Today is nephew, Izzy’s 21st birthday. The boy whose birth I was at who I was with at 24 hours old while a snowstorm blew threw Chicago, outside the hospital room. Not a little boy anymore, he is far away in Israel. Happy Birthday, Izzy.
My world is a little topsy turvy. My sister is in a city an hour away for a retreat on the subject of white Jews (no we are not all white by a longshot) ending racism. I was supposed to be there with her– but a large last-minute work assignment kept me from going. I drove for about four hours Friday picked up sister J at the airport in the city an hour north of here, hugged and laughed in the car while we drove to the retreat site, stopped and had dinner with her, then drove the hour and a half home to work on the legislation I’ve been tasked with drafting. I got to be with another of my oldest, closest, most precious Jewish woman friends who stayed here overnight on Thursday, on her way to the same retreat. So two of my loves are close but just out of reach.
My daughter is going through so many changes– and she also feels close, but at times just out of reach. She and I have been at teenage-daughter/mother-of-teenage-daughter odds– Jewish female style to be sure. Criticize, criticize, criticize. We are both quick to anger these days. I cannot quite get my bearings in this new phase where I am so disappointed in and mad at myself when I am less than generous with her. And I find myself so easily acting angry and upset with her. Saying things I wish I hadn’t. I don’t like either feeling. I miss her snuggling up to me, wanting me by coming close. But this is territory where things get confusing. She wants me by throwing her anger and frustrations and fears at me, full force. Actually she did this all along, as all babies, toddlers, and young ones do, but it gets you so much more confused when they look and sound more like adults. And I slip and take the bait often and throw my own hard feelings right back at her.
What I know is that it’s a cool and beautiful, vibrant and interesting and also sometimes-scary world out there. I know that she is bravely stepping out further than ever before. You have to be brave to be a teenage girl of color. And you have to be brave to be the mom of a teenage girl of color. So here’s to brave and braver which is what we both have to be.
Here are three more videos–right on topic. Two by the singer songwriter-herself– Sarah Bareilles. The first is the funny, produced, quirky music video and the second is the singer, just herself and her piano and a big audience– live and honest.
And the other, my Jewish boys– the Maccabeats. Their version is great and touching and funny. But this time I think the girl/ woman/ singer-songwriter wins. If there ever was a contest to begin with which there really wasn’t.
Sarah Bareilles– live
And the Maccabeats–silly, awesome, Jewish guys who love to sing.