That's me, Pattie Weiss Levy.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Word From The Weiss 

Pattie headshot.jpg

     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.)

      I would never deign to do that. Ogiven my daughter’s good judgment, need to.

      We performed our little stealth mission with a far less menacing purpose in mind.

Allegra under normal circumstances.JPG

     I hope it won’t embarrass her for me to divulge what it was we did: go in uninviteddo 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 circumstances.

      Last month, as I chronicled the last time I had the koyekh (Yiddish for strength or energy) to write hereshe 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 out.

Allegra concussion reenactment 3.JPG

     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?”

     If 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. Bthe 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?

Allegra concussion reenactment 5.JPG

       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 advancethat permission would without question have been denied.

      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 youchild 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?

Latke dressed as Devil Dog 2016.jpg

      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.

Latke had to wear a cone around her neck.jpg

     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?

     Not quite.

     They 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.

     Which is to say that old-fashioned, nurturing, care-and-feeding thing.

JP and Allegra.jpg

     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 schleppingshe felt. And I can’t say that I blamed her.

     The 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.

I cleaned her room thoroughly.jpg

    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?

I folded the laundry.jpg

      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 especiallyif that person is their parent.

We put fresh sheets on the bed.jpg

      A nice Jewish parent who is known to have issues with learning to let go, no less.

      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 with terror.

     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 knothat 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?.jpg

     “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.)

Allegra's favorite pajamas.jpg

     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.

      Uh, 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 help.”

     Then we discussed which items inside the fridge thospesky 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 untimy daughter is fully back on her own two feet and I am no longer needed.

Nice Jewish Nurse.com.jpg

      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. 

4:02 pm 

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That's me. The redhead on the right. But that is NOT my baby.

     No, sir, that's not my baby. How could any mother smile beatifically while her own child wailed? Never mind that neither of my offspring ever cried so plaintively, as far as I recall (not while I was there to nurture them through their every perceptible need... although my son still complains that I often dressed him in garish and girlish color schemes, scarring him FOR LIFE).
     Besides, I'm distinctly beyond prime delivery age ("Kitchen's closed!" as my mother might say), and my kids had departed the diaper stage by the dawn of the Clinton Administration. Now in their 20s, both are currently living on their own, in not-too-distant cities, although each manages to phone me daily. In fact, to be exact, several times a day, then sometimes text me, too. (That may sound excessive, and emotionally regressive, but I subscribe to the Jewish mother's creed when it comes to conversing with kinder: Too much is never enough.)
     Two demanding decades spent raising two kids who are kind, highly productive and multi-talented, who generally wear clean underwear (as far as I can tell), and who by all visible signs don't detest me are my main credentials for daring to dole out advice in the motherhood department.
     Presenting myself as an authority on all matters Jewish may be trickier to justify.
     Yes, I was raised Jewish and am biologically an unadulterated, undisputable, purebred Yiddisheh mama. I'm known for making a melt-in-your-mouth brisket, not to mention the world's airiest matzah balls this side of Brooklyn. My longtime avocation is writing lyrics for Purim shpiels based on popular Broadway productions, from "South Pers-cific" to "The Zion Queen." Then again, I'm no rabbi or Talmudic scholar. I can't even sing "Hatikvah" or recite the Birkat Hamazon. Raised resoundingly Reform, I don't keep kosher, can barely curse in Yiddish, and haven't set foot in Israel since I was a zaftig teen.
     Even so, as a longtime writer and ever-active mother, I think I have something to say about being Jewish and a mom in these manic and maternally challenging times. I hope something I say means something to you. Welcome to my nice Jewish world!   
In coming weeks, I will continue posting more personal observations, rants, and even recipes (Jewish and otherwise). So keep reading, come back often, and please tell all of your friends, Facebook buddies, and everyone else you know that NiceJewishMom.com is THE BOMB!
The family that eats together (and maybe even Tweets together): That's my son Aidan, me, my daughter Allegra, and Harlan, my husband for more than 26 years, all out for Sunday brunch on a nice summer weekend in New York.

Comments? Questions? Just want to kvetch? Please go to GUESTBOOK/COMMENTS.