When guilt and Jewish guilt meet

February 25, 2014

Dear Max

I throw around the term “Jewish guilt” at least once a day. It describes what I feel daily, or as Wikipedia puts it: “Jewish guilt is a term used to identify the supposed guilt felt by Jews”. On Ask.com, someone describes Jewish guilt as “the guilt a Jewish person may feel or be made to feel by a parent or family member. Not calling your mother enough can cause Jewish guilt to be inflicted upon you by said mother”.

It’s a thing, and obviously so is mom guilt. And I feel both of them daily. If I’m a few minutes late to fetch you from school, they’re there. When I spend more time with my laptop and deadlines and less with you, I feel them. If you fall, I feel them. After all, maybe I could have done something to prevent the fall, right? (wrong, but try telling a Jewish mom that).

So when a few days ago your teacher suggested that we take you for an assessment to check your muscle tone (she thinks it’s low), my first thought was that it was my fault, that I’d done something to cause this, or rather, that I hadn’t done enough to build up a strong muscle tone (and I’m not talking about stomach crunches at the gym). And then I felt guilty x2.

It reminded me of how last year, we were told to seek out speech and hearing therapy for you last year because you were battling to pronounce  a few letters. And the first thing I told Nikki, the speech and hearing therapist, was that I felt terrible and guilty, and that it was my fault you couldn’t say the letter “l”. Nikki got what I was saying, and spoke me off the guilt ledge.

But as a mom, I feel like I’m back there a lot. Especially when there’s a “problem’ or something “wrong” or a thing I could have prevented.

So there. Feeling a bit crapola because you can’t grip a pen to perfection or manage a scissors well. While my own mother dishes her own dose of Jewish guilt to me because I don’t visit “enough”. Pass the blintzes. I think I’m off to comfort eat.



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  • MeeA

    I was also told that my Michael had major learning difficulties, low muscle tone and the person telling me these things stopped short of telling me he was ADD/ADHD because I cut in and told her that the first person to tell me to put my kid on Ritalin was going to have their kneecaps introduced to a baseball bat…
    I held him back a year in school and guess what? He’s coping just fine now. I think there’s too much focus on milestones and what a child “should” be able to do or be doing by a certain age. Some just take a bit longer than others. Don’t stress!
    I used to feel massively guilty about keeping Michael back at first but the fact is, it was exactly what he needed. And by the time he’s off to university (if that’s what he chooses), that one year age difference between him and all the other first years won’t mean a thing. In fact, nobody even notices it now.

    February 25, 2014 at 10:00 am Reply
  • Nikki Heyman

    The thing is, is that there is too much and not enough and treading that balance is so difficult. We are lucky that we are able to identify potential difficulties early on and if necessary address them. It saves a future of bad hand writing, hand ache and all the associated baggage that may be piled onto these difficulties. Not being a good enough parent is terrifying but knowledge is power and what we know, we can do some thing about,

    February 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm Reply
  • Sharon

    Just looking at his beautiful smile, and how his eyes light up, says you are doing everything right by Max. He is happy and loved intensely. Not an easy job, being a mom… So give yourself a break. Xxx

    February 26, 2014 at 9:00 pm Reply
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