have no idea what that
was. Do you?”
only I were NiceJewishDatebook.com.
Couple that with the severe pain in her neck and lower
back that persist – presumably a result of the
whiplash she suffered during the collision – and perhaps you can understand why she’s feeling overwhelmed.
She returned to her full-time job within days of the mishap and is still managing to pursue her singing career on the side. By the time she gets home, she’s ready to collapse. How can she possibly wash clothes? Let alone carry heavy baskets full of them down to the laundry room
in her basement?
So my husband and I took the liberty of showing up at her apartment
without her knowledge while we were
down in New York City over the weekend meeting a friend.
Why didn’t we simply ask her
permission? Simple. I was absolutely
certain that if I had asked her in advance, that permission would without question have
But let’s face it. Mother knows best. And I was convinced
that she needed us to go.
I had already performed those domestic duties for her every
week since the incident, and I was certain that it would be enormously helpful if I did them once again. And as
any mother – nice, Jewish or otherwise – knows, when your child is injured or ill, you’re eager to do anything and everything that
might help a bit.
Yet you soon realize the awful truth: There isn’t all
that much you actually can do. Especially for children in their 20s and up who are grown and living on their own.
Everyone is familiar with
the expression, “It was the least I could do.” Well, this, sadly
enough, was the most I could do – a handful of routine
chores to lighten her load.
I had already spent most of the first week following the accident living with her, and then half the second. The only reason I hadn’t gone down for a third week in a row was that our dog suddenly developed a major problem
of her own.
The morning after Halloween, I
woke up to discover that Latke had gnawed a big bare patch just above the
paw on her left leg. Not only had she licked it until all of the fur fell out,
but also managed to inflame the area
so much that it was red, raw, and oozing.
Had she gotten into the “Howl-oween” candy? Come undone from the constant ringing of the doorbell? Had a visceral reaction
to being dressed up in costume again?
Or perhaps been bitten by a tick while foraging in the fallen
leaves? Who knows?
Animals evidently sometimes create these sores, called “hot spots,” as a reaction to a bug bite, itch. or
other irritation. Why Latke had to do this now, though, I can't say. All I can tell you is that I was now dealing
with two daughters
with self-inflicted wounds.
Not that Allegra’s had been deliberately
self-inflicted. I blame her cell phone for that.
Alas, with only one tuches, you cannot go to two parties (even pity parties) at once.
Poor Latke had been relegated to wearing a large plastic Elizabethan collar (a.k.a. “cone of shame”) around her neck to prevent her from continuing to nibble on her injured paw and perpetrate any
further damage. And so, although she doesn’t generate much in the way of laundry, I was obliged to stay home and tend to her care and feeding instead.
But by that weekend she was well enough for us to leave her at doggy daycare
and venture down to the city to visit Injured Daughter No. 1.
Then came the election, following which I barely
had the koyekh to
leave the couch.
By week’s end, though, we had long ago committed to driving down to see
our friend Tom, a former college classmate of my husband’s who was visiting
from North Carolina.
The next morning, when we woke up in our hotel, my husband
asked how I wanted to spend the day. Go
to a museum? Tour some art galleries? Take a walk in the park?
say that when you’re a parent, you are only as happy as your least happy child. All I wanted to do was
help make that child a little happier. Or make her life a little easier. Meaning that even though Allegra was away, I
wanted to go do my mom thing.
is to say that old-fashioned, nurturing, care-and-feeding thing.
Where, you may wonder, had Allegra gone, considering that she was still impaired? She was away in Philadelphia for the
weekend, spending some time with her boyfriend. Poor
JP had already come to see
her in NYC three times since she’d
had the accident. It was now her turn to do the schlepping, she felt. And I can’t say that I blamed her.
only question was whether we could get
into her apartment in her absence.
With luck, one of her two roommates was home when we arrived, and she let us in. After
apologizing for dropping in unannounced and confessing the purpose of our visit, I
made sure to leave the door unlocked when I took the laundry down to the basement. Then I went out to pick up some fresh produce at a nearby farmer’s market.
Big mistake. When I returned with all my bundles, I discovered that the roommate had since gone out and left the apartment door firmly locked. Now what?
I piled my packages up
against the door in the hall, assuming that no neighbors would actually be so deceitful as to pilfer fruits and
vegetables. Then I returned to the basement,
grabbed the empty laundry basket, and
went to plead with the doorman.
“Oh, silly me,” I said, sounding as endearing,
casual, and unsuspicious as possible. “I was in the
middle of doing my daughter’s laundry and foolishly locked myself out.”
I’m sure that no doorman is allowed to give out keys to any resident’s apartment. Not even if the person asking happens to be their mother
– nice, Jewish, or otherwise.
The fact is, though, that I’ve been over so much lately that he must think I live there. Why else would he have forked over those keys without hesitation, no questions asked?
After washing, drying, and folding Allegra’s clothes, I put away the groceries and, with my husband’s help, put
fresh linens on the bed, then laid
out her favorite pajamas. She was returning from Philly early Monday morning and
going straight to work. By the time she got home that night, I figured she would be ready to fall into bed and pass out.
Thanks to us, she could.
But after returning the keys to the trusty doorman and driving home, I began to worry. Not everyone wants to come home to find that someone has been inside their home messing with their stuff. Even (or maybe especially) if that person is their
A nice Jewish parent who
is known to have issues with learning to let go, no
Would Allegra be grateful to us when she returned, or at least pleasantly surprised? Or might she freak out and be offended by our intrusiveness, potentially even livid?
As crazy as it may sound, I spent the next 48 hours in suspense, tinged
What had I been thinking? Why, oh why had we gone in there? What had we done?
By Monday afternoon, I could stand it no longer. I also thought that it might
be wise to prepare Allegra just a bit by giving her a hint of what to expect.
Besides, it might be helpful for
her to know that there was food waiting for her, so she didn’t need to shop.
So I texted her to say that BTW (by the way), we had visited the farmer’s market near her building and left behind a small assortment of items she
likes in her fridge.
“You went in my house?” she was quick to text back.
I held my breath in abject fear… until she followed up those words with the cheery acronym with which young people punctuate nearly every utterance these days.
Well, now at least it would be less
of a shock, and she wouldn’t suspect burglars. (Not that your average burglar tends to do your laundry and lay out your favorite PJs.)
As my daughter well knows, I take a Zumba class every Monday night from 6 to 7 at the local Jewish Community Center. So it was no surprise
when my cell phone began to ring promptly at 7:01.
tell me. Have there been elves in
my apartment?” a familiar voice asked.
Then she actually did it. Laugh out loud. And I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Yes, it must have been elves,” I said. “They thought you could use a little
Then we discussed which items inside the fridge those pesky elves had left for her.
I must confess that it has felt good to be needed again, if only for a few weeks. Nonetheless, I can’t wait until my daughter is fully back on her own two feet and I am no longer needed.
Right now, I’m looking forward to having her home for Thanksgiving, along with my son and daughter-in-law, so I can take care of them all on my own turf
without feeling intrusive.
This being Thanksgiving, they can
expect plenty of care. Not to mention feeding.
But Latke’s leg is finally on the mend, so if necessary I’ll go back down to the city afterwards to deliver care packages and perform more domestic missions of mercy. After all, I’m still my daughter’s
mother. And for now… well, that is the most I can do.